Anne and Veronica enjoyed the evening air as they walked back to the apartments. Veronica dragged a small wire basket filled with supplies from the small grocery a few blocks from the apartments. It had been a couple weeks since the battle in the park, and the two were planning a special dinner for the group.

“Jason is going to be there tonight?” Veronica asked for the third time. Anne sighed. To say her relationship with her erstwhile partner was strained was an understatement worthy of the Brits. Worse, the task force was still in town. They had swooped down on Hope Park even before Lady Maritza’s agents had a chance to clean up. From the few words Anne and Jason had spoken, the task force knew the Avalonians were involved in the attack on them and were out for blood.

“He said he was going to try and show up,” Anne answered. “At least as long as Lady Maritza was going to be there.”

“Good, it’s going to be odd enough without Samantha there,” Veronica said. The group’s telepath had been at the hospital almost constantly since the battle. Something had happened between Samantha and Joseph when the three women fought to save his life. They managed to stabilize him, but the mixing of Samantha’s psychic powers and the magic binding Veronica and Anne used awakened and focused the latent attraction between Samantha and Joseph.

“We’ll have enough to take over to her later,” Anne said. “I want to make sure that Joseph’s still expected to come back to the apartments in a couple of weeks.” Anne stopped as her instincts flared. Her hand dropped to the butt of her Glock as she searched the streets around her. At first, Anne thought she was just overreacting, but then she felt as Veronica drew in wild magic. Another side effect of the battle was the two of them had a permanent magical link.

“What was that?” Veronica asked, suspiciously. Anne couldn’t see anything suspicious, but her body felt the echo of something. It was as if someone had splashed cold water right on her brain.

“I don’t know, but let’s get back to the apartments. Fast,” Anne answered. The two women strode down the sidewalk. Anne pulled out her phone. She was pretty sure that Veronica and her could handle anything for the next couple of blocks, but it never hurt to have backup.

The phone blinked once and died. A cold electricity filled the air around Anne and Veronica. The two traded worried looks. Then mist suddenly appeared, obscuring anything beyond a block away. Veronica parked the wire basket so they could run. Nothing wrong with running. Heavy steps filled the street. Lots of heavy steps, and they were coming from all around them. Anne forcibly slowed her breathing as she drew her pistol.

Figures emerged out of the mist. Most of them looked like the kids from the park. They all had that same punk/emo dress with the blank, expectant looks on their faces. First a few, then a dozen, then two dozen staggered out around them. Anne gripped her pistol tighter. She felt the heat of magic being gathered in Veronica’s hands.

“Can you put a blast over there that will knock them down?” Anne asked Veronica.

“I can immolate them from here just fine,” the smaller woman snarled. “Didn’t the park teach you not to be gentle with these people?” Before Anne could respond, a psychic blast lanced through the street and drove the two women to the sidewalk in pain.

BRING ME THE AVALONIAN WITCH! a voice boomed in their minds. Anne looked up. Solid black eyes stared back at her from the crowd. Anne shot a quick look back at Veronica. The woman was lying on the sidewalk moaning in pain. Anne tried to get Veronica to her feet, but she just curled up into a ball, holding her head. The black eyes closed on the two women.

Anne stood up and fell into her firing stance. She placed the front sight on the closest black-eye and tried very hard not to notice it was a girl who looked no more than fifteen years old. Outnumbered twenty to two, this might be ruled a good shoot.

EVERYONE BACK AWAY! IF YOU CONTINUE, I WILL BE FORCED TO USE LETHAL FORCE!” Anne shouted at the crowd, more to assuage her own guilt for what she was about to do than because she expected them to stop. The girl was less than fifteen feet away.

“We’re not here for you policewoman. Stand aside, or we will be forced to deal with you.” The words came from the girl, but the voice was male, cold, and evil. Anne lowered her aim and fired. The girl screamed in pain as the .40 caliber bullet tore through her pelvis.

Anne switched targets and fired twice into the man’s chest. He fell forward to the asphalt. A third black-eye soaked up five rounds before he fell. Anne took a step back as the group continued to bear down on Veronica and her. Anne aimed at the biggest of the black-eyes. The man had the build of an MMA fighter. Anne fired the remaining rounds in her mag, but the man just kept on coming.

Anne mechanically dropped the spent magazine and grabbed a fresh one from her belt. There was a bare twinkle out of the corner of her eye before something hard and heavy crashed into the side of her head. Stars obscured her vision before Anne realized she was on the ground. Warm wetness was trickling down the side of her face. Her Glock wasn’t in her hands. As the stars cleared, she saw two black-eyes standing over her as another picked up the moaning Veronica.

Without any conscious thought, Anne reached out to the streams of wild magic. She could feel them, but the streams wouldn’t bend to her touch. It was like there was a pane of glass between Anne and the streams. She pushed harder, but her block slammed down.

“So, you have some power of your own,” one of the black-eyes above her said in that same evil voice. “That’s a surprise. Is that why the Avalonians are with you?” Anne didn’t answer. A quick scan told her the group with Veronica were almost a block down the street. Her Glock was ten feet away.

“Still some fight in you, I see,” said the black-eye puppet. Agony lanced through Anne’s mind. She curled up on the sidewalk. The other black-eye kicked Anne in her side. Gritting her teeth, Anne yanked the little Ruger LCP out of its ankle holster and leveled it at the puppet. The tiny pistol barked three times. The puppet stumbled back into the street. Anne rolled to shoot the other black-eye just in time to be sprayed with blood. Standing over the now-decapitated body, Arem wiped down his sword with a silver cloth. Except for the scabbard at his side, the elf looked like he was on his way to a casual business meeting. Satisfied, the elf sheathed his sword and surveyed the street.

“Four dead. Not a bad night’s work, Anne,” Arem said, with an appreciative smile on his face.

“They took Veronica,” Anne managed as she tried to stand while still keeping the pistol pointed at Arem.

“What?” Arem asked, his head whipping back to her. His large brown eyes were shocked. “They have your sorceress?” Anne managed a small nod. Pain still made her head swim. Much to Anne’s surprise, Arem pulled out a cell phone. She didn’t think Arem even knew how to use a cell phone.

“Erik, they have your sorceress,” Arem said, “If we don’t cooperate, those fools will kill this world and ours.”