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The Miseducation of Carmilla Karnstein

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Carmilla entered the large chamber. Bright, harsh fluorescents from the high ceiling flooded the area with light, leaving no hint of shadow. Half the room appeared dedicated to something out of a ninja-themed gameshow. The rest was blocked off with fake facades painted to look like “Everytown.” A line of lockers and racks of equipment lined the immediate wall around the main entrance.

Despite the size of the room, the irritating sensation of confinement did not let up. From the moment Carmilla Karnstein checked in at the front desk to when her “escort” left her alone, the gravity of her situation only intensified. She wondered if this was how everyone starting a new job felt.

Job.

Carmilla suppressed a shudder, despite the room’s adequate temperature and the fact that her undead body did not require any accommodation of the sort.

“Good to see you.”

Carmilla turned and watched Danny Lawrence enter.

“Upgraded to Xena, tacticool warrior princess?”

Danny’s smile suggested she was prepared for whatever barbs Carmilla could muster. “Good to see your sense of humor is still intact. We’ll see how long that lasts.”

Danny’s dark grey jumpsuit was covered in most vital locations with conforming ballistic panels. A tactical rig framed her torso, and a holster with a sidearm hung from her right hip. The patch of the Canadian Extraterrestrial and Paranormal Investigation Division rode high on the right chest plate.

“We’ll take it slow today,” Danny said, walking over to the row of lockers. She opened a large one, and Carmilla’s eyes widened at the considerable number of guns inside. Danny calmly retrieved one, a rifle Carmilla could not identify, and closed the door. “Today is all about the basics,” Danny continued as she opened another locker. This one contained boxes with different colors and numbers. Carmilla’s keen sight picked out numbers like 5.56, 7.62, 12.7, and others before the door swung shut.

Danny calmly inserted a magazine into the rifle in a single smooth motion, pulled the slide to chamber a round, and flicked the safety off. “So, question one. Why am I wearing body armor?”

Words began in Carmilla’s mouth, the first syllables of a remarkably witty retort. She was proud of it, really. That’s when Danny suddenly flared red in her vision, snapping from a neutral gray a mere split second before the flare of the rifle’s muzzle.

The round struck Carmilla center mass, just to the right of her sternum. Pain blossomed in her chest, and she felt the kick of the energy spreading through her torso. The bullet cleanly exited her upper back, carving a neat hole in her leather jacket. It smashed against the rough concrete floor behind the vampire.

Carmilla grabbed at the fresh hole in her chest. “Fuck,” she seethed.

Danny dropped the barrel, flipped the safety back on, and then slung the rifle over her back. “Hurts more when you’re not high on adrenaline. Hurts more when it’s a rifle round and not a handgun. Hurts more when you’re not ready.”

“That was ‘slow’?” Carmilla rasped, breath slowly returning to normal as the wound closed, leaving one dark red stain on her white t-shirt.

“I could have selected burst fire,” Danny said with matter-of-fact tones.

Carmilla craned her head back, grabbing at her leather jacket. “Goddamn it, I just got this patched.”

Danny leaned casually against one of the weapon lockers. “Happy to contribute to the local dry-cleaning economy.”

Carmilla huffed, feeling the last of the warm glow fading as the wound fully healed.

“So, think that sufficiently answers the body armor question,” Danny continued. “Healing takes energy. That’s energy you can use for better things. So, you might be able to absorb incoming small arms fire like a champ, but when your tank runs dry because you’ve been spitting out lead, you’ll remember why body armor is a great investment.”

“I think it’s only fair if I get to shoot you.”

Danny ignored her and walked to another fixture among the rows of weapon and ammo lockers. The large fridge door opened, and Danny retrieved a white carton similar in size to the ones pre-mixed protein shakes are sold in. She tossed it to Carmilla, who opened it and pressed it to her lips without question.

Carmilla gulped down the contents, pausing after a moment to pull away. Red stains covered the mouthpiece, though the effect was lost on her dark, glossy lips. “Real?”

Danny nodded, “Company blood drive, every Friday, we stay stocked with the real thing to keep up with the… unique dietary requirements of team members such as ourselves.”

Carmilla finished the blood and tossed it into an open waste can near the lockers. She immediately felt more energized.

“Even the best soy is bare minimum sustenance for most vampires. I’m surprised you haven’t wasted away by now.” Danny walked over to the wastebasket, fished out the empty, and deposited it into the appropriate recycling bin. “No substitute for the real thing if you need a quick pick-me-up. Especially in... dangerous situations.”

