The Willow Society

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Chapter 56

Chapter 56

They were ten minutes into the planning when Myth burst back into the room, waving the device before her, no one had noticed her taking it when she darted off her to lab. It was whole again, the wires all back inside and light gleamed from behind its slick touchscreen.

“We can use this!“ she said excitedly.

“Taylor already suggested it.“ Lou said drily. Myth's frown lasted a second before she threw the device into Taylor's lap. “Fine. It's fixed. Use it. So what's the plan?“

With everyone around, Taylor went through his rough plan, again. The others offered improvements and within an hour they had refined it. Tate and Winston found themselves providing most of the analysis of how to enter the building and thwart security measures. This seemed to amuse both, apparently they shared a hobby, only Tate was obviously far too fat to sneak much anymore. Still from things he said he must have done quite a bit of it once.

Lou's stomach clenched and unclenched several times. She watched the others, wondered if she was the only one who felt tension. The others all seemed thoroughly engrossed in the planning, even Izzy, who wasn't going inside the building at all. Lou remembered her fight in with the guard the subway station, remembered how many security guards there had been at Gracie Mansion during the Behrstables' party. Excepting Myth and she guess Tate, the others knew little, if anything, about fighting. For all her will and effort Myth was still quite small. The others had no idea what a person was capable of when their conscience switch flipped off and the primal lizard brain side took over, the side that didn't have qualms. Didn't recoil at the slight give of flesh, the hard crunch of breaking bone. The side that didn't flinch, didn't vomit at spilled blood. Lou knew there was a kindred spirit between her and the guard from the subway. He knew how to fight and knew his primal side, intimately. They shared a vibe, easily sensed between like and like. As she looked at her friends she knew it was not something they would understand, not something she could bring them to understand. Not even sure she wanted them to understand. I like them as they are. They don't need to be messed up like me. They were the closest thing she had to family, and if that realization wasn't hard enough, terrible enough, now Lou had to contemplate putting them in harm's way. I have to protect them. She couldn't stop the shiver which ran through her at the thought of what might, what almost certainly would, happen to one or more of them. Maybe all of them. A mental image of Myth lying in a pool of her own blood, face smashed-in flashed behind Lou's eyes and every time she blinked it was there, taunting her.

But the others were oblivious, so caught up in their plans. Lou listened, of course, and the plans seemed to be good, on point, and getting better with almost every suggestion. They made sense. If it had a chance to work. So many ifs. Winston was superbly talented at breaking into places he was not supposed to go. Tate seemed knowledgeable, making up for what Winston lacked with a life of experience. It was shocking to imagine the fat, larded, flaking and unkempt man as any kind of covert agent, much less for the NSA as an active field agent. What happens if he walks on a squeaky floor? Lou didn't laugh at her own inside joke. She had heard of Tate's past, it was known Willow Prep, but she had assumed he spent his career behind a desk, glued to a computer eating, Hot Pockets and gummi bears; while he hacked Chinese servers and military assets. Judging from tidbits he let drop, he had done a great deal of those thing. Even still, she wasn't sure about him, or his help. Like Winston, Tate could look at plans for the building and within a few hurried glances sketch out a plan of action, as if he had redrawn the map in his head, made a path for escape and what certain parts of the building diagrams indicated things not shown. Lou had that talent as well - raw as it was and nowhere as refined as either Winston or as Tate seemed to possess - enough she could recognize it in them. She had never had the desires they had. Listening to them talk, and knowing what she little did, made the idea of security on any building seem a joke.

Lou didn't bother joining in the planning much and the others didn't try to pull her in. She heard something and couldn't stay silent. “You can't do that...“ Lou said. Harder than she intended it to be.

“Do what?“ Taylor said, blinking, confused.

“Yeah, do what?“ Winston echoed.

“Not you. Her.“ Lou pointed at Myth. “She isn't going in that building. It's too dangerous.“

Myth was clearly about to explode until she realized it was Lou she was about to blow up at. She looked into Lou's eyes. Moments passed by and Lou was sure arguments were running through the younger girl's head, being discarded, replaced by new, only to repeat again. Finally, Myth settled on a semblance of a glare, not quite at Lou, more like at the wall behind her, but she said nothing.

“Besides, the note said you had to go alone, didn't it?“ Lou reminded them. Plans were adjusted to exclude Myth from entering but had Taylor, Winston, and Lou all going in. Tate would be outside with Myth and Izzy.

“It will be just me. At least coming in the front door.“ Taylor said. Apparently Lou hadn't been listening as closely as she imagined. Taylor went through the plans again and Lou nodded reluctantly half-way through it. It might work.

And even if it does, someone is going to get hurt.

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