He couldn't fight me now. His thoughts came like smooth silk, and I knew in that moment that Malcolm could read people easier in their sleep. I let the thought go and followed Cooper's thoughts, images. It was a big building, a condo. A f**king modern condo. I wanted to see the front of the building. I saw it. I had the address. Wait, number and name on the condo, and I was looking at the little boxes with all the names and numbers. I was looking at it from higher up than I would have seen it. Street, I thought, what street are we on?
I said the address out loud, street and name that the condo was under. "Got it," Zerbrowski said.
I opened my eyes and took my hands off of Cooper. His eyes fluttered open. He made a sound, a low groan. The look he flashed up at me as I stood over him was one of surprise and fear. I was as surprised as anyone, but I couldn't let anyone see that. I'd known that joining with Jean-Claude and Richard would up the metaphysics, but hadn't thought what it would mean to the physical. If Cooper had been human, my punch would have snapped his neck. Shit.
Zerbrowski was already on his phone.
"Who are you calling?" I asked.
"Mobile Reserve. We'll want the fire power."
"Wait," I said.
Zerbrowski hit the button on his phone, killed it. "Wait for what?"
"If we give them the address, they may go in tonight. We don't want that."
"We want to catch these bastards," Smith said.
"Yeah, but they're out hunting now. They won't be home, or at least most of them won't be. We'll miss some of them, or all of them, and once we've got that many police around the place, they'll know it. They'll never come back to the place again, and we won't know where to look for them."
"We can't withhold the address," Roarke said, "not if we're asked."
"If the address leaves this room, more women are going to die. If the address leaves this room, maybe cops are going to die. His master is someone so powerful that no master vamp in this city sensed him. That means he's really, really good. Mobile Reserve is who I want in a firefight, but they aren't immune to vampire powers. They go in at night when he's at his best, and they may all die."
Everyone was looking at me, except Zerbrowski. He had already moved on and didn't need convincing. Marconi would be cool, it was the uniforms and Smith I had to convince.
"Zerbrowski, call Mobile Reserve, get me Captain Parker."
Zerbrowski raised an eyebrow at me. "You sure that's a good idea?"
"No, but he knows me. And he's the man in charge of Mobile Reserve. Get him for me."
Zerbrowski made a face. "Your funeral."
"Let's hope not," I said.
I looked down at Jonah Cooper, vampire, ex-vamp executioner. He blinked up at me. He'd have probably had something to say to me, but a broken jaw cuts down on the chit-chat.
Zerbrowski clicked his phone shut. "I've left a message. He'll get back."
I nodded. I looked down at Jonah again. I had everything he knew, all of it. I'd seen him helping murder women. I'd seen his own memory of it. I sighed.
"While we wait for the call back, help me move our prisoner outside."
Zerbrowski gave me a look. I gave him one back. It was his turn to sigh. "Smith, take his other arm. We're going to escort him outside."
Smith was looking at us sort of funny, but he helped Zerbrowski lift the vampire to his feet. Cooper made small protesting noises and hissed curses under his breath. Maybe I hadn't broken his jaw, or at least not badly.
Zerbrowski and Smith got him on his feet and started him for the door. I got my gun out and followed them. One of the uniforms said, "What are they going to do?"
"Go outside if you want to see the show," Marconi said, "I've seen it." He sounded tired.
Roarke and the other uniform, whose name I couldn't remember, followed me. It was like a parade. I've got over eighty kills. Most of them actually legal. But I usually whack the bad guys when they're dead to the world. I usually haven't had to question them, touch them. I usually don't know who they were in life, or if I do, I feel like I'm putting them out of their misery, or did once, when I believed vampires were truly dead. Jonah Cooper had been what I am, and he had betrayed everything he stood for. He'd sacrificed law enforcement officers that had gone in as his backup. He'd murdered innocent women for kicks. I knew all that, but I'd have liked it better if I didn't know that his hair had nice texture, or that he'd gotten a hero's funeral. There's a reason that executioners through history usually only come in at the end when it's time to kill. If he'd run for it or fought, then the other cops could have shot him, killed him for me. But he wasn't going to run now, and no one else here had the legal authority to do what I was about to do.
We were outside in a small side area near the far parking lot. Cooper had figured out what was happening, because even with an injured jaw he was trying to talk to me. The words started out stiff, but got faster as he talked. Fear will override pain. "You're Jean-Claude's human servant. How is what I'm doing any different from that?"
"I haven't killed innocent civilians because my master doesn't like strippers."
"I killed more people as a hunter than I've killed as a vampire," he said. He tried to turn around and look at me, but apparently that hurt too much.
We were on a plot of grass, with flowers to one side and the parking lot to the other. "Good enough," I said.
Zerbrowski turned, and Smith moved with him. They turned the vamp around so I could see his face. "I kill because the law says I can, not because I want to," I said.
"Knees," I said.
He fought them, and I didn't blame him. I shot him in the leg, and he collapsed to the ground. I hadn't expected to have to shoot him so soon, or for wounding. The echo of the gun up my arm thrilled through my body, like the gun was where all the adrenaline came from, tingling up my arm.
Smith looked pale. Zerbrowski grim. But they still had his arms, even with him on the ground.
"I can make this quick, Cooper, or I can make it slow. Your choice." My voice was empty. Nothing showed on my face. I just looked at him and knew that if he struggled I would shoot him by inches, until he was too wounded to get away, and I could let Zerbrowski and Smith move away without risking Cooper getting away.
He struggled, and I shot him again.
Smith let go of the arm. "I can't do this. This isn't right."
"Then get the f**k away from him," I said, and there was anger in my voice now, because I agreed with Smith. "Zerbrowski."
"Yeah." His voice was very careful.
I had the gun on Cooper, and my body had gone quiet, the anger sliding away on the nice white static in my head. "Move."
He moved. Cooper tried to levitate. I figured he would. I put two shots into the center of his body, and he collapsed back to earth. He hadn't been able to fly in the church when he was healthy, I hadn't expected him to get better wounded. He didn't.
I walked up to him, gun in a two-handed grip, aimed on the center of his forehead. "You're enjoying this," he said, and he made a sound in his throat. There was blood on his lips, his blood.
"No," I said, "I'm really not."
"Liar," he said again, and tried to spit blood at my feet, but apparently his jaw hurt too much, and it made him writhe on his knees.
"I don't want to kill you, Cooper, and I don't enjoy it."
He looked up at me, puzzled. "You feel empty inside. I enjoyed killing."
"Bully for you," I said, and I knew I should have pulled the trigger, should have ended it. Never let them talk.
"You really don't enjoy this, do you?" he asked.
"No," I said, looking into those brown eyes.
"Then how do you stay sane?"
I let all the air ease from my body, as the world narrowed down to the center of his forehead. But I could still see his eyes, so alive, so... real. I answered him, "I don't know." I squeezed the trigger, and the impact knocked him backward. He fell on his side, and I moved up on him, gun still held two-handed, because whether he was dead or whether he wasn't, I wasn't done.
He had a smallish hole in the middle of his forehead above his surprised eyes. I fired into his forehead until the top of his head exploded in brains and bone. Decapitation was nice, but spilling the brains all over the grass works, too. I switched my aim to his chest, and fired until my gun emptied. Then I got a second clip from my belt, reloaded and fired into his chest until I could see light through his body. Legally I could not carry my vamp executioner kit in the car unless I had a current warrant. I'd left home without a warrant, so my sawed-off shotgun was at home with my stakes and machete. Handguns will do the job, but it takes longer, and it wastes a hell of a lot of ammo.