“I get by.”

Danny sighed, “Exactly. You get by. You get by because you’ve never had to push yourself. You get by because you’ve barely had to run on an empty tank.” She returned to lean against the next locker over. “You know what that’s like now.”

Carmilla’s expression darkened. The memory was all too near the surface. The memory of lying helpless on the floor of a cage with a hulking White Martian baring down, ready to rip her throat out. Saved only by providence. Quite literally, were one disposed to worshiping people who could fly.

“Laura saved your life,” Danny continued. “Because not only is fresh blood better, but the best is blood from someone who inspires strong emotions. Laura’s blood is probably the only thing that could have given you enough strength to shift back and stop her bleeding in time for Supergirl to get back and get you both to our medbay.”

Carmilla remained silent. Images flashing by of the ruinous cascade of red from Laura’s forearm. The sight, the smell. The fresh taste in her mouth and soaking her face from nose to neckline. Laura’s blood, ambrosia itself.

Carmilla felt the monster inside rattle the cage again at the mere memory. She looked up quickly, pulling herself back to the present.

“So, let’s find out how big the tank really is,” Danny said, stepping away from the lockers and walking towards the confusing mass of posts, bars, and plywood structures. “How many times can you chain teleport?”

Carmilla said, “Chain?”

“Location to location to location,” Danny indicated the high posts running in a line along part of the course. “Teleport to the nearest post, then the next, and so on, cross to the other side and cross back.”

Carmilla looked up to the nearest post. An instant later, she was balanced on it. Only one toe of one boot kept contact; there was no space for anything else. She became motionless perched atop the pole. Balance was no issue for the cat inside.

“Go!” Danny ordered from below.

Carmilla’s eyes flicked to the next post. She appeared there. The next, and she appeared there, and the next, until she had crossed the line after only a few seconds. She never spent more than half a second fully solid on each post before “leaping” to the next. As she completed each jump, she felt the effort increase. Like a muscle flexing over and over, it steadily became more difficult.

“How” Flash. “Many.” Flash. “Can.” Flash. “You.” Flash. “Do.”

Danny smirked, “Wouldn’t you love to know?”

Carmilla completed two circuits. Amid the attempt to cross back, she clearly spent longer and longer in solid form on each post. She lost balance midway and careened down.

About halfway, Carmilla realized there was no net.

*             *             *

“How was the first day?”

Carmilla scooped Laura up into an embrace and held on.

“Oh, that good, huh?”

*             *             *

Danny handed Carmilla the set of CEPID personal body armor.

“Do I get a changing room?”

Danny turned around by way of response to Carmilla’s question. “Time to learn about the big secret to teleporting.”

Carmilla removed her leather jacket. The bloodstains from the previous day were dried in the back around the new hole. “Pass if it involves shooting me again.”

Danny ignored her. “It’s harder the more you’re wearing. Since you’ve never changed clothes in your life, this may come as a shock.”

“Ha. Ha.”

“The standard CEP response armor is balanced to limit weight while providing protection from common small arms. That means it’s easier to teleport wearing it, but it’s still more material than you’re used to. When we start piling on gear, it’ll take even more effort. To reiterate… more shit, more effort.”

Carmilla strode out, appraising herself by looking down. She returned her comfortable biker boots to their customary spot. The rest was a padded, form-fitting armored jumpsuit in dark red and black. “Least the organizational colors suit me,” Carmilla muttered.

“Start riding the pole,” Danny quipped.

Carmilla smirked ruefully, “Dick humor? Really? I’ll report you to HR.” She paused, considering for a moment, “We have that, right?” She vanished in a puff of smoke.

“I’m bi; I can make dick jokes,” Danny responded confidently.

Carmilla zipped between the poles, taking longer to achieve balance in the unfamiliar clothing. She pushed forward, spending only instants in physical form between the pole tops. The first circuit proved Danny correct; she was slowing down faster with the armored suit.

“Next secret.”

Carmilla heard Danny call out as she landed on the last pole in the series and gracefully spun on her boot heel to line up for the return trip. Teleporting was merely seeing the objective and thinking about being there. Much like an arm responded to the idea to reach out, her body responded to the idea to “be there.”

Until “there” was occupied by Danny. Carmilla reached out for the first pole and felt herself jump. Danny materialized in dark red smoke in front of her. Carmilla appeared next to Danny instead. Next to Danny, where there was no pole.

