Short Chapter Ten
The Harris Files X
About half an hour later, we were getting cold up top the train. Gunn turned to me.
“This ain’t gonna work. Lets all head to the dinin’ car and hole up there if we can. If they showed up here, I’m too cold to help.”
“Okay,” I agreed. “I really thought they might think we’re gone.”
“Well, if they don’t head for the food car, they’re probably waiting in our spots in case we go back.”
“Okay, the dining car it is.” I inched back toward the end of the car, and slowly looked over the edge. Below me, under the overhang at the end of the last car, I could hear Spike and Angelus fighting while the Whacko-Vamp sang about headless dolls. All three of them on the little balcony. Shit.
“The yummy prey is on the train…” Dru happily clapped.
“We know, Dru,” Spike said with exasperation. She surprised us all by slapping him. I gathered as much extra magic as I could, from the wind itself that kept trying to knock me off the train. Reaching under the overhang with my blasting rod, I shouted with everything I had.
Good thing Gunn was up top to hold me in place or I’d have broken my neck. But two coat-shedding master vampires were airborne and falling away from the train, but unfortunately into what looked like a deep ravine. It meant that they’d have a place to hide out from Mr. Sun if they survived.
“You want to play?” Drusilla shrilled happily. “Good!”
She jumped off the back of the train, hands outstretched. When the train was nearly a quarter-mile away I think I finally saw her land, a bubble of darkness around her. Then nothing. It wasn’t until after we reached Chicago that I realized the sun had gone down.
“You did it!” Gunn crowed. I thought about it as we climbed down, and just barely was able to smile. Survival versus dying.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, but every time I fell asleep I had to draw more and more power to keep Old Blue Face in his bubble. And once I could have sworn I was in a Daydream of Faith’s. Could she really be real? Her thoughts about not wanting to be in class, as I sat ‘invisibly’ behind her as the teacher droned on, still let in too much detail compared to normal dreams. And the experiences of Harry and McCoy kept making me think we were dealing with something weird. Hell’s Bells, what if she was real? She turned around in surprise, and as the connection broke I could have sworn I heard her.
As anti-climactic as the non-fight was, I realized I might actually have been able to have dusted the vamps in that small area if I’d used my blasting rod to actually BLAST them instead of casting a spell through it. But we didn’t lose anybody, so I’d just keep it in mind for next time.
We pulled into St. Louis, our last stop before Chicago, and sighed with relief. It was 1:10 in the wee hours of the morning, and very few people seemed to be getting off, or waiting for passengers to debark. I wasn’t expecting to see a face familiar to Harry, and to me recognizable only in memories. An oriental man familiar to me, Shiro, was standing with him, and they both had duffle bags with them.
“Gunn, I need to check with the two guys over there on the platform.”
“You know ‘em?”
A minute later I walked up to them, a slight smile could be seen on the face of the Caucasian.
“Master Shiro? Mr. Carpenter?”
“You must be Alexander,” the second man replied. “You really do look like you could be Harry’s little brother.” He nodded to his companion.
“Alexander, good to see you again. And yes, we are here to escort you to Chicago. Harry has arranged for the White Council to arrive mid-day at his office to take custody of the item.”
“Cool. You guys going with us on the train?”
“We thought it best to go the rest of the way by truck,” Michael Carpenter replied. “Maybe it will throw off further pursuit by the Aurelian Court.”
“They have a Court?”
“Informally. With Nest eliminated last year, they are fighting amongst themselves to see who takes over. Right now Kakistos in Boston seems the likeliest.”
“Boston, huh? I’ve been thinking a lot about it since yesterday.”
Shiro nodded, “Perhaps after this task is complete, you will find yourself called there.”
“I don’t think I have a Calling like you two. But if you guys end up heading that way, I’ll lend a hand and return the help you’re giving me. What about Gunn and Company?”
“Now that we’re here,” Shiro considered, “They can probably return home. A sudden deviation might also confuse anyone tracking you.”
I turned and waved to Gunn, who opened it. I explained the plan, and within a few minutes we’d all readied for splitting up into two new groups. That’s when he suddenly looked over my shoulder, and past the two Knights of the Sword at a guy who dressed as fancy as me walking quickly toward us. Gunn shook his head.
“You mojo dudes have some lame-ass dress code, that’s for sure.”
“Just jealous,” I sighed melodramatically as we made sure we had everything. “Harry?!”
“Xander!” he called back and waited for a small crowd of train embarkers to get going before moving closer. “Kid, how you doing?”
“Good enough,” I smiled. I introduced my ‘bodyguards.’
Harry shook hands, then looked a little grim.
“Your vampire buddies burned out my office earlier tonight.”
“Shit, why didn’t you just have Bob connect with Robert,” I told him, patting my coat pocket. An indignant muffle responded therein.
“Couldn’t, looks like the bloodsuckers brought in a bunch of help—couldn’t get anywhere near my place.”
“A couple dozen, and a few half-demons I haven’t seen around town before.”
“So, what now?”
“Morgan said we should link up with McCoy, and take a shortcut to Boston.”
The Knights and I exchanged a look.
“Yeah, why? It’s where they’d have caught their connecting flight.”
“Boston’s come up in conversation. We’ll do it, but call and let them know that we might want some extra muscle.”
“Already did. And Ebenezer should be here already.”
“I am, Hoss,” the wizard responded, dropping his veil of invisibility. The rest of us weren’t amused. “And I already paid the parking guys for a week on both your vehicles.”
I shook my head, “Two Knights, three wizards, some Hunters…this seems to be getting really serious.”
“You don’t know the half of it. One of Angelus’ bunch in Chicago let it out what they’re after, and that the rest of The Judge is with ‘em. Some of the vampire Courts are starting to mobilize to keep the others from getting it.”
Harry cocked his head to the side.
“Not to get it themselves?”
“Mostly, no. Black Court and the Aurelians want it, but Reds and Whites mostly just don’t want the others to get it. And a bunch of smaller groups are heard to be moving around.”
I looked at them.
“Not with the Council. I think they all know we don’t want to activate him. If we get him into storage, things can quiet down again.”
I looked at Harry, “I hope they blame you and not me?”
I smiled mock-innocently.
“I’m just a kid, Harry. You grown ups make the decisions.”
“Yeah, a kid who blasted three old freaky vamps off a train.”
He told them about sitting up on the train. Shiro shook his head.
“We need to work on your tactical skills. But nevertheless, you did manage to prevent a train of bloodshed.”
“Thanks. Now what?”
“Now we ask Mr. McCoy to find a quiet place so we can transit to Boston.”