Damage Control - 4 iii

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STAGE IV AND V - SET THE BODIES ON FIRE AND START THE RIOT

Location: Anax Corp - Mission Control

On the all clear of Javier, all of Marx's men and the vampires left. They used the secret tunnels that snaked underneath the grounds of the facility to make their leave. Shea and Hana remained in the control room.

Anabella gave the order. "Release phase 2 of the gas."

"Releasing."

"The humans are coming to," Shea said.

"Hana, as we rehearsed."

The comms went dead, and Anabella waited.

A few minutes later their comms come back online, and Shea said, "Compulsions set. Activation word to be said."

Anabella called Vescovi again. "It's time." To Hana, she said, "Activate and trigger the alarm. Philippe, start the fire. The humans can handle the rest." To the people in her control room she said. "You all know the drill. Let's wrap this in a tidy bow."

***

Everyone who was part of the operation came back to Anax. Almost all of them.

"Where is Daniel?" Marx asked Shea as they walked out of the elevator. One of Anabella's staff who was with them led them to the boardroom.

"Said he had something to take care of," Shea said looking around her. She whistled. "Swanky little setup up they got here, and we get spotty cable. Thinking I may be living in the wrong place."

"Loch is the reason you have the spotty cable at all," Marx said.

Shea made a face at him as they entered the room. Ichiro kicked out the seat beside him looking at Shea. She gave Marx another look when he turned his head away to hide a smile.

"Still alive I see," she said sitting down.

He replied, "You too."

Vescovi entered the room his hands out before him, a smile splitting his face in two. "Very thorough work everyone," Vescovi congratulated them.

"That was—different," Helick said.

"That's putting it mildly," Shea grumbled under their breath.

"As opposed to a more primitive approach of ripping and rending and leaving the bodies where they lie?" Anabella asked amused as she entered behind Vescovi. Philippe was with her. "We do things differently here in Pentorium."

"Yes," Vescovi agreed. "We like to do things with a little more finesse."

"How long have you been doing that?" Garrick asked. "Elaborate as it was it was well planned and executed. That comes with practice."

"Centuries of it," Anabella offered. "We have had slip ups here more than once with vampires doing things that would have exposed us many times over."

"So we place our own in key positions," Vescovi picked up. "The police department, coroner's office."

"Federal agencies, you get the picture. We are everywhere. But we only use our influences to keep our secret. We don't abuse our powers. Well—some of us."

Instinctively everyone knew to whom she was referring.

"What happens now?" Marx asked.

"Now my people do what they do best—control the rhetoric; falsify all the records they need to keep the story as we want it."

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