Wren grinned, then pulled Adam to her for a kiss. “I have a surprise for you.” She caught his hand before turning to head back to their rooms, half dragging him behind her. Merlin had said he’d performed his role perfectly, and that kind of thing deserved a reward.
“Wren, I…” He gave a slight shake of his head when she pushed him down into the chair and climbed into his lap to straddle him.
“Shhh…” She smiled as she put a hand over his mouth. “Guess what?”
It took a moment for him to nod, then she took her hand off his mouth. “What, Wren?”
“Ishi took his eyes off your sister.” Her smile widened. “I sent some folks to collect her.”
Adam’s eyes went wide. “Wren, I…”
“And I made sure your schedule is cleared for the next week.” She bounced. “We can take her to Disneyland.” She kissed him before jumping off his lap. “It’ll be great.”
“Yeah.” He sat up, his face a little pale. He looked up at her. “It’ll be great.”
“What do we got?” Matthias touched the earpiece. It felt a little weird wearing one again but having Erilon run communications and back up Laura hadn’t seemed the best choice.
“Confirmed Merlin, Gabriel, Adam, and bitch-girl are not present.” Laura’s voice came over the earpiece. “Erilon says there is a wolf pack on premises.”
“Should be able to handle that.” He nodded. “Everybody got laid this morning, right?”
Laughter came from Khait’s microphone. “They did indeed. You and Daniel are —”
“Somebody smack the incubus.” Michaels voice interrupted.
“Don’t.” Abigail responded. “It just encourages him.”
“We are all going to die.” Lidia sounded terrified. He’d been leery about bringing her along, but she’d correctly pointed out that they’d need all hands on deck and Ash couldn’t drive the get-away vehicle.
“Red shirts are go.” He started moving, regretting, not for the first time, letting Stephan decide the call signs.
“Engineering is on deck.” Stephan chimed in.
“Geeks rule the world.” Abigail’s voice added.
“Rogues are standing by.” Michaels replied. “Going dark and awaiting your signal.”
Matthias smiled. At least there was one other professional along.
Watching Matthias go into battle never stopped being impressive. Daniel followed him in, but there wasn’t much for him to do. Matthias had gone in already in full alpha form. Regular bullets did little to Matthias, and silver rounds couldn’t penetrate the body armor. The first guards were dead before they know what hit them.
He winced a little as he stepped over a still twitching leg that was no longer attached to its owner. “Don’t puke.” He swallowed. “Don’t puke.”
Despite knowing Michaels was capable of backing up Gabriel, she had to admit it was a little impressive to see him in full combat mode. Part of her wished she could take a video and send it to Diana. Michaels caught a sentry by the throat and jammed a knife up and under his ribcage. The man fell without a sound.
Laura took a deep breath, then felt the slight surge in her bones that indicated Erilon was taking the driver’s seat. “Alright, pet. Let’s go.”
He stayed close to Magda, moving her wake. Not for the first time, he cursed the injured leg. Ahit’s arm caught him as Magda leaped up to the balcony, and the woman… Stephan’s eyes went a little wide when the woman actually shot web out of her hand and then used it to pull them both up. She caught his look and smiled. Her eyes had gone black and chitinous. “One Spiderman joke, and I drop you.”
Stephan bit back everything he’d been about to say and nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”
The doors opened to reveal a lot of people pointing guns at them. Bridget took a deep breath, then glanced at the man next to her. “You’re up, demon boy.”
Khait’s eyes glowed as the wings extended from his back. They unfurled, creating a shield between the gunman and them. Then Khait was moving.
He sat in the door of the van, his eyes fixed on the house. Castle may have been a better word. His friends… His family was fighting inside. Ash took the hilt out of his pocket and set it in his lap. Then he bowed his head, closed his eyes, and prayed.
“We’re in.” Abigail’s voice came over the earpiece. “Khait relocated the explosives.”
Matthias smashed the guard he was holding into the wall, then tossed the guy off the balcony. “To whe—”
A series of explosions came from the left, and Matthias looked over his shoulder to see the entire other building collapsing. Stephan’s voice sounded irritated. “I really hope nothing important was in there.”
“Just their reinforcements and armory.” Khait sounded smugger than usual.
“Demon boy is starting to grow on me a little.” Matthias glanced over his shoulder to see two werewolves coming at him. He felt Daniel’s hand briefly touch him, removing the few wounds he’d taken. Matthias grinned, and moved in to meet their attack.
Stephan moved to stand next to Bridget, taking over the second workstation. “Download in progress. How is the upload?”
“They cut us off.” Bridget nodded. “We got nine percent, better than I expected.”
Abigail blinked as Stephan suddenly turned, his eyes hard. A woman stood being them, her face shocked as she stared down at her hand. Stephan gave a small shake of his head, and her eyes widened. She opened her mouth, and then Bridget punched her into the face. The woman swayed for a half second before collapsing.
“Good girl.” Magda’s voice came from the other side of the room. “Time?”
The laptop chimed triumphantly. “Got it.” Abigail tossed the drive up in the air.
Khait snagged it. He vanished, only to reappear a heartbeat later. “Ted says hi.”
“Matthias, we got it.” Magda tilted her head.
“Good, cause they finally got their heads out of their asses.” Matthias replied over the earpiece. “They are coordinating fire with silver ammo.”
“Got your six.” Michaels responded. He squeezed the trigger, and through the scope saw the enemy commander’s head explode. “Up and through.”
