Update:I’m going through the copyedits for the Jesse version. It will be done before the Dirk version (because I still need to write an epilogue to that one and have the parts that are different copyedited.) I’m not sure whether to release the Jesse one first or wait until they’re both ready. What’s your vote?
And now here’s chapter 11…
Sneaking out of the house wasn’t hard. Tori pretended to go to bed, locked the door so Lars couldn’t check on her, and crawled out her second-story window. A maple tree grew near the house and she climbed down it without much trouble–practice making perfect, and all of that. Getting the car from the garage without being heard took a bit more stealth and patience, but she managed that as well. Again, practice.
The day was cold for January, and the cloudy white sky of earlier seemed intent on sinking to earth in the form of fog. Just what the Slayers didn’t need during an attack: less visibility.
As she drove to DC—always a slow trip through the abundant traffic, and now made slower by the weather—she tried to review strategies and techniques. Her mind wouldn’t focus on those. Instead it replayed Aaron’s words. DC would be burning in a few hours. Jupiter would attack when Senator Ethington gave his speech. But Ethington had already spoken, and for that matter, why would Overdrake use Jupiter in an attack? The fledglings were smaller and harder to handle. Wouldn’t he use a larger, more powerful, and better trained dragon?
Could Overdrake have fed Aaron false information to see if he passed it along to Tori? After the Slayers destroyed five eggs, he might have grown suspicious of Aaron and suspected he was giving her information. But how would Overdrake be able to tell if the Slayers congregated in DC? He didn’t know where any of them lived. He had no way to trace them.
Except that he knew where Tori went to school. One of his men could have been watching to see if she left early. And she had. So had Jesse.
Worse still, Aprilynne had called Senator Ethington’s office to see when he was speaking. If the information had been a trap, Senator Ethington would undoubtedly let Overdrake know that Tori’s sister had called.
Tori inwardly groaned for not considering this before. A trap seemed like a probable scenario, and she’d given Aaron away so easily. She had no way to contact him and tell him that his position as a spy may have been compromised.
What would Overdrake do to him?
The thought made Tori’s stomach clench in all sorts of uncomfortable ways. She never should have allowed Aaron to go in as a mole. He was twelve. What had she been thinking?
She took deep breaths and forced those scenarios from her mind. No reason to draw conclusions yet. The information might not be a trap. The attack might have been postponed for some reason and this was the tip the Slayers needed to finally intercept Overdrake.
Tori took one hand off the steering wheel and shook out a cramp forming in her hand. The uncertainty was the worst part of all this. She didn’t know whether she should be chastising herself or worrying about dying.
In the part of her mind that was connected to a dragon, she heard the flapping of wings. Sometimes that happened for short periods of time—the dragons stretched their wings and flew around their enclosures for a bit. This time the noise didn’t end after a few minutes.
A dragon was out. That definitely wasn’t normal for the middle of the day.
Well then, perhaps it was safe to say she could stop worrying about Aaron and start worrying about dying.
She looked up at the sky, even though she knew she wouldn’t see anything through the fog. The weather seemed ominous now, like the misty set of a murder movie, where people jumped out wielding knives.
Tori pressed the code on her watch for a dragon outside and kept driving toward their meeting spot at Rock Creek Park. As she drove, the buildings around her faded in and out of the fog. She finally reached Beach Drive, one of the narrow streets that wound its way through nearly three miles of trees. The noise of the city faded away, replaced by the rustle of nature. Everything was brown here: the layer of leaves covering the ground, the bare trees, and the dirt edging the road.
Dr. B sent out a group message. Turning on the simulator. He was letting those of them still traveling to the location know so that when their powers turned on, they didn’t have to worry that a nearby dragon had caused it.
Tori was within five miles, so almost immediately, she felt a surge of energy and her senses sharpened. The sound of her wheels humming along the road grew louder and she noticed details she hadn’t before: the shadows of birds flying in the mist and a deer peering through a tangle of branches in the trees nearby.
After a couple of minutes, she pulled into the parking lot and stepped out of her car. The first thing she saw were the trailers that hauled the Slayer’s motorcycles—powerful bikes that were ten times as expensive as the normal sort because they were EMP proof. Those stood next to the horse trailers which were dinged and scratched in places, victims of.camp life. Booker, Dr. B’s perpetually sullen and silent right-hand man was saddling up Kody’s quarter horse, a tan mare named Ruffian. Booker wore a police jacket, complete with a gun holster and radio. His usual baseball cap had been replaced by a helmet. His usual scowl, still present.
Tori’s horse, Bane, was also saddled. He was a large black gelding with a stallion’s attitude. He saw her, flicked his tail, and nickered impatiently as if to say, “What took you so long?”
Dirk’s and Alyssa’s horses were saddled as backups. They were waiting for their owners, waiting for people who wouldn’t come, and it was an unwelcome reminder of how their numbers had dwindled.
Kody, Ryker, Willow, Lilly, and Jesse were all milling around by the supply van, either getting dressed in their battle gear or packing their ammunition. Jesse loaded a rifle, his fingers running over it with as much familiarity as a musician tuning an instrument. He turned when he saw her and gave her an encouraging smile.
It struck her that she’d always taken that smile for granted. But one of them might die today, or for that matter, both of them might. She returned his smile and tried to return a portion of his encouragement too.
An unexpected pang of regret hit her. Things between them seemed so unfinished, so unnecessarily formal. That emotion was quickly followed by a dose of frustration because she hadn’t chosen for it to be this way. Jesse had.
She strode over to the pile of supplies to pick up a police uniform. The van also held rifles, sticky grenades, and parachute launchers that looked like a cross between a gun and a pipe. Its missiles had a sticky end, which, upon impact, bloomed into a parachute to slow the dragon down. The result would only last until the dragons incinerated them. Just a few moments. But those moments could be the difference between life or death.
