Rating: puzzles aren't very scary are they? I don't think so. This should be safe for everyone.
Characters: Fred, Wes and Angel, mentions Selene, Michael, and Lucian
Summary: Fred unearths a puzzle in her paperwork, and sets out to solve the mystery.
Disclaimer. I own no one, not Wes, Lilah, Fred, and Angel, who unfortunately remain firmly in Mutant Enemy’s hands, and Underworld isn’t mine either, more’s the pity.
Spoilers: Through AtS5:1; Underworld the movie, with a minor alteration at the end.
Notes: I don’t know why, this struck me as I was watching the first episode, with Fred and her mountains of administrative work. I think she needs a puzzle to solve, and I refuse to admit the way things ended in Underworld, particularly for my favorite character. (Can you guess who?)
Dedication: For Eena_Angel, cause I liked her Xover between these two universes so much.
Fred didn’t so much like paperwork. Paper? Sure, paper in and of itself was fine. Good paper was paper that came wrapped around her tacos from the stand on the corner. Good paper was what she published before her psycho of an ex-advisor tried to send her to Hell. Again. Not so good paper was what she seemed to be drowning in. Mountains of it. Heaps of it.
There were spending requests: fifteen new enchanted beakers for lab three. There were transfer requests: Melinda Luchese from the particle dynamics department had a conflict with the guy who ran the vacuum cleaner at night- transfer him or she wouldn’t be responsible for her actions. There were past due bills to be settled: the latest shipment of sheep for sacrifice were lost in the mail and the firm wanted reimbursement or new sheep.
And then there was the other pile. The largest pile. The daunting pile. The pile of all the old research that Fred was supposed to be caught up on. She hated that pile. She was a physicist for heaven’s sake, not a biologist, or a chemist, or a whatever it was that probed other dimensions looking for new minerals to mine. It was giving her a headache.
Particularly the biomedical papers. It seemed they were researching something to do with blood poisoning, trying to remove impurities, deadly impurities. There were many technical terms she didn’t understand, but some of the procedures listed, mystical and medical, seemed incredibly painful. For the life of her, she couldn’t quite see what they were geared towards…
There was one thing, however, that caught her attention. At the top of each report was a code. All reports had codes. All of these reports had the same code- a routing code, a bank code.
Someone was funding this research—it was not in house Wolfram and Hart funds.
So even though curiosity killed more cats than Schrödinger ever thought of, she grasped the paper and wandered down to Accounts. It was sort of eerie the way everyone deferred to her. Like she was the boss or something. Oh wait, she was. Her minions even called her El Jefe. It was unnerving.
Accounts was even polite, a far cry from the grants department at UCLA that would keep her waiting for hours just to talk about the tiniest little amount of money. No, here she had the account number and relevant person neatly printed on a piece of paper within seconds. Seems evil was pretty well organized.
But the name meant nothing to her, and the oh-so-helpful woman wasn’t interested in providing character profiles. All she would say was that further inquiries would be directed to Special Projects.
With an only somewhat depressed slump of her shoulders, Fred was off to Lilah’s office. Lilah was in, staring out at the bright LA day, but she did manage to be slightly less condescending than usual.
“Fred. So… nice to see you. Anything I can do to help?”
Trying not to fidget, Fred handed Lilah the paper from Accounts. Lilah took one look, arched a perfectly plucked eyebrow, though Fred thought she probably didn’t have to worry about stray eyebrow hairs now that she was dead, and stifled a laugh.
“Oh, this is too good. You’ve found a new project then?”
“Not a project, more like curiosity. Want to know what my teams are doing and all that.”
“Hmm, well, I still think you should take this to Angel. He’ll probably get a kick out of it. Doubt he realized we even handled this sort of… situation.”
With no more enlightenment than before, Fred left Lilah still staring out at the sky, sharpening a letter opener on a miniature grindstone. The trip to Angel’s office was shorter, and Harmony waved her right in. Angel was chatting with Wes, slinging his coffee cup around. When he got too excited, he’d slosh the blood out. He’d ruined three shirts in the last month that way. Harmony got him a lid for the cup, but he complained that it made him an infant. So Wes charmed his clothes to repel blood.
She didn’t know what they were discussing, but when she popped her head around the door frame, they waved her in eagerly.
“Hey, Fred, what’s up in the world of scientific doom?” Angel seemed to be in a pretty good mood, and Wes smirked as the vampire rustled around in his desk to proffer Fred a donut which she daintily accepted.
“It’s fine, really, no apocalypses coming from my department, though I think Knox was underestimating the amount of evil in my work group. Anyway, I’ve found this account that funds some interesting research through Special Projects. I asked Lilah about it, but she sent me to you. Seems she thought you’d find it amusing or something.”
Angel shrugged and reached for the paper, before tsking in disgust. “I might have known.”
“That our firm dealt with these creatures. Not even real demons.” He frowned and walked over to his own daunting pile of unread research. “I thought I read something with his name on it, but I didn’t know it was the same… Ah, here it is.”
He pulled a thick file out from under a sheaf of what looked like bound skin and leafed through it. He arched an eyebrow with a snort. “You have got to be kidding me.”
“What?” Both Wes and Fred followed him to the table as he spread the information out.
“Did you know we had a medical safe house? It’s down Wilshire. Anyway, we’ve got him housed here… seems a rogue Death Dealer dropped him off.”
“A what?” Fred wrinkled her nose in confusion.
Wes rubbed his chin thoughtfully, flipping through papers. “They’re like vampires, they even call themselves vampires, but they’re not true demons like Angel here. Death Dealers are their assassins.”
