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|Thirteen(Women of the Otherworld #13) by Kelley Armstrong|
Jeremy ran and dropped beside her as Karl hobbled over.
“She’s coming,” Hope gasped. “The baby’s coming.”
“What can I get?” I said.
I looked around as I said it, and saw Elena bent over Clay. Leaving Hope, I hurried over to them, Adam right behind me.
“He’s just unconscious,” Elena said. “But Giles … When I came to, he was gone.”
“Shit!” I frantically searched the crowd for sign of him.
Then a voice said, “There. He went through there,” and I saw a young woman holding her bloodied nose and pointing backstage.
Adam and I took off.
We came out of the back room only to be swept up in a raid. A couple of hundred young supernaturals were trying to get to the compound’s exit while our tactical teams tried to round them up. Every one of those kids was convinced that Cabal capture meant death. So they fought back, and we stepped into a maelstrom of spells and shoves and waving guns.
I tried to get through without using my powers, but ended up resorting to knockback spells to clear the way. We’d gone about five feet when a Cabal goon pointed a gun at us.
“Hands against the wall,” he barked.
“Savannah Levine. Adam Vasic,” I said. “Now move your ass.”
“Better yet,” Adam yelled over the din. “Did Gilles de Rais come through here?”
“I saw him,” another Cabal officer called.
“Where’d he go?”
The guy pointed to a door. I hurried over and pushed it open. The room was empty. There was an upended table in the middle and a rumpled throw rug under it. I stepped in, fingers raised to zap Giles. Then I heard a now-familiar noise. A steel door closing.
Behind the table, there was a hatch. There was still enough room for me to clamber through it, and as I went I lit a light ball and saw a ladder along the side. I grabbed that and went down. Adam barely made it through behind me.
We scrambled down the ladder to a room at the bottom. A corridor led off to the side.
“Secret escape hatch,” I muttered. “Does everyone have them these days?”
“We’ll install one at the agency for you.”
I contacted Lucas and told him where we were. There was no way the Cabal team was getting through that steel hatch door anytime soon, though. So he told us to go ahead and give chase to Giles.
We could hear Giles ahead, feet pounding, breath coming hard. He was panicked and not being careful, his flashlight beam bobbing as he ran. We were careful. We ran as lightly as we could until we spotted him at what looked like the end of the tunnel.
I cast a cover spell. He turned and peered toward us. Maybe he’d heard us, maybe he hadn’t, but a wave of his flashlight seemed to reassure him that he was alone, and he let out a sigh of relief before making his way up a ladder.
We crept close as he climbed. At the top, he pushed open the door and looked down again, but the cover spell still hid us. He climbed out. We went after him.
When we reached the top, I cracked the hatch open as little as possible and peered out to see …
We were in a cornfield, the tall stalks all around us. I closed the hatch again and whispered the news to Adam. Then I gave Lucas one more update before I opened the hatch again and cast blur spells so Adam and I could crawl out.
We found Giles about twenty feet away, doubled over, catching his breath. Adam whispered a game plan.
Still under the blur spells, we split up. Adam circled around to the other side of Giles. The ground was damp and muffled our footsteps. I caught the occasional moving cornstalk marking Adam’s progress, but Giles didn’t seem to notice. I tracked the swaying corn until I knew Adam was in position. Then I crept forward.
I stopped about five feet from Giles. He looked up sharply, as if he could sense me there. I ended the spell. He saw me and turned to run just as Adam lunged.
Giles managed to twist out of Adam’s way, but I jumped into his path. He looked from Adam to me.
“You can’t kill me,” he said. “I’m immortal. You know that.”
“Immortal, yes. But you’re not a vampire. I’m guessing you’ve got some zombie juice swimming in your veins. That means you’re not invulnerable.”
“Yes, I am.”
“Have you tested that theory?” I watched his expression. “Jumped off buildings for fun?”
Giles hesitated, then pulled a vial from his pocket.
