PSN Headquarters, Sacramento, California
"Has Olin learned anything useful?"
Lukas glanced over his shoulder as Max Brigham walked into the observation booth. Tall and imposing, Max was the driving force behind the Preternatural Sentinel Network. He'd taken a group of embittered social misfits and molded them into an elite paramilitary team. Each Sentinel was unique and most had nowhere else to turn when the society that created them turned hostile.
With a frustrated sigh, Lukas motioned toward the monitor. Olin had just left the holding cell after questioning their detainee for the third time. "We can't get Valerie to transition and Emily is more confused than we are."
"Dichotomies are tricky, to say the least." Max crossed his arms over his chest and studied the slender young woman. She sat on a padded cot with her knees drawn up to her chest, staring off into the distance. Long blonde hair framed her pale face and purple shadows circled her eyes. "It was my understanding that a nocturnal Dichotomy isn't able to conceal anything from their day-dwelling twin. Memories are transferred from one consciousness to the other during their physical transformation. Is Olin sure Emily knows nothing?"
"Valerie isn't your ordinary Dichotomy. Taerok's blood empowered her with a level of control few have ever achieved. Emily was trapped in energy form for months at a time. It was only Valerie's desire to escape us that freed Emily now. Despite the attitude and her new fangs, Valerie is a coward."
"Does Emily show any signs of vampirism?"
Lukas shook his head. "We've had four different people scan her and everyone senses only Dichotomy. Olin is beginning to think Taerok didn't actually convert Valerie. He might have fed her only enough of his blood to make her appear transformed."
"I scanned Valerie at the gala. She's a vampire. It's more likely Emily just hasn't been affected yet."
"Is it possible she never will become a vampire?"
"I don't know. To my knowledge this is the first time either half of a Dichotomy has survived a vampiric transformation." With a shrug of his beefy shoulders, Max dismissed the speculation. "In any event, Valerie can't hide inside Emily forever. We'll just wait her out."
"That was Olin's conclusion too." Lukas turned from the monitor and faced Max directly. "Even if we succeed in bringing Valerie out of sleep state, it's doubtful she'll talk. She has nothing to gain by betraying Taerok."
"And Taerok is too smart to entrust his plans to a blood slave," Max agreed.
"So what's our next move?"
"Taerok is determined to free himself from his solar trance, which means he needs a Dichotomy halfling who can transform at will. Luckily for us there are only three."
"Which of the three do I get to babysit?"
"Rebecca McNeil." Max handed him the slim folder he had tucked under his arm. "She's the only halfling on the elder council and the fact that she can transform is a carefully guarded secret."
"An elder?" Lukas grumbled. If he had to shadow a halfling, why did it have to be some crotchety old ... His mental objections came grinding to a halt as he opened the dossier. A color photograph was attached to the inside of the front cover. From her strawberry blonde curls to her vibrant blue eyes, there was nothing unappealing about Councilwoman McNeil.
"Taerok feeds off fear and hatred. He humiliates and infuriates his victims before he feeds from them. Negative emotions are as important to him as blood. Do your best to keep her happy."
Lukas looked at Max and groaned. The commander was serious! "I'm a soldier, not a therapist."