A PERFECT HOST
By Donna M. Smith
Captain Simon Banks looked out of his office to see Detectives James Ellison and Blair Sandburg returning from an assignment. Detective Blair Sandburg. Simon shook his head. It was still hard to believe even though it was his idea for Sandburg to go to the Police Academy. Who’d have ever thought the hippie kid Ellison had once tried to pass off as his relative would ever become a detective in Major Crimes—and a darn good one at that. He and Ellison worked even better together now than they had before. “Ellison, Sandburg. Back so soon?” The two of them looked whipped.
Blair managed to find the energy to jump up and head for the office, Jim right behind him.
Simon shut the door. “How did it go?”
Blair raked an exasperated hand through his long hair. “Not good. They claim to know nothing about the recent disappearances, but they were lying through their teeth. The head honcho was also conveniently unavailable. They said he was out of the country or something.”
Jim nodded. “That’s the only bad part about being able to tell when someone is lying—I usually can’t act on it. We know they're linked to the disappearances of those college students, but how would I get a warrant? ‘Yes, your honor, we have probable cause. I could tell from their heartbeats that they were lying.’ That would go over real well.” Jim started pacing angrily.
Blair knew this was tearing his partner up inside. It was hurting him, too. Who knew what those nutcase cult members were doing to the people they’d kidnapped? “Jim, relax, man. We’ll figure something out.”
Just then Rafe and Henri jumped up from their desks. They were talking excitedly. Whatever they were discussing made Jim tense up. The two of them rushed over to Simon’s office and knocked on the door. Simon ushered them in.
Henri held out a paper for the captain. “Good news and bad news, Captain. This fax just came in. The good news is that we may finally have something on that ‘Cult of Darkness’ you guys are investigating. The bad news is that the FBI is taking over the case. They’re sending a team—they’ll be here in the morning.”
Blair glanced over at Jim. So that’s why he’d looked so tense.
Henri continued. “Apparently the leader of this cult, who claims to be an Egyptian god of Darkness named Kuk, has been around. He’s been traveling the country, gathering recruits, among other things. Several of his ‘high-priests’ are ex-cons or currently-wanted criminals who’ve been obtaining firearms for him. The towns he’s been to all have unsolved disappearance cases stemming from his time there. Same profile as the ones who disappeared here—healthy, intelligent, hard-working young people. Mostly college students. The FBI just made the connection between these crimes and the Cult. They want him bad.”
Blair spoke, resignation in his voice. “So what do they want the police to do?”
Rafe looked at the fax and then handed it to him. “Keep him under surveillance—that’s it. Nothing else until they get here. Then they want to borrow some of us for backup.”
“Backup?” Simon chomped furiously on his cigar. “That means they plan to raid the place, guns blazing.”
Jim was pacing again. “I don’t like their heavy-handed tactics, either, but it looks like we’re stuck. They’re going to be in charge here. If you’re taking volunteers, Captain, I want in.”
“Hey, man! Aren’t you forgetting somebody?”
“I didn’t want to speak for you, Chief.”
“If you’re going in, of course I’m going in. Where else would I be?”
“Rafe and I want in on this, too, Captain.”
“It’s the FBI’s show, gentlemen. But I’ll make sure I recommend all of you. Now we just have to sit tight until they get here.”