Case 5: Host Jacker

Adel stared at the windows of the car. They had been driving for hours now. Light rain pouring over the highway. The clock on the panel of the car radio said it was 8 AM, school was just starting. Pamela stared at the road with a strange determined look on her face. Usually car rides with her were relaxing, not this time. No music was playing, not a word was said since they left. A cigarette was smoking in her mouth, teeth biting into it and brows furrowed. Adel didn't dare disturb the silence.

The car took a turn from the highway, approaching a city. Morning traffic was starting as people rushed to work. Tall grey buildings cast shadows on the streets. Pamela took a turn after turn and Adel could not keep up with the direction they were going in. it seemed like they were in outer part of town. Finally they came to a stop outside a tattoo salon. Adel looked at the sign "Noir Tattoo's" with surprise. The sign on the door said "closed" but Pamela opened the door and went in. Adel followed after her. The chime on the door made a sound. Pamela sat down one of the leather armchairs in the waiting area. Adel did the same, eyes wandering over the beautiful art work on the walls. Drawings of flowers, birds, animals, and people made from lines and dots, yet detailed and life like. She got up to look closer.

"Like what you see?" came a voice from behind

A tall, pale, dark haired woman stood on the stairs that were out of sight from the entrance. She wore a black dress with a wide belt around her waist, knee length shoes with high heels. Black hair flowing down her back, several earrings decorating the one visible ear. Her arms were bare, exposing the many tattoos that decorated them. On the right a circle of fire around the writs and the legs of a doberman rising out of it. The dog took up most of the space up to the elbow. Above it were what looked like a bird of prey in flight and the sun and on the left side of the dog was a moon and an owl. All images were black with some skin acting as the filling where needed. The left hand, starting with a rose bush and thorns wrapping around a sword, was a dead tree and leaves blowing in the wind.

Pamela stood up from her seat and approached the woman.

"Pam, it's good to see you." The woman extended her arms embracing Pamela briefly.

"Yeah." Pamela then turned to Adel "Adel, this is Tanith Noir. Tanith, Adel's my apprentice."

"It's nice to meet you." Adel said still confused why they were here.

"Thank you for coming on such short notice." Tanith said.

"Can we talk somewhere private?" Pamela asked.

"Upstairs. I'll tell Vincent to make so tea. He's my apprentice." Tanith said.

"You're coming too." Pamela said looking at Adel.

Usually when they went somewhere Pamela would make her wait in the car or the waiting area. She had never heard Pamela mention Tanith before, but she never mentioned any of her friends or associates by names. Adel followed up the stairs. There was and armored door with a code lock next to it. Behind it was something that resembled an apartment. The salon was in a two story building. The walls were a light cream color and devoid of any art work. There was a hall and doors to several rooms. A young man came out of one of the rooms. He looked around the same age as Adel. Black hair reaching up to his chin. It was slightly wavy and one side was shaved. He had several piercings in his ears and a nose ring. Two metal orbs under his lower lip. Hints of a tattoo were peeking out from the collar of the black t-shirt with some band Adel never heard of. The twisting style of writing made the name impossible to read and the image of skulls around an altar meant it was probably a metal band. Baggy black pants, no slippers. Toe nails painted with black nail polish. He had tattoos covering both arms.

"Hi" he said looking surprised to see people here.

He ran a hand though his hair trying to get it to stay behind his ear, finger nails also painted black.

"This is my apprentice- Vincent" Tanith said.

"Just call me V" he said.

"Hello" Pamela said.

"I know you" he said looking at Pamela "I've seen your work. It's quite impressive"

"Thank you" Pamela said.

"Hi, I'm Adel" she introduced herself.

"V, get us something to drink and we'll start the meeting."

Tanith lead the way into a room down the hall. It was like a combination between an office, with a large desk and file cabinets and a kitchen. She sat down on the chair next to the coffee table. Pamela and Adel taking a seat on the other chairs. V went into the kitchen area and started making coffee.

"Again, thanks for coming on such short notice" Tanith said.

"I'm not going to lie; I have a personal interest in this case." Pamela said.

"Whatever the case maybe, I'm thankful that you're here. This is a little bit out of my usual ones. "Tanith said." I specialize in searching for people, so when the offer from secret services came in I was a little surprised"

V put down a cup of coffee in front of Tanith.

"Sugar? Milk?" He looked between Pamela and Adel.

"Two sugars and no milk" Pamela said.

