Family Ties

From the Story Arc: Hunting High And Low

Previous Story in the Arc: Comes A Hunter by Victoria Victrix (Thursday, January 22, 2009)

Next Story in the Arc: Mourning Becomes Electra by Victoria Victrix (Thursday, January 22, 2009)

(posted Thursday, January 22, 2009)

There is drunk, there is passed-out drunk, and there is passed-out-so-dead-drunk-you-could-be-mistaken-for-a-corpse.

Djinni was in the last of those three categories. So it is understandable that when his three visitors broke down the front door without bothering to knock, he didn’t come to until there was a shotgun in his belly, a Glock up his nose, and an AK-47 pointing at his temple.

”What. Did you do. With my daughter?” asked Special Agent Alexander Nagy, of the FBI’s Metahuman Division, colloquially known as the “Spook Squad.”

There really is no good way to answer a question like that, especially not when you still have most of two fifths of lethal booze coursing around in your system. “Huh?” Red replied, staring up at his father-in-law (the one with the Glock), his mother-in-law (sporting the shotgun) and a very large Navaho, who, he supposed, was his godfather-in-law. Hosteen Stormdance was the one with the AK-47, and it looked like a toy in his hands.

There was a squall of rage, and ten extremely sharp claws sank deeply into his calf. “Sober up, you moron! They took her! I can’t feel her anymore! She’s missing! She’s gone!” wailed Grey, Vickie’s Familiar, in perfectly comprehensible English.

Djinni didn’t yelp, but the pain drove the words past the fog of alcohol and deep into his mind where a germ of comprehension still lurked. If Vickie was missing—if Grey couldn’t find her—

She was in trouble. Not just in danger, that was part of the hero-gig. She was in trouble.

In one flex of metabolic muscles, Red burned off every bit of the remaining booze in his system…and the resulting monumental hangover hit him like a cartoon anvil.

Pain erupted between his ears, his mouth tasted like elephants had been wiping their feet on his tongue, the room-light went nova, and every sound appeared to be coming through a fifty-foot amp. And those were the good parts.

He gulped down nausea, barely managed to keep from clamping his hands over his ears, and looked up at his visitors through eyes that were now bloodshot. “I didn’ do anything,” he said thickly. “She walked out on me.”

Grey removed his claws from Djinni’s calf. Djinni looked briefly down—either his hangover was accompanied by hallucinations, or something strange had happened to Grey. The cat’s face had flattened, taking on more of the look of a cat-girl (cat-boi?) than a cat, the limbs had elongated, and those audible words were definitely coming out of his mouth. “They had a fight, but he was three sheets to the wind by the time she blanked out on me,” the cat said, urgently. “Whatever it was, it wasn’t him.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” Lexie Nagy replied between gritted teeth. But he holstered the Glock, and Moira and Hosteen Stormdance lowered their weapons. “All right. Let’s check her computer. Her trace program will at least show the last place she was.”

…chucking a fireball through the monitor… “Uh—“ Red began as they opened the door to Vickie’s office.

Lexie stared, then wheeled, face contorted with rage…and contorted with something else. His facial muscles were twitching, his jaws just starting to distort, with the suggestion of a muzzle rather than a mouth. “You…idiot! I oughta—“

“Hold up, Lex. It might not be a loss. Here’s her laptop.” Hosteen grabbed something off the floor just inside the door, and all three of them crowded into the office. Djinni managed to pry himself off the couch and stagger to the office, which at least was dark and offered some relief to his burning eyes.

Hosteen had plugged the laptop into the CPU and was bringing it to life as Red reached for the doorframe to steady himself, and to Red’s relief, the laptop began making the same beeping noises that had enraged him before. Now they sounded as reassuring as a heartbeat. “All right,” murmured Moira. “Log in as Velma, password snafu10661492fubar.”

“Got it,” said the Navaho. From here, Red couldn’t see the laptop screen, but all three of them leaned over it.

“Shit.” Lexie and Moira straightened up. “Trace, here to the tram, then detour. Last lock-on at LOS, under the bridge over the lake by the tram.”

He felt sick in a way that had nothing to do with the hangover nausea. “The Elven Gate,” he said aloud, knowing that if for some reason Vickie had decided to head to Silverthorn rather than CCCP HQ or the airport, Robin would have told Vickie’s parents about the fight by now, and might even have shown up with or without them for a few words with his Knight-Guardian. “This can’t be good.”

Lexie pegged him with the sort of look that would have killed him if he hadn’t already felt worse than dead. “You,” his father-in-law said crisply, angrily, “Cannot even begin to imagine.”