She reached out to grab Danny with a yelp, but Danny easily dodged the grapple, and Carmilla landed on the concrete floor.

“Fuck!”

Pain radiated from her lower legs from the force of the impact, but she managed to roll out and stabilize. Danny looked down from her perch above and laughed, “Awww, look at that; you do land on your feet.”

Carmilla wrenched herself up. She felt the warm glow of her body healing but at a reduced rate thanks to the exertion of the recent teleports.

“Can’t teleport to an occupied space,” Danny said, appearing next to Carmilla. “Even if that space wasn’t occupied when you start for it.” Danny handed Carmilla a package of fresh blood from the training room fridge. “The more you do it, the faster you’ll become, but it’ll still take longer and require more effort the more you’re wearing.”

Carmilla chugged the cool human blood and took a seat next to one of the weapon lockers.

“Laura asked how I thought you were doing.”

The room became silent save for the hum of the HVAC.

Danny opened the fridge and removed a blood box. “And you told her?”

“You’re doing fine,” Carmilla stated.

Danny nodded. “She’s sentimental.”

Carmilla laughed, “Yes, a small facet of her many charms.”

Another uncomfortable pause drew out between them.

“Stipulating that I am only sentimental as relates to my wife, I will ask what happened to you.” Carmilla carefully took a drink of her blood and added, “For purely informational purposes, of course.”

Danny drew herself back with a heavy sigh, “Yeah... Yeah...”

Carmilla waited.

“You remember saving the world, right, Carmilla?”

The heat from a yawning portal to hell flushed her face. A memory, but it might as well have scorched the hair on her head. The weight of Laura’s dead body in her arms. The heaviest thing she had ever carried. Her mother’s words as she was denied her triumph.

“You could say that,” Carmilla replied with a swig of blood.

“You retreated to a comfy apartment with the woman you loved and checked out for five years,” Danny said wistfully. “Can’t blame you. You did your part, right?”

Carmilla was not sure how to respond to that. It was... accurate. She had been human, happily ready to grow old with Laura.

“Now you’re the eldest sire of Inanna again, and the world went to shit to shit about 2 years later.”

Carmilla held up her hands, “Woah, I didn’t have anything to do with that.”

“With what?”

“What?”

“Exactly.”

Carmilla blinked at Danny, the conversation a thread she suddenly felt too confused to follow. “I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.”

“You saved the world, but the world is never saved, not anymore,” Danny sighed ruefully. “It’s filled with people who can fly and people who put the world in danger all the time. Your mother’s little shit show was just a footnote in a long line of world-ending catastrophes narrowly avoided now.”

Carmilla closed her eyes, a sudden thread in Danny’s words tugging at her. Something had changed. Something had changed everything.

A sudden image flashed across her mind. She stood beside Laura on the balcony of their apartment, holding her as the sky vanished into a white void that fell on them like an unstoppable tide. Then she woke up the following day in bed next to Laura, who explained she had to get into Catco North early that day.

“There are files on it. DEO has most of them, but CEP and most of the paranormal alphabets have a vague idea that the world was... remade. They called the Crisis.”

Carmilla held onto that image of standing, watching the world eaten around her and powerless to stop it. It kept trying to slip away as if it wanted more than anything to be forgotten.

“I think we can kinda remember it because of Inanna... or having spent time in the Library. Maybe both, this shit is not an exact science.”

“So... what...” Carmilla was processing and unsure of what to do with the realization.

“The so what...” Danny sighed. “The so what is we got dumped together with a whole bunch of assholes who want to either take over the world or destroy it. And a whole bunch of innocent people are usually caught in the middle.” Danny finished the blood. “Getting people on board for vampire rights wasn’t going to get far when there was suddenly a lot more of us, and a lot of them just weren’t on board with soy alternatives. Add to that a pile of other shit that suddenly goes bump in the night... and, well, someone’s gotta step up.”

Carmilla remained silent. If a quip would break the tension, she suddenly found herself all out.

“Once I joined CEP, I got real popular. They knew about Inanna, what she was, the vampires she made. Suffice to say, we kinda got the Cadilac plan for vampires, you know, with a side of still being dead and all.” Danny shifted uncomfortably, “I got even more popular when they found out I knew you. And, oh boy, did they want you.” Those words were sour. “I held them back as long as I could, but you had to go and start eating people.”

“I didn’t eat-”

“-Not the point, Carmilla,” Danny cut her off. “Anyway, you’re here now, and I’ll make goddamn sure you’re the best we’ve got. I don’t know what kinda shit is going to go down anymore, but we’ll all have a better chance of surviving it with you on the team.”

