Chapter Twenty-Seven: Mal
Learning to Trust
"We'll get to the bottom of this," Kaden whispered in his ear.
His wolf squeezed Mal's hand, making him feel comforted to know he wasn't in this alone.
Mal leaned over and kissed Kaden gently on the cheek.
Kaden smiled at him again.
Before Mal could say anything else they had a blue-skinned Kobold standing in front of them, a laptop tucked under his arm, and a case slung over his opposite shoulder. Mal had been too distracted by his own thoughts to have heard anything that had been said in the last five minutes.
The man must have realized Mal and Kaden had been in a world of their own as he stuck out his hand and introduced himself. "I'm Dzim. Akemi thought we should have a chat."
"Mal. This is my partner Kaden." Beside him Kaden seemed to sit a little straighter after the way Mal had introduced him. Mal couldn't think of any other way than to call Kaden his partner. They had been through so much in such a short amount of time. More than most people experienced in an entire lifetime. And Kaden was still here, right beside him.
Mal shook Dzim's hand, quickly followed by Kaden.
"Is there somewhere quiet we can talk?" Dzim asked.
"Sure. There's rooms all over this house. We shouldn't have any issues in finding an unoccupied one," Kaden said.
"Lead the way then." Dzim gestured for them to head out.
Mal glanced around the room and noticed that everyone seemed to be breaking off into groups with their own member of Akemi's team. He had no idea what Dzim had that he wanted to show them, but Mal was willing to listen.
Mal had told the others that they should believe in Akemi and he stood by his decision. He knew what it was like to work in a large organization, first in the Australian military, and then in the rangers. Akemi genuinely seemed like she wanted to help them, and that always went a long way with Mal.
Mal followed Kaden and Dzim as they walked through what Mal considered to be a mansion. He’d never been in a house this big or ornate before. Kaden led them to Mal's favourite room in the entire house. Everywhere they looked there was antique furniture and invaluable objects. Mal was scared to move half the time for fear of breaking something.
This room however was styled for comfort.. Large plush leather couches, low coffee tables, lamps sat on corner tables, a massive flat screen TV hung over a fireplace which had been re-laid and was ready for someone to light it. If the room got much cooler Mal might just be tempted to, he didn't have his leathers on right now, which meant he was feeling the cold more than he usually would.
Mal and Kaden took a seat beside one another on the couch, Dzim sat in the seat catty corner to them. He leaned forward and pulled the coffee table closer to them and then placed his laptop on the table.
"I'm one of Akemi’s tech guys, with my boyfriend Pel. He is now chatting with your famous friends."
"Good luck to him." Kaden chuckled beside Mal. "Tibo can be a little stubborn at times."
Dzim grinned. "I have complete faith in Pel. As long as he isn't flirting with them, all should be well. Now, let's get down to business," Dzim said as he opened his laptop.
Mal sat and watched almost mesmerized as the beautiful blue, slender fingers danced over the keyboard.
"Why don't you, in your own words, tell me how you've come to be here."
Kaden squeezed Mal's hand in reassurance, Mal took a deep breath and told his tale. He couldn't help but get choked up when he told of his sister's passing.
"I'm so sorry for your loss," Dzim said softly.
Mal nodded his thanks and continued. Dzim's fingers continued to fly over the keys as Mal talked. Several times he paused thinking he was going too fast for Dzim, only to have the man tell him to continue.
When Mal finished, he felt like he'd run a bloody marathon.
"The Firedrake breeding Akemi mentioned earlier is just the tip of the iceberg of what your sister stumbled upon."
"Akemi said that alone wouldn't have gotten Anya killed," Mal replied.
"That’s correct, it was more than likely the nano-tech ranger experiments and the cover ups that unfortunately led to her death," Dzim answered somberly.
Mal sucked in a breath. "How did you know about them? I didn't say anything of the sort just before."
Dzim eyed Mal and Kaden carefully. Mal's hand itched to plunge into his boot and grab one of his knives. He could have it to this man's throat in a matter of seconds. Had he been wrong about Akemi all along? Just how much trouble were they all in?
Mal watched him closely as Dzim reached for the laptop case he'd placed beside the chair when they'd sat down.
