Kamila knew what the students at the FBI Academy called her behind her back. Hunter. It never bothered her. It was the truth and she believed the truth should not bother you. It should set you free. Only the truth she sought was still missing in her life. She raised the dirty chai tea (with three shots of vanilla) to her mouth and blew.
“She’s an amateur. I don’t know why Chad put her on the case.”
She smiled as she listened to her new partners. They didn’t know she was listening. She sat in the two-man sofa, right around the corner, in the waiting room. She’d been there for only seven minutes or so. Glancing at her watch she decided if Chad was anything like when they had dated a decade ago he would be right on time.
“We don’t know anything about her, Doug. And Chad has never led us wrong. His ability to sniff out these killers by combining the right minds has him holding an undefeated record.” Analiese replied. “I heard she will probably graduate at the top. That’s gotta mean something.”
“Yeah, whatever. I just don’t want some cadet-in-training stepping on my feet. You and me solved the last case and this one will be ours too.”
“Doug, Chad isn’t even hiring her on. She’s just consulting on the case at his request.”
Kamila sighed, tired of her eavesdropping, and stood up. She walked around the corner. “Good morning.” She welcomed Analiese’s genuine smile and saw right through Doug’s. “Chad here yet?” She didn’t bother looking around.
“He’ll be here.” Doug quipped and walked towards the snack machine.
Analiese watched him and then turned back to Kamila. “Don’t mind him. Some people don’t deal with change very well.” She offered her hand. “Welcome to the team. I’m Analiese and that grumpy old man is Doug.”
Kamila thanked her. “What all do we know?”
“What all has Chad told you?” Analiese laughed.
“I know the female in question has a connection with the Council but uncertain what that exactly is. Anything else is only what I’ve read in the media and what Chad briefed me on over the phone.”
Analiese pulled Kamila into the smaller waiting room and closed the door. “The Council worships their god Rad and every month takes a new pledge honoring that month, meaning the woman’s birthday is in that month. Each new pledge must find and offer a gift of blood. We’re not sure what exactly that means yet. Once complete they are given a new name and begin their journey up the ladder until finally embraced as a Daughter of the Council. From that point they prepare themselves for offering.”
“Offering?” Kamila interrupted. “Isn’t one sacrifice enough for these people?”
Analiese shook her head. “You’d think so, but no.” She glanced at the television on the wall before continuing. “We aren’t exactly sure what they do although we think they offer their body to a male in the Council. The woman who told us died after her baby was born.”
Kamila’s jaw almost dropped. “She died in childbirth or what?” She didn’t want to appear to blame anyone though that’s exactly what it sounded like. She quickly redirected her questions.“Was she in the council? Is that how you got all the information?”
“She killed herself.” Sitting down, she went on talking. “She refused to say whether she was in the council. Chad didn’t want to push too hard otherwise we would lose the only point of information we had.” She took a sip of her soda.
Kamila wondered why Chad would bring her onto this case. Her focus was on serial killers and this appeared to be your regular run of the mill cult. A knock on the window brought her away from her questions.
“Chad’s here. Let’s go.” Analiese stood up, opened the door, and led Kamila out. “You were almost late today.” She patted him on the back in a teasing manner and then grew serious. “Have you seen her yet?”
Chad turned and smiled at Kamila. Heat rush to her face. “I’ve spoken with her doctor. She isn’t awake yet though. He said she tried to kill herself last night though so they had to put restraints on her and give her a sedative.” He looked at Analiese.
“She had nightmares all night but I couldn’t make out most of what she said in her sleep.” Analiese replied.
Kamila stopped thinking about her history with Chad. “You stayed all night?” Analiese looked freshly scrubbed.
After pulling her notebook out Analiese continued. “She mentioned a few things you need to know about though, Chad.” She opened her small book. “She said the name Jemma and Maggie. She mentioned the word vessel a couple of times and she called someone a bitch. I didn’t get everything but she did say the word Council so I definitely believe she is part of the cult.”
“Is she pregnant?” Kamila asked.
“No.” Chad said. “Anything else?” Analiese shook her head.
Doug approached them chewing on a candy bar. “When will we be able to speak with her?”
A doctor entered the waiting room and walked towards Chad. “She started kicking herself repeatedly. She’s badly bruised up. I think she was trying to break her own leg. For her own safety we had to move her to the psychiatric unit. They gave her another sedative but a mild one. You should be able to see her now.”
Chad shook the doctor’s hand and nodded at the others. “This is Dr. Peterson. He works closely with our unit.” He said in Kamila’s direction
Kamila followed behind them, thinking about the names Annaliese had mentioned. An anxiousness grew in her stomach. Just as he had always been able to do, Chad turned, looked at Kamila knowingly. “You figure it out yet?”
Kamila met his eyes with eagerness. It boiled just below the surface and threatened to break free. “She wasn’t calling anyone a bitch.”The anticipation of the chase was back on. “B-I-C-H is a Vietnamese name meaning Jade.” She looked at Chad. “They are connected to the Gemstone Murders.”
Doug stopped. “What does that case have to do with this? Atlanta caught that perp three months ago.”
