Bumble(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 1)(38) by Connie Suttle
* * *
"I'll notify the Council." Weldon Harper, Grand Master of the werewolves, spoke with Marcus DeLuca over the phone. Marco and Sali heard both sides of the conversation when Marcus called to inform the Grand Master of the day's events. "I'll wait until I hear from Winkler, though. I hope he'll capture those responsible, so I can at least tell the Head of the Council that. Radomir is his vampire child, you know."
"Oh, no," Marcus moaned.
* * *
"I'm still trying to figure out how you did this." Randy Smith sat in a corner of Old Harold's hidden bunker. Ashe, exhausted, had slept most of the day after dropping three vampires in the floor and passing out immediately after. Now, Ashe was awake and Randy was asking questions.
"I'm not really sure. Dad told me once that some really rare vampires can turn to mist and mindspeak. I can do that somehow without being vampire."
"You don't shapeshift?" Randy asked.
"No, I do that too, but it's embarrassing," Ashe mumbled. He still felt tired and his wound had bled again; there was a patch of red that had soaked through the front bandage. Ashe was afraid of what the wound on his back might look like.
"Has to be better than not doing anything," Randy sighed.
"Yeah. Sorry," Ashe apologized.
"Not your fault," Randy said. "I'm just glad you can do what you do. Otherwise I'd be dead meat, come tomorrow night."
"I couldn't let that happen," Ashe said. "Now, all I have to do is try to explain all this to Dad before he removes my head when he wakes."
"Then start explaining now," Aedan Evans said, startling Ashe. "Immediately."
* * *
"Cori, I hope he's not dead," Marco said. He'd called Cori earlier, but promised to call back when he had more privacy. He and Sali were sitting in the floor of Marco's room, Denise DeLuca's cell phone held between them so both could hear.
"Marco, if their house looks anything like ours," Cori wept.
"Cori, sweetheart, don't cry," Marco begged. "Just give it a little time, all right? If we don't hear anything by tomorrow, then we'll know the worst has happened with Ashe." Sali stared at Marco—he'd called Cori sweetheart. When did that happen?
"Daddy's dead," Cori wept. "And there's nothing left to bury."
"Cori, don't cry, please?" Marco was pleading with Cori over the phone. Sali's mouth dropped open in surprise.
* * *
"Your proof?" Aedan sounded skeptical at Ashe's story. Ashe was thankful that Old Harold had thought to place a lamp inside his bunker. Not for his father, but for him and Randy. Ashe handed an old photograph over, with a receipt from a gas station in Santa Fe. Aedan stared at both in surprise.
"I think I know where we need to go now," Nathan Anderson was staring at the two items over Aedan's shoulder. Radomir, who'd listened silently the entire time, nodded his head in agreement.
"You two, wait here, we'll come back for you," Aedan ordered, pointing at Ashe and Randy. "Don't leave this bunker for anyone else, do you understand?" Aedan pulled out his cell phone and made a call. "Winkler?" he said.
* * *
"Nice to know you're still among the living," Winkler said, answering the call.
"No time to talk pleasantries now," Aedan's voice came through the cell. "We know who's behind this, and we know where they might be." Aedan gave the location to Winkler, who whistled, agreed with Aedan and ended the call.
"Come on," Winkler jerked his head at Trace, Jason and the two Elemaiya. "We've got our targets. Let's go get them."
* * *
"Come on, son, let's get you out of here," Aedan was back and lifting a dozing Ashe.
"Did you get them, Dad?" Ashe asked sleepily.
"We did. Two are dead and the other one will spill everything he knows to Marcus DeLuca. Marcus can decide what to do with him after that. Randy, you come, too. You're in the clear, now." Randy Smith, captured and condemned to death only a few days earlier, breathed the fresh air of an Oklahoma night as he stepped outside Old Harold's home. "I'm free," he whispered, feeling as if the greatest weight in the universe had been lifted from his shoulders.
"You," he spat at Winkler and Radomir's prisoner, who sat between the Enforcer and the Dallas Packmaster in the back of Winkler's van. "Did you kill my dad or did you have somebody else do it?"
"One of the others," the prisoner replied, his voice robot-like.
"He's under compulsion to tell the truth," Radomir said. "I placed it myself. But save your questions for when we reach Mr. DeLuca's home. That way we will not be repeating ourselves."
"All right," Randy sighed. "How's Ashe doing?"
