Wren and Adam: Chapter 15

Adam sat on the bus stop bench, a few doors down from the detective’s house.  He’d retrieved his clothes after the older man, Ted, had set his cat form outside the door.  His cell phone showed a couple text messages.  He’d texted back that he was still watching, even though it was a lie.

The young man who’d held him had been Sima’s pet, the one she talked about fondly and claimed had been stolen from her.  The sound of her name had been trauma enough to send him hiding under the bed.  If Sima had her way, that’s all he’d be.

At dinner, Wren had smiled.  She’d laughed and joked, and she’d been his Wren again for a couple precious hours.  Trauma affected different people in different ways.  He couldn’t just abandon her, not when she’d refused to leave him to the mercy of the hag.  She had kept her word, and gotten them both out and…

He looked down at his hands, then stood.  He’d taken two steps back toward the house when the phone rang.  His hands shook, but he managed to keep his voice calm when he answered.  “Wren?”

“Mi corazon…”  Wren’s voice suddenly trailed off.  “No, that’s Spanish.  What’s it in French again?”

“Mon coeur.”  He smiled.

“Ugh, for a romance language that just doesn’t work.  What about German?”

“Mein Herz.”

“No, that’s worse.”

“It’s fy nghalon in Welsh.”

“I bet you a blow job you can’t say that three times without choking.”

“Fy nghalon.  Fy nghalon.  Fy nghalon.”  He smiled.

“Be honest.”  Wren laughed.  “You shape-shifted your tongue for that.”

“Mitt hjärta.  Mogo wangu.  Mijn hart.  Cor meum.”

“How the hell are you even doing that?”

“I have google translate on my phone.”  He smiled.  “It’s toku ngakau in Maori.”

“Anyway…”  He could almost see her rolling her eyes.  “I was calling to see if you’d seen anything yet.”

“I was just about to call you.  Had to sneak back to my phone.”  A thousand options ran through his head.  “They got back.  Sounds like them running across you and Rosa was a complete accident.”  He hesitated.  “They apparently made some silver bullets just in case it happens again.  Wren, I’m not sure this is a good use of our time.”  He crossed his fingers.

She sighed.  “Maybe you’re right.  Alright, check in with your team and see if they learned anything else.”  She was quiet again for a couple seconds.  “Hey, there is a little cafe called ‘Spice of Life’ there on the boardwalk.  Why don’t you meet me there and we can peek in at some of the galleries?”

“I’d love to.”  He smiled.

“It’s a date.”  She hung up.

For a long moment, he just stared at the phone in his hand.  Then he looked back up at the house.  Technically, nothing he’d said had actually been untruthful.  That should get it past Sima, and from the sound of things the people in the house didn’t need much longer to…  He realized his hands were shaking, and he stuffed the phone back into his pocket before turning and walking away.



Stone and Fire: Chapter 10

Jurgen set his axe down, then folded his arms atop the pommel.  Diantha blinked as she came over to where he was.  “Aren’t you supposed to be…”

“Shhh.”  He nodded.

She turned in the direction he was looking, then put a hand on his shoulder.  “Blood and ashes, he just cut a man in half vertically.”


“Huh.”  She tilted her head.  “Okay, refresh my memory.  We were sent as reinforcements…”  She stared at the warrior.  “Why?”

“Mother looked at the numbers and noted Clan…”  He let out a low whistle.  “Well, that’s one way to take down a knight.”

“That poor horse.”  Diantha winced.

“Right.”  Jurgen picked up his axe, and set it on his shoulder.  “Let’s go meet this guy.”


Hunting: Chapter 12

There was still a lot of tense and awkward silence.  Ted had his own few minutes of frustration when he learned that Anna was not under a doctor’s care.  “The ability to heal is not the same as the ability to ensure health.  She’s a child.  She should be getting blood tests to determine what supplements are needed to prevent cumulative damage to her body.”  He glared at the young man, Daniel.