*             *             *

“It’s weird waiting for you to come home.”

Carmilla hung up her leather jacket and embraced the woman waiting near the door. “Now you know how I felt all those years.”

Laura and Carmilla kissed. “How’s the training going?”

Carmilla teleported to the kitchen, grabbed a bag of cookies, and teleported back in front of Laura. “It has its uses.”

Laura smiled, grabbing the bag and pulling out a cookie.

Carmilla loved it when she smiled.

*             *             *

Carmilla followed Danny into the CEP gym. In the past weeks, her training had focused on enhancing her teleporting skills with ever-increasing amounts of gear. After spending hours in the heavy version of CEP tactical armor with a full rig, it was refreshing to be told she could spend the day in her leathers and t-shirt once more.

Danny led Carmilla over to the ring that anchored one corner of the gym. Two figures stood in CEP fatigues, staring at Carmilla. Carmilla’s instincts read them as vampires, similar to Danny. Similar but weaker. Perhaps they were younger.

“Time to start meeting the team,” Danny announced. “These ladies are going to teach you how to throw a punch.”

The pair were mismatched physically. The chestnut-skinned brunette with the partially shaven head was wiry and fast. At the same time, her companion was a tower of muscle and just as pale as Carmilla. The smaller one cocked her head and said, “S’up, noob.”

Danny held out her hand and indicated the smaller of the pair, “Agent Lionett.” She shifted to the taller one, “Agent Nydoorin.” The tall woman nodded silently towards Carmilla, who was not entirely sure whether it was a dominance play or she merely lacked any concept of social greeting.

“Get to it,” Danny said, pointing Carmilla to the ring.

Carmilla huffed and climbed in. She stood in front of the pair and shrugged. “What now?”

Lionett responded with remarkable assurance, “Punch me.”

Carmilla did not move.

“Punch me, hard as you can, fast as you can.”

“Sure I shouldn’t buy you dinner first?”

The mountain of self-assurance before her simply opened her arms in an invitation to engage.

Carmilla sighed but figured there was no other way out. She drove her fist forward, throwing everything into it, pushing her natural speed and strength to the point she became a blur. Lionett caught her, wrenched her arm to the right, and pulled her into a chokehold. Pain blossomed in her arm as the other vampire’s strength was enough to dislocate her elbow in the process.

Lionett’s arms folded in as Carmilla teleported a few feet away, out of her hold.

Carmilla groaned as she felt the warm sensation of her elbow snapping back into place.

Lionett grinned, “Neat trick.” She vanished in a cobalt blue cloud and reappeared behind Carmilla, quickly reestablishing the hold. “Lesson one, that bullshit only works with people who can’t do it too. Lesson two, get out.”

Carmilla felt adrenalin spin into her veins. She grit her teeth and threw herself back, pushing the other vampire hard into the ring post. The advantage of three hundred years of power maturity may have provided the surprise she needed. She remembered the fight in the cage and swung her elbow back into her sparring partner’s ribs, then spun away back towards the center of the ring.

Nydoorin’s fist drove into her kidney from behind, and she collapsed onto the floor.

“Fuck... Not. Fair.”

Danny laughed and walked away. “You girls have fun.”

*             *             *

Carmilla felt exhausted. It was a different exhaustion from the teleportation training. She felt a phantom ache in her joints and at various points in her midsection. It was phantom pain because her body healed the actual damage. The first day in the ring had been a sobering experience, to say the least.

Laura met her at the door, as she had every day since training began. “You look a little worse for wear, which I didn’t think was possible,” she announced, pulling Carmilla into a warm embrace.

“I got to start punching people today, though I was the one who got punched, way more often.”

“Aw,” Laura cooed. “You’ll get better.”

“At punching people? I guess so,” Carmilla said with a wary smirk.

Laura stepped back. “So, it is like... combat training...”

Carmilla heard the uncertainty in her voice. As if the idea that Carmilla’s time with the CEPID would involve training for things other than office work was just starting to creep in. Carmilla waved her hand, “It’s fine, just some basic stuff.”

“Okay.”

*             *             *

Danny handed Carmilla a heavy pair of soundproof headphones. The shooting range was partially occupied with other CEP agents. The noise of weapon discharges receded once the headphones came to rest over her ears. Danny made a show of adjusting her mic, and Carmilla did the same.

