Authors: Erik Schubach
By Erik Schubach
P.O. Box 523
Nine Mile Falls, WA 99026
Cover Photo © 2016 Eugen Haag / ShutterStock.com license
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper, blog, or broadcast.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Raz looked at me in frustration and hissed, “Parker, make her hold still!”
My girl, Ella-Marie, was cussing up a storm, the giant scorpion stinger that had penetrated her crystalline leg was just dangling there. It had to have been as long as her leg itself. I blushed at some of the colorful phrases she was growling in English, and to my amusement, French, as she lost control of herself and Marie slipped out. I truly was worried about her, and hated to see her in pain, but her outbursts were pretty damn entertaining.
Even Rose was having problems holding Ella-Marie down with her roiling black vines so that the rest of us could extract the offending demonic-insectoid stinger from her leg.
The rest of our group had taken out the flood of lesser demons that Styche had set upon us when we had tracked him down in Alberta Canada of all places. Hiding where we would least expect him as he conjured more and more demons to attempt to create an army.
Rose and Ella took on the twenty-foot long scorpion demons since they were least likely to be affected by the acidic poisons in their stingers. Not to mention my girl is sort of a beast in battle. Every whumping strike of hers as she draws the very Earth into her can stop a charging elephant. She's our brute... our sexier than hell brute.
I have to say, Red has an eye for battle, calling out orders and matching each of the Avatars up with the most appropriate enemies on sight.
This was the first mission we took Rapunzel and Eve on, and I can't tell you just how scary those two women are. They danced through the flood of lesser demons, leaving a trail of broken bodies and black ichor in their wake. And they are human.
Even Snow's pack are wolves, so they have enhanced speed and strength. The only thing protecting Raz and Eve is the fact that no black magic can stick to Raz, and her hair is as tough as iron. And throughout her clothes, Eve has woven strands of Rapunzel's hair in to give her similar resistance.
So to see two human women keeping up with the rest of us is beyond amazing to me. Well keeping up with slowpokes like me that is, nobody can keep up with Mari and Daria with their wolf speed.
Styche had once again eluded Snow when she battled him in her Perchta, nature goddess form. I worry about her when she does that, every time she returns to us, she has more and more of her Perchta aspect. Her white antlers can no longer be hidden by her snow white hair when she reverts back to herself now. They are at least three or four inches long now.
I stepped up to Ella-Marie as she lay on the ground between the buildings, which were destroyed in the fight. She was struggling against Rose's vines and Red holding her down. I leaned in to look at her as she yelled in her Cockney accent, “Mother fuckin', bloody fuckin' hell...”
She quieted as I locked eyes with her as I stroked her hair. I tried to hide my amusement at her colorful words as I murmured, “Hi.”
She was covered in sweat and her face was strained with pain which I hated to see her in, but I smiled at her. She relaxed and gave me that half mad smile of hers that always makes my knees go weak. God, she was beautiful. She responded, “Hi.”
I don't think she even noticed that Rose's vines had retracted, and Red stepped back. I whispered as we smiled at each other, “Hey, Marie?”
Her smile changed slightly as her Marie personality slid forward to greet me. “Oiu, my Parker?”
I stroked her hair again and crinkled my nose as I said, “Sorry.”
She looked confused for a moment, then Raz yanked the rope of her insanely strong hair which she had tied around the stinger, pulling it free from the hardened crystal of Ella's legs. Marie hissed out, “Mon Dieu!” Then she continued in her Cockney accent, “Dirty fuckin' trick, love!”
I chuckled at her as I shrugged in innocence, then gave her a quick peck on the lips, which made her give me a crooked grin and look down at her leg while I heard Marie chastising Ella in my mind. “Language Ella. Please.” Ella shot me a wink, I smiled, and Marie huffed out in our minds, “It's like talking to a couple children.”
I answered verbally, “What did I do?”
She almost chuckled and pointed out, “You are always encouraging her, my Parker. Do not try to deny it. Oui?”
