Courtesy: Part 16

We all looked at City Hall and the parking garage next to it. As seeds of humanity’s destruction went, it was unassuming. Little more than multiple floors of concrete with ornamentation styled to fit in with the buildings from the 1880s that stood around it—sort of.

It was still a big grey box.

I wasn’t sure whether the city owned the parking garage and allowed Grand Lake Parking to run it or whether Grand Lake Parking owned the building and rented the lower floors to the city on some kind of long term lease. Either way, the lower floors connected to City Hall below the ground.

We all hovered there looking at them.

“We’ve got some decisions to make,” Daniel said over the comm. “We’ve got to decide how we’re going to go in. If I remember correctly from Stapledon, Portal needs to see the place that she’s teleporting to, right?”

Over the comm, Brooke said, “That’s right, but a telepathic image from someone else’s head or even a picture will still work.”

Even though I’d known it for years, it still seemed weird to me that she was Guardian’s daughter. She was friendly and I’d never felt like he was.

“Good,” Daniel said, “How much can it change from the picture before there’s a problem?”

Not giving her a chance to respond, I added, “Do you step into nothingness or someplace that looks similar?”

“Oh,” she said, “it’s not a disaster. If it’s too different, I just can’t connect.”

“Okay,” Daniel said, “a bunch of us have been in City Hall, but it was in senior year of high school—roughly six years ago. I’ve been in the parking garage, but not the lower levels. Would a picture from Blue work?”

Brooke and Izzy both said, “No,” simultaneously and Brooke added, “Sorry. We tried it at Stapledon.”

Over the comm, Cassie said, “Let’s have Portal try someone’s memory of City Hall and if it works, we’re in. If not, your group fights your way in and we portal after you using the picture streaming from your cameras. Simple.”

It was, actually.


It was a little more complicated in that in order to keep everyone in HQ safe, Brooke had to open a portal to somewhere outside the Wizard Council’s wards—which turned out to be completely possible, meaning that if she got infected, the world was screwed.

On the bright side, it also meant that it was no problem to get Alex, Brooke, and Jenny to Haley’s team in the neighborhood near the park.

Haley’s team included not only Adam, but also an army of fairies and a Duke of the Unseelie Court at the moment. So when we looked at their streams, it looked like the cover of an urban fantasy novel.

Next to the park, a portal to Faerie was still open and still shimmering with a green, otherworldly light as winged fairies, goblins, ogres, and elven soldiers on foot and horseback stepped out from somewhere else.

It was a strange mixture of the beautiful and the ugly.

For the record, even though I had names for some of what came through, that wasn’t true of everything. Reptilian things that weren’t dragons walked through with wet, horselike creatures, and dogs with a feral look about them.

Plus, there were shadowy things that were obvious when they weren’t directly in view of the camera, but only wispy when the streaming person looked at them directly.

It almost made me feel bad for the mushroom zombies, but not very. Despite Adam’s assurances, it did make me worry about what would happen to the people the fungus controlled.

Brooke spoke into her comm, “I tried to use Captain Commando’s and Night Cat’s memories of City Hall. It didn’t work, but not the normal way. It felt blocked the way it feels when someone blocks teleporters.”

We’d moved to the top of a downtown highrise while we waited. There was no sense hovering where someone would see us and this building appeared to be mushroom free on the outside. We hadn’t gone inside. There was no sense in pushing our luck.

Alex’ name blinked on my screen, “There you go. Sounds like it’s time for you to move in.”

“That’s what I said,” Cassie added.

Then everyone at the park gasped, muttered, or stopped talking altogether. I didn’t need to ask why. A group of elves in plate armor had ridden through the gate in the park on horses with a strange, silver sheen to their fur.

In my imagination, elves were shorter than humans, but these seemed gigantic. The horses and the armor had to be part of it, but the elves themselves had to be tall to wear that armor—around seven feet, I guessed. The one in the center of the group was shorter, but only by a few inches.

Just from his position, it didn’t take much to guess that was Duke Metzul. His plate armor was silver with whorls of dull black metal. I wondered if the black metal had some kind of magical meaning.

His helm didn’t cover his face. Thin, handsome, and light skinned, he could have passed for a college student in a world where college students commonly had pointed ears and a predator’s teeth.

Next to me, Amy turned from watching City Hall to say, “Metzul came through.”

“Yeah,” I said,” directly into the park. He’s powerful enough that it’s that obvious?”

Her lips twitched, “Powerful enough that every practitioner in this hemisphere felt something.”

“Oh,” I said aloud, feeling like she wasn’t saying something important. I went with the first thought that came to mind, “Is this a problem?”

She scowled, “At least three Bloodmaidens fought him, but I didn’t know it until now because they just told me.”

“Huh,” I thought about it, “does he hold a grudge?”

She frowned, “Some of the past Bloodmaidens say yes, others, no.”

In my spybot’s stream, Duke Metzul turned to Adam, his voice quiet, but loud enough that everyone in sight turned, asking, “Where is the enemy?”

3 thoughts on “Courtesy: Part 16”

  1. It occurs to me that if no one fully explained the situation to him, the Duke could take insult from the fact that ‘the enemy’ is fungus.

    1. That’s possible, although if they emphasize this “mere fungus” is an existential threat to humanity, I think he’ll be more comfortable with it. Also, being from Faerie, he’s probably familiar with dangerous supernatural fungi anyway. Plus mushrooms are often associated with Faerie (Fairy Circles, for example). So I don’t think he’d be insulted by the nature of the foe… but I could be wrong.

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