My eyes lingered on the wound. “Anyone feel up to treating this? If it’s me it’s just going to be basic first aid, but Amy? Samita?”
Samita fumbled for her pouch. “I made a few rolls of bandages. They don’t heal wounds, but you don’t bleed while you’re wrapped up.”
Vaughn raised an eyebrow. “How’s that better than normal bandages?”
Samita looked up from sticking her arm inside the pouch up to the elbow and feeling around. “I didn’t explain it very well. It’s much better. While you’re wrapped up it’s as if you weren’t even hurt, and you can wear it long enough without changing the wrap that you heal.”
Nodding, Vaughn said, “You’re right. That’s lots better.”
Amy looked down at Sean’s leg. “You’re better off with Samita’s bandage. I can do some healing, but it works best on me. It’s temporary anyway.”
Samita pulled what looked like an ACE bandage from her pouch. “Don’t take this wrong,” she told Sean, “but you’re going to have to pull down your pants.”
He looked up, frowning. “I hope you’re not all going to watch.”
From the edge of the group, Haley said, “I’m not watching.” She stared down the hall after the wolves, not even looking at him.
Sean glanced toward her, but didn’t say anything.
Samita began to open up the roll. “How about everyone who’s not helping turn around while I put the bandage on?”
I walked over to stand next to Haley. “Are the wolves gone?”
“I think so. They went down the hall, and I think they kept on moving because their smell is fading. Besides I overheard them talking. They were going to tell someone where we were.”
At that, Samita said, “What? Why didn’t you say that earlier?”
Sean said, “Ow! Fuck!”
Behind me something scraped the floor. Samita muttered, “Sorry. I didn’t mean to do that, but that’s not good news.”
Still not looking backwards, Haley said, “I was going to tell everyone, but you were all talking, and it was hard to hear them. I only figured out what they said just now.”
Vaughn gave a low whistle. “Wait. Did you say the wolves talked? Do you think they might be werewolves?”
“Werewolves?” Sean’s voice grew louder as he talked. “One of them bit me. Shit. I don’t want to become a werewolf. I–”
Samita didn’t let him finish. “Oh, shut up. You’re not going to become a werewolf. First of all, it’s not during a full moon. The infectious werewolves can only turn during nights of the full moon. Second, they don’t get that large, and the werewolves that do get that large are a completely different group that would never work with the Shade Council.”
“Oh,” I said. “So these are talking wolves like in the Narnia books?”
Haley nodded. “Right. Except the ones in Narnia swore less.”
“Done,” Samita said. “You can pull up your pants now.”
“Doing it,” Sean said.
Vaughn laughed. “That better be all you’re doing.”
Sean made a series of half breaths and false starts. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“I don’t know. Just talking.”
Sean pulled himself up. “You are so full of it.”
Amy tapped the floor with her spear. “We’d better move. If they recognized us, they probably expect we’ll be heading for one of the labs, but I still can’t think of anywhere better to hide.”
Haley and I were already on the lab side of the group. Amy joined us, and started walking. We all followed.
As we began walking down the hall, Amy turned toward Haley and me. “So no animals talk in your world?”
“Not naturally,” I said. “I’m sure someone’s managed to make individuals talk, but it’s not normal.”
She nodded, but didn’t say anything at first, frowning. “That explains so much. Zoos, for one.”
We passed the dead wolf. As I’d thought, it was the size of a pony. I didn’t need my HUD’s assessment of its temperature (cooling) to know that it was dead. Too many fluids leaked from too many places for it to be alive. As we walked around it, I asked Sean, “Did you kill it?”
lt wasn’t obvious how it had died. For all the fluids, there weren’t any marks on the body.
“Yeah.” Sean didn’t sound as proud of himself as I would have expected. “It was a mess. They cornered me and and I didn’t have anything to defend myself with. I tried to pull all the metal in the area, but all I got was a nail, and then I couldn’t get it out of the wolf. The other two would have had me if you guys hadn’t shown up.”
“I’m surprised you don’t carry around a bunch of ball bearings or something. With the fae’s problems with iron, you’d be practically a god.”
Sean didn’t say anything.
Not wanting to make him angry, I didn’t push him for more of the story. No one else did either, and we made it to my lab without incident. All the tech labs were empty and silent. It felt weird. Normally I’d hear welding, music, or maybe a small explosion.
Once inside my lab, Amy checked her wards (they were working), and we all sat down around my desk. Sean stared at everything–half made roachbots, armor in the form of piles of blocks, circuitry in various forms.
“We need a plan,” Samita said. “The fae have the compound, and we don’t want to fight everybody.”
I thought about Jaclyn, Izzy, and any of the Cabal’s descendants. Even in armor, that would be a disaster.
“Yeah,” I said. “What do you think would make the fae give up?”