War: Chapter 34

“You’re Giovanni?”  Adam looked the priest over.  Despite the man’s white hair, he didn’t look that old.  If the stories were accurate, he had to be at least seventy-five.  The idea that this priest could be the same man in those stories, however, seemed absurd.  A thought wormed its way into his head.  The men sent after Daniel had all been hospitalized with hypothermia.

“I take it you’ve heard of me?”  Father Williams raised an eyebrow.  Then he sighed.  “I was.”  He gave a small shake of his head.  “Once.”  His eyes went to where the nun was examining the wings of a bemused Khait.  “And you are Adam.”

“I…”  Adam swallowed.  “Yeah, I guess I’m the last person with a right to question you.”

(more…)

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War: Chapter 30

Adele frowned when she saw an ambulance pull up, followed by another vehicle.  Then her eyes widened when she saw Magda get out of the driver’s seat of the ambulance.  She looked over her shoulder.  “Are they back?”  The professor stood up from where he’d been sitting with Lidia.

“I think…”  She looked back at the vehicles, then swallowed when she saw Jim leaning on a young man she didn’t recognize.  “Yes.”  She saved a hand.  “Keep Lidia here.”  She started forward.

“Fuck that noise.”  Lidia nearly pushed past her on the way to the door.

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War: Chapter 29

Lykos groaned, then felt whoever he was laying on shift and groan as well.  He rolled off Khait, and started to stand, only to note with some irritation that his left fibula appeared to be sticking out of his leg.  He growled as he shoved it back into place.  Walking was not going to be fun for the next couple hours.  The backlash from the orb’s destruction had taken out a good section of a wall, and he was concerned part of the building was going to follow it down.  “Christophe?”  Lykos looked around.

“Here.”  Christophe shoved the remains of a painting off himself.  He was bleeding from a cut on his forehead, but his injuries didn’t look bad.  Khait looked in much worse shape.  His wings were little more than char, but he was getting back to his feet.  He offered Lykos a hand up.

He started to look for the others, then made a frustrated sound.  “Naughty girl had defenses.”  Over on the other side of the small crater he’d made, Wren was getting back to her feet.

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War: Chapter 27

Lykos snarled as he took a man’s arm off at the shoulder.  They kept shooting him with silver bullets.  The amount of waste was starting to become annoying.  He used the arm to strike the last one across the face, sending the man flying back over the balcony.

“Wow.”  He looked over to see Laura.  The girl was grinning.  “Snow White was seriously under-utilizing her manpower.”

He rolled his eyes.  “I say same, but Christophe insist not appropriate for children movie.”  He shook his head.  “Kids today soft.”

She turned, and her eyes glowed red as her hand touched the metal of the staircase.  The men coming up the stairs started jerking and twitching as though struck by tazers, falling back down in a heap.  She smirked at him.  “You were saying?”

“Most kids today soft.”  Lykos shrugged.

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War: Chapter 13

She walked over to join Tomer as he headed to meet the foundation’s representative.  Ash fell into step with her, and Magda smiled at him.  He caught hold of her hand and smiled back.  “You’re not with the students?”  Bridget had spent the last couple days showing him how to use the machine that analyzed soil samples.  Stephan, Matthias, and Michaels had been planning the operation now that they could get closer looks.  The rest of them had settled in to help out in the dig.

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War: Chapter 11

Abigail stared for a moment.  Aside from both being very good looking men, there was no resemblance at all between the blond newcomer and Khait.  “I…”  She turned toward the others, and she noted the professor had gone pale.  “Uh…”

Professor Kravitz staggered a little, and Magda guided him to a chair.  The professor immediately started taking deep breaths while Magda looked at him in confusion.  “I’m not sure what just…”  Magda glanced at the blond man.  “Explain?”

“It’s uh…”  The blond man sighed.  “I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s…”  Khait slowly nodded and then stepped back before swallowing.  “You remember me.”

“Yes and no.”  The blond man gave him a gentle smile.  “Enough to know you’re my little brother.”  He smoothed the front of Khait’s shirt.  “Usariel.”

“Little…”  Things clicked, and then it was her turn to stagger.  She caught herself, then took a couple deep breaths.

Khait turned toward her and took her hand, pulling her a little closer before putting an arm around her waist.  “This is my girlfriend, Abigail.”

