Authors: Matthew Burkey
Finally, the firestorm died down and what remained of the building fell down around them. The glyphs slowly stopped spinning and then disappeared, dissolving into the air and then whisking away. Everett collapsed to the ground, drained of all energy.
“Is he okay?” Gabriel asked, kneeling down next to Everett.
“Still breathing,” Cody said. “Probably totally knackered after that spell.”
“If it weren’t for that spell, we’d all be dead,” Ethan said, surveying the destruction around them. “They really didn’t want us getting out of here alive.”
“Let’s not give them a chance to fix their mistake,” Day said. “We need to get moving before they figure out that we aren’t dead yet.”
Gabriel and Tony reached down and helped pull Everett to his feet. His eyes fluttered slightly and when he spoke his voice was barely above a whisper.
“Everyone still alive?”
“Thanks to you,” Tony responded. “Get some rest, we’re getting out of here.”
“Come on,” Day urged.
They picked their way across the rubble and then quickly made for the extraction point.
“This is a disaster!” Marcus screamed.
He resisted the urge to tip over his desk and throw it at the wall or smash his hand through the window. They had lost an entire facility and the lycan animals had managed to breach their systems. Nothing about what happened last night was sitting well with Marcus or the council. He didn’t understand why Janus was so calm at time like this.
“You need to calm yourself,” the masked man stated. “We knew this was a possibility. We both underestimated them again, although you more so than myself. We need to look at the situation as a learning experience.”
“What could we have possibly learned from that!”
Janus held up his hand and started to tick things off with his fingers. “First off that the lycans are getting desperate, if they hired The Black Hand then their own troops are growing thinner by the day. Secondly, we know that the detonators that they built into the latest generation of hybrids work very well. There really are up sides to every situation my dear Marcus.”
“The EMP that was sent out with the explosion might have been enough to seriously damage the data storage device they were using,” Arthur offered, meekly from his place next to the door. Marcus shot him a glare and he held up his tablet as if it were a shield.
“Or it might have survived,” Marcus responded angrily. “If that happens then they’ll no doubt be able to come up with a plan to strike at our facilities!”
“You’re overreacting again,” Janus said, with a heavy sigh. “Even if they did manage to get any data off your system it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to mount an attack, even with the help of the Guardians and The Black Hand. We have more than enough time to plan for such an attack. How many facilities do you have that are currently producing the hybrids?”
Marcus looked at Arthur, who called up the data on his tablet. “We have four that are our main production facilities. There are a few outlying facilities that help with maintenance and help to produce various pieces of equipment for the program though.”
“Then it’s simple,” Janus stated. “Concentrate your production facilities. Combine your four facilities into two, which will give us a chance to fortify your positions. They are no match for us and in a few weeks it won’t even matter what they know.”
“Your grand plan.”
“My grand plan, yes.”
“I’d like to point out that we still don’t know anything about this plan of yours,” Marcus grumbled. “The other covens aren’t going to allow you to keep us in the dark much longer. They want answers Janus and action, not empty promises.”
“They shall have them my friend,” Janus said, with a tilt of his head. “You only need to trust me for a few more weeks and then all will be made clear to you.”
Marcus growled. He didn’t like the fact that Janus was so clearly holding all the cards at the moment. He had his own superiors to answer to and the rest of the covens were running out of patience when it came to dealing with Janus and his master plan.
“You have three weeks Janus,” Marcus warned. “Three weeks before the covens will take matters into their own hands.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Janus stated. He pulled a phone from his pocket and looked at the message that appeared on it. Underneath his mask he gave a slight smile. “I need to get going Marcus. Move your operations like we discussed and then let me know. I will have the Unkari Commandos start setting up additional security measures.”
“And where are you going?” Marcus asked, as Janus turned toward the door.
“I have other matters that I need to attend too,” Janus responded, turning back to face Marcus. “Like getting our new army ready to face the world. A day of reckoning for the Guardians is at hand, you must trust me on that.”
