In which Olivia receives a guest

JED

Damn Dante. The big malk had been in and out, offering him drinks like a good host would, but he knew he was a prisoner. Like a Lewis Carrol story, any attempt to fly free had been met with him standing facing Dante’s house again. And now his room was shifting, the decorations on the mantlepiece rearranging themselves, the ceiling somehow lower, the walls somehow closer together. Jed huddled miserably. Damn Dante.

OLIVIA

They were halfway through a match on a custom map when the visitor arrived, Shen and Olivia the only survivors, the ghouls watching and eating pizza as their vampiric masters sniped at each other from long range. The intercom beeped, and Olivia reached over to accept the call, controller still tightly grasped in one hand.
“Yeah?”
The gate guard’s voice came through crystal clear. “Ma’am. There’s a visitor here, asking to speak with you.”
“It’s the middle of the night. Can’t it wai-”
“Headshot,” said Shen. There was a fractional pause, and Olivia’s character fell.
“Ugh. Nevermind.” Olivia put her controller down. “I’ll come down. Shen, you’re coming with me.”

The visitor wore cream-coloured chinos and a brown leather jacket, glasses pushed up onto the top of his head.
Olivia adjusted her own glasses, activating the facial recognition. Daniel Reeves, writer for the Grimouth Herald. “Good evening sir, how can I help you?”
He looked at her, a little quizzical. “You are Olivia Goodwin, of Goodwin Industries?”
Olivia put on her most photogenic smile. “I am.”
“If I may, I would like to ask you a few questions.”
She shrugged. “Shoot.”
At that, he pulled a small notebook and pencil from the pocket of his jacket and began to scribble. “I understand that you’ve been involved in a great deal of charitable work as of late. Helping the transient community of Grimouth?”
Olivia smiled wryly. “Goodwin Industries recognizes the importance of the local community, and is involved in a number of charitable works.”
“Including the rescue of two young boys, I believe.”
Olivia nodded. “We have, on occasion, provided help on an individual basis.”
He turned to Shen. “Ah, Dr Lin. Protege of the inimicable Victor, I believe.”
Shen looked puzzled. “That’s right.”
“I understand that your former mentor has developed a means of seeing and communicating over great distances instantaneously. Do you have any comment on this?”
Shen shook his head. “I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Ah,” the reporter looked a little disappointed. “Oh well. One final question, then. Would you be pleased at the return of a lost employee?”
Olivia scratched her chin. “I’m afraid I couldn’t say, since we’ve not lost any. We take good care of our staff here at Goodwin.”
“I see.” The reporter seemed to hesitate.
“We do, however, on occasion take in waifs and strays.”
“Well,” said the reporter. “That’ll have to do, I guess. Thanks for the interview.” He closed his little notepad and left, leaving behind him a large, coffin-sized box.
Olivia blinked. That hadn’t been there a moment before. She waved to the guards. “Put that through the scanner, please.”

It was the gargoyle. Injured, torpored, but intact. Olivia watched as Shen scowled at the image on the scanner, walked over to the coffin, grasped it in both hands, and dragged it noisily out into the street.
She watched it lying there for a moment as Shen stomped back inside, and turned to John, who stood by her side. “Find a suburban house with a nice basement to stash him in. Put him on a blood drip, post a guard.”

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