Written in Red Page 150

He nodded. She wasn’t sure he could speak anymore.

“I want you to shift to Wolf form. You’re stronger and faster as a Wolf.”

He struggled to form words. “Safety line?”

“No.” She shook her head. “Not this time. Don’t let anyone put you in a harness or attach a safety line to you. If anyone tries to do that, you bite them as hard as you can and you run. You understand?”

“Bite and run.”

“Yes.”

She helped him out of his shoes, sweater, and shirt. “You shift now.”

Sam went behind the couch to finish pulling off his clothes. Meg sat back on her heels. Might not come to anything. Maybe she was being foolish or had misunderstood. Prophecies could change. A different choice in a string of choices could change everything. She and Sam were here, in the apartment, not out there where there was fear and pain and death. Why would they need to leave here until Simon and Nathan returned?

The prickling under her skin suddenly returned, and in the quiet that surrounded the Green Complex, she heard the sound of a BOW.

CHAPTER 26

Vlad, Nyx, and a handful of their kin flowed over the snow like segments of a black serpent as they headed for the Utilities Complex. Other Sanguinati were headed for the western breach to help the Hawks and Wolves fight the intruders.

He and Nyx hadn’t questioned Erebus’s command to destroy whatever dared touch the terra indigene. Would these monkeys have started a war with the Others if Meg hadn’t come to the Courtyard? Maybe not. But someone the monkeys wanted back so much was someone the terra indigene were determined to keep.

Besides, he liked Meg, and her diligence in delivering Erebus’s movies gave Grandfather an untarnished pleasure the Sanguinati patriarch hadn’t experienced in many years.

<Vlad, look,> Nyx said.

A funnel of snow racing toward the buildings in the Utilities Complex. Beside it, moving just as fast, was a rising wave of snow.

Gunshots. A scream of pain. And the buzzy sound of snowmobiles.

Vlad and his kin flowed past the charred wing of a Hawk but didn’t see the rest of the body. As they rounded one corner of the main building, he saw a handful of intruders on snowmobiles. He saw Ferus trying to crawl away from the part of the building that was blown out and burning—and he saw one of the intruders raise a gun and shoot the already wounded Wolf.

Vlad shifted partway, catching the gunman’s attention. Distracted by smoke starting to take human shape, the man didn’t see Blair, who was in the between form, until the Wolf knocked him off the snowmobile and tore out his throat.

The rest of the intruders are going to get away, Vlad thought savagely. Their machines would get them out of the Courtyard, and they would use the storm to hide among the rest of the monkeys.

Then he realized the funnel of snow was heading straight for the Utilities gate and would reach it before the intruders could. As for the wave of snow . . .

<Get Ferus,> he told Nyx, seeing the tidal wave of snow crest and understanding what was about to happen. <I’ll get Blair.>

Nyx shifted to her human form from the waist up, grabbed Ferus around the middle, and flowed over the snow, half carrying, half dragging the wounded Wolf. Vlad shifted all the way to human, grabbed Blair’s shoulders as the enforcer continued to tear at the enemy, and almost had his face ripped open when the Wolf turned on him and lashed out.

“Come with me!” Vlad shouted. “Now, Blair!”

A glance behind him was enough. Blair ran, and Vlad, shifting back to the safety of smoke, flowed after him as Tidal Wave released the snow and sent it crashing down, catching the three monkeys who had tried to evade Tornado. One man, jettisoned from Tornado’s funnel, flew over their heads and landed in a circle of smoke that grew hands and mouths and fangs.

Ignoring the feast, Vlad headed for the spot where Nyx waited with Ferus.

“Tornado left the Courtyard,” Blair said, shifting all the way back to human as he trotted up to them. “There’s going to be some damage to the monkeys’ part of the city.”

“Do we care?” Vlad asked.

Blair looked at Ferus, who was turning the snow red. “No. We don’t care.” He studied the ground and buildings around them. “Come on. I think we can muscle one of the BOWs out of the garage and get Ferus to the Wolfgard bodywalker.”

* * *

A frantic knocking on Simon’s front door.

“Meg? Meg! Are you in there?”

Meg looked back at Sam, whose furry face peered at her from behind the couch. Then she went to the door, pulled it open, and just stared at the blue sweater showing under Asia’s white parka.

“Meg . . .” Asia began.

“I don’t know that color blue,” Meg said, feeling cold inside as Asia stepped into the apartment.

“I know I’m not supposed to be here,” Asia said in a rush. “But, Meg, you have to listen to me. Some men are coming for you. All the other things that are happening now are just a diversion. And the other things that happened over the past few days? Those men were studying how the Wolves react. I have a BOW. It’s right outside. I’ll help you get away.”

“I don’t know that color.”

“What difference does that make?” Asia shouted.

“I saw that blue in the vision, with the sugar and the skull and crossbones,” Meg said, her voice so rough it produced an answering growl from Sam. “You tried to poison the ponies.”

Something in Asia’s face shifted, erasing all pretense of concern. “It was just a means to an end, like this is.”

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