"He's fine, breathing evenly and his heart rate is good," Aedan replied. Ashe's father held the sleeping boy in his lap on the passenger side of Winkler's van while Nathan Anderson climbed into the driver's seat and started the vehicle. He didn't even use the lights to navigate his way through Cloud Chief.
* * *
"Dad, it's Winkler's van!" Marco shouted, looking out the kitchen window.
"Come on," Marcus led the way outside, followed by Marco, Sali and Micah Rocklin. They all stood in shocked surprise as Winkler and all three missing vampires piled out, followed by Randy Smith, Ashe Evans and Paul Harris, Cloud Chief's English teacher. Mr. Harris was held firmly between Radomir and Winkler.
"Here's your culprit, and there are two dead collaborators in the back of the van," Winkler said.
"What the hell?" Marcus stared in dismay at Paul Harris.
"Come along, he has a story to tell and I don't want you to miss a single word," Aedan said, carrying Ashe, who was now awake.
"Hey, dude," Ashe gave Sali a weak smile. Sali was whooping and punching the sky immediately.
* * *
"This is what Ashe used to solve what we couldn't," Aedan handed over the photograph and the receipt. The photograph showed Paul Harris, standing next to Dawn Smith, his hands on the shoulders of two small boys. Twins, actually.
"Dawn and Paul were married?" Denise was shocked by what she saw.
"Long ago," Aedan nodded. "You only knew Dawn after she left Paul Harris behind. Ashe filched that photograph from your father's album," he added. "It's yours, when Marcus is done with it, that is."
"But how?" Denise still didn't understand.
"My boys are dead, and she went off and married that human," spittle flew from Mr. Harris' mouth as he hissed the word human. "I wanted both of them to die. The boy and his father. My boys died in a fire and she went off and married him."
"How did you hook up with those others?" Marcus growled at Mr. Harris. He'd seen both bodies in the back of Winkler's van. One looked human, except for the pointed ear tips. The other was something out of myth. It carried a jackal's head atop an eight-foot human body, except for the claws it bore on hands and feet. One of the two that had come to help Winkler said he was misshapen—an aberration from the normal. Not knowing exactly what normal was for that particular race, Winkler had refrained from asking questions.
"I went looking for someone who could help me," Paul Harris replied, his eyes unfocused. "I caught them spying on the New Mexico community one night, and when I learned they were looking for a boy who appeared human and whose mother had gone to a certain clinic in St. Louis, I'd found the perfect collaborators." Paul Harris blinked at Marcus—his words were forced. He wanted to fight Radomir's compulsion, but it was much too strong. He couldn't deny it.
"Randy fit the description; they just needed to get him away from Dawn and Terry," Mr. Harris went on. "They don't have any desire to start a race war with the vampires and the werewolves; they've had a war going with some of their own kind for thousands of years. But the numbers are dwindling on both sides. When the Bright side came up with the idea of farming out the births by donating eggs, it was an ideal situation. Their half-children are nearly as capable as the full-blood ones, and make good soldiers in the army. When the Dark side got a whiff of what the Bright side was doing, they sent out some of their own to kill the children."
"This is worse than I ever imagined it could be," Radomir sighed. "In my experience with the Elemaiya, even though they call themselves Dark and Bright, in my opinion there's not much difference between the two. They only see an enemy and will stop at nothing to kill one another. Put them side by side and they look exactly the same."
"I've never heard of them before," Marcus said. "Paul, how did you manage to get Randy to say what he did, to get him expelled from the community?"
"Not hard. Those things have their own version of compulsion. They told him what to say and when to say it. Convenient, don't you think, that Ben happened to be in the same restaurant when Randy let that slip?"
"You arranged it," Marcus said flatly.
"I certainly did. I fooled every one of you. Didn't I?" he grinned widely, leering at Marcus. "It would have been easy to kill Randy afterward, except my collaborators discovered he wasn't the one they were after. Ashe was."
"But what about James? Why was he killed?" Denise asked. The Johnsons would want to know.
"He saw the Elemaiya that night. Was going straight to you, Marcus, with the information. We had to stop him, you see. One of the others dumped his body behind the Evans' house. We thought it would implicate Aedan. We didn't know he wasn't at home."
"And you wrote the letter that Randy was supposed to have written," Marcus was now beginning to see how it was all done.
"I did. I have plenty of papers from all the students over the years. Wasn't hard to reproduce Randy's handwriting, now was it? I drove to Santa Fe the weekend before the letter was delivered here and mailed it from there."
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