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Foxx and Wolfe, Supernatural Detectives


Rodford Edmiston

      Part One: Monsters Among Us (This story is set in late June of 2017)

      Detective Toole finished his inspection of the upper part of the house and sighed wearily. Things looked almost normal up here. The basement, of course, was a different story. The bodies were gone - the human ones, anyway - but the clear signs of violent death remained. As he left the main bedroom Toole spotted some of the people from Animal Control entering through the back door, still looking a bit green from their initial inspection of the basement.

      "Any idea, yet, how many got away?"

      "Maybe none. There's no tracks in or out. We figure there are about fifty of them here dead, though, counting the ones you cops killed."

      Toole nodded, and waved them on. In a way, their job was the toughest. Of course, the forensics team wasn't exactly having an easy time. The detective sighed and decided he couldn't put off going back down to check on them any longer.

      "Hey, Carol," Toole called out in greeting to the head of the team, as he entered the basement storeroom. "No live ones left here. Animal Control says there were about fifty of them. Looks like the victims put up a Hell of a fight, too."

      "Yeah, that's what we're getting," she sighed through her mask. "After their shotgun ran out of shells the family used a variety of weapons; a baseball bat, a camping hatchet, even their own hands and feet. And they still couldn't get all of them before..."

      "Can you tell yet whether the family all died in that one room, or were some killed elsewhere and dragged in here by the others?"

      "We think we have the sequence of events pretty well worked out," Carol replied. "Most of the family was watching TV down here, when the rats started making noise in the furnace room, just tearing things up. Someone opened the door to investigate, was attacked before they could close it again. The father, and maybe the older son, were both upstairs. The father grabbed the shotgun and ran downstairs. At some point the older son called 911. After several minutes, he left the phone and ran to help his family. They got cut off from the stairs, and made their stand in this storeroom. We think they were all alive, but all were injured, some probably already dying. At least one of them had to be dragged in here. We suspect the daughter was carried."

      Toole nodded, then straightened and looked around the room. At the stains on the floor, of blood and other fluids. At the barricade, clawed and gnawed through and simply pushed aside by the unnatural strength of the attackers. And, finally, at the pile of bodies still left for Animal Control to pick up. "Rats" people were calling them. And they did look vaguely like those rodents. Via a horror movie. Huge, at better than fifteen kilos on average, with nasty fangs and claws and scabrous hides sparsely covered in coarse, greasy hair. As with most of the other attacks, once the occupants of a building were dead the rats had fed and explored, making no attempt to go outside. Of course, as was also the case with most of these incidents, the police had arrived promptly. Just not promptly enough.

      Those Animal Control people who could stomach the work were starting to carry the bodies of the rats outside, now. One man made a sound of disgust when a human finger dropped from the mouth of the rat he was lifting. Toole shuddered, and felt a surge of nausea. He needed some fresh air.

      Outside wasn't much better, the dreary weather not helping things. Animal Control vehicles were parked all along the curb in front of the upper middle class house, workers loading rat bodies into them. The crowd outside the taped-off area was unnervingly quiet. Toole, lost in thought, barely glanced at them, his eyes on the Animal Control workers, his mind on the situation. After a few minutes he was mildly startled when one of the officers running crowd control approached and spoke in low tones.

      "These things are getting to be a real nuisance."

      Toole looked at the man in surprise.

      "I'd hardly call over a dozen deaths nationwide in the past five months a nuisance," he countered, hotly. He knew the man was just indulging in a bit of black humor, but Toole wasn't in the mood for it. "Rats, here, this time. A week ago, in Chicago, it was roaches. The time before that, in DC, locusts. And here, again, two months ago, it was flies. And it seems like each time the death toll is higher, and the next one comes sooner. This doesn't count as a nuisance by any measure I can think of."

      The officer flushed, began to say something, thought better of it. Instead he started over, with the message he had come to deliver.

      "Uh, Detective... There are a couple of... people here to see you."

      Toole looked up in annoyance. If another TV crew...

