Live and Let Bite will have a heft dose of world building. There will be more backstory built into history, the characters, the world, the relationships, and, more importantly, who knows about the little rabbit hole that our heroes have fallen down. After all, vampires have been around forever, that's why we have Vatican ninjas. Why the hell has it taken Merle Kraft so long to catch on? Why has it taken the government to catch on?
And this one will be a big piece of that.
For those people who have read Murphy's, you can see where bits and pieces fit together, especially with the creature known only as "Mister Day."
The following sequence brings Merlin "Merle" Kraft back to the investigation that he started in Honor at Stake. But before he can really begin, he has been intercepted by the NYPD, and not because he's being profiled, but because the Police Commissioner has some information for him.
For the record, if PC Wilson sounds like he could have been played by Tom Selleck ...
Merle Kraft walked into New York City’s One Police Plaza and merely looked around the office building, hoping that he wasn’t about to get mugged by reality - or a bunch of cops with nightsticks.
Despite being a secret agent with connections to the government and the FBI, Merle had no idea what he was doing in the headquarters of the NYPD. All he knew was, after an 11-hour flight from Israel to New York, he had arrived at Kennedy airport, only to find the police waiting for him. They wanted to bring him to the Police Commissioner.
Merle smiled genially, then went along quietly.
On the top floor of 1PP, Police Commissioner Ray Wilson sat behind his desk, and welcomed Merle with a nod, barely looking up from the paperwork on his desk. Wilson was a large fellow, tall, with a full head of dark hair. It was a surprise for someone who was his age - Merle knew it was in the sixties, but he looked more mid-fifties. If the vague hints in the PC’s bio were to be believed, his conditioning probably had something to do with being Naval Intelligence in Vietnam… which, to Merle’s mind meant “I used to be a SEAL.”
Personally, Merle thought he looked more like Teddy Roosevelt.
“Hello sir. You wanted to see me?”
“Yes please, have a seat.” Wilson turned through some more pages. “If you ever wonder why there is a minimal police presence in high-crime areas sometimes, it’s because that every time a police officer even needs to look at a suspect crosseyed, he has to fill out a stack of papers about, oh, yea high.” He held his hand about a foot over the desktop. “I should know, because I’m the one who gets all of the forms in triplicate.”
Merle chuckled as he sat. “Shouldn’t there be a hundred guys between a street incident and your desk?”
“Maybe. But that’s what it feels like.” Wilson looked up from his desk, his black wire-framed glasses making him look like an owl. He set the papers aside, leaned back, and folded his hands across his stomach.
“One of the last times you were in town, you made inquiries with one of my detectives about a Marco Catalano and an Amanda Colt.”
Merle nodded. “Yes sir?”
“This brought you to my attention.”
“Because you are a government employee that no one likes to talk about, asking one of my officers about one of the citizens of my fair city. You had no obvious reason for it, and you had just wrapped up a case here that ended in the decapitation of someone whose body had completely disappeared. I hope you don’t mind me saying so, but that looked fishy as hell.”
Merle chuckled. “Yes, I can believe that. Trust me, I think a great many projects I’m sucked into have the smell of salmon about them.”
“Right. Since then, I thought you had been staying out of my city, so what you were doing has been none of my concern, and none of my business. However, now that your ex-wife and your son are in San Francisco, there is no reason for you to be in my town except on matters that are my business. I think it’s time that you and I have a talk.”
Merle wasn’t about to argue. “Okay. How do you figure?”
“After I made a few inquiries, I realized that there are a great many things than I don’t think you understand about your position.”
“My position? What would you know about my position?”
“To begin with, Mister Kraft, you were a cost-saving measure.”
“A what?” I could understand if I was a minority hire, but a cost-saving hire?
Wilson nodded. “You see, back in the 90s, we already had a team in the government. More than a few teams. The Initiative, as you know it, came later.”
Merle sat, blinked, and tried to do some math. “You had teams, plural? Vampires and ghoulies aren’t new to the government? And somehow, you have known the whole time?”
The Commissioner paused a moment. “You’re aware of my record?”
Merle nodded. “You’ve been a cop since you left Vietnam. You’ve been Commissioner in several cities, mostly setting up methods of patrolling in order to prevent crime.”
