“The gun thinks I should shoot him now.” Cassie stood, pointing the gun in his general direction, but not directly at him.
“Does it have anything nonlethal?” I watched Alden as he stood. The combination of speedster and being infected meant that he’d be able to do more damage than I liked to think.
The only person fast enough to counter him inside the city was Kid Biohack, and he didn’t have a ward to protect him.
Thinking strategically, killing Alden was a good choice. Morally, killing someone who was controlled by an outside force struck me as questionable—except that if keeping him alive destroyed the city, killing my parents and untold others…
I ignored a wave of worry—mostly.
Cassie turned to look at me, grinning. “Non-lethal? It sparkles.”
“Just sparkles?” I checked the van’s HUD to see if anything had changed.
“That’s it, but we could hamstring him. The gun’s good enough to do it.” Cassie stared out the window at Alden. “You wouldn’t even have to open the window very much.”
Amy followed her gaze. “I’m sure my dad would tell you to take the shot, but not unless we had a plan for the others.”
Vaughn laughed. “Yeah, our simple solution for taking out Cabal soldiers—lasers.”
“Except, we don’t really want to kill them,” I said.
“And we don’t want to offend the rest of the Cabal,” Samita added. “Maybe you can survive that, but I’m not sure I can.”
She’d pulled a wand out of the pouch on her belt, and held it in her right hand as she watched Alden as he stood next to the Dykstra building. Occasionally her eyes would flick upward toward where Jillian and Latoya stood, both of them protected by red energy fields.
I followed her gaze. Latoya and Jillian weren’t doing anything yet. Who was missing? The two (former?) Cabal soldiers Philo and Andronicus, The Thing’s most important host. Also, Hank Hasemann, the guy who made block shaped force fields, and incidentally, the guy Morgan had said was an honest thief.
As ridiculous as it seemed when I thought about it later, in that moment the period when we’d fought the Cabal looked good in my memory. We’d been overmatched, but Lee had been directly involved and we could put everyone into the field. Plus, we had the means to fight the Cabal even if we didn’t know it yet.
As much as I liked the people in the van with me, I missed Daniel and everyone else that the Wizard Council’s magic circle kept out.
Amy leaned forward in her seat, eyes following the small road that ran through campus, illuminated only by small street lamps. “Be ready. I think this is about to start.”
Camille began to say, “How do you know—” but didn’t get any further than that.
Philo flew out of the darkness, landing in the grass not far from the circle we’d parked in. The Cabal’s toughest soldiers were strong enough to jump a significant percentage of a mile. The way his feet sank into the grass, it was obvious that he couldn’t control the speed he landed at.
At about the same time Philo landed, the van’s sensors picked up blocky shapes next to the far corner of dePuit Hall. Even to the naked eye, the force field had a faint gray glow despite being almost dark enough to blend into the darkness.
I couldn’t guess when he’d arrived.
Even before Philo stood fully upright and pulled his boots out of the dirt, more figures appeared in the night.
By that, I mean that Amothel, the brown and gold dressed woman faded in on the lawn, naked sword hanging at her waist. From her pointed ears, I’d guessed that she might be elven or half-elven, but part of me didn’t rule out Vulcan.
Along with her, Vengeance faded in as well, submachine gun in hand, shriveled ear on a necklace still hanging in everyone’s view. All gray skin and slack jaws, the four Hangmen faded in near him.
Because the group on the campus lawn wasn’t strange enough, they had a duty to include two more members. It wouldn’t have surprised me to see them on opposite sides of a fight rather than together.
The first was a silver suit of plate armor that I assumed contained a person, but I wasn’t quite sure because the armor covered every piece of human flesh. Strange symbols covered almost every inch of the armor. Contrary to what I would have expected, it didn’t carry a sword. It held a metal staff that was decorated like the armor.
Next to it stood a short haired woman with bags under her eyes and wearing dark clothes with a medieval look. Gray, black, and white energies swirled around her hands like smoke.
Amy stared at the woman’s hands. “And they complain about blood magic?”
Samita leaned forward. “Reliquary said she was with them now.”
“Maybe someone could explain—” I began, but then Vengeance started talking.
Aiming his gun at Philo, he said, “I’ve got a message for the creature that lives inside you.”
Philo opened his mouth, and from his strained expression, I expected to hear a scream, but the bulbous, caricature of The Thing That Eats face grew out of his, fleshy lips, wide teeth and all.
It said, “I choose to hear your message.”
Keeping my voice low, I turned toward Cassie, “If they’re going to fight and you can hamstring him, I’d say take the shot.”