Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(8) by Connie Suttle
* * *
"Ashe flies. He has no need to come to Star Cove for the change," Nathan pointed out to Hector, Edmond and Casimir. Hector was the one asking, as the Honored One might expect an account of the boy.
"Where is he, then?" Edmond demanded.
"No idea. I'm sure Winkler is making arrangements for him to be safe. After all, Ashe is so tiny when he turns that he could fly about in Winkler's cavernous home without any harm or threat," Nathan replied stiffly. "And it is too late to contact the werewolf—you see the others here have already gone." Nathan jerked his head toward the twinkling lights of the small community. He and the other vampires stood on the small strip of sand east of the Star Cove paranormal neighborhood, waiting for the shifters to make the change. They would watch and make sure the community was safe, but they would not interfere.
"I do not like this," Hector pointed out.
"Then perhaps you should tell Wlodek when you speak to him next," Nathan said. "Perhaps he will give you another assignment."
"I will suggest no such thing. We have already informed him of the location of the child. We had no idea the boy would not return for the full moon."
"Why should he? There's nothing here for him now," Nathan sighed. He wanted to shake his head over the turn of events that left Ashe without parents, but his sire had not consulted him before doing as he did.
"We will make sure the boy is safe before we retire for the day," Casimir finally spoke up. Of those there, he was eldest and Wlodek had left him in charge. Casimir, too, had no idea what Aedan Evans had been thinking, leaving the child in the hands of werewolves and vulnerable to the others who hunted him. Nevertheless, he had to work with what he had. At the moment, he had no information on Ashe's whereabouts.
"Fine with me." Nathan turned to walk back to the community and take up his normal position on a rooftop so he could see the shapeshifters as they wandered, prowled and hunted through the subdivision. Casimir and the others soon followed.
* * *
Ashe could see Sali standing at the outer edge of the Pack—they were all still in human form, waiting for the two scheduled for execution to arrive. Only the executioners and those scheduled to die would make the change for the planned execution. Afterward, the Pack would turn and hunt.
Ashe wanted to shiver, even though he was mist. Weldon Harper, Thomas Williams and Bear Wright were with him. Winkler stood near Trace and Trajan at the inside of the werewolf circle, not far from Marcus DeLuca and Micah Rocklin. Marco, Wayne, Wynter and Winkler's other wolves stood in a knot behind Winkler. Ashe spotted several others in the crowd. Mr. Dodd. Greta Rocklin. Denise DeLuca, standing next to Randy's mother, Dawn. Even Hayes' parents were there. Ashe truly did want to sigh, then. Larry and Jeff were standing with them. Six more wolves walked into the moonlit circle, pulling Chad and Jeremy with them. Their chains had been removed somewhere and now both struggled against their captors.
"I hate you," Chad attempted to spit at Marcus as he was hauled before the Star Cove Packmaster. "You killed my dad," he added with a snarl. The two werewolves who held him hauled him back as he lunged toward Marcus. Jeremy, held securely by other werewolves nearby, just looked terrified. He'd never been this close to the entire Pack on a full moon.
"Your father challenged me fairly, and was taken down fairly," Marcus said evenly as Chad glared at him. "You were too young to see that I tried to convince him to back off. He refused. You know the laws, just as I do. You will be punished for breaking those laws. Who offers to take the execution of Chad Everett Daniels?"
"I take it," Micah pulled his shirt off and unbuckled his belt.
Ashe wanted to moan. He'd always liked Marcus' Second. Now, Chad would be ripped apart according to werewolf justice and Ashe would have to listen. He could close his mental eyes, but his hearing he could not mute. Both Micah and Chad had turned in a matter of moments and Micah charged. The growls, yelps and carnage was just as bad as Ashe imagined it might be. Micah was swift, at least. Less than ten minutes it took. Micah remained wolf, his muzzle bloodied while Chad's dismembered torso lay on the grass inside the werewolf circle.
"Who will take Jeremy Paul Booth's execution?" Marcus asked. Before Trajan could step forward, Ashe made up his mind. This is a secret you'll have to keep, Ashe informed his passengers as a seemingly solid replica of him appeared inside the werewolf circle.
"I will," Ashe's projection announced.
"I will not allow it," Marcus hissed. Ashe's doppelganger turned to the Star Cove Packmaster.
"Why not?" Ashe appeared to ask. "I was instrumental in his capture. Aren't there allowances for something of this nature?"
"There are," Winkler spoke up, earning a frown from Marcus. "The Pack may vote to allow it, if the shifter or one responsible for the capture is capable of taking the execution. And as this is another shifter," Winkler shrugged.
"Then vote," Ashe was sending his voice and coordinating the image of himself so the words would fit mouth movements.
