Part 1 can be found here. The ebook or paperback can be ordered from our bookstore. This is part 4 of Chapter 1:
Last page. Summarized quarterly performance reviews. Barbatos was summoned two years ago by a group president named Raymond Utgard. Group president of the Goldman Sachs demon-summoning operation was about as powerful a position as you could achieve in the firm without being on the board. And by its nature, this role would always have to be a secret. Probably most of the Goldman Sachs directors had no idea their company’s profits were driven by sorcery. All the major investment banks, along with the larger hedge and capital firms, employed secret cadres of sorcerers and demon analysts. Between them, with a few unaffiliated types like my mother, their board chairs and CEOs made up the Commission that oversaw magic and summoning throughout the city, and indeed, throughout most of the western hemisphere.
Barbatos’ reviews were all positive. Surprisingly so, considering the demons were worked like slaves. Infernal attitudes toward management typically ranged from passive-aggressive to murderous. But nothing much useful here, except-
“Why am even I talking to you? Where’s your group president, this Utgard person who summoned the demon in the first place?”
She hesitated. “Mr. Utgard, is, ah, no longer with the company.”
“What? Retired? Headhunted by Deutschebank?”
“Deceased. He screwed up a binding ritual. The demon involved was…recalcitrant.”
“I guess that’s why they pay you the big bucks. Who’s group president now?”
“The position is vacant. Really, I don’t see what this has to do with Barbatos. We reported the loss as required by the Commission. Shouldn’t you be out there tracking him down?”
I shook my head. “First I want to see the infernals’ workspace.”
She was being obstructive now. I stood up, put my hands on her desk, encroaching on her space. “It’s supposed to be secure, right? I want to hear what you know about how one of them got out, and I want to see the place for myself.”
She recoiled from me a little. “Our security protocols…I’m not authorized to allow an outsider to see them.”
“For fuck’s sake. I’m going to have to write all this up. You think the Commission’s going to be happy with ‘sorry, it’s a secret’? So why not let me decide what’s relevant to my job, okay?”
Sakashvili looked like she wanted to argue, but at last she said, “Okay.” At least she didn’t try to pass the buck, which is what I was expecting.
“I assume you’ve seen demons in person before,” she said. “You know what it’s going to be like being in a room full of them?”
“Yeah. My nightmares are not your problem.”
“That’s for sure. Fine. Follow me.”
Out of her office, through an unmarked door that looked like all the others, into another corridor, to a blank steel door. The door was equipped with a near-field phone sensor, a keypad for passphrase input, a palm-print reader, and for retro laughs a mechanical key lock. It took Sakashvili the better part of five minutes to open it up.
She turned to me when she was done, holding the door open to reveal a stairway heading down. “Needless to say, there are hidden cameras here, and everywhere on the secure floor. Someone is watching us right now. If I made the signal, or even if it looked like I might be coerced, armed response would be here immediately.”
“Needless to say,” I said. “So why didn’t they spot a totally inhuman-looking demon sneaking out through all this security?”
She colored. “We suffered a power failure. It was on the weekend. A security officer called me at home within a minute of the event, and I was here in person in fifteen.”
“Don’t tell me the doors all fail open when they lose power.”
“Of course not.”