      His annoyance fled, almost taking his professional demeanor along with it. There, standing just outside the tape boundary, being given a wary buffer space by the other onlookers, were a large werewolf and... something else. Toole swallowed nervously, and glanced around at the other police present. None offered any sign of encouragement. Tension was so high Toole wondered that he hadn't noticed their arrival. Then again, tension was high, anyway. No-one had a weapon drawn, but several uniforms were keeping their hands on their holsters, and a careful watch on the supernaturals. And the pair of were-creatures were watching him expectantly.

      Why do the weird ones keep coming to me? Toole wondered, as he cautiously approached. Both were obviously female, but that didn't make him feel any more at ease.

      "What can I do for you, Miss...?"

      "I'm Foxx," said the white one, with all the tails. "This is Wolfe."

      Of course you are, thought Toole. Then he realized something, or rather, remembered it.

      "You're a kitsune," he stated, staring at the white one.

      "Oooh, a knowledgeable man," muttered the werewolf.

      "Hush," said the kitsune, grinning. "Don't mind her. We're both here to help. And, trust me, you need our help with these attacks. Because the indications we have are that they're going to start coming in groups. So the next one will probably be in this area, and soon."

      "So I'm going to need help, eh," said Toole, looking her in the eyes. "Like I did with the ogre killings of twenty years ago."

      "Very much so," said Foxx, acknowledging both the stated words and the assertion of their connection to a previous experience. "It's for the benefit of everyone that we work together."

      "That may not be possible," said Toole, flatly. "Even if it is, it won't be easy. There are a lot of people who blame your kind for atrocities like this."

      "Hey, we weren't the ones who blew a hole straight into the Heart of Arcadia," snapped Wolfe. "If you turn us down we'll just go home and wait until you have no choice."

      Toole looked at her, and realized something. Something which actually made him smile, if only a bit.

      "What is this, good cop, bad cop?"

      The white one snickered, and glanced up at the brown one, who rolled her eyes.

      "Told you that wouldn't work," Wolfe muttered.

      Toole moved a bit closer, and spoke in a low voice.

      "I'll do what I can to get official support, but don't count on it," he told the pair. "If the offer is turned down - and even if my Chief agrees, the Mayor or City Council can override him - would you be willing to work sub rosa, the way I've done with your people before?"

      "That would be less preferable, but, yeah," said Foxx. "Now that the reality of supernaturals is public knowledge we'd rather work in the open on this stuff. Better all around."

      "But that doesn't include letting any government know who we really are," Wolfe added, firmly.

      "You know I won't tell, or let anyone know I know, as long as you do your part," said Toole. "And, yeah, I've got a pretty good idea. You may not have a kink in your tail, Wolfe, but given your age, size and general appearance I'm betting you're related to a certain werewolf I've met a couple of times. And the only other kitsune I know of has a white-haired daughter."

      "Told you he was clever," smirked Wolfe. "This 'secret identity' stuff is for the comics."

      "Just don't let on, okay?" asked Foxx. "We do want to stay anonymous."

      "I'll do my best. But that means you have to do your best, too."

      Toole straightened and backed away a bit.

      "I'll see what my Chief has to say," he stated, in a louder voice. "I won't make any guarantees. I will tell you that I, personally, would appreciate your help. Call me tomorrow afternoon and I'll let you know."

      The pair nodded, then turned and walked away. Toole watched them, but he also watched - less obviously - the crowd and his own men. The reactions were about what he expected. The detective sighed and got back to work.

                                    *                              *                              *

      A few curiosity seekers actually tried following the two young women, but Jill made sure they were unsuccessful. Shortly, back in human form, they were driving away in Jackie's car.

      "He's not quite what I expected," said "Wolfe."

      "What, you thought he'd welcome us with open arms?" laughed Jill.

      "No. But he wasn't as... intimidated as I thought he'd be."

      "Remember, this is a guy who's worked with your dad twice, and with Lisa more times than that. Compared to them we're not all that impressive."

      "Well, there is that," Jackie agreed.

      "We should get cards printed," said Jill, idly, as she watched the streets go by. "'Foxx and Wolfe, Shapeshifter Crime Fighters.'"

      "With you getting top billing, eh?" laughed Jackie.

      "Well, it's alphabetical..."