“I’ve uh…”  Daniel glanced at Michaels and Gabriel.  “We are kind of fugitives from the police too.  Trent made sure there were warrants out on me.”

“I’ll call up a couple of the nurses that work with my center.”  Ted shook his head.  “They’ve worked with abused children before and will be discreet.”  He sighed, then looked over at Anna.  “Do you need anything, young lady?”

“They do take pretty good care of me.”  Anna shook her head.  “Matthias cuts the vitamins in half and everything so I don’t choke on them.”  She gave him a reassuring smile.

Reconciling a man who’d tortured his friend with a man taking care of a little girl was extremely difficult.  Ted nodded.  “I meant at this particular moment.  Juice or anything?”

“Oh, yes.”  Anna nodded.  “Thank you.”

“So your magical ability is you not only don’t have a magical ability you make everyone else not have a magical ability?”  Laura tilted her head at Stephan.

“Pretty much.”  He nodded.

“That is simultaneously awesome and totally ass sucking.”  Laura exhaled.

“What are your powers?”  Daniel frowned.  “I mean, his we saw…”  He nodded at Gabriel.  “And then you did the bullet stopping thing…”  He nodded at Laura.  “But what about the rest of you?”

“Oh, the bullet stopping thing was all her.  I haven’t figured out what my power is yet.”  Laura shook her head.

“Michaels and I do not have any powers.”  Ted shook his head.

Magda and Matthias exchanged a look.  Magda frowned.  “But this demon, Erilon or whatever, Anna sensed her in his head.”

“Yeah, cause she tried to get in and Erilon bolted the door.”  Laura sent a glare at Anna.  “Don’t do that shit.  It’s really fucking rude to go where you aren’t invited.”

“The point was that if he didn’t have magic, the demon taking possession would have killed him.”  Matthias glanced over at Michaels.

“Shows what you know.”  Laura stuck her tongue out at him.

“With all due respect…”  Magda straightened.  “I am almost four hundred years old.  This is not my first encounter with witches or demons.”

“Bull.”  Michaels narrowed his eyes.  “Shit.”

“Nah, she’s actually telling the truth there.”  Laura turned toward him.  “Werewolves live a lot longer than humans, or would if they didn’t piss people off all the time.”

“I was born before World War I…”  Matthias nodded.  “And fought in World War II.”

“That’s…”  Ted blinked.  “Certainly something.”


Hunting: Chapter 11

Ted brought him a cup of the good coffee.  Michaels nodded before taking a drink.  “Thanks.”  Fortunately, he’d still had a pair of shorts at Ted’s from when they’d helped him set up his dock.  Diana’s business card had been in the pocket of the pants he’d been wearing.  His blood had rendered it illegible.  It was stupid to be pissed about that considering all the other reasons he had to be pissed.  That didn’t stop him from being pissed about it.

He sat on the back patio, his legs in Ted’s hot tub.  If he’d had a swimsuit…  Eh, fuck it.  He slid all the way into the water.  Laura sat on the edge, and put her own legs in.  She reached over and rubbed his shoulder.  “You smacked a werewolf in the mouth with a tree branch.”  She patted him.  “That was totally bad ass.”

“You stopped a bullet.  That was some serious Jedi shit.”  Michaels looked up at her.  “Thanks for…”  He took a deep breath.  “Do not do that again, baby girl.”

“You’re family.  The stupid big brother I didn’t know I wanted.”  She started shaking her head as tears welled up in her eyes.  Then she let out a small sob before splashing down into the water next to him and throwing her arms around his neck.  “I was scared for you.”

“Yeah…”  He hugged her back.  “I was a little scared for me too.”

“Michaels.”  Gabriel pulled up a chair next to the tub, then leaned forward.  “She’s right.”

