“Right,” Amy said, “except they’re terrified of blood magic and that means they’re terrified of me because I’m connected to the most powerful blood magic-based construct they’ve ever heard of.”
I thought about that, “I’m surprised they didn’t go after you when we were done fighting The Thing That Eats.”
She met my eyes or at least looked toward my helmet and laughed, “Before they were too busy with The Thing That Eats and afterward Lee was right there keeping the both of us alive. They might not know what Lee really is, but I’m sure they keep enough records to know not to mess with him or the people he’s attached to.”
“Let’s hope that continues,” I began to descend, aiming for the forest in the state park where we had an entrance to HQ. A quick check of the sensors showed that no one was in the vicinity.
I asked Amy, “Do you have enough strength left to manage invisibility?”
“I’m feeling better. I think I could,” she frowned, “but not if I have to fly at the same time.”
“Let’s do this,” she moved her hand, pricking herself, and then faded from view.
I could still tell she was there both from the weight and the slight fuzziness in the air where she hung in the air next to me. I activated my suit’s chameleon mode, matching the color in the sky above me or the ground below me depending on your angle.
It wasn’t perfect, but it worked well enough from a distance. By any reasonable measure, we winked out before we came anywhere near the forest and then invisibly dropped through the trees. When I didn’t know the place, trees were a pain, but we kept a couple of spots branch free. In November that meant that it wasn’t hard to find the spot because not only was it branch free, but all the trees around it were leaf free.
Landing in a small clearing between big tree trunks, we stood among sparse grass, sandy soil, fallen leaves, and small bushes. Near us lay a concrete platform. A little over knee high, it appeared to be the remains of some old public works program or maybe a World War 2 era project. Maybe the original was, but this wasn’t it.
As we walked toward it, the top slab slid back and we climbed down a ladder into a tunnel as the slab slid into place. Lights turned on as the outside disappeared and we walked down the tunnel, eventually stepping through a big iron hatch into the main room in HQ.
We weren’t alone. Kayla at one of the desks, monitoring her screens but giving us a wave as we stepped into the room. Haley, Kals, Katuk, and Julie were walking through the room’s trophies toward us. Tiger followed them, the huge dog starting from the far end of the room.
It was an odd group. Only a few years ago, Julie had used her voice to force Haley and me to leave a coffee shop where Sean’s first version of Justice Fist had been meeting. Kals had been a little more interested in me than I’d realized and now she was hanging out with Haley. Katuk, of course, was a Xiniti, one of the aliens that acted as the Galactic Alliance’s shock troops and enforcers.
Next to me, Amy said, “I’m going to drop this form.”
In a flash of red, dark magical symbols, and even thumping medieval music, Amy transformed from being Bloodmaiden back into herself. Clad in armor, the Bloodmaiden form was a foot taller and could have passed as a fitness model. While both were red-haired and pale-skinned, Amy was a little over five feet and thin.
She took a deep breath, “I feel better now, but I need to let the construct rest for a little while.”
I let the helmet of the Rocket suit turn into the open-face version, knowing I couldn’t drop the rest until I got into the lab.
Katuk reached us first. Between wearing the silver Xiniti combat suit, his grey skin, and large black eyes, he looked every inch the alien stereotype, “Nick, I am grateful to see you alive. I was not allowed to assist. My mission is to protect Kals and I am not allowed to leave her side. Otherwise, I would have.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m okay,” I looked away from him as Haley stepped around him, looking up at me.
From the way she was biting her lip, I guessed that she didn’t have good news. Proving me right, she said, “I’m glad you’re okay, but Mindstryke called here. He wanted to talk to all of us when you got back and got out of your suit. It’s about Major Justice. It sounds like he’s trying to make this into a big deal.”
“Oh,” I said, considering asking her for more information but realizing at the same moment that she wouldn’t have any.
At that moment, I realized that bright light was hitting my face. Glancing to my left, I realized that a small sphere was down here with us and had stopped in front of Amy and had begun to turn into a glowing face that reminded me of the moon.
“Blood sorcerer, we require your attention!”