Chapter 6 – Be Prepared

Kenzi wasn’t sure what she should do first, but she knew that the knife couldn’t stay in Dyson’s leg if he was going to start healing. She also knew that he wouldn’t be able to shift back until after he was at least halfway healed, so half an hour at least before she had some verbal company to help her with this whole mess. Reaching for the knife she kept her movements slow and her voice steady, making sure to talk her way through each step. While Dyson wouldn’t hurt her intentionally, he had explained that when a shifter was hurt, no matter which form he was in, their instincts ruled over them completely. If she went too fast, he would snap at her.

“Don’t worry Dyson, I’ll have this knife out in a jiffy. Then you can start with the wolverine healing thing and you’ll be back on your feet before you know it. Or paws. Which ever you know I don’t judge.” Gripping the handle tightly, she needed to pull it out in one swift motion and get out of range of his teeth at the same time. One. Two. Three!

One pull and it slid free like it wasn’t stuck inside of flesh and bone. That was one sharp knife. She was almost too slow, her hand a hair’s width away from getting chomped by D-man’s massive jaws. Not that she would have blamed him if she had gotten bit, that would have been completely her own fault for being too slow and she would have told him so. Not that it mattered now since she didn’t get bit at all, but still. 

Grabbing for a rag behind her that she’d soaked in hot water she pressed it hard against the wound. Dyson had gone through basic shifter first aid with her before they even left for the cabin. He knew she was fairly proficient in the human kind, but shifters were a bit more complicated. They didn’t get infections unless there was something mystical going on, and they didn’t tend to bleed to death unless there were multiple wounds inflicted over a prolonged period of time, but that didn’t mean that a stab wound could just go untreated. She needed to get the bleeding to stop so that the scent of his blood didn’t give anything away to the douche-rockets outside. 

Dyson had explained that while bleeding was inevitable when under attack, that shifters could tell the freshness of a wound and how healed it was by scent. Something about how blood had a varied smell. So she had to help him get the blood to stop flowing and the healing to start. They would be more likely to think twice about storming the castle if they thought Dyson was too close to getting back in the fight. 

With Dyson seen to, she moved on to step number two. Pushing her hair behind her ears so that the sound of it rubbing together didn’t distract her she focused on the sounds around her. Dyson had made her sit for days in silence and just listen to the sounds of the woods around the cabin, he said that in order to pick out a sound that didn’t belong first you had to know what did. Now that she was listening for something off about it all, she thanked him mentally for his foresight. She would have thanked him out loud but that would have defeated the purpose of the whole listening thing. Plus he had stressed that when under attack it was crucial to be sure to make as little noise as possible since while you listened for them there was always the chance that they would be listening for you. 

Keeping her breathing slow and shallow she closed her eyes and blocked out everything but what she needed to be listening to. She could hear the creek burbling along with no new obstructions and no boots or paws splashing around so they weren’t coming up from the east. That didn’t mean they weren’t already on this side of the creek already, but she doubted it. Dyson would have noticed them tromping along towards them and warned her. The rocks on the paths to the west were loose and tended to skitter and roll under your feet no matter how careful you were, she could hear the clip and click of them now and again, it could be animals but there were no packs of anything around them and it was far too many sounds to be a single anything. The path to the south was nothing but thick undergrowth and snappable twigs and there was nothing from there either, which only left the north path. The way to the north was the more civilized path according to Dyson, it had a small road coming up to it, a small graveled area for cars or any other vehicles to be parked. Normally there would be nothing to hear from there but Dyson had seen to that and scattered little surprises on the ground here and there, small pouches barely larger than a BB pellet that were fragile to the touch and popped easily when stepped on and if she listened close she could hear the puff and snap of them. They were coming from two directions!

Now that she knew where they were she just needed to make a plan of attack. Glancing over towards Dyson she found him slumped over, his tongue hanging out as he panted through the pain but his eyes were clear and knowing. He heard them too.

“Don’t worry Dyson, I’ll keep us safe until you’re back in the game. I have a plan.” So it was less of a plan and more of an idea, it still counted. 

Grabbing the knife she’d pulled out of Dyson’s leg she gripped it tight in her hand, it was only fair that she returned it to whoever lost it after all. Opening the window that faced the east she pulled her body through it as soundlessly as possible. If they were going to hold tight until the cavalry came she was going to have to make a few surprises for their guests to trip over, and fast. 

