As we rode through the tunnel toward the shed and our hidden exit, I found Vincent’s comm id and set up a channel for the three of us to talk, finally asking, “Where did you last see Working Man?”
I felt him move behind me, “One of the parking lots in Foxtown. The one on Cass near Bookie’s Bar and Grille.”
Hoping that Mateo was listening in, I said, “Do you know where that is? I don’t.”
In my HUD, Blue Mask’s icon glowed as Mateo said, “The one with the big brick building on Elizabeth and Cass?”
Vincent’s teeth clicked, “That’s the one.”
“I think I know the way. Tell me if it looks like I’m going the wrong way. V4, could you pull up a map to Bookie’s Bar and Grille? That’ll tell you if we’re getting off target. Backup never hurts.”
I pulled it up in my HUD and while Vincent and Mateo discussed the best way to get there, I used my implant to go online and check V&V’s super news to see if they were getting anything out of Detroit.
They were. A news report from CBE, a radio station in Windsor, Ontario said that local heroes, led by a super called Black Rose, were joining with reserve members of Detroit Unity to fight a major vampire infestation in Detroit. They even had a quote from V8 saying, “Don’t worry, Detroit. Help is on its way.”
I called her with my comm. She didn’t answer.
It made sense. Even though she didn’t mention him, she’d worked with Working Man for years. My new comm system hooked into Unity’s with a protocol my grandfather designed, but with Athletica and Unity compromised, V8 and Working Man had probably fallen back on their old system. They might even be assuming that Mateo and I were either dead or working for the vamps.
That assumed they were working together and still in their right minds, but if they were, I couldn’t blame them.
I just hoped that if we all happened to meet, they wouldn’t attack first and ask questions later.
Still, it was good news on the whole. Interrupting Mateo and Vincent, I said, “News is getting out. There’s a radio station in Windsor that knows about the vampires and they’re getting linked by the V&V website—which means it’s only a matter of time before it makes it to SuperTV. Plus, they quoted V8. She’s doing something or she was. I tried to call her, though. No answer.”
Mateo sniffed, “Then we have to assume we’re on our own. Either they got captured or they think we’re controlled. The people in Unity’s base can vouch for us, though. Vincent, could you make sure that the base’s staff knows what we’re doing and that we’ll need help?”
Cutting through the wind’s noise, Vincent said, “You got it. I’ll tell them where we’re going and hope they can figure out who’s controlled by the vamps and who isn’t.”
“Hmmn,” Mateo paused, but then continued, “That’s what I wanted to hear, but it sounds like a bad idea now that you’ve said it.”
Chuckling, Vincent said, “You’ve got a point, but we’re going to have to trust someone and we hire good people.”
I checked the map. We were nearly there. We’d passed the factories and green, open lots and now we were passing the mirrored glass and round corners of the MGM Grand, a hotel and casino. Even at five in the morning, the letters of its name glowed.
“Alright,” Mateo said. “Make sure they warn us if they tell anyone.”
Only a minute or two later, we pulled up to the parking lot. There wasn’t much to say about it. It was empty except for two cars that were on the other side of the lot. The old brick building Mateo and Vincent had talked about was dark. It wasn’t much more than an old brick cube in the dark. The front had windows that stretched up to the third floor, trying for some kind of grandeur, but the graffiti on the walls and peeling paint on the window frames told another story.
I noticed something else. In the bushes off to the right of the building were two rabbits. They weren’t nibbling on the bushes’ leaves. They were staring directly at us.
I pointed at them and said, “Blue Mask.”
He turned to look at them, “You’re right. That’s not normal. Someone’s watching us and it’s either Skunk Lord or someone controlling him.”
Behind me, Vincent sniffed. “There’s another human here.”
Then he jumped off the back of my bike. I dismounted and stood next to him on the sidewalk. Visible on the screen of my HUD, I saw the heated air next to the back corner of the building before a hooded human figure stepped out from behind it.
He wore a dark robe that brought to mind wizards and evil cultists. The scuffed, brown leather, steel-toed work boots visible under the robe brought to mind factories and construction sites.
Mateo had jumped off his bike and stood next to me, “This is going to be interesting.”
A low, raspy voice came from the robe, “I’ve been watching you since V4 tried to get my attention earlier.”
Mateo glanced over at me. I took that as a hint that I should start talking, “Thanks. We’re trying to find Working Man. He was attacked, but hopefully got away here. We’re also trying to find wherever the vampire headquarters is. It might be the same thing as the Syndicate L headquarters. Do you know anything that might help us?”
The robed figure walked closer, saying nothing until he reached the wrought iron fence.
Concentrating on keeping myself calm and being ready in case we were about to be swamped with rats, I waited for him to speak.
He stopped behind the gate, saying, “I know a lot, but not as much as I want to. Vampires, some of them at least, control rats. I can control more than rats, but if you know cities, you know that when it comes to controlling animals rats are where it’s at.”
Vincent gave a short, raspy laugh.
The hooded figure said, “I knew you’d understand. Now, I do know where they are, but I can’t help you much. The vampires are in the Book Tower. I don’t know about Working Man, but I know they didn’t catch him. He escaped, but I don’t know where.”