Zach scanned his notes again before his meeting with admin. He refused to let his nervousness show, knowing that hidden cameras would be watching his every move. He’d given up trying Erin some hours before and as it became later in the day, his focus had turned to prepping for the upcoming interrogation. As he scrolled through his PC Tablet, he not only went over his reports for their Toronto assignment, but recapped any new information he’d picked up about Kaleb and the Reshu clan.
He was waiting in an outer office, which was more or less a holding room. There was no furniture and Zach shifted from leg to leg impatiently. He wondered if Erin had been through the wringer as he had before she’d left for China. Usually they talked about their dreaded admin experiences, with Zach the one who always felt that anytime they were called in, it was Erin’s fault. This time, they’d both screwed up in one way or another and Erin wasn’t even there to gloat.
“Come in,” a voice boomed from a speaker he couldn’t see and Zach obliged, immediately making his way into the judgement room.
“Good morning sirs, mam,” he said as he entered, and nodded to the admin staff. They were six of them, arranged behind a semi-circular desk, each of them a few feet from the other. Praesidium’s Director Anders Kjaer, a blonde man, well-built and in his late forties, sat in the most prominent position, peering at Zach expectantly over his wire-rimmed glasses. Zach took his place, facing them in a space that was much like a courtroom’s witness box, with a curved wooden table and no seat. He stood confidently, preparing himself for whatever they would throw at him.
Anders spoke first, “You know why you are here?”
“Yes, Case 5558960, Toronto, Canada. Kaleb a lycan of the Reshu clan turned humans into werewolves, defying the law of the Leader of Clans in the process. Containment officers Commander Tremblay and Officer Skinner aided the lycan, using unauthorised mind wipes to—” Zach paused as Anders raised his hand for silence.
“Spare us what’s in your reports, that’s already in front of us. Your partner, did she let the lycan escape?”
Zach kept his expression neutral as he answered, “No. If you would refer to my report, after the explosion, Erin told me that Kaleb had escaped—”
“But you didn’t actually see this happen for yourself?” To the right of Anders was his deputy Lauren Monroe who’d cut Zach off, she had risen quickly in the organisation’s ranks and was well-known for her no-nonsense attitude and quick results, no matter the methods.
“No, as I said, when I’d recovered from the explosion, the first thing I did was make sure Erin was okay and that’s when I found out that—”
Lauren interrupted again, her brown eyes boring into his, “So you have no real evidence that she didn’t just let him go?”
Zach tried to control his indignation, choosing his words carefully. “The only evidence I have in this case is that I trust my partner and know that Erin wouldn’t let a known criminal escape justice.”
“Fancy words, but that’s all they are, words. Isn’t it true you have no idea what she’s capable of?”
Anders answered before Zach could, “Come now Lauren, why would he lie to us? After all, he kept the truth from this same partner he claims to trust, for more than two years.” This caused some murmurings among admin and Lauren gave him a self-righteous look, pushing her dark hair from her shoulder.
Zach finally spoke, “I kept the secret not because I didn’t trust Erin, but because I was ordered to by my superiors. What am I if not a man of my word? That may be tolerated in containment, but wardens hold higher standards.” He knew it was wrong the moment he said it and the annoyed expression that crossed Anders’ face confirmed it, but what could he do? Can’t take it back now. Zach waited for the proverbial shit to hit the quickly spinning fan.
“There is no need for such talk in this forum,” was all Anders said before shuffling through the papers on the table before him.“Where are you on the Reshu clan?”
That was a quick shift of gears, Zach thought, but was not surprised that Anders was against dwelling on the topic. It was a great embarrassment for Praesidium that their own officers had betrayed them and Zach wondered how far they would be able to sweep this slight under the rug.
Clearing his throat he answered, “Judging from their patterns over the last four centuries, they must be somewhere in Europe again. This close to the Gathering and with all that Kaleb said, I believe they’re already over there planning.”
Lauren spoke up, surprised, “In Albania? We have units all over the country and no reports have been brought to us of such.”
Zach shook his head, “Not Albania, not yet, but they must be somewhere close, maybe Greece or Serbia? I have people flagging anything suspicious going through the ports in the surrounding countries.”
Lauren nodded as if she approved, but Zach soon realised this was too good to be true, “You have no leads,” she said dismissively, then conspiratorially to those at the head table, “We’re wasting our time here.”
“I’m inclined to agree with my colleague Zach. If there’s nothing else you can tell us, this meeting is concluded.” As though he was no longer in the room, admin started a new conversation among themselves.
Zach battled with a question. Thought against it asking, then did it anyway. “What’s going to happen to Erin?” Silence fell across the head table. Damian had advised that they keep Jacob’s intentions private but Zach rushed on, “Jacob has gone to see her in China, he plans to tell her more than maybe any of you know about her.” Seeing he had their full attention, he asked again, “What’s going to happen?”
Anders cleared his throat, but it was Lauren who spoke, “She’s not ready for this, Jacob must not be thinking straight.”
“You all already know about this?” Anders disregarded Zach’s question as he answered Lauren.
“When have you ever known that vampire not to be in complete control of his actions? No, there must be more.”
The silence deepened and Zach watched, anxiety building as the head table members sat deep in thought.
Finally, as though just remembering he was there, Anders said, “I’ll speak to Damian. This separation between the two of you ends now. When she returns from China, make sure you’re there to greet her, we’ll need you to observe her as you have in the past.”
“That’s what made her angry with me in the first place, I don’t think that—”
“Then don’t think! You’ll do as I say,” Anders bellowed, “her fate and all of ours, depend on it.”