I heard the gun shots before the fireball came soaring at us from the tree line. I threw up a wall of air around us so it encompassed the whole gazebo and the bullets stopped rattling through us. A few of the dragons had taken a hit, but they weren’t dragon perceiving bullets so not a lot of damage was done. The fireball splattered against the dome leaving sparks to float towards the trees.
“Get everyone out of here.” I looked to Ant who was already taking Alex by the arm.
“I’m not leaving!” Alex shouted.
“Alex I can’t do this if I have to worry about you.”
Ant frowned. “He needs you safe. I will bring him back to you, I promise.” And they left, I was sure going to hear about it when we got back. Alex wasn’t happy about this meeting, and whatever Hunter had told him was about to go down, for good or ill, and I didn’t like knowing that my son had already seen the results – or the possible results.
The bullets came faster, and there was another fireball sent our way, but Tony, Francesco, and Ant were ferrying everyone away as fast as they could. Only Ryan stayed by my side the whole time. No one else was good at close range, and Ryan trusted me to keep him safe, as I was trusting him to watch my back.
As the crowd got smaller, I let the bubble collapse on us, it was easier to hold, but the bullets were shredding it and I was continually having to enforce it. It was chaos. I saw the army advance from the tree line and I recognized the gear from the outlines. The same teams that had joined the warehouse assault were now firing on all of us. The fucking Venatori were trying to take out the heads of the supernatural community.
Ryan whispered from behind me, “There are vampires behind us. Mostly elemental. Nathanial is with them.”
“Venatori are in front of us,” I told Ryan.
“Well fuck. We need to get out of here.”
I could feel the power draining from me. The whole world felt like it was draining away from me. “I think they have a null.” My magic failed me. The bubble failed just as a fireball flew at us. I don’t know what possessed me but I wrapped Ryan up underneath me in a violent series of movements, I heard bones pop as the fire sprayed across my back. There was a deafening scream and I wasn’t sure if it was mine, Ryan’s or someone else’s, I didn’t get a chance to figure it out before everything was searing pain and then complete silence.
Death should be emptiness – a return to the void from whence we came, but this didn’t feel like a void. We were all energy, but I still felt like me and when I held out my hand, I saw my hand – free of nail polish, but like a dream at the thought I was sporting black painted nails like I would in reality – so this must be a dream? But I died?
A thought echoed in my head, “Or did you.”
I turned to look and saw a woman standing in fog. “Silly boy.”
“You remembered me?”
“I saw your picture in Oma’s scrap book,” I said.
But there was nothing there when I turned to look at the ghost that was my cat. Instead there were a billion little bubbles floating in nothing. I touched one and it shimmered and then I was someplace else. There was a little girl and it wasn’t pleasant. She was hiding in a closet. A monster was lurking outside her bedroom door. It pounded on the door, growling, ‘let me in.’ With each hit on the door the wood splintered.
And when the monster stepped through it was just a man with his fists and a belt and his pants opened ready to go. He threw open the closet door and yanked the girl out. I didn’t hesitate anymore there was no doubt what was going to happen. I grabbed his arm, and threw him across the room. The girl stared at me with a frightened look and backed up into the closet but I was too busy worrying about the man.
He tried to throw a punch at me and then all of a sudden he was melting into a goo which had me walking backwards trying not to freak out.
“How can you be here?” Quinn asked me. “You’re dead. This is a dream. My dream. Why are you here?”
“Was that your step dad?” I asked.
She nodded. “Did he do this to you?” She looked at me in fear and nodded again. “Is this a memory?” She nodded again and I vowed, “You will never go back to him. Never.”
Quinn started to cry and I was expelled from the dream.
“Always protecting people.” A familiar voice rang out from behind me. I spun in a circle to see my mother standing behind me with a smile.
“That’s my job,” I snapped.
“You have such bigger things to do with your life. Don’t you feel it?”
“What do you care?” I asked without really caring if I hurt her feelings.
“Maybe this visage wasn’t a good one to take,” the voice said as it morphed into human shaped nothingness.
“Who are you?”
“I have no name. But you are my champion of Order.”
“The book is yours?”
“No it’s yours. I wrote it for you. To help you, guide you. Your dreams were foreign to you, you couldn’t access them. So it fell into the right hands.”
“I thought the book was old?”
“It is. You are the third to use it.” It waved a hand. “But you need to wake up now. They need you.” It pushed me, “Now!”