Margaret and Mike don’t find a solution at the convenience store they can afford with the few dirhams they have left, and eventually head back for the motel. Meanwhile, as the party generally relaxes and discusses their next move, Emily blurts out that someone had come into her mind while she was dozing, offered her a job, and told her she had thirty minutes to call a phone number. This kicks the party into gear, with everyone rapidly packing up.
Daphne and Seamus find a cargo van a short way down the road with the keys in it, and bring it to the motel room. Meanwhile, Margaret and Mike grab Emily and head back to the convenience store to see if the ATM outside can be hacked. The party piles into the van while Emily extracts several hundred dirhams from the ATM machine, but warns the party that someone is trying to locate her. She’s doing her best to hold them off. Margaret takes the cash and purchases a pre-paid cellular phone from the convenience store. The party speeds off into the night in the van, narrowly escaping several Emirati armored police vehicles and helicopters descending on the motel.
Margaret uses the phone to dial the number given by John, then she and Hugo get into a brief tussle about Hugo making a call. She finally relinquishes the phone to Hugo, who make a call to an acquaintance and gets the address and entry codes for an apartment in the financial district that they can hide out at.
The party stops at a convenience store to buy a map, snacks, and a few souvenir t-shirts for the under-dressed among them. Daphne manages to score a bit of weed from the cashier.
On the way to the apartment, the phone rings. Margaret identifies herself as a friend of Ezra’s. The man asks after John’s health and pleads with the party to keep him safe. He says that Dubai is incredibly dangerous to their kind and the party needs to keep their heads down while he makes arrangements for the party’s exfiltration. He says he’ll call back within two hours.
The party arrives at a very upscale apartment tower, parks the van in an unused corner of the parking garage, and takes the lift to the apartment. Emma and Margaret work to extract some blood from Hugo to help perk up John while Daphne and Cole partake in the cannabis. Emily finds a small tablet in the apartment and uses it to develop and release a bot with a mission to cover their trail as much as possible.
As promised, the man calls back. He tells them that he’s arranging for a drop of goods somewhere in the city around mid-day. He promises cash, some basic supplies and clothing, and adds a small field surgical kit when Margaret mentions the party has been implanted with trackers. He also states that he’s working to get them out of the country, but it will likely involve them having to break into the Jebil Ali port to get to a ship. He arranges a follow-up call mid-morning.
Margaret and Mike found a small store, not far from the motel. As luck would have it, they sold both phones and phone cards. The problem was that either was too expensive for their meager means. After a minute or two talking to the Indian guy behind the counter, it was obvious that they could not manage to get a large enough discount from him.
There had been, however, a cashpoint outside of the store. All they needed was a credit card. Or possibly an Emily. Since they did not have a credit card, the Emily was the obvious choice.
‘Let us get Emily’. Margaret went outside and headed back towards the others, Mike trailing after her. At least that was better than stealing from the store; the bank would probably not even notice it as anything but a couple of numbers not quite matching up, whereas the store owner might actually feel it. Also, he might actually catch them at it, which would really complicate things.
As they arrived at the motel, they met Daphne on her way out, very much underdressed; Margaret would almost say undressed. For some reason, none of the others had stopped her. Had they been back in the States, Margaret too would have ignored it; she did not mind, really, though ms. Rogers would probably have gone on about drugs and indecency and today’s youth. Here, it would not exactly help in their attempt to stay below the radar. It might, in fact, let some of them enjoy the brand new experience of seeing Dubai from behind bars.
At least the young fae or changeling listened when she was advised not to go outside like that. She did not even argue, which made Margaret wonder if anyone had made even a token attempt to stop her from going outside.
Then Emily broke in, saying that someone had tried to convince her, in a dream, to turn on the rest of them, and not to trust the dead one. She clarified, with a glance at Margaret, by adding that she thought they had meant John. More urgent was the fact that she had been given a time limit to make her choice. Half an hour. Meaning, most likely, that the Division or the Technocracy had found them.
