Monday, December 11, 2017

(51) When all else is lost the future still remains

“It’s just a house. How can it be as secure as you say it is?” Race walked around the living room on the second floor, stepping over a stuffed elephant that sat in the center of the floor.

Addie turned from the computer to smile at him. “Once you meet Darian and get to know him, you’ll understand. Between him and a couple of friends, this place is safer than Fort Knox. Not even Kayne could get in here when the shields are up.”

“Which is saying something,” Shan said as he sat down at the table and opened his laptop.

“So what should I be doing, other than wearing a rut in the carpet by pacing?” Race asked.

“See if there’s anything edible in the fridge for breakfast.”

Race went to check, calling back a minute later, “Do you want me to fix something or did you just want to know what’s available?”

Shan looked up, shaking his head in amusement. “Fixing something would be good, if you know how to cook.”

After Race had flipped him off and set himself to doing so, Shan logged on and went in search of a site that would give him the detailed maps he needed. Meanwhile, Addie was doing her own searching. A few minutes later she nodded and sent the information she’d found to the printer.

“Success?” Shan asked, looking over at her.

“Yes. I know who’s aligned with the vampire and where to find them when the time comes. Thankfully none of them are from this territory. I may not call many here ‘friend’ but I’d still hate to have to take out someone I know. There are three of them, all suckups to anyone they see as potentially being able to rule either a city or in this case a territory.”

“Find out anything more about the dhampir?”

“Other than what Kayne told us and what we already know? No. He’s pretty much of an enigma. There are rumors of a dhampir who’s also a strong sorcerer, but nothing concrete enough to tell us anything useful.”

“Then I guess we get to play it by ear once we come up against him. How old is his father?”

“He’s younger than me by about a hundred years. Not that, as old as we both are, it makes much difference. I did find out he’s telekinetic and can control the wind, but then I have the gift of fire plus a couple of other tricks that the Master showed me, so we should be evenly matched.” She pulled the sheet of paper from the printer and came over to sit down beside Shan, handing it to him.

He chuckled as he looked at it. “Want to print it out in ink, not Braille?”

“Oh hell, I forgot about that.” She went to set the printer and came back with a fresh sheet of paper a minute later. After she’d sat again, she glanced at the kitchen, making certain Race was still busy cooking before asking softly, “Are you planning on bringing him with us?”

Shan nodded. “If, well, if things continue the way they might be, he’s going to have to learn what my life is like in reality. I suspect he’s gotten a bit of an idea, but meeting it face on is the only way to show him this isn’t a video game world we live in.”

“You know, there’s the possibility that his being there will split your concentration. Can you handle that?”

“I’m going to have to, aren’t I? But I’m going to give him some down and dirty training first. Hopefully, he’s quick to pick up on it.”

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Guardian Angels – An Interesting Life (22)

