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The fae’s lips twitched as he knelt beside her. “It’s Orrin.” At his signal, Gage eased back, taking his hands and the pressure off the wound in her side.
Embry saw rather than felt when Orrin carefully felt around the injury.
Not good. Not good at all, she thought.
Gage’s face was caught somewhere between fury and shock. He was unraveling. It was in the set of his shoulders, in the shaking of his hands. She tried to reach for him but didn’t get any further than turning over her hand. Shit. She wiggled her fingers. “Gage.”
He started to take her hand, then stopped to wipe the blood—her blood—on his pants before curling strong fingers around hers.
“We have some planning to do,” she told him.
“I know. We have to figure out what our assets are and how we’re going to get to the surface—”
“No, no,” she said. “We’ll figure that out. We have some vacation planning to do.”
He blinked at her, icy blue eyes clearly trying to ascertain when she’d taken that sharp left turn away from reality. “Vacation planning?”
Orrin probed within the wound, and a bolt of pain seared through the numbness that had taken over.
Embry hissed, her hand clamping down on Gage’s as she breathed through it. “Yeah, vacation. I’m thinking something not beachy because I have a feeling that this is gonna leave a wicked scar and that’s just not going to rock the sexy bikini look.”
“Baby, I will take you anywhere you want to go when we get out of here.” He placed the slightest emphasis on the “when,” and Embry knew that he knew she was trying to distract him.
“You ready?” asked Orrin.
Embry took a tighter grip on Gage’s hand and nodded.
At first she felt nothing. The web of energy that crackled between Orrin’s hand and her abdomen looked more like the harmless light show of one of those electrostatic globe things that made your hair stand up when you touched and it. Then came the prickle. Needle-sharp and faint, as if her body had gone to sleep and was only now waking up. It felt strange and uncomfortable. She resisted the urge to stretch or flex to try to restore circulation lest she do more damage.
Sweat ran in fine streams down Orrin’s temple, but he was rock steady as he worked. As damaged nerves came back to life, so came the pain, a red hot poker scrambling her guts. Her body arched, trying to curl up and protect her belly.
“Hold her down!” ordered Orrin.
Gage pushed her back, and on the other side came her father, soundless, wordless as he took her free hand. The pair of them held her down by the shoulders as Orrin continued.
This was worse, much worse than getting shot. It was worse than the torture training she’d endured when she joined the IED. Her body screamed and fought the hands that pressed her into the ground. Biting back a cry, Embry bore down on Gage’s and her father’s hands and prayed for it to be over.
Dimly, Embry was aware of the earth trembling. Or maybe that was her. That was definitely her screaming. Some part of her was detached, observing the procedure. Gage was praying, his words a tumbled mix of half-remembered litanies from his Catholic youth. Her father muttered curses in the language of the elementals. Their voices blurred, blended, losing all sense or meaning.
Then it was done.
Orrin sat back, gray and trembling. “It’s not pretty, but I think you’ll live.”
When she tried to sit up, her father and Gage shifted, assisting rather than restraining. She winced as she came vertical. Growing new muscle and tissue and who knew what else was painful business. The new skin was smooth and pink and very tender beneath her exploring fingers. But it was whole. And though what lay beneath ached, it no longer felt mortally damaged. She looked at Orrin. “Thank you.” And if her voice cracked, she blamed it on the screaming.
A small crowd had gathered, Embry realized. Fifteen or so other Mirus were scattered through the remains of the generator room. The remains of their impromptu army of prisoners. No one was fighting.
“Not that I’m looking a gift horse in the mouth, but why aren’t there more soldiers beating down the door?” she asked.
“I collapsed the access to this room. They’ll be digging through rubble for days.” This from a slant-eyed man who might’ve been cast as a Nordic god. The Drakyn she guessed.
“It’s nice to have a reprieve, but now we’re trapped. No food, no supplies. It’s only a matter of time before they capture us all again. And you know they’ll come in with more backup and more firepower now that they know what we’re capable of.” The feline tilt of the woman’s head suggested she was some sort of cat-shifter.
Others added their voices, their concerns and complaints, until the babble echoed off the concrete walls and crashed around Embry’s aching head. A piercing whistle cut through the cacophony and made half those present cover their ears.
“Arguing isn’t going to get us anywhere. Now we’ve got a wide variety of the races represented here. Surely there’s someone among us who has an ability or a skill that will help us to get out of this God forsaken bunker.” Gage surveyed the faces gathered. “Can anyone teleport?”
“I could, if not for the iron shielding,” said Orrin.
“Anybody walk through walls?” No answer. “What about Persuasion? Can anybody control whatever guards we might encounter?”
“I can, but only a few at a time,” said a lanky boy with a torn T-shirt proclaiming The Force is strong with this one. He couldn’t have been more than fifteen, thought Embry.
“C’mon people. Think about your abilities. I know you’ve been tortured and abused and experimented on here. I know they’ve kept you bound by whatever means necessary. But you’re out of your cells and you’re alive. Figure out how we’re going to get out of here,” said Gage.
“I think I can help.” The voice was soft, and it came from the far side of the room, from a petite girl with a fall of dark blonde hair that might have resembled honey if it were clean.
“How?” asked Adan.
“I’m a Seer,” she said.
“How’s a Seer going to help us out of this mess?” asked a female vampire. “We don’t need to have our futures told.”
“Futures aren’t all I see. I also see possibilities, alternatives. They’re always changing.” She stopped, closed her eyes for a long moment. “And one of them includes us going up and out of this ventilation shaft.”
“What ventilation shaft?” asked Embry, getting slowly to her feet.
She gestured to the blank stretch of concrete. “The one behind this wall. We just need someone to make a hole big enough for us to get inside and climb.”
“That would be me,” said the Drakyn. Moving over to the girl, he placed a hand on the wall. “Here?”
She corrected his position by a few inches, then she and everyone else backed away, giving him plenty of room.
His shift wasn’t like the shift of any species Embry had ever observed. Most of them were painful affairs that took anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour, depending on circumstances. No matter what level of magic was involved, it was a very physical change, complete with lots of pops and groans and snaps as the body was forced to do apparently unnatural things to accommodate a new shape. But the Drakyn was fast, his shift an all but instantaneous blur that left the room reeking with a scent of magic that even she could smell.
He must be old, Embry realized. Very old. How in the hell did they capture him?
Looking over his great, scaly shoulder, the Drakyn took aim and thrashed his spiked tail into the wall. It only took one blow. Then he turned his massive body and cleared the debris with his clawed hands until the hole was large enough to hold a man. His shift back was just as fast. “Going up?” he asked.
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