“Do you know what this is?” he said.
“I can guess,” I said.
“Good. So you know it’s not something you want me to uncap.” He paused. “How’s Bryce?”
“Not well, I take it. Would you like the antidote?”
I didn’t answer.
“In the interest of fair play, I’ll give it to you. A gift. I presume you have a radio?”
Again, I said nothing.
“Call Lucas Cortez. Tell him to go to my office. The safe is in the bottom desk drawer. The code is 1429. The year I fought alongside Joan of Arc.”
I could tell by his expression he expected me to be impressed. Without reacting, I conveyed the information to Lucas. He was already in Giles’s office and had found the safe. The code opened it.
“The antidote is in a pouch with instructions. They’re written in code, but it’s not a complex one. Benicio Cortez will have someone who can figure it out. Now I’m going to put this down.” He bent and laid the vial on the ground. “And you are going to let me walk away.”
He straightened up and started walking. I let him get about five feet before I locked him in a binding spell.
I walked over and patted down his pockets.
“Yep, backup vial,” I said as I felt it through the fabric. “Let’s take this off your hands before we escort you back inside.”
As I reached for it, something hit me. It was like a micro version of the blow inside. I stumbled. The spell snapped. Giles jumped me. I went down. Adam lunged, but Giles was already on top of me, pinning me to the dirt, vial in one hand, the other wrapped in my hair.
Giles wrenched my head back. When I gasped, he pushed the vial to my lips. Adam grabbed Giles around the neck and I smelled burning flesh. I struggled to cast a binding spell, but Giles had the vial at my mouth, and I couldn’t get the words out.
“You should have let me go while you had the chance,” he rasped, his eyes rolling in agony. “All I need to do now is—” Adam yanked him off me. I scrambled up and hit him with … I don’t know what. He screamed in agony and clutched his stomach. I could see it ballooning under his shirt, the skin glowing, as if he’d swallowed a fireball. Then it burst. Flames licked out as he dropped to the ground, writhing and howling, blackened intestines tumbling out between his fingers.
Adam stared. Then he knelt and wrapped his hands around Giles’s neck again and squeezed until he put him out of his misery.
Just to be sure, I bent and checked for a pulse. Adam checked for breathing. We found neither.
“Yep. Immortality but not invulnerability,” I said.
“Good call. Let me carefully get that vial out of his hand in case his death grip snaps it.”
He bent over Giles’s ruined body. He was peeling back his fingers when Giles’s eyes snapped open.
Giles reared up, grabbing Adam. I cast a binding spell and it worked—I felt it work—but Giles didn’t stop, just picked Adam up like a rag doll and whipped him. As I raced toward Giles, I knew what I’d see.
Bright green glowing eyes.
“Balaam,” I said, stopping short.
“Very good, my child.”
He reached down and picked up the unbroken vial. Then he took two long strides and scooped up the second one. I cast another binding spell.
“Your magic won’t work on me, little one,” he said. “You’ve fought well, but it’s time to surrender. Go tend to your lover. He’s injured.”
I looked over at Adam. He lay crumpled on the ground, but I could see his chest rising and falling.
“He’s just unconscious. He’ll be fine.”
Balaam laughed. “How cold you are. I’m impressed. I suspect Asmondai’s son would not be.”
“Then you suspect wrong. He wouldn’t want me running to his side and letting you walk away with those vials. Give them back.”
“Oh, well, in that case …” He held them out, then shook his head and laughed. “No, child. You can fight me for them, but there’s no point. Even if you managed to get them away from me, I can find more.”
“If that was true, you wouldn’t have come for these two. The rest of the virus must already be in Cabal custody. Those vials are your last chance for the biggest chaos banquet you’ve ever had.”
“And you’re going to stop me, are you?” He smiled. “I do appreciate your tenacity. And your bravery. You are indeed a child of my blood. But you’ve inherited my recklessness as well, and you don’t have thousands of years of experience to temper that impulsive streak.”