Marcus said nothing as Janus disappeared out the door. He resisted the urge to once again send his desk flying across the room or smash his computer monitor. That would solve nothing, although it would make him feel better. Instead he took a deep breath and turned to Arthur.
“The security footage, I want to see it again.”
Arthur nodded quickly and brought the images up on his monitor. Marcus settled slowly into the chair, watching the battle unfold as the Guardian team and their allies broke into the warehouse. He was actually impressed by the ferocity by which the young Guardians fought. He knew the faces of most of them.
“Wait, freeze the image,” Marcus commanded. He leaned forward in his chair and squinted at the screen. “Who is that?”
Arthur typed a few commands into his tablet before looking back at Marcus.
“From the files that Janus provided us it would appear that his name is Gabriel James, he’s one of their newest Guardians. Clan Phoenix and from what the footage shows a fairly competent fighter.”
“Gabriel, eh?” Marcus mused, rubbing his chin. “Do you have any personal information on him?”
“It is a complete file,” Arthur said. “Why?”
“I think it’s time that we paid Gabriel a visit.”
“I don’t think that Janus will like that very much,” Arthur meekly warned. “He did tell us not to do anything to endanger the truce with the humans until he was ready for it.”
“I will not let Janus dictate to me what I can and cannot do!” Marcus roared. “The Guardians have all but declared war on us by helping the lycans! I won’t let their destruction of our facility stand. I want to know everything there is about this Gabriel James and his family.”
“Technically sir we blew up our own facility.”
“Sorry,” Arthur mumbled.
There was another knock at his door.
“Come in,” Marcus yelled. He had no clue who would be stupid enough to risk his ire - at least not after what happened at the facility. In strode a powerfully built vampire with clear ice blue eyes, long raven black hair, and a swagger that seemed to exude confidence.
“If you’re not careful you’re going to give yourself a heart attack, father.”
Marcus glared at the young vampire, not at all in the mood for his rather off sense of humor.
“I’m glad to see that your survived your assignment in Paris, Thomas.”
The raven haired vampire shrugged before flopping down on the couch. “Do you really think that a bunch of animals could off me?”
“They are remarkably resilient,” Marcus pointed out.
“They’re animals, nothing more,” Thomas shot back. “When are you going to give me and the boys a
challenge? You’ve had us hunting down these vermin for the last two months. It’s starting to get boring.”
“I think I might have something for you,” Marcus smiled. He went back to his desk and picked up his tablet. He loaded up the footage from the facility and handed it over to his son. Thomas watched the video in silence and then, when it was over, handed it back to Marcus.
“Impressive work,” Thomas nodded. “And it would appear that the mutts have the backing of The Black Hand. I thought that you had then firmly on the payroll.”
“Apparently not. The blonde, the one that stabbed the hybrid in the skull, his name is Gabriel.”
“And you want me to kill him?”
“That’s my boy,” Marcus smiled again. “I want Gabriel’s head on my desk,” Marcus stated. He stood up and turned to look out the window at the rising sun. “And I want to send a message to the rest of the Guardians and the lycan filth, their time is at an end. A new dawn is coming.”
“But Marcus what about the fact that Janus wants him alive-”
“I don’t care what Janus wants!” Marcus roared.
Thomas flashed his father an evil smile. There was no trace of mirth on his face, just one of malice.
“I’ll get right on it.”
And with that said, Thomas turned and left the room.
“Is going against Janus wise?” Arthur meekly asked. “We don’t know what he has planned.”
“Leave me,” Marcus commanded.
Arthur scurried from the room, leaving Marcus standing there looking at the rising son.
“Did the lycans manage to recover anything?” Gabriel asked, as they settled into the conference room.
“The lycans are still looking into it,” Jonathan stated. “Though outward signs say that the same EMP that damaged your armor’s systems did corrupt their storage device somewhat. They’ve found blocks of data so far that are unrecoverable.”
“So we got our butts kicked for nothing,” Gabriel grumbled.
“Speak for yourself,” Tony spoke up. “I don’t recall getting my butt kicked at all.”