"Milk and two sugar" Adel.

"So tell me more about your target" Pamela said.

"Well, he or she is a wanted criminal across the world. A hacker that has committed several serious crimes, hacked into secret government databases in the USA, China, UK, Switzerland, France, you name it. However they are also known for mind hacking, and taking control of people to carry out assassinations. The FBI and Interpol have named them the Host Jacker. "

"There could be a link between this case and our home invader" Pamela said looking at Adel. " For a start it should be impossible for anyone to break into my apartment. "

"I was just a surprised as you when I got the news" Tanith said. "Nobody came through my end"

"I've checked in with her as well, nothing went wrong it. Yet somehow someone got inside." Pamela said taking sip of the coffee V placed down before her.

"The spell protecting our home is a special one." Pamela said." It's collaboration between me, Tanith and one other person. The warehouse you see from the outside actually belongs to Tanith. If anyone tried to enter without being invited, the moment they stepped though the door they would be brought to that warehouse. The same would happen if they used the window or tried to get in some other way. If they tried to use magic to get in the other person would be alerted. "

"There should be no physical way to enter the apartment without being invited."

"You mean It was someone we know?" Adel said concerned.

"I don't think so. The amount of people I've invited into my home" she started counting on her fingers" Tanith and the other person who helped create this spell- but neither of them specialize in manipulation magic or have mind hacking skills. Adel. And few months ago- Amon. "

"Um.. I've invited Taliesin" Adel said.

"Regardless neither he nor Amon is mage. So you see how impossible it is one of us to have done it."

"So what you're saying is that they didn't get inside physically" V said.

"That is the only conclusion. " Pamela said. "Somehow they got into my apartment and took control of one of my dolls to destroy any traces of Nirvana and my research on it.

"It's not impossible to remote control objects with magic "V said. " I've seen you're work in magazines and on television many times."

"That is not the case. The doll I was working on had never been displayed before. It wasn't even finished. So they couldn't have seen it before. "Pamela said.

"You said the hacker takes control of people" Adel said.

"True" Tanith said" but from what I gathered about them, it's not impossible."

"People have a consciousness, a mind that is always active and a will that resists control. A doll has none of it. For someone who is used to manipulate people this is nothing. "Pamela said.

"From what I found on the internet this guy is very specific about how he does things" V said" he likes to announce what he will do before he does it. Sometimes explaining exactly how he will do it. Problem no one believes it until after it happens. He said he would make the vice secretary kill the minister during a meeting. Wouldn't you know it, it happened, but nobody believed it until after."

"I've heard about this incident, it was four years ago I believe" Pamela said. "Well he, if it is a he, strikes me as quite the performer. "

"I think it's a guy" V said" out of the cases he's taken control of people none were women"

„So we can asume that whoever they are they identify as male." Tanith said.

„Not nesceserily" Pamela said" I do believe this person is an ability user. While it is true the could be a magus, but i find that posibility unlikekly."

„How so?" Tanith asked.

„A magus has more limitations. While an ability user is capable to perform one specific funtion and that function only, they do it with a lot more potency." Pamela explained.

„So this person is an abilty user with an ability to control other people. However we still don't know the limits of that ability."

„This is the tricky part. „ Pamela said. „Figuring out how the ability works. Let's start with the posible range."

„They have comited crimes in twenty nine diferent countries, that's excluding the hacking" V said.

„Dont you think somebody would have seen the same person hanging around the crime scenes in all the locations?" Tanith said.

„If that were that case he would have been caught long time ago, right?"

„So it's definetly a long rage ability." Tanith said.

Adel listened to the conversation, not saying anything. A job that involved cathign a criminal that was world famous, was not something she had done before.

„What do you think ,Adel"Pamela asked.

The qustion startled har and she took a moment to answer.

„A long range ability seems the most likely, but..." she took some of the files from the table and flipped though them „ i think ... it seems like he can just jump from one host to another at will. While the hosts are all in close priximity. It could in fact be be a short range ability."

„However it still doesn't explain how he got inside my appartment" Pamela said." Both magic and abilities require a trigger or certain conditions to be met."

„You said no one had seen the doll before. So we can rule out sigh" Tanith said.

„Yes, but it doesn't make it easier. Most conditions are based on the sences. He couldn't have touched it. „

„Are you sure? Somebody could have tampered wit the materials during delivery?" V said.

