Waking Up Dead

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Chapter 8

Cadence found it a bit easier to adjust to her new life after the phone conversation with her brother. She found herself opening up to Osmond a little more, as she finally understood that she didn’t always have to put up the façade of tough chick to have his respect. She got her stream of consciousness thinking under full control and was able to better focus on conversations without going off on tangents. Snow took her out occasionally to roam the streets of their region, giving her a little more to do than just sit in her room and stare at the walls. He was even given clearance to teach her to teleport herself from place to place without his chaperoning her.

A little over a week passed from the Lexington Hills case. They were both in the office when there was a knock on the door, followed by the door opening. The large figure of Alistair loomed in the doorway.

“Snow, Riley. Just wanted to stop by and let you know the paperwork on Lexington went through fine. No follow up with the ghost hunters required.”

Snow nodded. “Good to know, thank you.” They nodded at each other and Alistair closed the door again.

“What’s wrong?” Cadence asked. She had noted the odd look on her partner’s face.

“Nothing’s wrong per say.”

“But…?” she asked.

“Well… It’s just a bit odd for the State Director to come down and tell a regional officer that everything was fine. Unless there was some sort of investigation into the events.”

“Maybe he felt he owed it to you since he set the whole case up in the first place. Maybe there was an investigation into it, since he set it up. Or maybe, since you were his protégé he wanted to let you know you had done a good job. We have a state Captain? You’ve never gone into the hierarchy here and I’ve never really thought to ask. He has all of the officers for the entire state under him? That’s a lot of cops to be responsible for.”

“His actual title is State Director. Calling him a Captain is something of an old habit from our living jobs. Our efforts are something of an international effort, you see. And since every culture has different ways of dividing authority and different titles, we do things just a little differently. We’re given regions to watch over as you know, or a jurisdiction as you would like to say. Our separate region is in a larger region, which in turn makes up a region of a state, or in another country, or a county.”

“Oh, wait, I think I’ve got this. So we’re like the city police, there’s a county police, he’s state police, and then there would be someone higher up that would equate to federal?”

“In American terms, yes.”

“Is there anyone who is a global director?”

“The country directors form a council who oversee things on a global scale. That way there is no one person in charge of it all.”

“So like the United Nations.”

“In effect, yes,” he replied.

“Cool.” She was going to say more, but his phone began to ring. Osmond pulled it out of his coat pocket and answered it.

“Snow,” he said. “Ah, Mr. Suarez, how are you?” His face darkened after a moment, and he was out of his chair in an instant. “We’re on our way,” was all he said and he hung up.

Cadence stood as he hung up, not liking the sudden shift. “What is it?”

“Probably nothing,” he replied.

“But possibly?” She prodded as she followed him to the hall of doors, walking fast to keep up with him.

“There are apparently strange people lurking about in Lexington. They’re wearing hooded robes and have candles and chalk.”

“What, like some kind of cult?” she asked in disbelief as Snow unlocked the door and stepped through. She followed right behind, and they were in the lobby of the defunct hospital once more. Ramon stood at the base of the main staircase and looked relieved to see them.

In the lobby, over where Aiden had sat in front of tables full of equipment not long ago, a circle had been drawn on the floor. That circle was currently being carved into the floor by one of the robed people for more permanency. The typical pentagram usually associated with these types of things was there, also some other form of writing. There were five people of varying shapes and sizes in black robes and hoods. Candles were lit all around them, flickering here and there when a stray breeze blew through the open doors or the cracks and gaps in the boards that covered the windows.

“Cultists,” she muttered the answer to herself. Then she looked at Snow. “Can they really do any harm?”

“It depends on what they are here to do. Ramon, have you heard them talk about anything?”

“No, they’ve been quiet since they came in. None of them have spoken much other than directions.”

“Any one of them seem to be the leader?” Cadence asked.

“The portlier one seems to be in charge. He was pointing to them where to put the candles.” Of the robed figures two were heavy, but one was heavier than the other. They all seemed to be male, or at least Cadence couldn’t discern a female like figure there. Even loose robes usually showed if a human form has breasts or not.

“I’ll follow your lead,” she said to Snow.

“For now we watch. I’ve seen a few of these in my time and these figures they’ve written aren’t anything I’ve seen before. I think we might just have some amateurs here playing at being witches. But I don’t want to leave until we’ve seen all they are going to do.”

