John Ringo: Princess of Wands

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John Ringo Princess of Wands
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Princess of Wands: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Special: Circumstances: Barbara Everette, homemaker living in a small town in Mississippi, had the perfect life. Perfect husband, perfect children, perfect house, perfect Christian Faith. She cooked and cleaned perfectly and managed all of the chores of the modern suburbanite, toting the kids, running the PTA, teaching kung-fu in the local dojo… Perfectly. But perfection has a price and the day came when Barbara snapped. She simply had to have “one weekend off.” God had to grant her that much. It said no where that she was a slave. Waving goodbye to her hapless, entirely undomestic husband, she set out on the quest for a weekend of peace and maybe some authentic Cajun food. Detective Sergeant Kelly Lockhart, New Orleans Homicide, had a perfect record on his latest case: not a single suspect. And there should be at least five or six, given the DNA traces on the many bodies. Furthermore, his sole really outstanding clue, a mysterious fish scale, had disappeared into the recesses of the FBI Crime Lab. But the old fortune-teller was sending him into the bayou, down in the land of authentic Cajun food, on the track of a mysterious pimp with the admonition to “watch for the Princess.” Or die. Barbara and Kelly were heading to a rendezvous that might be fate and might reveal the hand of God. There was more cooking in the swamps than jambalaya. Unknown to either, the mystery of the Bayou Ripper had

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Princess of Wands

by John Ringo

The Princess Of Wands

A tarot card in the Crowley deck

“The character of the Princess is extremely individual. She is brilliant and daring. She creates her own beauty by her essential vigour and energy. The force of her character imposes the impression of beauty upon the beholder. In anger or love she is sudden, violent, and implacable. She consumes all that comes into her sphere. She is ambitious and aspiring, full of enthusiasm which is often irrational. She never forgets an injury, and the only quality of patience to be found in her is the patience with which she lies in ambush to avenge.”

— The Book of Thoth, Aleister Crowley


Dedicated to the memory of K. Steinberg, a fine Southron Jewish woman.

Raise a glass of something pink, frosty and alcoholic. Her voice and presence will be sorely missed.

As this book was being prepared for print, Hurricane Katrina came ashore and utterly destroyed many of the sites included in the story. It can only be hoped, at this time, that those scenes will someday return to us.

Our prayers go out to the people of Louisiana and Mississippi.



Chapter One

The body of the young woman had been twisted into a fetal position and strapped with duct tape. Then it had been dropped in a black plastic contractor bag and rewrapped. Which seemed like a heck of a lot of trouble if you were going to just dump the body in the woods.

Detective Sergeant Kelly Lockhart stroked his beard as the coroner’s assistant stretched the body out. The corpse had been in the bag long enough for decomposition to work its way on the ligaments that stiffened the body in rigor mortis. And for the smell to change. But Kelly had seen far worse in his ten years as an investigator. And the department wanted to know, right away, if she was another victim of the Rippers.

Kelly was six two and a hundred and sixty pounds when he was watching his weight. Most people describing him used “thin” because “skeletal” was impolite. He’d started growing his hair when he got out of the army and hardly quit in the ensuing twelve years. It hung down his back in a frizzy, uncontrolled mass and was matched by a straggly beard and mustache.

Technically, since he’d worked his way out of vice and into homicide, he should have cut both back. But he still worked, occasionally, under cover and he’d managed to convince his bosses to let him hang onto the whole schmeer. Since he had a good track record for running down even tough murder cases, the powers-that-be turned a blind eye to someone that looked like a cross between the grim reaper and Cousin Itt.

As the corpse’s legs were stretched out the open cavity of her torso and abdomen became evident and he squatted down to look at the incision. Something sharp, but not as sharp as a knife, had opened the young woman’s body up from just above her mons veneris all the way to her throat. The edges of the cut were haggled; it was more of a rip than a cut, thus the name the papers had slapped on New Orleans’s latest serial killer. And, as usual, all her internal organs were missing.

“Fuck,” he muttered. “You know the problem with being me? It’s always being right.”

“Same MO,” the coroner’s assistant said, pointing at the cut. “I’d love to know what he’s using.”

They’re using,” Lockhart replied, standing up as another car pulled down the dirt road. “And if I didn’t know better, I’d say it’s a claw, a big one like a velociraptor’s.”

“A veloco… what?” the coroner’s assistant said, confused.

“What, you’ve never seen Jurassic Park?” Kelly said. “A dinosaur, you Cajun hick.”

* * *

The edge of the bayou made the roads wet and treacherous but the driver of the black SUV expertly avoided the worst of the puddles and parked next to one of the parish unmarked cars. When he saw who was driving, Lockhart tried not to groan. And it looked as if the FBI agent had a boss with him.

“Detective Lockhart,” Special Agent Walter Turner said, nodding to the detective. The FBI agent was black, just short of thirty, with a heavy build from football that was getting a bit flabby. “This is Mr. Germaine. He’s a… consultant we sometimes call in on serial cases.”

Germaine was a tall character, about six four, maybe two hundred thirty pounds, very little of it flab. Sixty or so, clean shaven, short black hair with gray at the temples, and a refined air. The suit he was wearing hadn’t come off a rack. A very expensive consultant, Lockhart suspected. Then the consultant stopped looking at the body and locked eyes with the detective for a moment.

This is one dangerous bastard, Lockhart thought. As an MP he’d spent just enough time around the spec-ops boys to know one dangerous mother when he ran across one. Not the gangbangers, although they were nobody to turn your back on. But this was somebody who would kill you as soon as look at you and whether you put up a fight or not. He kept looking around, not too obviously but obviously enough, keeping total situational awareness like a cat at a dog convention. No, a lion at a dog convention, wondering if he should just go ahead and kill the whole pack. What the fuck was the FBI doing carting around somebody like that?

“Can you tell me anything that’s not in one of the earlier reports?” Germaine asked, quietly.

The “consultant” walked strangely. Kelly had seen a lot of walks in his time. The robotic walk of a tac-team member, arms cocked, fists half closed, legs pumping as if trying not to leap all the time. The street “slide,” feet half shuffling, hips moving. Military guys with their stiff march. Germaine’s wasn’t like any he’d seen before. His hands, instead of being turned in like most people, were rotated with the palms to the rear and barely moved as he walked. Legs were slightly spread, heel strike then roll to toe, stand flat foot as the next rose up in the air and forward. The ankles hardly flexed at all. Back straight but shoulders held down.

It was almost as if he had to think about each step.

He had an accent, faint, not one that Lockhart could place. European anyway, not British. Other than that faint trace his English was perfect. As perfect as his suit and just as obviously a disguise he could take on and off. The accent might not even be genuine.

“If it’s like the others, not much,” Lockhart replied with a shrug. “All the previous bags were clean of prints, body had been washed. Semen in the remaining vaginal tract, multiple DNA, none from any known sex offender. FBI’s already gotten samples,” he added, nodding at the special agent. “What’s your specialty? Profiling?”

“I’m called in when the FBI suspects there are Special Circumstances to an investigation,” Germaine said, walking over to the corpse. He squatted down and pulled out a pair of gloves, putting them on before reaching into the gutted corpse. He fingered the cut for a moment, lifting a bit of the mangled flesh along the side and then pushed the abdominal wall back to examine the underside. If he felt anything about manipulating a violently mutilated teenaged female, it wasn’t evident.

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