„I collect all my meterials my self and i inspect them. I can say they didn't have anything placed on them"

„Smell is also out. So is taste." Tanit said." Sound?"

„This is the tricky part. All of these seem to require a physical contact or close presence to the object that is being manipulated." Pamela said. „We know he didn't get inside physicaly, yet still somehow got inside"

Everybody sat there thinking. Adel was silent, not having anything to contribute. Her own head racing to comprehend all that was happening. Then she remebered something.

„What about the hospital? All those people were mind controled. Was this the same guy then?"

„No, considering the information we have, the Host Jacker can only control one person at the time. Further more, those people in the hospital were acting like they were given a specific comand and once they carried it out they had no memory of it."Pamela said. „ It's a diferent kind of mind control. We also know that you saw a glimpse of the person who maybe responcible. Unfortunatly the security guard deleted all the footage from the hospital security cameras so we couldn't find out who he was." She continued.

Adel sighed, feeling frightened by the situatuation.

„These people have some very strong individuals working for them" Pamela said.

„All this just for some drug?" Tanith wondered.

„No, i think the drug is a means to an end. They are after something else." Pamela said. „ and i beleive this case might help us get some answers to what it is. „

ͻ

Taliesin stared at the empty desk where Adel should have been sitting. He should have figured that after the incident she wouldn't come to school. Somehow, someone broke into the appartment. While unsure of how magic worked he could not get the image of the half finished doll moving on its own. It seemed sureal. But then he realized he should get used to strange and unreal seeming things happening around him. If he wanted to be a detective anyways. Morty's death still haunted him. Those lat moments he got to spend with the boy surfaced every time he tried to sleep. Somebody he knew was killed, again and he couldn't do anything to stop it.

Class passed by in what seeemd like a second that got extended and put into slow motion. Nothing changed, at least he didn't notice anything changing or moving around him and then it was over. Travis seemed to notice that he wasn't feeling well.

„Are you going to eat lunch?" He asked walking up Tal.

„Lunch isn't until third period." He said.

„Right," Travis sighed" you might wanna chack the clock."

Looking at the clock on the classroom wall Tal fel his eyes go wide.

„It's third period already?"

„Do you need to see the nurse or something?"

„No, I'm fine"

„You don't look fine. Lucy came in during the middle of the second class and you didn't even lecture her about punctuality or something."

„She did? I didn't notice"

„That girl must really be something. She's not here for one day and you're a wreck" Travis said jokingly.

„That's not why.."

„I know." He said solemnly. „If you don't wanna talk about it, thats fine"

„I do" he said looking around the empty class room" not here"

They walked out of the classroom and headed to the student council room, stopping to get some drinks from the vending machine.

„I still can't wrapp around my head what happaned to Morty." Travis said taking a sip from the can of „Sprite". „I mean straight up murder, like in the movies" he said leaning against the wall.

Taliesin said nothing slowly drinking the bitter black coffee he got from the machine.

„Travis, I ... I guess I never told you. The drug dealer i've been looking for, that was Morty."

Travis nearly spit out the drink.

„You mean it?"

„He confessed before we took him to the hospital. I didn't know either. But he had info the police could have used to trace them so ... „

„They shut him up. Shit" Travis sat down, bowing his head and staring at the carpet for a moment. „This is a lot to take in."

„I'm sorry." Tal said. „ They also broke into Adel's place. Her guardian does work for the police sometimes, that why I got close her. She was helping me work on this."

„Yeah, I figured you weren't the type to fall in love just like that. But you could have told me."

„I'm sorrry. I just can't help thinking. My dad became a prosecutor because he wanted to do the right thing. My mom, just happaned to fall in love with him. But in the end she died because of it. The fire was clearly intended for my dad, but she just got cauth up in it. I feel like I've gotten caught up in something dangerous and people around me are being dragged into , Adel they can take care of themselves, but if something happaned to aunt Amy, or you. I feel like we shoudn't be seen spending so much time together. They might come after you to get to me."

„Would you listen to yourself? Next you gonna start dressing in costumes and hanging out in a cave? If i'm not around who's gonna protect your scrawny ass? „ Travis teased, flaxing his muscles. „ You're dead in a fight and we both know it."

He said nothing, realising Travis had a point. There was no way he could get a gun license, but learning how to fight sounded like a good idea.

