Transformations

Disclaimer: I do not own Without A Trace. Jerry Bruckheimer Television and CBS Productions have that privilege. I'm just borrowing it for fun. No money was made, and only respect was intended.

Notes: This is something of a horror story. Please do not expect a logical plot or reasonable explanations. You can, however, expect monstrous attacks, blood and (hopefully) a scary moment or two. Also this includes my own take on vampires, so it won't completely match up with vampire lore. Thanks go to Silvia for the Spanish translations, and Julie for her work as beta.


Martin Fitzgerald first saved and then printed the document on his computer. As the printer started to sputter out its newest report, he leaned back letting the lids close over his bloodshot, blue eyes with a sigh. The chair wasn't tall enough to support the head and neck of his six-foot frame, but he was too tired to care.

"Don't fall asleep yet," warned Vivian Johnson. "You still have to drive home." The older, more experienced agent knew all too well the dangers of pushing yourself beyond your body's capabilities. Her small stature sometimes led others to underestimate her, but she was a fierce investigator who loved her job. That she balanced her demanding profession with a stable family life earned her the respect of her coworkers, even when she started turning those maternal instincts on the younger members of their unit.

Martin glanced at his watch and groaned. By the time he drove home and crawled into bed he'd get, at most, four and hours of rest. "Do you think anyone would notice if I just slept here?"

"You'll notice in the morning when your neck is stiff and your back aches," Vivian predicted.

"What about you?" asked Martin. "What are you still doing here?"

"Reggie and his dad are at the game tonight, so it's not like I'm missing anything," explained Vivian. "Now that I'm finally caught up on my paperwork, I'm going home." Vivian swept up her purse and jacket. "It's about time for you to leave too, Martin."

Martin nodded in acknowledgement. Most of the office was empty. Samantha and Elena had left a couple of hours ago, chatting about where to go first on their 'girls night' shopping spree. Danny had also left, his story of an old college buddy visiting town, being enough to convince Martin to do some of Danny's paperwork. Jack was still in his office talking on the phone, but there was a grin on his face, so the call probably wasn't about a new case.

The printer finally quieted and Martin gathered up the sheets so he could leave them on Jack's desk on his way out. He'd just reached the hallway when his cell phone started to ring. He was tempted to ignore the call and let it go to voice mail, but his responsible side insisted he answer it. "Fitzgerald," he greeted. A breathy moan coupled with some incoherent mumbles was the reply. "Who is this?" Martin wasn't sure whether to be irritated or concerned. The change in his tone was enough to halt Vivian's exodus. She looked back at Martin inquiringly, but he could only shrug in confusion as he waited for an understandable reply.

"Martin, help por favor," murmured a barely recognizable voice, "I can't run anymore. No puedo seguir mas."

"Danny?" Martin rushed right passed concerned to alarm.

"Demasiados, too many to fight," Danny continued. "Everything hurts."

"Danny, I need you to tell me where you are," Martin instructed urgently.

"Callejon, estoy en el callejon," Danny slurred.

Martin searched his memory for the right translation. "Do you mean you're in an alley?" There was a mumbled reply that Martin took for agreement. "I need more, Danny. Can you give me the name of a street or business?"

"Tired." Danny's voice had fallen to a weak whisper. He couldn't even respond to Martin's questions anymore.

"No! Danny, do not fall asleep!" Martin ordered urgently. Then he covered the mouthpiece of his cell. "Get Jack," he instructed Vivian. Martin turned and ran down the hall to the tech room. Everything he needed to trace Danny's cell call was there. Mack, like so many others, had left for the day, but Martin knew how to set up a trace, even if he wasn't quite as quick as Mack. "Danny are you still with me?" Martin struggled to keep the conversation going while the equipment began isolating Danny's cell phone signal. "Danny, I need you to keep talking to me."

"Martin?" Danny's voice sounded confused, as though he couldn't understand why he was hearing Martin's voice.

