Blood in Siberia
Chapter 31: Long Lost Siberian
I hated guns.
As a Texan, to even think such a thing was sacrilegious. My feelings on the matter didn’t stop me from stuffing the Brownings and Jericho into my pockets though. I didn’t like the idea of walking around armed, but I liked the idea of walking around unarmed in enemy territory even less. Now that I had my hands on these babies, I wasn’t going to be letting go of them easily.
I opened the door to find a werewolf standing at attention. Not missing a beat, he turned sharply on his heel and started walking. Familiar with the routine, I followed. We made our way in silence to the throne room, where he left me with a gesture to enter and a bow. His eyes trailed over my droopy pockets, but he didn’t say a word.
All of the dining tables were gone except for three. One was placed in the furthest corner. It had several pots sitting on hotplates, each one filled to the brim with food. The smell was heavenly. I smiled as I imagined myself floating to the table on the waves of the aroma just like in the cartoons. The second table was placed dead center in the room and was covered with maps, yellowed parchments, manuscripts, and other things I couldn’t identify. This one was surrounded by the Prince, Otto, Yelena, Sedici and G. The third table was in front of the balcony, where an infant-sized body wrapped in white linen rested on a velvet blue pillow. Noin was kneeling next to the table, staring at the bundle as if it would vanish if she didn’t.
Across from the table with the maps was Trowa. He was leaning against the wall with his eyes closed, ankles and arms crossed, and back slouched. He looked as if he were asleep standing up, but I knew better. Heero, disturbingly, was no where to be found. I knew that he was in an ‘undisclosed location.’
It was after I assessed the situation that I wrinkled my nose. The atmosphere had somehow taken a severe nosedive. Before our fight with Oburi, the Siberians and I had a peculiar balance of hostility and reluctant affection. Now, there was an emotion in the air that was so intense it tasted foul. I knew exactly who it was coming from: Noin. I expected her to emote anger and some self-hatred; after all, her child had been taken from her and killed. Any mother would have blamed herself, but I didn’t sense that from her at all. Instead, I got another sensation: jealousy. To my surprise, that jealousy was directed towards the infant.
“Are you going to stand there all day?”
I turned to Otto. There was humor in his voice, but he meant for me to answer the question.
“I don’t know,” I said in all seriousness. “Did something happen? It feels...” and here I waved a hand vaguely in the air, “tense.”
Everyone seemed to sigh within a second of each other. “Nothing has happened since our last adventure.” Otto gestured to the table of food. “You need to eat. We can hear your hunger.”
As nonchalantly as I could I crossed the threshold, keeping Noin in my peripheral vision. I didn’t know what it was, but that feeling of jealously put a really, really bad taste in my mouth. I felt my senses hammering at me to keep her at arm’s length, and that was what I was going to do. Trowa cracked his eyes open as I passed him, and I tried to tell him with my eyes that we needed to talk. He flicked his fingers at me in understanding.
Collecting my plate, I slid down the wall until I hit the floor. Crossing my legs, I ate quietly as I watched the group at the table through my bangs. Everyone was silent. Conversation was taking place, but it was with eyes and hands. Paper crackled as maps were pulled in or pushed away, as fingers tapped or pointed. There were sighs of frustration and exhaustion, lips mashed together in unhappiness, fists clenched in anger, and eyes narrowed in concentration or thought. Trowa and I watched them for a long time in an attempt to understand what they were saying.
The food, the warmth, and the quiet was what finally did it. Drowsy and bored, I slid into that place where I wasn’t asleep or awake. I was in a trance, and in that trance I was able to see what I needed to see...
Oburi was running.
I was so engrossed that I sensed things in this vision I had never sensed in visions before. I could feel his heart pounding against his ribcage. I could feel the pain of his shortness of breath, how his lungs fought to suck in and squeeze out air. I could feel the burn of the muscles in his arms and legs as he ran for his life. The swelling of his tongue and fingers from the pooling of blood made my tongue and fingers tingle in sympathy. A pain spiked in my head from the way his mind screamed in fury. His hatred of me was so potent that for the few seconds I got lost in it, I hated myself. When I ripped free from that emotion I felt as if a piece of me had been left behind, like skin from a skinned knee.
“He’s running through a forest,” I said quietly. I could sense everyone in the room freeze at my words. “He’s exhausted,” I continued, feeling the sting of the branches as they slapped against his face and hands. He was unable to spare the energy to protect himself from them, so he tried to use the air to clear a path. Unfortunately it backfired, throwing him backwards several feet. He landed hard, knocking the little bit of air he had out of him. I retreated further from his mind when I felt my lungs constrict. “His powers are spiraling out of control. The magicks are overpowering him.” I paused. “How do you say ‘where are you going?’ ”
“Куда ты идешь,” Otto answered promptly.