The three ghosts stood and watched as the five breathers chanted their chant around the circle. One of the figures, the heaviest one that Ramon had pointed out before, turned and produced a wriggling bag from behind him. From the bag, the cries of a cat could be heard. The figure then bent down and drew a knife from his boot.

“Shit!” Cadence exclaimed and moved, but Snow grabbed her hand.

“You can’t stop them, remember?”

“Well, wouldn’t this be a good time to try and scare them away?”

“I don’t know if anything will scare them.”

“We could let Ruby loose on them,” Ramon suggested with a slight grin.

The yowl of the cat was suddenly cut short as the figure stabbed the knife into the bag. He stabbed the bag a few more times and cut a small hole in the bottom of it, through which blood began to trickle. The figures then began to pass the bag around, making sure the blood trickled into the groove of the circle they had carved into the old linoleum. When the circle was completed, there was a subtle snapping sound, and an almost electrical hum in the air.

Snow’s eyes widened as the wind outside seemed to pick up. It was a real circle, capable of real magic. Snow felt the icy cold fingers of dread spread through him. “Ramon, go upstairs. Alert everyone to stay in their rooms please.” Ramon didn’t ask why, he just nodded and disappeared. Snow didn’t hesitate before looking to Cadence. “Get upstairs as well. Stay with Ruby until Ramon or I come for you.”

“Snow what’s —”

“Questions later please, do this now!” he said. He had to raise his voice to be heard over the howling that was growing louder in the lobby. An acrid odor was beginning to emanate from the area that the ritual was being performed. Cadence nodded and teleported upstairs. Despite the fact that she no longer had a heart to pound, she felt as though there was one pounding in her chest. She skidded into Ruby’s room and turned to close the door before remembering that the doors up here had mostly all rotted away.

“Libby?” Ruby’s voice croaked from the feeding chair where she was cuffed. “What’s wrong girl? Is that son of a bitch Ramon after you?”

Snow, for his part, stayed. He had to make sure of what was happening. He really hoped he was over reacting and that nothing was going to come of this. But the group had managed to close a real working circle and whatever it was for, it was doing something. Shadows in the room seemed to jump as if they were as nervous as Snow was. The howling got louder until it sounded like a train was pulling through the lobby. A tendril of dark smoke began to drift up from the center of the circle, quickly joined by other tendrils and puffs. The sour smell grew more pungent, sharp, and unpleasant. More and more shadows seemed to pour from that one spot on the floor, coalescing and congealing until finally they formed a vaguely humanoid like shape in the center of the circle. The dark shadow creature was visible not only to Snow but to the five cultists around the circle as well.

Apparently Snow had been right about the group being amateurs, as several swear words were dropped and the group immediately began to run. One of the men, again the heaviest one, ran across the line of the circle, smudging the blood and chalk, breaking it with a snap. They ran out into the yard screaming, leaving Snow and the shadow in the lobby. The winds outside rose to a fevered pitch and blew out the candles in the room.

The creature roared and began to advance on Snow. When a spirit came through the back lobby doors, asking what all the noise was, the creature whirled and bore down on the poor woman before Snow could call out to warn her. The creature grabbed the ghostly woman with sharp looking tentacles, and she cried out in pain as Snow edged up a couple of stairs. It began eating her, taking the bits of her it tore off and shoving them into a gaping hole in its shadowy face that served as its mouth. Snow was powerless to stop the creature as he stood there frozen, witnessing the horror. His mind was blank, unable to come up with a way to try to help the poor spirit. When it had finished consuming her, leaving no trace of her behind, it powered through the swinging doors she had come through and disappeared with a final terrible howl.

As the howl faded into the night Snow’s mind seemed to unfreeze, and he immediately teleported himself to the second-floor hallway of the asylum. Ramon was there waiting. The silence after all of the deafening noise from downstairs was eerie. “Who haunts downstairs, behind the lobby?” Snow asked him, trying to keep both his body and his voice from shaking.

“Maggie, she was a housekeeper here. Also Carl, he was one of the patients, but he’s residual. They’re the only ones in the area you’re talking about. Why? What’s happened?”

“Maggie is gone. Let me get Cadence. Then we’ll talk.”

He walked over to the door to Ruby’s room but didn’t step inside. He started to call for Cadence, then remembered that she had used the name Libby with the old woman. “Miss Riley,” he opted for formality, “could you come out here, please?”

