The Soul Harvester had been at work for at least three weeks, and the body count kept rising. Some friends in the department kept me posted on the situation. I waited for the fateful call from Barrister that they set the bounty. When I get the call, I go to work. The bounty would be big: this Harvester had taken down three cops already. He tore them to pieces. I assumed the Harvester was a male: good odds.
My name is Derek Sawyer, and I used to be a cop. Now I’m known as a Bane Warrior. For all dark magic there is a bane, some are simple, some require a magic spell. There are banes for light magic as well, but the Order does a much better job of keeping those banes secret. The Red Hand, an organized crime syndicate, ancient as recorded history, claims to have dark magic that has no banes. I had yet to see any of it, and the Red Hand sent assassins to take me out twice.
The phone rang, and I smiled. The caller ID showed the prosecutor’s office. That will be my bounty, I thought greedily. I pushed the answer button on the phone and asked, “Barrister?”
“No. Assistant D.A. Brown. There’s a Harvester.”
“Yes, I read the paper, Mr. Brown.”
“We’ve set a bounty. How soon can you bring him in?”
“What’s the bounty?” I asked.
“Fifty grand, alive. How soon?”
Fifty grand would keep me in booze and cigarettes for another year, not that I drank. “I need access to a fresh crime scene: half hour or forty-five minutes within the kill. He’s been hitting mostly public places? Seems to like bars on the south-side?”
“That wasn’t released to the papers.”
“I do more than read the paper, Brown. Why fifty? Usually they’re twenty-five.”
“He took down one of our Bane Warriors this morning. Wasn’t much left of the detective–scraped up as much as we could to bury.”
“Who was it?”
“Damn, the fifty grand is for the harvester alive. How much if I kill him?”
“None if you kill him, Sawyer.”
I take some pride in bringing them in alive, but Jericho was my friend. Still, I won’t know until the very end if I need to kill.
Brown interrupted my silence. “It says in your file you spent six years with the Order, and most people that stay that long never leave. Why did you, Sawyer?”
“The Order refuses to take sides. I like to stand and fight.” On that note, I pushed the end call button on the phone and started to mentally prepare a list of all the banes I’d need to lug around. Jericho had been one of the best. I needed to pack the heavy guns. I had a rather expensive custom coat with extra pockets and loops for various rods. Most magic users had something to carry their components with, either a coat, or a satchel with lots of pockets.
Once I had everything stashed in my coat, I locked up the office and headed to my car. I would tell you about the car, but likely you would be jealous. I had a hangout on the south side, a sushi-bar-coffee-house. They had lost their liquor license years ago, but they catered to smokers, and I could drink coffee and snack on wasabi piled high on sushi. I didn’t speed on my way there, no need to. I took a parking spot right in front of the joint and walked inside, taking my usual booth by the door.
A tired old Japanese lady came up to me. “Coffee? California rolls?”
“Yes, both please.”
She nodded and wandered off. I set my cell phone on the table and waited for my coffee and rolls. I wasn’t big on raw fish most of the time, so I went for the California rolls. I just liked having something to pile wasabi and soy sauce on and eat. After a while the old Japanese lady brought me eight rolls and hazelnut coffee, and I proceeded to snack. I lit up a cigarette and tried to relax. This Soul Harvester would be a tough takedown. An hour passed, and another, the sun set in its usual, casual way.
As I went to open a fresh pack of cigarettes, my phone rang. I snaked it up and answered it, “Where?”
“Joe’s Pub, on Wayne, you know the place?”
“I’ll be right there.”
I disconnected and threw a twenty down on the table and darted out to my car. Sixteen blocks or so, made in record time. When I had a bounty, I had a license to speed from the city. I hopped out of the car and sprinted into Joe’s Pub; the police at the door waved me on through. They had cleared the bar of civilians. A police Sergeant, named Dawson, saw me and said, “In the men’s room.”
I turned towards the wall with the restrooms and went in. An overweight, white male lay sprawled on the floor in a pool of blood with his throat cut, but with a smile on his face. He had been in bliss; he had been charmed before the Harvester finished him off. I looked around, detectives filled the room: collecting and looking for evidence. I cleared my throat, then, “Leave, all of you.”
