Jack says I just didn’t notice. He is being charitable. Truth is I was completely oblivious to the whole thing. In my defense I just don’t think that way. I mean I am not the type to be suspicious of people, even if they are creatures. If I don’t have to kill it I don’t think much more about it.
Maybe because he’s a commander type, Jack seems to naturally think about all the angles. I guess that explains what happened next.
What I hadn’t noticed was the effect the conversation was having on James. He was several shades whiter than a sheet and shaking uncontrollably. Not that I noticed I’m sorry to say.
Jack got up suddenly. He crossed the room to the phone and took it off speaker. “Skip down to Number 14.” He told Mr. McKenzie.
I didn’t get to listen to the rest. I don’t imagine it would have been anything more than Jack grunting at the phone, as intent as he was. Instead, my attention was drawn to the front door of his apartment being opened.
I knew it had to be Tresmayne. For some unknown reason, he was the only person who took Jack at his word that it was okay to just come on in if he already knew to expect you. Anyone else would have knocked again.
I was surprised to see Mr. Myers following him in. I admit, I tried to sense him but even with him right there I’d never have known he was a slayer. It was a bit disconcerting to say the least.
Now, I guess I should have mentioned weapons concealment to Jack at some point but I can’t do it and never think about it. Hindsight being what it is I really wish I had told him. He would have prevented what happened next.
Mr. Myers said hi and asked who the singer was. I raised my hand and he said something like I was better looking than the last one they’d had. He began to unsheathe his sword from concealment as I was saying how cool it was that he could conceal like that.
The instant the blade became visible Thompson screamed and dove at Jack’s feet. Pandemonium erupted – a room full of. slayers is no place to get hysterical. Especially not if you are a creature.
Nyota and I were both up in a flash. Mr Myers had his blade out and was leaping over the couch. Tresmayne yelled something none of us understood. Only two people didn’t move: Jack and his father.
I was reaching for Thompson and Nyota was taking aim with her dagger when Jack’s voice cut through the room like an icy blade, “Stop it now.”
He had commanded me that one time before – and I liked it less this time. It didn’t scare me but it sent a chill down my spine.
It’s impossible to describe the feeling. It was like ice that pierced your soul – nothing like the warm feeling of the Mistress’ commands. It was both a feeling and a quality of his voice. Whatever it was, it was mesmerizing and frightening – there just wasn’t any way to resist it. You obeyed because it was the most natural response – like breathing in after having been under water too long and finally breaking the surface. You just had to – there was no stopping it.
Jack didn’t seem to know he’d given a command until it was done, judging from the look of consternation he gave as we all came to a screeching halt. That made it even more frightening, really. Bad enough that you couldn’t resist obeying but that the guy giving the order didn’t know he was doing it – well, the implications alone are pretty staggering. The reality is worst, I promise.
Jack shook his head wearily, “Lay off – he’s not doing anything wrong.” He looked down at Thompson, “Get up and cut that out. Go on back to your seat – no one’s gonna hurt you.”
He looked at the rest of us. “Y’all can stop that now.” he sighed. “Give me a couple minutes and don’t kill anything, okay?”
No one made a sound as we resumed our seats. I couldn’t decide what was upsetting me more – that Jack had again used his command power on me or that I’d been so quick to assume the worst about a creature who hadn’t really given me any cause.
I glanced around. Mr Myers looked startled. I guess he hadn’t known about Jack. Nyota seemed irritated – that was no surprise. I didn’t have the heart to look directly at Thompson but judging from the way he was hunched in his chair, I suspect he didn’t want to make anyone’s eye contact just then.
I turned my eyes toward Tresmayne. He looked – weird. Imagine perplexed, amused and frightened all in the same look. It surprised me then I realized he was thinking the same thing I had the very first time – Jack was doing something not even the Mistress could do. The Mistress can command slayers but they obey because they want to – it’s possible for us to resist her commands. But with Jack’s commands it’s more like what happens when the Mistress commands a creature – they cannot disobey her. We couldn’t disobey Jack. That brought up an obvious question – could Jack use us against the Mistress?
Mind you, I don’t like that someone can force me to do their will but even with someone I trust like Jack, it really upset me that I might, that it might be possible to turn me against her. I hadn’t told Jack or anyone else but I had emailed the Mistress when I got home that first time. I hadn’t gotten her answer for a couple days – which was actually fairly fast for her. It was just a couple lines that she’d already heard about Jack and not to worry – his ability had limits and he could never do what I was afraid of.
Sitting in Jack’s living room listening to him say ‘yes’ and ‘uh-huh’ to Mr McKenzie on the phone, I admit, I had a few butterflies but at least I had the comfort of knowing what the Mistress had told me. I felt sorry for Tresmayne – he was obviously ill at ease.
I didn’t get to think about that much. Jack spoke into the phone, “Read it to me again, please?” he waited, “Yeah, that was what I thought. Could you hold on a minute?”
Jack laid the phone down and turned to Thompson, “James, come here.”
Thompson looked like he was going to his own execution which was the first time it occurred to me that that was exactly what he’d been afraid of in the first place, although I had no idea why.
Jack shook his head, “You’re …”
Thompson sank to his knees, “Please, I didn’t – I mean, if I did, I didn’t know it. I didn’t betray you… Sir.”
“Calm down, I know that. And get up, will you?” Jack shook his head again. “I don’t even know for sure it was you. That was one of the things I asked about in the letter. I suspect I’m gonna hate this more than you but we have to be sure.” Jack’s voice went icy again, “Speak your true name.”
“Jamie Fergus Thompson.” Thompson’s voice was a mix of fear and resignation.
“Jamie Fergus Thompson.” Jack repeated, “In body and spirit thou belongest to she who is the Trueborn Daughter of the Night and in her stead, belongest thou to myself from this day forth. Of all who bear the burden of the Night, you will obey me alone, save I give you leave to obey another.” Jack paused, the formal language making the recitation more difficult. “Thou art her property and mine servant until she alone release thee, thou findeth rest eternal or thou achieve a soul of thy own. Be it so now and evermore.”
“Yes, my steward. I serve thee.” Thompson gave a reverent bow.
“Oh, cut that out.” Jack told him wearily. “Grab a notebook and write me a complete list of every command Vinnie ever gave you.”
Thompson’s face positively beamed. Really not what you expect from a creature that had just been enslaved. Sure, they are creatures without souls but they have feelings, hopes and even dreams – well, only some have dreams – anyway, they are like normal people in some ways. It slowly dawned on me Thompson had been afraid Jack might destroy him – but why?
“Do you genuinely think there might be another?” Nyota asked.
Jack shook his head as he went back to the phone, “No, but there doesn’t necessarily have to be a mole. Excuse me.” he picked up the instrument and his conversation with Mr McKenzie.
“What just happened?”
It was then that we realized Mr Scarlotti, Jack’s father, had not yet left. He’d seen the whole thing.