Misguided Angel Page 19

It could have been much worse, as the Taylors showed.

"And the Red Blood?" she asked.

"His parents were a little more on the ball. They filed a missing persons report last week.

The school is keeping it hush-hush and out of the papers, of course. No one wants any more bad publicity. But if he doesn't turn up soon, those Red Bloods are going to FNN." Sam smiled an ironic smile. "Usually the Force News Network thrives on this kind of stuff. Missing rich kids.

Scandal on the Upper East Side, etcetera. But I take it they'll sit on this one?" he asked Mimi.

"Of course. They'll get nothing from us," Mimi promised.

"We traced the IP address of the computer that posted the video. It went to a ghost. We're having tech untangle that one," Sam continued. "The shadow crescent is the first sign of the waning moon. About seven days away. We're treating this as a countdown situation. This is Day One. Which means we've only got six days left."

"And you're sure this isn't the Silver Bloods?" Mimi asked.

"It's not like them to go public with this kind of stuff. They're not . . . modern, shall we say," Sam answered. "No. We're quite sure this is something else. We think it might be a human threat."

Annabeth gasped. "Are humans even capable of something like this? That's insane. It's like the sheep ambushing the shepherd."

"Unfortunately, it's not impossible," Ted said. "It's a numbers issue, and there have always been more of them than there are of us."

"If they find out who we are," Sam said, "who knows what could happen. The Conclave has always made certain that our existence remain invisible to their world. Because if not--"

"It can't happen, regardless," Ted said, interrupting his brother's thought. "We're going to shut this down."

"From what we can tell, the person who made this video is a human who's close to our community," Sam said gravely. "A familiar is unlikely, since the Caerimonia seals the human's loyalty to his or her vampire partner; a human familiar is rendered incapable of doing harm. So it's got to be someone else. A human who knows everything about us and yet is not bound to a vampire. We've checked the records to see what humans, if any, have access to the Kip residence, and the Conduits are our best guess. It's a stretch, but they are given keys to the Repository, which means they could possibly have access to hellfire."

Hellfire was kept under the Conclave's highest security in the deepest basement of the Repository. It was almost impossible to think that a lowly Conduit would be able to break in without alerting the Venator guard, but there was no other explanation right then.

Mimi sucked in her cheeks. "You will interrogate all the Conduits. Torture them if you have to. Do not spare them any mercy."

"That's the thing we want to talk to you about. We're planning to scan their memories, of course. But someone who's made something like this knows how we work and is likely to have planned ahead and may have protected themselves. As Conduits, they are taught a little knowledge of the glom, and a little knowledge goes a long way."

"How about if one of their own interviews them, trips them up somehow?" Mimi suggested, thinking immediately of Oliver. "I have just the person to ask." She had read the glowing reports from the Repository. He had a high reputation for loyalty and discretion. Plus, if he reported directly to her, she could keep a closer eye on him and monitor his communications.

But getting him to agree to help was another matter. If only she hadn't been so rude to him the other day. This was going to be tricky, she could already tell.

"Could work, why not?" Sam Lennox agreed.

Lane rapped on the table. "That sounds like a plan. Are we done here? I'm meeting my editor for lunch at Michael's and I'm late. We're talking sequel."

"More roses?" Annabeth teased.

"A veritable rose parade of the undead, my friends." Lane raised his fist in a show of solidarity. "The Conspiracy lives!"

Warden Corrigan coughed into his handkerchief.

"Looks like the Venators have it covered. On our end, we'll make sure the Web is all over this movie. We'll squash any suggestion it might be 'real.' Although it might make for good publicity," Harold said, looking meaningfully at Josephine, who nodded.

"Good point," Mimi said. "Josephine, you'll start production on that movie. Lane, Harold, Annabeth, continue doing what you've been doing. Thank you for taking the time to meet with us." Mimi bid Conspiracy members good-bye as they filed out of the room, shaking Seymour Corrigan's hand as he left.

"Too many members of the Conspiracy think their jobs are nothing but propaganda and artifice. This abduction is serious business," the Warden said.

Mimi nodded. "We'll find whoever's behind this. You have my word."

"And us? What about the other assignment?" Ted asked, gathering his papers.

"You mean my brother?" Mimi asked as Warden Corrigan shuffled out.

Sam nodded. "We have word that he is no longer under the protection of the Countess.

We were about to start a more exhaustive search."

Mimi sighed. She wanted more than anything to set the Venator twins loose on Jack and Schuyler. Bring that traitor brother of hers to heel. Talk about burning. But she knew it would have to wait. She couldn't turn her back on poor Victoria Taylor.

"No. Focus on this for now. We need to find this girl. And whoever made this video."

Ted saluted her. "Whatever you say, ma'am."

The team disbanded, and Mimi lingered at the table, drumming her fingers. She felt a rush of the old excitement running through her veins. She was suddenly not paralyzed by hate, or stifled by an inchoate frustration; she was filled with purpose. She was going to find whoever did this and crush them under the point of her spiked heels. And she would enjoy it. No one threatened the vampires. No one.

SEVENTEEN

Recruit

As Mimi predicted, Oliver ignored her request to meet, so she had to track him down the following afternoon. He was still a student at Duchesne so it wasn't that hard. She found him standing in front of his locker, putting away his trumpet after practice. Duchesne didn't have anything as common as a marching band, but it did have a student orchestra that performed at the Kennedy Center every year.

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