Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(14) by Connie Suttle
* * *
"This is my last communication until your wolves pick me up," Wildrif informed Zeke Tanner. "This side will be busy tomorrow when they hit the army base," he added. "Nobody will notice I'm gone for a while."
"Good. Make sure you're at the rendezvous point," Zeke managed to snap before Wildrif's cell went dead.
"Gavin Montegue, this is Ashe Evans." Winkler made the introduction.
Ashe stared at Gavin Montegue while visions raced through his mind. He saw Gavin with Lissa. In many places. He saw them together, kissing at the base of the Guardian, the statue standing atop the dome of the Oklahoma Capitol. He saw images of Vampire Council meetings. Saw Lissa, nearly bald, as she stood before Gavin and argued with him.
"Kid, you in there?" Trajan jostled Ashe's arm, bringing him away from what he'd seen.
"Mr. Montegue," Ashe sighed and held out his hand to shake with the vampire. Surprisingly, Gavin took Ashe's hand.
* * *
"Ashe is one of the most respectful young men I've ever met," Winkler rattled ice cubes in his glass as he spoke with Gavin later in his study. "I'm asking that you give him the benefit of the doubt. I've learned that when the kid says something's important, then it's important."
"I hear he has unusual methods of getting from place to place. Have seen evidence of it, in fact."
"He's pretty broken up over his parents," Winkler changed the subject. "If you could, tread lightly in that area. I have no idea what his father thought he was doing, but Ashe is suffering as a result. That's not all, either. Adele, his mother, is already in another relationship, and I can only imagine it's because Aedan placed compulsion. This new guy has offered her a ring and a marriage proposal."
"Moving rather quickly, don't you think?" Gavin rumbled.
"I think so, but I can't control everything."
"Understood. I hear that college classes commence next week. We'd like to make use of the young man's talents through the weekend."
"I thought you might. Gavin, he's not vampire. I think I know how Wlodek feels. I hope that's not the case with you. We've worked together before, you and I, and I'm hoping that I can trust you now as I have in the past."
"I hope that remains true, although you know I can't circumvent a direct order from Wlodek."
"Yeah. I know that. Look at Aedan."
"Aedan is a shell. I fear he may be contemplating a trip into the sun, my friend. Should he learn of this marriage proposal you speak of, it may come sooner than anyone might expect. I am nearly a thousand years older than Aedan. I have seen this, many times."
"That will kill the kid," Winkler growled.
"I know not how to prevent it, should Aedan choose that path."
"This is impossible." Winkler rose to pace behind his desk. "Gavin, this kid, well, he's more than special. I don't know how else to explain it. If things continue to go wrong for him, I don't know what he might do."
"What has happened? That I do not yet know?" Gavin's face held no emotion, but Winkler knew this vampire. Probably better than any other vampire. Their friendship was based on mutual respect. Wlodek had no idea that Winkler and Gavin knew one another as well as they did.
"Have you ever heard the phrase, separating particles? I've seen it, and I still can't explain it. Hell, it's incomprehensible." Winkler raked fingers through his hair in frustration. "I trust the kid, but if his father walks into the sun, I just don't know what he might do."
"I am unfamiliar with this term. Can you describe it?"
"The kid took an execution the night of the full moon," Winkler began. "And I watched as the condemned just turned to sparks that floated away and winked out. The kid said that the condemned was with the universe, now."
"You're sure of this?" Gavin lifted an eyebrow.
"Yes. I'm sure of it. At this point, I don't know what might work against the kid, if you get on his bad side. Get my drift?"
"I worry about placing compulsion, then," Gavin muttered. "The Honored One did not tell me I was bound to report that sort of thing to him, but Anthony—I think Anthony may be required to do so."
"Then you'll have to keep that secret if it turns out that the kid isn't susceptible."
"I can control Anthony."
"I sure hope you're right. Out of curiosity, why are you being sympathetic to Ashe?"
"I realize this is seemingly out of character," Gavin muttered. "But before I left London, I had a visit from Merrill. You remember him, don't you?"
"Oh, yes. I remember him, all right."
"Merrill says this is important. If he says it's important, then it's important."
"I believe you."
* * *
"You will study these instructions and follow them precisely," Baltis paced before his chosen troops. "This explains how they are to be placed and set to explode. The moment they are set, relocate. I do not wish for you to be anywhere near there when the explosives detonate."
