“So, have you got Cynthia properly sorted?” asked Brian as I collapsed onto the sofa in his study. “Is she now all pointy teeth and hairy legs? Or did you decide to eat her after all?”
My afternoon flight from Heathrow to Stuttgart had been delayed nearly two hours and I was exhausted after a week of MI6 debriefings about Libya. Thus I was in no mood for Brian’s questioning.
“The Initiation proceeded exactly as expected,” I said, resting my feet on his expensive coffee table, “and Cynthia does make a very attractive werewolf.”
“A natural blonde, is she?” He offered me a cushion to protect the mahogany finish from my boots.
“That’s a typically male question,” I observed. “If you must know, she is blonde from top to bottom – rather a novelty among the Sisterhood. Beautiful fur, but hard to get clean after the hunt, with all that blood.”
“You took her hunting? Presumably the steppes of Russia provided ample game for the purpose.”
“In fact, the Initiation is the only exception to the Sisterhood’s rule prohibiting the killing of humans, and the ceremony concludes with a ritual sacrifice. In the past, when Initiations were more common, dozens of virgins were often sacrificed at once. Last week we had trouble finding even one, however, so I suppose it was fortunate that there was only Cynthia.”
Brian turned pale and reached for the wastepaper bin.
“It is a great honour for the human thus chosen,” I reassured him. “In her next lifetime, she will be initiated into the Sisterhood herself.”
“Rather poor consolation for the murdered girl,” commented Brian, still holding the bin. “And where is Cynthia now? You haven’t brought her back here, I hope. By now the Russian authorities will be searching for the killer, and they will surely make a DNA match to Cynthia’s CIA records.”
“Not to worry,” I said. “Our DNA undergoes the transformation as well, and is quite untraceable. As for Cynthia, after the Initiation we took her back to the CIA outpost in Libya, where she pretended to have escaped from al-Qaida. I’ve put a request through channels for Cynthia to be transferred to Cairo next week, so that Kasaqa can begin training her before the next monthly bleeding. We don’t want any uncontrolled transformations.”
“So Kasaqa is to be her Companion? I thought you two…”
“Yes, well, things don’t always work out. But perhaps it’s for the best. Cynthia’s dreadful American accent was beginning to get on my nerves. Now if you don’t mind, I’d like to take a shower. I’m completely worn out.”
“Have you got a new assignment from MI6?” Brian was being annoyingly persistent today.
“They were considering sending me to Syria, but I declined – no more Arab dictatorships for a while, thank you. Maybe I’ll be assigned somewhere relaxing, like North Korea.”
“You’re joking of course.”
“Not at all. The hills outside Pyongyang are beautiful in the wintertime. Besides, I’m not likely to come under artillery fire there. I had quite enough of that in Tripoli.”
“Don’t tell me you’re afraid of artillery? I thought werewolves could only be harmed by silver.”
“And fire. The Sisterhood thinks that the flash from a high-explosive round might be sufficient to cause fatal injuries, and I certainly don’t want to find out. Besides, being struck by non-silver weapons is quite painful, even if ultimately harmless. I once took a direct hit from a three-pounder, and would not care to repeat the experience.”
“A three-pounder? Sounds like an extra-large McBurger…”