Lisa pushed Beryl to where Bookworm and Mr. Wright were waiting. Professor Vartanian secured the cell door, then followed. “Book,” Beryl said immediately, “Freya is convinced that their master would have done this, not Prometheus – like the professor suspected. She thinks Prometheus might become angry when the master ‘finds out’ what happened.”
“So they’re being manipulated,” commented Mr. Wright.
“Not surprising,” Professor Vartanian added sardonically.
“We’re going to need a lot of guards here.” Bookworm shook her head grimly, thinking of it.
“And complicate our security, like the hospital? No, thanks.” The professor smirked. “This is why we hired Mr. Wright – and he has been quite effective.”
Bookworm raised her eyebrows in surprise. “No offence to Mr. Wright, but that was for one small attack. I’m guessing their next one will be with everything they have.”
“Umm… Book.” Beryl looked at her soberly. “Everything they have is a massive ship with weapons. Maybe you should take the fight to them first. Do you have any way?”
“We… may.” Bookworm was reluctant to tell them about her alliance with Miss Solano. “I can’t say more, for now.”
Beryl and Professor Vartanian stayed on the third floor, discussing where to put a cot, so he could be near to Freya. Lisa took Bookworm and Mr. Wright down to the first floor, escorting them silently to the front door.
The two of them stepped outside. Bookworm turned to say something to Lisa, but was interrupted by a sudden exclamation of “Oh, ruddy hell!” from Mr. Wright.
“What?” Bookworm turned back, in time to see Mr. Wright dashing off toward the front gate. “Captain, this is the big one!” His voice drifted back to her.
Bookworm unslung her rifle and took off running. By the time she reached the gate, though, Mr. Wright had already disappeared. She looked left and right, wondering which way to go. Suddenly, she heard a distant voice shout, “Hyde!” Bookworm turned left, dashed a little way, and went north, past the hospital. Ahead, across the canal, she could see the lupine form of Mr. Wright, rifle drawn, approaching the corner of Violet Solano’s warehouse, where two other figures stood.
As she approached the others, Bookworm recognized one as Mr. Hyde, who was drawing his knife. Another form was a female shape; Bookworm guessed it might be the Miss Clawtooth Kasa had mentioned. Mr. Wright had stepped out into the open. From around the corner, she heard a voice snarl, “Come out, pure blood! I know you’re here!”
“Y’all want a damned pure blood so bad, then come get one!” growled Mr. Wright.
Bookworm poked her head around the corner, taking a quick look to assess the situation. A wolf – Lucas, she guessed – was at the forefront. Beyond him, in the trees, she saw the bear form of Prometheus looming, an admittedly impressive – and frightening – sight, as he loomed even larger than she’d expected. ‘What happened to the law of conservation of mass?’ she wondered briefly.
“We do not want you – we want the other,” replied Lucas to Mr. Wright.
“And I want to go home. Looks like we both ain’t gettin’ what we want.” Mr. Wright took aim and fired at the wolf. Lucas growled in pain and stumbled back, but was otherwise not much affected. He looked back suddenly. “‘Bout time that rat came out.” He suddenly sounded quite pleased.
“Goodness!” Bookworm’s attention was diverted by the exclamation that came from beyond Mr. Wright. She saw Dr. Sonnerstein standing there, his attention drawn by the beginning combat. “Snow!” Bookworm peeked around the corner again, and saw another wolf form. Snow had indeed made an appearance.
Withdrawing her head again, Bookworm dug into the bag she was carrying, fishing out a couple of the special bullets Tepic had given her earlier. Loading them into the rifle, she finally took a closer look at the other woman there. “You!” she exclaimed, realizing this was the same woman who had gone into Beryl’s room at the hospital.
Miss Clawtooth gave her an odd smile before turning her attention to Mr. Wright. “Will this do?” She held up a blunderbuss.
“Use it,” replied Mr. Wright shortly. Mr. Hyde, meantime, was still clutching his knife, but hanging back for now. Bookworm and Miss Clawtooth stepped out to join Mr. Wright in the open. Lucas was crouched, ready to attack; beyond him, Prometheus and Snow were had closed with each other and were wrestling claw-to-claw. Mr. Wright and Miss Clawtooth fired together at Lucas. At the same time, Bookworm aimed beyond, trying to hit Prometheus with one of the cavorite bullets.
Lucas, however, deliberately moved forward, and ended up taking hits from all three shots. He stumbled back, falling to one knee. “Go now, brother!” he yelled, struggling to get to his feet.
Dr. Sonnerstein, his face fixed in the direction of the other fight, suddenly shouted, “He took Snow!” Bookworm cursed as she craned her neck to look beyond Lucas, and saw that Prometheus was indeed running away, his mouth full of Snow’s form.
“The rat better be worth this,” snarled Lucas. “Here I come, brother.” He lunged for Mr. Wright.
At that moment, Mr. Hyde leaped forward, shouting, “Oh, no, you don’t!” He stabbed wildly at the wolf, again and again. Mr. Wright also flipped his rifle around, using the stock to give Lucas a very sharp blow to the head. Lucas dropped to the ground under the two attacks, and did not move.
((To be continued…))
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