It shouldn’t have been so comforting to Ethan to be strapped down while he was asleep. His wrists and ankles where strapped to the bed and another was bound around his torso. That one was uncomfortable as it was binding wings into his back, forcing them a little further in then they needed to be.
He shifted slightly to try to get them into position.
“He’s awake.” a female voice murmured, both surprised and nervous.
Ethan opened his eyes as a man responded, “That’s odd. He should be well sedated.”
He was older. Thinning white hair and a scruffy mustache. He absently tapped a few keys on his tablet and a machine whirred to life out of Ethan’s vision.
It was a boring room, all the walls were painted concrete and the furniture, not that there was much, was standard issue medical.
“So, I take it I’m not in a hospital.” Ethan said idly looking over the nurse who wouldn’t make eye contact with him. She was a lot younger than the doctor. Probably had just been certified, assuming the facility required certifications.
Neither of them answered him. He was momentarily distracted as sedative hit his bloodstream again. It was a slight, cold jolt that seemed to wake him up more than encourage him to sleep.
“So,” he continued, “What am I doing here?”
Still no response. Idly, he drew in some energy, just to see if he could. Nothing stopped him, though he was sure they had some sort of plan for that. It couldn’t be sedatives or nothing, could it.?
The power pulsed out of the shadowed corners. For a moment he thought he saw a nebulous bit of darkness break away towards his captors, but it vanished as quickly as he noticed it.
“Is the anesthesia machine working proper?” the Doctor asked, “He should be back under by now.”
She walked over to it and checked the screen, “Everything seems to be working. You have it set to the about the maximum for his weight. Maybe a little high.”
Ethan shrugged, “There is no sedative that can keep me out. Trust me, I’ve tried a bunch.” he glanced at the Doctor who continued to ignore him, “I’ve been sleepwalking. Escaping chains and straps just like these. Matt, that’s ‘Alaric’ to you, usually finds me somewhere within a mile of my apartment every morning. Usually next to my midnight snack. Well, what’s left of it.”
Finally, a reaction, a slight frown, “Overcoming over the counter hypnotics is very different from what you’re being subjected to now.”
“You think?” Ethan replied, “My body is already adapting to whatever it is you’re shooting into me. I barely feel drowsy. Have any spare dogs around?”
The Doctor stared at him faintly bemused,
“My midnight snack?”
Shaking his head, the Doctor tapped on his tablet again and turned to the nurse, “Prepare him for level four anesthesia.”
Another jolt from the machine. Clearly, the doctor was trying to knock Ethan out for a deeper sedation. He was losing focus.
“My father is going to kill you.” he slurred. He was indeed feeling him in the back of his mind for the first time in weeks.
The Doctor sighed, “I don’t believe your father is even aware that you are here. It hasn’t been long yet.”
“Joshua Brand is not my father.” Ethan growled, his gaze drifted over to the nurse, “I’d run.”
She backed up towards the door looking towards the Doctor for instructions. He seemed about to order her back, when his own nerves caught up with him.
Dead silence filled the room as the power failed. Ethan vaguely remembered he was supposed to resist his father using his body as a puppet, He struggled for the will to fight him, but there wasn’t anything there. The presence overwhelmed his senses and with a snap, he broke free of his bonds.
The Doctor and nurse had fallen back out of the room in the moments they’d had while Ethan had struggled, but the door lock was electronic. The electromagnetic lock would have been perfect for keeping even him in the room, but without power it was just a sheet of steel.
His hands carved through the metal like it was mud, tearing out the hinges one after another. He stepped back and telekinetically tossed it out of the way.
Voices echoed down the hallway. Two men in tactical gear turned into the room, scanning around for him. Neither shot as their guns drifted past him. It was only then he remembered the lights had gone out. His own vision hadn’t been hindered by the darkness.
One would assume they had some sort of night vision assistance, but it wasn’t working any better than their normal eyes.
Calmly, Ethan walked between them and neither of them reacted.
Four more men stood in the hallway waiting with weapons ready. Crouched close to the wall, it wasn’t too hard to get past them without them reacting. Only the last man in the line glance towards him as he passed.
Both directions had looked perfectly similar. He’d gone left because it was slightly wider, not that he had any idea whether it was a quicker way to the exit.
He passed a deserted reception area and from there he spotted a guard post, with two more heavily armed men and a less armed, slightly more freaked out man.
“Jensen, go try to get the power back on.” One of the heavily armed men said to the other, “Probably nothing you can do, but try.”
Jensen nodded and took a step towards the door. The regular guard pulled a lever and with loud clank, the door released.
