Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(44) by Connie Suttle
* * *
"Flossie, I'm trusting the boy," Amos pulled Florence Thompson against his side. "He's never done anything to make me believe he'll hurt us. Those folks who sent those bombers," he lifted his eyes, "well, they're the ones who want to hurt us."
"I know." Flossie stood on her toes and kissed her husband's cheek. Amos reached out and wiped tears from his wife's face.
* * *
"Mom, Ashe says he's taking Daddy, Mr. Evans and Mr. Casimir," Cori's smile trembled as she gazed at her mother. "He can shield them, so they'll be safe."
"I hope so," Lavonna hugged her oldest daughter. "Did he say where he's taking us?"
"He only said we'll be safe. If we stay behind, we'll die." Cori had to raise her voice; the noise of the bombs was getting louder.
"Then we'll go," Lavonna nodded determinedly, although her eyes were filled with tears.
* * *
"Well, Lewis, I hope you're not leaving anything important behind," Bear clapped Lewis Sharpe on the back.
"No. I'm glad I came," Lewis said. "The kid saved my life. I'm willing to trust him, now."
"Me, too," Bear agreed. "I wish they'd stop dropping those blasted bombs." Heavier bombing was taking place as Bear and Lewis walked out of the Star Cove auditorium together.
* * *
"Ace?" Wynn touched Ace's face. He grasped her fingers and kissed the palm of her hand.
"Baby, we have to trust Ashe."
Turn and go through the gate quickly when it opens, the voice commanded inside their heads.
Wynn gasped. She, Ace and her parents stood at the rear of a large crowd of werewolves and shapeshifters, who became their animals in a tremendous ripple.
"Baby, it'll be the first time we've run together," Ace offered Wynn a lopsided smile.
"Yeah. Let's go." In seconds, a white werewolf stood beside the only unicorn shapeshifter on Earth.
Run, the voice commanded. They ran.
* * *
"Honey?" Adele said as she was squeezed between Ashe and Sali in the Cadillac's front seat.
"We'll be okay, Mom," Ashe said. "Ready, Sal?" Ashe leaned forward to give Sali a curious glance.
"All right, then." Ashe let the Cadillac idle while he lifted his hands over his head and then let them down slowly. Light appeared before the crowd of shapeshifters and werewolves running in the street, before spreading out to reveal a gate.
Run! You'll find safety on the other side, Ashe's voice filtered into every mind.
"Man, what is that? Through that opening?" Sali craned to see over the crowd of animals before them.
"You'll see." Ashe placed the car in gear and drove forward.
* * *
Opal ran. As a velociraptor, she could move almost as fast as her name implied. She needn't have worried—somehow, she was protected. She felt it. Knew it in some way. Racing past police cruisers and armored vehicles, she picked up their communications. Many had guns or more deadly weapons trained on Star Cove. Some were firing. Their bullets were bouncing off the invisible shield and exploding in bright flashes of light.
He was right—they really do want to kill all of us, Opal thought as she ran.
When the time is right, filtered into her thoughts, someone will come for you.
Thank you. Opal did her best to reply mentally to the message.
You're welcome, came the response.
* * *
"Well, look at you, you little rogue godling, you."
Calhoun quailed in her presence. She shone like the sun as she approached his desk. "Who—are you?" he quavered.
"Don't play dumb with me." Her voice had turned deadly. "You thought you'd get away with this. Pretended to be human, to escape notice. Attempted to destroy Earth by using that idiot Curtis Roberts and your evil little snipe, Wildrif. You have to answer for that, you know."
"But I am human," Calhoun claimed, taking a step backward.
"Huh. Too bad for you. You think I'd settle for killing your human body while your spirit flies free to cause trouble somewhere else? Think again."
"Wait, don't you want to know who helped me?"
"And take the chance that they'll show up to help you again while you do the usual blithering that every criminal does at the end? No, thanks."
Calhoun wailed as he was transported elsewhere.
* * *
The dome shield disappeared slowly behind the Cadillac as it drove forward. The Last of Star Cove's shifters and werewolves, permanent and temporary, ran or flew through the shining gate ahead of Ashe.
"Ready, Sal?" Ashe gunned the engine.
Ashe left tire marks as he sped forward.
* * *
"What do you mean, no bombs hit the community until everybody disappeared?" The President stared at the Air Force General who stood before his desk.
