Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(41) by Connie Suttle
"I can't see him," Sali howled.
* * *
Baltis couldn't blink. Couldn't move. He had no care for Friesianna, although he vaguely realized that the same must be true for her. Light bathed them, covered them, pulsed through them. He was barely aware that the members of both races, Bright and Dark, now surrounded them. All of them, willingly or not, had come. The gate, lying tantalizingly nearby, stayed shut. In some way, the crowns had seized it, just as they'd seized him and the Bright Queen. Inexorably, the crowns drew closer together, bringing Friesianna nearer and a terrible doom with her.
* * *
Rabis wanted to weep, but like the others surrounding him, he was held spellbound. Had he imagined that it might be this frightening? Struggling against the pull of the crowns, he attempted mindspeech. It echoed back to him, unsent. Not only were the crowns pulling Baltis and Friesianna closer together, the Elemaiya, Bright and Dark, were now being drawn in, too. Rabis took a step against his will. And then another. His moan was plucked away in a strand of light.
* * *
Still furious at the events that had brought her and Baltis together, Friesianna was unwillingly pulled forward. Only a few feet separated her from the Dark King, and that space was shrinking rapidly. The H'Morr hadn't described this—still she had no understanding of the crowns and why they seemed to be locked together. Wanting to curse, the force that held her prevented it. She wanted to blink at the blinding light gathered about her like a shroud and couldn't. Would she die? She cursed mentally at that thought and was forced forward another step.
* * *
A tear coursed down Rabis' cheek as Ashe brushed past him. He was getting a first glimpse of his grandchild, and grieved for the circumstances that brought them together. Another tear fell, and another. Ashe, somehow, had neutralized some of the effects of the crowns, but that was fleeting. When the boy disappeared outside Rabis' vision, he could no longer blink, weep or call out. The power of the crowns pulled him forward again.
* * *
Ashe felt as he were buffeted by the winds of a hurricane, which became stronger the closer he strode toward the Bright Queen and Dark King, and threatened to knock him down. There was no power to siphon away and add to his own; here, all of it was dangerous and tainted. The ones who separated the crowns had used a forbidden energy, and it affected everything around it. Loss of life had fed it in the beginning, and it had turned darker and more evil through the years. Ashe only had the power he carried and that of the medallions circling his arm to combat the strength of the dark god and those who'd died to force one crown to become two.
* * *
"Boss, what's going on?" Trajan felt his words fall flat, as if they were suddenly too heavy to travel the short distance between him and Winkler. Everything had gone silent and still. Trajan was afraid to speak again. Winkler blinked in confusion at his Second before shaking his head. The small gesture took a mighty effort and left Winkler nearly exhausted afterward.
* * *
Power and fury radiated from the crowns, as Ashe slowly made his way forward. Could he open the gates and get the Elemaiya away before dealing with the crowns? It would take a toll on the power he held, he realized. If he didn't, it was possible that all might die—the crowns wanted no part of him, and even now drew Baltis and Friesianna closer together. Once the crowns touched, everything would explode in a cataclysmic event he couldn't stop.
* * *
"The Vice President is safe, Mr. President. It's time to come to the bunker."
The President, who'd stolen a moment to stare out an Oval Office window, worried at the stillness outside. Rain had stopped abruptly, with no pattering of a few stray drops to mark a storm's passing. No, this was completely unnatural, and the skies had turned a frightening shade of green.
"Mr. President?" His chief of security was calling him away, preparing to take him to safety. Or at least the illusion of safety, the president snorted softly. Blinking once more at the strange skies outside, he turned away as Secret Service agents gathered about him.
* * *
Ashe knew it would cost him, and wondered how long it might be before he recovered. If he recovered. Griffin hadn't said it, when he'd given Ashe the story of the Three. Hadn't realized who, exactly, he'd been giving the story to. It was moot—Ashe knew. Knew that if those of the opposition managed to defeat or turn any of the Three rogue, all would be destroyed and the rogue gods would easily win their victory. Two of the three had no hope of containing all of them—it was the way things were meant to be, all three of them working, not just together, but separately toward a common goal.
He wanted to sigh and knew he couldn't. Wanted to send mindspeech to those who mattered and knew he couldn't. All he could do was try his best, using what he had. Drawing in a painful breath, Ashe turned away from the crowns, forced his power toward the gate and cracked it open.
