Name: Charlotte Cole (alias: Rouge Remington)
Year of Death: 1945
Total Reaps: -5
Place of Residence: Assigned Team Residence
Day Job: Assassin
I had to admit I was somewhat stunned to see Hekate appearing suddenly, and then finding the three of us in new surroundings a split-second later.
The thought had crossed my mind that my luck had finally run out and that I was being taken to the Underworld, but it dissipated as soon as I realized that we were in a seemingly ordinary, if not somewhat large, house.
Hekate clapped her hands and Alex joined us from another room, looking as suspicious as ever.
“So,” Hekate started, “Because of some…guideline revision, we will all be living together from now on.”
She raised her hand to stop the chorus of protests before continuing.
“No discussion. Since we’re all a big, happy family, I expect you all to get along nicely.”
She turned to Alex.
"Oh, you are free to roam the house but nights you spend in your room, doing your punishment. This house is enchanted, you are not free to leave this place until your punishment is over. When it is over, I will come with you on your every reap. No other entities can enter this house besides me and Hermes, so you won't be getting any visitors."
I kept my poker face up but was sufficiently annoyed on the inside. I had no idea where we were, and I didn’t like being far from my armory. Or Clyde.
“How long is this arrangement going to last?” I asked, folding my arms.
Hekate let out a short breath of exasperation.
“As long as it needs to.”
I was almost surprised to see hints of agitation bubbling up from beneath her cool demeanor. She was on edge.
That made two of us.
“Now,” Hekate said suddenly, “Who’s hungry? How about we order something?”
“I know a great pho place.” I offered, “And I’m pretty sure I could get us a discount.”
There was nothing quite as satisfying as a hot meal on a cold night.
Well, other than a well-paired wine.
I’d have to make time to bring some of my liquor store over to the new place.
“Where’s Beatrice?” I asked over my carton of noodles, searching for any remaining beef chunks with the chopsticks.
Hekate looked annoyed.
“So…” I started, “Was there any particular reason for the ‘guideline revision’?”
“There’s been some trouble. The reaper system was hacked, and…reapers have disappeared.”
I couldn’t keep the surprise from my face.
“Disappeared?” Alex asked, curious.
“It’s still being looked into.” Hekate offered diplomatically, “But for now, this is the best way to keep you safe.”
I finally succeeded in finding a piece of beef and chewed thoughtfully, acutely aware of the tension in the room.
This was bad. I didn’t want to pass on, but it was a fate preferable to oblivion.
Slacking off wasn’t much of an option anymore.
Once we finished eating we sat around quietly, our empty containers littering the table. Newland started to smoke.
I reached into one of my jacket pockets and felt my hands close around a familiar box.
“So,” I started, “Anyone up for a game of cards?”