Ethan darted forward and slight through just behind Jensen. It was only possible because of the manual release they were using – if they weren’t careful, they’d have crushed Jensen as the shut the door.
He found himself following the guard through the building, down a staircase and through a maintaince tunnel. This wasn’t going to be the way out, why was he following him?
His stomach growled, he swallowed and tried to turn around, now remembering he wasn’t directing his body, his father was.
They’d come to the breaker room and Jensen tried to flip the breakers without luck. He took off his helmet to get a better look at the console, tracking each breaker, checking to see if one was out of alignment.
Discreetly, Ethan pulled the knife out of Jensen’s belt and severed the line from his radio to his shoulder.
A short buzz of static popped from the speaker. Automatically, Jensen hit the switch, “Ten nine.”
No response, he clicked it again, “Ten nine?”
Still no response, so he returned to work, “Must not be important.”
Ethan was flattened against the opposite wall staring at Jensen’s backside. In the small room, all he could do was smell the young man sweating next to him. He smelled delicious.
Maybe it was just loose or maybe it was Ethan’s father’s doing, but the door to the room drifted closed and slammed shut, making both of them jump in surprise.
Jensen stepped to the door and tried to open it. This time, Ethan was aware he was holding it closed. He stepped into the middle of the small room and tensed himself to strike.
Jensen’s eyes focused on the teenager, for moment at least. As soon as he noticed, the light from his flashlight dimmed to uselessness. He pulled his pistol, and Ethan was on him, forcing it away. The gun went off in the small chamber, Jensen staggered because of the loud sound, Ethan could taste the blood from his burst eardrums.
He slammed Jensen’s wrist against a pipe with such violence his hand snapped backwards with a sickening crack. Jensen’s free hand had found Ethan’s throat and he struggled against him, attempting to strangle him one handed. Ethan was forced back against the wall, but Jensen wasn’t able to put enough pressure on his throat to kill him, but Ethan couldn’t break free.
Angrily, Ethan grabbed onto the man’s uniform and tore at it. The material wasn’t interesting in giving without a fight, forcing Jensen closer in. With better leverage, Ethan tore open the front of the uniform, and then tore the body armor off of one side.
Jensen cursed and stumbled as the kevlar tore into him before it broke apart. WIth a burst of strength, Ethan leapt forward, releasing his wings like they were springs and bounced forward into Jensen’s unprotected chest.
“Why didn’t you call me?” Rob demanded.
Helena crossed her arms, “Because I had a handle on it. Everything is taken care of.”
“It’s not until he’s back. Is he back?” he asked.
Her mouth quirked, “Not yet. But he will be soon. Legal channels, metaphysical channels, Varick Jaeger isn’t going to know what hit him.”
“What’s the plan then?”
Helena paced a few steps, “We walk into his compound and Matt authorizes the release of Ethan. We’ll be attended by a couple LAPD officers and a couple servants of Matt’s father. Both will be Ethan’s protection detail from now on.”
Rob looked over at the four men greeting each other. Two wore LAPD uniforms, two were very generic Nordic looking fellows. Eric was staring at them fascinated.
Rob hit him on his shoulder, “Those what I think they are?”
Eric nodded, “Einharjar given a physical form. They’re so old,” he gestured to the one on the left, “that one doesn’t even speak English. The other speaks a little.”
“GæiRulfR has living family,” Matt interjected, “He learned English so he can keep track of what they’re doing. Solleiv doesn’t.”
“Dissociative? No family, he can’t make a better form?” Eric asked. Solleiv looked like a basic mold of a person, but there were no distinct features.
Matt shrugged, “GæiRulfR says he just made his body look like his descendant. Also said that this is an improvement for Solleiv.”
“How did they choose the cops?” Rob asked.
“Both are former active military,” said a voice coming up behind them, “Both Officer Haynes and Cavazos are reservists with previous full-time military experience.”
“Dad,” Rob said turning, “What are you doing here?”
“Making this legal,” the elder Reinhardt said, “we are setting precedent tonight. Just pray Congress doesn’t get it’s panties in a bunch about the Executive Order.”
“Executive Order?” Eric asked.
“This is a one-shot agreement with a foreign country. California couldn’t authorize it.” Thomas replied.
Rob nodded, “So that’s why we have cops who are secretly soldiers. They getting full paid for this?”
“That’s the plan. staying in LAPD uniform though, at least for now. Don’t want to cause panic with a couple armed soldiers standing guard over a kid.” Thomas grinned, “Might be a little suspicious.”
“Also soldiers so they get along with the einharjar,” Matt interjected, as he checked his phone, “At least that’s the idea.”