      Jackie made a wordless exclamation as she swerved her Mustang around a stop sign runner. The other driver blew his horn at them.

      "Moron!" Jackie yelled, but the windows were up on both vehicles so she knew he hadn't heard.

      "I'll fix him," said Jill, turning to look back at the Fargo.

      The big SUV's lights began flashing, and the horn sounding. The driver tried fiddling with the car alarm but had no success in stopping the beeping and flashing. He was focusing so much attention on these efforts he didn't watch where he was going. Fortunately, he was also slowing, so that when he ran into the utility pole he only set it to rocking vigorously.

      "Unbelievable," said Jill, imitating her "Uncle" Bent-Tail, as she shook her head. "Also symptomatic."

      "It's that sort of belligerent stupidity which causes most of the world's problems," Jackie muttered.

      "I recognize a Bent-Tail quote, there," said Jill, smirking. "You do take after him, more than any of his sons."

      "Hey, if you can quote my dad, so can I," Jackie responded.

      They arrived at their off-campus apartment without further incident. Once inside, Jill flopped onto the couch with a dramatic sigh, shifting to her natural, foxy form in mid air.

      "How you can do that without breaking at least three of your tails is beyond me," said Jackie, who still looked human. "But since you did and didn't, you can get back up and check the answering machine. I've got dibs on the computer."

      "Yes, mother," muttered Jill, rising with exaggerated lethargy.

      "Okay," said Jackie, a short time later. "Three messages from your parents, CCd to me. The art show is going well, and they expect to be back as scheduled. All your siblings are well if bored."

      "Told 'em the brats would find London dull," Jill observed. "Oh, your mom called. Said Todd would be back in town for the weekend."

      "That's good news," said Jackie. She grinned at her roommate. "Though even with his help, I doubt we'll have this mess cleared up soon enough for you two to spend much time together."

      "Yeah," sighed Jill, in a melancholy way. "And you're probably gonna have to put whathisname off again, aren't you?"

      "Jeremy," said Jackie, firmly. "He's very understanding. Knows my family business comes before my social life. Even if he doesn't know all the stuff that business includes."

      Jill wandered into the kitchen and began puttering around, with some vague intention of starting supper.

      "One more year until I graduate," she said, out of nowhere, speaking up a bit so Jackie could still here her. "Two for you, miss 'I can handle calculus without pre-calc.'"

      "Yeah, yeah, rub it in," the young werewolf muttered.

      "Why do you date him?"

      "Huh? Oh, Jeremy. Y'know, sometimes even I have trouble following your thought processes." Jackie sighed, smiling absently. "He's cute. He's an athlete, so we can share a lot of activities. He's smart, and helps me with my schoolwork. He has a great sense of humor."

      "And he's a normal human," Jill inserted pointedly.

      "So? Lots of supers marry normals. Your father did."

      "I don't think my mother counts as normal," said Jill, grinning. "I'm not sure yours counts, either. When will you tell him?"

      "That I'm a werewolf? I don't know. There just hasn't been a good time."

      "There may never be a good time. Especially with us filling in on these super incidents when our parents are all busy."

      Jackie nodded at that. The police were actually only learning about a handful of these incidents, since the majority were happening in isolated areas. The local supernatural population had a pretty good network set up to spot these and spread the word, generally letting the werewolves handle the creatures. However, they had all agreed to stay away from swarms in public places - including normal homes - unless they got police permission to help.

      "Speaking of which, have you had any brainstorms about what these things are, and where they come from?"

      "No," sighed Jill, as she filled a kettle with water for the chicken. "Well, other than that they're something from Arcadia, and are imperfect copies of living things from here. No clue as to whether they're on their own or being manipulated, or maybe were even created like this. I really need to get on the scene and examine it."

      "So many altered creatures, these days," said Jackie, including other incidents in addition to the swarms. "Remember, back when we thought the biggest problems with Arcadia becoming more congruent to Earth would be snide Sidhe and pranking Pookas?"

      "Who knew the Norwegian government would fund a program which resulted in that idiot blowing open an old Bastion and releasing a flood of chaos?"

      "Going back to quoting my dad, humans are their own worst enemies."

