Samita raised an eyebrow at her question, but didn’t sound at all surprised as she said, “Some of us have good reason to believe that there are fairies in the compound.”
Cindy looked from her to the rest of us. “Like leprechauns or something?”
“Like the Faerie Incursion back in the 60s,” I suggested, hoping that would jog her memory.
“My school barely spent time on the history of anything after World War 2.” She frowned.
I nodded. “Mine didn’t either, but I heard about it.”
She gave a sigh. “I lived in a small town with about a thousand people and even though I didn’t know it, we were part of a cult created to raise the next generation of the Cabal. We didn’t pay much attention to the outside world.”
“Okay. The short version is that the fae invaded under the command of a duke of the Unseelie court. The Heroes League were involved, but they didn’t turn the tide alone. The real hero of the day was this outcast wizard named… Um…”
I struggled to think of the name, but Samita finished the sentence for me.
“Reliquary. He specialized in enchanting items, but particularly in analyzing old enchantments. That’s why he succeeded. He barely knew anything about the fae. He knows more now though. I’m his apprentice. He’s with the other teachers tonight.” Samita said it a quiet voice, one that was just barely audible.
“Fuck,” Amy muttered. “Who did you get when you called them?”
“Gunther,” I said, knowing they were more familiar with that name.
Vaughn started laughing. “The fae are toast. Well, assuming he doesn’t grab you and Rachel and leave.”
Amy took off her helmet. Her eyes went from Vaughn to me, and back to Vaughn. “Really? Why would he do that? I’ve seen him fight and he doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything.”
Before I could caution Vaughn to be careful about how he explained it, Samita said, “Master Reliquary says Gunther’s bound by a contract he made with the original Rocket.”
Amy nodded. “What is he?”
Samita frowned. “The master won’t say, or he doesn’t know. All he ever said was that Gunther was the oldest being he’d ever met, and to stay on his good side.”
“Anyway,” I said, “back in the Faerie incursion, Gunther was one of the most powerful players on our side. After Reliquary disabled some ancient fae artifact, Gunther had free rein, and started dropping the most dangerous fae warriors like flies.”
I didn’t add that wizards and magical creatures couldn’t detect him even when he changed form. It wasn’t as if I didn’t trust Amy and Samita, but they didn’t need to know that.
“Wait,” Sean said, “you own the guy who’s teaching us to fight? And he’s an immortal?”
“Not own,” I said. “He owes my grandfather. This is how he’s paying it off.”
Haley cocked her head to the side. “It’s a little like you inherited a servant.”
“An extremely dangerous servant,” I said.
Amy shook her head. “I’m with you there. I’m being raised by the court assassin.” She grinned at me. “So what are we doing next? Putting the hurt on people or waiting here for Nick to be saved?”
“I don’t think he’ll run in here and save me. He’ll probably do whatever seems the most fun.”
Samita bit her lip. “And what does he think is fun?”
I thought about it. “Whatever racks up a high body count? And playing guitar.”
Samita’s eyes widened. “He plays guitar?”
I said, “He gives lessons, but yeah, we should decide what we’re doing next. I hate to suggest this, but now that I’m thinking about it, he might not be as careful about who dies as he ought to be. It might be that we should see if we can solve the problem before he gets here, or at least whatever part of the problem comes from mind controlled people.”
“Can’t you just call someone else?” Vaughn nodded his head in the direction of the servers.
I looked at the servers. I think we all did. At least one of the servers was smoking. I’d taken off my helmet when we started talking. I put it back on. Thermal imaging showed that the servers, the switches, and the router were all hotter than room tempurature–considerably hotter.
I’d been smelling a burnt smell that I associated with damaged electronics, but I’d assumed it was because of the lightning.
Arguably I could be said to be half right about that. Vaughn and Sean had been closest to that end of the room, so they might have been hit by magnetism and lightning.
Vaughn muttered something, and I said, “Well, not anyone outside the building, but maybe we’ll get someone in the building if the wireless network is different from the network the labs use.”
I checked my HUD as everyone checked their phones. Only Haley and Vaughn appeared on the Heroes League network. Sean, Amy, and Samita appeared on the extended network–they used standard protocols my grandfather had been involved in creating.
I checked the connection type for each of them. It showed a direct connection–radio–the kind of connection we used when cell towers or a trusted network weren’t available.
“I hate it when I fuck up,” Vaughn said.
Sean was still staring at the machines.
Amy shook her head, her red hair brushing over her shoulders. “Eathmover’s probably mind controlled either way, right? And I’m sure he’s capable of taking us out even before we see him. Let’s go after Hunter and Adam. Whether they’re controlled or not, I’m sure they’re at the center of all this.”