Chapter 01; Part 04
I entered the underground parking lot and let Gabriel turn down the bass’n’dub booming from the stereo. All the passengers seemed to relax as the parking lot necessitated I slow down. During the ride, Gabriel had stared me down; a look that said i wasn’t fooling anyone with my bad attitude and my stonewalling. I knew I would soon have to answer the questions that visibly simmered under his surface. As far as our Unit went, Gabriel was the untitled leader of the OtherWorlders; if they needed anything all of them had gone to him. So generally as the mouthpiece of the group he always felt the need to be heard.
“What’s going on with you?” He asked in a barely heard whisper. The question met more silence from me. “You’re gonna have to tell me eventually.” He said as I pulled the SUV into two parking spots next to another Unit’s SUV; by the look of the creatures getting out it was our closest brethren in H Division; the SUV’s required two parking spaces. I parked next to the H Division vehicle and as I was pulling in the driver’s side door cracked on the other vehicle; Zillah, H’s Witch, got out and the rest of the H-Div moved towards the vehicle in anticipation of seeing their friends. I parked and realised I’d made Head Office in record time; really demonstrative of how pissed off I was right now.
“Sup?” Zillah asked having scooted across the front of the car as I had pulled it into place. He’d opened my door and beamed down at me. Zillah was my closest human colleague; H and G Units always ended up in the trenches together and Zillah had showed me how to celebrate after. I slid out of the seat and exchanged the customary handshake, which when our heart lines crossed a zing ran p my arm. That zing could be expanded if Zillah needed a cardiac massage; I had never had to do it cardiac massage anyone and had heard that it took more out of the instigating witch than a site-to-site transport.
“Not much Zil; sup with you?” I asked closing the door of the SUV and arming it with the cars remote.
“About the same, baby.” He said smiling through to his icy blue eyes. Messy blonde with a short back and sides, six foot something and a scar that ran the left side of his jaw line. He had a hold of my hand and played with my fingers as I walked to the back of the car. Usually I would let him flirt but I had other factors weighing on my mind today and the thought of sex with anyone made me squirm. I snatched my hand from Zillah who looked at me as if I’d done something very interesting. Before I could school my face into a blank wall he saw a conflict of emotions that I didn’t intend for anyone to see right now.
“Shit Civ,” he hissed and lent in for a hug. The OtherWorlders of both Units had mingled and they were used to seeing Zillah and me be very… close. So when I dodged the hug everyone started to pay attention; eight sets of eyes scrutinised the situation.
“Guffey?” I said holding my hands out waiting for the guns, once laden with steal I holstered them into my Utili-Vest and headed towards the stairs beside the elevator. I could hear conversation start up behind me and was glad that I was no longer of concern to the other beings. I had noticed that H Division were missing an OtherWorlder as well and wondered if this is why we were at Head Office; something I’m sure the significance would be relayed after I’d descended the three levels of stairs into the Portal Keeper area of Head Office.
Head Office looked like someone was trying to create a lounge room from an office space. The magic around the building provided a darkness that even if the levels had been upstairs would have left very little light seep through. But in the Operational area, lamps reigned supreme. Little clusters of armchairs and pools of warm light helped hide the cubical farm that the space really was. When one Unit came to visit Head Office it was a red letter day for the drones of the cubicles; but two Units swarming through the hive should have caused more a stir than it did. Heads popped over the short walls like meerkats assessing threats.
We needed to move through the desks maze to the rear area which was a training room I stalked through the room with purposes as my Master had taught me; he’d said that if the Office Witches suspected that everything was less than in control then they were fraught with fear which could spread to the further Coven Witch community and usually caused more issues than it was worth. The rest surged to keep up with my fast clip as we moved in formation. Most of the desk monkeys were low skilled witches who provided a very valuable service of pushing paper and figure calculation; the type of work that was laborious to the Unit employees. The training room was close to bursting as we entered. The other six units were all sitting around the room in clusters and this made me understand why the office workers were less than impressed with out entrance.
Up front was the well known Lieutenant Lal; the Luey was the overseer of all the Units. We all had handlers who mostly handled the interference between the Units and the Luey. Drea was standing up the front next to the other more important members of the Inter-Portal Enforcement division of the Witch and Magical Enforcement and Governing Bureau which sat under both Home Land security and international relations. Drea is a pocket rocket of a woman with cascades of brunette hair that fell down her back and over her shoulders. She was out handler and could procure almost anything. Between the two of us her job ran smoothly; so smoothly that she ran assistant services for the Luey too.
The training room was crammed between its beige walls with witches and OtherWorlders. The bird’s eye map of the portal locations and the green dots of Unit housing was projected onto the whiteboard at the front of the room. The Luey caught my eye as I made my way into the room. I took up a leaning position just inside the door under his scrutiny. The Luey had also apprenticed to my Master; apprenticing to the same Master was like being inside an insular brotherhood within a insular community. I could tell when he took in the fact that Giffen was missing from our ranks and that something was wrong with me; he put two and two together and nodded curtly. I looked around the room and noticed that every unit was missing an OtherWorlder.
“Alright people, quiet down!” he snapped and all the noise fell away. “A pattern of concern has come to our attention. A member from every Unit has turned and I can tell from the late comers that this has spread across every Unit.” Everyone in the room swung in our direction; I looked over the faces of the other witches within the Units. I could see that B Unit’s Tricky was holding his shoulder and nursing his side – as well as a flora of a new bruise across his forehead. But other than Tricky, no one else looked as if the OtherWorlder who had turned in their Unit had down so against the witch. Of course, I couldn’t see any emotional scars and I was the only female Portal Keeper; so it’s not like the OtherWorlders to rape a male witch in order to turn.
“Standard witching patrols are sweeping through the known rogue witches within the city. Some have already turned up dead which is showing that the turned ones are trying to cross portals. Obviously this means that we’re all on high alert but we should all know that only Portal Keepers can open and close the portals. So I’m unsure as to what this act of killing lone witches is supposed to prove.” Luey said and Gabriel sidled closer to me. “Make sure that your Portal Keepers travel in groups at all times. But we will need to track down the OtherWorlders responsible to bring these people to justice,” the Luey said and stepped aside as an elder OtherWorlder stepped up.
Dr Roberts was the closest to an academic that they OtherWorld could offer; considering that there were no institutions of higher learning in a feudal, war lord society. Dr Roberts have latent magic capabilities. He could also father magic from others which was a very rare talent between Earth Witches. Of average height his most defining characteristic were his dreadlocks that lacked any colour; no base tones or greyness; the white was as complete as a Polar Bear’s fur.