ͻ

Adel tried to keep with the conversation. Ability trigers that didn't involve the five basic sences seemed dificult to figure out. This led her to think about her own triger. Her ability activated when she wanted, but she did have to see the person, saying the comand physicaly also helped to make the process go smother almost like putting her intention to words somehow stabilised it. She wondered if she could do it without seeing. It seeemd imposible. Somehow she would find a way to see using her abilty, even she blindfolded. Or more likely her ability would find a way to meet it's own conditions once activated.

„How do you see without seeing?" lost in her thoughts she said it out loud.

Pamela and V turned their heads towards her. Tanith was washing the mugs in the kitchen part of the room.

„A diferent way of seeing" Pamela paused her own train of thought.

„Possible" V said." Some indirect way that can replace the sence of sight."

„I was just thinking" Adel said, feeling stupid for saying anything.

„No." V said" i think i've got it. This guy's a hacker right. So he can use the cameras on the streets to see by hacking them. If he need to see his target to control them then he can do without ever having to move from place to place."

„But there must still be a range limit. He can't control somebody in Chine whe being in the US." Pamela said.

„Why not?" Adel asked.

„The farther away the targer it the weaker the magic becomes." Pamela said.

„It's like wi-fi, the further away from the sorce, the worse the signal recption gets." V said. He sat with his legs pulled up on the chair and help his phone in front of his face.

„So how far can your range reach?" Adel asked Pamela

V raised his index finger.

„ I would hold that answer. „ he pointed to his phone „ computers aren't the only things that can be hacked. Video and audio capture capable devices that eveybody has on htem at all times. Gps tracking included. He could be listening to everything that's happening in this room right now. „

Pamela cursed under her breath.

„I had my laptop in the room i was working on the Nirvana research. The doll was also there. Shit."

„That's how he got inside. Not physicaly, but digitaly." V said.

„I suggest we get rid of any digital devices before continuing this session" Pamela said.

After placing their phones and Tanith laptop in a diferernt room an locking it they went back in.

„This makes our job incredibily difficult" Tanith said. „ Any information we send, no matter how encripted can fall into his hands. „

„I'll admit , when I sat up the defences I didn't acount for hacking" Pamela said.

„But it should be possible to trace the signal back to the hacker" Adel said.

„Well, the FBI would have caught him by now if it was that easy." V said.

„We need to look for things like street cameras, too. He could spy on us. Any people that seem like thay are acting suspicious. „ Tanith looked out the window into the street.

„Really anyone with a cellphone in their pocket getting close to us could be used as a spy without knowing." V said.

Adel sighed.

„How do we catch somebody like that?"

It seemed like one of those uncatchable criminal mastermind she had seen in the movies.

„Well, finding him is the first part" Tanith said" finding people is usualy my specialty, but this is different. I need name or a face, a personal item something i can trace back to the person. All these files and a nickname aren't personal enought."

„I have an idea" Pamela said." Mind teaching Adel our location magic?"

„No, but i don't see what good it will do."

„ I think it's something that might be usefull. Adel has a rather unique ability" Pamela said.

„I see. We can give it a try tonight."

„ I also have another idea" Pamela said" the clients have to get ahold of him for jobs. We could contact him under the pretense of trying to hire him.

„That FBI already tried that." V said" the building htey were told to meet exploded, details unclear. But I think we have more chanses to get him to come to us, than finding him. Remeber the furum posts that denied his existance? He agresively replied to those with actions. This guy is arrogant and we can use it againt him. But we need to be smart about this"

„ Me and Adel both have anti- mind hacking chips, so he shouldn't be able to do anything to us." Pamela said.

„Since he only seems to target males the rest of you should be safe" V said.

„We can continue this after lunch" Tanith said. „ Though considering the situation , i'm not sure it's a good idea to go out.

„I'll go get something from across the street" V said." You can keep an eye on me, so it should be safe."

„Take Adel with you" Pamela said.

V just shrugged.

Adel followed him out of the room. Vincent went to change, so she stood outside in the hall wondering why Pamela even brought her along. May she thought the appartment wasn't safe anymore. That was probably the main reason, because Adel didn't feel like she was going to be usefull during something like this. V came back, wearing boots and a long leather coat. Adel didn't have a coat. Pamela just told her to get dressed and get in the car without much explanations. She had her usual shirt and dress combo on. The dress was a warmer one, made from wool and less decorative, just plain black knee lenght dress with thick straps over the shoulders. It was beginig to look like they would be spending the night here, or even staying for several days. It was the first time they had gone anywhere without coming back home for the night.

