Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(11) by Connie Suttle
* * *
"Here's a backpack. Make sure you strap it on tight enough when you turn, or you'll lose your clothes, the gun and the fake ID I just paid for," Zeke Tanner glared at the youngest werewolf assassin who worked for him. "Fail me, and you'll join the others, here." Zeke jerked his head toward the taxidermic animals crowding his private study.
Peyton Miller swallowed hard. The white buffalo in particular seemed to be glaring at him with a glassy, accusing stare. Zeke had tracked the stuffed buffalo down through his contacts. The animal had been confiscated in New Mexico with the rest of Obediah Tanner's belongings. Zeke had arranged to have the buffalo stolen back and shipped to him. Peyton knew a lot of money had surrounded that transaction, and the Amarillo Packmaster had been involved.
Peyton shifted uncomfortably at Zeke's words and the turn his thoughts had taken. Killing in Mexico was one thing, where drug wars abounded and police protection and intervention was light. Killing in the U.S. was another thing, especially if one of the Grand Master's closest friends was the intended target.
"Make sure you travel light—I want this done as quickly and as discreetly as possible." Zeke breathed a half growl. "I wish I could bring Josiah back to life, just to watch him die again." Peyton hid the shudder that threatened to become visible, and struggled to keep his heartbeat at a regular rhythm. It wouldn't do to show his increasing fear to Zeke, and it certainly wouldn't do to allow Zeke to hear his thumping heart. Peyton couldn't wait to make his run as wolf across the border, to get away from Zeke Tanner and everything he represented. In his heart, Peyton wanted to leave Mexico behind—for good. His main worry was how quickly Tanner might send someone after him, once he learned Peyton had abandoned his assignment.
* * *
"Gavin, what is this?" Tony stared at the bag from a popular electronics store that Gavin tossed onto the safe house's kitchen table.
"The latest in technology—a miniature tablet," Gavin grumped. "The salesclerk assured me that this will keep any young one occupied for hours."
"You're mollifying him through daylight hours? That's so unlike you." Tony wanted to smirk but held it back. One never smirked in Gavin's presence. One might roll his eyes while Gavin's back was turned, but even that was a risky proposition, as Gavin could move faster than the eye could blink and Tony was too afraid of his surrogate sire to offer excuses.
* * *
"Ready for the GED?" Winkler settled his tall frame on the opposite end of the sofa Ashe occupied.
"Yeah." Ashe was toying with a side-pocket flap on his cargo shorts. "Mr. Winkler?" he turned his gaze to Winkler, whose dark eyes were watching him. Ashe figured it was curiosity mixed with genuine concern.
"What is it, Ashe?"
"What happened to that rifle and the poisoned darts that Chump and Wormy had?"
"They're locked away in my gun cabinet."
"Good. I don't want anybody else to have access," Ashe sighed.
"Agreed," Winkler nodded. "We don't need another death like that. And if Marcus had any sense, he'd be thanking you that there weren't more deaths."
"Marcus doesn't trust where he should," Ashe's eyes filled with stars before clearing abruptly. "Randy's girlfriend is a shapeshifter. She turns into a flop-eared rabbit. She's pretty, too. Both ways. I think it might be dangerous if she comes back to Star Cove."
"I heard she was a veterinarian. A good one."
"Yeah. Randy's in love."
"If she shouldn't come back to Star Cove, what do you expect Randy to do, kid?"
"I don't know. I can always lend him money to fly to Chicago, I guess. Or she can meet him in San Antonio when she flies down. I just don't know how to tell him that."
"I have a condo in San Antonio," Winkler said. "Three bedrooms. Plenty big enough and in a good neighborhood. Trace uses it sometimes, when his partner visits. Randy could borrow it if he wanted. I'll let him know." Winkler raked fingers through his hair before pulling out his cell and tapping in a reminder.
"Heard from the vamps?"
"I got a text from Tony—Anthony Hancock." Winkler offered Ashe a wry grin. "I know he says his last name is Rockland, now, but that name is for humans. He said they landed in New York to spend the day. They'll be here tomorrow night, around midnight."
"I called him a hero in a paper I wrote for a school assignment," Ashe went back to worrying his pocket flap. "I didn't know much, back then."
"Will it make you treat him differently—to know that he didn't do all those things the history books say he did?"
