As Allie pulled up to the animal control building, She noticed two additional cars outside along with the old truck. One was an old black SUV while the other was a little two-door number that had as much resealing paint as original and not a drop less. She thought little of it until she discovered the door was locked when she tried to go inside. More out of concern than anything else, she scanned the building for occupancy.
She could feel a few animals and four people, three of which felt fuzzy and out of focus, as though they were being altered somehow. One was clear. Allie latched on to that more focused mind and as expected, found it to be Goldie. She was inside with people and had taken steps to keep them relatively undisturbed.
Goldie, Allie spoke directly into her mind.
“Did someone say my name?” The confused reply floated back. Goldie was speaking, but the words also came as surface thoughts, easily picked up.
Goldie, it’s Allie. Come to the door, or I’ll unlock it myself. Allie only partly meant it, as she could pick the lock, but it was far more trouble than it was worth.
After a few minutes, the lock on the door clacked audibly, and Goldie popped out. She was wearing loose, knee length shorts and a simple t-shirt that seemed hastily tucked in. She also seemed very interested in looking at anything that wasn’t Allie. “Hey, Allie, um, Ms. Piper,” The young succubus stammered.
“Whatever’s easier, Goldie,” Allie replied. “Why don’t we step inside? I have some questions.”
“Can you ask me tonight?” Goldie asked quickly. “Now, like, is not great.”
“Oh? You have company?”
“Comp-no. It’s just me and the kitties! Also a puppy I’ve named Old Dog because he looks really old, but he isn’t.”
“Do you think lying to me is a great look?” Allie asked with a slight tilt of her head.
Goldie flinched and played with her fingers. “Look, I promise I’m not doing anything wrong. I just-” She stopped to collect her thoughts before proceeding. “I know my mom loves me and stuff, but I also know she thinks I’m like, way stupid. I wanna show her that I know how to, you know, do stuff. I wanna surprise her though, so can you keep a secret?”
“You really don’t know what the Choir is, do you?” Allie said with a chuckle. “I’ll make you a deal. If it’s not something that would upset me, I won’t tell your mom. If it is something that would upset me, we’ll work it out between us girls.” Amber might be a model succubus, but that didn’t get the kid a pass. If Goldie was doing something wrong, it was best to catch it now and educate her before other steps have to be taken later.
“Okay,” Goldie said nervously. She may not have fully understood the veiled threat behind Allie’s words, but she seemed to have caught the edge of it.
Once inside, Allie picked up a familiar smell. Now she understood why the door was locked. In the back, in Amber’s office, sat two young men and a young woman that Allie quickly recognized as the attendant from the gas station. One of the men was holding a complicated looking bong to his mouth as Goldie and Allie entered. Upon eye contact with Allie, he moved to hide it, albeit slower than he thought he did.
“Little late for that, my guy,” Allie said with a shake of her head. At least it was innocent. No succubus would need to get their victims stoned to feed off them. The glamor was free and far more effective. This was more friendly than anything else, so what was Goldie doing?
“She’s cool. She just an old friend from the city.” Goldie lied. “Allie, meet Wendy, Ted, and Ethan. Guys, meet Allie.”
Wendy cocked her head. “Wait, didn’t I see you before? At the gas station? Yeah, I did. Why did it seem like you guys didn’t know each other?”
“I used to tease her a lot,” Allie said. “So she kinda ran on instinct.”
“Well, cool, but don’t bully her now, okay?”
“I won’t. She’s safe from me. That was a long time ago.”
“We just need to talk for a sec,” Goldie said. “We’ll be in the front.”
“Actually, we can talk here,” Allie said. “It’s cool. These guys might be able to help me.”
“Oh? Okay!” Goldie had relaxed considerably. She turned to the group with an overly dramatic pout. “Guys, I forgot who’s turn it was.”
“Mine!” The boy named Ethan said as he raised his hand.
“Dude, be fair. It was your turn when she went to the door,” Ted said. “It’s Wendy’s turn.”
“Fine,” Ethan said sullenly.
“Thank you,” Wendy said, holding her arms out to Goldie.
Goldie walked over and pushed the girl’s arms to her sides. She then spread Wendy’s legs and deliberately sat between them. She then pulled Wendy’s arms around her waist and leaned back against her. “What can I help with?” She said as she began shedding light.
