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April 08, 2024

Further into the Darkness 31

By Lydia Manx

Chapter Thirty-One

Once I had finished my spell I turned to Harry, who was still poised with his sharp scalpel over Commander William Gregory's collar bone and the dark crystal implanted just beneath his skin. With a nod and a smile, I said, "Grab it out from him now, Harry. I've clipped all the spell's crafting to find us. We can use it to trace back to Kenyon's witch and with any luck we can find Kenyon in the same place. I think it's time he came out of hiding and took responsibility for all the crap he's stirred up."

"Sounds good to me, Bethany." Harry sliced rapidly through the Commander's gray skin and removed the crystal. The three-inch crystal no longer pulsed with a deep purple color but was a muddy green from my spell. I had changed the magics that had made it a beacon for Kenyon and his minions to find us. His attempt to kill us had failed, thankfully, but we all were still wary of any more traps. Kenyon had proved to be far sneakier than any of us had anticipated.

Harry put the crystal inside a plastic container he had inside his medical bag and went to the sink, rinsing off the blood from the makeshift operation we'd done on a dead man. Both Morgan and Jasmine let out the breath they'd been holding as did Zach and Caleb. All four were extremely happy they didn't have to help Harry while we'd disarmed the bomb beneath the Commander's collar bone. It had been potentially deadly for us all. As it was, I still felt off kilter from whatever Kenyon's witch had whammied on us with the three captives. The spell hadn't been dark but something else that I had recognized from my youth. It was otherly and strong. Thankfully Harry had stopped it. That was something he and I would be discussing at some point, but for now I wanted to get the hell away from the house.

Despite my magic spell there still the very real possibility that there was an army of Kenyon's clan heading for us along with the tagalongs that the Vampire Council had sent. The Enforcers we'd seen so far had been gathered up from what Harry reported but we both knew that they weren't going to be the only ones sent to annihilate the West Coast Supernaturals. Besides I was pretty exhausted and we still had to meet up with Jason in a few hours. Turning to Harry, I let him know it was his turn to play leader to his merry little band of misfits. Myself included, if I wanted to be honest. I asked, "Now what, Harry?"

"Let's use the flame thrower after we strip out what we need from here. Okay?" He'd easily read my mind on what I thought we needed to do next. We began to gather up the various pieces from the old house that didn't need to be found after we torched the building. I had known the moment I'd seen Harry that my world was going to be blown wide open. And I wasn't in the least mistaken by my thoughts. Then Harry casually pulled out his cell phone and called in the three SUVs he had nearby to assist had things gone sideways when we'd cut open the Commander to remove the weird crystal. Caleb had been given instructions on how to contact Harry's 'friends' earlier but thankfully we hadn't needed a rescue at that time. They were coming to assist in the burning the house down.

We all were so half shell-shocked by the past few hours that nobody bothered to ask Harry any questions or made any comments. We just sat where we'd either been told to sit or wherever we'd landed after the chips fell. And damn how they had fallen. There was so much that had happened that we all were still playing the 'what if?' and 'can you believe?' game in each of our own minds with our own perceptions of the world. My layers of reality were far more complicated than most but I didn't dismiss anyone's views or even argue the merits of mine. I just watched Harry's thumbs fly over his cell phone as he read messages, sent orders and directed his unseen troops. I was under no illusion that he wasn't busy putting out fires all over the county -- knowing Harry he was probably playing politics in Washington D.C. as we waited for his SUV pals to come play cleanup crew. I certainly wasn't planning on torching the bodies of Kenyon's pawns or have anything to do with Harry's dead crew. I was done cleaning up messes for the day. Hell, I had to still meet up with Jason at the Lily Pond in Balboa Park. Given how the past forty-eight hours or so had gone I wasn't holding out for anything remotely normal on the upcoming agenda. I kept reminding myself about Jason because he was my problem to fix, not Harry's. Harry's troubles were numerous, I'd grant him that, but they were his. Sadly mine -- Jason wasn't looking like an easy fix -- but maybe I was wrong.

Harry's reinforcements arrived before I could finish my musings. Caleb had gone back to the laptop and monitoring the various screenshots from the cameras all around us. Harry's spy craft was second to none. He alerted Harry to the three SUVs arrival. He had seen the oversized cars pull up from the front yard camera angles he was viewing on the computer. Before Harry went out to the front to meet his crew, he turned to me and asked, "Bethany, are all your bugs and beasts finally gone?"

"The spell has dissipated so anything out there is just the normal strays and insects nothing more for 'mine' to play with from my spell craft -- yet." I grinned at Harry as he chuckled softly and began thumbing his cell phone letting the folks inside the vehicles know it was safe. "Good, we'll be right back." I knew he meant with his new arrivals and I nodded.

