Then Kid Biohack Thing turned away from Vaughn and began to pace the circle. As it passed him, it spoke in a low voice. “They don’t like you, you know. Not really. They like what you can do for them.
Vaughn stared at it and stepped away from the circle. “You’re not as good at that as you think you are.”
He stopped next to where Samita, Rod, Amy, Cassie and I had clumped together between the two nearest circles.
Looking around at the group of us, he added, “I used to worry about that a lot.”
Judging from Vaughn’s reaction, he still thought about it at least a little. I could see how he would. Even if it wasn’t his last name, his family’s name was on more than one building in Grand Lake—including Hardwick Hall on GLU’s campus.
It made me wonder if the Thing got better at needling us through exposure to us. His first attempts hadn’t amounted to much. This one had made Vaughn think.
I began to wonder if we should get further away from the circles. If my understanding of magic circles matched up with the real thing, The Thing That Eats might have been trying to provoke him into breaking the circle and letting it out.
As I decided I should pass that on or at least ask Amy or Samita what they thought, I noticed new glow in my peripheral vision—actually two glows.
Making use of the near 360 degree vision of my HUD, I focused on the glow, realizing that it was exactly what I’d feared. Latoya and Jillian were still stuck together, but nonetheless floating away.
I wasn’t the only one who noticed either. Amy swore and took to the air. I called her with my comm. “What are you doing?”
The sound of wind came across the connection along with her voice. “Catching them?”
“Maybe you shouldn’t. If they’re joining up with Andronicus, we might be able follow them to him. Have they seen you?”
“I don’t think so. Not yet.”
“Then give me a second…” I turned all the spybots in the area’s attention to the glow, and then said, “Night Cat? Control?”
Haley’s voice came over the comm. “I saw what you did. You want us to follow them.”
“If you can. We’ll be following. All you have to do is track them so that we don’t lose them.”
“We can do that.” She let out a short breath, somewhere inbetween a sigh and a sniff. “I wish I were going with you.”
“How’s your arm?” I asked.
“Better, but not healed.” The sound of keyboards and mouse clicking became louder in the background. “We’ve got them. You should go. Be safe.”
“I’ll try.” I activated the rocket pack and took off, not going as fast as I could to keep the noise down.
Even as I flew after Amy, I realized that I wasn’t the only one. Vaughn had flown after her about the time I called her over the comm. So when I caught up with Amy, I found him too.
We left the campus behind, staying below the trees, and doing our best to avoid power lines. Radar helped.
We traveled down streets, black night-time sky over us. As time passed we knew we weren’t stopping. We left downtown, flying over the old houses that surrounded campus.
Still in the dark, we flew southwest, watching as we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere. By the middle of nowhere, I mean mostly that I didn’t recognize the place.
It almost didn’t count as being a place. It felt more like a leftover than a thing on its own. On one side stood a development, a street with houses on either side of the road, some of them with swimming pools (drained now because it was late October), many with six foot tall fences. On the other side a small, muddy stream widened into a big, muddy pond.
Past the streams stood another development, and that one wasn’t even finished. It was all dirt skeletons of houses. But on this side of the stream, a few trees stood next to the muddy pond. Next to the trees lay a human sized rock.
How it survived, I wasn’t sure. Technically, I supposed, it was a wetland, and there were laws about wetlands. You couldn’t legally destroy them for one, but I knew something was different about this one.
Maybe it was only because I expected to find it, but maybe it was the ward Amy made and the bit of Lee’s essence within it that made the difference. As someone who never trained to be a wizard, I don’t know.
Whatever the cause, I felt a noticeable thrum of power in the place.
Amy, Vaughn and I landed on the roof of a nearby McMansion, a three story house that looked exactly like three other houses in the same development.
We landed on far side of the roof, going down on our knees and looking over the peak down at the rock.
It might be empty normally, but not tonight. Andronicus, the first host of The Thing That Eats stood next to the rock, but didn’t touch it. Next to it stood the gang member who generated shields. I couldn’t think of his name in that moment.
Latoya and Jillian, still stuck together by goobots, landed next to them.
Four people or Things probably counted as a party by the spots normal standards, but that still wasn’t everyone.
On the other side of the stream stood at least twenty vampires. They didn’t look like Dracula. They wore normal clothes—business suits, t-shirts and jeans, dresses. You’d never have picked these people out of the crowd at your local Target if it weren’t for the fangs.
Amy groaned. “More vampires?”