It hit Allie all at once that this was Goldie’s harem. She suspected Amber had one too since any choir-fearing succubus would. This is what Goldie was hiding from her mother. She was locking down a harem and wanted to surprise her mother with the fact. “I was hoping you could tell me more about the family that owns the camp,” Allie said, sitting on the edge of Amber’s desk.
“Not as much as this guy could,” Goldie said, pawing affectionately at Ted’s face. “He’s worked there every summer I think.”
“Every summer since they bought it,” Ted said. “It was my first summer job. That was like, five years ago.”
“Oh yeah?” Allie said. The fact that they were pretty deep off made their minds a jumble. Goldie’s glamor wasn’t helping matters either. Allie would have to chat this out of them. “What’s the owner like?”
“Ms. King? She’s pretty cool as long as you’re nice to the kids. Especially her son. She won’t let him go to school in town or nothing, and you’ll super piss her off if you aren’t nice to him.”
“That probably makes him bratty.”
“Naw, man. He’s a cool little dude. He’s really smart and stuff, but he’s, I dunno, kinda weird and a little sad all the time. Ethan, either load that shit or pass it,” Ted gave his friend an aggravated look.
“Sorry,” Ethan leaned over to hand the bong to Goldie, who began to load it from a small metal container on a nearby end table.
“Anyway,” Ted continued, “I think it’s because his mom keeps him locked up in the house all the time. He sneaks out at night, and you’d see him chillin’ at the dock or just walking the paths. Some of the councilors make him go home, but I don’t. Until what happened to that other kid, I thought he was harmless. I dunno now.”
“You talking about the kid that drowned?” Allie asked.
Ted nodded. “You know about that? Yeah, they were pretty close. I think his name was Rowan or something like that. Rowan’s a pretty weird name. Roman? Naw, it was Rowan.”
“Roman is a weird name too,” Wendy said past lungs filled with smoke. “Who would name someone after a group of people? That’s like naming your kid Canadian.”
“Guys, focus,” Goldie said. She’d reloaded the bong and had rapidly cleared it. Succubi couldn’t feel the effects of cannabis, but it was an excellent excuse for her to shotgun Ted. Her glamor pulsing slightly from the additional physical contact.
“Anyway,” Ted said as he exhaled, “The owner’s kid is named Lucian. He’s too good at stuff, like, everything. I guess if all you have to do is read books and practice camp shit, you’re gonna be pretty badass at it. I heard that Jackie saw him learning some sorta karate stuff from Jack. That’s Ms. King’s brother who lives there too. I guess he coulda done something to Rowan with that?”
“Hey, are you a cop or something?” Ethan asked suddenly.
“No,” Allie said, sensing Ethan’s sudden upcropping of paranoia. “I’m a reporter. I look for weird stuff though, and I heard the camp had some secrets. This just sounds like garden variety weird.”
“That’s a pretty fucked up garden,” Wendy laughed.
“Yeah, outside of this year though, the camp is pretty normal,” Ted said.
“Nothing else?” Goldie asked, her glamor growing brighter.
“Hey, what about all that stuff from when we were kids? Before I moved?” Ethan added helpfully.
“What stuff?” Ted asked, sounding genuinely confused.
“You seriously forgot? Dude, it’s why I moved. That year all those kids died.”
“Oh shit, I forgot that!” Ted exclaimed.
“Dude, I forgot about that too,” Wendy said. “But she was asking about the camp now. Tim Carson fucked off after that.”
“What happened?” Allie said, excited at the prospect of a lead.
“So, different owners and shit. It was Camp Carson then. The whole of cabin five drowned in the middle of the night. Suicide pact style. The counselor was fooling around with the owner, Tim Carson, and wasn’t watching the kids. It was so messed up. I was in the next cabin over. It was scary, man.”
“Oh yeah. Ethan and I were in cabin one,” Ted said.
Goldie pulled herself into Ted lap to better feed Ethan the contents of her lungs. She followed it with a light kiss before settling fully into Ted’s lap. “Good boy, feeding me secrets.” She said. Both Ted and Wendy looked crushed. Allie quickly reevaluated her opinion of Goldie.
“Sorry, I musta blocked it,” Ted said.
