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February 19, 2024

Further into the Darkness 17

By Lydia Manx

Chapter Seventeen

I felt my ancestors inside me -- the rush of centuries of epically powerful women -- the delicious licks of sheer energy were tracing through my very being. Then I felt a of jolt of erotic temptation to give into a darker force -- the backside of magic as it were. My enchantment filled the air and from my touch on Valerie and Jasmine both witches were zapped as the spell I'd cast transferred and flooded them. They shuddered and glowed as my spell began to work.

Without a backwards glance I returned to my chair. Morgan dropped to Jasmine's side as she began to move and murmur.

"What's happening to her?" Morgan snarled at me.

I looked to Harry and remained silent. It wasn't my job to explain magic. Harry simply said, "Bethany's spell worked. Jasmine's starting to wake up. What did you think?"

Morgan looked both confused and furious. He had no control over what I'd done and he wasn't in the least thrilled to be at my mercy. I resisted smiling -- barely.

Caleb, on the other hand, was grinning widely as he picked upon Morgan's discontent with me and my actions. Valerie -- still sprawled on the carpet all by herself -- was the first to fully snap awake. And damned if the East Coast witch didn't pop up from the ground completely aware and functioning. Naturally, she was still very pissed off at Jasmine.

Harry caught his pet's awareness and spit out, "No! Enough. We have problems incoming that you may vent your anger on -- not our group!" He'd pushed on Valerie with his vampiric voice, I didn't care as long as it wasn't directed at me. I caught Eddie jump a bit out of the corner of my eye.

Valerie stopped whatever she'd been plotting with a sullen pout dancing on her lips. She awkwardly returned to her previous seat having been chastised before us all. Morgan was slowly moving Jasmine to the couch and she was listening to his softly spoken words. He was rapidly filling her in on what she'd missed. As I heard him mumbling my name into her ear, I saw something resembling panic filling her face. Her eyes wide she glanced at me then away. Harry was still pounding on his laptop keys -- his head down -- he wasn't worried about either witch. I knew that he'd heard my incantation and from his expression he'd actually understood some of what I'd said. Yay, me. Now more creatures knew what I was than in all other times in my life. Color me thrilled -- not.

Harry finally looked up from his computer and stated, "Four cars have gotten past our initial defenses," as if to punctuate his statement a loud boom could easily be heard inside the library even by Caleb -- who looked to me for direction -- I shook my head wanting him to keep still and out of the line of fire -- supernaturals played differently than vanilla humans. Harry continued, "I've directed the border guards to let those creatures come and to keep the rest out of the immediate action," more booms growing more frequently as well as louder were making it obvious that Harry's teams were following his directions, for now.

Morgan had stopped muttering to Jasmine. Throwing a bewildered glance to Harry he questioned the vampire, "Why? What purpose will those four vehicles serve us?"

Harry simply replied, "Information, of course."

Morgan still looked utterly bewildered but I, on the other hand, thought it was a smart strategy. We knew that it couldn't be vampires at this time of day. Very few vamps could be out in daylight for too much time. We older vampires could withstand some direct sunlight but not nearly enough vamps who were in our age bracket were running around America. If it had been the Vampire Council on our soil -- their power would've been rolling off them in waves of energy and control that was unmistakable. Thankfully, that wasn't happening at the moment.

Morgan listened to Jasmine's whispering voice. I also heard her say, "Morgan, be still and let Harry tell us what he needs from us."

Despite her talking to her man, I could feel her eyes as well as Valerie's on me. They both knew that I had woken them after having the mistaken notion that they were the top witches -- it was quite obvious that I was far more powerfully charged than anyone else. Even as a dead speaker, Jasmine wasn't easily controlled, but I had waltzed over her own spell weaving -- I scared them both spitless. All the posturing from earlier was now dampened into sullen resentment and deeply seated fear.

Harry was filling my screen with messages I'd yet to open much less reply. I had been a tad busy enchanting spells and awakening his angry witches after all. Audibly sighing my own blend of aggravation and a bit of my own resentment I began rapidly opening the various clutter of messages on my computer.

Harry: We only need one or two volunteers from the incoming vehicles.
Me: Why'd you let four cars in then?
Harry: Because I need to find the strongest and the most informed of them. I need choices.
Me: So how do we proceed?
Harry: Even with our age outside isn't ideal but with cameras inside house will work. We can divide and conquer as I select a few from their numbers. We'll let the others play while culling. You'll keep Caleb out of line of fire?
Me: Of course. Zach probably should be used carefully so we don't stress him any more than needed.

Harry nodded and spoke aloud to the gang who were watching our fingers fly and looking pensive.

