Episode Ten: Hunters: Scene 24

To say I didn’t appreciate the little test was an understatement, but I didn’t discuss it with anyone either.

Would he have let me or, worse in my mind, Kanesha kill an innocent person? I didn’t think so, but I knew the stories.

I knew he wasn’t always the good guy in the picture. Be careful.

Be careful not to be tricked into hurting somebody who’s fault it wasn’t. I got that picture. Of course, it wasn’t like he was going to show up.

He was going to wait until I’d simmered down, I supposed. So, I was still hunting cultists, but I was going to be careful.

Not to fire first and not to kill any of them. I was going to give them no justification for breaking the ceasefire and every reason to reestablish it. So, I suppose, the little test worked – assuming that was the goal.

Instead? I put a notice out in the personals, a well chosen code inviting them to meet me for lunch on Saturday in a nice, public place – the downtown Busboys and Poets. I wasn’t sure it would work.

It did. The person who showed up was in his fifties with near-white hair, and I pushed out the chair for him.

“Why are your people attacking me again?”

“You don’t know.”

“No. I don’t. I haven’t done anything other than, I’d note, try and make sure the world doesn’t end.”

“Is that what your conversations with Loki are about?”

I nodded. “I’m keeping him…well, convincing him that starting Ragnarok right now is utterly premature. I hope.” The truth struck me as the best thing to say. “But it’s not just that, is it.”

I had my gun. But I was not going to shoot first and I wasn’t going to shoot at all if I could avoid it.

“You really don’t know.” His tone was flat.

“No. I don’t.”

“Her Ladyship is dead.”

I flinched, visibly. I didn’t try to prevent myself from doing so, knowing it might go a good way towards convincing them that I had nothing to do with her death. “No. I had no idea. You don’t think I killed her?”

“Some elements do. And with her gone…”

“The truce is off. But I don’t want to hurt people who are, after all, aiming for the same goals.” Which I knew to be true. “So. Let’s get the truce back on.”

“It might not be that easy.”

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