tempest reborn (jane true #6) Page 14


And we had some friends to grieve.

Having hashed out our situation with the Red as much as we could at that point, we spent the next hour reminiscing about Gog, Magog, and Daniel. I told the others about our time in Britain, and we talked about how they’d helped us here in Rockabill. The sad thing was none of us really knew much about them, except Hiral, but he had some funny stories to tell about them.

It was only after a good hour that I’d realized we were missing someone. I’d been so wrapped up in our mutual doom and gloom, I hadn’t noticed we were short one person.

‘Hey, where’s my dad?’

‘Out in the workshop,’ Iris answered. He’d made Anyan’s workshop into his personal Man Cave, to get away from all the bustle in the house.

‘Does he know?’ I asked.

The succubus shook her fair head. To be honest, I was glad he hadn’t heard all of what we’d just said. He was rolling with everything really well, but there was no point in scaring the crap out of him.

‘I’m going to take him some coffee,’ I said. ‘Clear my head.’ Then I remembered my dad’s coffee addiction. ‘Wait, can he have some?’ I asked my human friends.

Grizzie laughed and Tracy smiled. ‘Yes, he can have some,’ the latter said. ‘But only one cup a day, that’s his maximum. Or he turns into a crackhead.’

I sighed, filling my dad his one mug of coffee and adding a splash of milk, the way he liked it. I took it out to the barn, smiling at the sight of him napping in his old recliner. They must have smuggled it out of our house somehow, and bought him a smart new flat screen. Good thing, too, because if he didn’t see his soaps, he got quite cranky.

I crept in, not wanting to wake him, and set his mug down on the work stool he’d pulled up next to his recliner. Then I reached for the remote that was sitting on his knee, swiveling around to turn the television off.

My finger froze on the button. Those weren’t soaps.

My dad had fallen asleep watching the news. Greeting me that morning was live coverage of London, under attack by a monster out of a horror film: a great red dragon.

Swiftly, I ran back to the house to get the others.

It had begun.

Chapter Eighteen

‘Guys!’ I called, flinging open Anyan’s front door. ‘Guys!’

The panic in my voice was obvious, and everyone reacted accordingly.

‘What’s up?’ Ryu asked as I ran past him to turn on Anyan’s big flat-screen television.

I didn’t reply, instead hitting a few buttons to turn on one of our local networks. As I’d assumed, all of the world was watching the Red’s attack on London, including Maine’s news networks.

‘…there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason behind these attacks,’ droned an anchorwoman’s voice, commenting on what appeared to be footage from someone’s cell phone. ‘As stated earlier, they began around dawn, with the creature attacking Westminster, and then St Paul’s Cathedral.’ The fuzzy footage cut to a few pictures of Big Ben, lying across the split roof of the British Parliament building.

Ryu sat down next to me, and then Iris and Caleb joined us on Anyan’s massive sofa. Hiral was standing, clearly shocked, in front of the television. The Great Island was his home, after all.

‘Since this morning, the creature has been sighted all over London, attacking sites indiscriminately. Emergency crews are active throughout the city, and the military has been called in. The death toll has been reported at anywhere between twenty-eight and a few hundred, with reports of injuries coming in from all over…’

The anchor kept talking as more photos were shown: wounded people being attended to by paramedics; buildings flattened or burning; other bystanders, unhurt, reacting to the sight of the Red.

Sounds came from behind me; a soft, choked grunt. I turned to find Anyan, wearing sweatpants and his favorite Eukanuba T-shirt, watching the television. Hate and fear burned in his eyes, and I remembered that he’d been a prisoner for all that time, not a guest.

He also looked too thin and too weak, so I stood up and gestured for him to take my place. Then I forced on him a coffee after I’d popped a bagel in the toaster for his breakfast. He needed to regain his strength, and fast.

For this war was far from over.

The others kept watching the reports of carnage as I waited for the bagel to pop up, then smeared it liberally with full-fat cream cheese and took it to the barghest.