He came so close I felt the heat of him.
“You cannot fight me. Cannot. If you insist on trying, I will need to teach you a lesson. One I’d rather not impart.” He nodded to Adam. “Take your lover and leave. You have my word that this”—he lifted the vials—“will not affect you. I will take it far from here before I unleash it.”
“I’m not letting you unleash it anywhere.”
His green eyes flashed. “I’m being benevolent, child. Do not test me.”
He turned to go. I cast a binding spell, then an energy bolt, then in desperation, a knockback. He just kept walking.
I ran at him and jumped on his back. He flung me aside. I hit the ground so hard I left a dent in the dirt. I scrambled up, though, and tore after him.
He turned, caught my arm, and held it in his vice grip. “I have warned you, child. Do not test me.”
He snapped my arm. Pain ripped through me. Then he threw me down on my back and towered above me.
“Perhaps it’s more than recklessness. Are you dense, child? As stupid as a bull, charging blindly, knowing no good will come of it.”
Maybe not, but I could try to distract him long enough for the others to show up. I was careful not to let the thought solidify in my mind. He’d already proven he could read it.
I lay there, panting and cradling my broken arm as he turned. He took two steps, then looked back. I hadn’t moved. A satisfied snort. He continued walking.
I slowly got to my feet. Then I charged him again. This time, when he turned, I saw it coming and dodged out of the way. I got behind him, grabbed his hair in my good hand, and swung off my feet, yanking with everything I had.
“Adam did a good job of burning Giles’s neck,” I said, through gritted teeth. “I’m sure if I pull hard enough, I can rip your damned head off.”
He spun and I lost my grip. Then he nailed me in the chest so hard I heard ribs crack. I went flying and hit the ground again. When I tried to rise, I doubled over, coughing and spitting blood.
“I do not want to hurt you,” he growled as he loomed above me again
“Yeah?” I wheezed. “I’d hate to see what would happen if you did.”
“I would rip your head from your neck and I would keep you alive while I did it.” He bent down. “This is a lesson, child. I’m proud of you. Now, accept defeat and back down.”
I looked up into his green eyes. “Would you?”
He didn’t answer.
“Then I come by it honestly,” I said, and grabbed his hair with my good hand again, and wrenched with all I had.
He backhanded me and I went flying. When I hit the ground, I couldn’t breathe and lay there, heaving and coughing up blood. Then, slowly, I pushed to my feet.
“You will not accept the lesson, will you, child?” Balaam said. “Your own pain means nothing to you. But I know a lesson that will hurt.”
He walked toward Adam and put out his hand. Adam convulsed and gasped, his eyes flying open, blind with pain.
“No!” I shouted.
A gust of wind ripped through the corn, stalks breaking and flying aside. Even Balaam stumbled. He glanced at me.
“Interesting. But not enough, child.”
He turned back to Adam. I closed my eyes and poured everything I had into the spell, shouting the words. Over my shouts and the roar of the wind, I heard Balaam.
“Dispelling me?” His voice drew closer as he came my way again. “As if I were some minor spirit? You cannot—”
As I finished the incantation, he stopped short and when I opened my eyes, I saw the surprise on his face as Giles’s body wobbled.
“Seems like maybe I can,” I said.
I closed my eyes and started the spell again. He hit me. I don’t know if he physically hit me or sent me flying with a wave of energy, only that I sailed off my feet and landed so hard I blacked out from pain. But when I came to, the words were still on my lips.
I didn’t even open my eyes. Just shouted the incantation. When I finished, I looked to see him only a foot away from me, face contorted in rage, but frozen there, as if he was losing his hold on Giles’s body.
He drew back his fist to hit me again.
“Hey!” said a voice behind him.
Balaam wheeled to see Adam staggering to his feet.
“She’s as stubborn and bullheaded as you are,” he said. “No use hurting her … unless you’re afraid she can really cast you out.”
Balaam snarled in reply, too furious to even form words.