He headed in to start making coffee, walking past the room that was serving as a library. Then he stopped, walked backward a few paces, and then paused at the door. Adam smiled. Stephan and Stasya had apparently decided to have a couple drinks and watch television, but both had fallen asleep. Stasya lay with her head on Stephan’s shoulder, and Stephan had an arm draped casually around her. It was, quite possibly, the most adorable thing he’d seen in months.
Stasya must have sensed she was being observed, because she started to stir. Stephan shifted a little in response, opening his eyes a moment after Stasya opened hers. Stasya moved away from him awkwardly, then jumped a little when she noticed him in the doorway. “Baby Bear.”
“Hey, Mama Bear.” Adam grinned. “Sleep well?”
“I, uh…” Stephan rubbed at his eyes. “We were just…”
“Wipe smug off face.” Stasya glared at Adam. “And go make coffee.”
Adam doffed an imaginary hat and bowed. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Alright.” Adele took a deep breath. “Assets. Eight werewolves, two of which are alphas.”
Magda nodded. “Witches. Healer, power nullifier, lightning generator, psychic…” She frowned. “Scratch the psychic. Not only do I not want Anna anywhere near a fight, she’s still young enough that her powers aren’t always reliable.”
“Scratching psychic.” Bridget drew a line across what she’d just written. “What does Father Williams do?”
“I…” Magda blinked. “You know, I don’t actually know.”
“Ice.” Adele nodded to Bridget. When Magda raised an eyebrow, Adele shrugged. “Jormun told me. I have no idea what his powers are like currently, but he was formidable way back…” She waved a hand. “Before I was born.”
She wrote ice next to Father William’s name. “Two demons, one incorporeal.” Bridget wrote down Khait and Erilon’s names. “What are we putting Ash under?”
“He doesn’t have the sword anymore, so put him under non-combatant.” Magda sighed. “Put Ted and Adele there as well.” She glanced at Adele. “Unless you’ve been holding out on us?”
“I’ve been in some nasty scraps, but compared to this crowd?” Adele shook her head. “I’m not helpless and can handle a gun if I need to, but I’m no fighter.” She raised an eyebrow at Bridget. “Put your name under —”
“Nope.” Bridget shook her head. “Lykos made me some better armor, and Michaels gave me guns.”
“How are we classifying Christophe?” Magda glanced. “He was a soldier, yes?”
“Combat medic. He can patch somebody up enough to keep from bleeding out before Daniel gets to them.” Adele exhaled. “He knows which end of a gun to hold and Jormun can testify he’s got a good right hook —”
“Hang on, I’m going to need you to repeat that.” Bridget looked up at Adele.
“He punched Jormun.” Adele grinned.
“We are talking about the same Christophe here, right?” Magda raised an eyebrow at Adele.
“Why do you think Lykos likes Christophe?” Adele chuckled. Then she looked back at the table. “Michaels is human, but he definitely goes on the combatant list. Hell, I’d bet on him over any member of the junior pack except maybe Iggy.”
“Stasya is no slouch on the combat part either.” Bridget wrote her name down. “Alright, that leaves our resident nephilim.”
“Speaking of which, where are they?” Magda glanced at Adele.
“Around here somewhere. Jormun is training Adam a bit, trying to find out his limits. Matthias is over by the lake, doing the same with Iggy.” Adele grinned. “I was a little worried about that at first, but Iggy seems to be having the time of his life. You can put Lykos at about the same level as Matthias and Iggy. His skill set is different, but he’s at least that strong and durable.”
“If we were going up against anything other than, well…” Bridget set the list down. “A physical fucking god with a private monster army, I’d say we’ve got a damn good crew.”
“List isn’t done. I don’t know what kind of forces Yalathanil does have in the area, but against Merlin, he’ll bring them all at our request.” Adele smiled. “So, we’ve got a navy. We’ve also got Zeke and Tobias, and they’ve got their own little private army.” Adele gestured at Bridget.
“Why aren’t they here?” Bridget picked the list back up.
“Courtesy.” Adele gave an awkward shrug. “Mostly toward Michaels. He is still an active member of law enforcement, and Zeke, uh…” She rubbed the back of her neck. “Zeke is Ezekial Viteri.”
“As in, FBI ten most wanted terrorist list Ezekial Viteri?” Magda stared at her.
“That would be…”
“Wait…” Magda swallowed, holding her hand up. “Hang on. Michaels’ girlfriend. Diana, she’s a report —”
“Detective boyfriend Michaels is that…” Adele pointed in the general direction of the living room. “Detective Michaels?”
“Yeah, somebody should probably fill him in on that part before he figures it out for himself.” Magda ran a hand down her face.
Laura grinned as she watched Adam. He was smiling as he showed his powers off for Jormun. Jormun had actually been more impressed by the fact Adam could make his skin bioluminescent than he had been over the fact Adam could turn into a werewolf. It had taken Jormun nearly half an hour to manage to duplicate the feat, and even then, his results hadn’t been as impressive as Adam’s. “I’ll be honest…” Adam shrugged. “I just assumed I couldn’t, so I never really tried.”
“If you can make your skin change color or glow in the dark, duplicating another human form should not be beyond your powers.” Jormun let himself land again.
“It just doesn’t…” Adam frowned. “Making myself look like another person doesn’t seem right, and making myself look like an imaginary person won’t work because of the imaginary —”
“Adam.” Jormun smiled. “You’re an artist. Creating a picture in your mind should not be hard.” He inclined his head. “If it is ethics that hold you back, however, I accept that answer.”
“Thanks.” Adam smiled. “It has to be real, on some level. That’s why I can’t do dinosaurs.”