/ Куда ты идешь? / I asked gently, mentally soothing Oburi. I flinched at every phantom touch. His mind was so fried from his magicks that I was starting to doubt our course of action. In my humble, nonprofessional opinion, Oburi was fast becoming bat-shit insane.
“That is perfect, is it not?” Sedici asked in response to my previous statement. “If his magic is weak, we will be able to crush him!”
“No,” I said, fully retreating from the wizard’s mind. Oburi was going to rest for the time being. I slowly stood, sighing as I faced the Prince. I didn’t have good news. “His powers look...” I waved my hand vaguely again, “tangled, for lack of a better word.” I shrugged. “I don’t think it’s possible for him to use the magicks separately anymore.” I started walking towards the second table. “When he uses his magic he is going to be sending out elements of Air and Earth, whether he means to or not.” I paused again. “I need paper and a pen.”
“Then we have won,” Otto said. “He is a danger to himself when he uses his magic.” He gave me a funny look, but turned a map over and pushed it towards me. G handed me some kind of pen-quill thing that looked hundreds of years old. I guess it was his pen from when he was a student at Hogwarts. Or maybe Durmstrang? Yeah, he totally went to Durmstrang.
“Yes, he is a danger to himself,” I answered, drawing the symbols I saw in Oburi’s head, “but he is a greater danger to us. His mind will be toast, but his body will be able to fulfill whatever he wishes. He’ll be trying to kill us after all, not himself.” I turned the page around. “What does this mean?”
The Siberians took one peek at what I wrote before going ballistic. The Prince started shouting in his language, which caused Sedici to charge off and out of the throne room like he was on fire. Yelena frantically started scooping up all the papers on the tables. G ran out to the balcony and started summoning ghouls and zombies like it was going out of style. I didn’t know what the hell Otto was doing, but it involved a lot of barking and pointing. Noin continued to sit there and stare at the bundle, either ignoring or oblivious to the chaos going on around her.
Trowa walked up to the table and turned the paper around. His eyes widened before he squeezed them shut. His reaction wasn’t anywhere near the havoc the Siberians were creating, but in Trowa-ese that was on par with jumping up and down, screaming in terror. “Trowa, what is it?”
He sighed, then ran a hand down his face. “He is going to the Blood Club,” he said finally. “It is in Luxembourg.”
“The Blood Club?” I snorted. By now I knew better than to assume that the name had anything to do with its purpose. “What is at the Blood Club that he is killing himself to get there?”
“The Unseelie Court.”
It never occurred to me that the Unseelie (or Seelie) Court could possibly be real. I allowed myself to be blown away for a heartbeat before getting to the heart of the matter. “And if Oburi makes it to the Unseelie Court?”
Trowa stared hard at me. “He must not make it.” In a dramatic fashion, he turned away from me and went to the Prince. When I heard him ask how he ‘could be of assistance,’ my heart stopped. If Trowa, Wufei’s right hand man, was willing to not only make nice but volunteer to help the enemy, then something truly bad would happen if Oburi reached Luxembourg. Or the Blood Club. Or the Unseelie Court.
Well, hell. Judging by Trowa’s actions, the enemy of my enemy was my BFF. With a mental shrug, I started for Otto to find out what I could do to help. I didn’t make it more than three steps before I was tackled to the ground. I barely got my hands up in time to keep my face from smacking onto the floor. I cried out in pain, the sound muffled in the clothing from the body on top of me. My world had turned black as the clothing also covered my head.
“INCOM--!” Noin tried to scream, but her voice was cut off by the loudest explosion I had ever heard in my entire life. The floor trembled from the impact, and I could hear what sounded like huge chucks of rocks crashing into the ground. More explosions happened in quick succession, and I was able to figure out that someone was shooting something at us. Bombs, missiles, torpedoes, I didn’t know. All were probable in my mind right then.
The body on top of mine suddenly moved. The sudden flood of light blinded me, causing me to try and bury my face in my arms. Two hands grabbed my arm and tried to pull me up. I resisted. Cracking open my eyes, the first thing I saw was the map with the words I’d written on the back.
I didn’t understand why, but for some reason I grabbed the map and held it to my chest. There was a harder tug on my arm, and this time it was successful. When I was on my feet I saw that it was G. I glanced quickly at the destruction. The wall was no longer whole, but knocked partially down. Rubble was everywhere. I was afraid to look deeper, in case I saw blood pools from crushed bodies. The tables and dais were completely destroyed, the tables themselves blown to splinters that had become projectiles. G had several dozen of those splinters in his back, looking like an animated pin cushion.
Oh my god. G was the one that tackled me. I’d be a dead pin cushion if it weren’t for him.
“Come on!” G screamed over another impact. Hand around my wrist, he pulled me towards the huge hole in the wall.
