Partners were one of those things that came in all shapes and sizes. They could be weak, by the book. Or a tough, stupid in your face kind of person. A control freak. A risky idiot.
An insane, angry murderer.
Zathract sighed. He had already broken something, which had come in the form of a criminal’s face. So he wasn’t angry anymore. Just… annoyed. He did not need a partner, any more than he wanted one.
He thought about the closest thing he had to a partner recently. Ah, there was the anger again.
Zathract had saved his life, and together they had saved not only Australia, but the world. True, maybe Nix had repaid the debt, but if Zathract had saved his life just as many times and Nix had saved his, did that make them even? Was that the only reason Nix had stayed all those years? Because he felt he owed Zathract?
No, that wasn’t it. There must have been times when they were even, maybe Nix even saved him more than Zathract had once or twice before he left. No, something else must have changed…
He sighed. His thoughts were mixed, jumbled, hardly making any sense. He had put off going to the Sanctuary for too long now. He strode out the door and got on his motorbike. He remembered once it had crashed and Nix and fixed it. Good as new, though Nix had scowled like it was a horrible inconvenience.
As he rode, he struggled against the tide of memories threatening to wash him away. This was not the time for reminiscing.
The Sanctuary, as per usual the last few weeks, was busy. Everything looked like a mess, with offices having paper all over the floor, sorcerers running from door to door, and the general feel of panic in the air.
Zathract walked down the corridors, looking calm and collected compared to his fellow workers. There were times when Zathract wished he wasn’t so Sanctuary based. Of course, he used to do his own thing a lot more. But things change, and more to the point, people change.
Zathract and Nix were perfect examples of that.
“Detective Mist,” the Grand Mage said and Zathract walked into the chamber. None of the other elders were there. Only Zathract, the Grand Mage, and a boy that was probably the temp partner. Zathract gave him a quick glance.
He couldn’t be older than seventeen, but possibly younger. He had dirty blonde hair, and his skin was tanned. His grin was cocky, and his eyes a piercing green. Like Zathract’s had been. He wore fairly simple clothes, regular blue jeans and a green T-shirt under a black coat. His cowboy style boots were scuffed. He had a lollypop in his mouth.
“Grand Mage,” Zathract said, looking away from the boy. “How are things?”
“Same as yesterday,” the Grand Mage said, raising an eyebrow. He grabbed his pen and started writing. After a few awkward seconds, he gestured to the boy without looking up.
“This is your partner for this case, Jamie Vaunting.”
Jamie took a step forward, his hand outstretched. “Nice ta meet ya.”
Zathract looked at him from a second before shaking the hand. He couldn’t quite place the accent. It sounded faintly African, although the boy was white.
“I trust that the two of you can co-operate for this case. I’ve heard good things from you Vaunting.” The Grand Mage still didn’t look up from his writing.
The boy grinned. “I’m guessin’ right alongside with the bad ones.”
Zathract turned around and walked out. Jamie quickly followed him, not letting the sudden exit take him by surprise. Zathract walked into his office, and sat down. Vaunting sat down in the other, putting his feet up on the desk.
“So, what’s this case about then?”
Zathract looked at him until the feet were off the desk. “Nixion Strange has been behind the murder of seven Sanctuary agents, and we need to track him down.”
Vaunting raised an eyebrow. “Do I get to kill ‘im?”
“You couldn’t if you tried.” Zathract leaned back in his chair, looking at the boy. “How old are you?”
The cocky grin was back. “Seventeen in a few months.”
“So sixteen then,” Zathract said. Normally, when he met new agents, he would get a file on them. He knew absolutely nothing about this boy. “Where are you from?”
“Zimbabwe originally. But I go all over Africa.” The boy put his hands behind his head. “I occasionally help the Sanctuary. My father worked there. But I mostly do my own thing.”
“Anything else I should know?”
“Yeah, but you’ll learn it over time.” Vaunting grinned and took the lollypop out of his mouth.
Zathract stood. This was not going to end well.