A stern faced woman walked over, “Thomas, we’re ready. The protection details have met each other, we have an escort to take us to the compound and a SWAT team in position if they don’t cooperate.”
Thomas looked to Matt, who nodded, “Varick’s home.”
The group quickly headed towards the entrance. Helena arch a brow when Rob followed the group.
“You think you’re coming with us?”
“I’d really like to see you try to stop me.” he replied.
Thomas reached out for him, “I think I can…” he trailed off as Rob vanished, only to reappear on Helena’s other side.
“As I said. Also, I can probably beat you there if I need to.” Rob continued.
His father looked at him suspiciously, “You didn’t teleport. Teleportation is impossible.”
Rob shrugged, “I invoke my Fifth Amendment rights.”
Eric punched him in the back, successfully hitting flesh, “What did I tell you about breaking the laws of physics?”
Ms. Dawn glowered, “I don’t see why you think you need to be there. This situation will be tense as it is without more children present.”
“I don’t see why a powerless old hag needs to be there, but we’re bring you, aren’t we?” Rob countered.
“Stop it, Rob. She’s here because the Council ordered it.” Helena said, irritation plain in her voice, “Not because either of us want her here.”
The group climbed into two separate cars to for all of them to fit. The police officers rode with the District Attorney and Thomas, while the einharjar rode with Helena and Matt.
Matt was receiving texts the entire time. Unhappy and nervous he called up to the driver, “My valet is going to open my door when we arrive. He thinks it will encourage the idea that I’m in charge and the rest of you are present as my guests.”
The driver radioed to the other cars as Helena looked at him curiously, “How will he know which door is yours? Both SUVs are identical.”
“Jake always knows.” Matt replied.
She glanced at Rob who sat next to the teenager, but he was staring at the young man depressed.
He placed a hand on Matt’s arm, “It’s be okay. It will all work out.”
“Easy for you to say.” Matt replied, “Your not about to humiliate your de facto father in front of everyone he knows and cares about.”
“We’re here,” The driver said as they came to a halt at the main gate.
The window slid down and a guard appeared, “State your business.”
“They’re with me,” Matt said, rolling down his own window, “We’re here to see Lord Varick. We’re expected.”
The guard’s expression was puzzled as he glanced from Matt to the other cars, including two police cruisers around them.
“I’ll need his Lordship’s permission…” he trailed off.
“You have my permission and that’s enough. Open the damn gate.” Matt countered, his voice breaking slightly as he tried to be forceful.
“I’m not sure-”
“Open it or die where you stand faithless bastard.” Matt’s voice was finally setting into a demanding tone that conveyed the emotion he seemed to be looking for. At the word ‘die’ both of the einharjar shifted slightly as if they’d somehow leap from their seats to fulfill his threat, though neither was particularly in the good position to do so.
The threat was enough though, the guard paled, and began stepping back, bowing low. He gestured and the gate slid open.
As Matt said, the moment the vehicle stopped Jacob opened his door and assisted him out with a flourish.
“Your Lordship, we are thankful for your return. I hope your endeavors have been successful.” He said smiling as the rest of the group piled out of the cars. The officers were particularly nervous with the number of armed men in the area.
The men seemed to notice and kept their hands far from weapons. It helped that an unusual number of residents had decided to show Matt respect.
“Does Jaeger know we’re here?” the DA asked coming over.
Jacob nodded, “He does, madam. I told him very publically. Still, i expect…” he glanced at the entrance, “ah, yes, Mr. Nelson.”
Mr. Nelson was a large black man. Not large as in fat, large as in tall and built. He was wearing a suit that has to have been carefully tailored to make room for his bulk. He looked good in it.
He smiled widely as he approached, “Excuse me, but I think there’s been some sort of mistake here.” he glanced at Matt.
The DA looked him over, “You don’t appear to be Mr. Jaeger, so our business isn’t with you.”
“Mr. Jaeger is occupied at the moment. I can help you with whatever you need.” Mr. Nelson replied.
“No, you can’t,” Matt said, tapping Jacob on the shoulder, “Please show everyone inside.”
He looked alarmed, “What, no. You can’t just let them inside-” he grabbed hold of Matt as he passed, “What the hell are you playing at.”
“It’s my house, I can invite people in if I wish.” Matt countered.
“Your uncle is going to sent them right back out.”
“Oh, he can try,” The DA said pulling out a sheet of paper, “We have a warrant, just in case.”
He took the sheet and read it over, “There’s no one named ‘Ethan Brand’ here.”