“We can’t go that way! We’ll be hit! They’re shooting zeppelins!”
I felt G roll his eyes, but he didn’t comment on my exaggeration. “You can not stay here! We can not protect you in this!”
Well, that settled that.
G yanked me hard and threw me against the wall, covering me with his body as another explosion threw debris in the air. Because of the noise I didn’t hear the werewolf bounding up to us until his muzzle was in my face. I didn’t even realize it was a werewolf at first due to the gas mask it had on. I would’ve laughed at the absurdity of it had Noin not appeared, shoving the baby into my arms. I tried to look at her in bewilderment, but she had changed over and jumped into the fray.
I jerked in surprise when hands grabbed my waist and pulled me onto the werewolf’s back. G was already on. He wrapped one arm tightly around my waist as the other gripped the werewolf’s fur. “I have you,” he breathed into my ear. “Just hold onto the Prince!”
I looked over my shoulder in confusion until I realized that he meant the baby, not Prince Milliardo. I looked down at the baby, face and body shrouded in white, and felt a fierce protectiveness swell within me. I could give him his life back. I wanted to. I couldn’t stand the injustice of this. Resolve firmed, I tightened my hold around him, leaned back into G and put my trust into him and the anonymous werewolf.
The werewolf took off like a shot, jumping through the hole in the wall and keeping close to the outer walls. More explosions and debris went off around us as we raced for safety. I curled myself over the baby prince to shield him. G curled his body over me to shield both of us from the elements, his hold not faltering one bit. His broad shoulders and strong arms made me feel as if I was being protected by Wufei.
Speaking of which... A familiar hawk appeared in my peripheral vision, and I was shocked to figure out who was apparently attacking us. The shock lasted only for a second before I had an idea. Adjusting the baby in my arms, I threw the map. Just as I thought, Quatre veered off course to chase it. G tightened his arm around me, not enough to hurt but it definitely got my attention.
“Duo, what did you just do?!”
I shook my head. “I was holding one of the maps! I threw it away! Why hold on to it?!”
He pressed his lips against my ear. “That is not the only reason! You are holding back!”
I jerked my head away and glared at him over my shoulder, before curling back over the precious cargo I held in my arms.
G didn’t say anything more. In silence, the four of us pounded down the path to dubious safety.
Time seemed to slow the further the werewolf took us. I knew in reality that time remained unchanged, but it didn’t feel that way to me. Despite how fast the werewolf was going, it seemed as if I could sense everything. I could feel the sting of the cold wind against my face, the power of the muscles flexing underneath me, the strength and broadness of G’s body enveloping me, the frailty of the form in my arms. I could see the details of the land, including the pebbles on the ground and the glistening of the snow. The booms of the explosions were becoming softer, the tread of my ride’s paws louder. The air screamed in pain as it was scalded by the weapons being shot and returned. I blinked, and the world seemed to slow even more. It was almost an out-of-body experience in the sense that although I couldn’t see myself, I had that feeling of detachment.
Time continued to be slow as the werewolf braked, the individual granules of snow and dirt glittering in the fading light. G seemed to float down, wind billowing his cloak around him as if he were an Air Wizard. As I saw his large hands reach for me, I swung my leg over and fell into them. He caught me by the hips, and I felt every inch of contact as my body slid against his. He lowered me gently, all the while staring into my eyes. Staring back, I saw my reflection. I looked like someone who had just run through a war zone. Lowering my gaze, my eyes fell on that precious child. I smiled to myself when I noted that the linen was still that pristine, crisp white. I didn’t know why that mattered to me, but it did.
As soon as my feet touched the ground, G wrapped his arm around my shoulder and hustled me forward. Looking around, I saw that we had been taken to his library. We had barely gotten to the door before it was yanked open by two of G’s zombies, Logan and Chris. G ushered me inside as he kicked the door shut. He tried to take the infant from me, but I only tightened my grip and turned away from him. I heard him heave a sigh before I felt the weight of a thick blanket drape over my shoulders. “Sit by the fire,” he commanded, guiding me over to the fireplace. He sat me down on the bear rug and kneeled at my side. The zombies watched in silence as G looked me over for injuries. “Does anything hurt?”
I shook my head. “No.”
He cupped my check in his hand. “Are you sure? Adrenaline can drown out pain.”
I nodded once. “I’m sure.”
He was silent a moment before he gestured towards the infant. “Do not hold onto him for too long. His body needs to be kept cool.”
I nodded once more.
He started to say something, changed his mind, then changed his mind again. With both hands cupping my face, he whispered, “Make yourself at home.”
I’ve said that phrase so often in my life to visiting friends. The way G said it though, was not the way my sister and I have ever said it to a guest. He wanted me to make his library my home, permanently. I was not in the frame of mind to avoid any implications, so I said nothing.