One wrong move, or even a glimpse of a weapon and Mal would end the man's life faster than Dzim could count to three.
"Easy now," Dzim said. He must have realized Mal was ready to strike.
"If I were you, I would explain really fucking quickly," Kaden said from beside him.
Instead Dzim reached into the laptop case and removed a very familiar looking notebook.
"Where did you get that?" Mal snarled as he reached out and snatched the book from Dzim's hand. "We left that in Australia in Kaden's apartment."
"And we had an operative retrieve it for us." Dzim maintained eye contact with Mal, never blinking, showing Mal the man wasn't scared of him. "As a show of faith, I'm giving it back to you."
"You don't steal something and then give it back to the rightful owner," Kaden growled.
"You do when other people are searching for it as well."
"Why would other people be searching for it?" Kaden asked.
"Because it has information in it certain people don't want getting out. Even though it's not a complete record, your sister did an incredible job," Dzim said softly. "We need to know if you're willing to testify. With the notebook as corroborative evidence your testimony could go a long way to uncovering the people behind not only all the experimentations, but also your sister's death."
“I need a name,” Mal said. his voice cold and flat.
“A name?” Dzim looked confused.
“Who in your organisation would have had the authority and knowledge of what my sister was up to, to order her death,” Mal asked.
Dzim stared at him for a minute before he sighed heavily.
“Akemi didn’t want me to tell you this, if I didn’t have to,” Dzim held up his hand for Mal to be quiet, when he went to protest. “Please understand, if we had any solid evidence, she would have told you days ago. But as it sits right now, Akemi hasn’t been able to find anything that unequivocally states this person ordered the hit on your sister.”
“I want the name, Dzim.” Mal said, he felt like he was vibrating from coiled tension.
“Cynthia Papamixahl. She’s a white stellar majesty, the vice-president of Research and Development. She’s also a sphynx and a real bitch. If she didn't order the hit herself, then I’d bet my life she knows who did,” Dzim said.
“Thank you.” Mal pushed to his feet. He needed space to think, he finally had a name. Someone he could look in the eyes and ask why they had to kill his beautiful sister.
His stomach growled at him, letting Mal know he'd been neglecting it.
"Give me a minute. I need some time to think," Mal said as he handed Kaden the notebook. He trusted Kaden with his life.
"You want some company?" Kaden asked as he clutched the book to his chest.
"Nah, I just need to clear my head for a minute. Shouldn't take me long. You be safe here alone?" Mal really wanted to believe he could trust these guys, but after everything he wouldn't take any chances with Kaden.
"Yeah, if he tries anything I’ll just shift and bite his hairy blue arse." Kaden grinned.
Dzim looked offended. "I'll have you know my ass isn't hairy. I have it waxed."
Mal shook his head and walked out of the room, strangely he was feeling a little better about the entire situation already.
Rolly was walking down the stairs as Mal closed the door to the room behind him.
"How'd everything go with you two? Mal asked.
"As good as can be expected. I believe my stubborn little goblin has finally realized Akemi's lot are our best shot at getting this finished and going home," Rolly said as they made their way together towards the kitchen.
"Yeah, as much as I hate things being taken out of our hands, at some point we have to learn to trust someone. Akemi genuinely seems like she wants to help."
Before Rolly could reply raised voices could be heard, quickly followed by the sounds of a fight.
"Bloody hell! What's he gone and done now, I'm going to paddle that goblin's ass, I swear!" Mal and Rolly took off down the passage and through the door to the kitchen.
Mal didn't even think, he just grabbed Ashe around the chest and dragged the man back off Tibo. The goblin he left to his banshee boyfriend.
Ashe kept struggling in his grip. Mal growled when he copped an elbow to the ribs.
"Quit now, before I break your other bloody wing to make sure you stop!" Mal had had enough of their petty fucking squabbles. As much as he growled there was no way he’d break Ashe's other wing, not on purpose anyway. Ashe finally stilled and Mal released him when he noticed Tibo and Rolly were nowhere in sight.
"We're all on the same bloody team here mate. It's about time you realized that," Mal growled.
He snatched a couple of apples off the kitchen bench and stormed out of the room. So much for a nice relaxing walk to clear his head.