Title: Vengeance Disclaimer: belongs to Jim Butcher and Scifi channel.
Warnings: Naughty Language
Murphy was insane. Not that I blamed her, the boss was right to be worried. First two 10 year old girls went missing then turned up dead, killed in a horrific way. Yesterday her daughter Anna hadn't come home from school.
I sat in Harry Dresden's office with my boss. Her ex husband was furious. He was ripping into my partner for wasting money hiring Dresden.
"I don't believe you, why hire this fraud? Throw good money away? Chicago PD and the FBI and two sheriffs departments are on the case, if you want to hire someone lets hire a REAL investigator."
"What money?" said Dresden, looking confused.
"Shut up, Harry." Murphy said
I didn't like her ex. I didn't like the way he talked to her. I didn't like the way he was breathing, or his body language.
I stood up and grabbed him by the lapels of his jacket. "Get out" I said, hauling him to the door. "Dresden may be strange but he gets results. If you don't like that go hire your own damned PI, but quit hassling my partner and wasting precious time. Anna is missing and the clock is ticking."
I slammed the door behind the man and turned to find Dresden and Murphy both staring at me with the strangest looks on their faces.
"Why, Kirmani" Dresden said "I didn't know you cared"
"Oh shut up."
Murphy flashed a rather grateful smile at me. The first I had seen since last evening.
A young boy opened the office door and tossed in a water balloon before we could stop him. Murphy and I looked at each other confused as Dresden panicked.
"The wards!" he yelled as he kid ran.
Dresden did something and his hockey stick came flying through the air. As Murphy and I tried to process this, another man appeared in the room. To be accurate; there was a transparent hologram of a man in the room.
I drew my weapon and the hologram laughed.
"Dresden," it said. I see your Lieutenant is here, and her partner. He looked at me and smirked. "Do you really think that will do any good?"
I holstered it.
"Who the hell are you" Murphy demanded. "What are you?"
"I have your daughter," said the spectral figure. He gestured and Anna appeared next to him.
THAT got our attention. Murphy nearly screamed. Dresden paled. I tried to note every detail.
"I want the skull, Dresden, the girl for your skull."
Dresden went white and began to tremble.
The figure pointed at me. "He will bring it to me, and we will make the exchange."
"You have one hour to think it over. I will get in touch with you then."
Dresden stared at the spot where the hologram has been. He kept whispering what sounded like "not bob."
My boss looked at me then at Dresden. "What's he talking about, Harry"
A gentle voice from the shadows startled us both.
"We have no choice, Harry."
Dresden groaned. "I know, Bob."
I whirled around and saw the source of the voice. An older man with stark white hair was standing in the shadows near Dresden's desk. He looked at me and pointed at a strange skull on a nearby bookshelf.
"He means that" he said.
I looked at the thing.
"That was Thomas White. He was a friend of your uncle's, Harry." Bob said. "He was his ally. He serves the black. I'm surprised he's waited this long for revenge."
Dresden looked up, a resigned expression on his face.
"I'm not giving you away, Bob. I'm sending you to help Anna"
The two men looked at each other, ignoring Murphy's near panic and my total confusion.
"Do whatever you have to do to save her, Bob. I don't mind."
Bob started to protest.
"That's a command." Dresden said in a near whisper.
The other man looked at Murphy. An expression of grief flashed briefly on his face before he stared at the floor. "As you wish." He said.
My mind did a bit of gibbering as the man called Bob dissolved into smoke and lights then disappeared into the skull. I restrained the urge to pull my weapon and aim it at the skull. The boss gaped.
It seemed forever before the hologram re-appeared. The kidnapper gave directions to a mall of all places. A large and crowded mall, where there would be too many people around. He added the standard disclaimers, of course. Come alone, unarmed, no police or else. Not that we were going to take a chance with Anna's life.
Dresden packed the skull carefully in a padded bag and handed it to me. "Be careful with him" he told me, his voice dead.
Murphy did something then she had never done before. She hugged me.
"Be careful, Sid, bring my daughter back safe, please" I had never heard her like this.