“Are you okay, Tomer?”  Magda was patting the professor’s back as he kept taking deep breaths.  He shook his head, his eyes wide.  Abigail couldn’t really blame him.

“It’s nice to meet you.”  The blond man held out a hand, and she took it.  His handshake was firm.  “I’m Gabriel.”

“Nice to…”  If Khait hadn’t had his arm around her, she might have ended up on the ground.  No wonder the professor was freaking out.  Khait’s brother was…  No.  Usariel’s brother was…  She swallowed.  “Gabriel.”  Then she looked at Khait.  “Gabriel?”

“Yes.”  Khait was smiling.  It slowly faded as he gave her a concerned look, then his eyes widened.  “Oh.  Shit.”  He turned back toward Gabriel.  “You.  What are you doing here?  How are you here?  Why are you here?  You shouldn’t be here.  All the seals are intact.  It’s against the rules for you to be here.”

“And yet, here I am.”  Gabriel shrugged.  “When it is time for me to know more, I will.  For now…”  He nodded to Khait, then glanced over at the others.  “Is the professor alright?”

“Really not sure.”  Magda exhaled.  Then she took a deep breath.  “So…”  She glanced from Gabriel to Khait and back again.  “The name isn’t a coincidence.  You’re actually Gabriel.”

“I thought you knew that already.”  Gabriel raised an eyebrow at her.

“Yeah, but like knowing a pan is hot versus actually putting your hand down on it…”  Magda sighed, then patted Professor Kravitz’s shoulder.  “It’s already, Tomer.  He is definitely one of the good guys.”

“Khait…”  Professor Kravitz looked up at him hopefully.  “Can you perhaps do that thing again where you make me not remember certain events?”

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War: Chapter 10

“Your power is…”  Tomer raised an eyebrow at Stephan.  “Complete immunity to magic?”

“We are still figuring it out.”  Stephan shrugged.  “I haven’t figured out how to even control it, and at least one dragon has proved able to bypass it.”

“Dragons.”  Tomer exhaled.  “Still wrapping my brain around that.”  He glanced up at Magda.  “Khait said there are currently nine?”

“There are, though as far as I know I’ve only met two.  Ryuu and Tia.”  Magda chuckled.  “Ryuu and I had a fling, back in the 18th century.”

“I should have asked Khait for more of his stash.”  Tomer laughed softly, then glanced again at Stephan.  “My friend, I think I rather envy you.”

“We’ve only heard what happened in San Francisco from Laura’s viewpoint, Professor.”  Stephan leaned forward.  “I know asking you if anything unusual happened is kind of an odd question, considering —”

“No, I get what you mean.”  He took a deep breath.  “I spoke with Adam privately.”

“What did he tell you?”  Magda raised an eyebrow.

“Enough that…”  Tomer exhaled.  “Enough that invoking his name was enough to convince me to help you.  As for the rest, it was indeed a private conversation and if he’d wanted Laura or Erilon to know I’ve no doubt he’d have spoken in front of them.”

“Yeah.”  Magda leaned back.  “Yeah, I get that.”

“May I ask how it is you first encountered Adam?”  Tomer raised an eyebrow.

“Well, uh…”  Stephan laughed awkwardly.  “He told me some bad jokes then his partner kicked me in the head.”  He straightened.  “He didn’t have a choice there.  As soon as he did have a choice, he risked a hell of a lot to help us and…”  He glanced at Magda.

“Adam saved Ash.  I owe him for that.”  Magda glanced at the door.  Ash was around college students, people his own age.  He was being quiet, but he was making some effort to interact.  The professor had learned of Ash’s interest in geology and had introduced him to one of the students who specialized in dating rock samples and dirt layers and the conversation had quickly lost her entirely.

“He saved me.”  Tomer nodded.  “I owe him for that.”  He hesitated.  “And I will note this.  Save when dealing with vampires, each time Adam fought he opted for nonlethal combat.  He may call himself a killer, Magda, but I do not believe that characterization is wholly accurate.”

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War: Chapter 8

“Are we sure this is a good idea?”  Michaels put the car in park, then turned to look at Matthias.

“We need information, and we can’t risk compromising Adam to get it.”  Matthias nodded.

“Yeah, but given what this guy can do…”  Michaels shook his head.

“That’s uh…”  Matthias exhaled.  “Why I brought you.  Erilon’s tapped into your head pretty good, so she can monitor things and counter him.”