Cadence emerged from the room looking a little shaken and wide-eyed but thankfully unharmed. “What happened?” she asked apprehensively. “I could hear all the noise from downstairs. And even for a ghost you look pale.”

Snow gestured for them to follow him into a room that was once used to keep medication. It was a long narrow room with a desk running the length of the room and shelves up above it. The wood of the shelves had rotted to the point that it looked like a single bottle of aspirin would make them collapse. “I’m sorry to say Lexington Hills has lost one of its ghosts,” Snow said gravely as Cadence and Ramon both looked at him expectantly.

“Maggie?” Ramon asked needlessly. Snow nodded.

“How is that even possible?” Cadence asked.

“The cultists apparently stumbled onto a real summoning circle. Only it would seem that they weren’t prepared for what they summoned. A shadow creature appeared. When they saw it, they ran. In doing so, the largest one of them broke the circle they had cast, which set it free.”

Ramon muttered a few choice words in Spanish. “What do we do now?” he finally asked.

“Riley and I will have a look below. We’ll check to see if Carl managed to get away from it. Then see what direction it took out of here.”

“Out of here?” Ramon asked.

“Creatures like that rarely stay where they are summoned. I will warn you, it will very likely come back here. This is like a base camp of sorts for it. It will go out exploring but it will come back here to consume more energy.”

“More of us, you mean.” Ramon muttered in a sour, matter-of-fact tone. Snow nodded.

“Yes. At least, until it can find a new home to claim. We’re going to research what it is, see if we can find any pattern or habits we can exploit, and deal with it. We will be in contact with you frequently, and feel free to be in contact with us frequently as well. Advise everyone that if it comes back, they are to hide. Do you understand? No heroics. Just hide. We’ll take care of it.”

Ramon nodded. Snow led them out of the medicine closet and Cadence followed him downstairs.

“Now would be the time for us to be armed, yes? I wish guns were useful,” Cadence said as they crept down the staircase to the lobby. Snow didn’t respond. He just kept carefully moving inexorably forward. Turning the corner at the bottom of the stairs and moving towards the doors that Maggie had come through. Unlike a human murder, which would leave behind remains, the creature had consumed all of Maggie. There was no evidence of blood, of viscera, of bones. There was nothing to mark her passing, let alone the brutality of how her end had come. She would never come back, never move on, never be seen or heard from again. Her demise was final and it frustrated Snow to no end that he had not been able to prevent it.

The two partners passed through the door into the dining hall of the asylum, and Snow pulled them to a stop to listen. The large room still held a couple of tables and a few mismatched chairs, a couple of which were obviously broken. The paint was peeling from the walls, and one of the large arched windows had been broken but not boarded up. Areas of the walls had been spray-painted with graffiti. It was silent in the room. There was no howling, no growling, none of the noise or smells that had accompanied the creature before; it must have left. Snow closed his eyes for a moment and allowed himself to relax just a little bit. That was when he heard it. There was a faint voice off in the distance.

“Help!” The male voice called.

Cadence and Snow exchanged glances and ran in the direction of the voice. They followed it through the dining room and then into the kitchen. Halfway through the kitchen was a door that led down to the basement. That’s where the voice was coming from. They passed through the door and into the stairwell, and there, at the bottom, was an elderly male spirit tangled up in what seemed to be a spiritual wheelchair.

“That must be Carl,” Osmond said.

“It is.” Ramon’s voice came from behind Cadence and startled the hell out of her, making her jump.

“Jesus! Don’t sneak up on people.”

Ramon couldn’t help but grin a little despite the seriousness of the situation. “Kind of my job, Ma’am.”

Snow was in a less than jovial mood, and did not play along with the two. “Is he normally like this?” he asked as the spirit called for help again.

“Yes. In the twenties, there was a nurse who was not precisely the Florence Nightingale type. I’ve heard she liked to take out her frustrations on a few particular patients. Carl was one of them. The story is that one day she got fed up with everything and shoved him, in his wheelchair, down the stairs. She went to jail for it, not that it did poor Carl any good. He’s more residual than anything. We can never get a response from him. He just lays down here and calls for help.”

“Which would be why the creature left him alone.” Snow nodded, his mind going through what he knew of those kinds of creatures and their feeding habits. “A residual spirit has far less energy to consume than an intelligent one.” He turned and led them out of the stairwell and into the kitchen. “Alright, Ramon, we have to get back and put in the report of this. Call us if you need us and we’ll keep in touch with you too.”