I needed a bead on the killer’s aura and having a half dozen humans in the room with me would mean trying to sort them all out. The room emptied, and I started to chant TrueSight, a simple spell for auras and the like. A blue and green mist-like aura filled the room, odd I thought as Soul Harvesters are almost always red and black aura. This guy had once been with the Order. I pulled an inch diameter pearl out of my left pocket and focused on the aura. In my mind’s eye, I could see the killer walking casually down the street about eight blocks away carrying a large bag. I walked out of the bathroom and nodded to the waiting detectives.
I stepped out of the bar and hopped in my car. I punched the accelerator down heading towards the Harvester. After a few blocks, I pulled up next to him and growled, “Hey, you there!”
He turned. A short, pudgy, pale-skinned magic-user, he pointed at himself with his right index finger, as if asking, “Me?”
“Yeah, you.” I slammed the car in park and jumped out of it. The killer looked around himself as if checking to see if he was surrounded.
He smiled and said, “Watch the pretty lights…”
Just then a spiral of flashing lights emanated from the magic-users eyes, a simple charm spell. I am highly immune to charms. I raised my right hand, palm outward, as if to say, “Talk to the hand,” and projected blackness into his eyes.
The killer realized his charm wasn’t going to work, and he turned and bolted down an alleyway. I ran after, shouting, “You don’t want to make me run!”
I am a fast runner. I know how to push my muscles with the aid of magical strength, and I soon caught up to the killer and grabbed him from behind. He howled. He turned and faced me tossing four rocks to the ground and starting a chant. I reached inside my coat and pulled out a silver rod with a rubber grip and started focusing magical energy.
As the Harvester chanted, the rocks grew into humanoid shapes—Rock Demons. They snarled and hissed as they took shape and charged me. I aimed at the left-most one and whacked it on the leg with the silver rod. It created a resonating frequency vibration shattering the Rock Demon. I focused great strength into my hit and swung backhanded at the right one catching it on the head. The head and shoulders shattered, and the body crumbled. A third one came at me in the center, and I brought the rod down on his right shoulder, rending it into two big pieces.
The fourth Demon loomed taller than me and had a look of sheer determination on its gnarled face. I focused my magic and aimed for its knee, but it didn’t shatter. The Demon smiled and reached out for me. I pulled in arcane power from around me and aimed for the midsection, two quick shots, “Whack! Whack!” And the beast turned to pebbles and jagged stones. Simple matter of the second hit the rod still had a resonating frequency, and hitting with a vibrating object creates a significantly stronger vibration.
The Harvester took off in a run again. This time I chased after him and pushed him down to the ground. I growled, “You’re coming with me.”
He rolled over and pulled something out of his pocket, a cigarette lighter. He struck fire with it and started a chant to summon a Lava Demon. I snaked my hand into one of my pockets and pulled out a vial of simple water, pulled the plug, and poured it on the ground while simultaneously calling out, “Jacqueline!”
The water from the vial stopped in midair and fine mists started swishing past me from all around towards the water. Jacqueline is a friendly Elemental I knew from when she was still human. She started to take shape as a humanoid statue of water while the Lava Demon rose to its whole height of lava and fire. Jacqueline smiled and said, “He’s mine!”
She walked closer to the Demon and put her water hands out in front of her and projected a water stream from them at the Demon. Jacqueline sucked in all the water from the air for blocks around, and it became like a strong wind. The water threw up debris of stone and steam off the Lava Demon. I started to approach the Harvester with one intent: getting close enough to cast a Frost spell on him. Then I could get the choker on him and bind his hands.
The Harvester drew a ninja sword and hissed. “Come and get me, Bane Warrior.”
“Come along quietly, and maybe I can talk them into a life sentence.”
The Harvester charged me, and I pulled a bit of pulverized salt out of my pocket and blew it in his direction while imagining a snowflake and focusing on cold. The Harvester stopped dead in his tracks. I walked up to him and connected a collar to his throat, so he couldn’t incant any more spells. Then I bound his hands behind his back. I looked to Jacqueline and the Lava Demon. Jacqueline had clearly won, and she stood there grinning.
I pulled out my cell-phone and rang headquarters, letting them know I had the Harvester.
Jacqueline walked up to me and put one of her water hands on my cheek. “Still doing good deeds for a living, eh, Derek?”
“This one took out Jericho.”
“And you let him live?”
“I wouldn’t get paid if I killed him.”
“When are you going to find the one who murdered me?” She asked.
“It was the Red Hand, you know that, and I can’t fight an army.”
“You could, Derek, you could.”