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Friday, August 26, 2016

F3 Not the Usual Clients

            Kate rattled off the names of her companions to me, but my mind was mostly on their condition. More than one sported broken bones and large bruises. One guy, in a suit, showed off burned and bubbling skin underneath where the suit had burned away. My stomach did a backflip with a twist when I looked at that skin.
            “You’re not my usual clients,” I tried to lighten the mood.
It didn’t work.
“I’ve got an aid kit in the bathroom for whomever needs it, but I think you all need a hospital more than a detective.”
            “That be the truth,” the black woman with the Creole—Cajun?—accent said, taking the initiative to go into the bathroom.
            “We’ll hold out fine,” said the guy in the suit, lowering himself onto my couch next to two others. “Kate, this is your show,” he groaned and winced, trying to get comfortable.
            “Yeah. Matt, we need your help.” Kate sat in one of the chairs next to my desk.
            “Said that already. I’m still in the dark as to what you need help with. I don’t think I want to know what can put down half a dozen Storm Riders, though.”
            “You know how I told you that . . . things . . . can come through rifts caused by intense storms?”
            I couldn’t forget, not when she had burst into my office accusing me of being the one to mess with the weather that Slim and Angie had caused.
            I nodded.
            “Well, a couple of years ago, something got out. Then it went to ground. We’ve been trying to find it ever since.”
            “Okay, so I’m guessing that whatever it is came back, giving you all that lovely makeover.”
            Scattered nods from the crowd as well as some rude finger gestures, and even a “Screw you.”
            I’m reminded why Kate and I could never become a couple.
            “Let’s also say that whatever it is, it’s smaller than a Titan. It’s got some subtlety as well as intelligence if it can hide out for two years. And if you know what it is, it must be powerful enough to stop your attempts to . . . I don’t even know what you guys do with these things.”
            “Destroy them when we can,” Kate said.
            “Which we can’t do in this case,” the guy in the suit said.
            “Why not?”
            “It’s a fallen angel, Matt,” Kate said. “Straight out of Pandemonium.”
            I blinked, looking at everyone. There was no trace of humor, no sense that this was a joke. Kate enjoyed her jokes a lot, but broken bones, burns, and bruises ruled this out as a joke.
            “God help us,” I prayed. I grabbed my pen and pad. “Star talking. I need to know everything you can tell me about it.”
            “Don’t you want to know what help we need?” The guy on the couch next to the suit asked.
            “You need to know, specifically, which angel this is in order to find some kind of weakness.”
            “Told you he could help,” Kate smiled at me.
            “Can you order some food?” asked the woman on the other end of the couch.
            Right, the appetite. This will be going onto their expenses.

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