Ramon nodded. He looked around the kitchen a moment and frowned. He already missed the warm presence of Maggie down here. He then disappeared. Snow turned to Cadence.

“Back to the office we go.” Cade nodded and they both teleported back to the observation bay right in front of their office.

“I know you have questions,” Snow said as he opened the door to their office, “but right now isn’t the time.”

“Honestly, it seems to be the perfect time to me. We’re partners, Osmond. I need to know what’s going on to help you.”

“You can’t help me. Not with this.”

“Bullshit. Just because you have more experience with it —”

“I don’t have a great deal more experience with it, but I am an older spirit than you,” he said. He rounded on her, frustration and anger in his eyes. “That makes you a far tastier meal for that thing than I am. You still have a lot of energy from your life left. That would draw it straight to you, Cadence. And I am not about to serve you up on a platter to a monster.”

“That’s why you sent me up to Ruby. Not to keep her safe or keep her quiet, but to get me out of the way, out of its line of sight.”

“I had no idea what was coming out of that circle at the time so when I sent you upstairs it was in effect to accomplish both of those things, to keep you safe and to keep her quiet. Had I known, yes, it would have been for the first reason entirely. Only had I known what was coming, I would have sent you back here instead of upstairs to Miss Jones. That is also the reason you are going home now. You’re not on this case.”

“Bullshit I’m not. This is my job now too, Ozzie. Like it or not, you are stuck with me. So the best thing you can do is teach me.”

“No, the best thing I can do for you is to send you home. Failing that perhaps I should see about getting you transferred.”

“What the hell is up your ass about this?” she asked, as both of their voices rose.

“I’ll not see a partner of mine hurt.”

“I’m not going to get hurt if you would just teach me what I need to know for this like you’ve done before.”

“It’s not that simple!” he yelled.

“Yes, it is!” she shouted back.

“Is there a problem?” asked a quiet, velvety baritone. Alistair stood in the doorway, looking between the two of them. He’d been drawn over by the yelling coming from their still open door.

“Yes,” they both replied in unison.

“Alistair, she can’t be on the case I have now, she’s too new and it’s too dangerous.”

“And with all due respect, Sir, Snow needs to get the stick out of his ass.” Cadence shot back her retort with a sidelong glance to her partner. “I may be new to being a ghost, but I’m not new to being a cop. If he would just tell me what I need to know, I can handle myself on this case.” Cadence and Osmond glared at each other for a moment, before Alistair cleared his throat, drawing their attention.

“What is so all fired dangerous, if I can ask?” the large man rumbled.

“There’s a non-human spirit, Sir. Some occultists released a shadow at Lexington Hills tonight,” Snow replied to his former mentor.

“I do see your concern, Osmond. However, while they can be dangerous, I do agree with Detective Riley. If you take a few moments to teach her, she can perhaps be of help to you.”

Snow practically sputtered in response. “B-b-but her safety is my responsibility!” he said.

“Wrong, my safety is my responsibility,” Cadence said, countering his argument.

Alistair looked at them and chuckled. “Yes, you definitely have yourself a spit fire, Osmond. While it is commendable of you to want to keep her safe, if you shield her from everything she will learn nothing. I never took you off of anything when you were new.”

“We didn’t deal with a non-human until I’d been dead almost five years,” he said.

“Granted, but there were some pretty nasty human spirits we had to deal with. Teach her Snow. That’s an order.”

“But, sir!”

“That’s an order,” he said, in a tone that no longer brooked any opposition. With that, he turned and left.

Snow frowned and sank into his chair, defeated. Cadence practically beamed triumphantly and moved to sit down in hers. “So,” she said. “Teach me.”

He glared at her once more and pulled the phone from his jacket, dialing a number. He waited for someone to answer, but when they did, all he said was “Snow and Riley, non-human shadow.” Then he hung up, returning his phone to his pocket. Cadence was about to ask what that had been about, but then he finally spoke.

“Did you see all the blood left behind from when the creature killed the female ghost, Maggie?”

Cadence paused, thinking back, running over the sight of the lobby in her mind. “No, I don’t think I did.”