"Just what I said. Our bombers report that the bombs were hitting an invisible shield overhead and exploding. They also report sightings of several hundred people gathering on the streets below, before weird things happened. We didn't hit anything, Mr. President, until they were gone. I'm telling you the truth—some kind of light appeared and they were just—gone."
"Gone where? I had no idea so many were in that community. Where was the intel on this?"
"We were given bad information, sir. Curtis Roberts, the one who provided the intel, has also disappeared."
"Keep looking for him. Let Matt Michaels go. Maybe he can help us with this."
"Of course, sir."
* * *
Sali gaped about him as the brightest light shone and then suddenly disappeared. Ashe allowed the car to roll to a gentle stop.
"Welcome back." Sali gaped at the tall, blue man who greeted them as the Cadillac idled in a grove of trees planted neatly in rows.
"Ashe?" Adele gasped as she stared at the tall, blue-skinned male.
"Don't be afraid," Ashe said. "Mom, Sali, this is Renegar," Ashe grinned. "He's Larentii."
"How did it go?" A man stepped around Renegar and smiled at Ashe.
"Went fine, Edward," Ashe replied.
"Edward?" Sali hadn't recognized him at first—he, like Ashe, seemed older.
"Hey, Sali." Edward's face split in a wide grin.
* * *
"Officials report that millions were funneled through Curtis Roberts' office, as payments were made to known criminals for trivial amounts of information," The journalist announced on the late news, while photographs of Star Cove, showing that the community had been completely destroyed, were displayed on the television screen.
"Rumors are running wild across the Internet and all social networks, and most indicate that innocent people were targeted in this bombing raid, because of faulty intelligence. No bodies have been found, but anonymous sources report that the community was occupied when the bombing began. Word from the Oval Office is that this is a tragedy and an embarrassment to the nation, as few thought to question Roberts' methods of gathering intelligence, his spending habits or those he associated with."
"Old news," Winkler growled as he hit the remote button to turn off the television. He'd moved back to his home between Denton and Dallas, making Buck his temporary Second while Wayne's training was accelerated. Winkler missed Trajan, Trace, Ace and Marco, but as no bodies were found when the bombing was stopped two months earlier, he had hopes that somewhere, they were still alive. He knew, too, that he might never see them again. Inexplicably, Trajan and Trace's parents had also disappeared.
"You were right, kid," Winkler muttered, powering off his computer for the night. "You did have decisions to make that some people aren't going to understand." He reached for the lamp, to turn it off as well when a cream-colored envelope dropped onto his desk.
"What the hell?" Winkler stared at the envelope for several seconds, a worried frown crossing his features. Finally, he reached out to pick it up. Two items dropped out. He studied the photograph, first, as a wounded sigh escaped his lips.
Lissa was richly dressed in an evening gown, while a jeweled tiara graced her head and sparkling diamonds hung from her ears. Two wide-shouldered men who looked to be Asian by birth escorted her. Both wore their hair in long, black braids.
"What the hell?" Winkler repeated as he unfolded the accompanying note. It held only two words.
* * *
For twenty years, I have lived with my loss. I go to work every day. I come home every day.
It is a derogatory term, employed by werewolves and shapeshifters. I'd been called that word when I was young. I hadn't really known what it meant. I know its meaning all too well, now.
The werewolves and shifters whisper the story of Star Cove to their children. That one day, some were carried away. Nobody knows where or how, only that it happened. The story has become a tale of magic. Of hope. That somewhere, there's a community of werewolves, shapeshifters and vampires, living together in peace and prosperity, watched over by an unassailable strength. At times, I hope the stories are true. That Sara is with them, living a happy existence. Afterward, I curse my shortsightedness. My inability to see past my weaknesses. My willingness to turn blindly away from the truth.
Randy tapped his pen against the pad of paper, considering what to write next. He sat at his desk inside a Chicago apartment—a far cry from the one he'd had when he'd first started working for the Chicago newspaper. Several journalism awards littered a shelf on the wall behind his desk. They meant nothing to him.
Randy dropped the pen as he gaped at Ashe. A much older Ashe than the one he'd last seen stood before him. A beautiful woman stood at Ashe's side. Her long, black hair hung in waves about her shoulders and her piercing blue eyes offered Randy a smile filled with salvation.
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