“That’s not all I’ve been setting up.” The PC leaned back in his chair, his hands behind his head. “When I was in Nam, I also ran missions into Laos and Cambodia. I won’t say they were all missions. There were a few times where we simply got lost; that isn’t a euphemism, that’s the fact of navigating in the jungle. However, I can tell you that I and my men ran into some strange crap. And by strange, I mean your kind of strange, things with fangs and fur, and occasionally scales. We were soon brought in for special training, because we tended to run into a lot of this stuff. About half the folks who worked the tunnels in Nam had similar run-ins, and we all kept in touch. Because when there’s a network of tunnels running under an entire country, trust me, things that like the dark will start migrating there.
“About the early 90s, most of the guys running ‘special’ missions had been laid off, or cut back, part of the ‘Peace Dividend.’” Wilson scoffed. “Peace Dividend. Right.” He coughed, and cleared his throat.
“Anyway, beastie attacks had been down, the Cold War was over, and the idiot in the Oval Office decided that we weren’t going to be involved in the world as much anymore. If our boys weren’t running into these creatures, we weren’t going to be using special teams, or have special training. And if we stopped hiring and training, well, it’s just less likely for ‘this sort of thing’ to get out into the media, right?”
The Commissioner growled to himself. “We won’t even go into that part of it. Anyway, someone decided that when weird stuff started showing up in America, then it was time to start bringing someone in who could handle it locally. Someone with, well, initiative.”
Merle narrowed his eyes. “Me? Great. Why didn’t they clue me in on some of this? I didn’t even know vampires were real until the past year. Heck, why didn’t they get some of the old band back together and give me someone to work with?”
The PC shook his head. “From what I heard, some of the higher-ups in some fringe eco-groups were put in charge of the EPA in that administration, and so they declared that the dangerous things we knew about were put on a classified endangered species list. Not only were they to be protected, they were to be protected by completely denying their existence on every level of government.”
“That means I’m left to myself.” Merle sighed. “Such mishegas. Is it at all possible to bring in some of these guys from the old days?”
The Commissioner rolled his eyes. “Son, most of these men have been cashiered for more than 20 years. I include the ones who weren’t outright thrown out of the Army, or served in other branches. Now they’ve been hired by private military contractors.”
Merle thought it over a moment. Just because the US had stopped running into vampires and lycanthropes and whatnot, didn’t mean that they had just gone away. Like the “Peace Dividend” bull, just because the White House ignored threats didn’t mean that they had just gone away. In fact, if the US had stopped caring, and assuming that the nations of the world had already done as much as they could, that meant someone had to pick up the slack.
“Don’t tell me that PMCs have their own monster hunting squads?”
The PC waggled his eyebrows. “Okay, then, I won’t.”
Merle processed this a bit more. “We ran into them in the sandbox after 9/11, didn’t we? Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. That’s one of the reasons that the PMCs were brought in, isn’t it? They had the special hunters, and the regular military hadn’t.”
The PC nodded. “Got it in one. As the Secretary of Defense said, they had to go to war with the military they had, not the one they wanted. It was easier to hire PMCs than to recruit and train soldiers to fight a single type of enemy. The military tried to start building back up, but -”
Merle held up a hand in the “stop” gesture of a cop halting traffic. “But let me guess, the next administration decided that we didn’t need a special monster squad, we just needed Predator drones?”
PC Wilson didn’t even smile. “Precisely. Meaning that if you want a monster squad, you’re going to have to assemble it yourself.”
“There’s a difference between ‘Some Assembly Required’ and just getting an empty box and a diagram without any parts.”
“You’re doing a good job already. In fact, I think you’re already doing better than you think you are.”
Wilson smiled tightly. “Back in Nam, we hadn’t said anything after our first encounter, because we didn’t want to be dragged into a rubber room. But we were prepared for our second, and by then, someone had found out what we were doing and why. We had been read in to the situation, and we had the facts of life explained to us by one of the higher-ups.”
“Okay. That’s to be expected, I suppose.”
“Remember how I mentioned you came to my attention?”
“Yes. I had Kristen run a background check on Amanda and Marco. Why?”
PC Wilson reached into his desk, pulled out a sheet of paper, and slid it in front of Merle. It was a New York City ID for Amanda. “She’s why you came to my attention. She was the government agent who briefed my men. The woman known as Amanda Colt used to have your job. She was one of the people fired as a cost-saving measure. You’re her replacement.”
Merle gaped at the photo. “Son of a bitch.”
The Launch Party starts On January 29th, on the Radio Show
And continues with the FB launch party.