“Gabe, you beat the shit out of a ten-foot-tall werewolf.  When it comes to bad ass, you kind of redefine the term.”  Michaels managed a smile.  From the slightly loopy feeling starting to rise in him, he was pretty sure Ted had dosed the coffee with something.  “I appreci—”

“I wasn’t talking about the badass part.”  Gabriel shook his head.  “You’re not just my partner or sidekick.  You’re my brother.  Whatever it is these people want from me, they don’t get it unless you’re alright with it.  We clear?”

“You shitheads make me cry and I’m gonna start punching things.”  He swallowed past the lump that rose in his throat, then coughed.  “Ah fuck.”  He wiped at his eyes.


Wren and Adam : Chapter 13

He grinned when Stasya greeted him with a full-on hug.  Patrick settled for affectionately punching him in the shoulder.  “Hey, Baby Bear.”  Stasya let him go.  “What’s the situation?”

“Still something of an unknown.”  Adam took a deep breath.  “Dealing with…”  He blinked, then looked around.  Patrick’s suitcase was sitting open on the table, but Stasya’s dress was flung over the back of a chair.  “So, what exactly happened after I got teleported out of the back of that limo?”

“Well, you see…”  Patrick shrugged and spread his hands.  “Son, there are bird, and there are bees, and when…”

“Oh, shut up.”  Adam chuckled, then turned to Stasya.  “You have terrible taste in men.”

“I know.”  She nodded.

“Anyway…”  Adam winked at Patrick, who grinned.  “We are dealing with a couple witches.  One managed to block some of Wren’s magic…”  And he’d cheerfully kill to learn how the man had pulled that off.  “And the other apparently put Sima through a wall.”  That one he wanted to high five.

“So, it was a wolf or a vamp.”  Patrick sat, putting his feet up on the table.

“Sima claims she’d have known if they were.”  Adam shrugged and sat down on the edge of the bed.  “Additional complication, they both appear to be LEOs.”

“Cops are not attention we want drawn, Baby Bear.”  Stasya smacked Patrick’s feet down before sitting in his lap.

“I know.”  Adam twitched a shoulder.

“You alright, Baby Bear?”  She narrowed her eyes.

“I’ll be fine, Mama Bear.”  He smiled.  She gave him a skeptical look, but nodded.  “We’ve got the names of the cops.”

“This a recruit or capture mission?”  Patrick put his arm around Stasya as he sat up a little.

Adam frowned.  “It’s take them in alive, by whichever method.”

“So maximum chances for things to go horribly wrong.”  Patrick nodded.  “Alright, let’s do the legwork thing.”


Wren and Adam: Chapter 12

He knelt on the floor, his forehead against the carpet and his hands flat.  Wren’s magic held him fast in place despite his best efforts.  He could kill one of the most powerful beasts in the world, and he was completely helpless to his girlfriend’s whim.  Adam felt the urge to vomit as Sima and Wren casually began discussing the best way to punish him for his ‘misbehavior’.

Coraline.  Wren had suggested going after Coraline.  Wren told Sima about the biker, and Sima actually laughed.  The thought of his little sister anywhere near these people was unimaginable.  Coraline belonged on a stage.  She was a singer, not a…  Not a killer.  Not like him.

Fingers caught hold of his chin, and Sima raised his head to make him look at her.  He kept his face calm and composed.  Renee hadn’t broken him.  This bitch wouldn’t either.  He knew what werewolf blood tasted like.  He’d already killed something more powerful than Sima could ever hope to be.  Something flickered across her eyes.  And she knew it too.  “Do you know what my gift is, Adam?”

“You can tell when someone is lying.”  Adam nodded.

“Let’s play a game.  Tell me Adam, when it comes to ice cream, would you rather chocolate or vanilla?”  Sima raised an eyebrow.

“Vanilla.”  He tried not to roll his eyes.

“Would you rather boxers or briefs?”

This was stupid, but if he didn’t play along, Wren would make him.  “Boxers.”


Hunting: Chapter 10

Gabriel kept the gun sights firmly trained on the werewolf’s head.  Claw marks decorated Michael’s torso front and back, and his partner was covered in blood.  Though he was getting back to his feet with the tree branch still in his hand.  “Erilon?”

