Damian's Oracle (Chapter Two, page 2 of 10)

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"You gonna talk or stare?" he challenged. Jake looked at Laney, then at him.

"I found someone," Jake said.

"A Natural?" Laney prodded.

"I don't know what she is. I was embedded at this company we know is operating as a cover for Czerno's operations. I ran into someone I knew from college," Jake said and began to pace again, half-lost in his thoughts as he spoke. "She's something. I don't know what."

"Can you expand a little on that statement?" Laney asked.

"She's started having symptoms that the doctors can't figure out what's wrong. She turned twenty-four two months ago and started having all these issues, like she's a vamp. She can't go out in sunlight …" Jake trailed off, deep in thought. "You're going to think I'm crazy-"

"Already do," Damian said. "You wanna tell me why I'm here? Where are you even working? Your file was locked."

"I'm a plant at a front company we know one of Czerno's most trusted lieutenants uses to launder money," Jake said. "I recently gained access to this database that the company's owner uses. I was looking for Czerno's bank accounts, but I found this bizarro file on her instead. Her phone and computer are monitored. They have records of her vitals-like her body temperature and shit like that-and copies of her medical records. I found an email the owner sent to an email address we know Czerno uses. It says they want to force the transformation."

"She's a Natural," Laney said, frowning at him. "Treat her like any other. We'll assign her a Guardian and bring her in."

"No," Jake objected. "The email said she'd be ready soon for the procedure Czerno wants her to undergo. A medical procedure where he's going to drain all her blood and replace it with his."

Damian held up his hand. He'd begun to think their recruitment standards were slipping until Jake mentioned the operation. Surprise trickled through him. He recognized the procedure but hadn't heard of it being used since before his brother, Darian, had died thousands of years ago.

"What else did the file say?" he pressed.

"Nothing really. Just said he wanted it done soon because he wasn't taking any risks, even if she hadn't started transforming yet. I gave her your number, but I doubt she called."

Only an Oracle's blood was drained to force her to bind with her master. The measure was taken to give him unfettered access to her visions. Century-long wars had been fought in Damian's father's time over who claimed a discovered Oracle, no matter how competent the Oracle turned out. He met Laney's gaze.

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