The subway rocked and squealed, turning around the bend with a clattering of wheels. Justin was onboard, his disguise discarded.
His dyed black hair ruffled in the soft breeze of the stagnant air conditioning. He was nearly alone on the subway car—it was in the early morning hours.
The others were spaced out at the various stops, waiting for his call to board. Most would be sleeping. Buncombe would.
If Justin were to see one of the other pack members board his or any car on his subway, he was to call. If nothing happened, he would ride it for four hours before letting one of the others take over.
He was nearly lulled to sleep by the steady vibrations of the car, but Daldion forced his mind to focus.
“We do not agree with the others,” he said. “So it is our duty to prevent our fears from coming to pass. We could not stop them from coming this far—but if we are viligant, perhaps we can turn this to a victory.”
“You really think this is a trap? That we don’t have the advantage?”
“Buncombe underestimates Halling. He thinks himself older, wiser. But he does not reckon in Halling’s companion—the original Ruler. He is far beyond…” Daldion’s thoughts lapsed.
Hiram’s eyes opened. His gaze was blurry. Closing them, he focused for the briefest of seconds, pulling on the power of the Thin Places to cleanse his body of the need to rest, the lethargy that lay upon him, and the remainder of the drugs Connor had put into his system.
He sat up, dressed only in a thin white shirt and boxers. Most unbecoming for someone of his age. He wanted a vest. And a tie.
On the bed across from him, Sarai was shaking the cobwebs from her head and running her eyes over her body, making sure nothing was missing. Her tank top was damp with sweat.
Hiram blinked admiringly. She was always focused—her stint in the Israeli special forces had brought that to her. Only when she was seeking did she lose herself in the moment. It was rapture to her.
Tobias was still lying on his back, green eyes on the ceiling. Hiram stood, sending his power to his legs to prevent himself from stumbling. Touching Tobias and Sarai in turn, he did his best to bring them up to full strength.
The three were just pulling on their coats when Connor walked in. He looked them over.
The IVs that had fed them during their coma had run dry, but Connor’s butler came in behind him, carrying a tray laden with rolls and fruit.
“Eat,” Connor ordered. “It is time.”
Justin felt it before he saw it. A tremor that seemed to shake the air as the car pulled into the station. He reached for his pistol. Francisco had showed him how to use it.
Justin moved back, away from the door, ready to draw his weapon. Who was at this station? Buncombe. Of course it was Buncombe.
The doors slid open to an empty station. Empty. Unnaturally empty.
The he heard the sound of a shot.
From around a pillar came Buncombe, his top hat flying from his head in his flight. He slammed his back to the concrete pole and changed his clip. Looking up at the incoming subway he saw Justin. Of course it was Justin.
He flinched at the concrete inches from his head blew apart. Cocking his gun, Buncombe gave a hurried instruction to his companion and dived out from behind the pillar.
Tobias, a similar pistol in his hands, stepped out from the concession stand he stood behind and fired at Buncombe. Three shots hit the ground around the rolling Englishman. Then the fourth took him in the side, a small mist of red exploding from the wound.
A savage grin coming to his face, Tobias sprinted forward, diving for Buncombe’s gun and knocking it away. Buncombe writhed, trying to put pressure on his wound.
Tobias lowered the gun at Buncombe’s leg. “Alive is good, I think. Connor will make you talk. But, perhaps, it would be better for you to be immobile.” His finger tightened on the trigger.
The sound echoed in the empty subway terminal. Tobias fell back, surprise etched on his face as he dropped his gun, both hands going to the small red hole in his chest. Then he fell.
Justin stood still as Buncombe rose. He was staring at his still-smoking weapon. The black steel. So innocent…and the tiny hole that delivered death. His conspiracies had always involved death, but this was different.
He was shocked. Not that the bullet had hit—though that was impressive, thought a small prideful part of his mind—but that he had shot. It had taken him second. Whole second where Buncombe could have been further wounded or worse. He hadn’t been able to fire.
It had been Daldion, drawing the confusion away, pushing Justin to tighten his finger. And he had shot. And killed.
Justin threw up.