This story is set in late November of 2017
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Foxx and Wolfe, Supernatural Detectives
The fight was not going well. Neither Jackie nor Jill had been hit directly either physically or by any of the magical attacks from their opponent. However, both the werewolf and the myobu had already been injured from the side effects of some of those attacks while The Mantis Queen was still untouched. Worse, though Jackie's injuries were already healed enough to have negligible impact Jill was being hampered by minor wounds she couldn't spare the time or magic to heal. Jackie snarled and tried again to close, to take the pressure off her partner, but The Mantis Queen's compound eyes gave her warning from all directions.
"Foxx and Wolfe - or should I say Jackie and Jill?" She laughed. "I know your secrets, your families. They shall be next. But you two... I have long looked forward to stealing your energies, then tasting the sweetness of your young flesh!"
* * *
"Hear my cry, hear my call..."
An arcane bolt made Brian duck and cry out in alarm.
"What are you doing?!" said Jeremy, worried that the boy was both exposed and moving away from him, but unable to back down from where he was holding the Underhills at bay. Brian ignored him, as he hurried for cover. He stopped behind a large tree and tried again.
"Hear my cry, hear my call..."
This time it was a wall of flame, sweeping towards him, which broke his cantrip. Brian desperately threw himself to the ground, pressing his head against the base of the trunk and putting his hands over his hair, crying out as the heat seared his back and legs, scorching his clothes.
"Brian!" yelled Jeremy. "Are you all right?"
The werewolf was caught almost flat-footed as an unusually large and muscular Underhill swatted him with a mace. He rolled with it, went down, then popped back to his feet, only slightly injured from a strike which would have shattered the ribs of a human or elf. However, the lucky hit encouraged his attackers, who swarmed around him. Brian lost sight of his guardian in the melee. And there were over a dozen Sidhe heading straight for him, looking like they meant business. Deadly business.
Jeremy, for once in his life, let go. The wolf rose in him, and he tore into his enemies, sickened by what he was doing but knowing he couldn't stop. Not if he wanted to live. Not if he wanted Brian to live.
Almost sobbing from fear and frustration, Brian turned to run... then turned back.
"Not this time," he whispered, fiercely. "Not this time!"
He cast a quick and dirty protection spell around himself, then stood and raised his hands, drawing power in, focusing it with all his will. The barrier wouldn't last long, but he wouldn't need long, succeed of fail.
"Hear my cry, hear my call!" he shouted. "Magic fry, blast them all!"
The light came first, a brilliant burst. The heat from it caused the leaves of the tree he stood beside to explode from the sap turning to steam, and scorched the bark. The Sidhe may have cried out; if so, their screams were brief. Brian's barrier held, but only because the effect was centered well away from him. Then it shattered as the wave of exploding air struck it and slapped him flat.
The echo of the boy's attack died away and all was left in silence.
* * *
"What the Hells was that?!" shrieked the creature, its greater height meaning it saw the flash where its opponents didn't, and was momentarily dazzled.
Jackie surged forward, taking advantage of the thing's distraction, closing to slash at its belly. The monster screamed, though more in rage than pain. Even its soft underside was too tough for the werewolf to do more than scrape it. The Mantis Queen raised both upper limbs, to smash the annoyance. Then the shockwave hit, staggering the monster. Jackie slashed again, doing more damage to its belly, dodging back as it tried to crush her with its mass.
Jill rallied herself enough to cast a powerful binding spell on the thing, a loose net of magical energy. The monster howled with rage, straining at the confinement. Jackie saw an opportunity, and ran on all fours up the impromptu ladder her partner had provided, getting on the behemoth's upper back. She reached around its neck with both hands and ripped. The monster screamed and frantically lurched as something much like blood sprayed out from its violated throat. Jackie was thrown off, but landed on her feet and hurried over to Jill.
"Not enough," panted the myobu, as Jackie approached. "It's healing itself."
She took a deep breath and did likewise, recovering physical ability at the cost of some of her magical reserves. Then she took on an air of intense determination.
"Better stand back."
Jackie did, but not very far. Her friend might need help.
The werewolf had been present before on three occasions when the white kitsune had used a single word of power. This time Jill used a whole sentence.
* * *
"Brian," gasped Jeremy, feeling for a pulse.
"M'okay," the half-elf boy mumbled. "Hurt, but not too bad."
"Wow!" gasped the werewolf. "That was really something. As soon as the guys on me realized what had happened they ran for the woods!"
He threw back his head and howled, from sheer joy at being alive, hugging the boy to him.
"Ow!" said Brian. "Easy! Some of us don't heal as fast as..."
Brian's desperate attack had lit up the field; the one coming from behind them lit up the county, like God taking a picture. They both turned and gaped at the fading glow. Then Jeremy shoved the boy flat and threw himself on top.