‘Eat it, don’t argue,’ I said, right before I picked up the remote and turned off the television.

‘We’ve gotta move out,’ I said. ‘Ryu, resources?’

Without blinking an eyelash, Ryu told us we had access to his private jet. He’d already called to have it flown into Eastport, our neighboring town, from where it lived at the compound outside Montreal.

‘Good,’ I said. ‘Daoud can stay with the girls and my dad. Iris? Caleb?’

‘We’re with you,’ the succubus said automatically. The satyr nodded his agreement.

‘Ryu?’

‘With you, of course.’

‘Hiral?’

The look the gwyllion flashed me was of pure rage. Obviously he was going with. That was his island the Red was attacking.

I then almost looked around for Gog and Magog, to ask them if they wanted to come, before I remembered. They’d never go on any more missions again. I choked down a wave of grief, adding my dead friends to the list of things I’d have to mourn later, when all of this was over.

I turned to the barghest, who was wolfing down his bagel after his first few tentative nibbles. He finished it off in about three bites as I contemplated him.

‘Anyan…’ I began, planning on telling him he might want to stay home, considering what he’d just been through.

‘I’m going with you if I have to follow on foot,’ was all the barghest had to say after choking down his mouthful of food.

‘Are you sure?’

‘Yes. Can someone make me another bagel?’

I didn’t point out that if he couldn’t toast himself breakfast, he probably shouldn’t be entering battle, because I’m a considerate girlfriend. I had to trust that between his own healing powers and those of good food and some rest, he’d be back to normal soon.

‘All right. So that’s our team. When we get to London, we’ll have to coordinate with the supes, and figure out how to reach out to the human government with Daniel gone. But Luke and Jack will know…’

My voice died as another sound overwhelmed the cabin. Choppers. And lots of them.

‘What the fuck?’ Anyan said, as those sitting sprang to their feet.

We all moved to the big back doors of the cabin, watching in alarm as three enormous helicopters landed in Anyan’s large backyard. They were sleek, black, and heavily armed. Not exactly a comforting sight.

‘Grizzie, Tracy, you stay here. Amy, take them upstairs. As soon as you get a chance, I want you to get out of the house. Go to your house and wait there. Take my dad.’

Once the girls were safely hidden upstairs, we walked out onto Anyan’s deck, throwing up some powerful shields – both magical and physical – just in case the choppers opened fire. I noticed Hiral didn’t appear to be with us, but I knew better. He’d used his powerful glamour to disappear – not out of cowardice, but on the off chance he could spy.

The whirling helicopter blades began to slow as men in black SWAT gear poured out of the choppers. They made a large circle around Anyan’s big deck, keeping us securely in front of them.

But they never attacked; they just stood, watching. I saw my dad peeping at them through the windows of Anyan’s workshop and I prayed he’d keep down until they left.

Finally, when the helicopter blades had all but stopped, three men emerged from the middle chopper. They were dressed like Men in Black: all black suits, black wraparound shades, and shiny black shoes. They even sported earpieces. Two were fit and strong, both well over six feet. But the man between them was short, probably only about five-seven, and pudgy, with a bald pate ringed by a thickly curled hedge of human clown-hair.

He looked a bit like the clown on the Simpsons, only not at all funny.

‘Jane True?’ he called from where he stood. I nodded my head warily, amping up my shields just in case he was waiting for me to clarify who I was before he began shooting.

But he only smiled, showing off teeth far too small for his gums.

‘It’s a pleasure. May I come forward?’

‘No.’ He blinked at my curt response. ‘Not until you tell us who you are.’

‘That’s simple. My name is Trevor Martinez, and I work for the government.’

I couldn’t help sighing. Just what we needed. Another superspy. I looked at Ryu, then looked at Anyan. They both shrugged their shoulders at me, equally confused. So I waved the little man forward.

The SWAT-looking guys stayed where they were; only Trevor and his goons came toward us. When he was closer, he pulled a badge out of his pocket, showing it to me. It said CIA.

‘What do you want?’ I asked, cutting to the chase.