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Bloodletting

In Burgas, a port city in Bulgaria, a man walked through the streets, looking around himself. It was dark, nearly ten o'clock at night, but the gas lamps made it bright enough for the people around the man, all busy with late-night shopping or less savoury activities, to see around them as clearly as if it was the middle of the day.

The man in question was wearing a simple black suit and a white shirt, black shoes, and had fairly long reddish-brown hair. His name was Henry Jekyll, and he was looking for a friend.

*****

"Coming through!" Sawyer smiled, as he suddenly tore out of the building beside Jekyll, clutching a large assortment of bags. Due to the closeness of Christmas (It was only three days away now), the LXG had persuaded Nemo to stop off in Burgas for longer than he would have normally, and were purchasing Christmas presents for each other. While mostly they did it by themselves, Sawyer had agreed to give Jekyll a hand in finding some presents for Mina and Nemo; for Skinner Jekyll had already asked Nemo to help make him a new batch of lock picks, and Sawyer's he had acquired fairly easily. Mina had gone missing the day after their arrival, saying she had some personal business to attend to, but nobody was worried about her; they knew she could take care of herself.

"Did you get everything?" Jekyll asked. Sawyer put the bags down and smiled at him.

"You bet, Henry," he grinned, as he picked up two bags and showed Jekyll their contents. A fresh batch of chemicals had been purchased for Mina, and Nemo would find himself the owner of a new set of tools come the holiday.

Jekyll smiled as he looked up at his leader. "Thank you, Tom," he said, as he took the bags from Sawyer and turned around towards the port.

*****

"Anytime, Jekyll," Sawyer smiled, as he began to walk after his friend. Due to the size of the Nautilus, they had decided that they'd only use the Nautiloid to get to the surface. If an emergency arose then the League would bring the entire Nautilus up, but since that was unlikely they weren't considering it.

As they approached the Nautiloid they saw Skinner coming towards them, his arms laden with parcels and his white face grinning.

"Hi there, darlings," he smiled at them as they continued walking. "Get anything good yet?"

Sawyer raised one finger. "Ah-ah-ah, THAT would be telling, and anyway, you'll find out in a few days."

"Well, can't blame a guy for trying," Skinner smiled as they reached the pier where they'd parked the Nautiloid. When they'd started using it, they'd erected a DO NOT USE sign in front of it, so nobody would go on it and find the ship.

Looking down at the Nautiloid, where it sat at the end of the pier, Sawyer briefly found himself surprised that nobody else had developed something about this. When explained to him by Nemo, the principle of it all seemed so simple.

Then again, many elaborate inventions appeared to be simple when explained to others.

Glancing around to ensure their privacy, Sawyer slipped the packages to Skinner, who dropped them into the Nautiloid before slipping in himself. Just as Jekyll was about to follow on, a massive scream suddenly sounded from a large block of flats behind them!

"What the...?" Skinner asked, poking his head out of the Nautiloid. However, he found himself a bit behind his teammates; Sawyer had pulled out a pistol and was heading towards the source of the scream, while Jekyll was checking his pockets for a phial of his serum. As Skinner got out, Jekyll had located one and, with it clutched in his hand, he was running after Sawyer.

Deciding that he wasn't going to be much use as he was now, Skinner quickly shrugged his clothes off and rubbed away the paint from his face. Now invisible, Skinner ran after his friends, not caring or noticing the footprints he was leaving in the dust on the road.

*****

As Sawyer reached the flats, he quickly glanced up and saw a broken window just above him. He didn't recall hearing it get smashed, so it must have happened around the time of the scream. He filed that piece of information away for later reference, and then dived into the building, hearing Jekyll and Skinner hot on his heels.

As he tore up the stairs towards the floor where he'd heard the cry, he suddenly ran into a rather shaken looking man, who was waving a stick at him. He quickly froze on the steps, and held up his hands in a calming gesture.

"Easy there, Mister. I'm just here to talk," he said. The man looked over Sawyer, and decided that he could probably cope with him in the event of an attack. He lowered his stick. "W-who are you?" he asked.

"Secret Agent Sawyer of the American Secret Service," Sawyer explained. Before the man could reply to that, he raised one finger and said, "Before you say anything, I know I'm some way away from America, but I'm currently on special assignment on a more... unique group." He then tried to look a bit more professional. "Anyway, what happened here?"

"Oh..." the man said, looking back. "T-terrible accident, m-my wife..."

"Can you let us see her?" Jekyll said from Sawyer; he'd come up while they were talking. "I'm a doctor; if nothing else, I can examine her condition."

"Well, t-that's not much help, y-you see," the man stuttered nervously. "S- she's dead..."

