“So, you want vengeance?”
“Si, Bernie he is sent off in style, and now we turn our thoughts to his killer. Bernie must be avenged.”
Hitch breathes a private sigh of relief.
“Well, Pablo, your help, and that of your stout-hearted um, fellows, will be greatly appreciated. We believe Bernie’s killer was working for Phillip Usher, a really bad chap…”
“Si, we know this from the little chica a’ready. Le’ss talk about how we hurt this Usher.”
“Hey Libby, how’s it going?”
“We’re set, where do we meet?”
“Like that’s what I’m calling about. We’re bringing some more friends to the party and like, want to hang out together and see what kind of uh, treats we might bring.”
“I read you, Sandi. I’ve got an address here, a nice safe place for new friends to meet.”
Paul runs his eye coolly over the disparate groups assembled in the attractive but Spartan rec-room of the G safe-house. He’s regretting not having a spare bug-out spell. But Sandi’s opinion is that the G won’t care that their safe house is known, or “burnt” as she put it.
Their hosts, the G, are a team of four shooters, led by Libby, who is a lot like Sandi only with more muscles, hardware and the ‘tude that goes with them. Zac leads the four werewolves. They are tall, rangy, and very buff, sporting beach- or casual-wear that shows their cut physiques to advantage. The four were-sharks are led by Charlie, whose lank blonde hair does little to make him seem friendly. Or even more human. Finally Pablo leads a much-diminished cadre of were-rats: his three macho henchmen, as macho as Pablo himself, and an aimless fool named Albie. Any other were-rats seem to have slipped away.
Sandi’s white-boarding some vague lines and arrows. Paul attempts to appear to show some interest. Apparently, Hitch’s idea that the G are held back in reserve and that the Lycans are used to sweep humans away without fatalities is still in play. Hitch is noting down a number of steps, so that everyone knows when they are supposed to act. Hmm, we’re the main attack are we… must make sure my protections are all in place by the time the van is rolling, Paul notes, and steps forward to conform to his team-player persona:
“Of course, I’ll make support spells available: I’ll haste Sandi when the shooting starts. Now, excuse me, I must organize things…”
Charlie presses a bit closer to the white-board, and runs a cold eye over the lines and arrows:
“My crew could come in from the sea?”
“But I thought that side was all cliffs?” Sandi wonders. Charlie shrugs.
“OK, great! Your team can totally move in from that side, but remember, the second line – the house – is the objective.”
Sandi eyes the white-board with some misgiving. There are no hearts on it, and only one star. Cliff offers some good suggestions about limiting the warning the enemy will have, and Sandi gives herself and Pablo’s crew the job of blinding the wall-mounted cameras. Dan and Hitch kick around the theory of terrifying attacks by bullet-proof lycans, and Zac agrees that he and the other three werewolves will tackle the entry gate and scare away the guards. Sandi notices that Albie is edging slowly away toward the exit. She leaves the white-board, and sweet-talks him into playing link-up between the were-sharks and the main forces.
Libby and her three men of the G seem relaxed. They’re quietly checking equipment. Libby made her point early on: the G can keep local law away until dawn: after that it gets more complicated: so there’s not going to be any further delays while the battle-mages rest and re-ready spells. The attack will begin as soon as every play is written up and everyone knows what their job is.
The First Line
Cliff flexes his fingers and re-grips the steering wheel, then tries to get his collar comfortable where the tac-vest makes it stick up. Beside him, Hitch jiggles nervously and re-shuffles a couple of pieces of hardware on his belt. Sandi’s voice sounds in their ears:
“Eyes are blind, wolves are go.”
Zac and the other three leap out of their dune-buggy, shape-shifting to hybrid form, and race toward the gate, their terrifying howls echoing down the empty street. Zac clears the gate in a single bound, the others close on his heels! The sounds of blows and clanging come in through the team mikes, then:
“No good! Gate rocked!”
“They can’t open the gates!” Sandi calls in, easily interpreting the slurred Lycan call. The guard booth splinters under repeated Lycan blows and its occupants, not caring to be trapped, flee. Zac’s team gives chase, slowly enough that their prey is safely terrified into keeping moving. Sandi climbs easily over the gate and checks inside the booth: there’s a deadman switch that prevents the gate from opening at all.
“We need a gate-opener spell! Cliff, slow down once you’re in and I’ll jump in! Dan – get ready!” Sandi calls.
The gates swing open as Hitch throws his knock spell and the van rolls through a few seconds later. Sandi vaults effortlessly in through the side-door beside Dan, and draws her Glocks ready for action. She’s aware of fleeting shapes scrambling in over the wall and fanning out.
“I’m gunning for the house!” Cliff yells, then, “And there’s a line of creeps blocking us!”
The Second Line
Snapshot: dark figures fanned out well apart, between the mansion and the drive, aiming weapons at the intruders.
Snapshot: Pablo, framed in the courtyard lights, head thrown back arrogantly, blazing away with twin Glocks.
Snapshot: Zac, in hybrid form, loping toward the line, howling, his pack in loose formation with him.
Snapshot: the line wavers, four of the five run.