      "Yeah, well, to quote Lisa, things still aren't as bad in Eastern Europe as when the Soviets were in control."

      Jackie finished on the computer and wandered into the kitchen.

      "More garlic," she advised, watching Jill prepare the chicken. "More water, too."

      "I still say that if you completely cover it that's boiling, not baking," muttered Jill. "Even if it is in an oven. And with your senses I don't understand how you can like things so spicy."

      "Garlic is not a spice," Jackie lectured. "It's a seasoning."

      "I hate people who view food as a passion," said Jill, with mock aggravation.

      "Not all food; only stuff I cook or have some say in," countered Jackie, grinning. "And it's not a passion; it's a religion."

      She moved over to the unprepared vegetables and pulled a large knife out of a drawer. As Jill began another dish, Jackie started on the celery. Supper, then homework, then maybe some TV. Hopefully, no more excitement for today. Though, just as hopefully, the next day would bring some.

                                    *                              *                              *

      Jackie easily lifted the heavy book bag and hoisted it onto her shoulder.

      "She's pretty strong for a girl," said Jules, a sneer in his voice.

      "Well, yeah," countered Tommy, in an exaggerated matter-of-fact tone. "Didn't you know? Lesbians have more testosterone than real women."

      Jackie felt a surge of fury, and for a moment fantasized breaking all four of their legs. She breathed deeply, letting the outrageous insults flow by her. There was no pause in her movements, no hesitation, no change of expression. She didn't know if they had deliberately spoken loud enough for her to hear or thought their mockery was private. She didn't really care. The best response was to ignore them.

      She walked out of the classroom and the building, feeling a slight relief at being in the open. She was so looking forward to this weekend. Jackie, her brother Todd and a couple of other werewolves were going for a romp on privately owned woodlands. Even Jill didn't know about it, and Jackie hoped it stayed that way. She loved the little kitsune like a sister, but even sisters didn't spend all their time together. Werewolves liked their romps rather wilder than Jill could tolerate, anyway.

      Lunch was relaxingly dull. Jackie had her usual triple burger with everything, large fries and two milkshakes. This was something else people made fun of her for, though in this case the insults were inspired by envy. If they got as much exercise as I did, they could eat like this and stay slim, too. Well, not slim, exactly, since Jackie was an athlete, and not a particularly lean one. But not fat. People actually joked that she looked more like Tina's daughter than Jill did. Since Tina was a triple Olympic Medallist Jackie definitely took this as a compliment.

      Jill opened a book and started reading, having wolfed her food down and now needing to relax and let it digest. Before she became engrossed, though, she reflected on a small irony related to her previous thought. The fox-girl's mother was human, yes, but a remarkable one. Tina was built more like Jackie than was the werewolf's own mother. Jill took after her father in size, build and temperament. Of Jill's three siblings, Jonas and Ginger, the middle two, were more like their mother, in spite of also being kitsune. Thurla, the baby at just 5 years old, was like How, and another kitsune. In fact, everyone in the family but Tina was kitsune, though Jill was the only white-haired one, and the only myobu, and the only one besides her father with more than three tails.

      Jackie smiled, forgetting the book as she noted, and not for the first time, how much the two families were alike. In each the father was a supernatural and the mother a mortal, but far from a "mere" one. And in each there were at least three children, all of them supernaturals. Of course, Jackie was the youngest of her tribe, and Jill the oldest. And there were other...

      Jackie's watch chimed. She sighed, and lifted it to her ear.


      "Are you some place you can talk?" asked a male voice.


      "Then you better get to one, fast. I'll call back in two minutes."

      Jackie scowled, but gathered her stuff and hurried to a small, rarely-used balcony, with an alcove cordoned off by potted plants. She was just putting her book bag down when her watch rang again.

      "Yeah," snarled Jackie.

      She thought she recognized the voice, now, and with less ambient noise realized the call was being made from a moving vehicle. Jackie couldn't get any more than that from the low-fidelity speaker in the watch.

      "This is Detective Toole. I'm on my way to another outbreak. I've already contacted your partner and she should be looking for you."