“I don’t think I wanted to remember,” Ethan shook his head sadly. “A couple of the kids who died were friends. When you said this Roman kid drowned, it reminded me.”
“How long ago was this?” Allie said, pulling a small notepad from her pocket. This had gone far better than expected.
“Like, nine years ago I think,” Wendy said as she reached for the bong. “Carson closed for good right after. It didn’t open back up until the new owners showed up.”
Allie slid off the desk, pocketing the notepad. “Thanks, guys. This helps a lot. Goldie, you wanna let me out?”
Goldie stood up, her glow quickly fading. “Yeah. No problem.”
As they got to the lobby, Goldie piped up. “So, did I help? Are we cool? Are you gonna tell my mom?”
“We’re cool, Goldie,” Allie said with a smile. “Just take it easy with them, okay? ”
“I promise. Thanks, Allie!”
Allie bid the young succubus goodbye and left the building. She’d gotten a break, but now she was upset. A dark cloud was rapidly building in her head. The courthouse and camp research could wait. Lies of omission were still lies. It was time for Amber to come clean.
The first thing Don saw when she woke up, was Amber. The elder succubus was sitting beside Don’s bed holding her hand. Her eyes were closed, and her breathing was steady. Don knew that Succubi didn’t sleep, but would enter sleep-like meditative states to reorganize themselves. They could do this whenever they felt safe instead of needing to do it regularly as humans do. It was something of a sign of trust that Amber was doing it now.
Don’s whole body was stiff but comfortably numb. Amber must have been taking advantage of Don’s lack of fear of her to feed and in doing so suppress Don’s pain, but now that she was awake, she was reflexively halting the connection, and her body was starting to cry out in protest. Don relaxed to allow Amber in, and the pain quickly faded again.
“Hey,” Don said, her voice still thick with sleep.
“It is good to see you awake, Ms. Kyle,” Amber replied.
“Feeding on me as a painkiller? That’s pretty creative.”
“I have little reason to do it ordinarily. It also would not be safe with a normal human,” Amber shrugged. “You are special.”
“Special, huh? You sure it’s not just an opportunity?”
“It is,” Amber said simply. “But it is an equitable trade, is it not? You partner was upset at first, but she understood it to be kindness and a sign of my commitment.”
“So you wanna take that deal?”
“I do. I told Ms. Piper as much.”
“Good. I’m happy to hear that. Where is she anyway?”
“She went downtown to research the camp further. It would seem you are close to a breakthrough.”
“Oh, that’s exciting,” Don said dully. She could scarcely remember most of the fight. She thought for a moment she’d died in a flash of strange light.
That light. The memories flooded back of the last moments of the fight. It wasn’t a fiend, but a homunculus. She’d pulled out its core and had been rewarded with an explosion. She’d never known them to do that.
She worried for a moment about Allie. She’d clearly recovered all right and had been able to get them back to Amber’s. Now she was out working without her partner. Dom would be disappointed. Allie was by no means defenseless, but Don had made a promise to him. She had to do what he no longer could and laying around while Allie worked wasn’t keeping in line with that. She started to sit up, but Amber gently pushed her back down.
“Ms. Piper seems to believe it will take you a full day to recover from your injuries,” Amber said, her voice kind yet firm. “As I promised to take care of you, I would appreciate if you did not undo our hard work by moving too much.”
Don relaxed. She was getting ahead of herself. She knew she’d broke some ribs and her arm was tightly bandaged. Amber’s glamor was masking it, but Don was still very badly hurt, and it would be best to relax, if for no other reason than to avoid upsetting Allie.
“Thank you,” Amber said.
“You know, if you want, you could collect your first payment now,” Don said. If she was going to be stuck in bed, she might as well make the most of it.
“Will that impede your healing?” Amber asked, eyeing Don hungrily.
“Nope. And besides,” Don gestured at herself. Allie and Amber had undressed her to treat her, but they’d neglected to put back on what they’d taken off. “I’ve been giving you a show. I think I deserve one in return.”
At that moment, the world began to melt away. Amber’s glamor activated at its full strength and Don could feel a warmth unlike anything she’d ever experienced before. The pleasure washed over her like a tropical tide. She tested her will on instinct. She could push this out, but why would she?
