Old Friends & Enemies: Part 15

The creatures from his cloak hit the Cabal soldiers and the True before they could react. The redcap landed on the back of one and chopped off his head with a long knife and held it in the air, blood still spurting from the body as the soldier fell.

It made a serious argument for the idea that a magic blade would have no trouble with the Cabal.

A dragon-like creature with a long neck, and flaming, white eyes that reminded me of ping pong balls—if the ping pong had soaked in gasoline and set on fire—dropped on top of two soldiers and bit through the body of a third, swallowing the upper half and leaving the lower half on the street with its intestines spilling out.

Even though the Cabal soldiers killed a goblin with each punch, the creatures’ weapons bit into their flesh, leaving black marks in and around their cuts that reminded me of pictures of necrotic tissue I’d seen in Stapledon first aid classes. The fact that tissue didn’t normally necrotize that quickly would have given me a reason to avoid goblins in the future if I hadn’t already had enough.

The True died too. Predicting actions didn’t work as well with magical creatures that could ignore the way reality normally worked. Fairies teleported behind them and cut their tendons. Giant spiders crawled up walls and shot webbing at them, pulling them into the air.

All of this happened in seconds. And if it hadn’t been bad enough, tentacles reached out from the darkness within the cloak, grabbing two Cabal soldiers and yanking them inside where they disappeared.

The Cabal knew when to leave. They started shouting in what I guessed might be Latin and began jumping away, disappearing behind the rowhouses on either side of the block. Not as physically tough as the Cabal, almost all of the True died at once.

I could have tried to chase the Cabal soldiers, but I had no temptation to do so. I did fly upward, hovering above the highest buildings and watching where the soldiers went. I had a feeling we might want to know that later.

Despite that, I could still see Dark Cloak and the other creatures in my peripheral vision.

The Jabberwock (I named him for the burbling noise he made) snapped in the direction of the blurs I thought might be Jaclyn’s brothers but didn’t catch either of them. Meanwhile, one by one, the other creatures were pulled back into the cloak. Some of them definitely didn’t want to go. The redcap screamed and shouted in Dark Cloak’s direction before floating upward.

The goblins frowned as they went, sheathing their weapons, but seemingly resigned to it.

The Jabberwock sank its claws into the street, warbling as it twisted its long neck around to look at Dark Cloak. A voice I recognized as Adam’s said a few words, each one quiet, but still loud enough to be heard up and down the block. If he’d been a technological hero, I’d have wanted to look at his sound system.

As it was, something about the words tempted me to call up the defenses Kee had been teaching me about. I couldn’t say I’d mastered them, but they’d worked for me in the past.

Still, it wasn’t me that Adam had been aiming his words at. As I watched, the Jabberwock faded, turning wispy and floating into the cloak.

With the last of his menagerie collected, he turned to the rest of us, saying, “I’ll talk to you later.”

Then he faded away, leaving us with the remains of the battle—a few splattered goblins, a smashed spider, and scattered pieces of Cabal soldiers. Even assisted by my implant, I couldn’t see the head the redcap cut off. I supposed that he might have taken it along with him when he disappeared, but I had no way to know.

With the live Cabal soldiers gone, I landed as did Daniel, Haley and Yoselin. You could make an argument that we shouldn’t have, that we should have hurried to the jet in case the Nine sent someone else, but Jaclyn’s brothers had stopped running and started waving at us.

Plus, we couldn’t see a threat anywhere, and when I said, “We’re landing. I think they’re either dead or gone,” Tara said, “You’re right. We’ll be right above you in a few seconds.”

Landing, I found Izzy standing next to Daniel. All in blue, she’d turned to look at Master Martian who floated, unmoving, above the street, “Is he okay?”

Daniel nodded, “For now, but I think he might be a little traumatized after all of this.”

Jaclyn’s brothers walked up. Their costumes hid their faces, but not their physiques. Almost as muscular as the Cabal, Cedric, Jaclyn’s oldest brother wore a red and black costume. Taller and thinner, reminding me of C, Jaclyn’s grandfather, Damon’s costume was light blue. Neither of their costumes gave any hint of their codenames and I realized I didn’t know them. They hadn’t gone through Stapledon and they’d started their costumed careers after they’d moved to Atlanta. Cedric was a lawyer and Damon taught high school math.

Cedric looked us over and said, “Who was that guy?”

Haley, who’d landed next to me said, “Dark Cloak. I thought he came with you. The Rocket called the Liberators and they were going to send someone.”

Cedric stared at her, “That was Dark Cloak?”

As Cedric spoke, Damon shook his head, “We help the Liberators sometimes and they did call us, but Dark Cloak doesn’t work with them. After everything we heard about him loosing that dragon on you, we wouldn’t have worked with him. We’d send him to jail.”

I let out a breath, “Then I guess we’re going to have to find out where he fits in.”

3 thoughts on “Old Friends & Enemies: Part 15”

  1. Well Adam has certainly taken a turn into eldritch horror since we last saw him. I wonder what the price was for this power up. The Fae certainly aren’t the type to hand out power and soldiers for free. Wonder how long until Adam realizes how bad it is to owe so much to the Fae.

  2. I would guess that the Fey have som plan involving the Master Martian, either to place him in the custody of the league or to extract him later, maybe both. Dark Cloak probably already has sticker shock and knows it will not be paid off in coin. The potential teleporter could easily be door projector in any empty mall, big box store or other vacant with sufficient internal footprint. Drop in a security station, some external sensors, a place to fill out the paperwork, and some creature comforts. Syndicate L would be a reasonable candidates, moving periodically leaving behind the work phones, so they will not link locations as easily. None of that.

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