Waiting In Darkness, Part 3

Connor breathed a sigh of relief when he pulled into the garage underneath the Agency tower. He parked his car in its usual space and got out. He locked the vehicle up, all while chewing on his lip nervously. What was going on? Some sort of spell, Chris had said, and he’d mentioned attacks.

Suppressing a shiver, Connor head towards the elevator that would bring him up to the floor where he worked. Hopefully, Chris could explain it to him when he got there. He walked briskly, with his head down, focusing on the task of getting to the elevator.

Someone grabbed his arm, drawing him up short. He gasped and looked up, about to scold whoever it was. Then, he found himself looking into a face that was anything but human. Connor screamed.

The monster’s lips curled in a smile for a brief moment. Then, the mouth opened and it lunged at him.

“No,” Connor gasped, striking out at it with his magic. The glyph he’d tossed without a thought landed in the monster’s gaping mouth. With a cry of pain it released him and stumbled back.

Connor didn’t hesitate. He whirled and ran full tilt towards the stairwell. He’d written enough television to know that elevators could never come quickly enough in such emergencies. As he yanked the door open, he came face to face with the man he’d seen in the lot. A shrill cry escaped his lips and he stumbled back.

“None o’ that, now,” the man said. He sighed and yanked Connor to his feet, then propelled him into the stairwell, throwing a bolt of lightning at three more of the monsters with his other hand. Then, he ducked into the stairwell and pointed towards the steps. “Get on, you.”

Nodding, Connor ran up the steps. “Who are you?” he called, blinking away tears. Crying didn’t help. He wasn’t a child. He was a fully trained magician.

“Name’s Gregory Innistree,” he said. He gave Connor a faint smile. “We were asked ta come an’ help ya deal with them monsters and the spell what summoned ‘em. Sorry to have afrighted ya so badly.”

Connor nodded, accepting the apology. “I’m Connor Pemberton,” he said. In a softer voice, he added, “Thanks for the help.”

“Yer Connor Pemberton?” Gregory replied. He sounded shocked. He held his hand up at about the level of Connor’s head and added, “Yer just a bit of a thing!”

“I’m not a little bit of anything. I’m twenty-eight years old,” Connor retorted. He sighed explosively and shrugged. “Magicians are always short. Wizards – especially elemental wizards like yourself – are typically rather tall.”

“Right,” Gregory said, nodding.

In a few moments, Connor stepped out of the stairwell and hurried down the corridor towards the Team Alpha offices. He stepped inside and shot a glare at Chris. “You might have mentioned that there were monsters,” he said, his voice cracking.

“Are you hurt?” Harmony asked.

“No,” Connor said, yanking off his glasses to rub at his eyes. “No, I’m not hurt. I fed it a glyph for an explosion spell. That got it off of me and I ran like hell.” He sighed and settled his glasses back in place. “I’m just shaken.”

Chris grimaced. “Sorry, Connie,” he said. “I didn’t want to frighten you unnecessarily.”

Pushing a stray lock of hair out of the way, Connor said, “I’m an ezura, Chris, not a child. Don’t try to protect me by keeping me ignorant.”

“That never goes well,” Hollis said, nodding.

With a sigh, Chris held up his hands in defeat. “I’ll remember that in the future,” he promised. He settled back on the edge of a desk and said, “Here’s what Keenan has told me: At approximately fourteen minutes after ten, a spell swept through the city. It blotted out the sun, sending everything into darkness.”

Connor nodded. “Then, the monsters showed up?”

Chris’s brows furrowed. “Soon after the spell settled into place, reports started coming into both the Warden Stations and Agency Headquarters of attacks by… most of the people described them as hideous and inhuman.”

“That definitely fits with what I saw in the garage,” Connor agreed. He looked up at Gregory. “Where do you come into all this?” It seemed awful soon for him to be there if Keenan had called him.

“People I work for were waiting for something like this,” Gregory said, his voice soft. “We were ready when the spell was set off – dispatched a team right quick. Most o’ the others are in the field, helping where they can. Erik sent me on ta coordinate our efforts with yours.”

Chris looked at Gregory. “Is the garage secure now, or do we need to do something more to see that they can’t get into the building?”

Gregory bit his lip. “B’tween the two of us,” he said, his voice still soft, “Connor and I killed the four that had breeched yer security. That don’ mean there won’t be more, but yer safe for now.”

“Thank you,” he said, bowing politely. He looked at Connor and said, “Keenan’s asked that we go out in teams to hunt down these monsters, before they can hurt anyone else. Are you up to that?”

“Yes,” Connor said. He smiled wanly. “I know what to expect now, Chris. Forewarned is forearmed, after all.”

Chris nodded. “Hollis will stay here and take care of communications between us and the other teams,” he said. “The rest of us will work in pairs. Jewel and I will cover this area.” He pointed at a map of the city. “Llew and Harmony will cover this area and Connor will work with Gregory in this area.”

He looked at the team. “Keep in contact and meet back here in two hours,” he said. “Keenan is working with Master Erik to counter the spell, but we’re the only line of defense the city has until they can do that.”

“Once they break the spell,” Gregory explained, “provided the sun is still shining, that’ll take care of whatever monsters we might miss.”

“What if the sun has gone down?” Jewel asked.

Gregory tensed. “In that case, we’d be workin’ ‘til dawn broke,” he said. “Pray it don’ come ta that, Miss Jewel. Strong as these monsters are in this unnatural darkness, they’ll get stronger when it’s properly night.”

Connor frowned. “Let’s get to it, then,” he said, tugging on Gregory’s arm. He glanced at Chris. “We aren’t going to do any good just standing here.”

Nodding, Chris hefted his own staff and beckoned to Jewel. “Be careful, everyone,” he said. Then, they all headed out. Connor could only hope that their efforts would be enough.


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