“And do you know why you don’t recall seeing any?” She shook her head no. “It’s because there wasn’t anything to see. It consumed her completely. Her spirit, her memories, her energy, all of her essence, everything she was. There is nothing left of her. She doesn’t move on to another plane; she isn’t going to be reborn; there is nothing of her left at all. Everything that made her what she was, consumed by that thing to give it the energy to continue being. And right now, you would smell like a holiday feast to that shadow. That is why I am so concerned for you. That is why I was fighting to keep you safe.”

“Look, Osmond, I appreciate the sentiment. I do. But you can even ask Andy, the more someone tries to protect me or keep me safe the more determined it makes me to do what they don’t want me doing. People have tried to shield me, to shelter me, whatever you want to call it. Look at my Father. He was so resolute in protecting me from going into the services that he never saw law enforcement coming. People going out of their way to protect me just pisses me off.”

“It pisses you off that they bother to care?” he asked.

“No. I’m touched that they care. I am. But it pisses me off to no end that they think I need protecting in the first place. I’ve fought my whole life not to be characterized as some stereotypical girly girl. My life doesn’t end if I break a nail. As a teen, I would rather play sports than go to the mall. And I never back away from something just because it is hard or dangerous. I can handle myself if you teach me what I need to know for this. I’m sure having a rookie on a dangerous case is a lot to handle. But take the twenty minutes to fill me in and maybe it will save you hours in the long run. A rookie stops being a rookie only with experience.”

He was still fuming a bit, but he nodded.

“Thank you. So what was the phone call you made?”

“I had to call NHD,” he replied, then realized she wouldn’t understand what that stood for. “The Non-Human Division. They specialize in the non-human creatures and help us figure out what they may be, and how best to handle or dispose of them. They’ll send an agent down.”

“Okay, so we won’t know how to tackle this shadow thing until this guy gets here then?”

“Well, there are general guidelines for handling things until we know how to get it caged or how to eliminate it.”

“Caged? You can cage a spirit? We walk through walls, how on earth can you cage the ethereal?”

“That’s something we’ll have to discuss with the NHD agent. There are special items that can trap or perhaps even kill the creature.”

“Nice. So honestly this isn’t going to be too bad then. We get the gizmos, go after it, and get it gone.”

“That’s like a child saying calculus will be easy because they’ve learned how to add.”

“Gee, thanks,” she said sourly.

“Look, you need to understand that this thing will devour you if it gets half a chance. Plus, the more spirits it consumes, the stronger it gets. It’s out there,” he said, pointing to the map. “And we don’t know where.”

Cadence looked at the map and frowned. “Oh.”

Snow nodded, grimly satisfied that he had finally gotten through to her about the way things stood right now.

“Okay, but you said it would come back to Lexington. Use it as a sort of base camp, right?”

“Yes, but we have no idea where it has gone in the meantime, or even how long it will be before it returns.”

“Which is why I’m here,” a smooth female voice said from the doorway. Snow rose to his feet in an instant and Cadence followed suit, figuring she should. The woman had a similar build to Cadence, but in contrast to Cade she had dark hair, eyes, and skin. “Veronica Banks, NHD.”

“Agent Banks, it is a pleasure to meet you. I’m Officer Snow, and this is Officer Riley.” They each took turns shaking hands.

“Time is of the essence, officers. I need you to take me back to where it was summoned, please.” They nodded and headed out of the office once more, trekking back down the hallway of doors to the one marked “Lexington Hills.”

They went through the door and into the lobby of the abandoned asylum once more. The first rays of sunlight were streaming through the doors, which had been left open when the cultists fled. Agent Banks strode straight over to where the circle was and took a notepad from her pocket, as well as a pen, and began to take notes. It wasn’t long before Ramon appeared next to Snow.

“An NHD Agent?” Ramon asked in a hushed voice, and Snow nodded. “That was fast,” he said.

“This isn’t something to let lie,” Snow replied, although he too thought the speed at which Agent Banks had appeared was a little unusual. NHD was usually bogged down with cases, suffering from the age old problem of too much work and not enough people to do the job. They would usually get back to an officer within a day of the initial report, but further action might take longer. Agent Banks had arrived within half an hour of his call. Usually, they simply asked the officers what they had seen, and then they went from there, yet here Agent Banks was, at the scene and taking notes. He hoped that meant that positive changes were afoot in the NHD.

The three of them watched in silence as Agent Banks went slowly around the circle, drawing a representation of it in her notebook, including all the runes, and the position of the candles. Several minutes passed, the sunlight became stronger as dawn passed into early morning. Finally, she finished and walked back over to them.