We hope.

“Not.”  Michaels gritted his teeth.  “Comforting.”

It seems a reasonable plan, however…”  Erilon’s eyes reflected back from the rear view mirror.  “I’ve never directly tried to match Khait before and I have no idea what his current strength levels are at with the talisman in play.  Please try very hard not to make Bridget or Abigail feel threatened.

“Maybe I should wait in the car.”  Matthias sighed.

“That’s not the worst idea you ever had, but we are going to need to intimidate and interrogate some people and uh…”  Michaels shrugged.  “I happen to know you’re not bad at that.”

Matthias winced.  “Yeah.”  He opened the car door and got out.

Michaels followed him up to the porch, then rang the doorbell.  After a few seconds, a lovely young black woman opened the door.  She looked them over, then turned and looked over her shoulder.  “Bridget, the scary men are here.”

“Tell them to come in and ask them if they want coffee.”  Another voice came from the kitchen.

“Come in.”  She smiled and stepped back so they could enter.

“Thank you.”  Michaels entered, Matthias a step behind.  “You must be Abigail.  I’m Detective Michaels…”  He gestured.  “This is Matthias Jarlson.”

“Thats a lot of werewolf.”  A male voice came from behind them, making him jump slightly.  A young man leaned against the wall, a slight smirk on his face.

“Khait, you promised to behave yourself.”  Abigail pointed at him.

“Simply making an observation.”  Khait tilted his head at Matthias.  Then his eyes widened slightly.  “Wait…”  He grinned.  “Jarlson?”  He suddenly started laughing.

“Khait…”  A brunette woman who must be Bridget stepped out of the hallway and folded her arms.  Her voice was heavy with disapproval.

“Yes.”  Matthias squared his shoulder.  “Jarlson.”

“Ah, Jarl…”  Khait gave a low whistle.  “Now, he was fun.  They don’t make Vikings like that anymore.”  He rolled his eyes.  “Now they all lose to cheese boxers.”

“Chee—”  Matthias blinked.

“It’s Packers, Khait, not boxers, and that’s football.”  Abigail snickered.  “Not real Vikings.”

“Oh.”  Khait blinked.  “Is that why they don’t have axes?”

“Can we…”  Michaels pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Sorry.”  Abigail directed them further into the house.  “We are working on getting him up to date on modern culture and there are still areas of misunderstanding.”

“Such as why they call it football in the first place.”

“It’s an American thing.  Americans insist on calling proper football ‘soccer’.”  Abigail chuckled.  She had a trace of a British accent.  “Oh, did you want coffee?”

“I suspect…”  Michaels took a deep breath.  “That we are going to need it.”

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War: Chapter 7

Abigail and Bridget had both fallen asleep on the couch.  Khait put a blanket over each of them before returning to the table.  The professor had grabbed one of Bridget’s empty notebooks, and was on his way to filling it.  “Mermaids.”

“Real.”

“Present?”

“Yes, but stealthy and generally hostile toward humans.”  Khait shrugged.  “You people dump a lot of nasty things into the oceans.”

“Yes, well…”  Professor Kravitz shook his head.  He frowned a little.  “You were at that protest where the…”  He tilted his head.  “The cop that tried to arrest Bridget got run over by his own police vehicle.”

“He lived.”  Khait grinned.

“I…”  The professor took a deep breath.  “Right.  Okay.”  He put the pen down, then picked it up again.  “The…”  He hesitated.

“Professor?”

“Earlier, when you were talking about the dragons…”  He looked up at Khait.  “Erilon insisted the subject be changed.”

“She had a point.  The dragons don’t like certain information getting around.  It’s not…”  Khait gestured.  “In their best interests.”

“But dragons are immortal.”  Kravitz started taking notes again. (more…)

War: Chapter 6

“Okay, this Wren person?”  Abigail leaned back on the couch, folding her arms.  “She sounds like an utter bitch.”

“I cannot say I object to the notion of her getting her comeuppance.”  Professor Kravitz accepted the tea Bridget handed him, then glanced at where Khait and Erilon were glaring at each other.  Considering one of them was a glowing woman of fire reflected in a mirror, it was more than a little bit surreal.  At least Khait had stopped glowing.  “Adam is a good man.”