„Nervous?" V observed as they went down the stairs into the salon.

„This seems complicated and diferent from most stuff we've worked on before." She said.

„Really? Cause it looks to me like you're the ones who get all the difficult stuff. This drug ring seems like a big deal."

„This is a recent development. It's only been isolated cases until now. But, well i guess they weren't as isolated as we first thought."

„This sort of thing happens a lot when looking for people. Looking for one person you find clues while looking for someone else. It's better to look at clusters of disaperances, there is often a patern."

„Patern, huh." Adel wondered if those incidets faormed a pattern that they couldn't see. „ I guess we never tried looking for one."

V put his finger to his lips and opened the door. The street was empty. They walked around the front of the studio to where the large window of the office overlooked the street. It was a pedestrian street separating the small building of the studio and few other lower ones from the tall ones on the other side. The first floor had a cafe, old sign read „ La Blank". It was dark from the dim lighting, the interior looked old, like it was opened in the 90's and hasn't been renewed since. Behind the bar was a tall, muscular black man with a bald head, polishing a glass.

„V „ he smiled

„Hey, Tony."

„What will it be? A table for two?" he winked noticing Adel.

„Take out. Long day at the office."

„Alright, then. The special today is pizza."

„ I'll take the special, the usual for Tanith. Anything you want?" He said lookin at Adel

„I'm not sure. Everything sounds good." Adel said looking at the menu, realising just how hungry she was.

„I think i know something the lady might like" Tony said.

„Pamela might like the fish." She said.

„Right. It'll be ready in a bit" Tony said walking thought a door behind the bar.

Adel noticed a tribal style tattoo on his arm, only partialy covered by the rolled up sleeve.

„He's a customer." V said noticing Adel looking at the tattoo.

„That makes sence, being neighbours." She said, looking out the window to the „Noir" building.

„They go way back. He helped Tanith find the place for the salon."

„ Isn't it tough managing both an agency and a busness?" Adel wondered.

„ Not really. She's been doing by her self a long time."

„How long have you been her aprentice?"

„I'd say about three years."

„Really? It's my third year with Pamela" Adel said surprised by the strange quisnsidence.

„The search agancy used to belong to her fiance." V said.

„What happaned?"

„Don't know. One day he went to investigate a case and he just never came back. She tried looking for him, but it was like there was no physical trace of him left on the planed. Like he just vanished. She took over the agency after."

„Can people really just vanish like that?"

„It's rare, but it happens.

„And nobody knows how or why?„

„There are theories." V said.

„Like what?"

„Like ghosts, fairys, aliens."

„ Those arent real" Adel said.

„ It's like the devils proof. You can't say the devil doesn't exist because you havent met can't say that you haven't met him either. Most people asume they know what devil looks like, but if the devil look's diferent that what you believe , then will you know it's the devil? After all most people will say magic doesn't exist if you ask them."

„I guess thats true" Adel said. „ but knowing it's magic doesn't make it less frightening when strange things start to happen.

„No, it doesn't" V agreed.

Tony emerged from the kitchen with bags of food.

„Here, ya go." He said handing a bag to V.

„Thanks, Tony. Add this to the tab."

„Sure. Keep it up. Jut pay up till the end of the moth or I'll be getting my next one for free."

„ Got it."

Adel took the other bag with food and they headed back to the salon.

ͼ

Taliesin tried to focus on the math equations but the angry stomping from the other room kept distracting him. Amon has been home for two days and it was starting to get on everyones nerves. Aunt Amy had kept him busy with chores but he had gotten them all done already. Putting the textbook down he left his room.

„Keep it up and the neighbours will start sending noise complaints."

Amon had stacks of files and boxes in the living room. Lifting them, rearangifn them, skatering pappers all over.

„What are you doing?" Taliesing asked

„I'm looking for a lead." He said, kneeling over the files scatered on the floor.

„Good luck finding one in this mess"

„ I'm sure i missed something. I need to get these reorganized. You can help me"

„I've got homework"

„It can wait!"

Taliesin sighed.

„I know you got suspended. Maybe try taking it easy for now."

„I can't take it easy. Not when the entire police force had gone insane. They have completly called of any investigation that had anything to do Nirvana, saying it's components do not contain anything that couls be considered narcotics. Can you believe that? After everything that happaned, they flushed all the samples we got them down the toilet! Like it some kind of joke!" he slamed a box down on the stack of boxes causing it to tumble.

