Home > The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)(16)

The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)(16)
Author: Lisa Shearin

I blinked. “There’s hydras in Yonkers?”

“Sirene said they showed up around the same time as the kraken and the others.”

“I’d pull my people back, too. So what’s up the Hudson past Yonkers?”

“About three hundred miles of river.”

“How much of that is brackish water?”

“From New York Harbor all the way up to the Federal Dam in Troy, about a hundred and fifty miles.”

“So . . . Creatures from the Black Lagoon and their kraken buddy kidnap the nephew of a vampire crime lord and then post hydras off Yonkers to keep anyone from following them.” I just sat there waiting for that scenario to sink in. It didn’t. “This is the trippiest case ever.”

Ian started pulling up the anchor. “You’ll get no argument from me.”

9

THE ghoul gang had robbed another bank.

Ian and I were at our desks in the agents’ cube farm—known as the bull pen—watching the action unfold on two of the flat screen TVs mounted on sections of wall.

An agent nearby muttered a word that would’ve gotten my mouth washed out with soap back home. I agreed with my coworker’s word choice, and silently added a few of my own.

I glanced at Ian out of the corner of my eye.

My partner was the embodiment of stoic—eyes on the monitor, face set on neutral. It was his cop face, his soldier face, the face that said he could handle this, that he was handling this. Nothing to see here, move along.

I was his partner and I was close enough to see the pulse in his neck, a pulse rate that was at odds with the emotionless mask he was wearing.

The Prime Bank’s surveillance cameras started to show what no one wanted to see—unless they were into snuff films. I knew what was coming. Thankfully, CNN cut away from the footage at that point, but they did tell their millions of viewers what had happened to the two bank guards. We all knew it was only a matter of time until a pirated version of that footage made it online. Then anyone who was sick enough or had a strong enough stomach could watch the ghouls eat those guards alive to their hearts’ content.

SPI’s Media and Public Relations department was in full-blown crisis mode. They specialized in working behind the scenes to explain the unexplainable, turning actual encounters and sightings into simple hoaxes by those looking for their fifteen minutes of fame, or exposing them as elaborate cover-ups by any number of shadowy government agencies that were ripe for the blaming. No one made direct accusations, of course; their information was usually based on “a source close to the investigation speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation publically.”

And not all people in SPI’s Media and PR department worked from headquarters. They had people in the highest levels at TV networks, cable news, all across/over/throughout the web, and even in the increasingly archaic print media. Influence had been bought, paid for, and was being well used—except today apparently.

CNN had already interviewed the department director, Kylie O’Hara. SPI was her real job, but the world at large didn’t know that. Her cover job was being a world-renowned debunker of anything and everything that smacked of the supernatural, which was ironic as all get-out considering she wasn’t even human. Kylie was a dryad, which meant she was gorgeous. Her real name was something unpronounceable with way too many apostrophes. The shortened version of her first name was similar enough to Kylie, and she used O’Hara because it was the name of the state forest near the shore of Lake Ontario in Upstate New York where she was born. And people thought her green eyes and last name meant she was Irish.

Kylie was also front and center on TV and radio talk shows, and was accepted by respected journalists as an expert on the exposé. Heck, Syfy had been after her for years to do a series. Kylie had explained away the latest robbery with movie-quality makeup, and the cannibalism part with sick bastards—my words, not hers.

When more than a few agents’ phones started beeping or buzzing with incoming texts, we knew exactly where we’d be going next without even looking at our screens.

The war room.

SPI had conference rooms of all sizes, but the war room was one of the largest. It seated over a hundred, and was reserved for all-hands-on-deck emergencies. Ghoul bank robbers eating bank guards being reported on CNN certainly qualified as an agency-wide emergency. No one said a word as we filed in.

Alain Moreau was standing at the front of the room, waiting for everyone to get in and get a seat. If he was cursing the day Vivienne Sagadraco had told him she was taking her first vacation in a century, you’d never know it to look at him.

Yasha was already there. Normally that would be a surprise. Briefings were usually for agents only. To me and Ian, Yasha was much more than a driver. But if he was here, then Moreau had invited him. I didn’t need to be told why. Any case that involved the ghoul involved Ian, and if it involved Ian, then as our driver, Yasha needed to be involved.

To keep Ian out of trouble.

Yasha had saved two seats for us. He said nothing to either one of us, but gave Ian a solemn nod, which I took to be werewolf/manspeak for “I’ve got your back.”

Alain Moreau picked up a remote from the podium. “Agent Foyle? If you’ll close the door, please. Ladies and gentlemen, last night seven ghouls entered the Prime Bank on Madison Avenue and its vault via a portal. The method of entry and exit is unconfirmed, but seeing as no alarms were triggered, and all doors were locked, we’ll operate under that assumption. The ghouls took the contents of two safe deposit boxes, and rather than exit the vault with no one being the wiser until this morning when the vault was opened . . .” He turned to the screen mounted on the front wall and clicked the remote he held.

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