"I promise, Connie" I told her. I would, too. Whatever it took, I would bring Anna back safe. I left the office and set out in my car with the padded bag beside me on the front seat.
Everything went according to plan. I parked in the place White had designated. I saw the other car. White was in it with Anna. He got out of his car, I got out of mine, leaving the keys in the ignition and the car running.
I left the skull on the front seat and White and I switched cars.
It was only when he peeled out of the parking spot in MY car that I realized that Anna was in fact not really there. I hit the gas, desperate to follow the murdering bastard. We both hit 80 while still in the parking lot. He brought his – no MY car to a screeching halt before we made it to the street. I ran as fast as I could but when I got to my car White was gone. So was the skull. No one had even opened the doors.I would rather have died than go back and face Murphy. I had no real choice. I returned to Dresden's office in my car. The look on Murphy's face when I told her almost killed me. I could have coped with anger or rage but not with that haunted look of despair and grief.
Dresden barely reacted.
"We'll get her back, Murph." he said in a wooden voice. "Someone stole Bob last year. After that we made this" he reached into a drawer of his desk and pulled out a baseball. Murphy and I looked at it.
"Oh good. We have a baseball." I said. Dresden didn't even rise to the bait. He grabbed his hockey stick and a drumstick.
"Are you two armed?" he asked.
"We need to stop at my place." Murphy said, a fire growing in her eyes now. I was damned glad that look wasn't for me. I knew the kind of armory she kept hidden in her basement.
We loaded up at Murphy's. Bulletproof vests, that double barreled shotgun Murphy likes. I took one of the sawed off shotguns she kept hidden under the floor and a couple of .45s. I slipped a couple of long extra sharp throwing knives into holsters I hooked on to my belt. We were loaded for bear. Dresden took nothing.
After Murphy left the basement Dresden stopped me. He handed me a tranquilizer gun he had found in the stockpile, along with a few darts.
"If I start acting strange," he said "shoot me. Kill me if you have to."
I looked at him in exasperation.
"Define strange" I asked.
"If I try to attack Murphy or you." He said matter-of-factly.
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"He has Bob, and he has Anna" Dresden said tonelessly.
"Bob will tell this guy whatever he wants to know. He'll do it to protect Anna. He'll do it because I commanded him to.
"All he needs is my full name, with that White will be able to control me from a distance using black magic. He could make me attack you, or Murphy. He could kill me without ever coming near me. But he doesn't want me dead. He wants to hurt me."
He handed me an envelope.
"If something happens to me, give the skull to Anna. If anyone asks, show them this."
I looked at him. It was like seeing him for the first time. Harry Dresden. Wizard. Now I believed him.
I nodded at him. "You have my word. I won't let you harm any of us."
Dresden looked grateful, and the tension left him in a long sigh.
"Thank you, Detective" He said simply.
A magical baseball skull locator works like this: you hold it in your right hand with your eyes closed. You make it light up all yellow, then you put your left hand on the shoulder of whoever is driving and they suddenly know where to go. They even know how to get there. It was a very strange sensation.
I pulled up outside a fancy estate on the outskirts of town. We stared at the high walls and locked gates.
I barely had time to wonder aloud what we were going to do when Dresden raised his hockey stick and blasted the fence wide open. So much for stealth.
I gunned the engine and drove onto the grounds. I thought I heard Murphy whisper "police." Oh good. We've announced. We're covered then, no jail for us, no sirree.
We piled out of the car. Dresden was still holding one hand on the baseball and the other on my shoulder and was still… feeding me coordinates, as it were. We mounted the stairs to the mansion's wraparound porch.
That's when his hand dropped from my shoulder. That's when he raised his hockey stick and aimed it at Murphy's back. A stream of fiery force just missed her. I could see Dresden was trying to fight for control, but he was loosing. He was in agony. I took the dart gun from it's holster and shot him. Dresden growled and turned the hockey stick on me. I shot him again and he collapsed, his hockey stick clattering to the pavement. He wasn't waking up anytime soon.
Now things were getting interesting. Murphy and I split up, leaving Dresden handcuffed in the car, with his hockey stick locked in the trunk.
