Anne raised the stubby submachine gun at Free-Elf Veritas. The tall elf regarded the muzzle of the gun as an annoyance. Anne felt the strong pull on the wild magic streams before the gun was ripped out of her hands. She hadn’t even seen the bindings the elf had done to pull the gun. The submachine gun landed on the bed with a soft thump. 

“I believe the words you were looking for are ‘Honey Gold’,” Veritas said, stiffly. “And now you tell me?”

“‘Green Branch’,” Samantha answered, shutting the door and pushing the other two women into the hotel room. “Quit being a dick Veritas.”

“She was the one who pointed a gun at me,” Veritas said, motioning to Anne. “For someone with her reported gifts, it was disappointing.” 

“You aren’t supposed to be the one who was meeting us,” Anne replied, trying to keep her emotions under tight rein. “Where’s Kurt?”

“Where is my husband?” Princess Anya demanded. 

“No time,” Samantha said. “Who’s after us?”

“Right now, everyone,” Veritas answered. “Unfortunately, the spider is also among that everyone.” The elf looked down at his phone and frowned. “It looks like they’ve shut down the hotel. Give me your official phones.” The three women handed the elf their phones and went to change into the outfits they’d stashed in the room. In a few moments, Anne felt a strong pull on the fire wild magic and the smell of melted plastic floated through the room. Another pull and the smell vanished. Anne was impressed by the elf’s finesse, and she wished she had time to see his bindings.

“I’m still not sure how we’re going to get out of this hotel with all of the surveillance,” Veritas said as he walked back into the room. “The Americans were smart enough to ward the cameras against tampering them with magic.” He sounded grudgingly impressed.

“Give me my burner,” Samantha said. She hit one of the speed dials and laid the phone on the desk. It didn’t even ring once. 

“Considering that your calling on your burner phone and that every security alarm in the hotel just went active, I’m guessing that’s why you called,” Joseph said with mock severity. “Why couldn’t it have just been phone sex?”

“You’re on speakerphone, love,” Samantha said, her face slightly crimson. Anne hid her own smile. Joseph, the team’s tech specialist and erstwhile hacker, had made a remarkable recovery since being paralyzed. Anne suspected some of it was due to magic that Veronica had binded to the wound, but a lot of it also had to do with Samantha and Joseph’s budding relationship.

“Damn it. I hate speakerphones,” Joseph grumbled. “You couldn’t have warned me?”

“Sorry, love, but we’re sort of busy at this end,” Samantha answered, and she couldn’t stop the smile spreading across her face. 

“Yeah, I can see that,” Joseph said. “Okay, they’re going to be shutting down the phones in a few minutes, so we won’t be able to talk again until you’re a few blocks from the hotel. I’m going to launch one of my pre-done routines that should give you a clear avenue. I’m sending the route to you and Anne. As far as the task force and Imperial Security’s electronics are concerned, you won’t exist.” Anne’s phone beeped as she received the map. “Sorry, but I can’t do anything if you run into physical security.”

“Don’t worry, love, we should be able to handle it,” Anne said, with a slight teasing tone. Samantha shot her an evil look. 

“Hi Anne. Can I say again how much I hate speakerphones?” Joseph said. “The routine should be good in a few–” The phone cut off abruptly. Anne looked down at her own burner.

“They’re jamming the cell frequencies,” Anne said. “You might as well link us up now, Samantha.” Anne felt the slight pressure of the telepathic link. As she opened herself up to the link, Anne could only feel the princess’s and Samantha’s minds. Anne shot a questioning look at Samantha.

Veritas didn’t want to be linked with the rest of us, Samantha answered the unspoken question. 

Well, isn’t that suspicious, Anne said. 

It’s not like that, Samantha said, Elves don’t always interact well with psychic abilities. It’s uncomfortable for them to join a psychic link.

It’s also a good way to keep us from finding out if he’s a traitor, Anne said. 

You can relax. I’ve known Veritas for years, Samantha said, I used to work with him when I was full time with OSI.

“If you three are done trying to figure out if I am with the conspiracy, may I suggest we depart,” Veritas said, “It looks like your hacker’s routine is working.” Anne frowned, but she moved up to lead the group out of the hotel room. The hallway was clear. Following Joseph’s map on her phone, Anne led the group down a flight of stairs and then into one of the hotel’s freight elevators. 

“Hit the button for the basement,” Samantha said as she entered the car. 

“We’re supposed to be getting off at the first,” Anne said. “The basement has no access out that isn’t heavily monitored.”

“Trust me,” Samantha said. As soon as the doors closed, Samantha walked over to the corner of the car. “Veritas?” The elf reached up and with a flash of magic, pushed up the access door.

“Your highness?” Veritas said, holding out his hand. The princess was lifted onto the roof of the elevator car. In a few moments, the rest of the team joined her. Anne felt Veritas pulling on the wild magic streams and the group started to hover above the elevator car. Anne was amazed at the intricate bindings. As the elevator continued down, they slowed until they were hovering in front of the closed first floor doors. 

“Anne, open the doors,” Veritas said. He hissed as she reached out. “With your magic, girl.” Anne bit down her rage. Who the hell was this elf to call her girl? She pulled on the wild magic and bound it. Anne released the binding and the doors slid open. Samantha was the first out. After making sure the hallway was clear, Samantha turned and helped the princess out. Anne followed with Veritas exiting last and dispersing his binding. 

“Sloppy, but interesting use of the streams,” Veritas said as the four walked out an unlocked access door onto the loading area. “I wouldn’t have expected the use of light in the bindings.”

“It kept us from being blinded when we stepped out,” Anne replied. She was annoyed – annoyed at Veritas for dismissing her and annoyed at herself for being pleased with the elf’s backhand compliment. 

So why did we do it like this? Anne asked over the telepathic link.

Joseph may have hidden the elevator’s movement from the computers, but one of the Guard was bound to hear the elevator going down, Samantha explained. This keeps them off of our trail a bit longer.

Guess that makes some sense, Anne’s replied.

Head to the clubhouse? Samantha asked as they walked towards the street.

Nope, Anne answered, I’ve got a better place.