Updated: Jun 15, 2020
The thick heel of her green cowboy boot smacked down on the hardwood floors of the entrance punctuating her arrival. The heat outside was sweltering, particularly unexpected for the time of night, but it was nothing in comparison to the temps she’d just left behind in the grand old state of Texas. So far, Chicago wasn’t living up to its hype for the woman who’d be transferred from the southern branch to the windy city. She didn’t feel one lick of wind on her way in from the airport. Caged House, the large sign that hung above the reception desk caused her stomach to flip. She hadn’t wanted to take the transfer, but the way it was presented to her, it wasn’t really an option.
“We’re sending you to the chicago branch to look in on a few matters. The info packet is waiting for you in your quarters. Be ready to ride at at sunset.” Nicole, the Head of House for the Texas branch instructed her before issuing the dismissal. There was no room for debate.
She’d expected the treatment and accepted it for the most part because she had no important ties or connections to the branch. Besides it being in her home state, she’d made no personal connections with the team. She went in, got the job done, and minded her business. Nicole liked that about her, which was why when the shittiest assignments hit the board, they were quickly assigned to her.
“How can I help you?” A round face spoke from the other side of the desk with a lazy and dismissive tone. “Bathroom isn’t for the public, try the pharmacy down the way.”
“My name is Renee Fells. I’m the new transfer.” Renee squared her shoulders as she removed the wide brimmed hat from her head and wild red curls fell around her face and landed on broad shoulders.
“Oh, the Texan!” The woman perked up, correcting the way she’d presented herself. Renee was far above her station and if she turned out to be a hardass, she could have her reprimanded or even demoted because of it.. “We’ve been expecting you.”
“Great, so this should be a rather speedy process.” Renee sized up the woman who put on her wildest, and fakest smile. She was a tiny little thing, who would no doubt make Renee feel like a giant, as most people did. “I’m pretty tired from the travel, it wasn’t a comfortable ride.”
“Yes, quick and painless. My name is Calista, and if you could just sign in, I’ll get you going.” She handed her a notebook.
Renee picked up the pin, stabbed the tip of her finger with it and let a drop her blood fall onto the surface of the spelled parchment that filled the interior . The crimson color shifted as the drop stretched out across the page, signing her name. R. Fells. The page shimmered as it absorbed the blood and the red turned black. If anyone were to look at it, it would look like standard ink.
"Perfect!" Okay, you're our last expected guest for the night, so allow me a moment to lock things up and we will get going." Calista tapped a few buttons on the console and sighed as the doors locked and the thick shutters fell into place blocking out the rising sun. “You made it just in time. The sun is expected to rise a bit earlier today. Protection stones or not, it still burns me. You do have your’s don’t you?” She lifted the golden jewel that hung around her neck.
"Yeah, I'm all set." Renee lifter her hand to reveal the charmed emerald that set wrapped in silver on her finger.
"Oh, right. Of course you do, you’re not fresh blood here. Your’s is so pretty. I should have gone with a ring. I get so terrified of losing this damn thing. I suppose I could upgrade." She chittered away as she grabbed a handheld tablet from the desk. It was an extension of her console into her arms. "Well, let's get to it."
Calista led Renee to a pair of elevator doors. Instead of calling the ride with the buttons on the wall, she tapped on the screen of her tablet and the doors opened. The two stepped inside and without so much as pressing a button, the elevator closed and Renee had the intense sense of plummeting in the pit of her stomach.
“The drop can be a bit unsettling at first but you’ll get used to it.” Calista smiled at Renee who had taken on a light shade of green in the face.
The doors opened to reveal the inner workings of the underground nest. Bodies hustled around the space that looked far more advanced than what they had in Texas, then again, texans liked to keep things simple. The underground space was shaped like a honeycomb, even compartmented rooms were built in hexagons and walled off with frosted glass. The supporting structure made by reinforced titanium. She knew the markings of the magic that crafted them. The space, though it looked delicate, was a fortress. The layout made it impenetrable as well. She could see how one would be at a disadvantage getting off of the elevator into the bottleneck bridge that crossed over to the main structure. As the walked across it, she noted the complete view of what she would call the hive. She also noticed that the bridge was collapsable. If anyone were to try to attack from that entrance, the push of a button would have them plummeting to their deaths into the great unknown that was the earth's core.