A map of the city filled the computer screen, but the trace still hadn't localized his location beyond southern Manhattan. "I need you to focus, Danny. Look around. Do you see any street signs or business names that could help me find you?"

"Espera un minuto," Danny mumbled. Martin could hear the sounds of movement and hoped Danny was just repositioning to get a better look.

Jack and Vivian surged into the room on a wave of tension. Martin again covered the mouthpiece so he could explain what he knew. "Danny's been attacked somewhere around . . ." Martin threw a quick glance at the monitor. "TriBeCa. He may have a concussion. He seems confused with slurred speech, and he keeps dropping into Spanish on me."

"Danny said he was going to meet his friend at a pizza parlor near the New York Law School campus," remembered Vivian. Jack was already placing a call to the local precinct. They'd have the best chance of reaching Danny first, so they needed to know there was an agent in trouble nearby.

"Joe's Negocio de Empeno," Danny spoke once more.

"Say again, Danny. I didn't hear that," Martin instructed. The trace on Danny's cell finally pinpointed his location. Jack immediately relayed the new information to the locals, letting Martin focus on keeping their friend going until help arrived.

"Joe's Pawn Shop, en la vereda de enfrente," Danny repeated.

"You can see Joe's Pawn Shop across the street," confirmed Martin. "That's great Danny. Help is on the way." On the other end of the signal, Danny groaned and then fell ominously quiet. Afraid that Danny might lapse into unconsciousness Martin tried to keep the conversation going. "Can you tell me where you're hurt?" Silence answered his question. "Danny! Danny, I know you've been through a lot, but don't give up on me now."

"I'm here," assured a weak voice.

Willing to take what crumbs he could get, Martin asked, "Are you bleeding?"

"Yeah, bleeding everywhere," replied Danny in a detached manner. Martin fought back his panic at the answer. The tone of the reply had Martin wondering if shock was already affecting Danny.

"NYPD's almost to him," Jack informed.

"Okay Danny, back up is almost there. Can you hear the sirens, yet?" Martin asked. He needed to hear that someone was there to help Danny.

"Si, I . . . No . . . no, no, no, no, no." Panic suddenly strengthened Danny's voice. "Ellos me encontraron, Martin . . ."

"Who found you, the ones that hurt you?" This couldn't be happening now. The police were just moments away. "Danny?" A clatter announced the cell phone hitting something hard. Martin pressed his phone against his ear to hear the muffled sounds of struggle. Danny cried out in pain. "Where the hell is the back up?" cursed Martin. "Danny is fighting for his life out there!" As useless as it was to cling to the tiny phone, Martin needed to keep listening, needed to hear that Danny was still fighting to survive.

"They should be arriving on the scene, right now," Jack responded tightly.

Martin recognized the sirens, but couldn't understand the shouting in the background. For the first time he noticed that a couple of other agents had gathered, and were in a hushed conversation with Vivian. At Vivian's instruction one of the agents dashed off towards the team's desks. Over the cell, Martin thought he heard someone talking to Danny, but was it friend or foe? Then he heard Danny's voice urgently saying his name, and someone replying in a calm reassuring tone.

"Hello, am I speaking to Martin?" asked a strange voice on Danny's cell phone.

"Yes," Martin replied shortly. "What's happened to Danny?"

"This is Officer Draker. Your friend is safe. Our arrival scared off two perps who were trying to drag him further down the alley. We've called to have an ambulance take him to the hospital."

"This is Special Agent Fitzgerald. Danny is also an agent with the FBI's Missing Persons unit. What can you tell me about the perps?" asked Martin.

"Two good looking, well dressed guys in their late twenties. This didn't look like an ordinary mugging. Was your agent working undercover?" asked the officer.

"No, just supposed to be meeting with an old college buddy," admitted Martin. "How badly is he hurt?"

"Ligature marks on his wrists, blood loss from more than a dozen wounds. Are you sure this isn't related to some case? Because honest to God, he looks like he's been tortured," informed Officer Draker. With a queasy stomach, Martin passed on the information to Jack.