I leaned against a wall. I didn't think Morgan or Jasmine were my fans and Zach was still looking more than just a little stunned, shocked by all the events of the past hour or so. Zach really was a boy from the Midwest for all practical purposes. Null or not, I knew that he'd seen more in the past few hours than in his entire life. It showed on his face and by his body language. Caleb had returned to viewing various activities on the laptop, he was kneeling next to the long coffee table in front of one of the computers that he and I had been using. Harry had brought two laptops with him and the other one was still spun facing Morgan and Jasmine on the couch. They weren't fussing with the laptop but retreated into their own world.

Seeing nobody was currently using the second laptop I casually walked over and snagged it from the coffee table near the lovers. It had been right in front of Morgan, and he didn't look at me but instead he was murmuring in a near whisper to Jasmine and from the way Jasmine held herself I knew she was still battling her resident ghost, the former creepy ass vampire they'd called Miguel. I didn't envy her skills as a death speaker. That she'd decided to dabble in the Dark Arts so much hadn't helped her in the long run. The spell craft she used had a hell of a kick and Miguel was just one Karmic payback the witch had reaped. There were more definitely heading her way from what I knew. Dabbling or deliberately using nasty dark magic always came with a price. Wiccans were fond of talking about three-fold returns. No matter what age, all baby witches had this carefully explained so they didn't go around terrorizing the locals. At least they were not uninformed about the possible outcomes if they ventured into the darker sides of magic.

Three-fold returns meaning if you did something bad or nasty that Karma hit you back personally three times worse. They actually had it wrong as it was more than a bit possible to have a kickback of bad in multiples of seven or even ten times. Karma was a bitch after all -- a capricious bitch at that. I'd seen far worse consequences. Over my decades plus as a vampire, I'd been very careful when choosing my victims. I took my time to dine. I made sure I didn't harm an innocent. It could be a royal pain, but it was well worth my efforts, I'd long decided. Besides there were plenty of bad, evil folks out there lining up to be drained. I swore that I attracted sociopaths without any efforts so it worked out just fine for me. Running for so long without my Master made me very aware of potential trouble.

I folded myself onto a corner of the concrete flooring and began tapping on the keyboard and reading my email. For someone who basically lived off the grid for all practical purposes I sure got tons of unwanted email. Naturally most of it was straight out junk but not all. I could see Caleb's screen out of the corner of my eye. The view was toggled to a camera showing where Harry was standing upstairs in the living room; it was the spot that we had all been earlier. I could see the covered body of Eddie was still on the floor. Thankfully none of the spells being cast had changed that fact. Zombie werewolves weren't high on my list of 'must see' in the world of Supernaturals. Harry was conferring with a large group of men and women I figured had arrived in the three large SUVs now parked on the front lawn -- ironically nearly in the same spots the previous vehicles had been before Harry had launched rockets down from the house's eaves and utterly obliterated the unwanted visitors. Caleb had the audio in the living room on low but even though it was soft it was just loud enough that I could easily recognize Harry's voice speaking.

Continuing to half listen to Harry I rapidly clicked through my emails. Deleting the junk was easy enough, but there still were a disturbing number of actual emails directed at me in one form or another. Bethany Clifton wasn't my only name and the email I was reading was from one of my lesser known email addresses so the names I used on that generic account varied depending on who was writing me. A few acquaintances had forwarded me the link to the Vampire Council's insane decree about wiping out any and all Supernaturals in the West. They all wanted to know what I was going to do about the situation and if they could join me -- and hopefully fall under my protection. Yeah, now I was so popular. Go figure. I didn't bother to reply to any of those emails -- it was far too late to flee from everything; I had figured that out in the last twenty-four hours. As it was most of the emails were from vampires without Masters -- rogues by the Council's standards and decrees. If I stupidly helped them, I'd become their Master and automatically under a death sentence by the Vampire Council for not getting their approval to take the rogues as my own minions and fledglings.

Also, the Executioners sent by the European Vampire Council were already here and culling the vampires, witches, weres and any other Supernaturals they uncovered in their path. I doubted escape was a possibility now. The borders were being monitored and there were sympathetic spies all around us. I didn't need to see any of Harry's fancy reports or even rough field notes -- I knew it. Just hearing that the raid on me had justified five Executioners tagging along with all the troops Kenyon had sent was all the information I needed. The Council wasn't messing around. They were starting an all out war with their own special rules of engagement. Geneva convention and all be damned.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2022-01-10
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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