Written in Red Page 148

And Meg could drive anywhere she wanted within the Courtyard without getting stuck in the snow, which pleased all of them.

It took more time than usual, but he reached the visitor’s parking at the Green Complex and slowed to consider. The lane leading back to the garages hadn’t been cleared at all, and any vehicles that were back there weren’t going anywhere for a day or two. That left the spots across the road from the complex.

Someone with large, powerful limbs had swiped most of the snow from the guest spots. Simon wasn’t sure two BOWs could fit into the cleared space and have room for the drivers to get out, but there was plenty of room for him, and nobody else would be using a vehicle to get home. In his smoke form, Vlad could travel faster in this weather than any other terra indigene except the Elementals.

He studied the snow next to the cleared space. Then he turned off the BOW’s lights and let his eyes adjust. With the lights on, it appeared that what stood beside the parking space was a swirl of snow. But in the dark, that swirl became a shape.

Henry Beargard was a large man and a massive Grizzly. But when Henry took the spirit bear form, he was even bigger. And standing on his hind legs, as he was now, he looked like he could pluck the stars from the sky.

<Henry?> Simon asked.

<Thaisia is restless. I am restless. A different kind of storm is coming.> Henry paused. <The first time Meg shared a prophecy with us, she saw a storm.>

He growled. She had shared those words with Henry, the spirit guide for their Courtyard. And the Grizzly was restless.

Henry dropped to all fours and moved off. <The storm is speaking. I must listen.>

Simon watched him go, his form visible only because the Wolf knew what to look for. He parked the BOW and hurried across the road, wondering if he’d find Sam at his apartment or at Meg’s. Then he stopped, listened.

<Tess?> he called. <Did you change your mind about staying around A Little Bite to wait out the storm?>

<No,> she replied. <Why?>

<I heard another BOW heading this way.> Nothing out there now, but he had heard it.

<I’ll check the garages and get back to you,> she said.

He hurried to his apartment. As he put his key in the lock, Nathan said, <Sam is up here with Meg.>

Simon finished unlocking his door, but went up the stairs to Meg’s porch. Nathan’s fur had a light coating of snow, making the watch Wolf nearly invisible in his chosen spot.

Nathan cocked his head. <Simon?>

He didn’t have a chance to respond before Tess called, <Simon!>

<Report,> he said.

<Another BOW was taken from the business garages. Whoever took it didn’t bother to close the door.>

<Blair will chew someone’s tail about that.> A thought occurred to him that formed a bone in his throat. <Where are the humans we allowed to stay in the apartments?>

<They’re in the apartments, making snacks and choosing movies to watch.> Tess paused. <I found tracks, mostly filled in now, coming from the direction of our customer parking lot. An intruder may have climbed a snowbank and come into the Courtyard—and maybe took the BOW as well.>

A BOW wouldn’t do anyone any good on the city’s streets, especially in this weather, but someone could get fairly deep into the Courtyard before finding roads the ponies hadn’t cleared at all.

Simon went back down the stairs. Nathan followed him. They stood perfectly still—and listened.

* * *

Jester looked at his charges, then at the big flakes of snow that would have been prettier if there hadn’t been so many of them.

Twelve little ponies all snug in their stalls, he thought. And one Coyote who was going to snuggle into the straw with them.

No point going to the Green Complex. He had everything he needed right here. And he wanted to keep an eye on the ponies, especially old Hurricane, who wasn’t having an easy time making his way through the snow. That was something he needed to mention to Winter. The Elementals’ steeds were slow to age, but even their time in the world came to an end, and their place was taken by youngsters who filled the same niche. Still, it was never easy when a pony reached his time, and Hurricane was a favorite of Air and Water.

He started to close the door all the way when he heard a sound and stepped outside to pinpoint the direction. A motor, yes, but not a BOW or any other vehicle used in the Courtyard.

Baring his teeth, Jester shifted his ears to their Coyote form to catch the sounds better. More than one vehicle with a buzzy motor.

Hadn’t Meg said something about buzzy motors? And now that he heard them in a slightly different way, he realized he had heard this sound around the Courtyard over the past few days. But not inside.

<Intruders!> he shouted.

His own warning was eclipsed by an explosion coming from the direction of the Utilities Complex.

* * *

Simon heard the explosion, pinpointed the direction, and shouted, <Blair!> while Nathan howled a warning.

<We’re being attacked!> The incredulity in Blair’s voice swiftly changed to fury. <I’ll deal with these intruders.>

<They might have guns!>

No response. None was needed. Anyone coming in to blow up a part of the Courtyard would have guns.

Another explosion, the sound fainter and coming from the western side of the Courtyard—the side closest to Lakeside Park, the side where there was a gap in the fence because of the fire a few days ago.

Howls in the west from the Wolves responding to that threat. Nathan beside him, growling and restless, wanting to rush off and help the same way he wanted to meet the enemy and destroy them.

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