Six handpicked Dark Elemaiya examined the paper instructions they'd been given. The previous evening, Baltis' four new Destroyers, Raze, Ruin, Ravage and Rumble, approached the dealer Wildrif had contacted and purchased explosives from him. Baltis had spent a great deal of gold to procure them, after a demonstration was given in a remote location.
"Shall I go with them tomorrow?" Laridael asked quietly as Baltis stopped pacing to stand beside his personal guard. He and Baltis watched carefully as the six Elemaiyan soldiers studied their information.
"No need," Baltis waved away Laridael's concern. "This is quite simple, actually, and we will have our revenge. Soon."
* * *
"I don't like vamps in the house," Craig muttered as he dropped a plate of food in front of Winkler.
"They're asleep in the basement and their doors are locked," Winkler snapped, making Craig flinch. "You will leave them alone, do you hear?"
"Gavin won't waste time on your ass, he'll remove your head if you're too disrespectful," Trajan sat down at the kitchen island opposite Winkler.
"Disobey me, and I'll look the other way while he removes your head," Winkler muttered before pulling out his phone and tapping in a message.
"Kid, you ought to be sleeping late, since those vamps want to keep you up most of the night," Trajan remarked as Ashe shuffled into the kitchen, dressed in a T-shirt and shorts. "But since you're up, eat breakfast and I'll meet you in the weight room."
"Good morning to you, too," Ashe mumbled as he settled beside Trajan. "Is it torture the kid day, today?"
"Sure is." Trajan offered Ashe a wide grin. "And after that, we can run on the beach. Can't have you getting slow and sloppy." Trajan ruffled Ashe's hair. Ashe ducked his head and smiled.
* * *
"Did you get a reply from those vampires last night?" Thomas Williams settled at a table inside their hotel coffee shop. Like Weldon, he gripped a cup of coffee in his hands as he studied the Grand Master's face.
"Yep," Weldon grinned. "Dalroy said he and Rhett would be happy to provide some backup for us when we meet with Nick tonight. Ever since the kid said we might need help, I've been a little spooked. Dalroy can place compulsion and we'll get the truth, one way or another."
"What time?" Thomas asked.
"Nine-thirty, at Nick's place. It'll make it easier when I ask how he paid off his mortgage in less than five years."
* * *
"There it is." Trajan pointed out the new gun cabinet to Ashe. He, Ashe and Winkler stood inside Winkler's study, examining the gun cabinet that had been delivered half an hour earlier. "I put the dart gun and darts inside it already. You just have to carry it inside the hidden room downstairs."
"With pleasure," Ashe nodded, sizing up the cabinet and discreetly examining the lock. "Want to come with me?"
"Sure do," Trajan's teeth flashed white as he grinned broadly at Ashe. "Somebody will have a hell of a time gettin' to it after that."
"That's just what I was hoping for," Ashe agreed.
"I'll come, too," Winkler said. Ashe gathered Trajan, Winkler and the gun cabinet in his mist and dropped three floors to the basement.
* * *
Sali paid no attention as Mr. Dodd talked about the Berlin Wall and how it was torn down in 1989. Ashe had always sat beside him in the classes they shared. Now, the seat Ashe would have chosen was vacant, and Wynn and Dori occupied desks near the front. Larry and Jeff sat near the girls, leaving Sali surrounded by an island of empty chairs.
There was no large book to hide behind, either—textbooks were on tablets this year—Mr. Winkler had seen to that. The tablet was much easier to carry, but it couldn't connect to the school's Wi-Fi; the password hadn't been provided. Students could use their Wi-Fi at home to do research if they wanted.
Sali snorted softly. If Ashe were there with him, he probably would have hacked into the school's system already. Sali considered slipping the cell phone out of his pocket and sending a text to Ashe, telling him he was sorry. About everything. Sali winced uncomfortably. He'd give it a few days. Maybe Ashe would forgive him, then.
* * *
Peyton hadn't been inside a supermarket on U.S. soil in years. Zeke had always kept him in Mexico, sending him after rival cartels. The human competition never stood a chance. Zeke usually sent his older wolves after rival werewolves, although those were few in number. Peyton wondered, and not for the first time, just why Zeke thought him competent enough to go after William Winkler.
"Man, I haven't had these in years." Peyton pulled a large bag of his favorite cheese puffs off a shelf. They went into his grocery cart. Sodas came next, followed by snack cakes and other items he hadn't gotten in a long time. He'd rented a motel room in Laredo, Texas, intending to spend a night or two before selecting a city to lose himself in. He'd have to outthink Zeke Tanner if he expected to stay alive, and that was no easy prospect.
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