Jack's jaw clinched tight for several seconds before he forced it apart to speak. "Vivian, I want you to go down and check out the crime scene. We also need to track down the friend that Danny was supposed to be meeting. Martin, make sure a couple of officers escort the ambulance to the hospital. We'll meet them there."

Martin repeated the instructions to Draker who replied, "The ambulance is pulling up now. It shouldn't take us more than twenty minutes to reach the New York Downtown Hospital. We'll stay with your agent until you arrive."

Martin ended the call. The next few seconds found him staring at his cell, replaying Danny's call in his head. "You handled it just right, Martin." Martin was a little surprised to find Jack standing at his shoulder. "You kept Danny talking long enough to get a trace. You got help to him as quickly as possible, while extracting the information needed to start an investigation. Your fast action probably saved his life."

As sincere as Jack's words seemed, they did little to convince Martin. "Somebody tortured Danny, and they almost had him a second time." Not even in the midst of the Teno assassination, when their car had been spinning out of control and Martin had realized he'd been hit, had he felt so utterly helpless.

"We're going to find out who they are, and make sure they never touch Danny again," promised Jack. "Now go grab your coat. We need to get to the hospital."


Fate seemed to be laughing at them right now. Jack would swear, under oath, that every traffic light had turned red just for them; that every moronic driver in New York City was competing to get in his way. He was giving serious consideration to ramming as a viable option, when the hospital came into view. That Martin had not once mentioned Jack's increasingly aggressive driving, showed how shaken he was by Danny's attack. Not that he and Vivian weren't affected, something like this was bound to send shockwaves through the whole team. Shit! He hadn't called Samantha or Elena. It was a toss up as to who would be more pissed when they learned he'd waited so long to call them. He'd deal with that just as soon as he'd confirmed Danny would be all right. Parking in what he was fairly certain was an off-limits parking spot; Jack cut the ignition and headed for the Emergency Room doors. Martin followed close, like a too pale shadow.

Inside, it was easy to find where Danny was being taken care of. A uniformed police officer guarded a door at the far end of the hall. A second uniform could be seen through the room's window standing beside a gurney while a nurse attended the patient. Jack pulled out his credentials as he approached the policeman.

The officer pulled out a roll of papers and offered them to Jack. "The perps managed to elude our foot pursuit, but I did get a look at them."

Unrolling the papers revealed the sketched likenesses of two men. One showed both face and profile, while the other left part of the criminal's visage shadowed. "Did you draw these?" asked Jack, noting Verna on the officer's nametag.

"Yeah, I help out our sketch artist sometimes. Draker is in with your agent. The doctor said he'd be back with the results of some blood tests." Officer Verna continued speaking as Martin signaled Jack, and then entered Danny's room, replacing Draker at the unconscious man's side. Jack could understand why Martin needed to see Danny, especially after handling the phone call. On the other hand, someone needed to get details from the first responders and talk with Danny's doctor. Times like this, it really sucked being the boss. Jack looked back at the young policeman who added, "I'm sorry we weren't able to get either of these guys. They just seemed to melt into the darkness." He shrugged apologetically then motioned down the hall. "This is Doctor Hyde. He's been working on Danny. Doctor Hyde, this is your patient's coworker, Agent Malone."

Jack shook hands with the doctor, asking, "What can you tell me?"

"Your friend was brought in suffering from shock due to blood loss. Once we raised his blood volume he stabilized enough for us to suture his wounds. We counted fourteen cuts on various parts of his body; including his arms, legs, torso and abdomen, each requiring 8-13 stitches," detailed the doctor.

"What about his concussion?" inquired Jack.

"There was no concussion," insisted Doctor Hyde. "His altered mental state was due to the drug in his system."

"What?" demanded Jack.

"At some point in the last six hours your agent ingested flunitrazepam more commonly known as Rohypnol . . ."

"Some one slipped him a Ruffie?" Jack interrupted using the drug's street name.

