Matt shifted from where he was sitting in Cpt. Haynes’ room. The Captain was trying again to get out of bed.
“Doctor said you aren’t ready yet.” He said, with little conviction. He wasn’t about to stop him from leaving, but he felt like he had to make a verbal attempt at least.
“Eh, what does he know?” Haynes asked, stretching his arms back and forth a few times. There was scarring, but the injuries weren’t as bad as they could have been. Probably because Ethan had been disabling him, not trying to kill him. He’d wanted to eat him alive.
He grimaced as he swung his leg over the side of the bed.
“You know,” Matt commented, “If it’s not healed correctly, your pelvis might just fall apart.”
Haynes snorted, “Yeah, bet you got that one from your father.”
“Never actually met my father and Varick isn’t the type to talk to children.” he replied, turning a page on his Kindle.
Haynes stood up gingerly. Once he was confident nothing was going to snap apart, he began carefully stretching, “Really? Sounded like a Dad joke.”
“You should at least stay in bed until we have a location.” Matt said.
“Yeah, which is when they’ll have enough people here to prevent me from going.” Haynes grunted.
Matt nodded, “Yup, particularly once your sister gets the waterworks going. She almost got to me. Bunch of bureaucrats won’t stand a chance.”
Haynes narrowed on him, “Yeah, right.”
“I know what I saw.” Haynes said, carefully walking around the room.
Matt looked up confused, “What?”
At that moment Jacob entered the room, “Sir, Mr. Reinhardt has arrived. He believes Ethan is heading Downtown.”
“Why there?” Matt asked.
“Convergence of ley lines, I’d guess,” Haynes said, “but last I checked that convergence is massive and covers the entire area. It barely narrows it down.”
Jacob looked at him with concern, “Should you be up?”
“Sure. I feel great.” Haynes replied, “They know I’m going too, right?”
Jacob was frowning deeply, looking several years older than his actual age, “Yes, sir, they do, though Mr. Reinhardt says its unnecessary.”
“Duly noted and ignored.” he said checking his bag a top the dresser, tossing it over his shoulder, “Lets head out.”
They’d found a large SUV somewhere, so large Haynes wouldn’t have believed they still made them, but his glimpse of the front, showed all the controls and electronics to be completely modern.
Haynes, Matt, Eric, Rob, Helena, and Cavazos were in the back with Jacob driving, making it seem like this might have been an Aesir vehicle.
“Isn’t there a New Years thing in Downtown?” Helena asked.
Cavazos nodded, “Yeah at Grand Park. He can’t do this there though. Security’s high, enough bullets and he’s dead. And I assume immortals don’t like to take that kind of risk.”
“No,” Rob agreed, “But some of us are going there anyway.”
“Why?” Eric asked suspiciously.
“There is definitely a ley line there. I felt it when we did our walk through a few weeks back. We can twist the power in the lines to be incompatible with what the Demon needs to open the Gate.”
“Like you did at our house.” Eric nodded, “Well who’s to do this? I definitely can’t. I’m not using blood magic but necromancy isn’t exactly sunshine and puppies. Not to mention the number of people who have died in Downtown Los Angeles in the two hundred and fifty years since it’s founding.”
“You’re right,” Rob replied, “You aren’t the right person to do it. Matt is.”
Matt jolted so hard he almost bounced out of his seat, or would have if he hadn’t been belted in.
“Really? I’m not really that good—” he started, but Rob cut him off.
“You can take on Ethan while he’s possessed that implies a lot more talent than you realize. The demon’s avoided taking action when you’ve been near. Your gifts, whatever they may be in reality, are an anathema to it.
“You, Jacob, and Cavazos will go to Grand Park and find the ley line there.” Rob said
“Think you can get rid of me that easily?” Cavazos grunted, “He’s going to be far from danger. The kid can keep an eye on him,”
“Except he’s going to be interrupting the New Years celebration. Someone with authority needs to get him past security and stop anyone from disrupting the process.” Rob said, “I mean, he is a random thirteen year old. Contrary to what the media would have you believe, not everyone in L.A. worships him as a godling.”
Cavazos rolled his eyes, but sighed, “Guess you have a point.”
“Uh.” Matt said, “I still have no idea how to do this.”
“Just find one of the smaller lines,” Rob explained, “Find a smaller line and pour yourself into it. It will be heading towards the nexus. Follow the flow until you’re right on top of it. Don’t give too much at a time, you might hurt yourself.”
Helena placed her hand on his arm, “It doesn’t have to be fast or complete for this. Even a little bit will make it incredibly more difficult for him to pull off this Gate. Every bit you do gives us more time.”
The SUV pulled into a space, “We might as well stop here,” Jacob said, “There’s too much traffic ahead for me to get much closer and we don’t have the time for it.”
They piled out of the vehicle and into the streets full of people and music.
Eric grimaced, “I wish we could have gotten closer. This isn’t a good place to start the survey.”
Before anyone could respond, a shimmering light shot towards them freezing on a dime in front of Matt.
It glowed brighter, transforming and manifesting a tall, powerfully built woman. She immediately bowed to Matt, “Lord Alaric, Lady Helena, Sorcerer Robin, you came to the same conclusion we did.”
“Did you find him?” Matt asked, his voice clear with desperation, “is he close?”
“Yes, I found him not far from here, but I dare not engage.” She said.
Haynes pulled an M16 out of the back of the SUV, “Did you get a cross street?”
She looked at him blankly, glancing around she noticed the sign at the nearby intersection, “I… did not realize.”
Eric elbowed him, “I could have told you that.”
“It’s not far though.” She said, “Only eight streets up and two over. His ritual seems to be taking place in the entrance of a large building.”
