Breena explained to Yellow-mane that she, along with Gabriel and Apollo, would be returning to the compound to battle the White Alpha once and for all. Several of the villagers were present when she explained their plans to Yellow-mane. One of the men gasped.
“It was Gabriel who caused Grandfather to be killed, it’s all his fault!” the villager exclaimed.
Breena turned slowly and stared at the middle-aged Scythian.
“Will you always look for a way to blame your new elder?” Breena asked in disgust.
She stared at the man for a full minute and then turned and walked away. She just wanted Yellow-mane to know where they were going. If they failed to return, it would be up to him to decide the fate of the villagers. If they were not welcome in his clan, then they would have to find another clan, otherwise, they’d lose their ability to change forms, which was a virtual ‘death sentence’ for Scythians.
The assembled group watched in silence as Breena walked out of the village and across the bridge. Once on the other side, she vanished. One of the females spoke up.
“We don’t need our new elders, we can travel to America and join the clan of Yellow-mane,” she stated emphatically.
As soon as she said it, Yellow-mane was gone, and the giant saber-tooth was in his place. He roared loud enough to make the ground shake beneath their feet. No one in the group wanted to confront him in this form. Several of those closest to him involuntarily changed to their elemental forms as they feared they may have angered him enough to make him hurt them.
After a few seconds, the saber-tooth was gone, and Yellow-mane was back.
“Why would you ever think I would consider polluting my clan with the likes of you?” he yelled at the group.
“But…but, it was Gabriel and Breena who got Grandfather killed, not us!” answered the female who had spoken up.
Yellow-mane moved up to stand on the closest porch. By now, the rest of the villagers were gathering to find out what was happening. Yellow-mane waited as the murmurs swept through the clan, each one learning what had been said.
“This will be the last time I try to talk any sense into my brother’s clan,” Yellow-mane began, “Those who attacked the village were not trying to kill or capture Gabriel, they were trying to capture a Scythian. It appears they were trying to capture Breena. We have no idea why or how they knew of her abilities, but we do know this, Grandfather sent her to the city to investigate for him. If she was discovered, it was because of his actions, not hers or Gabriel’s.
Someone has knowledge of our abilities and they want one of us alive! That is a danger to all Scythians, not just this clan. As for causing Grandfather’s death, if you want to know who to blame for that, I suggest you go home and look long and hard into the mirror. The blame rests with each one of you! When Grandfather sent you away, you could have refused, you could have returned and saved him. Instead, you choose to blame the only two people who loved him enough to stand by his side and risk dying with him.
Now, every chance you get, you seek to find fault in what your new elders are doing. Why would I, or any other Scythian elder, ever want you in our clan? If you can’t be loyal to the clan you have always belonged too, then how could we ever trust you to be loyal to us? Are you so blinded by your prejudice of the outside world you can’t see you’re worse than they are? We talk of how unfair and unforgiving the rest of the world is and yet, are we any better in our treatment of them?”
“Is it true Breena and Gabriel have decided to abandon us for the outside world?” asked one of the younger men.
Yellow-mane took a deep breath, his patience was wearing very thin.
“You see, that’s exactly why I would never allow you in my clan. You choose to find fault and seek to assign the negative in everything the new elders do. You are not worthy to be a part of any clan,” Yellow-mane said through clenched teeth, “They are not abandoning you, they are risking their lives to protect you and the clan. The one who orchestrated the attack on Grandfather is still determined to obtain a Scythian. You are the only Scythians in this part of Canada, therefore, you will be hunted down until one of you is captured alive. Or worse, they will capture Breena and her portion of the gift will be lost to the clan forever.
Haven’t you grasped the simple fact that Breena and Gabriel do not need you! They don’t need any of you! You however, must have them. They are young and powerful, and they can attract Scythians from all over the world to join their new clan. With a gift as strong as theirs, the possibilities are unlimited. You won’t find any other clans willing to take you as soon as they learn of your recent behavior. In fact, once they learn some of you dared to attack Grandfather and then refused to defend him and the clan, you will be shunned by every Scythian in the world.”
Several of the women began to cry and the men all stared at the ground. It hurt, every word out of the elder’s mouth stung, but it stung because it was true. No one could think of a single argument against Yellow-mane’s logic. He was right, the new elders didn’t need them, but they needed the new elders. Without them, it was only a matter of time before they lost their powers and their lives. As one, they started to look at Yellow-mane for answers. He simply stared at them and then turned away. He had much to think about and decisions to make before nightfall.
Breena ran down the path toward where Gabriel had been talking with Oz. As she got closer, she could see neither of the men. Once she got where she left them, she continued to run on toward the cave. She had no idea where either of them was, but she needed to find Gabriel. As she neared the cave, the two guards were walking down the path toward her and she knew where she’d find Gabriel.
“Elder Breena, Gabriel has relieved us and asked us to return in few hours. Is everything okay?” one of the guards asked.
“Yes… fine,” Breena said as she quickly walked by them.
