Fury Rising (Fury Unbound Book 1) (8 page)

BOOK: Fury Rising (Fury Unbound Book 1)
8.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

I accepted the box and popped one in my mouth. The exquisite flavor of melting chocolate combined with raspberry filling exploded on my tongue, and I let out a sigh of contentment.

Hecate just stared at me, shaking her head. “I think I could bribe you to do anything as long as I gave you enough chocolate. All right, tell me about the Abom.”

Fueled by the chocolate and the realization that she was actually in a decent mood, I told her exactly what happened. “I picked up his Trace when I was about two blocks from the Sandspit. He came in off the World Tree—I’m fairly sure he hadn’t been here too long before I found him. He was hungry and went for Tommy-Tee. That’s when I took him over to the Crossroads. He was so big I didn’t think I could handle him on this plane.”

“I see. Well, good enough on that. Have you noticed that there seems to be an influx of Abominations lately?”

I had an answer for that question, too. “Yeah, I have. We generally get two or three a month, but so far, I’ve taken out seven in the past three weeks.”

“That’s what I thought.” She frowned. “Keep an eye on things and let me know how many come through over the next two weeks. But that isn’t why I called you here today. We have a bigger problem, but you’ll have to wait a moment. I forgot to bring one of my files in with me.” And with that, she quickly exited the office, shutting the door behind her.

I relaxed, stretching my legs out to stare at the tips of my boots. I still felt bruised on the inside from being out on the Crossroads, but it would fade.

“Nice boots,” Queet suddenly shouted at me. Or rather, it felt like shouting because he was projecting his thoughts into mine, and the communication was amplified, given where we were.

“Damn it, Queet, don’t shout at me. You nearly broke my eardrums.” Relenting, I murmured, “Thanks. I found them in a penny-store.”

I turned my leg to the side and stared at the whip trailing down to the top of the boots right above my ankle. Like my blades, that too had been a gift from Hecate.

The day I turned twenty-one, she had taken the tattoo gun to me herself, as a rite of passage. I had never experienced physical pain like that before or since. And there it was, a weapon that I could never lose. If someone yanked it out of my hand, it would burn their fingers and appear back on my leg. By the same token, I couldn’t wear pants anymore without losing access to it, so I mostly wore shorts and sometimes, a skirt, which made for some cold winters. But I had found that a long cape helped keep the chill at bay without impeding my movement too much.

I popped another chocolate in my mouth and peppermint oozed out on my tongue. Closing my eyes, I melted into the taste. Thanks to being born a Theosian, my metabolism was faster than a normal human’s. I needed to eat and eat often to keep my energy up.

“What’s keeping her?” Queet blurred in and out. “I have things to do.”

do you have on your agenda that is so pressing? A self-help group for the disgruntled dead? Face facts, Queet. You’re my spirit guide. Hecate assigned you to me, so
is your job.
am your job. You’re on the clock right now, just as much as I am.”

He just muttered. Queet had been a schoolteacher until an Abomination raided his classroom. He had managed to get his students to safety before the Abom began feeding on him. Another hunter—I have no idea who—burst into the room and took out the creature before it could destroy Queet’s soul. At that point, the Fates conscripted him and handed him over to Hecate. She had paired him up to act as a spirit guide for several Theosians before me, but none of the couplings had worked out very well.

As I waited, studiously ignoring his irritation, I glanced around the room. I wanted to read, but I had left my tablet at home, so I leaned back and closed my eyes, deciding that if I dozed off, well, I deserved the break.

Thirty minutes later, I sputtered myself awake. Hecate still hadn’t returned, so I stretched, yawning, as I shook off the sudden nap.

Ten minutes later, so bored I was almost tempted to start up a conversation with Queet, I upended my bag on the seat next to me. I picked up my wallet. Time to face the truth, as painful as it might be. I heaved a long sigh and opened the black and white double-fold. Pulling out my cash-card, I stared at the piece of plastic. Finally, I gathered my courage and pressed my thumb against the square on the back. A moment later and the digital display lit up. Seventy-two cash and some change.

“Ugh.” I stared at the number. “I have to find another client.”

“The cupboards are running bare at home,” Queet said, ever so helpfully.

