Target(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 3)(30) by Connie Suttle
"Is that why they gave permission? To see if any of the kids turned out to be something they could leisurely take if they wanted? Hancock, even you know that's wrong. When you were turned, you asked for it. You were dying in the rubble of a bombed hotel in Paris. Are you going to ask that kid before you rip his throat out?"
"Nobody will rip his throat out, it's dangerous to turn anyone that way," Tony snapped. "And I won't be the one selected, if it comes to that. It'll be somebody older, with more experience. I've never tried it and honestly, I have no desire to do so."
"They'll send one of those old bastards, then."
"Nothing has been decided. And you're right, he's only sixteen. The rule, as you well know, is eighteen at least."
"How quickly after that are they going to conscript, Hancock? Do you think I'm stupid? That I can't figure out why the Council will assign one of their few Assassins to cool his heels with a werewolf?"
"They sent me because they trust me and I'm not so ancient I have nothing in common with a sixteen-year-old. In their eyes, at least."
"You think you have something in common with Ashe? Do you? He's struggling, Hancock. He's trying to come to terms with his father's placement of compulsion every time the inhabitants of that community see him do something that's considered secret. You didn't see the look on his face when he found out they'd handed the credit to me for rescuing that girl in Amarillo. I had almost nothing to do with that part of it. I just supervised the rounding up of Tanner's rogues afterward."
"If we don't conceal him, the Elemaiya will be all over him," Tony was beginning to show anger. "One side will kill him, the other will likely get him killed, sending him out to do this or that. We need him. We can accomplish so much with his talents."
"Provided he's under Wlodek's thumb."
"I don't know that for sure. Wlodek hasn't said anything."
"I don't see anything happening for a few years unless there's an unfortunate accident."
"I hope I don't see any unfortunate accidents," Winkler gave Tony a hard stare.
"It won't be because I wanted it," the tips of Tony's fangs showed.
"Hey, now, no growling and hissing," Trajan walked in and slapped Tony on the back, breaking the tension.
"What were you talking about before—reading another page?" Marco asked.
"Some stuff on the Elemaiya. I get the idea I was supposed to get a lot more, but I got three pages. That's it," Ashe poked his ice cream with the spoon in frustration. "I guess they think it'll be awful if I know more than I do."
"Did you talk to your dad about it?" Marco asked.
"No. There wasn’t any time, what with everything happening over the weekend."
"Why don't you talk to him now? He's up," Marco grinned.
"Yeah. Think Winkler will be upset if I take ice cream into the bedroom with me?"
"He does it all the time, dude."
"All right. I'll call my dad. See what he says about all this." Ashe rose from his chair and walked into the house.
"Dad, I forgot to tell you about this. I can scan it through the computer—it's only three pages," Ashe spoke to his father by cell phone.
"Go ahead and send it, Son. I think I'd like to see this." Aedan was surprised to hear from Ashe.
"All right." Ashe walked into his office and powered up the computer. The scanning was complete a few minutes later. "Did you get it?" Ashe asked. By that time, his mother had joined his father inside Aedan's study.
"Aedan, look at this," Ashe heard his mother's voice clearly as the information popped up in an email to his father.
"I wish we'd seen this earlier, but that's neither here nor there. I don't think I have to warn you not to let any of this get out, and whatever you do, don't let anyone you don't trust see anything other than what they've seen already, all right?"
"Sure. I sort of figured that out already."
"I know you're cautious. Just be doubly so, all right? Is Anthony Hancock still there?"
"Yeah. I may have pissed him off earlier, though."
"While he may have more patience than a lot of vampires I know, that patience isn't limitless. Tread carefully, all right?"
"He has mindspeech, Dad. Did you know that?"
"I did know that. I trust you'll come straight to me if there's a problem in that area? I'm older than Hancock, by a long way."
"I'll keep that in mind," Ashe muttered.
"The older ones can place compulsion on those younger. Nathan and I are both older than Hancock. Remember that. Son, whatever you do, never let them know you're not susceptible to compulsion. They don't like it when they can't handle someone like that."
"I will." Ashe was shocked to be getting information from his father like this. That spelled one thing—Aedan Evans was worried.
"My Queen, our spies have reported. We have watched our Dark cousins for a while, now. Baltis is sending some of his to a place in the country of Mexico. They tell me the nearest city is called Juarez. A violent place, it seems. I have taken the liberty of sending some of our own there, and we now have better information. All it took was a bit of bribery to a politician who has escaped pending charges against him. All his assets have been frozen, so compensation from us was quite welcome. He informed my spies that an attack is planned, just before the full moon. Somehow, they gained information regarding our intended raid upon the community at the full moon and plan to usurp our attack. I also received other valuable information."
