“That’s a terrible plan!” I fairly squeaked, and my heart clobbered my rib cage hard and fast.
“Do you have a better idea?” he asked. His voice was low, and his breath tickled against my ear as we knelt close.
“If that’s the best you have I say we wait for the proper authority.” Even as the words left my mouth I knew they were useless and held little substance.
“By the time they get here he’ll have vaporized all our customers,” he replied.
Heavy damn sigh.
“Get the cart,” I grumbled, and resigned myself to the high possibility of becoming a puddle of goo on my bakery floor. It hadn’t taken long after the glimpse through the door window to know we were dealing with a half-kin of a green Drakken clan. Their powers tended towards poisons, usually liquids or gases, and the man in the storefront appeared to have the liquid kind. Think magical acid, (not the drug), that won’t stop until it has turned you into the aforementioned pile of ooze.
Kyne’s plan involved utilizing both our powers to talk the man down. Sirens have similar powers of persuasion as I do. How else could they convince people to participate in a self-inflicted death sentence of steering their boats towards cliffs and rocks, and leave the victims with a smile as they did it? There were just a few little bugs with his plan.
One, the voice of my father rang through my head, and despite the situation a small smile curved one side of my mouth, it is difficult to convince people to do what you want when they are in a heightened emotional state, unless the emotion is similar to one you are trying to achieve.
We wanted the guy to calm down, but he was ratcheted up to near hysteria in getting what he came for: Meriel. My power was limited in this by the first problem and though Kyne’s was better at reversing emotions, his worked better on those that found him attractive. So unless the guy found Kyne alluring in a sexual way, we were up the creek without a paddle.
Two, my father’s voice continued as Kyne rolled our quietest cart, laden with trays of food, toward the door, the longer this takes the more his power will drain and the more likely he is to just get rid of it instead of disperse it. Not to mention magical poison doesn’t disperse as easily as a natural element, like water, so he’ll have to essentially swallow the power back.
I flinched at the thought. It was beyond painful to do so. Have you ever swallowed liquid or food too big to properly go down your throat? Think that, but with rusty nails.
Which led us to the third problem: It is harder to convince people to do something that will cause them, or the ones they love, pain, either physical or emotional, my father’s lessons continued.
There were a rare few half-kin black Drakkens, and I was currently the only one from my father’s clan. So when it became apparent I held his powers instead of my mother’s, he was allowed to teach me. A time in my life I cherished like no other.
However, his voice warned as Kyne put his back to the door to push it open, there are a rare few in the clan who have the ability to take over the mind of another, but to do so will damage them irreparably. You are removing their will and thoughts, and unless you kill them afterward they will rely on you for those things thereafter.
I took a painful swallow, as my mouth and throat dried in the face of the tension. I had that rare ability, and some of my worst nightmares were about me discovering I had it. Unless there was no other option and he came for Meriel, I wouldn’t use the darker side of my power.
Kyne nodded to me as I rose from kneeling to a half crouch. He would back into the room, followed by the cart, which I would remain behind. If Kyne could not talk him down with his power, I would add mine into the mix. Hopefully this would be too much for the man to resist and he’d back down.
The idea is to give the man one person to focus on, instead of two, which might make him more nervous. Kyne was the one because, well, macho, macho man, of course. He refused to let me be the focus. Who said chivalry is dead? And if it is, it’s because of some misguided misogynistic sense of heroics the male gender had.
Kidding. Kind of. The only point that won out over me being the lead was his body mass was more likely to conceal mine, and I had to grudgingly back down.
He pushed the door open behind him, singing loudly to give a possible excuse as to why he hadn’t noticed the situation up front. He adjusted the cart once he realized its position in relation to the man, in an effort to keep me hidden.
“Stop!” the man shouted just as I’d cleared the doorway and the door swung closed. My heart clenched painfully in my chest for a moment, and then relief sent it thudding along once more. If he had said that a moment before, the door would have stopped against my backside.
“Is there a problem?” Kyne asked and turned around. He threaded his power, ever so slightly, through his words like an invisible snake. Our powers were subtle things, so unless we slammed him with them it was unlikely he’d notice we were using them.
“I…I came for the girl!” he said, voice unsure and then gaining traction again. A cold sweat tickled down my spine, but a tiny cheer sounded in my mind. He must think Kyne is cute. Thank the Dark Goddess.
“What is your name? Mine is Kyne. Maybe I can help you?” he proposed. Knowing and using a person’s name lent more weight to the power. Though Kyne didn’t increase his power, knowing the man’s name gave the power more substance. Like baking cake batter to go from a liquid to a solid.
“Davin,” he ground out.
“There are many girls here, Davin,” Kyne continued, reasonable, and kept the power at a steady flow.
“Yes, there are,” Davin said, confused, as I imagined he looked about. Then I could picture him shaking his head and turning to Kyne. “But there is only one girl I’m here for.” Though his voice gained some strength, it was far more rational and calm than anything previous.
“Maybe she’s not here, Davin,” Kyne offered.
“I know she’s here. We’ve been tracking her power. Any time she uses it we can find her.”
I had to bite my lip from letting out the curse on the tip of my tongue. Mother loving duck, that’s how they’ve been finding her. If that was the case I wasn’t so sure being with me would help.
“Impressive, Davin,” Kyne complimented him.
“Yes, it is,” he smugly responded.
I seriously doubted it was his idea. He felt more like a disposable flunky than an integral part of whatever was going on.
