Vision in Silver Page 97

Tess studied him, then said, “This one’s tongue is starting to blacken and rot. If you want him to tell you anything, ask your questions very soon.”

*   *   *

Three things happened at once. Something slammed into the back of the building hard enough to shake the structure; half the roof tore off and went flying; and Nathan yelled, <Some cars just exploded and are burning!>

A hesitation in the fighting as a fierce and furious wind entered the building through the open roof and hurled tables and merchandise at humans—a wind that, curiously, didn’t touch the tables that might injure the Courtyard’s pack.

Despite the screams of people throughout the building, Simon heard the sirens getting louder. And he saw Fire walk through the open doors, her hair and gown fanned out as she approached. The floor smoked in her wake.

That explains the burning cars, Simon thought, shuddering as the Elemental moved closer. Nothing would escape her if Fire wanted to burn, especially if Air fanned her sister’s rage through the building.

Fire looked at the men who had been fighting with the pack and said, “Either we all leave or all the humans burn.”

A sudden gust of air caught Fire’s gown. It flared out and found the leg of one man’s jeans. With a cry, he dropped the pipe he’d been holding and smacked at the burning fabric.

“Police! Drop your weapons!”

Many voices made that demand as men rushed through the open doors, then came to a fast stop when Fire turned toward them.

“They’re here to help, and we need help.”

Hearing the quiet words, Simon glanced at Kowalski. The man’s face and clothes were bloody, but the hands holding a small gun were steady.

Yes, they needed help, but he didn’t recognize any of these police officers.

Then Captain Burke walked through the door. He didn’t say anything. He just looked at Simon and waited.

Time to make a choice.

<Fire,> Simon said. <These police humans will help us.>

She turned back to him, and he realized it hadn’t been whim that had brought her and Air to the stall market to rescue him and the rest of the pack. The Elementals hadn’t even done it for him; they came here for Meg.

<You trust them?> she asked.

Not all of them. He didn’t want to think of what she might do if he answered her question that honestly, so he settled on, <Enough of them. I trust the humans that Meg trusts, and those humans trust the other police officers.>

Sensing that she was too close to expressing her full fury and burning everything in sight, he said the one thing he thought might sway her. <Tell Meg I’ll be home soon.>

He didn’t care if Fire charred the entire building and everything in it, but he wanted to get his pack away from here first, and there were still too many humans between him and the door.

A heated silence. Then Air said, <Twister and I will remain to keep watch.>

Simon nodded, relieved the Elementals would compromise that much.

<Very well.> Fire tipped her head . . . and disappeared.

Police rushed toward them, restraining the men who had attacked them. At least, restraining the ones who weren’t dead or badly injured.

Kowalski lowered his gun but had trouble moving one arm and ended up tucking the gun in the waistband of his jeans. Simon did his best to shift enough to look passably human. Then he heard two voices.

Ruthie saying, “Hang on, Lawrence. Hang on. The paramedics are here.”

And Jenni crying, “Crystal? Crystal, wake up! Simon says we have to leave now.”

He stepped aside as men from the ambulance rushed in, guarded by police. He looked at his pack.

Henry had a deep, bloody furrow along his right cheek from the bullet that had struck him when he swatted Simon out of the way. Michael Debany was limping and couldn’t seem to bend one knee. Ruthie was all bloody, but he couldn’t tell if she was wounded or if it was all Lawrence MacDonald’s blood. Merri Lee had bruises already blooming on her face, arms, and legs—and a bone sticking through the skin of one finger on her left hand. Vlad appeared unharmed. So did Jenni and Starr. But Crystal . . .

The back too arched. The feet pointed so hard they were almost curling. The eyes that should have been dark and shining were already dull. And feathers had partially sprouted along her stiff arms.

He looked at the bloody magazines that had fallen around her and thought, This is the vision Meg had seen about Heather. If the human bunny had been working in the Courtyard, she would have come here with the other girls. Would Crystal have lived if Heather had died here?

He didn’t know how much of a prophecy could change and how much was going to happen, regardless of what someone did. All he knew right now was he hurt and he wanted to go home.

<Nathan?> he called.

<Cut from broken glass and hurt from the rocks they threw at me. The monkeys pushed the bus over. Don’t think I can get out. I smell gasoline.> A hesitation. <The police out here are saying they’ll help. They say hurry.>

<They’ll help. Get away from the bus.>

Too much noise. Too much confusion. He felt dull and sick as he watched the paramedics rush MacDonald to the ambulance. He watched police lead the attackers with minor injuries out of the building. And he watched Captain Burke speak briefly to Kowalski and Debany before approaching him.

“Mr. Wolfgard? What can we do for you and your people? You and Mr. Beargard are wounded. So is the Wolf who was in the bus.”

“Our bodywalkers will take care of us,” Simon said. “We just want to go home.”

“Your bus is too damaged to drive, but we’ll get you home.”

“Crystal too.”

Burke nodded. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

He wanted to get away from this place. He wanted a chance to rest and heal. Then he remembered the other part of Elliot’s message. “Tell Lieutenant Montgomery to keep the Lizzy away from the Courtyard. Something bad is going to happen there . . . or has happened.”

“What kind of bad?”

“Don’t know. Meg saw . . .”

“Simon is hurt,” Henry said. “He needs to go home.”

“Captain Zajac and his men also responded to the call for backup. Give me a moment to talk to him; then I’ll make arrangements to get you all home. We’ll need statements from all of you, but that can wait.”

As Burke walked away, Kowalski walked up to Simon and Henry, his arm around Ruthie.

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