I found Mr. Locke in the spacious garage, as expected, along with a driver for his car. There was one naga bodyguard. Otherwise, we were alone.
“Good,” Mr. Locke spoke at the sight of me. “Quickly now, there is no time to waste,” he added, sitting in the back of the car while the other bodyguard walked around it to the front seat.
“Yes, Mr. Locke.”
I obeyed and took a seat inside the back of the car. I used the seatbelt according to protocol, to protect the people in the car. If we crashed and my mass collided into one of them, they would likely be injured.
“May I ask for more information on where we are going? It will make it easier to predict security risks and scenarios.”
“To the slums,” Mr. Locke said, offering me a piece of paper – a copy of an email conversation between a doctor and his patient. “This doctor works for me in my private hospital, but it seems like he has betrayed me. A few months ago, it was brought to my attention that several expensive equipment had gone missing, and they suspected someone was stealing from me. And not only that. Those damn rebels have been infiltrating my companies all around the city, so it wasn’t a surprise when we found out we may have a traitor in our hospital.”
I read the email conversation, noting how a doctor named Luca Valencia was entertaining the idea of helping a patient with infected gills free of charge. He didn’t directly say it, since no doctor would be reckless enough to promise free treatment on their work email account, but the implication that he would contact them outside of working hours was there.
I accessed the hospital’s supplies. Some of the specific equipment and supplies meant to treat gills had gone missing during his shift, making his guilt very likely.
“We are going to look for the doctor?”
“Indeed, we are,” Mr. Locke smiled. “Stealing from me, breaking our contract, and possibly equipping my worst enemy with my own supplies seems like a good excuse for… firing him. The woman in this email is one of my own men. I wanted to make sure we have the right person before making any drastic decisions, so we hatched a plan to catch him red-handed. I need to see his betrayal with my own eyes.”
“As you wish,” I agreed.
“Valencia is a vampire, but I doubt it’ll be an issue for you?”
“Vampires are no match for me.”
Considering the doctor didn’t seem to be expecting a double-cross, I did not estimate the chances of a fight high. Nevertheless, I thoroughly scanned the dirty, crumbling building we arrived at a few moments later.
It was a typical slum house, with one man inside. The set-up was easily done. We agreed with Mr. Locke’s man that Locke, the naga bodyguard and I would wait in one of the back rooms. The human accomplice would lead Dr. Valencia inside, his last chance to rethink betraying Mr. Locke.
If he went inside, I would strike him down and he would be executed at Mr. Locke’s orders.
Dr. Valencia took less than an hour to arrive.
I detected footsteps behind the door, and a voice saying, “She’s here.”
The doctor, unsuspectingly, walked through the door. I grabbed him, forcing him down to his knees. I constrained his arms with one hand, using the other to make Luca Valencia look up by grabbing a fistful of his long hair.
“Well, well, well… Dr. Valencia…” Mr. Locke said with a click of his tongue, looking disappointed.
“Mr. Locke? What is this?” The vampire feigned surprise and innocence.
“I’d like to ask you the same question,” Mr. Locke said slowly, his posture turning threatening as he wrapped arms over his chest.
“I’m… I…” The vampire faltered, clearly caught in his lie now.
“Tell me if I’m wrong, but it looks like you are breaking our contract, and I understood that this has been going on for quite some time.”
“No! I came to visit a friend!” the doctor hurried to say, obviously lying.
“A friend?” Mr. Locke repeated, pulling the copy of the email conversation out of his pocket. “You broke our agreement, and now you’re lying about it. And if I’m correct, that briefcase is actually my property?”
The naga guard grabbed the briefcase from the doctor and opened it for Mr. Locke, who frowned at what it contained.
“You’ve also been stealing from me,” he said. “It’s not looking good for you, doctor.”
“To hell with you!” the vampire suddenly spat, trying to get up in vain. “This city is dying because of you! These people are sick and dying because of you! The only reason I worked for you is to get my hands on your supplies!”
“I’m shocked,” Mr. Locke spoke, but my sensors detected no such emotion. “I gave you a good job in my hospital. I gave you a nice apartment in my complex. You had access to cheap blood and other benefits. And this is how you repay me? By stealing from me?”
“You are the one stealing from people! You’re taking advantage of our community!” The vampire tried again to free himself from my grip, unsuccessfully. “Working for you made me disgusted with myself, but at least I got to use you to help those in need!”
“Is that so?” Mr. Locke scoffed and turned to look at me. “Take him. Let’s see if our dear doctor feels proud of what he has done once I’m done with him.”
The doctor’s muscles twitched. He was ready to fight, but I swiftly put an end to it by injecting a tranquilizer into his neck. It was a swift working liquid, immediately making the vampire go weak.
“I’ve been waiting for this quite some time now,” Mr. Locke smiled at the doctor, who passed out, and nodded at me. “Take him to the car.”
“Yes, Mr. Locke.”
Soon, we were in the moving car with the vampire tucked away into the trunk. The driver took us out of the city and into the old forest surrounding it, continuing as far as the road would let us. It was raining when we stepped out, and Mr. Locke took a big umbrella for himself, ordering me to go get the vampire.
We continued walking through the forest for several minutes until we reached a swamp.
“This will do. Tie him to that tree,” Mr. Locke said, and the other guard came to me with heavy, magic-infused shackles.
The vampire was slowly coming to while we tied him to the tree, bending his arms back around the trunk and securing them behind it. The vampire would not be able to escape these bonds due to the magical power in them.
Once we were done, Mr. Locke ordered me to wake up the vampire. Considering the nature of the mission and the current relationship between Dr. Valencia and Mr. Locke, I selected a sharp hit across his face as my method. The vampire lifted his head groggily, taking a moment before his gaze found Mr. Locke.
“You cost me thousands,” Mr. Locke spoke loudly. “Treating patients behind my back was one thing, but stealing equipment and drugs, giving them to my enemy… That’s where I draw the line. You said you used me, so now I’ll use you to deliver a message to dear old Sadie.”
The vampire seemed to understand his position and tried to thrash against the shackles without answering Mr. Locke. The despair on his face was evident as he realized he couldn’t break the iron.
“If she finds you,” Mr. Locke added. “Do you enjoy watching the sunrise?”
Luca Valencia looked up at the sky. By Mr. Locke’s orders, I had positioned him to face the morning sun. Mr. Locke pulled Dr. Valencia’s necklace out of his pocket. He had taken it from the doctor when he had passed out. It was the vampire’s only protection against the sunlight.
Mr. Locke threw the necklace at the vampire’s feet where he could not reach it.
“To hell with you!” the doctor yelled, but Mr. Locke only chuckled.
“I hope the sunrise is exceptionally spectacular this morning,” he smiled before he started walking back to the car.
I followed him without looking back.
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