“It’s you.”  The little girl was still staring at him.  Something about her was strangely familiar, and for a moment he felt dizzy.  He pushed the sensation away and focused on the situation at hand.  “It’s you.”  She glanced at the werewolf standing a few feet away.  “Magda, it’s him.  He’s the one we are looking for.”

Michaels turned toward Erilon.  “There is a heavily pregnant barely pubescent little girl here and that guy there literally tried ripping my face off.”

“Explanations had better be good.”  Gabriel nodded.

“They are, just…”  The black man who had tazed Michaels spread his hands in a placating gesture before nodding toward Michaels.  “Look, whoever you are, this guy here is possessed and have reason to —”

“I am going to jam that cane so far up your ass —” Michaels shifted his grip on the tree branch.

“One step toward him and I tear your guts out.”  The werewolf lowered her head.

“Rosa called us for help.”  The black man looked toward Gabriel.  “We came her to find that —”

“Rosa?”  Gabriel blinked.

“They seem to think I’m a member of a cabal and threw her in front of that car or something.”  Michaels shook his head.

“He’s possessed.”  The black man shook his head.  “Look, I know this is hard to believe, but Anna here sensed a demon in his —”

She sensed me.”  Erilon narrowed her eyes.

“She sensed…”  The werewolf turned toward her, and started to lower her head as if preparing to charge.

“Magda, don’t.”  The little girl held up her hands.  “It’s him, Magda.  He can’t be a bad guy.”

“You don’t…”  The werewolf started shaking her head.

“Gabriel, please, don’t shoot Matthias.  He’s my friend.  I know you’re angry because he hurt your partner but please, I need you to listen.”  The little girl turned to look at him.  “Rosa ran because she recognized you and knew who you were.  She was fated to die the day she met you, and she panicked.  But you guys know what really happened and that’s why you were suspicious about us showing up and asking because there was another werewolf and you saw it.”

“How the fuck…”  Michaels started shaking his head.

Gabriel put the gun down.”  Erilon turned back toward him.  “Let me get the healer back on his feet so he can repair the damage done to Michaels.

“You keep away from —”  The female werewolf’s head came up again and she glared.

Alternately, kill the wolves, I easily take possession of the boy due to his current state, Michaels takes his temper out on the other witch, and we regroup and discuss what to do about the potential apocalypse in her womb.”  She shrugged.  “Don’t hurt the other young man though, he’s an innocent.

“I’d like to register my vote for plan B.”  Michaels shook his head.

It is for their leader to decide.”  Erilon stared at the female werewolf.


Hunting: Chapter 9

The sound of the gunshot made them all go still.  Stephan started to stand, and heard Ash made a whimpering sound.  Anna started moving, and he caught her arm.  She tried to pull free.  “Anna…”

“What if Danny is…”  She started shaking her head.

“There would have been a lot more than one gun shot if it was —”  There was a roar, and then a crashing sound as a tree fell somewhere.  “What the…”  Then there were two more shots, close together.

“Stephan?”  Ash looked up at him.  “Stephan?”

“Come on, let’s get you two back to the truck.”  Magda, you better be alright.

“I’m not leaving without Daniel.”  Anna started shaking her head.

“Anna, you know the plan.”  Stephan put a hand on her shoulder.  “Anything happens, I get you and Ash to the truck, and we retreat.  They’ll —”  Anna yanked away from him and started running back toward the commotion.  “Dammit.”  Stephan started after her, hampered by the bum leg.  A moment later, Ash was racing past him after the girl.


Gabriel: Chapter 6

“Erilon?”  He said her name aloud despite the gag the big guy had shoved into his mouth.  Still no response.  He’d heard nothing from her since she’d alerted him to the fact the big guy was a werewolf.  The second guy was the PI.  That guy was on camera at the station, and Erilon could also identify him.  And they hadn’t gone after Laura; they’d just grabbed him.  Small mercy, but far better than the alternative.