"Yes, though I don't think he received a full dose, thus his ability to fight his attackers," explained the doctor. Hyde pulled a plastic bag from one of his coat pockets. "While I was treating his wrists, I pulled these fibers from the wounds. I hope they can help you." Once Jack had accepted the bag the doctor continued. "I'm not sure if it's related, but I did hear of another similar attack last week. A twenty-five year old woman was drugged with Ruffies, ritually cut and bled, raped and then dumped near St. Vincent's Emergency Room."

"I heard about that case," volunteered Verna. "It got bumped up to the Special Victims Unit. But would a rapist go from attacking a girl to a guy? I thought they tended towards a certain 'type' of victim."

"That depends on whether the attacker is getting his rush off the rape or the torture. If it's about him controlling another's pain and suffering, he might have targeted Danny as a challenge," theorized Jack. "I'll look into the case and see if they're connected." Jack hated going through the motions of an investigation, but at this moment it was the only thing he could do to help Danny. It was time to place some calls to Samantha and Elena, and find out what Vivian had discovered at the crime scene.


There was something he needed to be doing. Danny tried to focus his thoughts, but everything was a confusing muddle. There were blurry images of people he didn't know; a woman's laughter that sent fear coursing through his system. The more he tried to identify the fragmented memories, the worse his head ached. There were other pains too, sharp cuts and stabs that he couldn't escape. Shadowy shapes closing in on him, holding him down. He tried to fight, but they ignored his blows and pinned him tighter. There were so many screams of pain, and not just his own. He had to get away, had to . . .

"Easy, Danny. You're safe now," assured the lone thread of sanity in the tapestry of his nightmares: Martin.

Danny forced his eyes to open, revealing the hazy image of his coworker and friend. This wasn't the first time he had awakened, though he couldn't remember if he'd woken three times before or four. Danny knew he was in a hospital, though the room seemed different than the first time he'd come around. Hadn't he seen Jack here too? Martin offered him a cup of water with a straw to help him drink. It was amazing how good that cool liquid felt slipping passed his mouth and down his throat. It even seemed to make his headache recede a bit and calm his turning stomach. Wait a minute. He knew this feeling. It might have been ten years, but he still remembered that dry mouth, headache and nausea equaled a hangover. Just what the hell had he gotten into last night?

"Nothing you need to feel guilty about," replied Martin to the question Danny hadn't even realized he'd spoken out loud. "I want you to listen to me closely, so maybe this time you'll remember what I'm telling you. The doctor found no trace of alcohol in your bloodstream, none at all, Danny. We think someone slipped you a Ruffie to incapacitate you."

For the first time Danny noticed the bandages on his arms. He could also feel aches and pains scattered across his body in an echo of his nightmare. The white gauze circling his wrists was a light reminder of the rough twine that had bound him before. 'Struggle all you want, Hero. It won't help you in the end.' Danny's whole body jerked at the murmured threat. "She's not gonna give up." Certain dread told Danny that his ordeal was just beginning.

"She? There was a woman involved in the attack?" Martin jumped on the tiny scrap of information before he could stop himself. The other times Danny had awoken, he'd barely been able to figure out what day it was. Doctor Hyde had warned that the drugs would likely impair much of his memory of the attack. Rohypnol was popular amongst rapists because it so often left victims unable to identify their attackers. Victim: it was just so wrong to have that word associated with Danny in any way. He was a survivor. If Danny had retained some memory of what had happened last night, they would use it to track down the ones who'd done this and force them to answer for their crimes. Martin was willing to do everything in his power to see that Danny got justice.

"Yeah, there was a woman. A lot of other things are mixed up, but I remember her voice." Danny's raw throat hissed out the words in a mixture of loathing and fear.

Martin reached behind to his coat hanging on the chair. Pulling out a tape recorder he showed it to Danny. "We can do this now, or wait until later to take your statement."

Eyes locked on the small device, Danny had to ask, "Are they going to let our team handle the investigation?"

