The Puppet Assassin - Ch 23 [the situation -|- luke]

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"The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary."

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Chapter Twenty-Three

The Situation | Luke


I drove up my street and as I got closer to my house I saw Liam standing out by the driveway, looking up at the stars. I did the same as I got out of my car, wondering if he was looking at anything specific. But there was nothing other than the usual sparkle. Even a shooting star would be welcome now, something to make me wonder. Rather than some ugly news.

"So, you got some information. May I ask how you received this even though it's my case and you are not even an officer, of any type?"

I looked over at Liam. He looked tired. About as tired as someone usually did when they were forced to sober up fast. He was going to be sleep deprived for a while. We were in a load of shit.

"It's not that I don't trust you." I shuffled my feet a little, now realising that he could see it as going behind his back. "I got some samples from the victims, just to do some side research of my own, you know?"

He nodded but said nothing, his expression neither angry nor disappointed but hard. Unreadable.

"I have a few contacts with the Gardaí, it's near impossible not to being part of a so called 'pack'. So I got some forensics done. Liam, I think that your results were hacked or someone didn't test the right thing, on purpose."

He snorted. "The people that did the work are professionals, the best, and have been trained with LASER for near half of their life. It's unlikely you're right. Just tell me what they found, supposedly."

I ran a hand through my hair. "People can be bought off, no harm in a little extra cash for them. But what I'm about to tell you makes it absolutely certain that someone has rigged the results. Liam, the bodies' samples do not match the person's DNA."

"What?!" Liam jolted, staring at me with disbelief.

"The bodies are like dummies, they have human DNA but it is not the same as the supposed victim's and there are differences to the average human, it's creepy... I don't know how to explain this properly. All I know is that there are people being mourned when they might not even be dead!"

I bit my lip and began to pace. This was like science-fiction. People were being abducted and people are believing that they were dead. For what purpose?!

"I'll need to talk to this connection of yours. This is a serious issue, huge, you understand, if it's absolutely certain. I'll have to call several people, goddamn it. If you're right, Luke... If you're fucking right, there is a big problem."

He pulled out his wire, looked at it and then looked at me. "The bodies, though. Does it mean that there are people getting their appearance changed and then being sucked dry? Luke, this is widening the case. This is fucking huge."

I grabbed my own wire and called the group who had given me the news earlier.

"Sir?" one of them answered.

"I'll need you to go over your findings, in detail, with Liam."

"Of course," was the answer.

I handed my wire over to Liam and leant against my car. I looked up at the sky again, only half listening to what Liam was saying. There were rumours that America was about to launch another civilian flight to the moon this year, after the success a few years back. I stared at the moon and wondered why people would even consider going. It took so much time, wouldn't they miss their home? What about their responsibilities? All just to say that they stood on the big rock that is orbiting the planet. It made no sense to me.

"Thanks. You've done a great deal for the case.... I'll give the deputy instructions for your raise... No, you've been a big help... Yes... yes I am sure."

I watched as he unhooked the wire and slowly handed back to me. Our eye's connected and I saw resignation and anger in his.

"I need to make several calls. I think it's best for us to go up to your office."

"Yes," I said simply. I led him up the drive and unlocked the front door.

As we were making our way to my study, Elanora popped her head out of her rooms. She took one look at our faces and her expression turned determined.

"Tell me what I can get you, Luke." The women had been the daughter of the maid who had worked with my grandfather. She had worked for my father, near brought me up and now worked for me. The concern on her features made my heart warm slightly.

"Two coffees, please Nora. And, if you could, keep members of the pack away from my office for a while."

She bobbed her head. "Of course." And she scurried away. Reliability. I wish everything in my life was a sturdy as she was.

I shut the door as Liam entered the study behind me and immediately got to work.

** **

Hours later my study was a different place. Liam had brought up a large map on my screen that showed the houses and businesses where the dummy bodies had been found. Next to it was a list of the names of those who were missing. They were all Shifters. All of them names I recognised. I still hadn't called their families to tell them the supposedly good news. It was cowardly but I didn't want to answer all the questions about where they could be. Liam and I still had no clue.

There were sheets and sheets of paper lying around the room, some helpful contacts, some useless. Lots and lots of possible holding places. Different industries that could be supplying the machinery and/or personnel for the making of the dummies. We had also found out that two members of Liam's forensic team had disappeared, which made me instantly suspicious. They had stuck around for the previous murders, why disappear now? How did they know that we were onto them? The other members were being held in a secure building, prepping for questioning.

And all that wasn't even the half of it. My headache was back, pounding away. So much for keeping myself stress free, Paddy was most likely going to kill me if I asked him to fix me up again. And I couldn't ask Lark, who would probably question why I wasn't going to Paddy. But nothing would stop me from figuring this out. A lot of my people were out there, being held somewhere for some unknown purpose. Curiosity was killing me. What was happening to them? Why were they being held prisoner? Why did the capturers want us to believe that they victims were dead?

I pulled out the next number, a realtor who oversaw the rental of a warehouse at the town's border. I dialled the number and wasn't surprised when the answering machine automatically clicked on. It was past two am.

'Hi, you've reached Bill Adams. I wasn't able to make it to the phone but leave a message and you never know, I might pick up halfway. Don't forget your number if I don't answer though! I will always return the call! Here comes the beep!'

The voice was entirely too cheerful for my current mood.

"Hi Bill. My name is Luke. I have some questions about one of your properties. Please call me on 77-250-10 as soon as possible. Thanks." I hung up. I nearly threw my wire at the wall. I couldn't wait until tomorrow when we would have more agents working, as well as some of my own people. Liam and I could not handle all this by ourselves.

"That's it," snapped Liam. "We break for tonight. The hour is against us anyway. Do you have a spare bedroom I could use for tonight?"

"Yeah, the one two doors down on the left." I massaged my temples.

Liam stood and collected a few sheets of paper and one of my laptops under his arm. He frowned and, before I could react, reached out and pressed his free hand over my forehead. I felt a sharp zap of heat and almost immediately my headache eased.

"Thanks," I said hoarsely.

"Don't mention it," he said back, sounding exhausted. "Make sure you rest up, Luke. I have rules for people working with me they include no overexertion."

I grunted. Whatever. He couldn't stop me from working by myself. And I wasn't going to get any sleep tonight anyway so I might as well stay up and continue working.

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