Amber rose from her sitting position and ran her hand up Don’s arm, then her neck and cheek, before finally coming to rest in her artfully messy hair. Amber moved with almost serpentine grace as she slid her body across Don’s, careful not to put pressure on the injured agent’s chest. She ran her hands down Don’s arms, guiding them to the bottom of her blouse.
Understanding what was being asked of her, Don slipped her finger under the loose fabric and reveled in the softness of Amber’s skin. As she slowly pushed up the material, she sank into the smooth movement of Amber’s breaths. Don pulled the lush succubus forward, pulled her face closer to better allow warm breath and full lips to mingle.
Pain, sharp and sudden, snapped her from her revelry. Don winced and pulled back to see Amber’s face a rictus of agony, and her eyes rolled back to the whites. Amber’s breaths were short and sharp, punctuated with an occasional whine as she clutched at her head.
“Why?” Amber whimpered, throwing herself on the floor.
Don tried to catch her, but a sharp pain in her back stalled her movements. “Amber? What’s wrong?” Don asked, her voice full of alarm.
“I’m what’s wrong,” Allie’s snarled as she burst through the bedroom door.
“Allie, the fuck?” Don shouted. “What’s the matter with you? She’s on our side!”
“Oh, yeah? You think so?” Allie’s hand was like a claw squeezing an invisible ball in the air. Physical gestures weren’t needed for what Allie was doing, but it was a sign of how hard she was doing it. Allie moved to stand over Amber, who was writhing on the floor in pain. “Would a trusted ally hide the fact that nine years ago a whole cabin full of kids drowned in the exact same way as the one we’re looking into right now? Did you think that shit wasn’t fucking pertinent?”
“Maybe she forgot? Calm down!”
“Forgot?” Allie shouted with an incredulous look. “Succubi don’t forget shit, Dude! She’s physically incapable of doing so! Are you so pussy-hungry that you let that slip your fucking mind?”
“Please!” Amber wailed, reaching desperately for Allie’s leg.
“Stop, Allie!” Don said as she pulled herself heavily from the bed. She lunged forward, grabbing Allie’s shoulder. “Give her a chance. You’re just torturing her right now.”
“You almost died!”
“But I didn’t! Now calm the fuck down!”
Allie’s face puffed in anger then eased, her retort dying in her chest. Her hand relaxed with a swift flick of her wrist and Amber’s body went limp in response. She jammed her hands into her pockets and stalked to the far side of the room. “She gets one chance. Explain it to her.”
Don nodded sharply and knelt beside the now weeping succubus. Amber had been an excellent host and of great help to them, but if she was hiding things or lying, Allie could hurt her in a way that she’d have difficulty recovering from. She knew Allie was right, now that she thought about it. Succubi were made of their knowledge and experiences. They couldn’t forget anything. Don hoped there was an explanation.
“Listen to me, Amber,” Don said, holding Amber’s face in her hands. “Do you know what Allie is talking about? About a bunch of kids dying nine years ago?”
“I-I do,” Amber stammered. She looked into Don’s face, her eyes pleading. “But I did not know I knew this until but a moment ago! I do not know what is happening!”
“I want to believe you, Amber, I really do, but I don’t think Allie will without some proof.”
“What? What must I do?” Amber’s voice was desperate.
“Let Allie dive through your memories. If she sees that you’re being honest, she won’t hurt you.”
“Please, Donna, Don. I am being honest.”
“Then let her look.”
“And if she is unsatisfied?”
“Then I will shatter your mind and return you to the void,” Allie almost growled. “I know you’re a Greater Lilith. I know exactly what you’re capable of and I promise to erase you if you are working against us.”
Amber’s head dropped. Even a Greater Lilith was no match for an Esper. Amber was a living concept of thought and will. She could not resist Allie in any form of an extended contest. It was clear to Don that Amber knew she had no choice. She just hoped the succubus who had ofter to help had not secretly led them off track.
Allie walked back over as Don moved aside and squatted on her heels. “I’m gonna touch you now. If you fight me, I’ll end you. If you try and feed on me, I’ll end you. If I find out that you are my enemy, I’ll end you. Are we clear?”
Amber nodded and closed her eyes. She sniffed and composed herself. “We are clear. I may not understand what has happened to me, but I promise I am no liar.”
“Then let’s see what’s in your head,” Allie said as she placed her hand on Amber’s forehead.