Lachlan was far from happy. Not only had his car been trashed thanks to some asinine bit of trickery with the road, but now he was forced to trek towards the cabin on foot. Normally that wouldn’t bother him, his species was known for their strength and speed, unfortunately the same could not be said for his companion. He would offer to carry him but while speed might not be genetically encoded in him, pride was. So that left them limping along at a snail’s pace. 

“Really Trick, you could have waited in the car, I’m perfectly capable of making it to the cabin on my own.” And at a faster pace.

“Nonsense, Dyson may serve you at the moment but his trust in you is young and Kenzi will be inclined to follow his lead at the moment no matter her own experiences with you of late. It will be safer if we both go.” That rousing speech would have been better received if not for the huffs and puffs between each word. 

Though he could have a point. Since his appointment to leader of the Light he had been less than forthcoming with the people around him. His reputation at the moment was that of a man with a bit of a machiavellian streak. No trust to be had on either side. Now that the Garuda was gone he had been working to correct that, but it was a slow and tricky process. Those who knew his former plans on a more intimate level, his comrades in arms against the Garuda and his minions, were slower to trust him than most. Though they all, save for the succubus, seemed to understand not only what he had done but why he had done it. Forgiveness was hard to come by in this day and age. 

Taking a deep breath he turned his mind back to the task at hand, it would do no good to be caught unawares with enemies afoot. They had cut off access from the roads, only someone determined to get to Dyson and Kenzi would move beyond their little trap at the roads. They had both seen signs of movement in the trees that didn’t quite match the local wildlife and the tickle at the back of his neck told him they were being followed. Thinking on other things at this point could have deadly consequences. 

The question now was, what to do about it all. While he was the Ash and they were still technically within the bounds of his territory that didn’t mean he would face no consequences if they were to simply kill the intruders. They all would, though Kenzi had the most to lose by the attention those actions would bring to bear. No, they needed to be smart about this and do something that walked the razors edge of acceptable while never truly tipping over into the abyss of questionable.

Judging by the pace their tag along had set they wouldn’t have very long to decide. Whoever he was he was getting ready to pounce. 

Hale wasn’t sure what to think when one of the servants had announced that he had a visitor from someone from the Dark. While it was true that he had become acquainted with a few Fae who met that description these days it hadn’t been the kind of association that led to home visits. Especially not at his ancestral home where he had been stuck for the past week to observe the rituals of old.

Walking into the parlor to find Vex waiting for him was a surprise, and one he would pay dearly to never experience again. Though a small dark part of his brain did kind of want to see what would happen if his father or his sister walked in and had to be civil to the man. Hospitality rules and all. It would be amazing!

“What are you doing here Vex?” While Vex was known for being outrageous he wouldn’t voluntarily walk into a Light sanctum without a damn good reason. Even he wasn’t that bold, especially without some hefty backup that seemed to be missing here.

“Don’t get your tighty whities in a twist, this ain’t a social call.”

“I’m so relieved to hear that.” Normally if someone had done this he would be demanding answers by now, but he’d been around the block with Vex a few times now and he knew the drill. He had to let the man get his quips and jabs out of the way first, giving just enough back for him to feel heard without feeling rushed. Only then would he give up the goods.

“Yeah, that makes two of us. Look I don’t know how in the know you are at the mo, but things are starting to rumble and roll again. Now, I could take this to one of your better positioned brethren but they’re all busy so I thought of you, being odd man out and all. You got nothing going on so tag mate you’re it.”

“It for what?” Was this some kind of game? He wouldn’t put it past the other man, he was known for his need for constant stimulation and entertainment, and if there was nothing going on he would create trouble just to be near the chaos. 

“Well you see the Ash lent me the good doc but she’s started scheming with the pin-up she’s so ga-ga over and that just ain’t on now is it. I tried to report in on it like a good little boy but it looks like good old Lachlan is away from his desk at the moment and not taking calls from yours truly. That leaves you holding the bag here mate. I’m willing to give up all the goodies I got on the good doc and her super secret plans, but in return I want some guarantees.” His tone was all business but the effect was ruined by his lazy sprawl. He was starting to think that all that blood letting Vex tended to indulge in was just him getting people to take him seriously.