Matthias grabbed Daniel and took off at a dead run. He twisted as he jumped, going through the glass and landing in the garden below. “Net.”
The men running after him suddenly began tripping, landing in heaps. Two of them were jerked off their feet and started kicking wildly as they fought the strands around their necks. “Net is go.” Ahit’s voice sounded fierce.
Michaels smiled as he squeezed the trigger again, then rolled to run across the rooftop to a new position.
“Clear.” Abigail spoke into the microphone.
“Clear.” Bridget confirmed as she ducked into cover beside her.
Khait looked them both over. Abigail nodded, and Bridget gave him a thumbs-up. He smiled, then tilted his head as Michaels voice came over the earpiece. “Could use a pick up.”
“Thought you’d never ask.” Khait grinned as he jumped to the man’s location.
“Got a problem.” Magda’s voice sounded pained.
“Take me there.” Michaels shifted his grip on the rifle.
He started shooting the moment they emerged into the firefight. Khait spread his wings, then grabbed the enemy nearest him before hurling him into the others.
The hilt was warm in his hand. He could hear the fighting, and saw reinforcements moving in to where his Magda was already in trouble. Where the people he loved were in danger. A small whimper escaped him, and he felt the urge to crawl under the van and Everything is going to be alright. Ash took a deep breath and nodded. “I can’t do this alone.”
“What was that?” Lidia turned to look at him.
You’re not alone, Ash. I’m right here.
He nodded. Then he stood, shifting his grip on the hilt.
“Ash, what are you…” Lidia’s voice faded out behind him as he stepped out of the van.
He winced as he rolled clear, then began limping back toward the van. Stephan stopped short as he saw a group coming toward him, then his eyes went wide as one smiled to reveal sharp fangs. “I’ve got a prob—”
One of the vampired howled as a lance of fire suddenly burst through its chest. It fell apart to dust, revealing Ash standing behind them. Ash standing… Stephan’s eyes went wide. The blade in Ash’s hands appeared to be made of fire, but that wasn’t the part that was had him staring.
His friend’s eyes were glowing with golden light. The vampires snarled as they leapt to attack.
Ash just smiled before stepping forward to meet them.
Magda hauled Michaels with her, trusting Khait to pick up Matthias and Daniel. Michaels let her carry him, firing back at their pursuers. The van was in sight when she skidded to a halt, her eyes wide.
Michaels turned to look just in time to see Ash take the head off the last of the attacking vampires, as smoothly as though he’d executed the move a thousand times. The sword in his hand was on fire. Ash smiled when he saw them. The golden glow in his eyes faded but did not vanish altogether. “Look, Magda.” He held up the blade. “Gabriel left me his lightsaber.”
“Did I get shot in the head…” Michaels glanced at her. “Or are we both seeing this?”
Michaels touched Ash’s shoulder. “Gabe?”
Ash shook his head. “I don’t think that’s how whatever this is works.” He looked down at the sword. “He’s just loaning me a little. So, I can help.”
“Right.” Michaels tried to control the fear rising. Gabriel was dealing with a dragon, and he really wasn’t sure his friend could afford this kind of divided attention. Unless… He shook his head to keep his mind from heading in that direction. Then he tilted his head to listen in on the earpiece. “Khait, Matthias and Daniel aren’t clear, can you —”
He cut off when Khait appeared in front of them, Matthias and Daniel both with him. “I think…” Khait swayed a little on his feet. Michaels caught him before he could fall, then got a shoulder up under him.
“Everybody is clear.” Magda began gesturing for them to get into the van.
The glow vanished from Ash’s eyes as the sword disappeared in his hand. Ash put something into his pocket, then moved to help him with Khait.
“We did it.” Laura stared out the van window as Lidia started the vehicle.
“I can cross ‘walk away from a building as it explodes’ off my to-do list.” Abigail nodded. Then she lifted her head. “Did we get what we needed?”
“Files are with Ted.” Stephan nodded. “Now, we just need to blackmail a dragon into giving up a talisman, and uh…” He sighed. “Hide from said dragon for the rest of our lives.”
“It does not work that way.” Ahit spoke from where she sat behind the driver’s seat. “It is business. They do not make it personal, lest it become a weakness.”
“She’s got a point.” Magda pulled Ash close to her. “As long as we stay out of Merlin’s territory and business after this, we should be fine. He can’t risk us turning all his files over to the other dragons, after all. So, we just need a dead-man switch, and we’ll be safe.”
“As soon as we get back to the hotel…” Lidia swallowed. “I’m going to throw up. A lot.”
He heard Wren start raging on the phone. They’d hit the Cabal after all. Which meant this was probably going to be the last chance he had. Adam pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed the number he’d long since memorized. He sent a quick text, then tossed the phone into the fire.
A moment later, Wren blasted the door off its hinges. Her eyes were furious as she strode toward him. “You…” She actually had the nerve to sound hurt and betrayed. “You gave them our defenses.”
“You…” Adam met her eyes and squared his shoulders. “Made me kill Patrick.”
Laura blinked as her phone buzzed. She grinned as Matthias teased Michaels about apparently shooting a werewolf in the ass. Michaels wasn’t denying it. She looked down at the phone, and her blood went cold. “Everybody…” The phone nearly slipped out of her fingers.
The conversation went dead as they all turned toward her. She looked up. “Adam says Wren is going after his sister.”