“Do you see her in here, Davin?” Kyne asked, and I didn’t hear a response but Kyne continued; “So maybe she’s not here anymore. I’m sure the spell did not fail you, Davin, as you are obviously a powerful supe, so maybe she slipped out right before you showed up.”
It was reasonable, and you’re more likely to catch a fly with honey than vinegar, but once again I didn’t hear a response before Kyne went on.
“Supposing she is here, somewhere, why is she so important, Davin?”
Though it wasn’t necessary, as I could hear a pin drop from the other side of the room thanks to my enhanced senses, I strained to hear his response.
“’When the sky is filled with Shadows and the rivers run with blood, take heed and count your blessings for your final days have come’,” he responded, fervent and rabid, as the those blinded by a single goal or ideal tended to sound. The, ‘s,’ in shadows came across as though it needed to be capitalized.
My blood froze faster than if I’d been dropped naked into the North Pole. Not because I knew the phrase, though it sounded vaguely familiar, but because his words implied he’d do anything to get what he wanted—and whatever it was didn’t sound like sunshine and roses to me.
I wasn’t taking any chances, so I slowly reached out and began to intertwine a small tendril of my power along Kyne’s. In my mind it came across as his words being emphasized with italics, and my power underlined the words. Double whammy.
“It sounds as though you have an important task, Davin, but as you see the little girl is not here,” Kyne stated, and tried to steer him away from the ingrained goal since it sounded like something he’d been saying for years, to the smaller more manageable goal of finding Meriel.
“I never said she was a little girl,” Davin said, his voice menacing and lower with a hint of growl.
Piss and vinegar. Like an Alka-Seltzer in water our power dissolved into nothingness.
“I use the term, ‘woman,’ for anyone who has hit puberty and beyond. I come from a different time period, Davin, so any girl to me is little,” Kyne said. He truly was from a generation that considered anyone who’s had their menses a woman.
While his words were sensible, it was too complicated to be very effective. Keep it simple, stupid, was the key to success in getting someone you have no relationship, or rapport, with to do what you want.
“I think you’re a liar, and I think you know who I’m after,” Davin said, pleased and full of malicious delight. “Bring her to me!”
Any hope we’d had of talking him down was gone now. Short of giving him a tour of the building to show she wasn’t there, (which she was, of course), he wasn’t going to give this up.
I don’t know if Kyne took a step toward him, or if one of the customers did, but someone let out a scream. Kyne pushed the cart aside with enough force that the metal screamed and bent in protest as it smashed into the side of the counter. Then he dove on top of me to shield me with his body. Not that it would do any good if Davin was aiming at us since it would simply eat through Kyne and me.
There was a small sound, like someone throwing a decent sized rock against the glass, followed by a hissing and spitting, then a thump. Chairs scraped across the floor in a frenzied cacophony as everyone got up at once, screaming and crying, and the rush of outside sounds met my ears as the door opened.
“Uh,” I so eloquently said after I realized we hadn’t been goo’d, the warmth of his body and the confusion of the moment distracting me. “I think it’s safe to get off me.”
Ever so slightly, he lifted his upper body off me enough to turn his head toward the front, still not convinced the situation was over. His arms and the muscles of his body relaxed, and he moved off me.
“Be careful when you stand up—don’t step to your right,” he said, and stood up and to my left. When he moved, I got a visual of the room and what had solved the problem.
Jade green eyes stared in my direction, and remained as open as the hole the size of my fist in the middle of his forehead. In shock, I looked toward the front and located where the bullet had come through. Given the damage it had done to Davin I was thankful it hadn’t shattered the glass.
Following the trajectory, I wrinkled my nose as I came across what remained of half our counter and the metal cart. When he’d died the power released, and as I thought it might, it turned the first thing it hit into dangerous sludge. While there might be more damage to our reputation and insurance premiums than our property, I couldn’t help the small tear that slid down my face at the sight of the mangled metal and jagged granite.
I wiped the back of my hand across the offending eye, and finished finding the path of the bullet—we’d need a new microwave, too. Luckily it was stainless steel, and the bullet had managed hit those parts. It went in one side and smooshed into the other on the inside, though it almost went through that as well. It wouldn’t have gone anywhere near the girls, but my heart did a delayed flip-flop of dread. It was the thought it might have that made me shiver.
“Looks like someone called DSR,” Kyne said, trying to keep his voice neutral.
“Fuck a duck,” I choked out, the words tired and resigned. Kyne turned to me with a raised eyebrow. While I cursed, it was usually in my thoughts and never the, ‘F,’ word.
The DSR was the Department of Supernatural Relations, and if they’d been called in I could almost guarantee being chewed up one side and down the other by Danika. The United States decided that, while supernatural communities primarily policed themselves, they needed a branch of the government when supes and humans collided.
No one wanted them to come in and muck around in their business, and while I was already on a permanent shit list for being a half-kin, this would drop my name right down to the worst of the worst.
They might take the girls, a small voice in my mind pronounced. I shoved it down into the pit of useless worries and told it to shut right up, but it still sent tendrils of fear snaking up my spine.
I put the girls before everything, even the bakery, and the clans would have to see me dead before taking them from me. With that firmly in mind I barely squelched a yip of surprise when the first man, clad in the black uniform you see SWAT wear in movies, slammed the front door open, his weapon at the ready.
Oh, joy in the morning, I thought, and settled in for a lot of questions. Some I might not being able to answer and more I know I couldn’t. Nothing gets you on the DSR’s bad side better than withholding information.
I prayed to the Dark Goddess for patience and guidance, and hoped I wouldn’t screw the situation up any more than I had.