“Excellent,” Rob said, “That’ll make it easier to corner him, if he has to be inside.” He turned to the Valkyrie, “Lord Alaric is going to the festivities in process nearby and is going to attempt to manipulate the Nexus to prevent the Demon’s ritual. Do you think this is a valid course of action?”
She seemed slightly taken aback from Rob asking her opinion on such matters, but she recovered quickly, “I’m not well acquainted with these sorceries, but it makes sense. And if all else fails the strength of those lines will allow a similar Gate to Asgard to be constructed,”
Rob grimaced, “I’d like to avoid that,”
“As you should,” she nodded, “I see much death along that path.”
Helena’s head jerked in the direction the Valkyrie had indicated “We need to go.”
Rob nodded glancing at Eric, who gestured down the sidewalk and inexplicably, people stepped out of the way, clearing a five foot wide path for them. The Valkyrie tilted her head, “Clever.”
Rob was already running down the corridor, revealing that the skinny kid was fairly athletic.
“What did you do to make the path?” Haynes asked Eric as they ran. Eric wasn’t athletic and seemed to be using his sorcery to keep himself up.
“I asked the Dead to make a hole. People can’t see them but they feel them and don’t like to cross them.” He answered, his mouth not moving enough to say that many words.
“I’m not feeling anything.” Haynes replied.
Eric grinned evilly, “They’re getting out of our way. I tend to swat them when they don’t.”
Haynes wasn’t sure how serious Eric was. It seemed strangely dismissive of what were dead human beings, as he understood it. Maybe there was something more to it that Eric understood being a necromancer. On the other hand, maybe he was just a terrible person.
After the five blocks only Haynes was still remotely fit, though he realized where all of the bullets had struck him earlier that day. Rob seemed to be having similar issues from his recent hospital stint. Eric and Helena just weren’t used to running any distance.
When they stopped, Eric leaned against the wall his skin taking on an unhealthy pallor. Helena dropped to a knee, her image becoming distorted, nauseating to look at.
Rob was glowing.
It was faint, but he was clearly glowing as he had back in the Aesir compound. They were pretty far from the festivities but there were still enough people that it was noticeable. Not only that but a police cruiser was coming by, saw the three suspicious teenagers and stopped.
Haynes pulled out his badge and approached the cruiser, halting a reasonable distance away, “I’m Officer Jared Haynes. I’m on special assignment. I’m escorting these three-”
Both officers stepped out of the cruiser and immediately pulled their guns, “Sir, is that an M16?” one of them asked.
“It’s a really special assignment.” he replied.
“Put down the weapon and walk over to us.” the officer ordered.
Haynes grimaced. He had to comply, otherwise, he’d probably get shot, “The rifle’s going to be in my hand for a second as I put it down.”
Helena looked back at the officers seeming to realize they were there, “We don’t have time for this. We are in the midst of a military operation. Interference will be met with force.”
“Ms. Oliveria, please.” Haynes said, but it was too late, one of the officers looked at her, panicked and shot. The bullet passed through her and hit the wall behind without touching her.
Before the officer could try again Haynes pulled out the M16 and pointed it at him, “Shoot at her again and it will be the last thing you do.” He tossed him his badge, “Run that and keep it safe, I’ll need it back.”
“Not so fast,” said the other officer, taking a step forward, but he was cut off by a wall of flame.
Rob cleared his throat, “Time to go.”
“Can you keep this up and confront him?” Haynes asked, shouldering the assault rifle.
Eric stepped out into the middle of the road they were about to turn down, “I can handle this.”
Haynes, Helena and Rob walked passed him and as they did a sheet of ice manifested, blocking the entire street, growing ever taller as they continued further down the road.
They were a block away from their target when the ice came to meet them. It raced over buildings, locking residents and anyone else safely inside. It covered the next intersection completely until nothing could be seen beyond them.
Ahead of them Ethan stood in the courtyard of an elegant building. Caught up in his ritual he seemed unaware of their presence.
Rob raced towards Ethan. The Demon was engrossed in their ritual but his concentration was faltering. He refocused on the real world, saw Rob racing towards him and focused his will against him.
Rob fell back, barely aware of the sonic boom that rocked the plaza, destroying the landscaping and breaking the windows not covered in ice. Behind him Haynes had braced himself reflexively as the explosion occurred. Helena simply hadn’t been present for the explosion.
“Ethan,” He called out, “I’m here. You’re going to be okay.”
Ethan glared back at him, “Ethan’s not here anymore.”
“We both know that’s not how it works,” Rob replied, walking calmly towards”Ethan’s still in there.”
“He’ll never be the same.”
“Doesn’t matter. He’s not yours. His father saw to that.”
Ethan grinned, “And I ate his heart for that.”
Rob returned it, “You really should have read Harry Potter.”
Ethan’s expression changed, turning inward, his force of will once again struck against Rob, but this time, it was dampened.
“What? Can’t control him? Can’t open your Gate?” Rob asked, not only a dozen feet away, “Maybe you shouldn’t have let the Gatekeeper get within sight of you.”
“You’re all fools.” Ethan said, “Willing to bring endless death and destruction on yourselves just to prevent my return.”
“Of course,” Rob said, “It’s this think we mortals do.”
A precise shot of energy struck where Rob had been standing but he’d moved, leaving a illusionary double of himself at the previous spot. A second bolt of energy flew towards the real him, but he deftly jumped out of the way.
A bang resounded from behind them and Ethan dropped to a knee, his leg a bloody mess. He looked up at Rob in confusion.
“Rob!? I can’t – I Don’t know what’s happening to me!” He said desperately.
Rob ran forward, “It’s fine, We can get him out.” he grabbed hold of Ethan with both arms and connected with the Nexus beneath them. At the same time Rob felt Ethan shove against his chest with supernatural strength.