"We'll be sharing our information with SVU since they have a similar case, but for right now we're primary on the investigation of your attack." Martin didn't add that Jack had been forced to argue fiercely to win that privilege. It was entirely possible that Danny's case could still be taken from them, especially if the higher ups thought the team was too emotionally involved.

"Let's do it now. I want to get this over with." If only speaking about what happened could somehow purge the nightmares from his mind.

Giving Danny a minute to gather his composure, Martin pulled out a pen and paper for notes and then set the recorder on the rolling tray between them. Pushing one of its buttons he began to speak, "This is Special Agent Martin Fitzgerald interviewing Special Agent Danny Taylor about the incident of October 27th. It is currently 7:43 am, October 28th. The interview is taking place at the New York Downtown Hospital." Meeting Danny's eyes he waited for a nod before proceeding. "Do you remember leaving the office last night?"

For a second, a hint of a smirk ghosted across Danny's lips. "I remember conning you into doing my paper work so that I could cut out early." Now he was wishing he'd never left the office.

"Did you meet your friend after you left work?" Martin prodded.

"Yeah, wait, no," corrected Danny. "I went home first to change into casual cloths. Then I met Ryan at Paulo's Pizza Pies."

"You met with Ryan Saluke," Martin clarified.

"Yes. Ryan picked the restaurant. He always liked their pepperoni and pineapple pizza." Danny hesitated as the memories became fuzzier and less pleasant. "We were there for at least an hour; long enough to get our food. Long enough for Ryan to tell me about the crazy woman he'd made the mistake of dating. He kept referring to her as 'The Queen Hell Bitch'. I think it was supposed to be a joke, but every time he said it he sounded scared."

"Maybe the same woman involved in the attack?" offered Martin.

Danny took a moment to consider Martin's theory, but the more he thought the more lost and confused his expression became. "I'm not sure. I don't remember seeing her. Just a voice." 'Are you going to save your friend, Hero? You can't even save yourself.' Danny felt his very soul weighed down by failure.

"Where did you go after the restaurant?" asked Martin trying to pull Danny from whatever dark thoughts trapped him.

Danny's brow creased in concentration. "I don't remember leaving. Maybe that's where I was slipped the Ruffies," Danny offered.

"What do you remember next?" Martin hoped to keep the memories flowing without putting too much pressure on Danny.

Danny could barely navigate the dark flow of nightmare images. "My wrists were tied, above my head. I think . . . I think it was the smell that brought me around." When he closed his eyes the stink swamped him again.

"What smell?"

"Blood. It was overwhelming, like the back of a butcher shop, only worse." Danny took another sip of water. "I remember figures coming at me with knives. Cutting me. I tried to kick them, but I couldn't seem to get my legs to work."

"Lack of coordination is a side effect of the drug," reminded Martin. "Can you describe any of your attackers?"

Danny tried to focus his memories, but couldn't pull what he needed from them. "I can't. They're just shadows, blurry shapes. Damn it, why can't I remember?" Danny's fist pounded the bed uselessly.

"You had Rohypnol in your system. We're lucky you can remember anything. You've already given us more information than we had any reason to expect," Martin soothed.

"It's not enough," insisted Danny in frustration.

"Okay, let's try to go at it from a different angle," suggested Martin. "You told me what you smelled and saw. You also mentioned a woman's voice earlier. Is there anything else you remember hearing?"

Suddenly a memory that Danny's subconscious had diligently suppressed rose to the surface. 'Oh God, help me. Please stop. I'm begging you, please make it stop.' Nausea swirled in his gut as Danny remembered. "Ryan, begging me to help him," Danny's tone was thick with self-loathing. "He needed me and I ran."

"We don't know everything that happened, yet," cautioned Martin. He was certain that Danny wouldn't have left another behind if he'd had any choice.

"What's to know?" demanded Danny raging more against himself than Martin. "I'm here, and Ryan's not!"

"Danny . . ."

"Where's Ryan?" Danny's voice got even louder.