"And what is that, Sapphire?" Friesianna gave her Sentinel a cold stare. Was one shapeshifter worth all this trouble? She was about to step back and allow the Dark Ones to take him.
"The boy is a mister," Sapphire announced triumphantly. "We hold hard evidence of this fact. The spy for our cousins sent images of this, and it is rumored that the boy may have other talents. I know not exactly what those might be, but he is a valuable property and those creatures our Dark cousins have allied with have designs on him as well. They intend to wrest him from beneath Baltis' nose and use him for their own illicit purposes."
"Baltis will kill them—he has no living misters. All of them disappeared years ago, for reasons unknown to me." Friesianna settled her silk dress around her, lounging gracefully upon her throne. Had she a mirror, she might have checked the position of her crown. Instead, she struck as haughty a pose as she could. "Find out what else the boy can do and bring the date of the attack if you can. I command that you and your brothers do what you must to take what rightfully belongs to us. The boy is becoming more useful by the hour."
"Of course, my Queen." Sapphire bowed low and rushed away.
"I did not let her know we have other spies," Sapphire informed his fellow Sentinels. "It was a stroke of luck finding the quarter-blood, but now it is difficult to get information from him. Who knew that humans would lock him up so tightly that he would not be allowed visitors? Would that we had a mister at our disposal—that would give us everything we need. Unfortunate it is that the Foreseer is Dark and only quarter-blood—the Queen will never allow him within our encampment. Rabis gives the Queen only what she asks for and nothing more. I question his loyalty at times."
"The Queen sent Rabis away centuries ago when his prophecies failed to tell her what she wanted to hear," Emerald pointed out. "Now that Hilbah is no more, she was forced to call Rabis back. I cannot say that I would have the most positive of attitudes under such circumstances."
"You speak treason," Ruby snapped.
"He speaks truth. Just as Rabis spoke it in the beginning. However, we are all committed to our Queen, are we not? We must do her bidding and no other, as she instructs. We may speak the truth among ourselves, as brothers and Sentinels." Diamond looked at all of them. "It will be good, will it not, to have a mister and shapeshifter at our command? We hold the skills to force his will to ours. As does the Queen. He will do our bidding and with his help, we will crush the Dark Ones. It is time they recognized which race will survive."
"Then we must position our troops. Do we attack in Mexico, after they have acquired the boy, or do we preempt and take him in Texas?" Sapphire asked.
"I say we wait until they get him away from his parents and the others in that community who seek to protect him," Diamond said.
"I wish to consult Rabis," Ruby whined.
"No! Consult Rabis at your own peril. He will report to the Queen. She will have no difficulty with our decision, once the final outcome is to her liking. I follow my brother Diamond in this. Let the Dark Ones think they score a victory against us. We will be waiting for them and take the boy when they do not suspect. And if those rogue creatures think to prevent it, then they will be most sorry, I assure you," Emerald smiled. "We will call in our best troops. They will be ready to follow us quickly, should the need arise."
"Have you given a thought to whom the boy's parent might be? Will she object to his treatment? He is High Born; else he would not mist or shapeshift."
"We will make sure they do not object," Diamond clenched his fists. "The Royal House is all but gone, destroyed by the predations of our Darker cousins and a few, well-placed assassinations, here and there. At the Queen's command, of course."
"Of course," Sapphire agreed. Diamond was firstborn of the brothers, and often acted as assassin for the Queen. Sapphire was next, followed by Ruby and Emerald. Their parents were dead—killed by Baltis' Destroyers. They certainly wanted revenge and would stop at nothing to obtain it. "We will protect our Queen and bring about the downfall of Baltis and all his subjects."
"We strike on Friday, the day before the full moon," Ezekiel informed his werewolf troops. "We know where the groves are and most of the older children are working there. They are our targets. We have no use for the younger ones. Our compatriots, here," Zeke nodded to the two Elemaiya standing in a corner of his trophy room, "will grab the boy they want—he works elsewhere. We'll go in full daylight so we won't be fighting vampires. Pruitt, I want you and Rutherford to go with our guests to take the shapeshifter boy." Pruitt, sitting not far from Ezekiel, nodded his understanding. He and Rutherford were Zeke's most capable and deadly among the rogue werewolves. It was their job to take the Elemaiya down, once they had Ashe in their possession. A rendezvous point had been agreed upon—in Rockport, a small town north of Star Cove. Three boats would be moored there, ready to take the entire party out to a larger ship anchored at sea. Zeke figured the parents and the Grand Master's werewolves might not suspect they'd take them that way, expecting the kidnapped children to be transported by vehicle or plane. Ezekiel had many contacts in the drug world and most of those contacts had a fleet of boats at their disposal.
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