Chapter Four: Petrova
One last look over my shoulder I see the backs of Orla and Bleddyn walking out of sight. Seeing Beth and Francis getting along as they leave makes a nice change. I try to ignore the newly made awkward air around Ward and I. We walk quietly along the roads; his patrol route is the easiest to begin with. So off we walk. The silence finally breaks me.
“She’s insane.” I say finally speaking, a hushed voice all the same, not wanting to be overheard. Ward registers what I said and looks at me curiously. I go back to looking around us, walking a little faster now. He keeps in touch with my steps. It’s his turn to speak but I don’t let him. “She somehow managed to stumble into an abandoned warehouse and run from a hoard of demons and ended up leading them into the graveyard on the off chance we would be there. It’s crazy, why didn’t she buzz for help?”
“Probably didn’t have time to deal with her phone, you did see how many there were right?” Trust Ward to bring some logic to the party.
“Fine but I don’t know there is something funny about her.” I try to cling to something right now.
“You just don’t like that she looks like you, I get it, you used to be the unique one and instead of them bringing on another one of us, or even a single that ascended like you they actually brought your ganger into our team. If that isn’t a slight, I don’t know what is. Maybe they didn’t know but all the same, I can see why you’re jealous.” He grinned.
“I’m not jealous.” I cross my arms as we walk onwards. “I just don’t feel comfortable.”
“Maybe that is a good thing. We are never meant to feel comfortable.”
“I feel comfortable with you.” I say letting the words fall out of my mouth faster than I can catch them. I see his grin turn into a broad smile that reached his eyes.
“That’s different. But she’s already stirred a change in the team, we fought better today than we have in weeks.” He keeps using logic against me and I hate it. I supress my smile.
“We had no choice, it was that or die-” knowing that is always the case, I just feel like being difficult and nit-picking right know.
“But that is always that way, I just felt like we worked better than we usually do. Look at how fast we are smashing patrol today; we are already close to your route.”
“We’re trying to make up some of the time we lost.” I say trying to sound unaffected and matter of fact. I can’t help myself, I looking at him from the corner of my eye, “plus if we make up some time we might even have time to steal some time alone before we have to go back.” I let a smile play on my lips as we walk through the last of his route and begin mine.
I stop taking the backseat and following his lead and take my turn at the reigns. I can’t tell if the quiet uneventful nature of this patrol is a good or bad thing, given what we had just faced, we had thought that it was quiet before but now, it just felt like there was a weird sensation in the air. The way the clouds moved, slower, neater, barely at all, barely a wisp of fluff in the sky. The weather may have cleared and softened but still. It wasn’t exactly comfortable. But the air felt drier. Like all that unease had been stripped away and it just felt light and fun. The further we got on our patrol the closer we walked together.
We were closer to the posher end of town, the houses were bigger and so were the gardens, they still needed patrolling though.
We walked the roads that now felt longer. There was a small alley near here, I always had an eye on it but today I decided a small detour would do no harm. Usually where the residential bins were kept.
“Hunch?” Ward asked. All I did was nod not speaking until we were further down the brick alleyway. There was a little less light, this patch was less tended to and there were a few bushes now that we kept walking to, I had seen what was down here on a map when I first started patrolling, I had even come down this way once or twice. It backs onto a small patch of trees, a mini woodland is how it looked, sheltered. I lead him onto the back of a property, that through an occasional moment of bravery I had seen an old manner house. It never seemed very occupied or perhaps that was my timing, the house was a little distance from this patch of woodland, I suppose it stopped that feeling of being over looked. Because I had wound us in a direction further from the house into the little bit of woodland.
“What are you doing? Where are we going?” Ward asked.
I decided to stop and I felt him stop behind me, still on high alert. I turned around and watched his expression soften from confusion and high alert. “I wanted to show you something I discovered on my patrol a while ago, it’s nice and quiet here” I grinned.
“That’s because it is someone’s property” he said looking around, unusually cautious.
“They’re not here…” I step closer to him, “I figured maybe we could steal a tiny bit of alone time right now, they won’t question us walking off the beaten track tonight, not if we say we thought we saw something but it turned out to be nothing… but you and me… alone” I reach up and kiss him bringing his lips to mine.
“You know falsifying reports is-”
“Very naughty” I cut him off and kiss him again. “Perhaps you bring it out in me” I smile as he kisses me.
“You’re a very bad influence you know that right?” He grins. Pulling me deeper into a kiss. His hand on the small of my back. His warmth brightening the darkness from the shelter of the trees. There is a new warmth to his kisses now, a strength as we try to pull each other closer.
The moment is ruined by both of our phones buzzing in our pockets. Reluctantly we stop kissing and pull the phones from our pockets. A message from Bleddyn, three words “The warehouse now”. We look at each other and I break into a run as I lead us both out of there, out the alley and off of my patrol route into the fastest route to the warehouse Lei had described earlier. A few minutes later two bikes appeared screeching to a halt before us. We jumped on the backs, pulling on a helmet. Beth and Francis had somehow managed to get a couple of bikes. We got to the warehouse in no time. We pulled our quartz blades as soon as we arrived. The air felt way too cold and thick. We made our way through the busted doorway. We buzzed back to the team “here” and looked around trying to follow the dust trails. We needn’t have bothered long. Orla walked out of a dark corner to meet us.
A sickened feeling hit the pits of our stomach, where was Monty or Bleddyn?
We followed Orla towards the back of the warehouse. We could see more disturbances in the dust trails. Whole cleared patches, The odd puddle on the floor. Monty came out of the darkness and went straight for a hug trying to hug us all at once. “What’s going on?” Monty was an affectionate guy but this seemed more like he had been scared for us for some reason. Bleddyn walked calmly towards us.
“There is something we need to show you.” They lead us towards a wall with a heavy set door that seemed so very out of place; well-constructed, strong, secure and locked. Next to the door, seemed to be a note for us. “I have the doppelganger. Pay a toll and receive what you’re owed”
“Lei?” Beth asked out loud.
Bleddyn nodded, “it appears to be that way.”
“What toll?” I asked. Orla looked uncomfortably at Bleddyn.
“One we can’t pay” Orla frowned.
“Why not?” Francis piped up.
“Because there is no way of knowing. Without a warlock to decipher it, to reveal the message on the door, we don’t know what the toll is.” Bleddyn looked at Orla like she was speaking out of turn, when I spoke he looked at me like a child.
“So get one down here” I find myself saying, unsure of where my voice had come from, I mean, it’s not like I knew her but still.
“We are trying; we have reached out to Mr Prior but there are no guarantees. We can only wait and see.” Bleddyn’s expression softened like trying to cushion what he said. Not that it made much difference, the words still meant the same thing.
“What do we do until then?”