Mr McKenzie, after introductions and being put on speaker, got straight down to business. It was funny, in a way, since he was obviously reading from a text. He sounded like the kid stuck reading Jabberwocky out loud in English class. He was pretty obviously not a slayer but he gave it his best shot.
"Question number one," his rather deep tenor intoned, "why can there be only one commander type slayer? Answer: it’s nonsense. There can be more than one but most true born won’t permit more than one in the field at a time. Still, there is a pretty strong belief that only one can exist at a time thanks to that nonsense about one dying within seven years. I’m pretty sure the Master of the Dawn of 987 started that idiocy."
He paused briefly then continued, "Question number two: why can’t commander types touch each other? Answer: most can. The only time they can’t is when they are of opposing periods and colors – i.e. a black Day couldn’t tolerate being touched by a white Night. That has to do with the power they exert. Unlike true born, it’s a power, not a birthright. Those powers repel each other when in opposition. It can cause a rather nasty type of burn from the opposing energies. Do you need the technical explanation or will that do?"
Mr McKenzie paused and we looked expectantly at Jack. He thought for a moment before speaking, "I don’t think we need the technical. I may change my mind after I hear the rest, though."
"Fair enough. Just let me know." Mr. McKenzie replied, "Ready?"
"Yes." Jack told the speaker phone.
"Question number three…" There was a long pause.
"Hello?" Jack asked.
"Oh? Sorry… weirdest junk she’s ever… Er, sorry about that. I’ll just go on now." Mr McKenzie told us, "How do commander types sense one another? Answer: like any slayer, they develop the sensitivity to both creatures and other slayers. Unlike even other true slayers, they become extremely sensitive and eventually most can identify creature and slayer types by sensation alone. You’ll probably notice it first with creatures. I understand you’ve had a good bit of activity with werewolves and vampires. I expect you’ll notice it with them first. You should be able to tell when you sense it what it is, if you’ve been exposed before. That will happen, I expect, first with vampires and werewolves. Probably sooner rather than later."
He paused again, evidently trying not to laugh, or something. After a moment, he continued. "Question number four: is there any other reason the other commander type might want me dead? Answer: yes, if he’s in opposition to you, which it sounds like he is, but I doubt that it matters. Opposition slayers have been known to kill one another merely to curry favor with their true born or to win battles. From your letter and the Chronicles, it sounds to me like he’s just spooked and trying to avoid the Seven Year curse nonsense."
"Hang on a second." Mr McKenzie said. There was a muffled sound of someone clearing his throat. "Sorry. Question number five: Do you know Geoffrey Whitaker? Answer: Not by that name, no. But I suspect you are asking about the other commander type, right? I do know him – seen him a few times in the field and have had occasion to investigate him once or twice. Warren have Cassie pull…" Mr McKenzie stopped reading and paused, "Sorry, that part’s for me. She wants me to send you a declassified file. Would you prefer email or fax?"
Thompson answered, "Email. The address is…"
While they were sorting out the transfer, I got up and attended to the call of nature. By the time I got back, Mr McKenzie was reading again. "Answer: no, he isn’t likely to get close – he believes that curse nonsense. IT’s just as well – you are definitely in opposition if it’s him and you should avoid touching him if at all possible. The thing with your sister is odd. I don’t think it was an attempt to gain a hostage – he could have already done that. It sounds more like an attempt to gain entrance to the sanctuary, since your sister has that and could grant it to a creature inadvertently. My best guess is it is a trial run to find out if it can be done. He seems to prefer vampires and traditionals will require invitation. I’d worry more about that. Warren, see the second… Sorry, that’s for me again. Oh…" he paused, "Um, Jack, is it?"
"Yes?" Jack responded.
Mr McKenzie sighed audibly, "I need your mother’s phone number. There’s a second letter for her. Danged silly… oops…"
Jack threw back his head and laughed, "I know exactly how you feel, Brother!" He howled in laughter and motioned to Thompson.
Looking at Jack as if he doubted Jack’s sanity, Thompson nevertheless took the hint, "I just got your email. Can I send you the number the same way?"
"Sure." Mr McKenzie’s voice answered wearily. It became muffled for a moment, "Cassie? Here, take this and call the number I’m about to forward to you. Read the letter to her…. Don’t ask me, it’s one of my crazy partner’s crazy… Yeah, the whole letter. Thanks."
Jack was struggling to get himself under control. Hearing Mr McKenzie didn’t help at all. Jack was still chortling when Mr McKenzie began to read again.
"You definitely need to take some precautions against vampire and werewolf entry…" Mr McKenzie stopped reading again. "Give me a second…" He was having trouble keeping a straight face – we could hear it in his voice… "Try garlic on the window sills…. Oh, come on now…"