* * *
"Daryl, I've never seen anything like this." Weldon pointed his coffee cup toward the green sky overhead.
Daryl, Weldon's son, shook his head. "Me, either, Dad. This is scary as hell. If there was a way to get off the planet right now, I'd sure do it."
"Not an option," Weldon muttered. "Whatever this is, I get the feeling that it could kill us or change everything."
* * *
Go. Through. The. Gate. Ashe grunted with the effort to keep the gate open wide enough to get a few through at a time, although they would have to lean down to struggle through it. The power required to release the Elemaiya from the pull of the crowns was draining the medallions around his arm, too—and he wondered if he'd have anything left to deal with the crowns after he got the others away.
I am here, on the other side, filtered into his mind. A male voice. One he didn't recognize. Ashe blinked as the gate widened. The Elemaiya, too, were suddenly moving faster, almost in a panic to get through the gate. Ashe could hear their shouts as they passed through—no sound would come from any throat until the other side was reached.
The crowns, though, saw their prey escaping. If Ashe thought they were expending all their strength, he was very wrong. The blast that emanated from them knocked him to his knees.
Do it now! The voice shouted desperately. I am prevented from sending much power through. Take them now!
With great effort, Ashe jerked his body toward Friesianna and Baltis. Reaching out, he Pulled.
* * *
"What the hell?" The dome of light had gone so bright Winkler had to cover his eyes with an arm before turning his back to it. The others were doing the same; blocking out the blinding light and turning away. The explosion that came immediately after deafened them, rocked the grassy surface beneath their feet and knocked them to the ground.
"Look, I don't know how we got here." Winkler swore and raked a hand through his hair as he spoke with the Grand Master on his cell. "We must have blacked out. The last thing any of us remember is the explosion knocking us into the dirt. When we woke, we were on the floor in my media room."
"The kid's gone. That dome of light is gone. Everything is gone."
"Weather seems to be clearing up. Earthquakes have stopped and the sky is blue again," the Grand Master pointed out.
"I can't get any information on the attack, though. You think they're still planning to go through with this? I mean, Bear has more than three hundred extra shifters in that community, right now. At least the weather we had didn't kill anybody here. I already sent Sali, Trajan and Trace to Star Cove to help out—Ace and Marco were doing their best to guard the place, but two werewolves can't do much against Mother Nature."
"That wasn't Mother Nature and you know it," Weldon growled.
"I've got a call in to some of mine to see if they can get information for us, but at the moment, we're going into this blind."
"If I get my hands on that Roberts jerk," Winkler's free hand clenched.
* * *
"It doesn't matter that the problems seem to have stopped. We're still going in," Curtis Roberts snapped. "There's nothing to prevent the kid from doing this again. If he can do this to us, what else might he be able to do? Now," Curtis spread a map of the targeted addition in Star Cove across the hood of an armored vehicle, "My sources say this house is currently unoccupied," he tapped the image of the house nearest the gulf on the southern side. "My special agents and I will go over the back fence and see if we can help clear your way. The rest of you are scheduled to go in after the bombing stops. The bombers will arrive in half an hour. Be ready."
Curtis handed the map to the General who'd been reading over his shoulder. "Ready?" Curtis turned to the six he'd brought with him. It had taken some work to gather six known criminals and dress them as Special Ops, but they were now well armed and weren't afraid of killing anyone.
"Ready," one of the six growled.
* * *
"I suppose you're wondering why all this happened?" Griffin sat in Winkler's guest chair the moment Winkler ended the call with the Grand Master.
"I want to kill you," Winkler growled.
"You won't. You can't. You know it." Griffin steepled his fingers.
"Fine. Enlighten me, then, since you seem to know so much."
"It has to do with two crowns and a thumbprint," Griffin sighed.
"Ashe said something about the crowns, but not about a thumbprint."
"There was one crown in the beginning," Griffin explained, his hazel eyes staring past Winkler's shoulder. "The god of the Dark Realm gifted it to the Elemaiyan Queen, who held him in reverence. He placed his thumbprint on the inside of the crown, to lend it power to protect the Elemaiya race."
"You're saying they were one race?"
"In the beginning. A Dark race. Like the vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters and a multitude of others."
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