„ You only got suspended because you kept trying to look into it after they caled it off."

„What was i supposed to do?! You know how dangerous this thing is. I have to keep looking, into this."

„ They got the police under their control. There is nothing we can do."

„If, i can find evidence i can takes to people outside the city. I have to do something."

„So you'd end up dead like my parents?" Taliesin covered his mouth a little too late.

Amon was looking at him but he didn't see him as his vision began to blur.

„I'm sorry" he said.

Amon said nothing. Tal went back into his room.

Doing the right thing was important,that was what he always told himself. Helping others, promoting moral values, ensuring people followed the rules. So why was he questioning it all now. It was his dream to become a detective since he was little. Mortys death, the way the people in the hospital were acting, the police sudenly stopping all investigations into Nirvana and destroying all the powder samples. Amon getting suspended for trying to continue his investigation. Slowly it became clear just how overwhelmed they were. What if this wasn't a fight they could win? What if Amon died?. What if they came after him and autn Amy. They didn't have magic to fight back. What if doing the right meant they all got killed. His father never gave in, never took bribes and no matter what was at stake did what he beleived was right. And where did it get him?

He felt pathetic. So long he had wanted to become part of an investigation like this and now he was scared. Dying hasn't scared him before, it didn't particularly scare him now, but having other people die as a result of his actions did. It has been silent for a long while now.

„I'm sorry" came Amons voice from behind the door." I wish i could tell you that everything will be alright. But I wont... I'm sorry i got you dragged into this. Look after Amy for me."

Talisien said nothing. It was the long silence that acompanied thos words, that brought the feeling of something final. Amon was gone, that much he knew. It will be a long time before he sees him again.

„I should have kept my mouth shut" he thought to himself." Now his going to do something alone."

Feeling like he couldn't sit in his room any longer he got dressed. Amy was in the hall with bags of grocerys.

„Oh my, did something happen?"

„No. Everythings fine. Amon's gone to stay at some friends place." He lied, managing a half balievable smile. „I'm going for a walk." Grabbing his jacked off the coat rack he left.

It was dark in the windows of Adel's place. It always was. Her phone didn't answer. he told himself, he should have figured, after all Pamela's car wasn't there. It could be a long time before they come back, if at all. Slowly walking back to the train he got. He hadn't been to this part of town, it was further than the usual stop he got out. The area looked shady and dirty. Dark alies and broken street lights. Half convinced he got the wrong adress and thinking he should just go back. Then he saw the green neon sighn in the window. He knocked. The door opened. A tall asian man stood in the door way.

ͽ

After luch and more discusions they had finaly decided on a plan. V started tracking forums that the Host Jacker has posted responces in.

„Adel can see magic with the eye I made her." Pamela explained.

„Now, you will need to look for any abnormalitys in the magical signature." She said looking at Adel. „ For that, i think if would be better if you saw all of our magic. Every person that has magic emits it in a unique way, that the magical signature."

„Right. I'll try." Adel focused on the magical eye. She has seem Pamelas magic before.

A white cloud rose of her body, surounding it lightly.

„When a person is affected by the magic of another it should leave traces in their magic. „ Pamema continued.

„My turn." Tanith said.

He magic was more like pale gold in colur and focused strongly around her arms.

„Okey, I think I got it." Adel said.

V got of the chair and stood up straight.

Adel saw a light in the middle of his chest that was a diferent color than the rest of his magic but then traces of the white light seemd to bleed into his magic.

„That quite a handy tool" he said looking at he purple glowing eye.

„I can make you one if you want. But i need to warn you, it's expencive." Pamela said.

„I'm fine."

„What does my magic look like?" Adel wondered.

„Well, go ahead and take a look?" Tanith pointed to the ground lenght mirror in the wardrobe door.

Adel never tried to see her own magic before. There wasn't one particular color to it, all the colors seemed to change and morpg one out of the other.

„It's wierd" she said.

„Most mages don't know what their magic looks like." Pamela said. „ tracking people based on their magic signature is not something that's been done before. Well there are tools for that, but they only work if you have the persons magic aplied to them first. Most mages can't see magic in it's raw form before it befomes a spell. And after it is cast it once again becomes invisible, but it leaves a trace. This little experiemnt of mine is proving very usefull."

„Seein magical signatures and traces of spells than can be followed back to the caster. This could be revolutionary." V said.