I glanced down to survey the damage. Evelyn was holding the crystal shards she found on the ground against the cracked crystal of Ella-Marie's leg.
We all watched in fascination as the fissures closed up and seemed to heal themselves. Some material was missing so the last couple little cracks remained. I winced, they would leave some cuts on her legs when they returned to flesh. But my girl healed fast. Not quite wolf fast, but close enough. She'll have her shapely smooth legs back by tonight.
I cupped her cheek and then helped her stand. She tested her legs, they clinked on the ground as she stepped. Then she looked around and winked at the group. “Thanks! I didn't mean all the things I was yelling at you lot. You're not a bunch of sodding wankers. Well, maybe Rachel.” She grinned toothily at Snow's mate who crinkled her nose back at my girl and flipped her off. We all chuckled.
I made the rounds checking everyone's injuries, making sure they were all healing properly. I didn't want a repeat of the last battle where the spores of that fungus demon had gotten into everyone's wounds, it was hell to get that nasty stuff out.
I had to slap Red's hand away a couple times as I checked out the huge gash on her arm that was visibly stitching itself back together. How in the hell she was able to catch that flaming blade on her forearm I don't know, the Vesper demon was swinging it faster than my eyes could follow. I growled at her, “Mari?”
She sighed and let me look at it. I slapped her shoulder when I was satisfied. “You big baby.”
I heard Daria chuffing behind us with her canine laugh. I turned on the huge wolf. “You should laugh. Don't think I didn't see your limp woman.” I put my hand out expectantly. “Come on, let's have it.”
She rolled her eyes and placed her front paw in my hand.
I shook my head at the situation as I examined her foreleg. There was a time where standing this close to a werewolf who came up to my chest would have terrified me. Now here I am chastising the woman as I looked for... ahhh... here, a break.
It was not set right and would probably heal wrong in the next few minutes and require re-breaking for her to heal correctly if I didn't... I yanked hard and heard a little pop as the bone slid into place. She yelped then eyeballed me and growled.
I hugged her neck, my arms barely reaching around it. Then I let her go and ruffled her ears. “You're a big baby too. You know it had to be done, that's why you were hiding it.” Then I added, “Fluffy.” I dove toward my girl, avoiding the swipe of Daria's massive paw, giggling.
Red looked amused as she absently held her hand out and Daria moved under her hand as Mari dug her fingers deep into her fur. I'm pretty sure neither of them even realize that they do that, they just instinctively need each others touch. I chuckled as they started arguing, “She's right, you're a big baby.”
Daria growled, and Red chuckled. “Stop arguing, what is done is done.”
I would have thought Maireni was just being silly, but those two know each other so well, I wouldn't doubt that she knew what Daria was saying.
I moved on to Snow's pack. When I was satisfied that everyone was alright, I looked at my own arm. The crystal had faded, leaving a couple long cuts where the claws of some sort of lava demon had scratched the organic glass. Fun, I'd probably get some fine scars from it since I don't heal like Ella-Marie.
Then I said, “Ok, I know we are being careless now. Does anybody else notice that the only two not injured are the two humans? Raz and Eve?”
I just got some guilty looks from the woman and two smug looks from our newest members of the group. I shook a finger at them as I narrowed my eyes. Rapunzel and Evelyn covered their faces to hide their smiles.
Mari nodded and then said in a serious tone, “She's right. I think we need to start being a little smarter, take a little more time to assess the threat before just wading in. Well except Ella, who just wades in any way.” She smirked and dodged the broken cinder block my girl threw at her.
I grinned. There was a reason Red was our defacto leader. And it was my job to keep them all grounded, to remind them that they are all human and mortal under all of their power. To remind them they are still part of this world no matter how different they may feel. And to make sure that they are ok. I kind of feel like a den mother, and I like it. They are all my family, and I enjoy taking care of them and reminding them of their humanity.