He sighed once again and then stood, turning to face his zombies. “Protect him,” he snarled, “or I will ensure that you live forever.” In that slow motion time seemed to be moving in, his cloak billowed out again as he turned. Then time sped up as he slammed the door behind him, almost impossibly fast. I sat there in a daze as the zombies moved around me, doing whatever it was they normally did when not supervised.
It was some time before I came to realize that Edward was squatting before me, staring. “You are in shock.”
I blinked. “I am?”
“Yes. I have seen it many times.” Without permission, Edward leaned forward and gently pried the child out of my arms. I wanted to let him, but I couldn’t seem to get my limbs to work. “It is all right,” he murmured to me several times before working the infant free. “The moon is rising. It is important to keep him exposed to its rays as much as possible.”
As he stepped away to do just that, Logan and Chris plopped down next to me. I stared into nothingness, lost. “The Shenlong attacked,” I said after a while.
“It seems that way, yes,” Edward answered as he squatted down in front of me. The Shenlong Packmaster wants his Primus, Alphagué and Special back. Noin has been returned and yet the Siberians have not released you or your Packmates, and I feel that the Prince has no intentions of letting you go. Unfortunately, it seems that the only way Chang will get his Packmembers back will be with force.”
“Or a bargaining chip,” I said, thinking of the baby prince.
“There is a traitor in our midst,” Logan said. My head whipped around to him. I was thrown by his quiet, scratchy voice. It was quite sexy, actually.
“Yes.” Edward picked up where Logan left off. “That attack was not overly aggressive for Chang, but he would have never attacked so fatally with you and his Alphagué in that location.” Edward shrugged. “A betrayal was expected. There was much unrest from Chang’s displacement of many creatures from their homes, and the lack of retribution due to the Prince’s... distraction, over the loss of Noin and his cub.”
I remembered the reindeer shape-shifters that were brutally shot down in front of me. Yes. Things like that happening would breed betrayals. I guessed the Siberians were not immune to that, just like the Shenlong weren’t. “Where’s Heero?”
Dead silence met my question. “It is better if you do not know,” Edward told me gravely.
I shook my head. “Where is Heero?”
“Someplace safe.” Here, he stuck his hand out to me as if we were going to shake hands. “I assure you.”
I wanted to kick my own ass from here to the United States. Why the hell have I never tried to read a zombie’s thoughts? They were undead, true, but it was obvious that they had their synapses firing. Shaking my head to myself at my own stupidity, I grabbed his hand.
“Concentrate,” Edward told me, and I shortly saw why.
A zombie’s mind was one of degradation. Many parts of their minds were dead, and had turned to mush because of it. The spark that gave them life only kept alive the parts that allowed G to control and summon them as he wished. The rest of their mind was allowed to degrade as would a regular, rotting corpse. The fact that they functioned so well was escaping me. Wow. The power of magic.
Going through Edward’s thoughts was like moving through a swamp. Sights and sounds were murky and difficult to decipher. I knew Edward brought the images I was looking for to the surface. It was just that I was having a hard time peeling off the dead layers, for lack of a better description. It took a lot of effort, but I was finally able to clear away what he was showing me. I was blown away by the image.
Heero was hidden deep within Lake Baikal, in the lake’s floor. The water could not reach him, but its weight kept him captive. He seemed to be in some sort of suspended animation. He appeared to be comfortable enough; his eyes were closed in rest, his face relaxed and free of pain. His hands rested on his abdomen, his body clothed in a beautiful velvet robe that was the signature blue of the Siberians. Surrounding him were jewels that were buried deep within the ground that were disturbed when he was placed there. They shone brightly, making their own light in the dark. Anyone able to see him would think he was a beautiful and well-love king laid to rest.
This didn’t add up.
“Why?” I murmured. Why treat the Special of the enemy in such a way?
Edward’s thoughts moved and I waved through the murkiness, more determined than ever to find out what the hell was going on. My impatience had me hurtle more memories into disarray, but the zombie did not seem to care. It took me a while to find what I was looking for, but when I did I tumbled out of Edward’s mind in shock. Clapping my hands over my mouth, I stared wide-eyed at nothing. Edward stood and walked away as if nothing unusual had happened. Chris and Logan left me too, and I was grateful for the time alone.
Prince Milliardo and Heero were lovers a long, long time ago. Thirteen hundred years ago, to be exact.
‘Mate,’ a voice had whispered in Edward’s mind.
Things began clicking into place and certain behaviors suddenly made sense, such as why the Prince asked for Heero as Collateral and why Heero was staying in his quarters after he was hurt. The familiarity in the way they argued. The way the Prince touched him. The lengths in which the Prince went in order to hide him. I remembered making a smart-ass comment on how good Heero looked wearing their signature blue.
That was because he belonged in it.