Margaret, Mike and Emily hurried off in the direction of the cashpoint, the rest headed out to find a car. What they were going to do was, of course, illegal, and would get them in serious trouble if they were caught. Given the alternative of being stuck here with no help incoming, she had to admit they did not have many alternatives.
It took Emily just a few minutes to convince the cashpoint to give her some money. Not too much, most likely not enough for the bank to care enough about it to spend any resources into finding out what happened to the money. Not unless they made a habit of it. Margaret took some of the money and went inside to buy a phone, returning outside just as the others pulled up in a white van.
It was clear that Emily’s warning had come just in time; as they started driving, a police car passed them, headed in the direction of the motel. They also spotted one or two helicopters that might be headed to the same destination; Margaret hoped the other people living there would not get in any trouble.
As she pulled out the phone, Daphne turned on the radio. It seemed to have two settings; loud and louder. A man was singing in Arabic; Margaret wondered if the text was as inane as most pop music in English, mostly variations over ‘I love him/her, he/she doesn’t love me, boo-hoo’, ‘I love him/her’, ‘(sh)he loves me, and I left him/her, and I’m better off’, or ‘I’m so cool the sun is shining out of my arse’.
Getting the music turned off was harder than it should have been, but eventually, the car was quiet enough that Margaret could make the call. She dialled the number, entered the code, entered the phone number they could be reached on, then the call was terminated. Now they just had to wait.
‘Give me the phone, I want to make a call’. Hugo held out his hand. As she had no idea how long it would take John’s contacts to call them back, and she would prefer them not running out of power or credit on the card, not to mention risk John’s contact getting a busy signal when trying to dial call them back, Margaret did not want to hand it over without knowing why, where and how long.
Instead of explaining, Hugo leaned over and tried to snatch the phone out of her hand. She pulled it away, but he kept trying to grab it from her. Then Mike spoke.
‘Just give him the phone’.
Next thing she knew, Hugo had the phone in his hand. Margaret realised she had simply handed it over. Clearly, Mike had used his power to make her do what he wanted, and it infuriated her. Instead of actually discussing it, or simply let Hugo give them a little bit of information, Mike had just forced her to do what he told her to. It bothered her that he could simply make her do whatever he wanted. Worse, neither he nor Seamus, at least, seemed to think there was anything wrong with that.
Hugo made some stupid excuse about how he could not tell them who his contacts were, or he would have to kill them or something moronic like that. She bit back the comment that first popped into her head. And the second. There was no way of knowing how long they would need to work together, so it would be better to not antagonise people more than necessary. She ended up mumbling something about how she just had wanted some general information, not their names or anything. Most likely, she would prefer not to know that anyway.
At least his phone call had a result; his contacts gave him the address to a place where they could lay low for a while. All they needed was a map, so they could find the place. It was late, but they did find an open store that sold both city maps and t-shirts. They picked up a map, several t-shirts, and some food. Well, snack more like it, but it was all the store had, and slightly better than nothing. For most of them, anyway.
The phone rang. When Margaret answered, she could hear someone on the other end, but he or she was silent. Most likely whoever it was had expected John. The vampire seemed unconscious, though; Margaret explained the situation, and added that she was a friend of Ezra’s. The voice spoke then, finally, asking questions. About John and about them. Where and how many they were, if they needed medical attention; useful, sensible questions. Margaret tried to answer in kind.
The voice sounded somewhat frustrated, but told her he would call her back in a couple of hours. And he asked her to take care of John, or Jonathan. If they could feed him; he would, the voice said, push himself too far if he thought it necessary.
Finding the address Hugo had been given was trivial, once they had the map. It was an apartment building, and it had a garage, making it easy for them to get in without attracting too much attention. The others seemed uncertain what to do with John, so Margaret just picked him up and carried him, as if it was nothing. She could do that, now. She had not really tested her powers much, but she was stronger, a lot stronger, than she had been when she was still alive.