Kamila had followed that case closely and she’d never believed the perpetrator who died in the standoff in Atlanta was the true serial killer. “David Rouge was not the killer. He was a loyal follower of David’s.” Kamila’s last paper for the Academy was the talk of the campus for the last month and it had definitely been a bold move to write it. She knew it would ruffle a lot of feather. “That’s why you requested me.” It wasn’t a question for Chad.
“Two bodies were found along the border of Tennessee and Kentucky four days ago. Both were women who’d just given birth. One newborn, a male, was dead beside his mother but the other baby was missing.” Chad looked at Kamila. “The mothers had birthstones in the belly buttons.”
Kamila’s body tensed. “Why did he move the gemstones from their ears to the belly buttons?”
“They didn’t have pierced ears.” He replied.
Kamila knew the Gemstone Killer had not caused any other bodily damage other than killing slicing their necks and wrists but this still surprised her.
“So he refuses to even pierce their ears but letting them bleed to death is not too much?” Doug remarked in a condescending voice.
“Apparently not.” Annaliese quipped.
“So this cult, they are followers of his?” Doug asked.
Kamila’s thoughts were twirling and she barely heard the question. If the girl was connected to the cult and the cult were his followers then they finally had landed their first new lead to the case. And for some reason Chad wants me a part of his team to help find him. She still didn’t understand why though.
“Kamila.” Chad pulled out a thick manilla envelope from his jacket and offered it to her.
She looked at him and then the others before taking it. “What is this?”
Chad didn’t tell her. “We’ll wait right over there and give you a moment.”
Irritation mingled with curiosity persuaded Kamila to stop staring questioningly at him. She opened the envelope and read the contents. She noticed the words adoption immediately and flipped through the rest, scanning them for key words. Everything in her hands confused her. Infuriated her. How dare Chad look into her past without her consent. She wanted to laugh at herself. He was in the FBI and he had every right to do whatever he wanted. The one word question on her tongue was answered immediately when Chad approached her.
“I know you’re probably mad at me. I won’t go into details of my decisions and the choices I made. Not right now, anyway. Your adopted mother wasn’t the only person murdered. Your real mother was too.”
Kamila flipped through and stopped at the pictures. Inside her belly button was a gemstone. “There’s no way. This was twenty-four years ago, Chad.” She wanted to stop reading the papers but her desire to find the truth always reared its ugly face.
“Twenty-five. Your birthday is tomorrow.” Chad offered a weak smile. “This was the first known occurence of the Gemstone Murderer.”
“She was ripped up, Chad. The person who did this didn’t just slice her throat and wrists. He mauled her.” She stared, dazed, at the four pictures of the woman’s body, taken from various angles. There was not a piece of flesh that hadn’t been torn, scratched, or sliced. “It can’t be.”
“He was furious at her, I believe.”
“Why?” She folded the papers back up and tucked them into the envelope.
Chad cleared his throat. He looked at Doug and Analiese who sat, waiting. “I think it was because she’d been smart enough to get you away before he could get to you.”
He always keeps the girls. Nobody had figured out yet why and that was one of the reasons that she’d been so intrigued in this particular case. She shook her head. Disbelief made her shudder. “How did she do that?”
“We don’t have those answers, Kamila. I’m sorry.”
She pierced her lips. “Well, that’s just not good enough for me.” She looked up. “Let’s find him Chad. Find him so I can get those answers.” She didn’t say it aloud but knew Chad was thinking the same thing. They had to find him before he found her.
“We need to talk, just me and you. Later, okay?” Chad put his arm on hers. “Let’s go talk to the girl.”
They turned together and a voice over the intercom alerted them the same moment Chad’s phone rang.
“Code Silver, floor seven. Cold Silver, floor seven.”
Chad spoke hushed and rampant into the phone, shoved it into his pocket, and began running. “She’s awake and she’s not happy.”
Kamila started running after him, along with Analiese and Doug. “What’s happening?” Chad didn’t answer but kept running. They reached the seventh floor and ran head first into the commotion where people were being evacuated.
“She’s taken a nurse hostage.” The doctor stopped them at the double doors. “She’s telling the doctors outside the door she wants to die.”
“We can’t let her die.” Kamila said.
Chad looked up and down the halls. “We’re not going to.”
Kamila stepped aside, waiting to watch Chad in action, but also to think some more. Had she ever even once stopped to consider she was intertwined in the case? She scanned through the information she held in the file drawers inside her mind. There wasn’t any way she could have known. Intuition?
Analiese had mentioned the girl saying something about a vessel. They weren’t offering themselves to just any male in the council. It was him. She couldn’t be wrong about this. The women were offering their bodies to the Gemstone Killer. A sickness erupted in her stomach as she began putting puzzle pieces together. She pulled out her little notepad and began scribbling her thoughts.
Their names all linked back to a jewel of some kind. The Gemstone Killer kills and puts their birthstone somewhere on their body, so far in their ears or their belly buttons. The Council offers women as vessels. She was back to the original questions that still proved unanswerable. Why was he killing these women. Why does he kill the male babies and where do the female babies go?