„ I'm certain it would, but I would rather not see it in the wrong hands. I'm working on many things. Needless to say i needed to keep them safe. „

„You have nothing to fear from us." Tanith reasured her.

„I know. Now comes the difficult part. We lay the bait and hope he takes it."

They tied V to a chair, with him being the only male and thus the only candidate for being taken control of. Positng taunting masseges on several forums daring the Host Jacker to take control of one of them if he exist. Adel stood in the corner with the magical activated but covered by the bandage. Pamela and Tanith stood on the either sides of Vincent. Phones pilled on the table, cameras facing the ceiling so.

„He isn't going to show up" Tanith said with a sigh" it's been two hours."

„Spineless coward must have lost the nerwe when he found out I was on the case." Pamela laughed.

Adel was concerned about the the messages she saw but didn't get to read. Taliesin had been trying to reach her. She was worried that something might have happaned. Hopefuly he was only calling to ask her about why she missed a day of school and the importance of attendance and good grades. Distracted she almost didn't notice that something was strange. Tanith and Pamela had been chating the whole time. Adel was certain she was the only one who could see it.

„It's here" she shouted.

Tanith and Pamela began looking around the room. Pamela turned around for a moment and then there was a cahnge in her composure.

„ Well, well. Wot h'ave we here." Adel had never heard Pamela speaking in an accent before. „ the sorriest buncha loosers i've ever seen, thats for sure."

„You're.." V looked shocked.

„Thas right pretty boy. I'm the Host Jacker"

„But, I thought.."

„You thought I can't control girls?! I know, I've been listening. Ya aitn the first tah thing that either. It doesn't matter who hired ya, ya won't find me. Not in million fucking years. I kn ow waht yer little plan is. Ya thought ya could get lure me out and catch me in yer pathetic trap." The Host Jacker pointed to V, still tied to a the chair.

„ Now, nobody, move a muscle, „ picking up a knife from the table, and lifting it up Pamelas throat.„ Now, this is a warning." Picking up Pamelas phone Host Jacker turned on the camera." And a little insurance." Still holding the knife to Pamelas neck, he began taking off her shirt and bra.

„All right, now listten ere, I don't apreachiate it when people insult me. „ He said to the camera."So why don't ya stick to what yer ginger cunt is good at and play with yer dolls. Ya or any of yer friends try coming after me again. I wont be so nice. First off, a lot of people will these. " Using the camera he took pictures of Pamelas exposed body" but if yer really looking for trouble. Yer carriers, this little place, I can run ya into the ground so bad that the only job yer gonna get will be seeling yer asses on the street. Ye got that?" Host jacker pointed the knife at Tanith.

Tanith slowly nodded.

„Good." Lovering the knife the tossed it to the floor.

Pamela blinked looking down at herself.

„Why am I naked?"

„Well. He took control of you" Tanith said slowly approaching.

V stared at the floor the whole time, avoiding to look at Pamela's direction. Pamelas face was red as a beet as he buttoned up her shirt and rewieved the recording on her phone.

„Adel, did you get it?"

„I did."

„We're following, now"

„ Well, there isn't much to follow." Adel said.

They untied V and left the room.

„What do you mean?" Pameal asked still trying to compose herself.

„There was no trail. It was like an orb of light. Well not symetrycal, there were all these roatating dots flying around in a cloud of mist and ..." she closed her eyes recaling she shape that she saw and made a transparent image apear above her hand.

„That's a magical signature!" V looked at it surprised.

„It almost looks like a brain" Tanith said.

„A brain. That's it." Pamela said. „ It should have been imposible for him to mind hack me since i have the anti hacking chip. But somehow he still took over."

„That is strange." V admited.

„ It's not mind hacking. „ Pamela said." It's possesion"

„Soul displacement" Adel said after a pause.

„Most likely." Pamela said. Adel what do you remember."

„Soul displacement occurs most comonlty when the soul of a person becomes trapped and unable to move on. In cases of suden death, tragic accidents, long lasting comas a soul might become active outside the host body in attemps to draw attention of someone who may help. In extreme cases if a soul lingers too long after death it might become agresive."

„That's not the case here." Pamela said" he is most certainly still alive. Sometimes spirits can take control of peoples actions something that's called possesion. I think that is the Host Jackers ability."

„A magus can learn to exit their body for brief moments and exist as a spirit. „ Tanith said.

„But they wouldn't be able to posses someone in that state." Pamela stated.

