Nate pulled the Escape to a stop in front of the ranch-style house in Camp Hill, a peaceful hamlet in the southern part of Haverstraw. He took a deep breath, turned off the SUV and climbed out, making his way steadily up the walkway to the house. He knocked loudly and stepped back so the door could swing open, revealing a smiling young man.
"Nathaniel! So good to see you again." He said warmly, pulling the other man into a warm hug, being mindful of the injured arm Nate still had. He let him go and took a step back. "Come in come in. Elder Shasta is waiting for you on the back porch."
"Alright. And it's good to see you as well, Allan. Gray Warren hasn't been the same since you left last year." He smiled and followed Allan through the house, making sure not to track dust on the rugs. Cats swarmed him and twined their bodies through the space between his legs, purring at him thunderously. Allan held a wide set of double doors open for him, which led to the porch outside.
"I'll bring the coffee around shortly." Allan said, like the good host he'd always been and Nate nodded and went through the doors. Lounging on a soft looking couch, looking deceptively young for her centuries on this earth, was Elder Shasta. She looked hardly older than thirty-five at the most, with flowing blonde hair and sharp, mischievous green eyes and a smile that never seemed to stop.
"Nathaniel!" She crowed, leaving the chair to wrap him in a nearly bone-crushing hug, moving his injured arm out of the way so she could give him one of the full-force greetings she was known for. "Look at you! You've actually gotten bigger since the last time I saw you, you damned shrimp!" She said teasingly.
"Elder Shasta! I'm supposed to bow when I get here! Not have my ribs broken by your hugs!" He said nervously. Elder Shasta pulled back with a snort and she flicked her hair out of the way so she could level him with the full power of a deadpan stare. Conscious that, despite her appearance and behavior, he was still talking to the head of the New York State Council, he bowed his head, wary he'd taken a sharp tone of voice with her.
"Nathaniel, do us all a favor and remove the stick from up your ass. Please?" A voice said from the doorway and both Nate and Shasta turned to look, Shasta's face lighting up.
"Husband!" She shouted enthusiastically through her giggles at his joke and she flitted over to the door to embrace their visitor. He was tall, tan and smiling roguishly, winking at Nate in a friendly manner as he wrapped his arm around Shasta's waist and leaned down to peck her on the cheek.
"Look kid, I know you grew up when you were supposed to show nothing but the utmost respect to your elders and all, but so did I and even I know Shasta hates being treated like an Elder outside of chambers. So calm down and join us in the sitting room. Allan's got the coffee all finished up and ready."
Nate nodded. "Sure thing, Josh." He answered and followed the pair inside. Everyone toed off their shoes on the rug right inside the door and made their way into the lavish sitting room, which was decorated in a dark maroon with golden accents. Nate sunk into a plush chair and sighed as he accepted a cup of coffee gratefully from Allan, who set it by his good side, already made the way he liked it.
"Thanks Allan." He said, receiving a nod. Once Allan was sure everyone was settled he left them to their business.
"So Nate. I heard you ran afoul of a human you and a few of your Clanmates were protecting. I believe it was the one you sent us a letter about a month ago. A Werebear after her Ex for illicit purposes, if I remember correctly?" He gave his affirmative and Josh produced a file from the table next to the couch he and Shasta were sitting on.
"As you know, Nate, I run Human Resources, for the humans affiliated with the Packs and Clans of the state. I got a hold of the HR Head in California, thinking that maybe Mr. Colbert escaped a Tie with a Were or Shifter out there. As far as they were concerned, Brad Colbert has never even remotely shown on their radar, let alone been Tied to someone. Then, Allan thought that maybe the Ex got a taste of his blood and found Essence there, and he just hadn't come into his powers yet."
Nate leaned forward to hear this part. If they were dealing with a still sealed Shifter or Were who just hadn't come into their powers yet, then protecting Brad Colbert would become much easier. He could be introduced to one of the Packs or Clans and be guarded like that.
"It was a little more difficult than usual to get his parental history, because he was adopted at only a few months old, but with a little help from the supernatural contacts in the government, we pulled his actual bloodline records for one hundred years and compared them against every record we have. The last supernatural in his bloodline was his Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather, who was a Werelion."
"What about an undocumented supernatural? Not everyone follows the law and registers after the first shift. And even if they want to, not everyone has an experienced Were or Shifter with them the first time, so they don't know who to report too anyway."
"We thought about that." Josh said and he rifled through his file for a minute before handing Nate a sheath of papers. "As you know, everyone is required to submit to a drug test when they first apply for a job in law enforcement and that agency is required to keep samples for retesting up to three months after the fact. We got the samples Brad gave last month and ran the hormone test on them. Nothing. Brad Colbert is completely human. His Ex wants him for illegal things only. No Tie. No Essence."
That complicated matters a lot. Not just for Nate, or the Council. Not just for his Clan. But for the whole supernatural community. Right now there was human running around, unchecked, with thoughts that could out the whole lot of them with disastrous results.
"What happened when he found you, Nate?" Shasta asked. Nate sat back with a sigh.
"I don't know. Ray says when he found me, I was still going completely off Instinct at that point, and that was at least ten minutes after the trap got me. Doc Bryan said I didn't start using full words until well after he got the pain medicine in me. Full sentences didn't start until after my arm was in a cast."
Shasta looked shocked. "You had a prolonged fit of Instinct for over an hour after a forced shift?" She asked and Nate nodded. "Nathaniel that's almost unheard of. What did Doc Bryan have to say about it?" She asked and Nate finished his coffee before he responded.
"He said it happens occasionally. The trauma of getting caught, effectively shattering the entirety of my upper arm and the stress of possibly being outed prolonged the fit. Plus, the stimuli following the trauma, having a stranger release me from the trap and then being shuffled off to a busy ER, only made it worse." Shasta nodded and her faced darkened.
"Nathaniel. You know we need to do something about this human and we need to do it fast. He can't be out there gallivanting about unattended to. Humans who get ideas in their heads about our kind usually end up causing some kind of damage or another."
Nate sighed and placed his face in his good hand. "What are our options?" He asked, knowing he wasn't going to like his answer.
"We have three." Josh started and stopped, looking a little pale in the face, so Shasta spoke for him.
"We Bond and Tie him, we imprison him for life or we have the cleaners do a real good job of sanitizing his place when the Task Force gets done with him."
In other words, Brad's options were slim.
Subjugation, Imprisonment or Death.