We looked around at all of the bodies dissolving into brimstone, acid, and ash around us. It seemed like Styche the Trickster was getting stronger as he was calling forth stronger and more varied demons each time we locate him.
This was the longest interval it took us to find him, as he has found a way to mask himself from Perchta, Ella, and Rose, so this horde was almost the size of the one that the Alpha wolves tried to take Seattle with. But in the end, it was Rapunzel's hunting techniques that found his latest lair.
As long as that greater demon walked the Earth, unchecked and unbound, the entire human race was at risk. Just one of his curses had terrorized the world for centuries in the form of the Lupus Contagion, leaving werewolves roaming the world. It was almost the downfall of mankind in the end. We couldn't imagine the nightmares he could bring to bear if we gave him any time to breathe.
We started to turn toward the south to get to our vehicles when we heard the whupping sound of the military helicopters inbound and searchlights hit us from all angles from the armored vehicles that were showing up at the scene. Oh, here we go again. Ella muttered, “For fuck's sake.”
Marie and I both chastised over our link, “Ella!”
After being detained by the Canadians and answering all of their questions, sitting through their paranoid questioning and accusations, then being grudgingly released according to the United Nations resolution on the new Avatar Defense Initiative, we headed back to the motel we were staying at here in Calgary.
As usual, everyone wound up in our room to decompress. I secretly loved it, and being the perpetual hostess to our group.
Amanda dropped her harness onto a chair with her sidearms that the Canadians grudgingly let her keep. She muttered to the group, “Just once... I'd like to get a thank you instead of getting arrested when we save their asses.”
I had to smile at Snow and Rachel's beta. She was a tough and incredibly fast fighter, but her insane ability with her dual Glocks was her most frightening skill. It was almost as scary as Gretta's ability with a sniper rifle. It was odd how many of our group used mortal weapons.
Amanda always complained that she was their beta wolf, but it was plain to see it was all just bluster, she loved them. She'd never be beta to anyone else but them, she was that willful.
Mari said in her delightful Romanian accent, “Dream on little wolf, dream on.”
This got her a pillow whap to the face.
All of the people with heavier magics in them moved away from me as I pulled out my cell while they stripped out of their weapons. It was humorous really, I wonder if they even realize they are doing that anymore, it was a habit now. I was one of the few of us who could use a cellphone without it getting fried by the magic that surrounds them.
I grinned at Raz who stepped up to me to watch in fascination as I looked up the closest restaurants around us that delivered. She had slept through the centuries where mankind had advanced so much through technology, and the Internet and cell phones amazed her. She thought it magic at first that I could communicate through the air.
The group has secretly bought her an iPhone for her upcoming birthday. That was going to blow her mind. Eve was tugging her away from me and shaking her head in amusement as she said, “You're crowding her Punz.”
I smiled at the phone and looked up and asked, “Thai or pizza.”
I chuckled at the group response of, “Pizza.” I swear I spoil these girls.
I made the call ordering nine large pizzas, then changed it to ten since Ella was healing and needed more fuel. With so many wolves in our group, they all ate a minimum of a large each, and I could eat three-quarters of a large myself, thanks to Ella accidentally making me like her. We'd go broke with our food bill if we weren't funded by the international governments and the fortunes that most of the women in our group had centuries to amass.
Nicole had stripped out of her armor by the time the delivery arrived, and most of us had showered. She grabbed Rose's hand, and we saw the color infuse our half plant friend's skin as Nicole's touch negated her poisons while the delivery boy was here.
It took him three trips to his car to get all the pizzas and drinks we ordered. The goofy look on his face told me he must have thought this was some sort of bachelorette party or something. We paid and shooed him out the door.
Rapunzel stole my cell to play with while she sat with Eve as we all ate and just decompressed. It was like a collective sigh that let us relax after the adrenaline and heightened emotions of battle. Raz looked up from her game of Platypus Battles on my phone and asked, “Journals?”