So what does this have to do with Honor at Stake?
Enter Merle Kraft.
Merle Kraft is one of three -- that we know of -- Kraft brothers. Merle Eurasian with midnight blue eyes. Tal is a six-foot black fellow ... with midnight blue eyes. Dalf is black ... Irish, with -- you guessed it -- midnight blue eyes
It was an offhand statement from my father when I was in high school, maybe early college. Merle would be a government operative who opened safes ... without safe-cracking tools. Tal would be a stage magician. Dalf would be ... something darker. More of that old time religion.
Of course, if you haven't figured it out, these are only their nicknames. They are Merlin, Taliesen, and Dalf.
Over time, Merle became more of an X-File sort of person. While he has not met a vampire, he insists that he has a few people in his chain of command because people who read his AARs went insane. He'd never really pinned down anything, or had enough evidence to say "Ah-ha! This was a demon!" Usually, there isn't enough left of the perps to prove if it was something monstrous, or just a Scooby-Doo villain. But he's had enough run-ins with this sort of thing that he has his own thoughts on the matter.
And he really wants to be wrong.
Seriously, it's bad enough that his brother Dalf taunts him a lot. Also, when someone took a picture of Dalf once, his eyes glowed red for a few minutes afterwards -- not the photo, Dalf; the camera never worked again after that. The SD card had the computer virus from Hell, apparently.
So, if there are so many people -- military men and even spies, and Vatican ninjas -- who know of or ran into vampires, why does Merle not know anything about it? If the army didn't kick it up the chain of command, surely someone else would have, like a spy. Someone should know something.
Well, that part is complicated, and has to do with book two ... and a bit of book three. Let's just say there was a lot of shredding going on in the 90s. And many, many things were never put down in the computer system.
When Merle Kraft is brought into the story, an FBI agent has been murdered. Which, of course, wouldn't be a problem that required Merle ... if it hadn't been the fifth FBI agent to be killed on the same investigation. At which point, Merle ends up facing another adversary who seems stronger and faster and virtually indestructible.
Afterwards, he gets a visit from a redhead named Amanda Colt ... and then Merle's life gets so, so much stranger.
I almost feel sorry for him.