She knew, could feel, some of the others look at her. Not that they should have been surprised; they had all seen what Beth had become. She carried John inside the elevator. As someone pointed out the many cameras around them, she hoped that, if Hugo’s contact was what she suspected he was, those cameras would not send data off to their enemies.
The apartment was large enough for all of them; there were a couple of bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room and a kitchen. She put John in one of the bedrooms and made certain the curtains were closed. Just in case. Then she went out to the others, planning to ask if any of them would be willing to donate some blood to help feed the vampire in the bedroom.
It occurred to her, then, that Beth had said something about how Daphne smelled like candy. Maybe feeding him blood from Daphne was a bad idea. Or from any fae. The problem was, she did not know who, apart from Daphne, might be fae, or part fae. But if Beth had been able to smell Beth’s not quite human blood from a distance, then so should, perhaps, Margaret.
She stood close to Mike and Seamus and carefully sniffed. That was very much a mistake. The smell was intoxicating, and it smelled like the most wonderful meal she had ever eaten. Or at least smelled. The feeling that she was very close to losing control was strong, and she told the others, as calmly as she could, to get out of the room. Moving at all, especially because she would have to pass several of them, seemed like a bad idea.
The others seemed so very slow to realise that she was not joking, that she almost screamed at them to get out. Finally, however, the room emptied, and she spent several minutes regaining control. Eventually, she could call out to the others that it was safe to come back. Relatively safe.
What she wanted, was blood, but from her little experiment, she realised that in addition to Daphne; Jamie, Mike and Seamus were also out of the picture. Though almost everything she knew about vampires came from fiction, she suspected that letting John drink her blood would be a bad idea. Cole’s blood, even were he to volunteer, would probably not be much better. So Emma, Emily and Hugo were the only ones left, then, and she was not entirely sure about Emma.
At least Hugo volunteered. There was not even remotely enough blood, but hopefully it might help, just a little bit, at least. If nothing else, hopefully it would keep him from losing control and go berserk, trying to drink anyone alive in the apartment. Margaret took the glass with her into the bedroom where she had put John; she had only theories and guesswork based on fiction, but it was better than nothing. Hopefully.
John drank, waking enough to confirm her suspicion that neither fae nor werewolf nor vampire would be a good source of blood for him. After drinking what little blood she had for him, he fell asleep, or unconscious, or whatever vampires were when they were not awake. Margaret left the room and headed for the kitchen.
There was not too much to work with there. Some pasta, the dry kind that would keep for years. And the snacks they had bought. Actually… She had an idea. Using some of the snack and the pasta, she managed to make something that actually resembled edible food. The others seemed happy enough with it, at least, and it all disappeared, so clearly it had not been horrible.
From what John had said, she should probably not eat anything herself. Just one more thing in her life that had changed. Her problem was, she had too little knowledge of what she could and could not do. She did not turn to ash in the sunlight, she was stronger than before, a flare gun to the chest at close range would most likely kill her, as would a smashed head, and that was pretty much all she knew. Could she turn into smoke? Become invisible? Did she need earth to sleep in? Well, probably not, since there had been no traces of earth and coffins in John’s cell, that she noticed. Would crosses or holy water be a problem? How about other religious symbols? Could she cross running water?
Being undead was new to her. Of course, she had been vampire for, what, less than a day? There were probably no ‘Vampirism for dummies’ or ‘How to be a good vampire 101’; maybe that last one should be ‘how to be a bad vampire 101’, depending on the definition of ‘good’. Margaret wondered to what extent being a vampire changed people. Had she changed? Probably, yes. A lot. But whether that was because she was a vampire or because of what she had gone through, she did not know.
Somewhere –in desolate wind-swept space–
In Twilight-land–in No-man’s land–
Two hurrying Shapes met face to face,
And bade each other stand.
“And who are you?” cried one a-gape,
Shuddering in the gloaming light.
“I know not,” said the second Shape,
“I only died last night!”
Identity, Thomas Bailey Aldrich