Vladislav looked down toward the rat’s face, speaking slowly, “No one needs to die this time. In fact, no one should die at all. It will attract attention to the project and that will cause problems.”
The rat picked a bit of mystery meat out from between its teeth, chewed, and swallowed it, “Disappointing. What about in the houses on say the same block? We could choose one that wasn’t too close. Maybe on the far end of the block?”
Not allowing his expression to change, Vladislav reminded himself that despite Boss Scree’s ever-present focus on food, he and his people were very good at what they did, “As I told you earlier, no one should die for this project.”
The rat sighed and took another bite out of the cheese wheel, “No one should die, but if they do, they can be put to some of the most delicious uses. I have cooks who mix the most remarkable spice blends, some of which are especially good on live food—which reminds me… If we take someone from the other end of the block or a nearby block it won’t be too obvious. You couldn’t even hope to guess how many times we’ve gotten away with that.”
Vladislav felt the muscles in his cheek twitch. He was losing it. He needed to get this transaction over with, “Scree, we aren’t even sending you to Phillip Spitz’ house. We need you to go to his office, or if you’re up to the challenge, grab the items from his car.”
“Hmph. An office? Grown humans are less tender.” The rat’s eyes narrowed.
“Since you’re not going to eat anyone on this venture, that shouldn’t be a concern. I will provide for you the standard fee in piglets and lamb and double it if you keep your people under control and don’t hurt any humans. You should be aware though, that I will cut your fee in half if your actions cause any kind of problem for me with the human authorities.”
Boss Scree nodded slowly, “Twice the meat if we don’t eat anyone and half of our normal amount if we create problems with your human masters. I can accept this, but I’d like one more thing. Throw in two more wheels of cheese if we’re successful and we’ll do it.”
With a smile, Vladislav nodded, “I have a source. As usual, you’ll receive it all on completion.”
Taking another bite of cheese, Boss Scree said, “Good. Then send me back now. I’ll expect to receive more details then. I get the impression that you’ll need us shortly and it would be good to let the pack know that we have a job.”
“Excellent. I’ll send you all the details when I have them,” Vladislav said, and with a word from a long-forgotten language and a hand gesture, sent the fey back where he belonged.
As the rat faded out, Vladislav heard the sounds of excited screeches and gnawing on bones. He didn’t doubt that they’d be excited by the job. As for himself, he was relieved. The rats did good work.
Before he had a chance to even feel as if he were alone in the room, the phone in his lab rang. A twin to the one in his office, it also looked like it came from the early 20th century. He walked over to it and picked up the phone.
Florin’s baritone voice sounded through the headset, “Sir, I checked with our people. Is this a good time to tell you what I’ve learned?”
“Yes,” Vladislav waited.
“What we know is that he has silver bullets that have been enchanted to be especially effective against you—“
“Expected,” Vladislav said.
“Also, a cross that holds a bone of one of the saints. I’ve been unable to discover which one, but that’s something to take note of. There’s an anti-Dominator voice buzzer that does defend against several different techniques that they’ve been known to use, but there’s no effect against magic.
“Finally, you should know that he’s been protected against psychic attacks by a government psychic that Maria suspects has a relationship to the Nine. She hasn’t been able to get confirmation. It’s possible that commands have been planted in case of magic mental attacks.”
Frowning, Vladislav said, “It’s not the first time I’ve encountered that. Thank you for letting me know. If you find the name of the saint within the next two hours, tell me. Otherwise, it will be little more than a curiosity.”
“I’ll do my best, sir.”
They hung up. Vladislav knew his next steps. He’d have to look into his records of triggers in the Nine’s subjects, scry for the information Boss Scree needed, and one more thing. He pulled a team communicator out of his pocket, calling the Atoner.
Colin answered, “What did I tell you, Doc? I’m looking for information and I’m in the middle of something complicated right now.”
“I don’t mean to interrupt you Atoner, but I thought I’d check to find out if you’ve learned anything.”
“A little, but it’s not something I’m confident of yet. I’ll get what I find out to you before tonight’s meeting. If this is some sort of final check before putting a plan of your own in motion, please don’t. If everything pans out, this will solve your problem.”
“Apologies, Atoner. I’ll leave you to it then.”