Moments later, three more people came through the door. The first two were teenagers—a boy and a girl, holding hands. The boy wore a sporty blue jacket made of wyvern leather in a style that had been popular at Court last year. He was short—only a little taller than the girl who came in with him—and his brown hair went down to his shoulders, a style that was still popular.
His eyes darted from one spot to another in the room, and he grinned as he took it all in.
A low murmuring came from the voices in her head when she saw the girl. Blonde, blue eyed and pale skinned, the girl wore a brown leather coat and pants—the kind Amy had seen in illustrations of colonists and frontiersmen. From her clothes alone, it was obvious to Amy that this person didn’t care about fashion at all, but that was the least of it.
The girl’s ears had a slight point, and her walk hinted at a physical strength that didn’t fit with her slim frame.
Based on a steady stream of memories, Amy guessed that whoever this girl was, she was more Elder than human.
Nick knew both of them, looking up from the wire he’d been checking to shout, “Vaughn! Cassie!” He waved his right hand. “Vaughn, you’ll need to go over to the corner. Cassie, you’ll need to stand next to the door, and be ready to uh…”
“Fight,” said the third person to enter. Nearly bald with a ring of white hair around his head, he wore a black suit with a silver lightning shaped pin on his tie. He carried a black, wooden cane, accented with silver metal, but didn’t walk with the weakness she would have expected.
To her surprise, she recognized him as Giles Hardwick. He’d been introduced to her last year at Court as an ambassador from the Summerlands.
Amy sensed powerful magic around him (and his grandson) without even trying.
At the sound of Giles’ voice, Joe looked up from the podium. “Up for a fight, Giles?”
“As ever,” Giles said. “But remember when we arranged defenses for this building? We were assuming at most ten people sneaking in. It appears that several times that will be attacking tonight.”
Joe frowned. “Then I suppose we’ll be redesigning again tomorrow.”
Outside, someone screamed and fell past one of the front windows. He was followed by a head and a hand. The hand was on fire.
Giles raised an eyebrow and crossed the room to stand a few feet behind Joe. “Captain Lee’s on the roof?”
Joe chuckled. The end of the chuckle was overwhelmed by a solid sounding thump, followed by a flash of lightning and the crack of thunder.
“I’m going to guess,” Joe said, “that they tried to batter down the front door. They’ll know that only works once soon enough. Cassandra, please be ready.”
Cassie grinned and pulled a curved dagger off her belt. Made of a black metal, it was spiderwebbed with veins of dark red running down the blade. “I am ready.”
The voices in Amy’s head wasted no time in pointing out that it was one of the Elder’s weapons, an old one that originated wherever they came from.
“Dammit,” Harcourt muttered. “What did I say, Vander Sloot? Give me a moment and I’ll join the defense.”
Joe narrowed his eyes and stared. “Stay where you are unless you plan to stay. The fight will end when you’re gone, and we can hold them till then.”
Harcourt clenched his fists. Then, pulling a revolver from inside his jacket, Harcourt said, “I’ll assist from here then.”
Nodding, Joe said, “Don’t shoot the batteries.”
From below came the hum of a big engine followed by a crash, and the sounds of shattering, splintering, and tearing.
Joe turned away from the noise. “Nicholas, have all the connections been checked?”
Nick looked up from staring at the floor. “Two more to go.”
In a low voice, Joe said, “Quickly.” Turning toward Vaughn’s corner of the room, he said, “Are you ready? Charge up now, and let it go when Nicholas gives the word.”
Vaughn saluted, grinning. Joe ignored it.
From below came the sound of shouting, and boots hitting tile on the stairway. The noise echoed in the stairwell past Cassie’s doorway, and then a man stepped through.
Cassie’s knife arm whipped out, and she cut his neck. The red veins in her knife glowed brighter, and for a moment, the man’s blood flowed upward toward it.
Punching the next man, she ducked, avoiding a shot from his pistol, and cut the inside of his leg. Blood spurted out, and he fell over. Cassie, in turn, blurred with speed, stepping over him and into the stairwell.
Screams came from inside, and then gunshots, one after the other.
Over the noise, Nick shouted, “Connections checked!” He ran toward the middle of the room and the podium where his grandfather stood, jumping over the clusters of wires on the wooden floor.
From the corner, Vaughn shouted, “Charging!”
Amy shielded her eyes as bright, white lightning illuminated the room. Meanwhile, more gunshots came from the stairwell. This time, Cassie screamed.