“I figured after spending the last few weeks getting my ass beat by the team sadists that this outfit was pure ninja shit,” Carmilla said.

Danny shook her head, “You’ll find punching people is always a useful skill, but one you generally want to avoid having to use a lot. It requires a lot of effort and can have mixed results at best.” She held up the sidearm she removed from her hip holster. “That’s where this comes in.” She checked the safety and offered the butt of the weapon to Carmilla.

Carmilla took the gun, looking it over like it was an alien artifact. “I thought we’d be... apprehending... people.”

“We’re not cops, Carmilla.”

Danny proceeded to help Carmilla with her stance and explain the basics of the weapon, a Heckler & Koch Mark 23.

“Okay, all yours,” Danny said, indicating the far-flung target sheet at the end of the range, then stepped back.

Carmilla lined up the shot and squeezed the trigger. The round pierced the center of the head of the target sheet.

“Well, looks like we found something you’re a natural at,” Danny said with an impressed whistle. Carmilla dropped the weapon slightly, staring at the target, unsure if she had really done it. Danny lightly rested a hand on her shoulder, “Keep going.”

Carmilla emptied the magazine, cutting a large hole through the head of the target, then switching to unload the remainder into the other center-mass bullseye. She lowered the weapon as it clicked empty, the slide open. She regarded the handgun, “Is shooting a superpower?”

Danny took the empty gun from Carmilla and ejected the mag. “It is. Shouldn’t flatter yourself, though; it is, after all, the most common superpower. No matter what TV Tropes will tell you.”

Carmilla watched Danny holster the empty weapon and keycard open a locker behind them. She produced another gun, larger than a pistol but smaller than the rifle she had used to shoot Carmilla the first day. Holding it up, Danny said, “Vector. Submachine gun.”

Carmilla just shrugged. The words meant nothing, though it looked like a gun from some movies she watched with Laura.

Danny went over the basics of the submachinegun’s operation and laid out additional extended 30 round magazines on the table in front of Carmilla. They covered the basics of a reload before Danny once again stepped back and let Carmilla start shooting.

“Most of the groups we’ve investigated are armed. We need to be, too,” Danny explained as Carmilla squeezed the trigger. Fresh holes appeared in the new target sheet. “Those cultists who kidnapped Laura are just the tip of the iceberg.”

Carmilla continued firing; the impacts started wide of the center rings but quickly narrowed as she got a feel for the weapon. The light recoil was manageable for her enhanced strength to handle.

“Remember the reload; use your speed,” Danny prompted as the gun clicked empty.

Carmilla fumbled the first couple of attempts, but the repetition clicked eventually. She could replace magazines in less than a second using her enhanced speed.

Danny nodded appreciatively. “You’re a natural, good.”

After emptying the additional magazines, Carmilla asked, “What else you got?”

*             *             *

Danny and Carmilla reclined upon the lip of the CEPID HQ building’s rooftop, looking down at the city below. Each held a plain white blood carton in their hand.

“Guns feel... like I’m cheating,” Carmilla said finally.

Danny nodded, “Oh, it’s cheating alright, especially when some asshole uses them to shoot up a bunch of innocent people. Or secure a blood harvest operation. Or sell alien hardware to other assholes with more guns.” She took a sip of blood, “They’re cheating like motherfuckers.”

Carmilla sighed, “We’re not cops, right?”

“Nope,” Danny confirmed. “I’m sure the DEP counselor is going to frown on this, but, honestly, Carmilla, think back to the restaurant and those fuckers who took Laura. Knowing what you know now, you think they’d prefer a nice, clean bullet to the skull instead of... you know...”

Carmilla felt an icy sensation run through her. Flashes of mangled flesh drifted before her eyes. Drifted very close to her eyes because her eyes were very close to the meat being mangled. Her eyes were staring at their desperate, terrified expressions as her jaws tore their bodies apart like tissue paper.

“They hurt Laura.” It was low, almost a growl.

“Deserved everything they got,” Danny reassured. “Trust me, CEP has the coroner reports. Those other girls they took didn’t die pretty.” Danny shrugged, “Still, it is amazing how well the public reacts to a ‘successful tactical operation to rescue hostages that resulted in casualties among the perpetrators,’ versus ‘eight mangled bodies were found in an abandoned restaurant, possibly connected to recent kidnappings.’” Danny pulled her legs up and rested her elbows, “It is all about optics these days.”