For a horrid moment air is sucked out of the van as a fireball blossoms around it, then a wave of scorching heat sears into the lungs of its occupants. Cliff grimly keeps his foot down. The van’s rolling fast but the Lycans are faster, bounding or scuttling forward as their nature dictates. The wolves cluster on one figure standing staunch in the skirmish line while Pablo, blazing away with twin Glocks, supervises a pursuit of four less-doughty opponents. Automatic fire thuds into the van, narrowly missing Hitch, who leans out of the window and sends a vicious stream of arcane blasts into the Greater Vampire goon the wolves are battling. Sandi braces herself in the side-door and blasts the same target.
“Oh, little miss got-guns has started already – quelle surprise,” Paul sneers, but casts a haste on Sandi as Dan asks a blessing on the whole team.
Tyres steaming and sporting a line of bullet-holes the van speeds across the empty, floodlit drive toward the mansion. It’s no more than a hundred feet distant from the impressive and ornate from entrance when:
A bolt of lightning fries the tyres through, shorts out all power and cooks the engine block, stalling everything. Cliff expertly counters the van’s momentum and it skids to a smoking stop.
“End of the line!”
Dan discreetly exits the van: he’s suffered automatic fire before, and knows this is a vulnerable moment. Peering round the rear, he spots two dark shapes in cover in the ornamental garden to the right, firing into the werewolf-vampire melee.
“Feel the power of God you fiend!” Dan yells, a searing line of pure light bursting from his hand and scorching one part-concealed Greater Vampire. It howls in pain and fury.
A wall of fire leaps up a few feet in front of the wrecked van: its heat promises only pain to those attempting to jump through it!
A triumphant howl bursts from werewolf muzzles as their target dissolves into gas. Wise to that ruse, Hitch leaps out, and sends another volley of blasts into the gas: which collapses into dust!
The Third Line
Cliff slides out of the driver’s seat and crouches, ready to sprint. Paul, Sandi hard on his heels, steps out of the van and casts a spell at the flaming barrier. Automatic fire splatters around him, but his deflective spells deal with the danger easily. Sandi, scanning the dark mansion for targets, spots the shooter in cover at the left-hand corner, and returns fire. Paul finishes his incantation and the fire vanishes as though it had never been.
Dan repeats his previous attack: and this time, the vampire collapses out of sight. The four werewolves leap the border topiary and close with their prey. Dan looks around: Hitch is in a sprinter’s crouch: he sprints straight for the entrance and its sheltering verandah. Cliff follows, though at a slower pace: his equipment is bulky.
“The doors are open! Looks pretty clear! But stay back – remember, Sandi checks first!” Hitch yells. He and Cliff are a cautious fifteen feet either side of the doors: both have been caught in grenade blasts in Sandi’s wake before now!
Paul Sandi and Dan run for the mansion, but Sandi is far faster than the other two: she blurs across the ground and across the verandah, combat-rolls expertly through the open doorway, rises with guns at the ready and finishes in cover at a grand staircase:
“Clear – we are in – G can roll!”
“Copy that! G is rolling!” Libby sends back.
The team briefly clusters into cover around the grand staircase, which, rising, splits in two toward a lofty mezzanine around the atrium. There’s a fine double-doorway on the atrium’s left, and a plain doorway to the right. Glass breaks from behind the double doorway. Sandi races across the floor, flicks open one of the double-doors, rolls through: empty. Glass lies on the floor: it’s been pushed in from outside. There’s only one other door. She glides across and flips the door open: a smoker lounge, cheery fire blazing: empty. A double-tap of shots thuds into the woodwork near her: shots that come from outside!
“Libby, there’s a hostile on left of the house – clean him up!”
“Copy that Sandi, target left, over.”
“Sandi? The were-sharks are in the coral garden – they say there’s something there, watching them.”
“OK thanks Albie, you’re doing great!”
“Yo! Zac here! Finish chase! Want to know, what next?”
“Wolves to circle right, support the were-sharks!”
Dan, crouched near Cliff, hears a muttering from atop the stair. Beside him, Cliff stiffens: shudders: then resumes his normal watchful stance. A few beads of sweat betray how tough the unseen test of his courage had been, as a wave of sheer fear threatened to unman him. Dan rises to his feet, rounds the banister and races upstairs: there! A slim, well-dressed man, who bares his teeth in a grimace of surprise to find the pacifist armed only with a cross-cane charging him!
“Feel the wrath of God!”
A blinding globe of light bursts over Rich Saville, and he screams, clutching suddenly-blinded eyes!
Realizing their advantage – and Dan’s exposure – the rest of the team races up, to a man, and lays the hurt down on Saville. Cliff leans close to Dan protectively, and sends a bullet into the mage – to no effect. But as he reels back, blinded and hurt, Paul wipes Saville’s best protections with a dispel – and then the warranted sorcerer is struck by missiles both magic and mundane, and sinks to the floor, throwing a web of invisibility over himself as best he can.
There’s a just-audible snarling, purring sound from across the mezzanine. Beyond, the mezzanine is open to a broad and elegant ballroom: and sweeping from it come Phillip Usher flanked by two Greater Vampires, fangs bared, claws sharp and automatic weapons at the ready!
“And now you’re here, you’re mine!” Usher growls quietly. “They won’t find enough to bury!”