The ground shock bucked them off the burnt grass, then the overpressure shoved them back down. Then all was again still.
* * *
Jeremy and Brian were limping towards the hollow when the cavalry arrived. How, Lord Teleomeir and several other local fey - including Professor Finlay - along with Bent-Tail and a number of his pack members, plus an assortment of other allied supernaturals gated in off to their left. Jeremy waved, and pointed towards the hollow, shouting. He was still a bit deaf from the second blast, but the new arrivals heard him. They waved back, and most of the heavy hitters headed that way, while the rest came towards the boy and the werewolf. Within seconds both Brian and Jeremy had been completely healed.
"Jackie and Jill..."
"We know," said How, looking distressed. "Come on, let's check. By now, either the problem's solved or the battle's lost."
They arrived to find Lisa Dawnwind in the process of healing a very injured looking Gillian, while Professor Finlay tended Jackie. There was an enormous mass of blackened, smoking, crackling, stinking mantis nearby. It wasn't going anywhere.
"Oh, good," said How, almost collapsing as he saw Lisa look up and nod. He abruptly sat on a large chunk of concrete debris. "We called, and she said she'd get here on her own, but we didn't..."
He stopped, and began crying out loud with relief and happiness as Jill took a deep breath and opened her eyes.
* * *
"It was a near thing," said Lisa, later, sitting with How, Tina, and many others.
They were in an area Bent-Tail's pack used to host guests. Getting the story straight actually took longer than healing the survivors, hauling away the bodies and repairing as much of the damage as they could. Dawn was now not far off. For once Professor Finlay was in his huge natural form, with only his front end actually in the clearing
"It was not just Jill's attack," Finlay explained, voice incongruously unchanged. "When that thing died all the energy it had gathered and not yet used just... let go. In a burst of pure, chaotic magic. Nearly blasted them to death."
"Well, it didn't," said How, hugging both girls. "So that's that."
"We still need to unravel just how many The Mantis Queen killed and manipulated," Professor Finlay continued. "As well as the goals behind her machinations."
"The full details will have to wait for later," said Teleomeir. "We do know a few things, and can make some educated guesses about others, however. For instance, we know that Detective Davis actually is alive. So is Traci Harrison. That reporter..."
"Conyers," Jill supplied.
"Conyers, is dead. In fact, only a few pieces of him were found. It was your father calling Davis to find out what was going on with you four running off in such a hurry that convinced us we needed to do something fast!"
"Because he didn't know anything about it," said Bent-Tail.
"That's why the real Traci didn't know about the prank!" said Joyce. She shivered. "I was with that thing and I didn't even know it!"
"It must have been gathering information while it talked with you. And it let Traci live because it knew we'd investigate," said How, nodding. "So when we checked all we found was a normal human who was telling the truth."
"It was a place of power, wasn't it?" said Brian, quietly. "The meeting place."
"An ancient gateway to a sealed region of Arcadia, actually," said Professor Finlay. "That region, in fact, is where we thought The Mantis Queen still was. Somehow she learned of the local Sidhe bringing through Arcadian creatures and - if you'll pardon the vernacular - hitched a ride. To do so she had to abandon her physical form and most of her power, which is why she was draining other supernaturals in the area. We believe she also whispered in the ears of some among the Sidhe who were involved with the effort to bring the creatures over that using them to execute warning attacks, draining other local supernaturals who might cause trouble, was a good idea."
"Let me guess," growled Bent-Tail. "She made sure she got the drained energy."
"And finally gained enough to recreate a facsimile of her normal body here."
"So why lure the kids to her?" said How, puzzled.
"To gain more energy, sufficient for opening a gateway back to her realm." Finlay shuddered, delicately. All several tonnes of him. There was considerable rustling in the underbrush and in the two closest flanking trees. "Most likely, as Davis she expected to take the boy aside under a pretense, and quickly drain him; given his age, his defenses were weakest. Foxx and Wolfe foiled that - and, ultimately, her entire plan - by being cautious. We can consider ourselves very fortunate she didn't succeed. With access to her original body and home realm, she would have been all but a goddess, here."
"It's a good thing you three had Jeremy along," said Bent-Tail, nodding at the younger werewolf. "With him to guard Brian you didn't have to worry about the boy while fighting that thing."
The huge werewolf gave the normal-sized one a complimentary slap on the shoulder, nearly pitching him forward.
"Does that mean he's found your favor?" asked Jackie, grinning wolfishly.
"For now," the big werewolf rumbled. He winked, and grinned.
END Part 10
This document is Copyright 2005 Rodford Edmiston Smith. Anyone wishing to reproduce it must obtain permission from the author, who can be contacted at: email@example.com