Jian, Lien and their father have been captured. The housekeeper, Su, is their leader. Jian declares that she will come for them. John is for killing the Kitsune, but Brian is reluctant, since they weren’t killed in battle. If he kills them now, it will feel like murder.
“I understand. Simply laying the option out there.”
“Thank you. The question remains of where to put them.”
“Here,” Neil said, gesturing. “We can contain them in solidified air and disappear them. Simple enough to do.”
“Not for me,” Brian remarked, somewhat annoyed that he’d never been taught.
“Maybe it’s time you learned,” Neil replied. “I never saw anyone better at that than my old man. How is Dad?” he asked the group.
No one spoke, no one would meet his eyes.
“No,” he whispered. “Tell me…. Why are we standing around?”
“He tried to help me and Elise,” Jordan said softly. “He heard me scream and came up to find Lien in the room. I don’t know how she got in, but she trapped us up there and tried to take the baby from me. David—” Tears trickled down her face. “He saved us, got us out of the room, bound Lien, but he didn’t know to use air, he used earth. She must have gotten free and followed. He was watching her and…. There was nothing anyone could do. I’m so sorry, Neil. So very sorry.” She burst into tears.
Neil took her in his arms, holding her close, as he sobbed.
“He died saving us,” she wailed. “And I couldn’t stop her. He told me to run and I ran…. I ran with Elise. I tried to get away. But she caught up with us and knocked me out. Then Elise—oh, my God, the baby saved me!” She sobbed harder.
Brian took her in one arm, Neil in the other. They huddled in a small circle of grief. Gradually, the others joined them, holding one another close, as they sang. Hearing the voices, those in the house, who were mobile, came down the steps and added their voices to the song. Men, women and children mourned the passing of one of their own. He’d fought bravely, saving Jordan and Elise from sure death.
“Your dad was a hero,” Jordan told Neil. “I’m so sorry….”
“He died doing what he did best, protecting someone who needed him,” Neil replied. “I will miss him. Dad was a force of nature.”
“I want to go home,” Summer said quietly. “Can we go home?”
“We need to do one more thing before we do,” Roy Curtis said. “We need to make your adoption official. Summer Sweet, I’d be very proud if you’d agree to be adopted by my family. I think you and Caleb would make a formidable pair for your Circle. What do you say?”
“Yes!” she agreed, smiling through her tears. “It would be an honor, Roy. Or should I call you Dad?”
He chuckled. “You’ve got your own father. But I’d be real happy if you’d call me Uncle Roy.”
“Yes, Uncle Roy.”
Before the Texas and Louisiana families left, they did a very short adoption and binding ceremony, formally allying thier Circles. Once that was complete, the Center Circles from Mississippi and Texas combined their strength to entrap the three prisoners in solidified air. When that was accomplished, they chose a secure location and disappeared them.
“That will hold them until we can find a better way,” Roy said. “I’ll check our library when I get home.”
“Thank you,” Neil said, shaking his hand.
“I’m real sorry about your daddy, Neil,” John said.
“When will you lay him to rest?”
Neil shook his head. “Depends on Mama. Daddy had some real specific instructions, so I’ll have to check with her.”
“My advice, you cremate his remains and you park him by those three heathens. If anyone can guard us all against them, it’s your father.”
Neil ducked his head. “Not a bad idea. I’ll surely suggest it.”
“You let us know. We’ll come back and pay our respects.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“You don’t owe me a sir, Sergeant. Just John will do fine. I’ve decided to fold up my uniform and retire. I’ve had enough of it, just like you. Got enough war here and I figure I can do more good on this front, than that one.”
“You’d be welcome here any time, sir…John.”
They embraced and John took his leave. The coronor’s van arrived shortly after the others left. Miles used his mind mojo to convince the coronor that David had simply died of a heart attack at a family gathering. There was no need for any other story to get out and about. There would be an autopsy, they couldn’t fake that, but the results were already assured.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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