"We're looking for him right now," admitted Martin. "Which is more than we would be doing if you hadn't called for help. No one else has reported Ryan missing." Martin grabbed an uninjured spot on Danny's arm to try to get him to listen. "You were drugged. You were tortured. You were suffering from shock. Yet, despite all that you still escaped and managed to call for help. Danny, you did everything humanly possible to help your friend."

"But what if it wasn't enough? What if I left him to die?" whispered Danny.

Martin wasn't sure how to battle the desolation in Danny's voice. "What ifs aren't going to help Ryan," Martin pointed out, perhaps a bit too harshly. "You did the best you could under the circumstances. You need to accept that and move on." The words sounded reasonable, but Danny didn't look anywhere near acceptance. Realizing they'd hit a roadblock, Martin shifted their path with another question. "Danny, do you remember firing your gun last night?"

"My gun?" Danny had forgotten that he'd been carrying his gun with him.

"Vivian found it in the alley where we found you," explained Martin. "It had been recently fired and your ammo was spent. She couldn't find any shell casings, so we think you may have used it before you got to the alley. Maybe during your escape." The last statement was a half question that Martin hoped might prompt Danny's memory.

Danny felt more confused than ever. He didn't remember slipping free of his bonds or escaping his capturers, but surely he couldn't have forgotten firing his gun, especially in a life or death situation. When he tried to concentrate on his gun, his mind went blank. Then a terrifying thought presented. If Danny had been so high on Ruffies that he didn't remember firing his gun, how did he know he hadn't shot some innocent who'd been in the wrong place at the wrong time? "I'm sorry, Martin, I don't remember anything about the gun," Danny finally answered roughly.

Realizing that Danny didn't have anything left to give, Martin stopped the tape recorder. "That's alright, Danny. You did really good. You gave us a lot to work with. Why don't you try to rest again?"

Danny looked away and swiped at the side of his face, trying to erase his tears before they could fall. "There's nothing restful about those nightmares," he admitted shakily.

"Then I guess it's a good thing you've got a brother like me to wake you up if they start again," declared Martin.

Danny looked back at Martin. Swirling emotions choked his words, but Martin could see the thankfulness in his eyes. Danny took one more sip of water and settled back into his pillow. He'd just started to doze when he jerked awake, the panicked confusion returning.

Martin set his hand on Danny's shoulder. "You're safe. Jack's right outside. I'm right here. Just rest." Martin's words anchored Danny against the turmoil of his own mind. Seconds later he was asleep.


Vivian walked down the hospital hallway towards Jack, trailed by two other agents. Reaching his side she joined him in looking through the window to Danny's room. Martin was in a chair beside Danny's bed, one hand resting on Danny's arm, his head pillowed on the edge of the bed. "How long have they been like that?" she wondered.

"Martin finally dozed off about fifteen minutes back," said Jack. "He took Danny's statement about an hour ago. It wasn't easy for either of them, but Martin won't leave Danny's side." Jack shook his head ruefully. "He'll probably get more sleep here than he would at home."

"That chair looks even more uncomfortable than the one at work," murmured Vivian. Before Jack could ask what she meant by that, she was speaking again. "Agents Fairfax and O'Malley came down to relieve you and Martin of guard duty." Agent Fairfax nodded to Jack, while O'Malley offered his hand.

"Doctor Hyde and Nurse Brockmeyer are the only staff cleared to enter the room. Let Martin sleep until lunch if possible. I want him rested before he tries to start working the case," instructed Jack.

"Speaking of the case," started Vivian. "Samantha and Elena came up with something at the pizza joint. One of the waitresses confessed to serving Danny and his friend, Ryan, the drinks with drugs in them. She claimed that a redheaded woman of maybe thirty told her that if she didn't do it, she'd be dead before the sun rose. About fifteen minutes after the waitress gave them their drinks, the redhead entered the front of the restaurant with another woman and two other men, and gathered up Danny and Ryan like they were picking up a couple of friends that had overindulged."

"Sounds well planned and executed," commented Jack. "Something tells me this isn't the first time they've snatched someone."

