Well, it took a couple days, but we found her.
We had to pose as caseworkers, which was way easier than it should have been. We called the Scelerats and had them fabricate the necessary credentials, but honestly, all we needed was some basic ID and some fake licenses. The IDs took a little doing, but in the scheme of things, not much.
Then the boys put on their big boy clothes and went to talk to the family. I wanted to come — I always want to come — but even I have to admit that when we get right down to it, I do not look like professional adult. I look like a 14 year old wearing a single badass demonic contact lens.
So, for efficiency’s sake, the boys went to talk to the family without me.
“Trust me, you’re not missing much,” Neal sighed, looking up at the house. It looked fairly nice as far as I could tell.
“We just need to confirm she came through a rift before we actually commit to doing this,” Julian told me. “It won’t be exciting.”
Yeah well, that’s easy for them to say, they’ve done this a million times. But it’s fine, I have a good attitude, and lots of patience, and I can totally wait in the car twiddling my thumbs while they investigate. 😒
They were only in there for maybe twenty minutes.
Neal was laughing when he opened the car door and fell into the seat. “She’s Fenecan as hell,” he announced. “According to foster mom, she got up at dawn every morning to practice some kind of martial art that involved dual wielding knives. They had to lock all the knives in the house in their gun safe.”
Fenecan is sounding like a wilder and wilder place, but at least the Hawthornes were satisfied that our Jane was from it.
“They said she was found on a backroad,” Julian told me. “All alone, soaking wet, despite being miles from any significant water source and it being a dry day.”
And so the kidnapping began.
Step one was getting her social worker off her case.
“The fastest way to have your cover blown,” Julian explained, “is to be posing as someone who then shows up for real.”
It didn’t take much googling to figure out who was in charge of assigning kids to case workers, and then just a little bit of magic from Bass, and a couple of fake emails, and poor little Jane Otherworld was functionally case worker-less.
“This is only going to work for maybe a couple days,” Neal said. “And even that much, we’re pretty much depending on bureaucracy and dumb luck.”
“So what’s the play?” Julian asked.
“That depends,” Neal replied, “on how quickly Jasper can get here.”
Which didn’t make a ton of sense, because since when does Jasper join us for random hunts? As far as I knew, Neal and Jasper aren’t allowed to hunt together hahahaha.
When I asked why Jasper was coming, Neal got weirdly shifty, so I took the opportunity to remind him: “you promised not to lie.”
Neal rolled his eyes. “Jasper is Fenecan,” he said. “That’s how he ended up at Louie’s.”
“It’s not exactly a secret,” he added. “But he keeps it pretty quiet, so don’t spread it around.”
And then I immediately put it on the internet, so I’m an asshole I guess, please appreciate me.
Turns out, the whole trick to this little heist working was going to be that little Jane Otherworld actually wanted to come with us. And she was going to want to come with us, because we were going to have Jasper, who was from her world and could speak her language.
That was the first hitch.
“I’m on a case,” Jasper said, his voice sort of crackly on the phone. “I’ll call Knock and Darryl and see if they can step in but —” garble “—a while—” garble “for them to —” garble “—meet you as soon as I can.”
“Shit,” Neal said, when they finally gave up on their terrible service.
“We don’t need him,” Julian pointed out. “Your Fenecan is pretty good.”
All Neal said was, “shit,” again, but with more gumption.
They’re tenser about this one than usual. Which I guess makes a certain amount of sense. Usually any law breaking we do is in direct service of local people. But this is a little more dramatic.
We’re planning to kidnap a kid. And like, actually kidnap her, not like what they did to me, because technically I’m of age and decided to come. We’re like actually trying to steal this child, and we’ve already successfully manufactured a system hiccup: she has no official caseworker. Instead she had our dumb asses. We have essentially already pushed this poor kid through the cracks in the system.
According to her file, which we only managed to get a scanned version of, they’ve got her in a group home that specializes in children with behavioral complications. Behavioral complications here means stabbed another child in the face.
We’re going in to visit her tomorrow.