"I figure he didn't have much control over that part, and at the time, he was probably protecting somebody else."
"He was. He was protecting Lissa. Sort of. I wanted to protect her, too. You see how that turned out."
"I can't figure out how they don't remember her."
"Kid, I can't figure out why they don't and the wolves do. You have to leave around seven in the morning to get to the testing location on time. Breakfast is at six. Trace will take you to Beeville, and see you get lunch at the break."
"I'll be ready, Mr. Winkler."
"Good. There's still time for a run on the beach or a workout in the exercise room before dinner."
"I think I'd like a run," Ashe rose and stretched.
"I'll get Trace or Trajan to go with you."
"I'll get my shoes on."
* * *
"The kid was asking about that dart gun," Winkler jerked his head toward the locked gun cabinet inside his study. Ashe had already gone to bed and Winkler was having a last-minute meeting with Trajan before heading for his bedroom.
"That worries me, then," Trajan sighed, shaking his head. "Not much gets past Ashe. You think somebody might try to break in?"
"The house is alarmed and the cabinet is locked. I'm not sure what else to do with it."
"How about letting the kid take it into the hidden room in the basement?"
"There's a thought." Winkler nodded, considering the idea. "How about this—you arrange to have a smaller gun cabinet delivered tomorrow, and I'll put the dart gun and darts inside it, then ask Ashe to do his thing and leave it inside the closet in the hidden room. Nobody but you, Trace and I have to know anything about it."
"Sounds like a plan. If you don't have anything else for me, I'll head toward bed." Trajan stood and stretched. With his arms held up, Trajan filled a lot of space. "We have to get to that board meeting in Dallas by ten," Winkler said before covering a yawn. "Jet will be ready at six-thirty."
"Don't remind me." Trajan walked out of Winkler's study.
* * *
"Salidar, please explain where you've been most of the day, and why you're coming home at midnight. I left three messages on your cell and you failed to reply." Marcus' voice was a low growl. Sali sat at the kitchen table, a rebellious expression on his face. "Are you going to answer me?" Marcus went on when Sali failed to reply.
"Dad, I was out. My cell ran down. I'm sorry." Sali's tone indicated he was far from sorry.
"Grounded," Marcus announced flatly. "Give me your keys and go to bed, Salidar. You are not to leave the house outside school hours for two weeks."
"Fine." Sali slapped his car keys on the table. "Car was out of gas, anyway," he muttered, rising and stalking away.
"Three weeks," Marcus called out. Sali kept walking.
* * *
Wildrif's cell battery was almost drained, and there were few options in the Arizona desert to recharge it. He had calls to make, and hoped the battery would last at least that long.
"Don't stray too far," Rumble, the last of Baltis' new Destroyers growled at Wildrif as he walked past the guards posted on the eastern edge of the Dark King's encampment.
"Just getting a bit of exercise," Wildrif replied meekly, his head down. Rumble snorted and let the quarter-blood seer go. There wasn't anything for miles, Rumble knew, and the seer would find nothing but death should he stray too far. Rumble felt it might be a fitting end for the unwelcome misfit, but Baltis did seem to find him useful at times.
Wildrif walked for perhaps a quarter mile before pulling the precious cell from his pocket and making his first call—the most important one. The call was answered on the second ring.
"Master Tanner?" Wildrif spoke after Zeke's gruff "hello."
"Wildrif? What do you have for me?"
"A suggestion, Master Tanner. And a request."
"What's the suggestion?"
"Do you still have your contact in the U.S. capital?"
"I will send a message containing vital information. You should forward it to him. He will take appropriate action."
"I'll do that. What's the request?"
"Might I be removed from the Dark King's loving embrace? He has become more than tiresome."
"I can have somebody at your current location in two days."
"I will be waiting."
"Good. Here's what I want you to do."
Curtis Roberts, Director of the U.S. Intelligence and Foreign Communications Division, toyed with a printout of information he'd received from his source in Mexico. The title of Curt's division sounded completely benign. It wasn't. He had authority even the CIA couldn't claim. He'd held his position for nine years, after the division had been created by an outgoing President during a lame-duck session. As yet, the current President, still in the first year of his term, hadn't been notified of the IFC's actual role in national security.
"This is more than interesting," Curt handed the printout back to his personal assistant, Calhoun. "With this information, we can make arrests before the day's over."
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