"The good news is the waitress did hear Ryan refer to the redhead as Elizabeth. Elena said the waitress was so scared that she's begging to be put into protective custody. Apparently she afraid the redhead might find out she talked to us," added Vivian.

Jack snorted. "She drugged an FBI agent and now she wants us to protect her? Yeah, right, that's going to happen," was his sarcastic reply.

"She sounded pretty desperate to me." Vivian shrugged. "Anyway, we showed her the sketches that Officer Verna did, and she recognized the second perp form the alley."

"But not the first?" asked Jack.

"No," insisted Vivian.

"Well, that seems to gel with what Danny could give us," commented Jack. "Ryan was apparently worried about some ex-girlfriend, and Danny remembered hearing a woman's voice during the attack. It's starting to look like this was about Ryan, not Danny."

"Kidnapping, torture, that's pretty extreme just to get back at your ex," pointed out Vivian. "And why go after Danny? She could have just as easily grabbed Ryan when he was alone."

"Extreme is the word for it," agreed Jack. Then he lowered his voice. "Dr. Hyde said he found light bruising around four of Danny's wounds. Bruising consistent with skin that's been sucked on. Two of the swabs he cleaned Danny's wounds with came back positive for saliva."

Vivian was shocked to hear that. "So what? Ryan's ex is a woman with a vampire complex, that decided Danny looked tasty?"

"Or she's a sexual sadist," suggested Jack. "Either way we need to learn more about her. I'm going to dig into Ryan's recent past and see if I can find out who 'Elizabeth' is. I also want to know if the others she's been seen with are getting paid or if they're her followers. I want you to liaison with SVU. Let them know what we've got so far, and find out how closely their case matches up. I'll have Sam and Elena focus on the canvas between the pizza parlor and the alley we found Danny in. They're almost twelve blocks apart. Hopefully someone saw something."

"Sounds like a plan," agreed Vivian. She nodded to Agents Fairfax and O'Malley, and headed off to meet with the NYPD's Special Victims Unit.

Jack hovered by Danny's window another minute, watching his two agents sleep. The fact that Danny's skin was almost a shade lighter than Martin's drove home how much blood he'd lost during the night. "No one gets into that room," instructed Jack. Though it now seemed the attack hadn't been related to Danny's job, Jack still felt that his agent was in danger. The guards would stay until he was convinced otherwise. Once he'd received two firm 'yes sirs', Jack left for the office.


On the fourth ring the phone was finally answered. "This had better be important," warned a gravelly voice.

"Bathory is in New York and she's already attacked three innocents," reported the caller.

"Any deaths?" came the quick demand.

"Not yet, but she and her group are apparently holding some guy so they can play their 'games' with him. Another managed to escape, but that could create new problems. Not only is he compatible, but he's also a federal agent," warned the caller.

"Compatible?"

The caller understood the implied question. "It wasn't easy, but I was able to get a look at his blood tests. There's no sign of infection."

There was a heavy sign. "I thought Montreal was going to take care of her."

"They're claiming that she disappeared just hours before their Reckoning. She may have been tipped off. Are you returning to deal with her?" the caller asked hopefully.

"I made a blood oath to help eliminate Gains. I won't be able to return to New York for several more days. There haven't been any deaths yet, so just keep an eye on her and contact me if the situation escalates." There was a hesitation, and then the voice continued. "If you should happen to be questioned by investigators; try to be helpful. The more time she spends trying to avoid them, the less she'll have to prepare for us."

"That's risky," pointed out the caller.

"She's the one that started attacking people in my city. She can damn well deal with the consequences!"

"What about the law enforcement agents she may slaughter along the way?"

"Bathory might be insane, but she's not stupid. She'll move on to greener pastures rather than be hunted like a criminal," was the prediction. "I can't talk any longer. Call me when you have something new to report."

The dial tone buzzed for several seconds before the caller put the phone back in its stand. "I hope she doesn't kill too many people proving you wrong."