Yorkshire Times
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Stephen Dee
1:00 AM 12th March 2024

Blood Perfect: Part Ten

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Photo by Tim van der Kuip on Unsplash
Photo by Tim van der Kuip on Unsplash
''Send me Parx's number, yeah?'' Flick pulls on a pair of high-waisters that were waiting for her in the closet. ''I'll need to speak to him while I'm out.''

''What's the plan?'' says arKhana from the bath. ''You coming back?''

''I'll make sure of it.'' She dangles her tits over his face so he can have a final nibble then pulls away. She puts on a bell-sleeved blouson in a sickly shade of green.

''Very fashionable,'' says arKhana.

''You mean this is in now? You've got to be kidding me.'' She checks herself out in the mirror next door. ''I look like a fucking Shlurp Dancer.''

''What was that?''

Flick is about to pop her head out the portal but the monitor on the wall activates itself. The cursor flashes for a moment and she watches it like a trained animal until two words are typed:

blood perfect

Someone is paying attention after all. ''I'm off now,'' she calls to arKhana. ''I think the Boomboom's wearing off.''

''Ok but go steady. It can bounce back.''

''I'll bear it in mind.''

Shem is waiting for her on the gantry outside her cell.

''Hi Mikey,'' she says to the droid as she brushes past Shem in the narrow space.

Mikey nods.

''You smell nice,'' says Shem.

''Been getting myself dolled up. You owe me dinner.''

Mikey transports them to the Half and Half where Dominion is, of course, delighted. He makes a small, squeaking noise when Flick makes her entrance, loyally followed by Shem who is dressed more soberly this time.

''Are you never off-shift?''

''Madam,'' Dominion says, with as much gravitas as he can muster, which is quite a lot, ''I have vowed, solemnly and with all my heart, that for as long as you're on shift I will be.''

Flick beams at him. ''You know what, Dom? That actually makes a difference.''

''I did nip home for a short while last night,'' he whispers, ''but I only slept when you did.''

''And I wouldn't hold that against you! We must stay alert.''

''Indeed Madam, I couldn't have put it better myself. Could I persuade you to take a private booth? Not that you wouldn't pass muster in the public lounge,'' he gestures to her outfit.

''Thank you, Dom. I think discretion may well be for the best at this critical moment,'' she winks.

''Oh indeed. Indeed indeed...'' as he slithers to the portal.

There is a man waiting for them in the private room, wearing a synthetic leopard-skin one-piece, including claws.

''Vinst,'' says Flick, not overly surprised. ''Still dressing like a twat then?'' She grabs the man and hugs him.

''I'll let you have a moment,'' says Shem.

''Thanks,'' says Flick, touching his arm as he withdraws.

''He seems nice,'' says Vinst, pouring them a Djïnn.

''You picked well for once,'' says Flick.

''He's Mother's boy really,'' sighs Vinst. ''I never could quite get your tastes.''

Flick sits at the table opposite her brother. ''Took your fucking time though didn't you?''

Vinst holds up a claw. ''I was waiting for the right opportunity. Not all of the families want to see you reinstated. We had to wait for the balance to shift. I've been working hard behind the scenes.''

''I'll bet. ''Flick isn't for believing him. Vinst has nothing to gain from her return.'' So. From the beginning.''

Vinst arrived at the dig to find Bekra kiLasse striding, somewhat melodramatically, between two limestone pillars. She turned back to face her two colleagues, raised a hand.

''No,'' one of them said.

She looked disappointed but not surprised.

''Show me,'' Vinst said. He appeared rather outdated in his fimnel vest.

''In here,'' said kiLasse.

He followed her through an opening in the cavern wall. In the small anteroom there was a bench with a selection of tagged items placed neatly in a row. Mostly they were bits of ancient tech. Amongst the archaeology there was a modern-looking Filophone folded down to its smallest size. It was a bit dusty but otherwise appeared to be undamaged. Next to it was an envelope with his sister's name on it. Inside the envelope was a little square of absorbent card, about the size of a fingernail. The card had an image printed on it of a roulette wheel.

''Found last week.''

''How long has the dig been going on?''

''A month. But it's been on the books a while.''

''As part of what?''

''Your family's development programme.''

''Right.'' Vinst paused. ''Remind me, what are we planning to build here?''

kiLasse didn't roll her eyes exactly but she couldn't stop herself from half-raising an eyebrow.

''I'm a busy man,'' said Vinst. ''I don't micro-manage.''

''Sorry,'' said kiLasse. ''Let me check.'' She unfolded her own filo into a slate and diddled with it. ''It's reserved for an engineering project,'' she said eventually. ''Some sort of research facility. Why? Do you think it's relevant?''

Vinst shrugged and picked up the device. ''Probably just the timing,'' he said. ''Our development plans are on the public record. Whoever left it left it to be found, probably by us.'' He tapped the machine on.

''It's in videos,'' said kiLasse, unnecessarily.

''You're sure it's not been dicked about with?''

''Not yet. But there's nothing obvious.''

Vinst ran the video then stepped back out into the main cavern. He looked at the two pillars. He stroked his chin, picked at his stubble. ''Do we know who he is? Was?''

''No. There's no clear view of his face and the phone's unregistered.''

Vinst went to the position from where the footage was taken. ''What about the tab?''

