Mr. Schmidt shook his head, “A moment, lad. Myers, old chap, let’s dispatch that doppleganger, shall we?”
Mr. Myers slapped his palm to his face, “Of course – I hadn’t fought one in ages. You’re right.”
“Doppleganger?” Jack asked.
I was banging my own forehead, “Yes, that has to be it.”
“Anyone plan to fill me in?” Jack asked, his patience beginning to wear.
“Certainly lad. One of the powers of a doppleganger is to fill the air with confusion. It’s rare for them to use it in such a large area – must be pretty near its limit by now – but it makes it possible for a doppleganger to fool almost anyone.” Mr. Schmidt explained.
Mr. Myers was drawing his sword, “We need to get it. You go on in – Schmidt and I can handle this better than you kids. No offense.”
Jack shrugged, “None taken. Go ahead, we’ll… Wait.”
The four of us, counting Ayami, stood there staring at him for more than a minute. Jack seemed to be working something out in his head so we let him.
Then he abruptly turned to Ayami, “Why did you go out?”
“You called, did you not?” Ayami answered. “Ayami… I mean I sensed the call and came but no one was there. Then I sensed the other master and hid as you commanded. Long time pass and Mr. Schmidt come.”
“I didn’t call you.” Jack told her. He looked at Mr. Schmidt, “The confusion?”
He, Mr. Myers and I all nodded in unison. Mr. Schmidt answered, “Undoubtedly so. She confused his call for yours.”
Jack was on his phone instantly, “Thompkins? Did you sense any … When?.. Who did you… You did? Was that why?… Yes…. No, that’s exactly right. Stay where you are – I’m going to send Ayami so call Lisa and have her come over…. Good…. Bye.”
Jack turned to us, “Thompkins and Chambers had the same experience but they knew I wanted them to stay in so they called instead – that was what woke me up. Ayami, I want you to go stay in my apartment – my sister will be there. You two can sleep in my bed. You are not to leave there unless I personally tell you to – no summoning, I’ll speak to you face to face, got it?”
Ayami smiled, “Yes, understand. Ayami… I go.” And go she did, transforming and dashing for the fire escape instantly.
Jack turned to Mr. Schmidt, “I want to go with you – there has got to be more to it than that.” He turned to me, “I want you to wake the steel brigade – can you do that on the run or?”
I shook my head, “I’ll need to go touch more than a few since it’s been a few days.”
Jack nodded, “Get as much as you can – something else is going on and we need information.”
I nodded, “Will do.”
He looked at me a little funny. I smiled, “You prefer ‘aye, aye, captain’?”
“Just checking.” He turned to the other men and they took off toward the west.
“Mistress?” Tresmayne stood there looking at me expectantly.
“Hmm, oh, he didn’t say what you were to do…”
“No, Mistress, I already know my duty is here. But ‘aye, aye, captain’?”
I laughed, “He wasn’t sure if he’d asked or commanded – he asked – and a girl has to give her guy a hard time once in a while.” I turned toward the fire escape, “Especially when she gets the boring jobs. That ginsu is going to want to talk all night!”
I started re-awakening the various blades on my way down. I held off conversing with Finley as that required more concentration if I wasn’t going to go get him. Samantha was bubbly as always – she was helping with the awakenings. And that silly ginsu really did want to talk my ear off.
Down one side of the building and up the other, it took about a half hour to get everyone awake. I sat on the north side fire escape, near the roof, trying to sort the cacophony out. It took a lot longer to straighten out what blade saw what – they were being asked for new information. No creature had gotten close to the building besides Ayami, who was allowed so they had ignored her. I’d already known that – Finley would have been hollering had a creature or familiar come too close. But you always need a frame of reference with blades – it’s not like they can check their watches or anything.
The awakening was necessary to get the new information – what had they noticed besides Ayami. Thankfully, blades aren’t subject to creature powers that aren’t specific to weapons (yes, there are a crazy number of weird rules to this stuff – which is much worse when you have to learn them, I assure you!). Unfortunately, more than twenty blades talking through Samantha and Finley were more than a little confusing without the doppelganger’s help.
It took more than two hours to sort it all out. You’d think sword singing would be easy but it’s not. It’s one of the most difficult powers – you’re talking to inanimate objects that really don’t reason. Heck, they really don’t talk, either – it’s just impossible to explain what a sword’s communication is actually like. Twenty of them at once isn’t just confusing – it’s exhausting.
I finally finished and pulled out my phone. If they were done with that doppelganger and back in bed, there was going to be heck to pay!