He spoke to them while still multi-tasking, "We're getting a game plan going." Never underestimate a Master much less a master strategist like Harry. He had plans inside plans that even impressed me at times. He continued, "Caleb, I'll need you to stay back unless Bethany or I ask your help. We're sure that these invaders aren't vampires but a combo of witches, weres, and dedicated humans." Major understatement, despite Harry's pretty speech I could see that Caleb was unsure of his purpose.

"Caleb, these folks certainly aren't worth your dying over," I said softly, "We'll need you later -- hell, I definitely will. They won't be long for this world any way -- so let us handle it, okay?"

My words did little to sooth my human, but he nodded with a jerk of his head signifying that he'd heard me -- not necessarily that he planned on following our commands. Mentally I drew up a plan to knock his ass out if need be. I wasn't willing to sacrifice Caleb this early in the day. I would really need to have him watch my back later at Balboa Park for the meeting with Jason who might or might not be on my side, a concern gnawing a bit at me despite Harry's paltry assurances. Some of my worries finally seemed to sink into Caleb's mind, because his face suddenly lit up from inside as if a mental lightbulb had gone off in his brain. Score one for me.

I went back to some of the message boxes on my laptop from Harry that I'd yet to see. A few were just copies of Harry's messages to the outside army at his disposal. I rapidly read his game plan to funnel a few of the approaching cars and SUVs here while other members of his crew were being given the okay for a good old scorched Earth response and from the distant smashing, explosions and random hysterical screams they were definitely following his rapidly given instructions. I went back to the messages.

Harry: Bethany, sorry about my witches. I really tried to warn them.
Me: Not like we "witches" are known for blindly believing the crap we've historically been told.
Harry: True, but still I was quite emphatic that you weren't in any way to be challenged.
Me: Yeah. Well, that went well now, didn't it? So, how do we proceed?

After a beat Harry didn't answer that message so I closed off that text box and moved rapidly through the others. Some were basic quick questions he knew the answers to already or he was trying to get me to spill some of my secrets. Those were closed unanswered and from Harry's light scoffing sounds I knew he was aware of my non-reply.

The loud shrieking of the various vehicles approaching hitting their brakes hard heralded arrival of the chosen few. Doors were opened while the voices of the newcomers yelled instructions to each other on how precisely to attack us. A few yelled into throat mics to their fallen comrades unable to reply because Harry's folks had already slaughtered them. I wasn't sure that these creatures were aware of how few of them remained outside the house. Harry and I could see on our laptop screens the arrivals on the outside cameras -- I noticed that one of the four cars had pulled away from the "herd" and was actually in the alley outside the back of the house. That vehicle already had slammed open four of its doors and disgorged a half dozen mixed creatures from inside the SUV.

Morgan had been watching Jasmine while studying Harry and I with a suspicious amount of anger, "Fuck me, Harry! Is the whole block covered with spy cameras and your top end crap?" Morgan's voice was more hurt than angry I thought. Jasmine actually softly shushed her mate -- which I found a bit curious. Maybe she'd been more updated than he was.

Harry glanced up and confirmed Morgan's query. "Morgan, you know perfectly well how I like my gadgets. Better to be prepared and not need the tools than not and be caught flatfooted and be forced to catch up or worse." Harry sighed and spun his screen to share with his companions.

I knew from my side that he'd closed out all his messages on his laptop after sending me a message to share with Caleb and Zach as I saw fit. I closed up all the messages on my screen leaving only the live feed from the cameras outside. Once set up I spun my laptop around to allow Caleb and Zach to view the vehicles outside. Eddie and Valerie were pretty much on their own due to where they were seated. Eddie and Valerie glanced over at me and as one stood and decided to go behind the loveseat were Morgan and Jasmine were perched. I bit back a slight smile at being obviously shunned by them. I didn't care. Both Zach and Caleb were stunned by the clarity and number of angles Harry's cameras covered. They both muttered underneath their breath. Looking at the screen I saw how the fog from the previous nights had crawled back to the coast or remained trapped down in the deeper valleys and canyons. The view was very clear as the sunlight burned through the wisp of clouds in the sky. I could see from the screen that the fires burning around the county shaded the sunlight as the smoke and ash defused the brightness and shaded the air.

Catching Harry's glance, I arched an eyebrow and asked, "Enough smog, fog, and smoke going to allow any of our local vamps to join in the raids on us?"

Air was sucked out of the room as what I'd asked had not obviously occurred to the witches and null. Caleb wasn't even clued in yet on how all the varying supernaturals functioned, he just muttered at me a soft, "Duuude ..."

Harry nodded to m; he appreciated me 'asking' aloud, knowing perfectly well I could've easily mind spoken my concern. Okay, so it really wasn't a concern. I just wanted everyone aware of the dire possibilities of those attacking as the crashing and smashing continued all around us, illustrating their willingness and absolute commitment to die for the 'cause' -- not that I even knew precisely what that entailed yet.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-10-04
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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