''Something new. Temperance are calling it Gamechanger.''

''Original. Temperance are speaking to us about this?''

''A little. They have an interest. They're calling our man The Chemist. Won't give us a name but they say they know where he might have gone to ground.''


''They're not telling us that either. Yet.'' kiLasse stepped between the pillars and re-emerged on the other side. ''I never get bored of that.''

Vinst clicked his tongue. ''They're after him?''

''The drug's a prototype, not much of it exists. Our man took their entire stash.''

''And they want us to help them find him. Why would we?''

''They know where he is, in general terms. They need our help getting to him.''

''I meant what's in it for us?''

''They got very interested when I showed them the footage.''

''Why did you show them the footage?''

''I had to, to get them to talk to me about the tab.''

''Why do we care about the tab?''

''In case it has something to do with the wyrmal!''

''Wyrmal,'' said Vinst disdainfully. ''There is no wyrmal. You've called me out here searching for mugwumps and fairies. This guy didn't just evaporate.''

''Temperance seem to think there's something in it,'' said kiLasse. ''Temperance are very keen. They're saying they'd like to pursue it, in a bi-partisan way. In the interests of science.''

''They don't believe in this stuff,'' grunted Vinst. ''It was probably Temperance who planted the phone in the first place. They just want their stash.''

kiLasse shrugged, as though non-committally. ''The two things could be connected.'' She put a not-very-convincing thoughtful look on her face. ''There's not many people out there who could connect the dots, mind. In fact, the only person I could think of...''

''I'm not bringing her in,'' said Vinst. ''This is just another pretext. I'm not bringing her in.''

''Okay,'' said kiLasse. ''I'm just an advisor.''

''I'm not bringing her in.''

''Okay. But you do realise how this could change your personal position with the Hierarchy if this were at all wyrmally?''

''If the other families find her they'll send her down. Won't they?''

''Not all of them but, okay, fair point.''

''Temperance brought this to the table didn't they?''

''They wanted to know why her name would be on the envelope. They thought it might be some kind of message.''

''They want her bringing in. They always have.''

''They say they can protect her.''

''They can't.''

''Well we're not doing it, so that's that.''

''That is that. She's my sister.''

''Of course.'' kiLasse looked thoughtful again. ''Of course.''



''What's with the look?''

''Doesn't matter, said Bekra. ''It's academic. We're not bringing her in anyway.''

''It better be,'' said Vinst. ''Academic.''

''Oh it is, it is. I was just... never mind.''

''You were just what?''

''I was just thinking how we could actually make this work for you. Personally.''

''I'm not doing it,'' says Vinst. ''And that's an end of the matter.''

''Of course, of course.''

''I don't even care about this Chemist. Or the drugs. Why should I?''

''No reason,'' said kiLasse. ''No reason whatsoever.''

''I'm not bringing her in.''

''Of course you're not. Of course she wouldn't have to know that it's you who's bringing her in. Especially if the worst were to happen and she was indeed taken into custody.''

''You think that could actually happen?'' Vinst raised an eyebrow.

''Of course, it's a risk.''

''Who else would she trust?''

''Oh I don't know. Maybe we could pique her interest. Send her a token of parley. See if she might come on blind faith.''

''A token of parley? What kind of a token?''

''It doesn't matter does it? It's academic.''

''It is academic, you're right. I'm not bringing her in.''

''Of course you're not. Of course.''

''I mean, what would happen if she wasn't sent to prison. What would my position be in the Hierarchy then?''

''Tenuous, it's true.''

''It's just too risky.''

''Of course. Of course it is. Let's just forget about it, whatever the potential gain might be, it's simply isn't worth the risk.''

''You're right, kiLasse,'' said Vinst. ''You're absolutely right.''

Vinst told a version of this story to Flick, in his own words.

''We were lucky that footage was found at one of our sites. It was the opportunity I'd been waiting for.''

''Okay. Do you have it? The footage?''

Vinst retrieves his phone from a pouch in the one-piece, along with the envelope with the Gamechanger tab in it. He unfolds the phone and runs the footage through, gives his sister the tab. ''That stuff you've been saying on the feed... Rux, are Arbitration coming out?''

''Felice. They're giving me enough rope for it that's for sure.'' She looks at the footage again. ''You think this is a set up?''

''Of course it's a set up. People don't just evaporate. Someone wanted to get you here.''

''Okay. So who brought it to you?''

''Temperance. I assume.''

''And who have you been speaking to at Temperance?''

''kiLasse put me onto some woman named Maginty,'' says Vinst. ''Emelia. Liaison I think.What's arKhana given you?'' Vinst asks. Clearly Temperance aren't for trusting him either, hence why he's come crawling out of the woodwork. She could set her clock by him.

''Nothing much.''

''But he's set up a meeting, yes? With a player?''

''I have a contact,'' says Flick. ''I'll see if I can set up a meeting.''

''Good. Keep me in the loop with that, through Shem.''

''We'll see. I have to build trust with them.''

''Yes but we need to make sure we're singing from the same...''

''I said we'll see.''

''It's me that's got your back here, Rux. Don't forget that.''


Vinst is quiet for a moment then pipes up: ''What if Arbitration are coming out, Rux? What if they actually are?''

''Now that, brother, is a very pertinent question.''

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