Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(42) by Connie Suttle
"What happened? Why are there two crowns, now? Where is Ashe, now?"
"I don't know where Ashe is. Nobody does."
"Great." Winkler rose and turned his back to Griffin, staring through the window of his study.
"To answer your question on the two crowns, well, the Elemaiyan Queen had a consort. She offered him a crown, made by her craftsmen. He refused it. He wanted a crown with power, like hers. His refusal of her gift hurt her, but he wouldn't bend on what he wanted. Eventually, she gave in and had her crown divided, to make two crowns, hoping that each would wield equal power. The ones who accomplished this task for her employed forbidden spells and power. It corrupted the gold and tainted the god's power."
"Did they wield equal power after they were made?" Winkler asked.
"Yes and no. The god's thumbprint was divided as well, and as its purpose in the beginning was to protect the race from encroaching power, and with the taint affecting them afterward, each crown saw the other as a threat. They'd become individuals in their purpose, instead of working together as originally hoped. They destroyed the Queen and her consort, as well as the world given to them by Kifirin, the Dark god. The race barely managed to get away before everything was destroyed, but they were split—half defended the consort's actions, half sided with the Queen."
"How did they get the crowns back?"
"Each half of the race chose their own planets. One was called Morningsun, the other, Evensun. A crown appeared sometime later to one Elemaiya on each world, who named themselves Queen and King after that. The rest is a long story and is lost in time."
"That's why Ashe called it a chain reaction. Why he stopped them from killing each other in Canada. The crowns couldn't be close together."
"Not without destroying everything around them. Somehow, Ashe managed to stop it this time. I worry that it has cost him."
"Cost him? How? Is he dead?" Winkler stared at Griffin.
"I don't know. Nobody does."
"Look, I've got things to do. I may have to move an entire community in the space of—I don't know how much time we have," Winkler raked through his hair in frustration.
"You have fifteen minutes," Griffin's eyes unfocused.
Winkler shouted a curse as Griffin disappeared.
* * *
"Most of them are in a meeting inside that large building on the other side of the canal," Curtis hissed after one of the criminals asked where the targets were. "I was told we'd have protection—that we'd be able to get into the community easily and the ones here won't see, scent or hear us, but I don't know how reliable that might be. I'm not taking any chances. We'll go from house to house so we won't be seen, and take out the guard in that little shack up front, first."
"Not a problem. This'll be like old times." Curtis watched as the man's hands, encased in black leather gloves, clenched around the assault rifle he held. "Legal killing. I hope you'll let me know if I can do this again, sometime."
"Do this for me and I'll hire you and pay you more than you're making now."
"Good. Let's go."
Curtis smiled as this one took the lead.
* * *
Frank Dodd, Star Cove's werewolf History teacher, had volunteered to staff the guard shack while the shapeshifter meetings were held in the school auditorium. He'd spoken with Greta Rocklin twice already; she'd given him updates on how the meetings were going. So far, most agreed that the shifters needed to band together, but not many could agree on how that might be accomplished or who might serve on the first council. He was still on the phone with Greta when he noticed a leaf, blowing in the wind, stop in midair for several seconds before flying away again.
"Greta, I have to go. Something doesn't look right."
"Let me know if you need help, Frank. We don't need problems when there are this many shifters with us."
"Agreed." Frank ended the call and stepped out of the small building. The werewolf history teacher's eyes widened as six invisible assault rifles fired and multiple bullets pierced his body. His attempt to shout a warning to the community died with him.
* * *
"Bombing strikes, Grand Master. In less than ten minutes." A government-employed werewolf informed Weldon Harper over the phone. "I just found out about this. There isn't any time and probably no way to get anyone out of there—I hear there are tanks, armored vehicles and police cruisers surrounding the community."
The Grand Master cursed. He wanted to destroy his study, too, but that would accomplish nothing. Every werewolf, shifter and vampire in Star Cove would be obliterated by bombers within minutes, and there was nothing he could do about it.
* * *
"Randy, a part of me is sorry your mother is dead. Another part of me is glad she's gone. You weren't there. You didn't see her." Sara held the cell phone to her ear as she spoke with Randy. "Why don't you meet me here for dinner? We can talk about this."
"Sara, I can't believe you said that—that you're glad she's dead."
"Randy, I see this is going nowhere. Look, the break in the meeting is over. I have to get back."