I hadn't gone too far into the rear entrance to the mansion when I got hit by a flying object. "UNCLE SID", it wailed. I wobbled but did not fall. Anna was crying but not panicking. I tried to peel her off for a second. but gave up the effort. Crying nine year olds with their arms around your neck are not easy to remove.
"He's coming, he's coming, We have to go, Uncle Sid, we have to go, or he will hurt Uncle Bobby more.
"The bad man hurt Uncle Bobby bad. He asked things, and said he would hit me again if he didn't get the answers. It hurt him when he answered all those questions." Anna said solemnly. "He saved me. We have to help him"
Anna was holding the padded bag with the skull.
"Let's go" I said, as footsteps started heading in our direction, then bolts of green fire. I put Anna down and told her to run. The man from the hologram was striding through the hallway hurling green fire from a short metal staff.
I covered Anna as she ran, trying to get off shots at the Voldemort wannabe. A sheet of green light enveloped me. I wondered if I would live -- and if I would have a jagged scar to show for it.
I lay face down on the floor of the hallway, barely able to move.
Run, Anna. I saw her disappear out the door. Good girl.
Then I saw nothing.
I woke up in the backseat of my car. What on earth had Murphy done to White?
Anna was watching me somberly.
"Are you ok, Uncle Sid?" Anna looked at me worriedly then she screamed at the top of her lungs "HE'S OK!"
Murphy climbed into the driver's seat and started the engine. Harry was out cold in the front passenger seat.
"We have to get out of here NOW" and we were out of the gate at full speed, the sounds impossible forces being unleashed behind us. The smell of ozone filled the air and my hair stood on end.
Bob emerged into the crowded car with a haunted look on his face. "I had to tell the truth. I had to do as that bastard said." Then a rather predatory look; "I did not have to tell the whole truth. I left out the warnings."
The mansion exploded behind us.
"Oops," he said.
The skull.. man… ghost.. whatever 'Bob' looked at Harry almost in despair.
"Is Harry…" he couldn't finish
Anna held the carved skull closer to her. She looked at Harry and whispered. "He's ok, Uncle Bobby. He's going to be ok." She looked at me. "right? He's going to be ok"
I nodded. "It's just a tranquilizer. He told me to use it in case… He's just sleeping."
Murphy drove us back to Dresden's apartment. She helped me carry Dresden up to his bed. I handcuffed him to the bedpost just to be sure.
Murphy hugged Anna then. They were both crying and hanging desperately on to each other. I turned away. I took the skull downstairs and placed it where it had rested before. I sat down at Dresden's desk and tried to clear my mind.
There was so much at this point that I wanted to forget, to deny. I wanted desperately to return to my reality which did not include any of the things I'd seen in the past few hours.
"Bob?" I whispered and looked at the skull, feeling foolish.
He emerged in front of me.
"How may I help you, detective?"
"What are you?"
"I can't tell you that, Detective. You should ask Harry."
"Today didn't happen. None of this happened. Its too much. I can't believe…"
Bob smiled sadly at me. Was that compassion? For me?
"Do you wish to forget?" he asked me gently. "There are those who can take memories from you, if that is what you want."
I looked at him, startled. No doubt the offer was genuine. I considered it.
"No. I think I'll be able to manage that on my own, thanks."
He laughed then, with real humor and perhaps affection.
"I hope you don't, Detective."
He turned serious and looked me in the eyes.
"I can't begin to express my gratitude, Detective. You saved Harry."
"You saved Anna. I don't think I'll ever understand what that cost you."
He nodded and looked up towards Dresden's bedroom loft.
"Would you do me a favor, Detective?"
"Before you leave, would you take my skull up there?" he gestured to the stairs.
I lifted the skull and took it up the stairs to the loft with Bob following me closely. I put it down on the bedside table and Bob took up a position to watch over Dresden.
"Thank you. For everything." He said quietly before turning his attention to the sleeping wizard.
As I watched Murphy with her daughter and Bob guarding Dresden I decided that perhaps I didn't want to forget any of this after all.
I kind of wished I'd gotten that scar.