Amy eyed the group of us. “We can’t simply kill it. If we do, it will try to possess someone else, and there’s a chance, however small, that the host hasn’t been completely consumed.
“Knowing that, the wards you’ve been given don’t only protect you. If we can surround the creature with wards, we can trap it.”
Marcus raised his hand and waved it. “What do we do with it after that? Our grandparents stored a spirit of chaos here for a while but it broke out. Nick and I were both possessed—”
At Amy’s look, he added, “We got out of it, but that’s not the point. I’m just saying that we shouldn’t keep him here.”
Amy waved the comment away with her right hand. “Reliquary has this all worked out. He’s going to be here to take it when we get back. He also called in some favors. So now we have a Russian wizard’s team to back us up.”
I was about to say something like, “Good—” when she continued. “That’s the good news. The bad news is that those of you who were involved in getting Izzy into and out of Turkmenistan will recognize them as the team that Izzy fought on the way out.”
Travis didn’t raise his hand, just his voice. “Are you kidding me? Couldn’t you or Samita have convinced him to get someone else? Those guys are going to recognize her, and if not her, the jet. It’s going to cause an international incident.”
Samita stepped out of the crowd, her red hood down, upper half of her face still hidden by her mask. “No, we told Reliquary everything including that, and he said the Russians will ignore it unless we make them pay attention. Izzy’s not wearing the same costume, and we’re not going to fly low over Russian territory this time. So everything should be fine.”
I looked over at Izzy, and she was wearing the same costume as everyone who was going in—a black costume with red highlights that looked roughly the same as Amy’s armor. All of us had red numbers on our chests so that we, at least, could identify each other.
I couldn’t have said whose idea it was—possibly Tara’s, but the logic worked. The creature knew and feared the Bloodmaiden, but didn’t know Amy. In the heat of battle, it wouldn’t have time to figure which one of us she was.
It also had the convenient side effect of making it hard to figure out who we were.
Like most of us, Izzy hadn’t formed her suit’s helmet. She caught Amy’s eye. “If it would help, I’ll stay here.”
“It won’t.” Amy surveyed the group of us, her red hair brushing her shoulders, and standing out against her armor. “We need all of you. Let’s go over the plan one more time…”
We left in the late afternoon, knowing that we’d arrive around four in the morning. Leaving Samita behind to set up wards in case one of us came back possessed, Alex in case we were mortally injured, and more than half the League to assist them, ten of us left in the jet.
Haley flew since she’d logged more time flying than anyone but me. I was on the team that would be going into the house to face the creature.
With Haley acting as pilot, I took the weapons console, turning on the shields the moment we exited the water. Sheathing the jet in black, energy absorbing shields made us more noticeable visually, but invisible to radar. Haley kept us low until we were out of sight of any boats and then took us up, waiting to break the sound barrier until we were 30,000 feet up, and then heading straight for orbit.
We made it into space in half the time it took to cross Grand Lake during rush hour, moving from daylight on the ground to seeing the blue and white of Earth beneath us and infinite darkness and stars above.
Soon enough, we descended into the dark side of the planet, night swallowing up everything, and many of the stars disappearing.
Monitoring the jet’s sensors, I learned one thing that made me happy—there were no signs of missile launches, which meant that our flight hadn’t triggered a nuclear war.
It wasn’t likely that it would, but you never knew.
We descended more slowly than we could have, using anti-gravity to slow us down and stabilize us. Directional jets kept us on target. Even though the shields obscured the main engine’s exhaust to a degree, using it would have made it considerably easier to detect us.
The lights of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s capital glowed below us. With desert on one side of the city and mountains on the other, the city stood out. Light itself wasn’t the only reason. It had streetlights like any other city I’d seen, but they used more colors to light big buildings than they did back in Grand Lake. I saw purple, green and blue while we were still fairly high up.
As we sank lower, I could see more detail—at least on the largest buildings. The boxy rectangular column-like buildings were apartments. Other buildings with huge domes and wide plazas could have passed for palaces, but I suspected they were government buildings.
We ignored them, choosing instead to aim toward a compound off of a major highway. It was one of many similar compounds. I didn’t know for sure, but to me they looked like mansions. Whatever the rest of them were, this one made me think of a medieval keep—high walls loomed over the trees on the grounds.
“I guess this is our stop,” I said.
Haley bit her lip.
“Good luck, everybody,” Vaughn said from one of the seats behind us, and fog began to form on the ground.