“I know. Just be grateful you don’t have to eat.” Granted, all my bills were paid for the month, but I hated being one paycheck away from the street.

“Have you thought of moving back in with Jason? At least you only had to clean the apartment instead of paying rent.”

Queet knew how I felt about the subject, but I had to admit, it was a thought. But it was a thought I immediately nixed.

“No, that ended when I was eighteen. Eileen isn’t comfortable around me. She was okay with me living there till I reached legal age, but then she got antsy. We’re better off living apart, if only for the sake of his love life. I’ll figure something out. I’d better—rent will be due again in a few weeks.”

As I stuffed my wallet back in my bag and slipped another chocolate in my mouth, deciding to go in search of Hecate, I looked up to find her watching me from the door, a scowl on her face. But she merely crossed to her desk and slid into the chair.

“I told you I wanted to talk to you because there’s a problem. Queet, I want you to hear this since you work with Fury. It’s a delicate matter, but now…things are breaking open and we have to act immediately.”

“Wha—” Melted chocolate dribbled down my chin and I swallowed as quickly as I could without choking, then wiped my face with a tissue. “What’s going on?”

She grimaced. “There was a theft a few nights ago at the World Regency Corporation. Word leaked out. Don’t ask me how we found out—we have many spies who walk the world.”

“What was taken?” It had to be important for Hecate to get involved.

“The World Regency Corporation has an anti-magic zone at the top of their building. It turns out that they not only conduct private meetings there, which you would expect, but they also store dangerous magical tools. Last night, someone broke into the building and took something that could have a significant effect on the future. Today, the Fates invested me with retrieving it and finding out who was behind the theft. I’m assigning you to help.”

I had never been asked to retrieve stolen items before. This all sounded very strange and mysterious. And she still hadn’t told me what went missing. “What was stolen?”

“A silver disk, about the size of a bread-and-butter plate. There’s a soft sheen to it, almost like brushed silver. The center is raised, like a dome, and it looks like polished chrome. A ring of red lights surrounds the very edge of it. It’s an artifact from the Weather Wars, it’s known as the Thunderstrike, and it can be used to amplify and control weather.” She fell silent, waiting for me to digest the information.

I stared at her, then my jaw slowly dropped open as Queet suddenly appeared, misty but in full view.
An artifact from the Weather Wars?

“Does the World Regency Corporation know that you know?” I asked.

She nodded. “Not yet, but you know what this means.”

My stomach flipped. Weather magic was illegal.
the Corp-Rats knew that—Gaia had laid down the law when she opened up the World Tree. Humans weren’t allowed to use any form of weather magic, and neither was anybody else. It had almost destroyed the planet, and Gaia was
so over
the vast gales and storms that had rocked her body.

Hecate continued. “It’s my belief they’ll simply say they found it and were trying to keep it safe. But you and I both know how likely that is. For one thing, any artifacts of that nature are to be turned over to Lightning Strikes immediately upon discovery.”

“Yeah, that’s going to be one hell of a shit storm when word leaks out.”

“Oh, they’re going to pay a steep price for it. Even possession of this disk without immediately reporting it is a capital crime. I called Lightning Strikes early this morning. The World Regency Corporation is in line for a royal smackdown and I doubt if they’ll survive this. But worse, somebody out there in the city is now in possession of the device.” Hecate leaned back in her chair, a grim look on her face.

I processed the information. The ramifications were enormous. The World Regency Corp. would be better off facing Zeus. On a good day, Zeus might have some mercy. Lightning Strikes wouldn’t be so compassionate.

Lightning Strikes was a worldwide organization directly under Gaia’s authority. Dedicated to preventing the use of weather magic, the organization was given authority over any country or magical guild when it came to manipulation of the weather. They were above any government on the planet and they were policed by the Greenlings—Gaia’s henchmen. Even the Devani couldn’t touch them. While Lightning Strikes couldn’t monitor every magus or witch, they were extraordinarily thorough.

“What’s really frightening is that such an artifact still exists. And it’s now in the hands of rogue magicians? Scary times two.” I leaned back in my seat, pushing the chocolates aside. “What next? How do I fit into all of this?”

