If you’re new here, here’s the link to part 1 and please note that the book is available through our online store as an ebook or a paperback . Otherwise, read on!
“You’re late,” she said. Younger than I was expecting: mid-twenties, my age. But I guess vice-president is one of the junior grades at a place like Goldman Sachs.
“Blame your security. I was here on time.”
She shrugged. Apart from her youth, Sakashvili looked and dressed pretty much like what I imagined she would. Perfect hair and makeup, muted designer outfit in beige, off-white, and black. Nothing pretentious there, but I had the feeling her ensemble probably cost something on the order of a month of my income. She had one distinctive feature you wouldn’t normally see in an investment banker, a long leather sheath dangling from her waist, like the case for a conductor’s baton, except that from the top poked a symbol-inscribed wooden rod with metal ferrules. Saturnian lead, I expected. Sakashvili was carrying a blasting rod, a sorcerer’s tool for punishing unruly demons.
“Whatever,” she said. “Let’s get this over with.” She took me through a couple of boring corridors to her office. Chrome and glass desk, nice but not fancy. Aeron chair, big old laptop, and that was it for her workspace. The visitor chair looked to be conference room surplus.
She walked behind her desk and I pulled up the chair before she could tell me to sit down. When she sat and saw I was already there, she frowned at me. Good.
“So,” I said, “you lost a demon. The Commission doesn’t like it when that happens. Even human-looking infernals don’t understand how to live normally without a lot of training. And most of them are just monsters. They freak out the mundanes.”
“You think I like it? Or my bosses?” She opened a desk drawer, pulled out a file folder, tossed it across the desk to me. “It’s all there.”
I flipped it open. Three pages. First, a printout of a photo. The demon itself. It was sitting at a barebones desk with a MacBook open in front of it. Well, okay, he, not it. Most infernals couldn’t do gender very well, so I was surprised to see he had a realistic body. They were supposed to be summoned into bodies constructed from materiae like plastic or metal, which the more powerful infernals could alter over time in the direction of the biological. Usually low-level demons like the ones they summon as analysts couldn’t manage it very well. This one was convincingly satyrlike, though. In the photo he was wearing an old-fashioned three-piece-suit waistcoat over an even older starched white shirt with vented sleeves bound by gold cufflinks. Bearded, handsome face, human-looking except for the yellow, bar-pupiled eyes, and the cute little horns growing out of his forehead. No pants; any trousers would have to be bespoke to fit his goatlike lower half. The laptop was strategically positioned to hide any view of his genitals, if he had any, but with such a carefully crafted masculine appearance I assumed he did. In the photo the infernal appeared to be engrossed with whatever was on the laptop screen, but I had the sense he was aware of the shot and was posing for the camera.
“Whoa,” I said. “This is an analyst? Fancy. You guys do happy hours together after work or something? Or happy nights, maybe?”
Sakashvili flushed. “I, uh, I gather he’s been summoned before. Not by Goldman Sachs, I mean. For reasons not having to do with financial prognostication.”
Next page. The demon’s personal data. Name: Barbatos. His personal sigil and magic square as required for summoning and binding rituals. Special talent: finding treasure hidden by magic. Just what the investment banks wanted in a demon.
“Wait,” I said. “Barbatos. The Barbatos? The one from the Lemegeton and the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum? What the fuck is this? You summoned a demon lord as a staff analyst?”
“No,” she said, “of course not. It’s another demon with the same name. They’re not very original down there. Our treaty with the Infernal Powers forbids summoning anyone of earl-level or above.”