"Pack, the vote has been requested. What say you?" Marcus growled. The Pack voted and Ashe won, by a margin of two votes. Ashe saw from afar that Sali had abstained. Jeff and Larry voted in his favor, as did Hayes' parents.
"Kid, if you fail," Marcus was ready to turn.
"I won't," Ashe replied. Turning his double around, Ashe stared at Jeremy, who lifted terrified eyes to Ashe.
"What are you gonna do, empty?" Jeremy's voice quavered on the insult but he still managed to say it.
"It will be painless, Jeremy Paul Booth," Ashe said. "I do this for your parents, who have always tried to treat you well. They deserve a better memory of your passing." Ashe's image lifted his hands and Jeremy, beginning with his feet and legs, seemed to separate into tiny, sparkling particles, like a fire at night throwing off sparks. Each spark glowed brightly as it flew away, until it burned out and vanished. Jeremy's head was the last to disintegrate, eliciting a collective sigh from the crowd. Ashe's image turned to Marcus. "You doubt me," he said and disappeared.
"Turn and hunt!" Marcus shouted. Ashe recognized the anger in the command. He felt Weldon Harper's discomfort inside his mist. We'll be down in a minute, Ashe reassured his living cargo. When the last wolf had turned and raced away, Ashe sped after them to set his cargo down at the appointed spot.
* * *
"Just stay there. If I can't cause a little havoc, then you'll have to," Fergus hissed at Eudora.
Eudora regretted the day she'd let this pompous male into her life. Regretted that she hadn't stayed behind with her husband, Jarrett. She could have accused Fergus of overpaying her and then blackmailing her afterward. Anything would be better than this—out to create a distraction in the middle of more than fifty werewolves and risking her life to do it.
"Turn, you stupid bitch," Fergus wasn't done. He was already wolf when Eudora removed her clothing.
* * *
See? Ashe sent mindspeech to Bear, Weldon and Thomas. They did—Josiah Dunnigan was unaware as they approached, shaking from his refusal to turn as he lay in the grass, a rifle pointed at the Pack racing past, waiting for Winkler to run by. Ashe knew Winkler was running near the back of the Pack; it was expected if you were a guest of the local Packmaster. The local Pack would be first to take down the quarry and share in the meal.
* * *
Fergus smelled vampire. Only it was already too late—his throat had been cut and he was bleeding out on the grass before he heard Eudora's wheezing—the vampire had surprised her as well. His last thought, as he lay dying, was that at least this was a swifter death than what Ezekiel Tanner had planned.
* * *
Ashe knew Josiah would die, he just hadn't expected him to be torn apart so quickly. Winkler and Trajan's wolves flanked Ashe as he watched Weldon Harper's werewolf savage Josiah's throat. Weldon growled angrily one last time before decapitating the rogue and flinging his head aside.
"I figure you guys can't change back now," Ashe sighed as he surveyed the bloody scene before him. "So I'll leave you to your hunt. There are two more bodies a quarter of a mile back, but I had a little help with those two. Recognize the names Fergus Haskell and Eudora Long?" Ashe turned to Winkler's wolf, who whined his acknowledgment. "Yeah, I figured you would. Well, happy hunting. I've had enough blood for a while, I think. I'll be at the house when you come in, Mr. Winkler." Ashe misted toward Kyle, to return the vampire to his Corpus Christi home.
* * *
"Randy?" Ashe slipped into the hotel room Randy had reserved for Sara. It was the full moon—Sara had to turn. Ashe wondered briefly about Lewis Sharpe, but the deer shifter had gone to the dunes on the beach to turn. Ashe figured Lewis had plenty of experience hiding from humans and other predators, so he forced thoughts of the Arkansas deputy from his mind.
"Ashe, look. It's Sara." Randy held a pretty, reddish-brown, flop-eared rabbit in his arms.
"Sara?" Ashe walked over to where Randy sat on the side of the hotel bed and stroked Sara's left ear. "You're so pretty," Ashe soothed.
"Ashe, why aren't you changed?" That thought had just occurred to Randy.
"Don't have to unless I want to," Ashe whispered. "It's who I am, Randy. What I am. Different. I'll always be different."
"Mom said she heard that from somebody in the community, but she wouldn't tell me who. Says that's why Adele thinks you're not hers."
"That's complicated, Randy. And a touchy subject," Ashe pulled his hand away.
"Sorry, man. Should have realized," Randy apologized.
"No. I'm glad to have the information. Take care of Sara." Ashe misted away.
* * *
Ashe had never been to Paris. Had only seen it on television or in magazine photographs. He sat on the roof of Notre Dame du Paris and watched boats travel the waters surrounding the small isle the cathedral occupied. The sun was shining and people were moving about. He knew he'd end up in many photographs if he didn't shield himself, so he did. He watched tourists and locals, all on their way here and there. Heard the native language that somehow he could understand. He shook his head at the wonder of all of it.
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