They’d used multiple zip ties to bind his wrists and ankles and shoved him into the trunk of a car.  Michaels shifted position.  If they were still in the city…  He brought his knees up and kicked the trunk lid.  It didn’t give, so he repeated the action.  After the third try, he was thrown forward when the vehicle stopped abruptly.  Shit.  And with his ankles secured running wasn’t an option even if he’d thought he had a chance of outrunning a werewolf.

As soon as the trunk opened he struck, trying to kick with both legs.  Unfortunately, the big guy was prepared for that.  He caught Michaels’ legs with one hand.  Holy fuck, the guy had to be as strong as Gabe.  The big man pushed his legs back down, then stared at him.  His eyes changed, turning gold and animalistic, and he smiled to reveal fangs.  Michaels swallowed.  “Be still, and quiet.”  The big man’s eyes narrowed.  “And you’ll make it to our destination with all your limbs still attached.”

The trunk lid was slammed back down.  Michaels took a deep breath.  That really hadn’t sounded like an empty threat.  “Erilon?”

No reply.  And he’d been having such a nice night.


Hunting: Chapter 8

Magda paced.  They’d found a good spot, and from the smell of things nobody human had been anywhere near the place in a long time.  Anna was nervous, and she couldn’t really blame the girl.  This was the first time she’d ever really considered using her ability offensively.  She sat in Ash’s lap, and Ash had his arms around her while he watched Magda pace.  Daniel leaned against a tree, his expression a little hollow.  He caught her looking at him, and gave her a kind of sickly smile.  “I’m not so good with violence.”

“That’s not a defect.”  Magda put her hand on his shoulder.  “Or a weakness.”

“It just feels hypocritical.”  Daniel swallowed.  “Letting him…”  He looked away.  “I mean, if it’s the right thing to do shouldn’t I be willing to do it?”

“A long time ago, someone asked me why I fought.”  Magda smiled at him.

“What did you tell them?”  Daniel met her eyes.

“Because I can.”  She nodded to him.  “And that makes it my responsibility.”

“I’m telling myself it’s like medicine.  To make a body healthy, sometimes you have to cut something out.  But uh…”  Daniel shook his head.  “I’m not sure I believe me.  What if we’re wrong?”

“That is why you are here, Daniel.  If we are wrong, then you can undo the harm.”  She hugged him, and felt her hug him back.  Then she stepped back a little.  “You are a good man, Daniel.”

“That means a lot, from someone like you.”  He smiled at her.  “Thank you.”

Her phone beeped, and she glanced at it.  “They are coming.  Wait here, I’ll be back soon.”  She shifted as she turned, and in the form of the wolf headed through the woods.


Hunting: Chapter 7

“Hey, check this out.”  Daniel waved Anna over to the laptop.  Ash followed.  “This town has actual superheros.”

“Seriously?”  Anna’s eyes widened.

“They call themselves…”  Daniel snickered.  “The Crimson Crusaders.”

“That’s an awesome name.”  Anna glared.

“Arf?”  Ash gave her a look that suggested she was insane.  And from a man that thought he was a dog half the time, that was saying something.

“Seriously?”  Matthias glanced over from where he was grilling them all hot dogs.  “Superheroes?”

“A couple of masked vigilantes.  First sighting was apparently when they rescued a bunch of teenage girls from a sex trafficking ring, and well…”  Daniel shrugged.  “That certainly fits my definition of superheroes.”  He grinned over at Matthias.  “Come on, I bet you’ve wanted to do the superhero thing.”

“I did do the superhero thing.”  Matthias turned the hot dogs over.  “Told you about it.  Batarang, Nazi bunker.”

“Yeah, but you weren’t wearing a mask.  These guys have masks.”  Daniel waved a hand at the laptop.

“I was, actually.  Gas mask.”  Matthias rolled his eyes.

“So doesn’t count.”