Hecate tapped one perfectly manicured red-taloned nail on the desk, folded her hands together beneath her chin and, elbows resting on her desk, leaned forward. “The Fates say this matter is likely to throw the world out of balance. And if it gets that far, who knows what Gaia might do? Perhaps obliterate all life? Start over completely? Nobody knows because she’s the Great Mother. In the end, even if we were to band together, all the gods could not—and would not—stop her. She is the heart and soul of the world. But for now, the Fates say we still have a chance to salvage the situation. We must find the Thunderstrike and destroy it, and we have to find out who stole it and prosecute them as well.”

Queet suddenly piped up. “Just how powerful is the artifact?”

“Very, though I doubt if any of us know the full extent. The World Regency Corporation will try to cover up as much as they can, but Lightning Strikes will get the information out of them. When they are done, that company is going to be a bloody mess.”

“I’ll be surprised if Lightning Strikes lets them survive. And, of course, you know they’ll tell Gaia.” I shook my head. “All right. What are my orders?”

“Track down the disk. I don’t know how yet, so don’t even ask. As soon as I can, I’ll dredge up all the information I can. But even more important, I need you to find out
stole it. I’m going to do some research and should have more information by tonight or tomorrow. Meanwhile, keep your ears open in Darktown. I know you don’t head into the Junk Yard often, and with good reason, but there may be something in the rumor mill there. Perhaps you can ask your friend Jason to have a listen?”

“Am I the only one you’re attaching to the case? I need to know so I don’t think I’m being shadowed.” That had happened once before. Hecate had assigned somebody else to work a case and we had almost taken each other out, not realizing we were on the same side.

“For now, you’re it. At least, out in the field. I’m going to ask Zeus’s assistant to keep an eye on the weather. We need to be alert for anything out of the ordinary. If the cretins who stole the Thunderstrike decide to use it, there’s no telling what ramifications it will have.” She paused, a strained look on her face. “I have a feeling we’re sitting on the tip of an iceberg, Fury. And I don’t know how far below the surface this goes. The World Shift altered life forever. Another…might destroy it for good.”

Everything around me seemed to shift sideways as she spoke, and within that one blink, I could sense her fear.

“All right. I’ll wait till you contact me. Is there anything else?”

“Yes, actually. Two things.” She pulled out her phone and texted me a name. “First, here’s a phone number for a job. It’s simple, some sort of spirit cleanup in an office building up in North Shore. It will net you some money and shouldn’t take long. Sheila will be in her office Monday morning, so call her then.”

I stared at the number gratefully, hoping to hell that it wouldn’t be another Suit who wanted my services but didn’t want to pay. That happened all too often, people of means thinking they shouldn’t have to pay for the services they engaged. But I pushed it out of my mind because Hecate was speaking again.

“There’s one more thing. This is going to be tricky, but I want you to talk to someone tomorrow. He lives over in Arbortariam. I would visit him myself but he’s not fond of the gods for some reason. But he’s agreed to talk to an emissary.”

I stared at her. The Arbortariam?
Oh. Fucking. Hell.
“I’ve never been out there. And truth is, I don’t want to start visiting now.”

“Well, you need to adjust your goals because that’s about to change. Contact Jerako. He’s one of the Greenlings. They need to know about this now, and he can also tell us if something is changing in the environment, long before the rest of us notice. I had an intermediary set up a meeting for you tomorrow morning at seven a

The Greenlings
. Double hell with crap on it.

The Greenlings were Gaia’s henchmen and they had singlehandedly destroyed a number of cities during the World Shift. I had never seen one, though I knew of them. They were reclusive, keeping within highly wooded grounds. A number of them lived out on the island of Arbortariam in Idyll Inlet. Ancient beings, they were far older than the Fae, and they were repositories of natural history. They were also dangerous as fuck.

“No more arguments. You are going, because I can’t.” She stood. “But you have to be cautious on this case. I fear much is riding on it.”

“When your friend Jerako finds out there’s a weather magic device on the loose, you do realize all hell’s going to break free,” I mumbled. I knew my history.

BOOK: Fury Rising (Fury Unbound Book 1)
8.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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