Carmilla remained silent. Danny was right; she could undoubtedly have rescued Laura far more quickly now than she had via rage-fueled panther attack.

Danny’s tone shifted, “And how is Mrs. Hollis doing these days?”

Carmilla side-eyed Danny. Very, very old feelings bubbled up, familiar like an old blanket, albeit one with a foul odor attached. Despite being years past and having long ago gotten the girl, she felt the rush of jealousy and possessiveness. Carmilla fought to reign in these feelings before they ran wild. It was ridiculous to think Danny was asking for romantic reasons.

“It’s strange. This whole month has been strange. Usually, I’m the one waiting for her to come home. Now she’s home when I get back. She asks how training is going... I’ve been... mostly honest.” Saying that out loud was not comfortable. It hurt more than taking another beating from Agent Nydoorin.

“You don’t think she’d approve.”

Carmilla’s gaze fell, and she chewed momentarily on her lower lip. “I think Laura knows in theory what’s going with the CEP, DEO, and the rest of the alphabet soup working to keep the world from flying apart thanks to random bullshit like aliens, supervillains and, you know, vampires. I think the reality of it walking into our apartment every day could be... different.”

Danny nodded, “Sounds like an important conversation to have.”

Carmilla heaved a long sigh. “Yeah. Probably.”

“She’s managed to say out trouble at least.”

Carmilla rolled her eyes, “She’s managed to suppress that talent while recovering from our last little... adventure. Fortunately, she’s got enough research to do behind a computer to keep her happy. You know her, it won’t last; she’ll be sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong soon enough.”

Danny cleared her throat pointedly. “Sounds like another conversation you might want to have. Probably a more important one.”

“What? Staying out of trouble? I’d love to, but I can’t. Reporting is her dream job; she lives for it.”

“Currently living, yes. I’m concerned about the alternative.”

Carmilla’s expression darkened, and she looked away from Danny. “She can handle herself.”

“Bullshit like aliens, supervillains, and, you know, vampires...” Danny repeated back to Carmilla. “Sound familiar? No amount of Krav Maga will stop a White Martian.”

“What the fuck am I supposed to do, Danny?” Carmilla spat back, “I’m not going to keep her hostage at home.”

“She could be more... durable.”

The sound of the city filled the sudden silence in between. Afternoon rush hour was starting in the streets below. A slow exodus of vehicles from the CEP parking deck added to the inevitable downtown traffic jam.

“Goddammit, Danny, I was just starting to think you weren’t a complete cunt. Thanks for proving me wrong.” Carmilla took a long drink from the blood carton.

Danny nodded slowly. Carmilla remained next to her, and she let the silence settle in once more. Finally, when it was apparent Carmilla would not storm off, she continued, “You read your own CEP psych profile, right?”

“Been a minute, but ‘misanthrope’ would make a for a great drinking game.”

Danny slowly shook her head in the affirmative. “Yep. That and the large section dealing with your primary motivating factor being your very fragile human spouse is what has more than a few people concerned.”

Carmilla huffed, “So I put in all this time to show up, train, and I’m still just a threat assessment? I’ll just flip the fuck out if something happens to Laura?”

Danny fixed Carmilla with a stern gaze, “Carmilla, will you flip the fuck out if something happens to Laura?”

Carmilla stormed off this time.

*             *             *

Danny sat at the end of the conference table nearest the door. The others in the room stared up at the rooftop camera 5A’s recording of her conversation with Carmilla Karnstein.

“All things considered, I think it went well,” the elder white man in a suit said with more than a trace of false bravado.

“She’s not yet shown willingness to turn her own spouse, I don’t see how you can think she’s going to be willing-” a woman in a Parda business suit objected.

“-In time, in time. Look, we all knew this would not be a quick process. It is a process, one that will bear fruit. We merely need to stay the course. We have the eldest sire of Inanna. I am not exaggerating to say agencies all over the world would kill for this opportunity.” He shifted in his seat and indicated to Danny, “Miss Lawrence here has proven an able teacher. Once Agent Karstein is out in the field and exposed to how things truly are out there, she’ll work with us willingly.”

Danny said nothing.

“How much longer do you think the training will take,” the youngest looking member of the three at the opposite end of the table spoke.

Danny responded, “She’s excelled at conventional firearms. We can move to the final stage of weapons training at the BBD facility up north within a few days.”

“Excellent. See, she’ll be out in the field in no time, and we certainly have much to show her.”

Danny’s expression remained fixed.

“Dismissed, Agent Lawrence.”