“Probably because you’ve got one hell of a concussion,” Cody smiled.
“Oh har har,” Tony replied.
“Speaking of concussions, how are Ryan and Marissa doing?”
“They’re fine, more or less,” Cody responded. “Ryan’s leg just needed some stitches, the blade missed the bone and the arteries. He did get a pretty nasty concussion though, he’s sleeping it off down in the medbay. Marissa got whacked in the head too, both are pretty knackered.”
“What they did manage to find so far hasn’t really gotten them anywhere,” Jonathan continued. “They can confirm that Imperial Medical has been funneling funding and personnel into a project called Prometheus, though they haven’t found out what that is exactly.”
“And I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the council won’t accept that as proof positive that they are behind the hybrids?” Tony asked.
“That would be a correct statement,” Jonathan sighed. “Though they do concede that it’s a fairly logical leap to make but are still debating the merits of carrying out a strike on the vampires.”
“How can they keep saying that,” Ethan grumbled. “The evidence is right in front of their faces! What other proof are they waiting for?”
“What they are considering is no small feat,” Jonathan warned. “It would mean open war with the vampires, breaking the peace we’ve had for over 200 years. Thousands could die on either side and I’m not just talking about Guardians. The vampires will go after everyone, Guardian and human.”
“They’re breeding an army,” Ethan replied, leaning forward in his chair. “An army that could do some serious damage to anything that happened to get in their way. Everyone in this room, hell in this building, knows that that they are up to something. Whether they were Sainte-Pierre’s partners or not, we’ve got to wake up and see that they are a very real threat.”
“Speaking of Sainte-Pierre’s partner, has there been any movement on that front?” Elise asked, hoping to break the tension that was rapidly building in the room. “Or any more information about the Well of Souls?”
“I’m afraid I don’t have much to report on that front either,” Jonathan remarked. “We are continuing to look into both those problems though. As soon as we know something I’ll pass the information on to you, I promise.”
“You mean to tell me that with all the resources we have at our disposal and you haven’t been able to find out anything about Sainte-Pierre’s partner, been able to find our leak, or figure out what the hell this Well of Souls things is?” Ethan demanded. “Are you even trying to find answers?”
“Do not take that tone with me,” Jonathan snapped. “I’m well aware how important it is that we find out all of those things. But there are factors at work here that none of you are cleared for. Believe me when I tell you that I am doing everything I can to find out those answers.”
There was something in Jonathan’s voice that put the team on edge, almost like he was hiding something. He stood up and addressed them again before leaving.
“Good work on keeping Day safe, as soon as they know something I’ll pass that information on to you.”
He exited the room, leaving the rest of the Guardians sitting there.
“He’s hiding something,” Tony said, leaning forward. “He knows something he’s not telling us.”
Even Gabriel could pick up on the subtle signals that Jonathan was sending out he wouldn’t have dared to make such a statement. The man practically lived at Aegis and for as long as Gabriel had known him, hadn’t ever taken a day off.
“He might just have a lot on his mind,” Gabriel offered. “I mean I’m sure that this whole thing with Sainte-Pierre, the vampires, and now this Well of Soul business has him pretty stressed out.”
“He’s never kept anything from us before,” Everett stated, rubbing his chin. “Why would he start now? Unless it’s something that he thinks we need to be protected from.”
“Internal Guardian politics?” Gabriel offered.
Cody shook his head. “No bloody way, Jonathan isn’t that interested in a seat on the council to let politics interfere with his job.”
“Maybe he’s protecting us from something,” Ethan offered.
Everyone in the room turned to look at him after that comment.
“Never thought I would hear you say something like that,” Elise responded. “I thought that you would be all over him for keeping something from us. Secrets can hurt people, you of all people should know that, Ethan.”
Ethan and Elise shared an intense look, almost as if they were daring each other to say something unspoken. Gabriel looked back and forth between his teammates and it felt like the temperature had dropped a few degrees. Despite the fact that they both looked icily calm on the outside, everyone in the room could almost feel the tension radiating from them both.