"Oh...I'm sorry," Jekyll said, leaning forward and laying a comforting hand on the man's shoulder. Then, a thought occurred to him. "Well, you still need a doctor for the death certificate. I'll be prepared to deal with that."

"Th-thanks," the man replied, sounding ready to cry. He turned around and began walking up the stairs. "Sh-she's this way."

As Jekyll began to follow him, Sawyer grabbed him by the arm. "Are you qualified for this kind of thing?" he hissed.

"Well, I have a doctorate in medicine, and a fair grounding in physiology. I think I can make a fair diagnostic."

Sawyer nodded. "On you go," he said, and Jekyll ran on past. As soon as he'd gone, Sawyer stuck out one arm and felt someone go 'oomph' as they hit it.

"Skinner, scout around and see if you can find any clues as to who did whatever happened her, or where they went. I'd do it myself, but you can go places I can't. OK?" he said, staring down at where he hoped Skinner was lying.

"Uh...sure," Skinner replied, getting up and starting to walk up the steps again. Sawyer waited a few moments, and then walked up after him.

*****

Having reached the top, Sawyer glanced around at the room where the murder had been committed. The door showed no sign of being forced, so whoever had killed the woman had been invited in. However, the fact that the window was broken to the apartment suggested that the killer had gotten out that way from the apartment. That suggested was either strong, courageous, insane, or... Someone with incredible abilities.

Fortunately, we've got extraordinary ones, Sawyer thought to himself as he peeked over at what seemed to be a living room, given the chairs in it. Inside it, Jekyll and the man were kneeling over a body wearing a long, beautiful, blue dress. However, the effect of the dress was ruined by a large gathering of blood around the top, apparently spreading from a neck wound.

Deciding Jekyll would want privacy, Sawyer headed for the room next to that one, and opened the window. Leaning out, he looked over at the next window. It confirmed his theory; there was a small bit of glass on the windowsill, and he could just make out some more on the ground below, glinting in the dust. As Sawyer watched the window, he suddenly saw something hanging on the sill.

Curious, Sawyer pulled out his pistol and poked it towards the thing. On the first try, he hooked it off the sill and looked at it.

It was a piece of black cloth with a red inner lining. It appeared to be from some kind of cloak, but it didn't give him any clues as to who- or what- had worn it.

*****

Jekyll sighed, got back onto his knees, and stared at the man in front of him. He sighed.

"I'm sorry."

"Why?" the man asked. "She was already dead, you couldn't have done any-"

"Her method of death was quite terrible," Jekyll sighed. "It would appear that someone, or something, literally...sucked her nearly dry. I can barely feel any liquid inside her at all."

"Oh dear god..." the man gasped, as he looked down at the dead body.

Jekyll wasn't thrilled about it either, but for different reasons. The method of killing was horrible, yes, but he'd seen bodies looking like this before...

The bodies of the Fantom's soldiers after Mina had drained them.

Shuddering slightly at the thought, Jekyll quickly reached over and looked at the woman's neck.

It was just as he feared. Two small red dots were on it, just a little bit behind the jugular vein. They exactly resembled the two wounds on the Fantom's soldier that he'd seen after Mina had attacked them.

He broke off that train of thought at once; Sawyer or Skinner may find some evidence that went against that theory. There was no reason to suspect Mina had succumbed to her baser instincts until he knew for sure.

*****

Skinner whistled slightly as he stared around the flat where the crime had been committed. In his old days as a thief this kind of thing would have been a very major haul if he'd tried to pull it off, but in his new career with the LXG he was more into looking for clues.

Briefly he wandered into the room with the body, but upon seeing Jekyll already there, he just gave the corpse a quick peek before running out of the room. If there was anything to be found there, Skinner had faith that Jekyll would see it.

Just then, he noticed a scratch on one wall. Examining it, he noted that it wasn't deep, but it still was a lot deeper than someone dragging a knife of some kind along the wall; even if they had been, no knife could make that deep an impression in stone. Following the scratch, he tracked it to a rather large room that seemed to be dedicated to religions; there were a great deal of symbols. A star, a seven-pronged candlestick, and...

A crucifix.

Lying on the floor of the room.

That was the one that really intrigued Skinner. He knew that vampires were normally vulnerable to them (Mina claimed she was an exception due to her never having taken innocent blood), and, from what he'd seen of the body, a vampire would be the prime suspect. He was almost surprised at his even thinking of that as an option, but given that a teammate of his was a vampire, it wasn't like he was thinking up something ridiculous.

The question was, was he dealing here with an actual vampire, or just some loony? Noting some slightly blackened parts on the crucifix, he was prepared to bet an actual one; most likely the vampire had tried to grab someone and had hit this instead, thus sustaining a bad burn. No human could have faked that.

But where was the vampire now?

And, more importantly- was it Mina?