“Guarantees?” Why would Vex come to him looking for a deal? While he came from a prominent family he was himself a political nobody. He had never tried to reach the lofty heights his birth gave him access to and he was more than happy keeping it that way. Once you started messing with the big boys in the upper echelons they started messing with you. No thank you.

“Damn straight! I’m chancing quite the tongue lashing coming to you lot with this over my own boss, but I’m willing to take the hit in support of better respect and such from both sides, but what I ain’t willing to do is lose my leverage. This info puts the doc back square on the naughty list and in all likely-ness if the Ash has any balls left it puts her square in a cell at best. That means I lose my loaner doc, and I want something equally scrumptious in return for my cooperativeness here. You understand?”

“Yeah Vex, I understand. What do you want?” He would need to hear the request before he could make any kind of decision. If Bo really was rocking the boat again so soon after her last little tantrum they needed to know about it so they or really in this case he could mitigate some of the damage before she brought the wrong kind of heat down on all of them. He was pretty sure Vex was in agreement on that with him, or he wouldn’t be here. 

“Well, ever since I overheard the two of them I’ve given it a good think and I know just what I want santa.” Oh no. That look could mean nothing but trouble.

Hale didn’t know what to do, he had shown Vex out and was now left alone with his thoughts. He was stuck between a rock and a hard place with not only no clear way out but no one to ask for advice either. Bo was going off the rails and Dyson was off in the woods helping Kenzi, Trick wasn’t answering his phone for anyone, and the Ash was in the wind. Not that anyone had told him that in so many words, it was more what they weren’t saying when he called for a word. The man in charge seemed to be busy but no one ever said what he was busy with, instead of saying he was in a meeting all anyone would say was that he was away from his desk at the moment and if he left a message they would pass it along when they saw him next. Translation, Lachlan was gone and no one knew where or for how long.

He wasn’t equipped to deal with Bo, at least not personally. At least as a siren he was immune to her touch and couldn’t be persuaded as easily as others could so he had that going for him, but this had too many consequences attached for him to run off half informed playing hero. He only had Vex’s word for it that things were moving and shaking, and while he did believe that Bo was hatching some kind of scheme with Lauren without help or guidance from either a higher up or someone in the know he didn’t know for sure if it was a scheme that he needed to interfere with. Both Lachlan and Trick were capable of setting a trap for the honeypot without telling anyone and if he walked into it all unknowing like it could mean big trouble not only for him but for his family as a whole.

The Santiago Clan wasn’t only well off because of how old they were, though the age thing did help considerably. No they were well respected because they were a bit more politically savvy than some of their counterparts. No matter the conflict they always seemed to land on the winning side, before the final curtain call at least. Then again he didn’t think any of his ancestors had ever had to deal with someone like Bo before or a Blood King in disguise. He needed help, and unfortunately there was only one place he could go to get it.

“Father, if you have a moment I could use your council on a matter of some importance.” God, he hated the pompous nature of his every interaction with his family. He still didn’t understand why they always seemed to need ten words whenever one would work just as well. His grandmother had once told him that the shortening of conversations was a sign of low breeding and a lack of formal education. Personally he saw it as an understanding that there never seemed to be enough hours in the day anymore to complete everything, so brevity was becoming the norm. 

“Of course my son, what troubles you?”

Kenzi stepped back and admired her handy work. The entire cabin was now as defended as she could make it. Taking a deep breath she scented the air for blood and could barely smell any at all, that was good it meant that Dyson was nearly mended now. Or at least enough for him to switch back and give her a hand if only mentally. The dude was like a billion years old and a soldier from way back, if anyone could help her with tactics it would  be him.

She had just stepped towards the window she originally crawled out of when she heard the twig snap behind her. Gripping the knife in her hand tightly hoping that her sweating palms wouldn’t betray her, she let out a silent snarl. No one would hurt Dyson while she was around to defend him. Taking a step towards the tree line she took a deep breath scenting the air for anything not found in nature and zeroed in on her target. There were two of them behind the tree to her left. 

Lunging forward before her inner coward could rear its head she swung with all her might. It was time to fight.

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