“Where is she?” Mr. Schmidt asked before I even cleared the final jump to my roof.
“In bed. I assume… Drat, I woke up here, I didn’t see her…” I was too busy running to the door to worry about my lousy English skills.
Mr. Schmidt was right behind me. I tore down the stair and ran headlong into my bedroom. Ayami wasn’t there. I almost ran over Mr. Schmidt coming back out.
“She’s gone.” I was still running, now for the ground floor.
“I felt her earlier.” Mr. Schmidt told my back as we dashed for the front door.
I was speed dialing. Jack answered and I told him. He used a word I didn’t know he knew. I was inclined to use the same word as we raced across the street and hit the fire escape on Jack’s building.
I know – it’s just totally weird. I had no sense of Ayami and evidently, neither did Mr. Schmidt but both of us were instinctively running for that roof top. It’s one of the annoying things about being a slayer that fortunately doesn’t happen often – sometimes your senses are way ahead of your brain. Nothing in my brain said check Jack’s roof yet every nerve in my body was screaming to get up there faster. I poured on the speed, flashing inhumanly fast up that fire escape.
We weren’t the first up there. Tresmayne was already bounding across the roof. I had no sense of what he was after but I wasn’t moving slow enough to think, anyway. I went after him with Mr. Schmidt on my heels.
I had it a second later – werewolf. Gwen was in my hand and I had every intention of using her. But for the moment, I was lagging behind Tresmayne.
It’s hard to describe to a normal person what it’s like to run faster than anything should be able to. Things around you seem unnaturally slow – but the thing you are chasing seems unnaturally fast. Footing gets careful, almost thoughtful consideration at a rate that defies belief – I couldn’t think about what I was chasing but I knew where every footfall would go. That is a necessary part of the ability – no point being super fast if you are gonna trip over your own feet. But it’s also very different from what you would think.
I was running as fast as I could – faster than I’d ever pushed myself before. Leaping from roof top to roof top at insane speeds, concentrating on Tresmayne’s tail and my own footing. There was no way to think about anything else. We had gone seven blocks before I realized Mr. Schmidt wasn’t behind me any longer. I didn’t stop – he was retiring, I knew his powers were in the beginnings of retreat. It was no surprise he couldn’t keep this up – and I had a werewolf to kill.
Tresmayne made a huge leap, getting ahead of the werewolf for the first time. He turned, facing the enemy. It was my first look at the pseudo-traditional we had been chasing. Big and ugly, it skidded to a stop. Evidently, it had enough sense to not want to fight an ancient traditional. Pity it hadn’t had enough sense to avoid irate slayers.
I was on it. Gwen drew blood but I pulled her back. Now my brain was back in the game – we needed information, not dead werewolf. It whirled toward me but Tresmayne was already leaping on it. Instantly, he forced the smaller wolf to the ground.
Tresmayne still had it by the throat. I didn’t need instruction – I was grabbing its ugly mouth and forcing the lips open. It works best for the Mistress but a slayer can see new blood, too. There was none. Praise God, it hadn’t killed her.
“We need…” I had started to speak when I sensed a slayer behind me.
Jack walked up. Slayers have unbelievably good night vision but I couldn’t read his face. I’d never seen him truly furious – I assumed that was what I was seeing now.
“What color?” Jack asked coldly.
Tresmayne dropped the werewolf as I stepped back. “Black, no question.”
Tresmayne nodded his huge head, “Aye, no new blood, I don’t believe.”
“I didn’t see any.” I reported stiffly.
“Good.” Jack took hold of the werewolf’s head, “Your lucky day – state your name…”
Five minutes later, Jack had a new pet and had dispatched it to fetch whoever had sent it here. It insisted it hadn’t even seen a cat – it was supposed to drop concealment and run but it hadn’t even gotten the chance. It was just a decoy – it was using standard concealment. Not very well, Tresmayne had sensed it and evidently, so had Mr. Schmidt and I. I watched it run off, mentally shushing Gwen who was not at all happy she didn’t get the kill.
We trudged back to Jack’s roof. I could already tell I’d be paying tomorrow for that run but if I’d had the slightest sensation of Ayami, I’d have been doing it again. Mr. Myers met us and Jack gave him the update.
“Roland? James?” he asked.
“Inside – under my command.” Jack used another word I’d never heard him say before, “I should have…”
“We should have.” Mr. Schmidt chimed in, hopping off the fire escape onto the roof. “Look….”
He pulled out a pathetic looking black and white cat. I was scooping her up instantly, “Ayami!”
Jack caught up, “Let her transform, Pretty Girl.”
Feeling sheepish, I dropped her. An instant later, she was in human form.
“So sorry! No mean to go out!” Ayami started apologizing to us all.
Jack shook his head, “Don’t worry about it. It’s not your fault. Come on inside, we’ll get you some dry clothes and you can tell us what happened.”
I noticed that she was drenched for the first time but another thought took over my tongue, “The wolf you sent?”
Jack shook his head, “He won’t be back for a while, if at all.”