Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(68) by Ilona Andrews
“Last time I checked, the Order was not a law enforcement agency,” Ghastek said, his voice dangerously mild.
“You’re only one man,” someone called out.
Ghastek took a moment to glance toward the speaker. Heads would roll when they got back to the Casino.
Aw, hell. I really hated the Order.
“Three,” I said.
Everyone looked at me. Julie pulled out her axes.
“He is three. Biohazard brought the Order in on the previous giant appearance. Therefore, this occurrence is a continuation of an ongoing investigation, authorized by a formal petition from a state law enforcement agency. He is the law. I will uphold the law.”
Ghastek paused. Some sort of calculation was feverishly taking place in his mind. He couldn’t back down. There were no good choices. If he let the body get away, he would have to explain to Roland how a djinn kidnapped Rowena and how he had wasted several vampires and a bunch of resources trying to kill it but had nothing to show for it. If he claimed the body, he would have to explain to Roland why he’d attacked a knight of the Order, broken about half a dozen laws, and generated a quickly rising mountain of legal bills.
He would go for the body. The value of a corpse possessed and transformed by the djinn would mean more to Roland than the legal problems.
I flicked my sword, warming up my wrist. This was about to get bloody.
Ghastek raised his hand. The undead leaned forward as one.
“Stay next to me,” I told Julie.
Sirens howled, growing closer and closer. A fleet of Biohazard and PAD vehicles turned the corner, filling up the street. Ghastek stared at them for a long moment. “Get the legal department.”
I looked up at Nick. “It’s an earring. About the size of a plum. He wore it like a piercing on his chest.”
He gave no indication he heard me. You’re welcome.
“The ifrit is moving from host to host in an attempt to acquire a more powerful host. You need to secure the earring.”
Nick rode off without saying a word.
“Did you expect gratitude?” Toakasa asked.
“No. I expect him to contain the magic so we don’t have another giant.” I’d have to find Luther. He would at least listen to reason.
A woman ran up to me and thrust a piece of paper into my hand. I glanced at it. A bill for eighty-two thousand dollars. “What the hell is this?”
“The cost of the destroyed vampire,” the journeywoman chirped. “Have a nice day.”
• • •
I REFUSED TO leave until the earring had been found. It took four hours for Biohazard to sift through the gory carcass, quarantining each section of the corpse they had removed. I sat on the edge of the Mole Hole and watched them do it. Julie fell asleep in the car. For a while the People’s lawyers and Biohazard’s lawyers squabbled over who would get the earring when it was finally found, but eventually they too grew quiet and just watched.
Biohazard techs gingerly placed it into a box carved from a cube of salt, which was then placed into a plastic box lined with volcanic rock. Volcanic rock had been exposed to such high temperatures that magically it was found to be inert and impervious to all types of fire magic.
The techs sealed the box and then Nick promptly confiscated it.
“You can’t do that!” If Luther got any more worked up, he would suffer apoplexy right here. He was wearing a biohazard containment suit, and he’d taken his helmet off to talk. “It needs to be examined and studied.”
“Examined how?” Nick asked. “Are you planning on having tea with it and asking it about its family? We know it’s a djinn. We must contain it. That’s all that matters.”
Luther turned to his lawyers, who by now had lost all semblance of professionalism and lounged on blankets next to the People’s lawyers, who were sharing their coffee. “Can he do this?”
“Yep,” a Hispanic female lawyer said, pushing her glasses up her nose.
“You gave him that power when you signed the petition,” a thin, dark-skinned, male lawyer told him. “I told you not to sign it.”
Nick placed the box in his saddlebag.
“The corpses exhibited reactive metamorphosis in every single case,” I told him loud enough for Luther to hear. “Except this one. That means the djinn wants you to have that box. He wants a more capable host and we don’t know what his endgame is. Nick, do not put it into the Vault where every knight can have access to it.”
Nick ignored me. Right. I guess we knew where we stood. I had a feeling my parentage and the fact that he somehow shared his last name with my deceased guardian had a great deal to do with it, but now wasn’t the time or the place to discuss any of it.
“Whatever you think of me, you know I wouldn’t lie to you about it. Do not put that box on a shelf in the Vault where anybody can get to it.”
Nothing. Big blank wall. God, this night sucked so much.
Luther waved his arms at the lawyers. “Can’t you contest it or something? He’s about to ride off with it.”
“You’re screwed,” one of the People’s male lawyers told him. “The Order petition is ironclad.”
“What he said,” the female lawyer with glasses said. “So does this mean we’re done here?”
“You’re done when you get me that body,” Ghastek snapped.
The lawyers collectively groaned.
Nick rode off into the night.
“If a djinn possesses a knight of the Order, we’re screwed,” I told Luther. “Look what he did with a merc.”
Luther pondered the body below for a long moment, punched the air, kicked it a few times, and threw his helmet on the ground.
Sometimes being a law-abiding citizen really sucked. I went to the Jeep to wake Julie up. I’d had my fill of Atlanta for one night.
“WE ARE NOT going to tell him about the giant,” I told Julie.
The sun was rising and the morning promised to be lovely. I had given Curran my word that I would not attack a giant, and I’d broken it. I didn’t want to fight with him now. I didn’t want to fight with him, period, but especially now. A week ago I would’ve said our relationship was rock solid. A lot had happened in a week and we were both really stressed-out. Today I wasn’t sure how far I could push him. I just didn’t know. I was too tired to handle it right now.
Also I needed sleep. And food. I would kill for food. And a shower. And sleep. I had to stop thinking in circles. I had briefly considered going to Cutting Edge to shower, but Curran would’ve smelled the blood on me anyway. It would take a very long soak before I managed to get it all out of my hair and off my skin, and I just wanted to go home.
I would have to tell Curran about it eventually, because we had agreed not to lie to each other and because the ifrit was a vindictive sonovabitch. I had insulted him and nuked his giant again. Well, technically Nick had, but I had played a large part in it. That meant he would likely send us a lovely surprise when he regained his magic. Too bad there was no way to tell how long that would be.
Julie opened her eyes so wide, you’d think a purple flying elephant had landed in front of us. “Are you asking me to lie?”
So when it suited her purposes, Julie had no problem bending the truth, but when I suggested it, there was shock and outrage. How exactly did that work? “No, I’m telling you not to volunteer information.”
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