„I've never encountered souls displacemnt."Tanith said.

„I've read about it" Pamela said" something i've been looking into. I have another theory based on the shape. The brain- all of our thoughts, memories are stored in it. Some even say that the soul of a person resides in the brain. But the general tendency is that the ghost dosn't wander too far from it's physical body. He is most likely somewhere in this town, right now."

„If only i had something physical of his ,i could find him." Tanith said growing frustrated.

„It doesn't matter." Pamela said. „ the way things are, even if we did find him. We have no means of containing him. From the data we've gathered he can just jump from one host to another. Judging from how powerful he is I will make a guess that he is closer to the dead than the living. Most likely someone in a comatose state or a deep state of uncontiousness. „

„Woudn't that person have dificulty to move around?" V asked" I mean going to China and other countries."

„The body can be transported. Although I think I have a guess on his range. Tanith would you mind showing Adel the locating method you use."

„No, not at all." Tanith said.

The went back into the room, V took all the callphones outside the put down a map of the the city and took a small bag, taking a pendulum made from black crystal out of it. Holding up the pendulum over the map.

„Pamela Carmine" she said and pendulum moved to a spot on the map and began spining in place.

„Host Jacket" the pendulum didn't move at all. „ It doesn't work."

„Let Adel try." Pamela said.

Adel took the pendulum.

„Hold it steady. Don't move your hand. Try to imagine the person you are trying to find. Their face, or atlest if you know their name try to imagine them and where they are in the momoment. „

Adel wondered if she she should test it with someone she knew but then, she already knew where Taliesin was. Her mind went back to the doll in the room, and then to the image of the brain like mist cloud she saw in the room.

„It's moving."

Adel opened her eyes. The pendulum was around the same spot where it had showed Pamela was.

„What were you concentrating on? "

„On the the image I saw when he apeared here."

„ So you were can show locations where somebody was. There is a diferance between was and is. Looking in the present is not as easy as findind what has been. „ Tanith held her hand over Adels.

„Adel, try amplifying the search magic." Pamela said.

„Alright. I'll try."

Tanith took the pendulum again. Adel held her hand placing it over.

„Host Jacker" Tanith said.

Adel tried to look too, focusing on more on the feeling of standing in the room and trying to sense the direction she needed to look in.

The pendulum began swinging around the coty map.

„Incredible" Tanith said." But it can't be right."

„That's easy to check." V said bringing over a larger map.

They tested again with a country map and even a world map.

„It moves to the same place." Tanith concluded. „ He is somewhere in the city."

„ Now ask where he's been on the day of the break in." Pamela said.

Tanith and Adel focused again.

„Strange it hasn't moved, still spining around the city." V said observing the pendulum.

„No, i think he broke in from here." Pamela said.

„ But thats imposbile." Tanith said „ i would put his bility range to over 400 km. 1.

„Normaly I would agree." Pamela said" but judjing the use of computers and phones as posible transmitors range can be elimitated. This ability seems to allow him to stay away from his body for long period of time if not complelty. In adition he can use technology to transmit himself, while being unseen to most people. Even if we find his body, the ghost will just slip away into someone else."

„Even if we find him, we can catch him" Tanith realized.

„That's why he's so over confident that no will ever get him" V said. „ After all, how does one catch a ghost?"

„ There are way. But he won't fall for a trap. We need let him think he's won. We have to let him for now. Until we have a way of containing him.

ͽ

The next morning Tanith gave Adel another lesson in using the pendulum and after a good-bey luch they set of.

„ I'm sorry I wasn't much help to you „ Pamela said.

„That's alright. I shoun't have exepted such a complicated job." Tanith apologised as they were saying their goobeys.

„Let me know if you ever want a tattoo" V said.

Adel smiled.

„I wouldn't know what to get, but thanks."

Sitting in the car she looked at her phone suspiciously. Talieisn had called her a bunch of times yesterday but now he wasn't picking up. A part of her wnated to ell him about the whole ordeal but Pamela had made everyone swear nobody would talk about this until they had a way of capturing the Host Jacker.

Adel looked at the black ink on her arm. It was somethin Tanith came up with. A way to pass messages without the use of phones or computers. It looked looked like a flower for now. Tanith was transmuter. The tattoo was embued wit her magic and the inked image could change into what ever she wanted. Adel embued some of her own magic into the ink, so they could send messeges back. She wondered what Tanith was going to draw with it.

1 250 miles