“Oh, we are well aware of that,” she continued, “But we think there might be something indicating where he is somewhere in this building.”
Matt smirked, “This goes over your head, Darius. You don’t want to get in the way.”
Darius frowned at him, “What did you do, Alaric?”
“I’m just the messenger. We are all. The message is for Varick.”
Darius looked over the crowd of people and back at Matt, “He’s not going to be happy with this.”
“Oh no, he isn’t. But he should have thought of that before he took my friend.” Matt replied, “Now tell him to meet us in the temple.”
Darius left for Varick’s study as they entered while Jacob led them to the temple.
It was a feast hall which a raised seat at one end of the hall. Matt beelined to the chair and sat down. Rob noted how heavily he was sweating.
“So,” he said conversationally, “Attempting to recreate Valhalla?”
Matt nodded, “That was the idea.”
Rob turned to the einharjar who had took up positions on either side, “How’d they do?”
GæiRulfR spared the room a glance, “Not much like Valhalla, but reminds me somewhat of home.”
Matt shrugged, “I told him the electricity ruins the vibe.”
Several people had already been in the temple when the group entered, but they were told to stay by Jacob and a few other servants. The strange contingent seemed to be drawing more and more people to the room. By the time Varick got there. every table had at least a few people sitting at it.
Varick didn’t pay any attention to them, “What in Hel are you doing?” he demanded storming up the center aisle.
“Sending a message, Uncle.” Matt replied, “I knew you wouldn’t let Ethan go just because I asked, so I had you overruled.”
Varick slid to a stop as the einharjar stepped forward to hinder him, “You’re speaking nonsense. Who ‘overrules’ me?”
“Baldr himself.” Matt answered, “I asked the Council of Gatekeepers to contact him with the matter as it’s also close to them. He acknowledges their right to investigate and attempt to save the mortal known as Ethan Brand from his possession. He also states that it is not our way to imprison and torture demons – we kill them when we come across them.
“That said, he is willing to help the Gatekeeper educate themselves on possession. He’s offered two of his followers as protection for Ethan and against him, if he loses control of his inner demon.” Matt indicated GæiRulfR and Solleiv.
Varick looked back and forth between them, “Impossible.”
“It’s not,” The DA interjected, “I’m Dolores Edgerton, District Attorney for the City of Los Angeles. The City, the State, and the Country have agreed to honor Lord Baldr’s and Council of Gatekeeper’s request. You will turn over Ethan Brand to their custody and I’ll consider not charging you with kidnapping and wrongful imprisonment.”
Varick’s jaw set, “And if I don’t?”
“They tear down this compound, brick by brick looking for him.” Matt answered.
An overweight, balding man had slowly made his way up to the front of the room and handed a piece of paper to Edgerton, “This is the address, but they’re in lockdown.”
Varick turned to the man with a murderous rage, but the man seemed quite comfortable with his decision.
“You know me Varick, I bow to the highest authority in the room and right now that’s Baldr, by envoy at least. I mean, he died and came back. That’s something beyond my imagining.” he glanced at the einharjar, “guess that means Ragnarok already happened. How was it?”
GæiRulfR’s eyes flickered off of Varick for a moment, “Anti-climatic.”
Matt was more interested in Ethan, “Jim, why is it locked down?”
Jim just smiled, “I’m an accountant. I barely know where the place is.”
He glanced back at Varick who was slowly getting himself under control, He nodded to Darius would pulled out a tablet and approached DA Edgerton.
“According to the doctor evaluating Mr. Brand, he woke up and didn’t react to additional sedative until he seemed to have what has been described as a possession related experience. They locked down the facility as it lost power, but Ethan escaped the room he was in. They report several casualties. They think he summoned some demons. Anyone left alone for more than a minute ends up dead.”
Edgerton looked at him dumbfounded as she read over the report.
“You sedated a possessed kid? Even I know not to do that.” she snorted turning to Helena, “How should we proceed?”
Her expression was grim, “Dawn and I will have to lead the way. Has the SWAT team dealt with many supernatural threats?”
“About two dozen according to the Chief.” Edgerton said, “And they talk to other teams about what they deal with.”
Solleiv and GæiRulfR had been exchanging quiet conversation, assumably, GæiRulfR was translating. Now he interjected, “Demons like this cannot summon too many or too powerful of their kind. As long as the men are prepared they should have no problem.”
“How should they prepare?” Edgerton asked.
“Light,” Rob said quietly, “Sunlight is best, and you’d call me a heretic if I explained why, but light reveals them and weakens them. They’ll break light, reduce it, make it so you can’t even see them with nightvision. Produce a light they cannot put out.”