"Who put me up to it, Mr Kingston, is none of your business."
"I got a visual of him," Paddy said. "Clever of you."
"And dumb of her to even think of him. Let's get out of here."
"Easier said than done. One of the guys has a gun pointed at your back."
"So, untie me and let's rumble."
Paddy snorted in amusement. Then Vic felt the rope around his wrists loosen. A second later he heard a shout of surprise and had the feeling whoever had been holding the gun wasn't anymore. He ripped his hands free of the rope, reaching for Mrs Peake. He discovered the man wasn't the only one who had been armed when she pulled a small pistol from behind her back, pointing it at his chest.
"Stay right where you are," she ordered. "Jerry…" She took a quick glance behind Vic, her eyes widening in shock. "Who the hell…?"
Vic almost turned to see what had happened, thought better of it, and grabbed her wrist, twisting the gun down and then out of her hand. She fought back, scratching and hissing, but by that time he was standing. He had no compunction about hitting her hard on the jaw, smiling slightly when she dropped to the floor in a heap. Only then did he turn to see what had happened behind him.
Paddy had materialized and was holding a tire iron while looking down at the two goons who were now unconscious at his feet. He grinned at Vic. "Your backup has arrived, or at least that's what we'll tell Mrs Peake when she recovers. What are we going to do with these three?"
"For the time being, tie them up and leave them here. I want to have a few words with the man who hired her." Vic looked questioningly at Paddy.
When Paddy described the image of the man that he'd picked out of Mrs Peake's mind, Vic was surprised, but not unduly so. "I wonder if Governor Hobson knows what he's doing." When Paddy asked, Vic told him, "That's Arthur Margolin, the governor's top political advisor. Offhand, I'd say Margolin must have his doubts about Hobson's being able to win the primary fair and square."
Paddy nodded. "Somehow, he finds out you've been hired and brings in Mrs Peake to stop you." He chuckled. "And I bet I know why her. When she flashed on him, he was showing a lot more skin than decency allows."
"Lovers?" Vic glanced down at the woman. "She really is a royal bitch." He went into the garage, returning a moment later with a roll of baling wire and wire cutters. It didn't take long for him and Paddy to restrain Mrs Peake and her helpers. When they were finished, Vic suddenly snapped his fingers. "Now I remember where I've seen her before—at one of the fundraisers."
"Checking out the enemy camp?"
"I'd say so. It might explain how she knew I was involved with finding the blackmailer."
"One question," Paddy said as they left the office, closing the door behind them, and then walking across the garage to the exit. "I take it whoever contacted Mr Marshall did it anonymously."
"Wouldn't you, if you were going to blackmail someone?"
"True." Paddy pointed to the alarm box by the exit. "Good thing she had that disarmed so the guys could bring you in here."
"Eh, I could have bypassed is," Vic bragged, which would have been true if he'd had the right tools with him.
When they were outside, Vic called Evan, assured him he was all right, and asked him to pick them up.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

(50) When all else is lost the future still remains

“We have three days, and we’re no closer to figuring out how to stop those two than we were before all this started,” Shan growled in frustration. “And sitting here on our duffs is getting us nowhere fast.”

“Then we go back to the city,” Addie told him.

“And just where would you suggest would be safe there?”

“I have an idea, but I need to call first.”

“From here? Do you even get reception here?” Race asked.

Addie smiled. “When you have the proper phone and all the needed gadgets, you can get it almost anywhere, and in my business, or what was my business, I have it all and always carry what I need with me.”

“In the monstrosity she calls a purse,” Shan added with a laugh.

“Yuck it up boyo, you know you’re glad I’ve got lots of strange and wonderful stuff in it. Give me twenty minutes and hopefully we’ll have a safe house.”

Almost to the minute, Addie came back through the tunnel into the command center. “Pack up boys, we have a place and it’s going to be vacant for the next two weeks.” When Shan cocked an eyebrow in question she told him, “Darian’s taking Frannie to visit Kayne, so they can work on something or another. He didn’t say what and I didn’t ask. But the house is ours and I’ve got all the codes we need to keep it safe from anything short of a nuclear blast.”

“You are one smart lady,” Shan told her, kissing her forehead.

“You’re just realizing that?” She smirked before heading off to her room to pack.

Race hesitated until Shan asked what was wrong. “How are we getting there? You can’t teleport us.”

“Hide and watch. Kayne showed me a little trick before he left that should cover my signature when I do.”

“And this place we’re going to really is that safe?”

“You have no idea. I almost wish we’d thought about before we ran from the city. Almost.” Shan just barely smiled, adding, “But if we had then… I guess I’d still be buried in my memories and misery and… Yeah. Come on, let’s get moving before Addie hunts us down and starts scolding us.”

“Like a mother hen.” Race nodded, saying quietly, “I’m glad we came here.”

“Me too, kid.” Shan started out of the room, stopped, and came back to where Race was still standing motionless watching him. Wrapping an arm around his shoulders he reiterated, “Me too. But now we have to leave.”

