Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(52) by Ilona Andrews
“Exactly. My power words work on the creatures he controls, they might work on the creatures he summons, but they sure as hell don’t work on him directly.”
“No power words,” Curran said.
“I agree,” Julie said.
“I have no plans to use power words unless I absolutely have no choice.” I made a mental note to ask Luther if the object of power had been recovered. It felt like I was missing something, some vital piece, but when I reached for it, I found nothing.
“I don’t understand why he attacked the Guild.” Derek grimaced. “What was the point?”
“Revenge,” Curran said. “Look at it from his point of view. First, he decides he has something against cats and starts attacking the Oswald family. He summons a tick. Eduardo, a merc, comes and kills it. Then Kate and I kill some of his ghouls. Then he summons a wolf griffin, and two mercs from the Guild kill it. He turns the griffin into a wind scorpion, and Kate and I, who had just come from the Guild, kill it. Then you, Ascanio, Julie, and I go into the MARTA tunnels and kill more of his ghouls. If I were him, I’d be pissed off and come over to the Guild to make the mercs pay and to make sure they stopped screwing with me.”
“The problem with our theory is that Eduardo doesn’t fit,” I said.
“Why not?” Derek asked.
“They didn’t kill him,” Curran said. “If Eduardo just happened to be targeted because he was a merc, than why not just kill him? Why go through the trouble of kidnapping him? What’s so special about Eduardo?”
“We won’t know until we pull his other jobs from the Guild,” I said. And to do that we needed two things: for the Clerk to help us, and for the rest of the Guild to look the other way. Everything hinged on the Guild, one way or the other.
Curran turned onto Phoenix Drive. The top floor of the Guild was in ruins, its roofline ragged and broken, but all of the debris from the parking lot was gone. The wrecked cars and chunks of the building had vanished. An inch of silvery powder covered the street.
“The MSDU did a shake and bake,” I said.
Curran glanced at me.
“They torched the contaminated ground and salted it.”
Salt was a universal detergent for all things magic. When you didn’t know what sort of magic you were dealing with, you had two options. You could set the contaminated object on fire or you could bury it in salt. MSDU usually opted for both, which was known as a shake and bake. They had excellent flamethrowers and there had to be truckloads of salt on the street. If anything magical survived that, I would be surprised.
“Okay, put your game faces on,” I told the kids.
We parked on the side. I grabbed the bag Barabas had given Derek for our show-and-tell at the Guild. Curran got out of the car and swung his cloak on. The cloak was Barabas’s idea. Big, black, and edged with black feathers, it was gathered on Curran’s right shoulder. The Pack had made it for him after he ripped off the Raven god’s head during the flare. He never wore it. Barabas had sent it in via Derek with my change of clothes and a note for Curran that said, Wear it, please. It forced you to focus on his face, and you didn’t want to look at that face or to see the power in his eyes. Curran the Godkiller.
The Clerk caught up with us, his expression stretching as he surveyed the damage. “Jesus. I came to see it yesterday but couldn’t get close. The authorities had the place cordoned off.”
“We’ll put it back together,” I told him. “Like new.”
“Better,” Curran said.
We walked to the Guild. The salt crunched under our feet.
The long-suffering metal doors of the Guild were open about a foot. Some halfhearted attempt had been made to push them together. It must’ve taken several people, because the edges of the doors left scrape marks on the salted pavement.
“You should do the dramatic door-opening thing,” I told Curran.
“Would you like to see me do the dramatic door-opening thing?”
“Yes, I would. Very much.”
A quick smile bent his lips. We picked up speed. We were almost marching now. A merc stuck his head out of the gap, saw us, and disappeared.
We reached the doors. Curran didn’t even slow down. He raised his arms. His hands hit the doors. He pushed and they swung open with a metal groan, scraping the floor.
Curran kept walking. My scary, scary bastard.
We walked into the Guild Hall. The floor had been stripped bare. Most of the roof was gone and open sky rose high above us. This would take so much work. Work and money.
Mercs sat and stood by the walls. I saw Barabas standing to the left. Our stares connected and he smiled.
In the middle of the floor stood Mark; Bob Carver; Ivera, who was the only other member of the Four Horsemen in the Assembly; Rigan, a big blond bear of a man who looked like he accidentally got left behind by some Viking raiders; and Sonia, a graceful African American woman muscled like a fencer. Oh good. The Guild Assembly was all here.
Everybody looked at us. Mark spared us a glance and turned back to the crowd. His suit sat askew on his frame. His tie hung loose around his neck. He looked feverish.
“For years, I ran this hellhole. I babysat your idiot founder,” Mark said.
Faces turned grim. Insulting Solomon Red’s memory wasn’t a good move.
“I bargained with suppliers. I got you the big-ticket contracts. I handled the VIP clients. The Malinov contract? I got that for you. The Horowitz job? I arranged that. Not Solomon Red. Not the Clerk. I did that.”
Oh goody. We’d caught him in the middle of his “I’m a special snowflake” speech.
“That’s bullshit,” Rigan said. “I was on the Horowitz job. They wouldn’t even talk to us until Solomon convinced them we were good.”
Mark spun to him. His eyes narrowed. “You know what, Rigan?” He took a deep breath.
Wait for it . . . Wait for it . . .
There it is.
“Fuck all of you.”
He was going to walk. I could feel it. Bob knew it too, because he wasn’t talking. Unlike three-quarters of the people present, Bob also knew that running the Guild without Mark would be almost impossible.
“I’m done defending myself. I’m done justifying myself. This place is finished. Finished!” Mark grinned. “Well, I’m not going down with this sinking ship. I got myself a job. I am done.”
“What the hell are we supposed to do?” one of the mercs called out.
“I don’t give a goddamn crap what the rest of you shit-sniffing animals are going to do. I am out. I just wanted to let you all know how much I hate each and every single one of you. Rot in hell for all I care.”
Mark turned to leave.
“Wait,” Bob called. “What about your shares?”
Mark spun around. “You want my shares, Bob?” He giggled. “Is that it? My worthless shares that you and your Neanderthals drove from two hundred and seven dollars per share to fifty-six cents? You’re not getting them, Bob. I already sold them. And I got above market value, too. Enjoy the rest of your lives in this busted-ass ruin.”
Mark bowed with a flourish, turned, and took off.
“Who bought his shares?” Sonia asked.
“I did,” Barabas said.
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