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By Elena Yazykova
Before entering the busy afternoon crowd of Seattle, Stacey activated Mir, the camouflage tattoo on her left ankle. A bloodied, bedraggled woman with a stark-white rat on her shoulder would attract more attention from the local law enforcement than she was prepared to deal with. Now, she moved through the crowd under the convenient guise of a thin, middle-aged business woman in a white blouse and khakis.
The phone rang again. Stacey ignored it. Then the air changed, smelling of sulfur and cat urine, and she could sense the irritation of her demonic Master, like a gun barrel pressed to the back of her head. Answer, Stacey.
She pressed the phone to her ear. “White.”
The silence stretched and she felt the psychological bond between the Master and the Underling heat up with Gemini’s anger, making beads of sweat form on her forehead.
“Are you out of your mind?”
She remained silent.
“I felt you get torn up. Where are you?”
There was no point in lying. “Downtown.”
“Is the Rat with you?”
“Good. The coven is under attack, we can use all the mages we can get. Do not go home. Headquarters are crawling with Biters. We are looking for a new safe house, but write down this address. We’ll meet at sundown and talk about what’s next.” Stacey fished a pen out of her jean pocket and scribbled the coordinates on her palm with shaking fingers. “Don’t you dare not answer me, Stacey.” His anger squeezed her skull like a pair of invisible hands, reminding her how the demon Gemini, Master of the Lilit coven “Eve Cross”, got his name. Not many crossed his dual nature and lived to tell the tale.
“Yes, Gemini,” she said.
His voice evened out and the pressure on her temples subsided. “And Stacey? Get patched up. Biters are all over the city, they will smell your blood.” He hung up.
She breathed out and then gulped air back in. The coven was under attack. First things, first. Gemini was right. If Biters smelled her, she was toast. But… how was she supposed to get cleaned and bandaged up if her home was compromised? The Rat squeaked and she covered its head with her palm, as was her habit after three years of carrying him on her shoulder.
“Looks like you’re getting turned back into a human sooner than you thought,” she murmured.
She moved through the crowd with renewed determination of a survivor. There was only one place she could go. One person she could trust.
Word Count: 426