Ranko returned to Japan as quickly as possible. While Vasilko being presumed human was good news – she would have hated to have anything happen to him – she was pretty upset that, after years of heroism, fighting in the Darkstorm War, rescuing people, and defeating supervillains, the lawyers should tell her that she was likely to be charged with being an accessory to kidnaping, enslavement, and rape. OK, she had blundered a lot with Vasilko – and she should have had “the talk” with him and gotten him a contraceptive amulet before the situation came up – but they’d been in the middle of a war with robots that wanted to exterminate the human race at the time! Tracking down the relatives of rescued orphaned youngsters had been distinctly secondary!
Attempting to explain to Vasilko that – after he was charged – refraining from contact with his “victims” would almost certainly be a condition of his parole, regardless of how much cash he had available to put up, was also pretty difficult. It didn’t go over well with ANYONE in the pack, but moving out of the country didn’t seem like a very viable option either…
Meanwhile, the kids wanted to go on “field trips” to the local hospitals, since they’d realized how much they could amplify a healer’s abilities after that auto accident – and just how lucky and protected they were. Some of them also wanted to go to Vasilko’s trial, if only to testify that they’d been trying to get him to bite them for AGES, but he kept refusing on the grounds that they were too young.
They’d also found a spell that made a water-wave that followed you around for inland surfing, but that was a matter for cleaning spells.
Yuki was trying to train her eagle. It went oddly well – until she remembered that it had drawn her blood. Blood infused with binding magic. No wonder it was being so obliging for a wild animal.
There was a missing child alert out; a couple of kids had vanished and weren’t the usual type for it. One was even a local gymnastics champion. Still, there weren’t any clues yet: until there were, it was probably best left to the police.
Someone had stolen a true copy the Book of Belial from the British Museum – and had used enough magic along the way to make it pretty obvious that they had enough power to use it. It took a while for Yuki to realize where she’d heard that name before; half the demonic-present tricks that kept turning up around the mansion were intended to summon Belial. Anyway, who had that much magical power and operated in England? According to the databases it looked like… The Coven, The Black Druid, and Doctor Samhain. Oh well, about out of range anyway. Those power-armor goons in Russia were still active. Looked like they were deploying heavy weapons against superheroes and villains, but were snatching a fair number of ordinary people as well. 24 adults and 11 kids so far… Maybe they were after psychics or something? A fair number of low-end types didn’t show much sign of it.
Finally, there were weird flashes of light in the sea offshore of Atlantic City.
Yuki decided to look into the mess in Russia, and started off (after hooking a ride from the Chauffeur) with poking into the KGB archives. They’d had hidden hideouts all over, and she bet that half of them were being used by secret organizations by now. Most of the old stuff was at the Kremlin Museum Archives now – and a lot of it was in ciphers that had never been translated. She spent quite some time delving into the old files (and located at least 110 undiscovered bases) before she noticed that she had an audience – an obvious anthropomorphic snake-person. She promptly lost whoever-it-was, but ran into them again (along with some bothersome kids with personal questions about “Baba Yaga”) down in the museum coffee shop. Unfortunately, they then had to deal with a small outbreak of body-exchanging demons thanks to a madman’s painting that was actually a gate to some horrific dimension. OK, they had accidently scared someone into activating it, but still.
Still, it was kind of interesting to meet Ivan, Cosmos, Sputnik, and one of the local alchemists. The two recent victims were easy to rescue – but the older ones would be a project. They’d either have to go in after them or track down the entities they’d been exchanged for and force the reverse exchange – and some of them had been out for several centuries.