“Do they have capes?”  Anna began scrolling through the article.  “Superheroes need capes.”  She glanced at Daniel.  “We need to get Matthias a cape.”

“No.”  Matthias shook his head.

“Come on.”  Anna gave him a beseeching look.  “What’s cooler than a ten foot werewolf with a swirling black cape?”

“She uh…”  Daniel shrugged.  “Does have a point on the cool factor.”

“My luck, I’d end up blown of a building by a gust of wind.”  He started putting the dogs into buns.  “Ash, grab plates?”

“Woof.”  Ash went into the camper to retrieve a stack of paper plates.

“Oh, and they busted a dog fighting ring.”  Anna giggled.  “It says here when the cops showed up they found the guys running it all shoved into a dumpster half full of dog waste, and the Crimson Crusaders had locked it shut.”  She giggled again.  “It had been moved into full sun, and the police didn’t receive the anonymous tip about it’s location until six hours after the dogs had been rescued by the humane society.”

“My kinda heroes.”  Matthias took the paper plates from Ash, who was snickering himself.


Gabriel: Chapter 5

Michaels watched the man limp out of the bullpen.  Rather than draw attention to himself by talking to himself, he picked up his cell phone.  “Alright, explain?”

To his surprise, her voice actually came over the phone rather than simply getting into his head.  “That guy was a witch.

“Like the one the other day?”  Not really a comforting thought.

No.  Alright, simple explanation.  There are two kinds of witches.  The full kind, which are what most think of.  Cast spells, brew potions, ride broomsticks.  Then there are those that are just gifted, like Laura is now or will be as soon as we can figure out her gift.

“And that guy?”

Just gifted, but surprisingly strong.  Some serious mojo there.

“You think that guy might be on Gabe’s level?”  Also not a comforting thought, though the fact that the guy needed a cane to walk raised a few more questions.

No, but tough enough that…”  She made a sighing sound.  “Alright, no good way to put this.  I’m going to need you to go out and get laid.”


You want me to keep witches out of your head, you’re going to need to get it on.  I kind of gave Gabriel a migraine this morning and considering there is a werewolf in town we  —

“We need him at 100%.”  He rubbed his forehead.  “Fine.”

And it’s you or Laura and —

“I said fine.”  He managed to keep his voice low.  “How the hell does Gabe manage to talk to you without letting people on?”  It would have been nice to be able to ask her questions with the guy still here.  Letting him walk out might have been a mistake.

He has an internal monologue, you tend to think out loud.  It’s kind of like an introvert extrovert thing.

“Can you follow that guy?”

Uh…”  She was quiet for a moment.  “Well, actually, no.”

“You follow people all the time.  You even follow multiple people at a —”

I told you, the guy has some mojo.  And whatever it is, he’s a blank slate to me.  Only reason I could detect anything about him was I was already in your head when he showed and you were looking right at him.”

“If I’d known that, I’d have followed him out of here.”  Michaels exhaled.  “Fill Gabe in.”

Already done.”


Wren and Adam: Chapter 11

Wren paced the hotel room.  It was a nice one, complete with mini-bar, but after Paris it just seemed so mundane.  “Giroux indicated the girl, Ann or whatever, had mental powers.  Could it have been her?”

“I highly doubt that.”  Sima shook her head.  “She’s still young.  Barely in puberty.  Witches don’t come into their full strength until their bodies mature.”  She gave Wren an appraising look.  “You’re young enough you’ve undoubtedly got more strength to develop yourself.”

The idea of getting stronger appealed to her.  She was about to ask another question when the phone rang.  Wren grabbed it and put it on speaker phone.  “Giroux?”

“Ma chere, are you alright?”  His voice sounded concerned.

“We think another party might be at work here.”  Sima clasped her hands behind her back.  “Witches are involved.”

“More witches?”  Giroux sounded shocked.

“Two people made a play for the bartender.  One could stop Wren’s magic, the other one could knock me through a wall.”

