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07 December 2017 @ 07:42 am
_Stone_ part 29  
 

I got a tourist's guide and . . . toured.

I blocked out the areas they weren't. All of the south. I steered way from the faintest touches , all in the north. Pointy arrows toward them, on my map.

I went to book stores, and bought magic books.

And I felt them, the watchers who bracketed me. They stayed about a mile away . . . surely I didn't have a greater range than Hunters, raised and trained in all the things I was slowly finding out about. I decided it had to be caution on their parts.

I read, and kept doing my meditations. Tried to "see things through other people's eyes" and . . . didn't know whether to hope that wasn't my imagination, or fear the thoughts behind my hotel room neighbor's eyes.

And on the tenth, strolling up Alberta Street between art galleries . . . I spotted Mike Simpson. I caught his eye and shook my head ever so slightly. I walked on, consulted my marked up map, folded it up and missed my pocket as I walked into a shop of hideous black and white photos of contorted nudes. I stared up at one . . . body part. I'm pretty sure it was an armpit. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Mike walk by. Stoop and then straighten without pausing.

I suspected that would be the best I could do.

The map has a sticker from my hotel on it. He knows my car. He can follow me.

I don't know if he did, but the next night when I came "home" after dinner there was a cheap tosser phone beside my hairbrush that I'd never seen before.

***

The next morning I had two Hunters at my door. I nodded to them, grabbed my jacket, wallet, car keys, phone . . .

"Leave the keys and phone." I was pretty sure this was my former guide.

I turned, jangling keys in hand, and dropped them and my black wallet on the desk as I tucked the black phone in my back pocket as if it were my wallet. Slung the jacket over my shoulder and headed for the door.

They didn't notice. I followed the guide out, the unnamed Hunter on my heels. They steered me to a dark gray SUV. I got the front passenger, with Unknown behind me while the Guide drove.

Chapter Kovac

FBI Senior Special Agent Kristjan Kovac eyed the man across the desk. "Thank you. It was a pleasure to trim back the Forty-eights. I sincerely hope your organization can finish the job, and get all of them."

The man had introduced himself as Mr. Brown. Period no embellishment to personalize himself or indicate how far up the hierarchy of secret stuff he'd gotten.

Kris studied him. Deep brown skin. Confident, middle-aged with a touch of gray in his hair. Pretty high rank, I suspect.

"We'll get them. However a question has come up, in regard to your Leonard Stone. How far do we trust him? Did he rescue your wife and sister-in-law because he was attracted to the sister-in-law?"

Kris blinked. "Not solely. He had already located the gang's homes, and Mr. Wright made an oblique mention of an email."

"Yes. Probably sent from your computer and signed 'Anonymous Dog.' It contained the addresses of the houses in Phoenix and the warehouse in Albuquerque. Mr. Wright's raid on the warehouse resulted in an explosion and fire. Twelve bodies recovered."

The man leaned back in his seat. "Your Phoenix raid was much less deadly. Dr. Reid thanks you. Six days ago we had a reprisal of that raid . . . with Mr. Write reportedly determined that none of the . . . genetically abnormal people or dogs survive. Including you friend."

Kris tensed, tried to not show his instant flush of anger.

"A junior agent of mine intervened. We believe Mr. Stone survived, in as much as by the time we had the situation sufficiently under control to check, his apartment was stripped and his car gone."

"Good." Kris braced himself. So what do you want of me? I won't hunt him down so you can kill him.

"So in the end, we have added to our total population of illegally detained werewolves, and have lost track of Mr. Stone." Mr. Brown leaned forward. "He left a message that he'd look for the Pacific Northwest pack and phone Mr. Wright with a location."

The two men sat and studied each other for a moment.

"So I brought you here, today, to look you over before I offered you a job."

"I am quite happy with the FBI."

"I need a special sort of Field Agent in the Pacific Northwest to deal with the Forty-eights. Upon completion of which, I'll be needing a new head of the Special Projects division. Mr. Wright is a little too inflexible for the position, and is going to make a lateral transfer quite soon." Brown smiled. "I understand Seattle's a lovely place to live. But that would probably just be for a few months. The permanent location will be in Idaho, near the Idaho National Laboratory."

"Umm . . . " Dammit, I owe Leo so much. "If my wife doesn't mention divorce when I mention Idaho, I'll take it."