“Dinosaurs are…” Jormun tilted his head. “I have an idea.” He stepped a couple feet away from the tree. “A competition of sorts.”
“Alright…” Adam shrugged. “What’s the prize?”
“Loser has to eat my cooking.” Laura called over, then laughed as both of them winced.
“Try to keep up.” Jormun turned and started moving, shifting into the form of a rabbit as he did. Adam immediately turned into a rabbit and followed.
It became a little difficult to track them as they moved around the lake. Jormun would take a new form, and Adam would duplicate it a heartbeat later. The forms weren’t always identical. Jormun’s wolf was reddish in color, while Adam’s was gray. Halfway around the lake, Jormun chose an actual woolly mammoth, nearly making Adam falter before he managed the same trick. She cheered, pumping her fist into the air. They went back to more mundane creatures, though some were still impressive. Adam’s tiger was larger than Jormun’s, and his lion was white maned while Jormun’s was black-maned. She briefly lost track of which was which when they went behind an outcropping as some kind of bipedal bird and emerged again as deer. Adam shifted faster than Jormun did, a blink of an eye while she could see Jormun’s shift from one form to another.
Her eyes went wide as shortly before they reached her, Jormun shifted again. His form grew in size to massive, darkening to black as wings emerged from his back. A dragon landed just in front of her. She staggered back several paces, then fell onto her rear end as a second dragon landed to the left of the first. It was coppery in color, with a longer neck.
Jormun resumed human form with a huge smile on his face. Almost at the same moment, Adam returned to his human form as well, staggering a little. Jormun caught him before he could fall, the grabbed him into a hug and pounded his back. “Ha.”
“Oh shit.” Adam was pale. “Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit.” He kept repeating the words as she got back to her feet.
“Ah.” Jormun glanced at her as she walked toward them, then gestured at Adam, who was still staring and babbling. “I think I broke him.”
“Adam?” Laura tilted her head to look up at him. “Adam?”
“I just…” He pointed behind him. “I…” He shivered a little. “Dragon.”
Slowly, she nodded, her own eyes wide. “Dragon.” She swallowed. “That was…” She nodded. “Dragon.”
Michaels looked up as the door opened. “What are you so happy about?” He raised an eyebrow.
Jormun grinned. “I have to eat Laura’s cooking.”
“And that…” Michaels stared at him. “Okay, I’m not sure you understand just how bad your current situation actually is.” He shrugged. “I’m heading out. Ted went to check on the center. Matthias and Daniel went with him. I have to check in with my boss and let him know I’m still on vacation.”
“May I join you?” Jormun twitched a shoulder. “I’d like a better feel for the town itself.”
“Yeah, sure.” Michaels nodded. “I’ll give you the tour.”
Rather than take the direct route, he took the long way so as to give Jormun a view from the bluffs. “This is not the most defensible town I’ve ever seen, but it seems a pleasant area.” Jormun tilted his head a bit as he looked out the window.
“Angry dragons really weren’t on the founders’ minds when they built the place.” Michaels pointed. “There are some warehouses down there that have been empty a long time, if we need another fallback point. Ted’s center is located on the other side of town, not far from the high school.”
“I think we’d all prefer if trouble stayed as far from it as possible.” Jormun nodded.
“Honestly I’m sort of hoping the fact that Ryuu poured a lot of money into it will serve as some kind of a ward.”
“It would give me pause, certainly.” Jormun leaned back in the chair. “Having Laura and the little pack is bad enough.”
“I checked IDs on the pack.” Michaels ran a hand through his hair before turning onto the next road. “The IDs were fake, and not good ones either. Sister Doris got a phone number out of Javier and called it.” He gave a small shake of his head. “Turned out to belong to the grandmother of Javier, Luis, and Felipa, who is the sister of the grandmother of the others. Confirmed they are all adults. Believe it or not, Iggy’s thirty.”
“The family that preys together…” Jormun laughed softly. “Werewolf aging slows around the time they hit fifteen. I am pleased Magda is taking the pack in hand a bit. Always better when those old enough to have wisdom around to do the teaching.
He pulled into the parking lot for the police station. “Okay, this is the police station, obviously. I’ll only be a minute, but you might want to take a look around.”
“If nothing else, being seen with you as an ally may help smooth matters should any altercations occur.” Jormun nodded as they got out of the vehicle and started toward the building. “I promise to behave my —” He cut off when Michaels phone rang, only to be followed a moment later by his own.
They both immediately reached for their phones. Michaels glanced at his caller ID as he answered. “Sister Margaret, what —”
“Mickey, oh, thank heavens. Anna just started screaming, like she was having a full on panic attack. We got her…” Sister Margaret took a deep breath. “She was screaming about serpents of water and fire and…”
“Okay, get her settled in, we’ll take care of…” He looked across at Jormun, who was nodding. “Just calm her down and tell her we’ll fix everything.” He really hoped he was telling the truth as he hung up. “What…”
“That was Adele.” Jormun exhaled. “Pachua is here.”
“Fuck. Alright…” He started to turn back to the car. “Let’s get to the center and…” He blinked when Jormun simply reached over and grabbed him. “What are you —”
“Hold your breath. This quite the same as when Khait does it.”
Ted closed the folder on his desk and set it aside. Matthias and Daniel were down the hall, talking to a couple of the kids. Daniel kept patting people on the shoulder, and he knew it was the young man using his power. Making sure the kids were alright. He started to peek into the office of his receptionist, Monica. She was greeting a man that looked to be in his thirties. The man looked Mexican, with long black hair, and was wearing a leather. Run. Ted, run. A chill went through Ted’s blood as the man looked up and saw him there. The man smiled.
Then he swiped a hand forward and tore Monica’s throat out.