Home > The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)(17)

The Ghoul Vendetta (SPI Files #4)(17)
Author: Lisa Shearin

The security footage showed the closed vault door. Slowly, the wheel in the center of the massive steel door began to turn, then deadbolts—I didn’t know what else to call them—the size of my upper arm slid smoothly from the vault’s wall. No one was outside the vault; it was being unlocked from the inside, by ghouls. It was one of the creepiest things I’d ever witnessed in my life.

The screen split to show two security guards at their desk, watching the monitors. The eyes of one man widened as he leaned closer to be sure he wasn’t imagining what he was seeing. I wanted to scream for them to run out the front door and keep running, don’t go downstairs. For God’s sake, don’t go downstairs. They went downstairs.

By the time the two guards got there, the ghouls had the door open and were waiting for them, the safe deposit boxes they’d emptied again sitting on the table in the center of the vault. They’d taken care of business; now they wanted some pleasure—and to be seen doing it. Once they began feeding, the six ghouls didn’t look up, but their leader stood to the side of the butchery, arms crossed over his chest, smiling up at the camera, knowing he was being watched—knowing Ian was watching.

Ian’s expression never changed and his breathing remained even, the consummate professional objectively viewing evidence of the most gruesome crime I’d ever seen—though not that I’d ever heard of. Both humans and supernaturals were endlessly creative in finding new ways to kill each other.

It took nearly three minutes for one of the guards to stop screaming.

Some agents looked away, others took quick glances, and a few fled the room, retching.

Ian didn’t so much as blink.

The other agents had never watched ghouls eat a human.

Ian had lived it.

I glanced down at my hands, clenched into fists in my lap, willing the contents of my stomach to stay put. I glanced over at where Ian’s hands calmly held his phone, his text screen visible. It was Moreau’s summons—but he’d sent Ian more. He’d told Ian that he’d be showing the entire tape, what was on it, and that Ian didn’t need to attend, he would brief him afterward.

And here Ian sat.

Alain Moreau had offered Ian a way out of watching it, if he wanted to take it.

I knew my partner, and Moreau did, too. If the rest of the agents had to sit through this, Ian would, too. Moreau knew Ian would refuse, but he’d still offered.

On the screen, the lead ghoul unfolded his arms, and in his hands was what looked like a long, triangular spearhead. The video was in black and white, and while clear, it wasn’t close enough to see details. The ghoul stepped over to the dead guard closest to him and sank the spearhead halfway up its length in the man’s chest. Then he looked back at the camera and smiled. He snapped his fingers and the ghouls stopped eating, went back into the vault, and no doubt out through the same portal they’d used to gain access.

Alain Moreau stood and clicked the remote to end the televised nightmare, the one we’d all be having later.

“That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we’re up against and what we must find. As you saw, those ghouls knew where those cameras were and they made no effort to conceal themselves—or alter their appearance.”

I raised my hand to ask what Ian had to be thinking. That spearhead had to be another message for him.

Moreau nodded in my direction. “Agent Fraser?”

“Do we have access to that spearhead; and if not, can we get better resolution on that image?”

“Yes, to both. Unfortunately, the first police on the scene were not our people inside the NYPD. However, we are working with our higher ranking contacts there to get access to the evidence, including the spearhead. Agent Hayashi is presently working on cleaning up the video image until we can obtain the copies of the forensics photography. As the medical examiner on the first murder, Dr. Van Daal will have access to the victims in this robbery, as well as all evidence and reports.”

“What are the mortal police saying?” an elven agent asked.

“They know even less than we do concerning the robbers’ motives. The two safe deposit boxes that were emptied belonged to Hunter Enterprises. The authorities know the CEO of that company as Gabriel Frontino. We know Monsieur Frontino as the head of New York’s second most powerful vampire crime family, next to the Báthorys. Like Gotham Bank & Trust, the Prime Bank was founded by and largely caters to supernaturals. When one has an extended lifespan, it’s less awkward and more convenient to bank where you don’t have to pretend to die every ninety years.”

Roy Benoit, commander of one of SPI’s two commando teams, raised his hand and Moreau acknowledged him with a nod. “Even if they used a portal, a bank of that caliber should have wards that would have alerted not only the guards on-site, but off-site security as well. What happened to those?”

“They do have wards,” Moreau replied. “Or they did. The mortal security measures were bypassed, and the wards and magical shields were simply destroyed. Though I highly doubt there was anything simple about the way it was done. What we have is a mage—or mages—of the highest power who wanted what was in those safe deposit boxes badly. And discovery not only wasn’t a concern, it was desirable.”

Roy sat back and crossed his arms over his broad chest. “Why? Other than to make more work for us, and especially for Director O’Hara and her people.”

“Unknown,” Moreau said. “However, we have several leads we are pursuing.”

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