“None of this should be too new to you, besides the overall location of our little home here,” Calista continued. “You will get checked in, debriefed about your projects and then you’ll be assigned a partner and of course, a class to instruct.”
“A class? I wasn’t aware that training newbies was a part of this assignment.” Renee had trained before but it was far from her favorite chore. The new recruits were often over eager and made careless mistakes that the trainer had to take the hit for.
“Oh, no. Training recruits is Tamerra’s area. You’ll meet her soon, I think you will like her,” She paused at the door with her hand hovering about the keypad to unlock the door. “Don’t tell me, they didn’t tell you what we do here?”
“Isn’t it just like every other place?” She shrugged. They were the clean up crew, some saw them as assassins, she liked to think of herself as a supernatural government official. Paid to kick ass and make sure the human population stayed in the dark about all the scary things that existed in the world.
“Yes, but here our front, unlike the distillery in Texas or the farm mills in Kentucky, is a dance studio. We have trained some of the top dancers in the world here.”
“Dancers?” Renee scoffed. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“Yes, and your dossier says that you had quite and extensive background before you were turned. I assumed that is why you were chosen to transfer here.” She shot a nervous smile before entering the six digit pin on the lock. The doors opened and she stepped through.
“This is the first I’m hearing about it,” The redhead paused at the door and looked as though she might turn and run in the other direction.
“Is there a problem?” Calista nervously asked and hoped she hadn’t in some way spoken out of turn. She’d been warned about being more mindful of the things she said.
“No not at all.” Renee swallowed her true feelings about returning to the world of dance. Her exit wasn’t a smooth one, and if there was one thing she appreciated about being a vampire, it was that she didn’t have to be subjected to that type of scrutiny anymore. Being over nearly six feet and a female wasn’t exactly a recipe for a great dancer. She stepped into the hive and the entrance sealed shut behind her.
Calista lead her further down a long hall, pointing to various rooms and naming their purpose. The media room, the various conference and debriefing rooms, the recreation room, even what she called a “Rejuvenation Center”. The Chicago branch was definitely much more complex than Texas. Back home, they rejuvenated with a good glass of blood laced whiskey and a visit to the nearby bar. Simpler times.
“This is where we part!” Calista announced, all too eager to be able to get away from the towering texan. “Take a seat inside, and someone will be with you for your debriefing shortly.” She smiled and pushed the door open to reveal a small sterile room.
“Thanks.” Renee pushed inside and took a seat at the small desk. She inhaled slowly preparing herself for what was to come. Debriefs weren’t a simple process of reading over paperwork. They were painful mind fucks that often knocked a girl on her ass. The last time she did one, she was sick for two days.
The door opened and a curvy woman dressed in jeans and a vibrant blue top entered the room. She perched her ass on the table and threw her sisterlocks over her shoulder. Renee watched her as she positioned herself just so, before she spoke.
“You must be Renee.” She held her hand, tipped in stiletto nails painted blue, out to her. “It's so good to finally meet you, I’m Noemi.”
Renee accepted the hand shake. “It's nice to meet you.”
“To skip the silly small talk that only makes us bother uncomfortable, flight, weather, heat, blah blah blah, I’ll get right to it. I’m your new partner, here to welcome you officially here. Sorry about Calista, the girl is a bit weird, but she is brilliant! The things she can do with that little tablet of hers.”
“Weren’t I supposed to be debriefed before the official welcome party?” Renee had a gut feeling that something wasn’t right. She looked past her new visitor but couldn’t see much past the frosted glass that wrapped the room.
“True, that is how things would typically happen, but today is a day of special circumstances. Your debriefing will happen tomorrow so that gives you a day to hang out with yours truly. You know, really get to know your new partner.”
“Actually I think I will just take the day to relax, get myself prepare for this process.”
“Oh, don’t be a wet blanket!” Noemi ran her fingernails across the table. “Come out with me. Have a little fun!”
Does Renee .....
Go out and hang with Noemi OR Refuse the offer and head back to her quarters to rest up
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