“That was our assessment as well.”  Magda leaned on the back of the couch.  “He saved someone very dear to me.”  She took a deep breath.  “Tomer, my crew and I will make sure your students stay safe.  We wouldn’t ask if —”

“I already agreed.”  Professor Kravitz glanced at Khait.  “Admittedly, before I knew…”  He exhaled.  “Abigail, I…”  He looked back at her.  “Your boyfriend kills people by kissing them.”

“Only if they deserve it.”  She winced a little.  “We clarified that with him a lot.”

“I am not permitted to kill anyone that doesn’t register as at least a five on the scale of bad unless Bridget gives permission or it is necessary to save the life of another.”  Khait didn’t stop glaring at Erilon.

I don’t even want to know what registers to you on the scale of bad.”  Erilon folded her arms.

“We clarified that with him a lot too.”  Bridget nodded, then grabbed a notebook off a side table and offered it to the professor.  “See?”

He took it and started flipping through it before paling a little.  “Absolutely no killing professors for giving a failing grade?”  He stared up at Abigail.

“Oh, you weren’t in danger from that.”  She sat up and spoke hurriedly.  “He likes you.”

“If we could get this back on —”  Magda started to sigh.

“We should probably clarify where Matthias ranks on the scale, cause uh…”  Laura tilted her head.

“Khait, no killing members of the…”  Bridget blinked.  “What was it again?”

“The Crimson Crusaders.”  Laura grinned.

“Hang on, time out.”  Abigail made the gesture, then pointed at Laura.  “The vigilantes out in Washington are your people?”

“Who, exactly, are —”  Professor Kravitz took a deep breath.  “Alright, I’ve met Laura, Erilon, and Gabriel.  Magda is obviously a werewolf.  The others—”

Werewolves and witches.”  Erilon was still glaring at Khait.  “Couple of full mortals in the group, but they either stay out of trouble or come packing a lot of ammo.  Since you three are also mortals, you’ll be staying out of trouble as well.

“Bridget and I can take care of ourselves.”  Abigail shot her a dirty look.

“I can confirm that.”  Khait nodded.  Then he shrugged.  “They manage to keep me in line most of the time.  That’s more than anyone else has ever managed.”

That’s not…”  Erilon made a growling sound.  “Entirely unimpressive.”

“Gee.”  Bridget rolled her eyes.  “Thanks.”

(more…)

War: Chapter 5

“Uh…”  Bridget took a step back, and her eyes widened when she noticed the younger woman’s eyes were glowing red.  “What?”  Khait took a step toward the young woman, and the big woman, Magda, immediately put up a hand.  Her eyes changed to gold, just like Joseph’s had when he shifted.  “Shit.”

The woman vanished.  Professor Kravitz stumbled backward, staring with his jaw hanging open.  The young woman, Laura, immediately put her hands on her hips.  “Bring her back, right now.”  She narrowed her glowing red eyes.

“You brought a werewolf to the office of one of my friends.”  Khait shook his head.  “You have five seconds…”  He growled.  “You’ve got a body?  You hypocritical little —”

“Khait…”  Abigail exhaled.  “You want to make some introductions?”

“Oh my god.”  Professor Kravitz started to straighten.

“It’s okay, professor.”  Bridget quickly rushed over to him.  “Relax, you’re safe.”

He was safe before.”  The girl, Laura, shook her head.  “He’s a friend of mine.”  She glared at Khait.  “And I’m not about to let you within ten miles of anyone I consider a friend.  You’ve got five seconds to explain what the fuck you are doing here or I’m going to make you bleed from every single one of your orifices.

Khait laughed.  “Oh, I dare you to try, you backstabbing bitch.”  He pointed at her.  “You betrayed me!”

You burned down Rome!”  Laura glared.

“Not even a quarter of it.”  Khait scoffed.

Do you know how many Christians got fed to lions over that stunt?”  She took a step forward.

“Nowhere near enough.”  Khait matched her move, glaring down at her.

“Uh —”  Bridget swallowed.

“Enough.”  Professor Kravitz drew himself up to his full height.  Bridget blinked.  Five years and this was the first time she’d ever heard him raise his voice.  The two arguing…  Oh god, her eyes were glowing too… demons also both shut up and turned to look at him.  “Laura is, in fact, a friend of mine and I owe her and her companion my life.”  He turned toward her, and she gulped a little.  “Bridget, what the hell is going on here?”

(more…)