Just outside the cave, she found Gabriel. He was going through his duffle bag and loading his weapons. He carefully set aside each of the weapons he planned to use against the White Alpha and her shifters.
After standing there watching him for several ling minutes, she finally asked, “Do you think we will be dealing with mercenaries this time?”
Gabriel sighed. Why did everything have to be so complicated?
“Please, just tell me what happened,” Gabriel answered. “I know how you feel Breena and I know when you are upset.”
She simply fell into his arms and let him hold her. Somehow, no matter what, she always felt everything was fine once she was in his arms. Slowly, she explained to Gabriel what had happened at the village. At first, Gabriel was angry, then he was disappointed. Finally, after several minutes of thinking about it, he was over it.
“I believe once this is over, we will need to consider forming a new clan, one we can trust and one who wants to be with us. With my understanding of the outside world and Zeus’s contacts within the government, we could create a clan unlike anything ever seen,” Gabriel said.
Breena had to smile. Even with Grandfather’s clan disintegrating around them, Gabriel was not going to abandon her or the Scythian way of living. He had fully embraced the fact he was a Scythian. If only the clan could understand that as well!
“Have you seen Apollo?” Gabriel asked.
“No, he was checking on something in the woods before we entered the village,” Breena answered.
Gabriel didn’t say anything else. He was worried, but he knew the grey wolf could handle almost anything on his own. Still, ever since the attack on the original village, he had been on edge in the deep woods. What had seemed impregnable a few days ago, now seemed very vulnerable. Breena felt it too, but she was going to enjoy what time she had before the battle, in Gabriel’s arms, not worrying about anything else.
The young couple made a comfortable spot to sit and take in the afternoon sun. They needed to rest in order to be ready for the coming attack. Gabriel was trying not to think about anything happening to Breena or Apollo. Breena was trying to think of a way to stop Gabriel if he was forced to take on his animal form. Neither wanted the other to know what they were fearful of.
In order to avoid the subject, Gabriel explained to Breena what Oz had told her about the twins and the blossoming love between Jaida and Zeus. At first Breena was worried it might be an issue for Gabriel, but as she heard him talk about it, she knew she had nothing to worry about. Gabriel seemed genuinely happy for Zeus, as he should be. The master warlock had been alone for far too long.
As the sun slowly passed overhead, Apollo came to join the two. Whatever he had been doing, he didn’t say. He laid down beside Breena and rested quietly. The grey wolf knew the watcher was on the ridge above the couple, keeping an eye on them. Strangely enough, it made the wolf feel safe. He didn’t know why, he only knew it did.
The watcher had heard all the words between Gabriel and Oz. He heard the explanation from Breena about what had happened in the village. If it wasn’t for his need to keep watch over the young couple, he would have gone to the village and run the entire group of Scythians out of there. They did not deserve these two as their elders. He smiled thinking of how they would respond if he dropped in on them. He could imagine the shrieks and screams he would cause.
Not yet, not yet. He would make himself known when the time was right, but not yet. For a long time, he had very little purpose for living. He had made watching Gabriel his mission in life, but it had been a hollow one. Now, as he watched and listened to the young couple plan their lives together, he was more determined than ever to see the two of them got the chance to live that life.
In just the past hour, he had finally decided he would do whatever it took to make that happen. He had made a promise once, many, many years ago, and now he might have to break it.
As Breena, Gabriel and Apollo were resting, Oz was already back at the compound trying to prepare for the upcoming battle. He worked in the control room trying to configure the compound’s automatic defenses to give them at least a little advantage over the coming hordes of shifters.
Meanwhile, Anthony was walking around the perimeter to see if anything had changed since he had been there years before. Zeus and Jaida were enjoying a few hours alone, enjoying being in each other’s arms. As he walked behind the garage and looked at the open expanse between the back of the building and the compound’s wall, Anthony heard a high-pitched whine. If not for his highly trained senses, including his hearing, he never would have noticed. Whatever it was, the master warlock knew it didn’t belong near the compound.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw movement out beyond the wall and near the woods on the east side of the compound. As soon as he saw it, he forced himself not to look in that direction. He already knew what it was and now he was going to make sure the others knew as well. He continued his walk around the building and then casually walked up to the front of the main building and went inside. As soon as he shut the door he called out for Zeus.
“Zeus…Oz, we need to talk, now!” Anthony called loudly.
In only a few seconds, both men were in the main hall trying to figure out what the emergency was.
“What is it?” Zeus asked.
“A drone. A very good one from the way it was hovering. It was high on the east side, but I’m sure there were others,” Anthony explained.
“So, that is how they plan to keep an eye on us now that we’ve severed their connection to our surveillance network,” Oz said.
“But that means they know we are still here and they will be prepared for us,” said Jaida as she walked up and heard the conversation.
Anthony wasn’t sure why it mattered, but then that’s why he always let Jaida do the planning. He preferred using his blades to using his brain. Zeus understood what Jaida was implying immediately.
“Perhaps there’s a way to change that,” he said.