Chapter Mt St Helens

We drove nearly an hour north to the town of . . . St. Helens?

And turned off onto Lewis River road. It wound through pine forests and around ridges . . . I started catching glimpses of a broad white dome . . .

I found my self shivering, goose bumps on my cold arms.

Oh shit! Surely not a ceremony at the volcano! It's not actually erupting, right now. Maybe a steam release, now and then, right? So we'll just be in the forest somewhere, right? No throwing sacrifices into the volcano.

And why am I so shaken by Mt. St Helens?

I pulled the jacket on.

The Guide laughed. "You feel it, don't you?"

"Yeah. It's been almost fifty years since the big eruption."

"Forty-eight years since the Demon Sashoddifail re-entered our world through the stress of the eruption. She had waited for this chance, to finish her great project." He jerked out of his rapt contemplation of the volcano to jerk the wheel and get the car back off the gravel verge.

Forty-eight years! The oldest dancing ground they've found was twenty years old . . . But then I suppose the four brothers had to . . . Grow up? Have children or puppies or whatever? And then they'd start having these obscene ceremonies.

Unless, of course, they sprang full-formed from the All Mother's forehead and got right to work. So their early sacrifices just haven't been found.

Same, same for Escapees from the government's secret labs. Which, state of the art being what I read in popular science articles, the four brothers would be about ten years old. Maximum. The biggest breakthroughs were, when? 2018 to 2022?No way even mad scientists were making werewolves before then.

Crap. I hate it when the weirdest theory is truly the only possible one.

The Guide turned off the river road and started winding around and over ridges, climbing and dropping into small valleys. Every glimpse of the mountain it was nearer and larger. The road disappeared under a jumble of rock. We followed the tracks of previous vehicles, and found the paved road on the far side.

"Debris flow. Between creep and flash flooding, it's not worth paving."

"Guess not." Damn that mountain's big.

The road split and we took the high road. I spotted movement behind us. Rocks rolled and a tangle of mid-sized trees and brush fell across the road.

Didn't read about anything like that in my magic books!

We stopped. Two hunters trotted out of the forest and climbed into the back seat.

Three long climbs and hairpin turns and we turned off the road into the forest and parked beside . . . quite a large number of vehicles. All under camo netting. I hopped out and before anyone else was where they could see, I slipped the phone out of my pocket dropped it and kicked it under the SUV.

You'd better be bloody tracking that, Mr. Wright!

The Guide popped the back hatch and they pulled out netting. I help spread it, then followed my silent . . . relatives . . . through the tree. Side tracking the ridge, then climbing higher. Into a faint depression, it looked like the rock her had slid down the ridge a bit and left this space, forty acres, perhaps, of rock and pine seedlings.

Facing east for a view of the volcano.

And Hunters everywhere. Human and canine.

No. Not Everywhere. There were two groups, a bit of a separation between them. A quick, rough, head count. Eighty in each group, give or take.

The big Hunter from the restaurant was the center of the near group, the others were sort of spread along the southeast slope of the depression.

In the center, an area of perhaps an acre as flat as this rocky terrain could get.

Four poles toward the north end.

Three women tied to them, no other captives in sight.

My arms were grabbed, and my feet jerked out from under me. I was slammed down on my face, turning my head enough to save my nose.

"Hey, what . . . " A foot on my head crammed my mouth into the pine needles.

"I want to see this cut." A rumbly deep voice, the big man.

Cold steel against my neck, but the edge was away from my skin, slicing through the collar of my jacket and shirt

I yelped through pine needles as my duck taped padding was ripped off.

"That's no dedication cut. That's a death stroke gone awry."

I had a ground level sideways view of one set of shoes and pants stepping away and another stepping up.

"Indeed. You've found the traitor, but have you betrayed us all by bringing him here, King of Portland?" A snappish old sounding voice.

"It's more than you've done, Seattle. The All Mother will feast on the traitor's soul tonight."

 
 
 
muirecanmuirecan on December 8th, 2017 05:34 pm (UTC)
I think write needs to be hit over the head. And oh boy danger will robinson danger.
matapampamuphoff on December 8th, 2017 08:14 pm (UTC)
I'm tempted to keep him around just as a convenient reason for things to get screwed up, but really, killing him's a better idea.