“Huh. Does that happen a lot? I’d think that they’d want you to succeed.”
Amy smirked. “You’d think that, but a lot of them think I should be staying out of this fight and keeping myself safe so that I can return home. Their logic is that you’ve got people who can handle it, and the kingdom needs me. Why risk the Bloodmaiden for this world?”
I thought about it. “They do kind of have a point.”
Amy’s eyes darted toward the phone. “Don’t encourage them. I think, and some of them agree with me, that if I defeat it here, it’s never coming home.”
Vaughn tilted his head. “Wait, if some of them agree with you, can’t they tell you what’s going on?”
Amy shook her head as the steel beams of the bridge she’d been on disappeared. Now only green fields, hills, and trucks the other side of the freeway appeared behind her.
Accelerating to pass another car, Amy added, “The person who was alive at the time owns the memory. If she won’t let anyone else use it, they can’t.”
“That opens up a lot of questions about how you store memory,” I began.
Samita turned the phone back on herself. “Few of which are important right now.”
“She’s right,” Haley kept her voice low.
Travis nodded. “Yeah. Here’s a better question: should we pick you up in the jet?”
Samita’s brows furrowed. “Do you know exactly where the Council’s wards were placed?”
Travis shook this head.
“Then,” Samita said, “it’s not worth the risk. I’d rather not fly through an invisible wall against magic at several hundred miles per hour.”
“Alright,” Travis said, “then I’ve got a question for you. What motivates this thing? Is there any way we can trick it out of hiding?”
“This one’s yours.” Samita aimed the phone at Amy.
Amy grinned. “It likes eating people, but I doubt that’s all of it. Its presence has been known to bring down kingdoms even when they’re too large to eat everyone.”
Sydney tilted her head toward Camille, “I can’t believe the wizards’ council is trapping us in here with that thing and they aren’t even trying to get people out.”
“I don’t want to defend them,” Amy said, “but that’s a big job. Can you imagine trying to evacuate the city without terrifying the people inside into not leaving all at once? If enough people leave at once, they might even destroy the wards, and then what do you do? You’ve just let The Thing That Eats free. Only now, it’s been reunited with any vampires that it’s friendly with, as well as your world’s blood mages. In that moment, it stops being ancient, supernatural evil and becomes ancient, supernatural evil with an army.”
Amy shook her head. “Talk about a mess.”
In a quieter voice, Sydney said, “My mom’s here.”
And, of course, her dad had already died at the hands of the Executioner a little over a year ago. I could see where she’d be worried. I was too, and both my parents were still alive.
The screen switched back to Samita. “Sydney, we only met a couple days ago, so you’ve no reason to trust me, but I’m a wizard and I know a little bit about how this works. The Council definitely didn’t send Vengeance with only a few zombies for support. There have to be wizards in Grand Lake now, and they’ll be waiting for the Thing That Eats to show itself. They’ll be searching for it, and they’ll be watching for civilians even to the point that they’ll die rather than let your mother be killed.
“It’s understandable that you’ll worry, but you’re in better shape than you think.”
Sydney nodded, but then added, “Thank you.”
Camille squeezed her hand.
Meanwhile, I hoped that Samita was right. I wanted to believe that the North American Council of Wizards employed a bunch of badass, self-sacrificing combat wizards—squads of Harry Dresden wannabes, maybe? Unfortunately, my only exposure to Vengeance had been back when the mayor had tried to quietly get his mental hooks into political office holders all over the region.
Vengeance had tried to stab the mayor after we’d captured him and knocked him unconscious, and I’d managed to scare Vengeance off.
On the whole, that didn’t awe me.
We ended the call soon after that. Chris and I stayed in HQ and experimented with new ways to use the goo. Later in the day, I even worked on homework for a couple hours.
I woke in the morning to find emails and texts from Rod, Cassie, Amy and Samita. They’d met up and rented a hotel room outside Grand Lake. Rod, Amy, and Samita couldn’t get past the wards into the city. Cassie could, but not if she kept her bloodgem ward on her.
They were going to find a weak point in the wards and sneak through.
It didn’t change the fact that nothing else happened on Monday or even Tuesday. There were no reports of bigheaded things eating people, no reports of Vengeance, and no reports of wizards.
I couldn’t quite enjoy it. I knew better.
On Wednesday morning at 10:46am, everything fell apart, but not in the expected way. We got a yellow. My bots had registered a speedster (probably Alden) moving at two hundred miles per hour. He’d been sighted near not one, but two banks.
An armored car was leaving a BNC bank branch practically as I got the picture.
It didn’t take a genius to guess what would be happening next. It appeared that the gang that was robbing armored cars had chosen that moment to come out of hiding.
Ignoring the looks I got as I left class four minutes early and ran for my dorm, it struck me that we hadn’t briefed Kid Biohack that The Thing That Eats was in town.