Chapter One: The Rooftop
Michael stood on the roof of an apartment building in downtown Chicago, his preternatural senses focused on the rooftop situated three buildings over and three storeys below.
Much as he would have liked to know what was happening on that roof, the noise of the city below as well as the present wind was too distracting when the subjects he wanted to hear were so far away.
In fact, this night the wind was whistling around them, picking up the hem of his long black coat and flapping it incessantly against his legs, sending tendrils of ice underneath to bite at his skin. Clothed in black jeans and shirt, with heavy leather biker's boots, he did not feel the wind's iciness. He never did. His clothes were purely for show.
His eyesight was the better of his senses anyway. Even before, he had always been able to see everything. Back then, there had been no name for his condition, no real understanding of it at all. All he knew was that he could look at anything and see everything about it. He couldn't shut out the stimuli bombarding him at all times; all he could do was learn to cope with it, learn to adjust, to filter out all the unwanted junk and focus only on what he needed, learn to live with a brain that never seemed to switch off.
Now they had a name for it, Low Latent Inhibition. Now you could search for things like this with just a few taps of some keys. Now his power enhanced his natural abilities and gave him the benefit of distance. Nevertheless, it did not matter, at least not to him. He was what he was and he would use whatever he needed to see his goals met.
So now, he utilized this asset, setting his piercing blue/green gaze on the rooftop below.
As the rooftop came into sharp focus, Michael hissed through his teeth.
"What is it, Papi?"
The soft question distracted him for only a second. Not moving his gaze, he answered just as softly, "This might be it Fernando. This might be it."
"Do you see him?"
This time Michael did turn away and looked at the man standing slightly back to his right. "No. But I do see Alexander Mahone."
"Mahone? What's he doing here in Chicago?"
Michael frowned, suddenly troubled, and looked back at the scene below. "I don't know. But he's usually - shit."
"What?" Sucre stepped up beside him and frowned across at the scene, but his senses were not strong enough to pierce the distance.
"Bill Kim," was Michael's sardonic reply.
Sucre rattled something off in Spanish that was too fast for Michael to understand, who merely nodded. They both knew what this meant. If Bill Kim were on the scene, then The General would be somewhere nearby.
Michael watched the meeting below him, his long fingers moving restlessly on the waist high wall before him. It was a habit from long ago, and even though it had now been more years than he wished to consider, it was something that he could not seem to stop himself from doing, especially when he was nervous.
However, as he became aware of an approaching presence from his left, he forced his agitated hands to stop by placing them into the pockets of his long coat.
Without taking his eyes from the scene below, Michael acknowledged the newcomer by simply stating, "Paul."
"Michael," Paul answered and came up to stand beside him, his perpetual smirk lighting up his periwinkle blue eyes. Staring below his smirk grew wider. "Hmmm, Mahone and Kim. Interesting...And oh, ho, even more interesting. Ed Pavelka."
"Pavi's there too?" Sucre directed his question to Michael.
Michael nodded, but turned his attention to the new arrival. He knew that Paul Kellerman was strong; in fact, he was the strongest amongst them besides Michael himself. However, Paul was always careful about showing that strength. Not for the first time he wondered just how much he could trust the man beside him - if he could see that distance and was suddenly not shy in admitting it...
Paul turned his glittering eyes onto his superior, never losing his smirk. "Love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation."
"Did you have something for me?" Michael asked, ignoring his comment.
Paul's eyes glanced across at Sucre before he replied. "A Puerto Rican woman was brought into Chicago General a short time ago suffering from an unknown animal attack."
"Maricruz," Sucre whispered and shifted as though he was about to leave.
Michael's right hand shot out and grabbed his upper arm, stopping him in his tracks. "Do we already have someone there?"
Paul nodded. "Tweener is at the hospital. He told me there was nothing suspicious yet. Nobody's come to finish her off. Although..."
"Apparently, the doctors had a hard time trying to figure out whether to operate - if you know what I mean."
Michael looked back down at the meeting that was occurring below. It could only bode ill for them that two high-level vampires from separate courts were meeting with a high-level lycanthrope. Something was happening and how he wished that they had not discovered Maricruz at such a crucial time. They needed someone on the inside and now his only choice was the one person on his team that he did not fully trust.
Glancing back at the man he took in his scruffy appearance, his torn jeans and blue shirt, his baby face covered in three-day growth and his light brown hair mussed by the wind. Michael knew that face, and especially those mischievous eyes hid a penchant for easy violence.
Hesitating, he used every one of his preternatural senses and directed them at Paul. He was the master, he reminded himself, and he was the one who had turned Paul. This gave him the advantage. Paul could not hide from his scrutiny more importantly; Paul could never be as powerful as he could.
Paul did not flinch under his gaze. He never did and it irked Michael to no end that he was so good at hiding himself. He became flustered once again, that he had had to remind himself of his status. However, Michael had no choice. He had to trust his senses. His group did not have the time or the people to set something else up now. He would just have to use what he had and trust that it would work.
"Be careful Paul," was all he needed to say.
"Don't worry about me, Michael. I value my life." His smirk widening into a grin, Paul disappeared in the direction from which he had come.
"Can we trust him?" Sucre questioned.
Michael jumped up onto the wall and stared down at the pavement eighteen storeys below. "We have to," he told his friend before stepping off the roof.
The sensation of falling never ceased to amaze Michael as he plummeted towards the pavement with the wind whistling passed his ears. With his heightened sense of hearing, the sound was almost too much.
He knew Sucre had jumped as well because he could feel the undercurrent of Sucre's power as he used it almost instantly to control his descent. Michael, however, loved the loss of control as he fell.
Flinging his arms to the sides, he closed his eyes and tilted his face up to the stars, losing himself in the sensation of the rushing wind, the tug of his flapping coat and the feeling of his stomach rising up into his chest.
He used his power only at the last instant to solidify the air around him so that when he landed on the sidewalk his knees barely moved from the impact and then he stepped off onto the street without waiting.
Digging the keys to the silver Audi parked on the opposite side of the street out of his pocket he pressed the button on the remote control and the car beeped twice as it unlocked. Climbing into the driver's seat, he started the car and waited the few minutes for Sucre to catch up to him and slip into the passenger seat.
Michael eased onto the quiet street slowly, his mind on the meeting he had just witnessed and what it could mean to them. He was sure it was no coincidence that Maricruz' attack had occurred tonight, right after getting a message to him about the unscheduled meeting.
"So," Sucre began as he checked his weapon, then flicked the safety on and slipped the gun into the holster under his jacket, "you think they'll try to finish the job by going after her at the hospital?"
"I have no doubt."
"Then let us pray that we get there first," Sucre stated emphatically.
Michael nodded as he headed towards the hospital and his seriously injured spy.