      A white-haired, blue-eyed, half-Asian girl suddenly pushed between two potted plants, looking triumphant.

      "Yeah, she just showed." Jackie couldn't help but grin. Another way Jill was like her father was in her ability to find things.

      "If you are still interested, I have permission - on a tentative and conditional basis - for you two to help. And you better hurry. This looks like a bad one."

      Jackie rolled her eyes as Jill, grinning, eagerly nodded her head.

      "Yeah, we'll be there. And pretty quick."

      "Good. I'm almost there. Gotta hang up."

      Jackie lowered her arm and looked expectantly at Jill. The kitsune made a subtle gesture. Once assured they were magically concealed, she shifted to her natural form, with seven fluffy white tails splayed out behind her. Another and different gesture, and Jackie's clothes changed. Like most werewolves, she preferred as little clothing as possible when in midform, and none as a wolf. The gi-like outfit Jackie now wore was something which Jill had insisted on, and Jackie had reluctantly agreed to.

      "Meanwhile, you get the fancy, pretty things," muttered Jackie, shifting to her midform.

      Brown fur sprouted all over her body, much lighter down her front and the insides of her limbs than elsewhere. Her face pushed out into a blunt muzzle, and her heels drew up as her bare feet became digitigrade. Nails were replaced by claws, and her short hair merged with her pelt. Her chest narrowed slightly, and deepened, her abdomen drawing in. The only feature unchanged was her dark brown eyes. She had also gained both height and considerable bulk, though not as much of either as her father did when he changed. That still made her a rarity; most shapeshifters were mass-conservative. The custom-altered gi fit better, now. Jackie flexed and stretched, toe-claws clicking softly on the linoleum, reveling in the heady feelings of power and freedom this form brought.

      Aside from coloring, Jill looked quite similar to the werewolf at first glance, but the details were different. The changes in anatomy weren't as great; her torso was nearly the same as before, and she stood plantigrade on almost human feet. She did have claws, though, and a muzzle. And her eyes were such an intense blue they seemed to glow...

      Jill's "working" outfit was Oriental in general style, a crimson dress slit up both sides to mid-thigh. The Japanese symbol for Inari, patron goddess of kitsune, was embroidered in gold on the front and back. Elaborate, lacquered combs held her voluminous white hair carefully in place. The younger girl looked like something from anime or manga in that getup. Which was the idea.

      "Okay, ready to roll," said Jackie, quietly, in her growly, midform voice.

      Jill brought her palms together, and bowed her head, lips moving. She looked like she were praying, but this was just her way of visualizing the magical effect she wanted to perform. For some things she could simply use her natural abilities, but others required at least a modicum of formula. She had tried explaining to Jackie, once, how she located where to go, but had nearly caused a coma in the werewolf. From what Jackie understood, most fey she spoke with reported similar experiences. Oh, well; that was part of what made an myobu different from a kitsune. A shimmer appeared on the nearby wall as Jill worked. Jackie remembered her books, and quickly stashed the bag against a wall, behind a planter. When she looked back up the shimmer was a definite circle, with a ghostly image of someone's yard showing.

      "Nobody watching," said Jill, after checking magically.

      Jackie nodded, and stepped through, quickly moving to one side to clear the way for Jill. She looked around, noting that they were in a side yard between two upscale houses. No people were around, but a fenced-in poodle nearby was going nuts.

      Jill stepped through, fully in character, looking graceful, noble and detached. Jackie nodded to the kitsune, and put her mind in Wolfe mode. Foxx smiled and nodded back.

      "Which one is it?" asked the werewolf.

      "521," said Foxx. "Uhm, can't see the street numbers from here. Oh! There's Detective Toole!"

      She waved, stepping forward as she tried to get the man's attention. Wolfe sighed and hurried after her. Whether as Jill or as Foxx, she had her father's presence of mind, or lack thereof.

      Toole looked up at the hail, startled to see two fur-covered females approaching.

      "How did you get here so fast?" he blurted.

      Several uniformed police officers nearby also started as they saw what was hailing the Detective. Two of them actually went for their sidearms, something which didn't escape Toole's notice.