“What was sacrificed?” the agent asked.

“A cat,” Snow answered.

“And you didn’t think you might want to stop it?”

“There wasn’t time,” Cadence said. “The guy didn’t hesitate at all.” Ramon nodded, confirming what Cadence said.

The Agent frowned but nodded and looked over her notes, taking a moment to note that the animal sacrificed was a cat. “How many living people were there taking part in this?”

“Five,” Snow replied. Banks noted that down as well. She then noted the time of year, date, and phase of the moon.

“Do you know what we’re dealing with?” Snow asked. He was doing his best to reign in his impatience at her silence.

“Not yet. I’ll take this information back to my department and we’ll cross reference the runes. See if we can determine if this is a specific Non-Human or a general one. I’ll get back to you as soon as I know. Has it come back yet?” she asked, looking at Ramon.

“No, Ma’am,” he replied.

“It will. Do your best to keep everyone in their rooms and call these two if it comes back.”

Ramon nodded in reply. Agent Banks finished a few more notes then said a quick goodbye before disappearing. The three remaining ghosts relaxed a little bit.

“Never did like working with the FBI,” Cadence said. She shook her head and grimaced.

“She’s not FBI,” Snow said.

“Oh, I would be willing to bet she was when she was alive. I would bet a lot that she was either that or the CIA. Trust me, the way she holds herself and acts just screams that she was a Fed.” Snow arched a brow and she shrugged in response.

Snow clapped Ramon on the back. “Is everyone here doing alright?”

“As well as can be expected,” he said.

“Alright, we’ll call as soon as we learn anything.” And with that Cadence and Snow teleported back to their office.

“So is there a general rule of thumb as to how long the creature will wait before going back to its base camp?” Cadence asked as she sat back down at her desk.

“No. It could be a few hours, could be a few days. If it finds a place or a person to latch onto it could be never,” Snow answered.

“Is there a way to lure it back there?”

Snow looked up and over to her. “Lure it?”

“Well, if you want to trap something, one good way is to lure it into the trap, right? You bait a fish hook; you put cheese in a mouse trap.”

“Until we know what it is we won’t know how to trap it, let alone what kind of lure would work. But I’m curious as to what you’re on to. Please continue as if I’d said yes.”

Cadence chuckled. “Well, I was thinking... I know this is probably very childish or too simplistic an approach, but my knowledge on this is limited. In the movies, all it takes to get rid of a demon or demonic entity, or evil spirit, whatever you choose to call it, is an exorcism.”

“Have one of those handy in your pocket then?” he asked.

“No, not quite,” she replied. “But what if we could arrange for one to be done after luring and trapping the thing there?”

Snow blinked. It was simplistic, and had problems. But it was brilliant. “There is one major flaw there,” he said.

“Okay, what?”

“How do we, as non-corporeal people, manage to arrange an exorcism with what would have to be a very corporeal priest?”

“Aiden.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Well, think about it. Croft set up our first case by making some suggestion to Dan, the leader of that ghost hunting team, right?” Snow nodded. “I’m not sure, but I’m assuming that he spoke to Dan in a dream like I did with Andy to say goodbye?”

“That is usually how we influence breathers, yes.”

“Well we don’t know where Dan lives, but we do know where Aiden lives. What if we get them to be involved in the trapping, and get them to set up the exorcism?”

“Usually, appearing to breathers in dreams has to be approved, as a final goodbye was in your case.”

“Did Croft get his little dream time to influence Dan sanctioned?”

“I… I don’t know. I would assume he did.” Now that he thought about it however, he had his doubts. He really couldn’t see the higher ups approving communication just so that Croft could set up a test.

“Well,” she paused, thinking. “Well, you have flaunted the rules before.”

“I never —” he began to protest, but she waved his argument away before he could really get it started.

“Yes, you did. You let me talk to Sam.”

“But that was different, it was —”

“For my own good?” she asked.

Snow nodded then saw where she was going. “Of course, what could be more for the good of others than stopping this thing.”

“Exactly,” she nodded. She was glad he had been able to see where she was going.

“Alright. While I like where your head is at, and I heartily applaud your quick, if out of the box, thinking, why don’t we wait until we see what NHD uncovers? Give them a little time to come up with a solution before we go breaking rules that are there for a perfectly good reason.”

“Fine, fine. But don’t knock out of the box thinking. Sometimes it’s the best way to think.”

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