“That’s my roommate, Jeremy. He’s already got the block, and he already knows who I am.” I hoped that would be enough to stop Lee from making any snap decisions.
As Jeremy came in, Lee had touched on the topic of who his people were. He’d probably killed people for knowing less, and to be fair, this was a potentially world ending secret if Jeremy figured it out. Worse, Jeremy had actually been part of an online discussion group about Lee. It wasn’t likely that he’d figure out much of anything from what he’d heard, but he had a better chance than 99% of the world’s population…
That was why I’d mentioned the block.
Looking me directly in the eye, Lee said, “Make sure it’s a good block.”
“I’ll talk to Daniel about it.” I did my best to sound sincere and calm instead of nervous. I wasn’t lying either. “Oh, and one more thing. The Thing That Eats’ host called us.”
Lee nodded. “Sounds interesting. What did it have to say?”
“It said it knew what The Thing’s plan was and asked me to free it. Also, it didn’t say so, but we know it’s one of the Cabal’s reserves.”
Lee listened. “Andronicus?”
Haley raised an eyebrow. “You know him?”
Shrugging, Lee said, “Immortals. We run across each other every now and again. I’ve known the Cabal a bit, impersonated them, and sometimes I’ve run across one of them when they’re away from the group. Andronicus got sick of being a soldier a couple hundred years ago and left the Cabal. It doesn’t surprise me that The Thing took him. It’s stronger with a strong host.”
Tilting her head to the side, Haley said, “If you’re right, Andronicus must have been the host we defeated in Turkmenistan. He’d been completely converted into the form The Thing uses and Daniel said that his mind was badly damaged. He didn’t seem to think it would be able do anything on its own, but if Andronicus was the host, he healed, crossed the ocean in a few hours, and stole The Thing’s um… soul back from Reliquary. Without the League’s jet or something like it, that would be impossible. Plus, it would mean that he wanted The Thing back. So we can’t trust Andronicus at all.”
I looked over at Haley. “I hadn’t thought about that, but you’re right.”
She frowned. “It’s been bugging me all afternoon. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why until now.”
While we’d talked, Jeremy had pulled the chair out from behind his desk and sat down. I think he hoped we all might forget he was there. Even though he listened, he didn’t say anything.
Lee shook his head. “You’ve got almost everything right, but you’re missing a few details. I’m not surprised that he healed. I think The Thing ran Andronicus’ body through the power impregnator. I’m not sure when, but it would mean he’d regenerate faster than I remember, and the Cabal’s soldiers’ bodies regenerated well even on power juice. He could heal both mind and body.
“What wouldn’t heal is that after so long under The Thing’s command, he’d want it back the way an addict craves its fix. He’d wake up healed, but he’d still remember all the people who were loyal to the thing. Desperate to get back to normal, he’d contact a sorcerous vampire willing to transport him here along with help. I can think of a few who would be capable of it.”
I thought it over. It fit. “So we can’t trust Andronicus at all. It’s a ploy to help The Thing That Eats.”
Lee laughed. “I wouldn’t say that. The creature’s more cruel than you’re imagining. Andronicus must have been compelled by his need to get The Thing back, but now that he’s got him, and now that his body and mind are fully healed for the first time in centuries, he knows that he could have been free. He’s probably desperate to get away now, but that doesn’t mean you can fully trust him. The creature’s got as much power over him as it ever did.
“You’re not going to like it, but to win you’ll have to kill Andronicus and the creature both. I’ll tell you why. It’s because even though I’ll get Chancy to teleport Amy in, she’s not going to have time to work much magic. Meanwhile, the creature is going to eat and infect as many people as it can, starting with people with powers—which means your friends.
“Amy’s given you the means to kill the creature. If you do it, you’ll likely be able to free anyone he’s infected. If you leave Andronicus alive, he’ll still be fighting to get back under the The Thing’s yoke and he’ll likely know how.
“Don’t make the same mistake twice. I’ll talk to Chancy.”
Lee cut the connection. I clicked off the comm program and put my phone back in my pocket.
Jeremy took an audible breath. “Was that what I think it was?”
“Yes,” I pushed myself off the bed. So did Haley.
“And did I nearly end up on his kill list?”
Haley and I looked at each other. Then we looked at him. “Yes.”
Jeremy sat behind his desk, taking it in. “That’s actually kind of cool.”