“There was a vampire cell operating in that town, but they vanished some months ago.”  Giroux’s voice became brusque.  “We think it was a leadership dispute.  Perhaps some survived.”

“Vampires?”  Wren raised an eyebrow at Sima.

“Give me some credit, Giroux.  You think I don’t know a vampire when I smell one?”  Sima glared at the phone.

“Could have been thralls.”  Giroux sounded apologetic.  “I will send a team to —”

“I want the strong one.”  Sima smiled.  “And I think Wren has an interest in the other.”

Somehow the man had thrown her out of his head.  Once she had a grip, no one should be able to resist her.  Yet he had.  And she wanted to know how, even if that ability meant she was going to have to get the information from him the hard way.  “I do.”

“Wren may have what she likes.  Sima, we’ve indulged you bef —”

“I’ll refund you half my fee.”  Sima smirked.

“He’s all yours.”  Giroux responded quickly.  “Madam Wren, I think you should also know…”  His voice took on an admiring tone.  “Your man, Adam.  I would like to discuss retaining his services for future work.”

“Adam?”  Wren blinked.  “What happened?”

“Captain Miguel screwed up.  Once he realized the alpha I’d sent them after wasn’t the one we sought, he attempted to deploy containment protocols without laying the necessary groundwork.  The pack turned hostile and killed nine of our agents.  Your man rallied the last two surviving agents.  They finished the mission and…”  Giroux let out a low whistle.  “Your man killed an alpha.”

“Guess all that firearm practice paid —”  Sima patted Wren’s shoulder.

“He didn’t use a gun.”  Giroux voice cut her off.  “Or silver.”

From the look on Sima’s face, that was apparently a hell of a thing.  “My Adam is special.”  She resisted the urge to touch the talisman hanging around her neck.  The ring was too big for her fingers, and given it’s nature, taking it in to get resized wasn’t an option.  Still, it made a pretty enough pendant.

“You’ve a gift for understatement.  I will leave this situation in your hands, my dears.  Let me know what you learn.”


Hunting: Chapter 6

Stephan switched radio stations a few times before sighing and just turning the radio off entirely.  “Today’s music sucks.”

“You really want to get into a ‘back in my day’ conversation with me?”  Magda raised an eyebrow.

“Not all today’s music sucks.  Just the popular stuff that gets played all the time.”  Ash leaned forward from the backseat.  “No classical station?”

“Lost it about twenty miles ago.  Doubt we’ll pick another up until we are closer to a big city.”  Stephan looked out the window.  “At least the landscape is pretty.”

“I remember reading once that the Pacific Northwest is technically a rainforest, just not a tropical one.”  Magda smiled.  “If we weren’t in a hurry, I wouldn’t mind…”  She shrugged.  “Well, going wolf and running around in there a while.”

“Me either.”  Ash chuckled.  “There is a lot of seismic activity, and the Cascade Range has risen in just the last 5 million years.  Volcanoes are all over, and it’s not just the big ones Mount St. Helens.  There is a string of like twenty major volcanic centers that create a network of small, shorter-lived volcanoes and underneath that the ocean plate plunges under the North American plate.  The subduction creates all kinds of cool effects and there are things like hot springs and stuff all over the place.”

“Who let the nerd out?”  Stephan grinned at him.  His tone was light, but he couldn’t help but give a quick look at Magda.  She was smiling too.  That was the most words Ash had strung together since they’d rescued him.  “Can’t say I’d mind visiting a hot spring after we save the day.”

“It goes up into Canada.  Mount Cayley is one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world.  The natives call it the landing place of the thunderbird, and Dad promised…”  Ash trailed off.  He made a small whimpering sound before retreating into the backseat again.

He swallowed, then glanced at Magda.  “I bet some of the best geological stuff is under the water.  Maybe after we save the day, we can look into renting one of those glass bottomed boats.”  He turned toward the backseat.  “Do some fishing?”

“Woof.”  Ash nodded.