“Trojan Horse?” Jaida asked.
“Exactly,” Zeus answered.
Oz smiled, and Anthony looked perplexed. He wasn’t sure why it mattered or what these were planning on doing, but they seemed to be speaking the same language. Anthony only wished he could speak it too.
“The Limo will be the best choice. We’ll need to hurry,” Zeus said.
“I will drive, it will look wrong if you do it,” Oz added.
“Thank you, old friend. I will continue your work on the automatic defenses while you are gone,” said Zeus. “I will purchase a set of tickets for you and have them waiting at the counter.”
“What is he talking about?” Anthony asked Jaida.
“Just wait here,” she replied.
As Oz went to the garage and pulled the sedan with the dark tinted, bullet-proof windows around, Jaida ran to the second floor to retrieve the twin’s bags. She filled each one with a pair of pillows from one of the empty bedrooms. As she bounded down the stairs, Anthony was as confused as ever.
“You packed our bags in less than ten seconds?” he asked.
“No dear brother, they are filled with pillows. We only need to appear to be leaving the compound with all our belongings, we don’t need to actually do it,” Jaida answered.
Anthony felt foolish, but at least he finally understood. Without wasting any more time, he and Jaida walked out and put their bags in the trunk of the car. As soon as the luggage was stowed, they climbed into the back seat and Oz drove the sedan toward the city. The dark tint of the limo’s windows kept anyone from seeing what they were doing inside the vehicle. As they moved down the long driveway, both Jaida and Anthony scoured the skies, looking for any other drones.
As they reached the end of the drive and waited on the hidden gate to open, they spotted one less than a hundred yards away, near the wood-line, but it was definitely following the sedan. As he promised, Zeus purchased two tickets on the first international flight to Chicago from Vancouver. Once they arrived at the airport, Oz would let the two out and they would check their empty luggage onto the flight. Once they had passed through security, they would be entered into the airport’s computers as checked passengers and they could stop the charade.
Oz explained he would meet them near the back of the terminal where there was a stand of thick evergreens. If he only stopped the sedan for a few seconds, he could go back onto the road and return to the compound without anyone watching being any the wiser. The twins were confident they could be at the corner waiting on the little man when he got there.
Oz dropped them off and then made a trip to the restroom to give them some additional time to make their way through security. They would have to find their way through a security access door and down under the airport and out the exit near the corner where he planned to pick them up. Knowing the abilities of the two, he was sure they could manage all of that in under five minutes.
As planned, the twins were waiting for him as he neared the corner. He slowed the limo as the two opened both the front and rear doors and dove inside the moving vehicle. As soon as Jaida entered the front seat, she slid over the top of it and landed on the floor in the back where Anthony was already waiting.
As Oz emerged from the trees, he could see the drone hovering almost a quarter of a mile away. He was confident the little airborne vehicle could not have seen the twins re-enter the sedan. He knew the pilot would have kept the drone low and as far away from the airport as possible to keep from being detected by the airport officials. The new laws for drones were very strict about flying them anywhere near an airport.
Oz wasted no time getting back to the compound. He pulled the sedan into the garage and walked alone, back into the main building. He had already explained to the twins how to get into the mansion unseen. They used the service bay under the garage floor. It was designed to allow the compound’s personnel to work on vehicles from underneath. At the end of the bay, there was a steel door. They entered the code Oz gave them and the door opened, and they followed the tunnel toward the mansion. Once they arrived at the other side, they waited for the large stone door to open.
Less than a minute later, Oz opened the door and allowed them inside. They were standing in the mansion’s wine cellar. There was an impressive selection of wines on the racks all around them. There were several large casks with rare liquors as well. Anthony was impressed by the collection, but not by the security.
“What’s to stop an intruder from coming in this way?” Anthony asked the little man.
Oz smiled, “They must first open the door,” he answered.
Anthony was confused. As the little man shut the door and headed for the stairs, the American master warlock grabbed the heavy iron ring attached to the thick stone door and pulled. He might as well have been trying to move a cruise ship. The door wouldn’t budge, not even a little. He placed his left foot on the wall next to the door and tried again. This time, he used every bit of strength he had, but with the same results. It must be electromagnets! There was no other way to explain it.
As he followed his sister and Oz up the stairs, Oz looked back at him and smiled.
“No magnets,” the little man declared.
Anthony was shocked, how did the little man know what he was thinking?
“What if they decide to blow it up?” Anthony asked.
Oz stopped and turned around, “The stone is made of a diamond impregnated stone. The force required to break the stone would bring the entire passage down on whoever was foolish enough to try.”
Anthony had never heard of a stone more powerful than high carbon steel, but he had learned many things on this trip that he had never heard of before. He stopped himself from asking anymore questions, but he still had several he couldn’t stop thinking about.
How had Oz managed to open the door by himself? Where did the stone come from and how was it installed? Anthony was having a hard time understanding how anything could cut the stone so strong and so thick, and how was it moved into position? He would have to worry about that later, for now he would need to focus on the coming battle.