“The Scourge would probably classify them right about down with humans on the extermination list. At least Vampires and true Werewolves get some leniency from direct demon annihilation. The Scourge doesn’t mess around.”
“And Lycans and the pseudo-Vampires get no such consideration?” Wes looked thoughtful and scrounged around for a piece of paper to write some notes.
Fred shook her head forcefully. “Would someone mind explaining what you’re talking about? I thought there were only Vampires like Angel… what’s a pseudo-Vampire. And is Lycan like a lycanthrope?”
Angel sighed and gestured for them to sit. “We don’t deal much with them, Vampires or the Lycans and their ridiculous war. They may be immortal, but they’re still an aberration.”
“I’d love to hear your take on the subject. The Watcher’s Council didn’t have any strict edicts against either, unless they were threatening the general population. Their own councils of Elders kept them more or less in line, when they weren’t killing each other.”
Fed up, Fred crossed her arms and spat out, “Hello! Still waiting for an explanation here.”
Angel ducked his head sheepishly. “It’s a warning tale that sires tell their childer. Careful who you eat or you’ll be responsible for the disaster that spawned the Lycan/pseudo-Vamp line. Seems back in the dark ages, a fledge bit a Werewolf in wolf form. This normally would just be an exercise in stupidity, except this wolf was sick. Carried an anomalous virus, and when the vamp bit his next victim, it spread to the humans. Except the vampire’s system changed it. We’re not supposed to harbor diseases, but this vamp… either he was too young and his body hadn’t completely lost all of its human functions or this was one hella virus, but when it hit the human, it created a plague.”
“A plague? The watchers always wondered what happened to make the jump from demon to human.” Wes eagerly scribbled down more notes.
“Yeah, well, this virus killed almost everyone it touched- except one family. The Corvinus family was resistant somehow, and the next generation was born with interesting genetic traits. One child was the Lycan, one child was the pseudo-Vampire. Both had aspects of the original demon strains, both strengths and weaknesses, but the resulting lines of hybrid abominations are more human than demon. True demons will kill them on sight, normally, but the two strains have learned to exist outside of the demon world, hiding in the shadows of human existence. They both appear human to the point the Vamps have heartbeats and reflections. They’re extremely picky about who gets made in the next generation, as they’re forced to interact with humans. Even the stupidest human gets suspicious.”
Fred pulled her paper back into view. “And him, what does he have to do with anything?”
“I’d heard rumors he was still alive, but no one really paid any attention. It wasn’t worth it. Then a few months ago, there was a phenomenal upheaval in both the Lycan and Vamp camps. A pair of Elders were killed, a Death Dealer went rogue to protect her Lycan/Vamp uber-hybrid, and your new project, the Lycan leader… well, he was presumed dead. Again.”
“So what happened?” Fred leaned forward, elbows resting on the table. “And a hybrid? They merged the lines?”
“Something about the blood. It’s always about the blood. I don’t really know, but I do know that this Lucian was trying to merge the lines in himself, but something prevented it from working properly. Hmm, says here he was attacked before he could finish the procedure, and with the amount of poison swimming around in the bloodstream, even the vampire blood he did manage to secretly inject didn’t help him enough. Angel may have more of an idea, but the rumors in the Watcher Headquarters, back before it blew up, were fairly solid. Things got a bit chaotic for a while, and it ended up that this Michael fellow, an actual descendant from the original resistant family, got infected with both strains instead. Voila, hybrid.”
Angel nodded along with Wes’ explanation. “And now Lucian’s here. And we’re what? Putting him back together again?”
Fred frowned. “I think so. They’re trying to remove traces of silver nitrate from his system. He was near death when this Selene person dropped him off, citing an account number, presumably his, and said fix it. Or at least that’s the record we have. I don’t know if another department might have more information.”
Angel poked through his pile of papers again. “Looks about right. Here’s a note saying she and Michael would be back to check on his progress… unusual for a Death Dealer to care about the fate of a Lycan, but Lucian was no ordinary Lycan.”
Wes nodded slowly, “No, but having him here does add a level of involvement for this firm that I’m not altogether comfortable with. Their silly extermination war was fine when it was on the sidelines. It seems to have gotten quite a bit bloodier for passersby-- and with Lucian here… Well, let’s just say if the pseudo-vampires find out he’s alive, then we may have problems.”
Angel rolled his eyes. “Just what we need.” He turned to Fred. “So how’s your department handling it? How long before he can be released or whatever?”
Fred shrugged. “I guess I’ll have to go down to the medical wing you mentioned and see.” She smiled, if a bit shakily. “After all, I’m supposed to be up on all my projects, what with being the head of Scientific Research and all.”
She stood, still clutching the paper she’d brought, and waved at the men before leaving Angel’s office. Too much to think about, this trail of paperwork. But she did know one thing for sure, this Lucian sounded like a puzzle, and Fred liked puzzles.
She pulled a cell phone from her pocket and spoke brightly, “Hey, Knox, yes, it’s me. Can you get a car to drive us down to the Hayworth Facility. When? Um, nowish. Yeah, I think there’s something I’d like to oversee personally.” She rolled her eyes. “No, I’m not abandoning you; just getting my feet wet other subjects. If I’m going to oversee medical research, I should maybe go and actually, well, see it. Uh huh, right. Okay then.”
She clicked the phone closed and wandered down to the lobby. She checked her appearance in the mirrored wall, noticing how many employees had no reflection at all. With a sigh she sat down to wait. The car would be here soon, and she had a mystery to unravel. It was either that or more paperwork.
The sequel to this is called Lab Coats, and can be found by clicking here: Lab Coats