"You're just like the rest of them. I'm only an insignificant human. I won't ever be a werewolf or a shapeshifter and belong to that special clique."
"Randy, being either of those things carries its own stigma. You know that. I have to go." Sara hung up.
Randy cursed. Cursed the werewolves, shifters and finally, himself.
* * *
"Traje, I know you can't get them out in five minutes. Hell, I can't get you out in five minutes," Winkler moaned into his cell. "The Grand Master says that all the streets outside Star Cove are blocked by police and armored vehicles. Nobody can get out."
"They're aiming for the kid, and he's not even here. Are we expendable?" Trajan growled.
"I guess. Traje, you've been the best Second any Packmaster could ask for. Tell Trace, Marco and Ace they were the best. I'll go see your parents and try to explain."
"Thanks." Trajan ended the call and brushed tears away.
* * *
Sali sat on the concrete floor of the Evans' garage, staring at the Cadillac. As yet, he had no idea that his death was flying swiftly toward him. "Ashe, you were supposed to drive me down the highway in this," Sali wiped tears away. "We were supposed to be together, dude."
* * *
"Kill all of them," Curtis Roberts hissed as he and five of his six disguised criminals followed him into the school. The sixth had been sent to the back, to kill anyone escaping through the back door. "Auditorium is on the east side. Just stay with me. Once we're inside, open fire."
* * *
"I know you don't feel safe," Bear Wright agreed. He, Kerry Slater, Thurmon Novak and Opal Tadewi stood on the stage and spoke before the shapeshifter crowd as they discussed the future of their race. "I'm hoping that with a joint council, we can improve relations with the werewolves and the vampires."
"They have nothing but contempt for us," someone in the crowd stood and baldly stated. "I'll never trust them."
"I'm sorry for the interruption, Mr. Wright," Trajan strode inside the school auditorium, Trace, Ace and Marco close behind him. "The government has sent bombers to Star Cove, and they have tanks, police cars and who knows what else surrounding the community. They intend to kill all of us."
"What are you saying, son?" Bear jumped off the stage and strode toward Trajan. He, Trajan, Trace and Marco were the first to fall as bullets sprayed through the crowd.
* * *
"Gunshots?" Sali stood as the sound of assault rifles firing rapidly reached his ears, followed by panicked screams. "What the hell?" He hit the button to open the garage door and raced outside.
Only a few shapeshifters had managed to escape, and they were running through the streets in panic as an invisible force fired rifles. Sali turned to werewolf, ripping his clothing as he raced toward the sound of weapons firing. He died in the street, his werewolf's paws jerking after a bullet pierced his brain.
* * *
"Oh, no." Ashe appeared inside the school auditorium, and then slid down the wall, his fingers gripping his hair in grief and dismay. Trajan lay dead beside his brother. Cori and her mother were nearby, blood sluggishly leaking from a multitude of bullet wounds. Marco had died not far away, reaching for Cori. Dori had managed to get a little farther before falling and dying. Ace died while attempting to shield Wynn and her mother. Then, Ashe's eyes settled on his mother's body. She'd died near Cori and Lavonna Anderson, her body crumpled and bloody. He wanted to weep. Hundreds of shifters and werewolves, some Ashe knew, many he didn't, lay amid thick pools of blood. All of them dead. What had kept him from arriving sooner? He was too grief-stricken to sort it out. Ashe moaned as the hum of jet engines reached his sensitive ears. He rose, his eyes going as dark as midnight while stars burst in their depths. Ashe misted away.
* * *
"Did that boy turn to this?" One of Curtis' hired criminals kicked Sali's wolf.
"He did," Curtis smiled gleefully. "That was easy. We wiped out the whole community."
"Easy except for that one guy, who had a gun," a second criminal spoke up. He frowned while examining the bullet hole in his left arm. "Took him down, though, after he hit me. Good thing he couldn't see us. He might have done more damage. The woman who was with him turned into a swan and hissed in my direction. Do you believe that? Shot her, too." He laughed.
"You shot Mrs. Thompson. And my mother and Sali," Ashe appeared before Curtis and his thugs, his arms crossed angrily over his chest. Power vibrated from his body in dangerous waves, clouding and turning a purplish-black once it escaped his personal shields.
"He can see us," one of Curtis' gunmen pointed out.
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