A lifetime of paperwork later, all of it in triplicate, Connie is legally re-registered as an inhuman named Mondo Constance Anna Kane. Kane, which translates from the First Language as “vicious without supersede”, is a common Vampiric surname, just like Miller is a common Elfin surname.
Jenny and Connie are eating lunch at the downtown McDonalds. Jenny is beaming. Connie is uneasy. Miller’s her usual chatty self. Smith’s uncharacteristically quiet. After lunch, at Jenny’s insistence, they stop by Margo’s spell shop, which is two blocks away. Margo Miller ushers them into the back of the store.
“This apothecary was a bank and briefly a Druid fane, before I bought it. I want you to find out who broke into that vault over there, Connie.”
“Read my lips. I’m a nursing student; not a detective.”
“Still pursuing that foolishness about being a nurse. Very well then, I propose a trade. You look into who breached my vault and stole my most valuable grimoires, and I will intervene on your behalf with Mildred to have you taken off triple-shifts at the hospital.”
“Bullshit! No one tells that Vampire what to do, not even the Hospital Board.”
“The Hospital Board doesn’t supply Mildred K with all of the chemicals she uses in her experiments, like I do. We were colleagues in the Arts [of thaumaturgy] long before Anna V enticed her into embracing that shortcut humans call science. In spite of her dabbling in that perversion, we remain the closest of friends, as close as sisters.”
“You’re in league with her! You helped her make me into a monster!”
“Don’t be so naive. Sure, I’ve always been fond of you. You’re a good kid. But. Previous faerie reincarnations, notwithstanding, you were still human before Most Embraced you. Now that you’re family, it’s different.”
Enraged, Connie starts to lunge at Margo, but Jenny steps in between the two women.
“Wise move on your toy’s part, Miss Smith. I’d hate to have to spell craft you into oblivion.”
“Jenn is not my lover, and I won’t work for you now or ever! And as far as that swami-me-into-oblivion bullshit; try it if you dare, you evil-tongued shrew! I’ll maul you, you cocksucker, like prime rib at a Goon bloodsport!”
“Stop acting like you’re still human, you oafish lout. I need use of your Dark prowess.”
“Jesus fuckin’ Buda, squirt. She’s right and you know it. Give that human shit a rest!”
Connie utters a low feral hiss: quite monstrous and decidedly inhuman. Then, she lashes out with more verbal aggression: “Bitches! Fuck both of you! You’re both pond scum! You fuckin’ monsters!”
Connie pushes past Jenny and storms out of the store, slamming the front door so hard that all of the windows in the shop rattle. Margo grabs hold of Jenny’s arm as she starts to go after Connie.
“She’ll be back.”
“I don’t understand why she’s so upset about not being human anymore. I have never seen nor will I ever see any advantage whatsoever in being Mundane.”
“I agree with you totally. Now. Let’s discuss something that’s really important. Would you mind helping me in the store today? I’m short-handed. That Troll I hired last week didn’t show up again.”
“Okay, Margo. Get me an apron. I’m your girl.”
“Now, that’s the spirit. Oh. By the way. How did Connie’s re-registration go?”
“Outstanding. I had her pick the surname Kane, just like Auntie Mildred suggested. Of course, the Mondo Anna part came from you and mom.”
“And what was the leftover?”
“Constance. That was her pick, not mine. Prophetic isn’t it?”
Margo shakes her head approvingly.
“Quite so, Jenn. Mondo is such a beautiful name for a girl demon, and it fits her so well.”
Connie returns to the store an hour after closing. Jenny lets her in and leads her back into the storeroom where Margo is waiting.
“I’m sorry about what I said earlier. I was wrong and I will help you.”
“I’ve already talked to Mildred. You’re off triple-shifts. I knew when you cooled down, you’d come to your senses. As a human, you were a most sensible girl. As my godchild, you can be no less.”
Godchild indeed. Jeez, the ink isn’t dry on my Race papers yet, and they’ve already carved me up like a Christmas turkey.
Connie walks over to the open vault. She carefully inspects its massive door and cavernous spellbound interior. When she finally emerges out of the vault, she inspects the tall brazen door again.
“This door’s a Hoax, isn’t it?”
“Very good, Miss Smith. The cops they sent to check into my burglary never guessed that the door was really a barrier spell. Its lock and hinges, which are real, have been enchanted to me, just like the clasp on the locket I fashioned for you is enchanted to you. Ergo, only I should be able to open the door. So, how did my thief get it open?”
“Your thief didn’t need to. He opened a temporal rift inside of the vault. I can still see faint traces of the [subspace] gateway. And, although he tried to mask it, his psychic signature is quite unmistakable. He’s a Daemon.”
“Which is no biggy,” Margo retorts flippantly.
“He’s also a First One,” Smith adds, after clearing her throat.
Jenny gasps at the mention that one of Them is involved and crosses herself. Margo isn’t fazed by their involvement.
Girl, does she have a lot of confidence in my ability or what? We’re not talking about some ham-n-egger here. He’s the real deal, a god!
“See, progress already. I knew you had a knack for the PI trade.”
“A knack, but not a license. And I ‘hear’ the Guild frowns on amateurs. Like, unlicensed gumshoes have a nasty habit of ending up floating at the bottom of the East River. Throats slit from ear to ear. Feet encased in cement overshoes. Spines severed Chi-town style by a long-configuration .45 Colt, .44-40 Win., .357 Mag., or a .32-20 Win., that’s been fired pointblank. Hands cut off postmortem by either a Tong-hatchet or a stone-ax. Not to mention their dicks-n-jewels and/or tits sawed off, depending on whether they’re a male or she-male or female or he-female, by a very dull kitchen knife. A rather gruesome mutilation, I might add,” Smith licks her lips, “that’s done while they’re still alive.” Smith pauses, that faraway look in her eyes. “Then again. The prospect of dying like that, is quite inviting for a girl like me.”
“Mom can get you a PI license, like pronto, like tonight. She’s still got connections at the Pentagon,” Jenny interjects, determined to keep her favorite paingirl from getting too far off track.
Connie notes there is no trace of bitterness or hurt in Jenny’s voice. Instead of being offended by her earlier outburst, her best friend acts as if it never occurred.
“I wish I could take the words back I said in anger this morning.”
Jenny merely shrugs her shoulders.
“What’s the use of explaining? Neither of you will ever understand what I’ve had taken away from me by that Most bitch!”
“Learn some respect, kid. That, Most bitch, as you call her, is your mother now. You’re Saved, just like us, because of what your mother did for you. Auntie Mildred honored you with her Embrace.”
“Enough. Find out who that devil is who stole from me.”
“It ain’t over, till it’s over.”