Rael was halfway back from the practice field when she felt the magic surge ahead.
That had better be the goons subduing Eshy and Adse.
The muffled pops of gunfire. More magic.
Rael bolted for the office building. A limp form to the side . . . Ice! People running from the building. She dodged them, slipped through the doors, pulling up shields. She jumped over a prone form in black body armor. Slowed at the corner for a quick glance.
“Shit!” Bodies everywhere, half in body armor, She ran down the hall . . . a body lying across the threshold of her office.
She vaulted over it and through the double doors.
Two goons trying to get the house door open . . . “They’ve braced it . . .”
She turned for the window. Threw herself at the shield. Felt it, fell through it.
Hit the roof. Stopped her skid, scrambled up to the attic window, reached mentally to trip the latch and shoved it open. A distance woman’s scream. Cursing. Wiggled through, caught her weight on her hands and tried to land quietly. Slipped done the steep narrow stairs and cracked the door to peek through . . .
“. . . don’t have time for a fucking hostage, you fucking Purple amateurs!”
Through the door, she could see Eshy wrestling with Jess who was holding him away as he grabbed for Exzy, as she held the baby away. A limp form on the hallway floor.
Rael threw herself out the door and leaped for the man. He saw her coming and shoved Jess at her. Broke loose and ran.
Rael caught Jess. “Get up to the attic, be ready to get out the window.” A touch to Exzy’s head. Then she stepped across her mother and Pushed.
Eshy flew down the hallway, rammed someone coming up the stairs and tumbled them both out of sight.
Rael rushed for the stairs, behind her, a high voice, “Mummum’s going to beat up the Bad Guys.”
Damn Right! She pulled power and stiffened her shields.
Deflected a slice to the side. Adse and Eshy supporting each other at the base of the stairs, both gathering power. She absorbed Eshy’s hasty fireball, bounced Adse’s slice off to the side, went flying at a push.
They threw themselves around the corner as she threw a stun that ought to have knocked out half the neighborhood.
Dammit they’ve both got good shields.
Time to get nasty.
She pulled power, rolled out a spell net and popped around the corner.
Hit from the back, and knocked flat, she twisted . . . Erdu? With a shield? Gathering power for a follow on?
She scrambled over the sofa jammed between the office door and the opposite wall. She spotted Adse and Eshy running through the front door. She threw the net and shoved power into it. Staggered over to the window and into the heat and light. She sucked it all in, and turned to hunt down . . . Erdu?
What the hell is Erdu doing in this mess?
He didn’t go upstairs did he!
She threw a hard push at the couch from a low angle, sending it flying down the hall and falling to pieces as it intercepted a slice.
Rael threw power into her shields and charged, leaping over the biggest piece of the couch, quick scan of kitchen, into the backroom, the door open . . . backyard empty, gate open, garage door opening and her car zooming out . . . Rael threw herself back inside.
The interior goons charged through the door. Rael bounced off an armored chest. “Two went out the front door, one just stole my car. How many more are there?”
“That’s it, so far as I know.”
“Excellent.” Rael trotted up the stairs, pulling out her comm and dialing an old number. “Hey, Veo, has my car still got auto stop on it?”
Laughter. “Rael! Letting someone . . . yes, I can turn it off.”
“Turn it off right now.” Rael hit the last stairs, spotted her mother propped on an elbow and heaved a breath of relief. “Can you get me a location?” She turned the comm so the goon on her heels could hear the numbers she rattled off. He turned and bolted back down stairs.
The house shivered. Creaked.
What did all those slices cut!
“Stay right there, just a minute, Mom.” Rael stepped over her and opened the door to the attic stairs. “Jess? Exzy? It’s safe to come down now.”