Thursday, December 7, 2017

(49) When all else is lost the future still remains

The group decided the command center would be the best place to plot their strategy as there were still maps of the various parts of the world stored in long metal tubes in one of the cabinets. Taking out the relevant one, Shan spread it out on the map table. Handing Kayne a pen from one of the desk drawers, Shan asked exactly where the dhampir was headquartered, if he was.

“Here.” Kayne tried to circle the location, muttered an oath when the pen wouldn’t write. He cast a small spell to make it work before circling an area right on the Louisiana/Texas border, on the edge of the Toledo Bend Reservoir.

“A Texan—figures,” Shan said with a snort of derision. “How did he end up living in what appears to be a national forest?”

“Money and magic talk, as they say, and they paid a small fortune for that bit of property, claiming it was for a research facility and the only place that would work.”

“They? Meaning he and his father both live there? That could make things a bit easier.”

Kayne nodded. “According to my sources, which are varied and many, they do.”

“Did we, never mind I’ll look,” Addie said as she began searching the map cabinet. “At least there’s some logic to how these were stored,” she commented a couple of minutes later as she handed the men another map.

When they rolled it out Shan tapped his lips. “Wonder why he had one for this particular area, unless he was interested in that pair, too, for some reason. Oh well, at least he did and this will help immeasurably.”

“Are those elevations?” Race asked, looking at the contour lines on the map.

“You bet. Both for the land and the water. So we know we’re not going to be dealing with flatlands, which will help. I’d give a million, though, for internet access so we could find better maps and information about this area. Kayne, do you know if they’re in residence there right now? I don’t want us going on a wild goose chase.”

“They were as of this morning, and it’s not that far from there to Baton Rouge, so I suspect they won’t leave until a day or so before the conclave.”

“Which means they’re on their way to someplace else as you speak,” Race said, laughing.

Shan smacked him on the back of the head. “Bite your tongue. We don’t need to be jinxed.”

“Lower and to the right,” Race muttered before moving out of Shan’s reach.

Shan growled something about behaving before going back to studying the maps.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

(48) When all else is lost the future still remains

“The dhampir is not just seeking Addie. He has plans that involve everyone who is going to the conclave. I suspect he paid her a personal visit because it is well known she does not trust her own kind now.”

Addie frowned. “Perhaps, since the conclave is made up of the most powerful vampires in the region, they, we are his targets. So why not take us out one by one. He could have killed me in a heartbeat when he came to Shan’s place.”

“Because he wants to make a massive statement”

“I presume it’s not just an ego trip on his part,” Shan said.

“Indeed.” Kayne paused for effect. “It would be on behalf of a specific vampire who wishes to be King.”

“Whoa up there. He’s working for, or has under his power, a vampire strong enough to rule the territory?”

Kayne nodded. “An outsider wishing to be in charge of one of the most populated vampire territories in the world.”

“He can’t be too powerful if he’s using a dhampir to do his dirty work,” Race pointed out. “And isn’t that rather self-defeating? What’s to keep this dhampir from taking him out the moment he gets to be King?”

“The vampire is the dhampir’s father.”

Addie arched an eyebrow at that. “Then I for one am doubly surprised the vampire’s still alive. Dhampir are noted for killing their fathers before the fathers kill them.”

“Agreed,” Kayne replied with a nod, “but obviously this did not happen. Perhaps because the dhampir in question was born with exceptional innate magical abilities, and his father saw how he could put them to use using his son.”

Shan tapped a finger on the table. “That does make me wonder if it was because of Addie that the old King was beheaded, or if that was just the reason given out to placate the masses, so to speak. This dhampir, I suspect, would have had no problem eliminating the King, thus opening up the ‘job’ for his father.”

“An interesting point, but of small consequence at the moment. The pair has to be dealt with before they murder everyone at the conclave.”

“And we’ve been elected,” Shan muttered.

Kayne’s grin was somewhat malicious as he replied, “Indeed you have.”