      "It's all right!" he called out, turning to the men and women standing by their patrol cars. "They're here with the Chief's permission!"

      "Oops," said Foxx, in a low voice, as she neared Toole. "Sorry; didn't realize they hadn't been told about us yet."

      "You got here quicker than I expected. Let's just hope this is the only problem we have. Besides what's in the house." He turned and walked over to the patrol cars, the shapeshifters trailing behind like bizarre pets. "Okay, people, listen up! I know it's unusual to have these two here, but this is an unusual situation."

      Toole introduced the shape shifters by their working names, and then introduced the half-dozen officers to Foxx and Wolfe. He then moved directly into the situation briefing.

      "About half an hour ago a woman living at that house came home for lunch. When she opened the door, several monsters launched themselves at her. Fortunately, the door opened inwards, so they actually helped her slam it closed. Also fortunately, it's a heavy-duty security door. She called 911 from a neighbor's house and explained the situation. She left the door unlocked; we just open it and go in. Animal Control should be here soon, but I don't think we should wait for them. If those things get out they present a public danger.

      "My plan is that Wolfe goes in first, then all you uniforms follow as she clears the way. Foxx and I bring up the rear. While the rest of you deal with any monsters you see, Foxx and I will search the house and try to find where these things are coming from. There's no-one in the house right now, but be careful anyway. We don't need a bullet or shotgun pellet going through a wall or window and hitting a bystander. Any questions? Okay, let's go!"

      The cops all had shotguns, and were wearing external body armor, including the shin and arm guards which had become popular in recent years for use in dealing with viscous dogs. Toole also had a shotgun and body armor, which he had put on as he talked. There were no questions and little talk as the odd assortment of monster hunters approached the side door, walking past a Jaguar parked in the driveway.

      Toole positioned himself at the door and looked at Wolfe, who nodded. Toole carefully turned the knob, then shoved the door open and jerked his arm back. Wolfe stepped quickly inside and looked around. She made a beckoning gesture, and moved cautiously further into the house. The officers entered behind her in pairs, one going to each side as they spread out. Just as Foxx was about to enter, Wolfe suddenly held up a hand, and everyone stopped.

      "Hear that?" Wolfe asked.

      Before anyone could reply a snarling swarm of weird creatures charged into the room. Wolfe caught one with a kick which launched into a wall. Plaster shattered and several framed prints crashed to the floor. A couple of the officers got a shot off each, killing one beast and wounding another. Then the monsters wheeled around and ran out as quickly as they had entered.

      "Do you think they're smart enough to set up an ambush?" asked Foxx.

      "I'd bet on it," growled Wolfe.

      She then strode boldly down the hall, as much acting as bait as being aggressive. The officers hurried after her. Meanwhile, Toole and Foxx went to the still-twitching body of the one Wolfe had kicked.

      "I don't believe it," said Foxx, stunned. "A mutant ur-poodle?!"

      "Somehow, hearing you say that doesn't make me feel any better," muttered Toole.

      The thing did, indeed, resemble a poodle. It was nearly as large as a regulation poodle, though, and its form was twisted to something like that of a bulldog. A bulldog with daggers for fangs.

      Shots erupted from down the hall, mixed with the sound of more intimate fighting. Toole and Foxx hurried towards the action, which was taking place in the kitchen.

      "They're coming from the basement!" one of the officers yelled, as she batted at an ur-poodle with the butt of her empty shotgun.

      Toole started to work his way around to the bashed-open basement door, but Foxx caught his arm.

      "This will be quicker and safer," she told him.

      Toole gave an involuntary yell as they sank through the floor. Moments later they were solid again, standing in the darkened basement. Light streamed through above-ground windows, one of them in a door leading to the back yard. Toole noted that there was a pet door in the human door. He also noted, with great relief, that there were no monsters.

      "There," said Foxx, pointing.

      A small refrigerator - of the sort often used in college dorm rooms - lay amidst a large pile of disparate items. Its door was open, the racks which should have been inside on the floor before it. A few other items appeared to have been in front of the door, pushed away by it opening.

      "They came in through there," said Foxx.

      "But it's... a refrigerator. There's no place for them..."

      He looked up at a tentative whimpering to see a poodle peering through the pet door. Foxx nodded.

      "The shape of the opening acted as a gateway to Arcadia," she explained. "Something about it resonated with some random fluctuation there. The creatures came through the gateway, copied the form of the family pet - though imperfectly - then went out through that door over there into the main part of the basement."

      "And then up the steps, through the door at the top, and on into the kitchen and the rest of the house," said Toole, nodding. "This fits the pattern, and what you said explains a lot. Some sort of supernatural creature is coming into our world, copying the form of whatever it finds living there."

      Upstairs, the fight was winding down. Wolfe was watching the basement steps, waiting for either more monsters or a sign from Foxx. The uniforms were using their pistols to put down the creatures wounded but still alive. Wolfe was finding the noise and acrid smoke from all that gunfire a major nuisance. Suddenly, she felt a blow to her back, low on the shoulder blade.

      "Ow! Hey, watch it!," snapped Wolfe, reaching over her shoulder to rub her back, and sparing the responsible officer a brief, fierce glare. "Don't they teach cops how to shoot, any more?"

      The policeman stared, gape-mouthed, as Wolfe went back to watching and waiting.

                                    *                              *                              *

      "That's it?" said Toole, surprised.

      "That's it," Foxx confirmed.

      They were all in the basement, now, except for one pair of officers who were outside waiting for Animal Control. A thorough search had turned up no more live monsters.

      "So what exactly happened, here?" asked one of the uniforms.

      "An accident, a coincidence," sighed Foxx. "Something about the shape of the refrigerator just happened to resonate with something in Arcadia, in a circumstance where it had an opportunity to do so. I suspect that if I checked, the same would be true of all the other incidents."

      "So some sort of non-physical entity came through, copied the first form it encountered, and called its buddies," said Wolfe.

      "Something like that," agreed Foxx.

      "Is there any way to stop that from happening?" asked Toole.

      "I'm certain there is - probably several ways - but I'll have to check to make sure," said Jill. "I'll give you a call when I find out something specific."

      "Well, I thank both of you for your help," said Toole, making sure the other police in the room heard him. "Without you, not only would we not know what was causing this, but several of us would likely have been hurt."

      "You don't need us to stay?" asked Foxx, sounding a bit reluctant to leave.

      "No. We can handle it from here."

      "Good," growled Wolfe. "I hate paperwork."

      That earned her a few sympathetic chuckles from the police present.

                                    *                              *                              *

      The duo went back to their shared apartment to clean up before returning to college. Remarkably, less than an hour had passed. After Jill closed the portal they shifted to human form, and Jill changed their "work clothes" back to normal. As she did so, something fell to the floor by Jackie's feet.

      "That looks like a bullet," said Jill, bending to get it.

      "Yeah, I caught some friendly fire," said Jackie, unconcerned. "Guess it stayed in the gi after I healed it out."

      "Jackie..." said Jill, staring at the bloodied bullet lying in her palm, "this is silver."

      "So? Oh!"

      "Yeah. Someone thought this would kill you."


      Words failed Jackie, and she gave a growl which raised Jill's hackles. Jill kept quiet while her friend gained control of her anger.

      "I thought it was odd, that cop shooting me," she muttered, blood in her eye but speaking calmly. "So, what do we do about him?"

      "We tell Toole, and our own people, but leave him alone. Well, maybe have some of the local fey put a watcher on him." Jill sighed, looking like she was about to cry. "Always, they have to mistrust us,"

      "Hey, it's not all of them," said Jackie, hugging her friend. "It's not even most of 'em. Just a few narrow-minded, fearful humans."

      "But they are the loudest voices," said Jill, with another sigh.

Jackie took the bullet and examined it, looking thoughtful.

"I wonder how he knew?"

"Well, people do know there are werewolves in the area," said Jill. "Maybe he had it just in case."

"Maybe," muttered Jackie. "Or maybe someone in the mayor's office set us up..."

      End Part 1

      This document is Copyright 2002 Rodford Edmiston Smith. Anyone wishing to reproduce it must obtain permission from the author, who can be contacted at: stickmaker@usa.net