Theo stood near a box at the back of the van, unpacking black police helmets. Dr. B was using the hood of Booker’s truck as a table to put the finishing touches on fake police credentials, IDs that had their pictures and aliases. He kept glancing in the direction of the street, as though waiting for someone else to arrive.
Tori could guess who. “Is Bess coming?”
Nearby, Ryker buckled on a holster. “She’ll be here soon.” At six foot four, most people wouldn’t look twice at Ryker in a police uniform. That was, except for women, who might look twice because of his dark hair, blue eyes, and the whole chiseled jaw thing.
Tori’s gaze went from him to Kody, who wasn’t as tall but had shoulders like a linebacker. Her gaze moved to Jesse: tousled brown hair and warm brown eyes. She inwardly sighed. The group was supposed to blend in, and she was with three guys who looked like they were auditioning for a hot cops calendar.
Willow, Ryker’s cousin, was strapping on her ammo belt. She was tall with curly blonde hair and would be able to pass for an officer as long as she stayed on a motorcycle or horse. The girl moved like a ballerina, gliding around her own personal stage. Cops had to move with some swagger and authority.
Lilly was pulling on a jacket that was a little too big for her. She wasn’t as tall as most police officers and the red streak in her hair probably wasn’t law enforcement approved fashion, but at least Lilly had the don’t-mess-with-me attitude down. The girl was a queen bee without a hive, but with a stinger, just the same. She acted like she was Tori’s arch-nemesis, which was saying something since Dirk was actually the one who’d betrayed them all. He should have had the role all to himself.
Theo whistled to gather the Slayer’s attention and motioned for them to come over. “Before you head out, I need to go over some features in your outfits. You’ve probably noticed that your jacket pockets are lined with metal. This is so your cell phones will be protected from EMP.”
Good. Tori was tired of making up excuses for how hers had gotten ruined.
Theo picked up a helmet and ran a hand along the visor. “A special coating bounces the light back so your features will appear blurry in any cameras you pass.” He pushed the letter P in the word Police that ran across the rim. The visor completely darkened. “Once you start fighting, hide your faces.”
“Will do.” Jesse held out his hand for one.
Theo kept addressing the group. “They have a built-in earpiece and mic, and yes, both are EMP proof. And if you happen to need to use your cell phones, take them out of your pocket and they’ll connect automatically to your internal earpiece. That way, you don’t have to take off your helmets.”
“Great,” Jesse said, still holding his hand out.
“What I’m telling you,” Theo went on, “is that these babies cost more than your cars. Well, maybe not Tori’s car, but the rest of your cars, so you need to be careful with them.”
Jesse was still holding his hand out. “Are you going to give it to me, or do you need longer to say your goodbyes?”
Theo grudgingly relinquished the helmet. “You don’t appreciate the technology or expense that went into this. None of you ever do. But the people at the lab were all duly impressed when I came up with the idea.”
Tori leaned toward Willow. “We have a lab?”
“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” Willow said.
Theo made a chuffing noise. “Where did you think I made all of…never mind. I’ll stop throwing my pearls before swine. I’ll just remind you that although you all have superpowers, you wouldn’t get anywhere without my brain.”
Lilly took her helmet, rolling her eyes. “Does your brain want to come fight the dragon with us? You can show us how it’s done.”
Ryker nodded in agreement. “I’d be careful if I were you,” he told Theo. “In the movies, that’s the sort of cocky thing someone says right before their spectacularly gruesome death.”
Tori zipped up her jacket. “Better stay in the van, Theo. With the windows rolled up. You don’t want to tempt fate.”
Kody laughed as he adjusted his helmet. “Who bet on Theo for first death?”
Theo scowled at him and made more grumbling noises. “The next time you need tech help,” Theo pointedly handed her a helmet, “I’ll remind you of this conversation.”
Such a prima donna.
“Teamwork, people.” Dr. B breezed up to the group to hand out the IDs. “Without teamwork, we wouldn’t be anywhere.”
“True,” Willow whispered to Tori. “Without this team, I’d be safely in Vermont.”
“I’m glad you’re here.” Tori twisted her hair up and slipped her helmet on. She didn’t like the clear visor. It wouldn’t hide her features well enough. She would just have to hope no one recognized her with her hair tucked up inside.
Dr. B strolled over and handed Tori her police ID. “What have you heard from the dragon?”
“Just more flying sounds.” The familiar rhythmic wingbeats were still there in her ears, strong and steady. Tori slipped her ID into her jacket pocket. “Aaron said Overdrake would attack with Jupiter, but I don’t know which dragon I’m hearing. It’s not close enough for me to enter its mind.”
Once it was in close range, she could slip inside easily enough. What’s more, she could go even deeper into the dragon’s inner mind: its control center. She’d already been in Khan’s and Minerva’s so she knew how to reach that part of their brain, and Aaron had told her how to navigate through Jupiter’s and Vesta’s. Whoever was controlling the dragon would have an avatar there—a piece of their consciousness that held a control object. If Tori could force out the dragon lord, get him to drop his control object, or even distract him, it might make all the difference during a fight.
Dr. B nodded in reply to her information then walked past her to give Kody his ID. Willow followed after him, asking him about mission parameters.
Ryker stepped over to Tori. “About going into the dragon’s mind, Jesse mentioned your attempts to control the dragons. Don’t try it today. We’re already spread thin. We need you to fight, not faint.”
Unlike Dirk and Overdrake, Tori was so new to splitting her consciousness in order to go into a dragon’s control center, the two times she’d tried it, her body had ended up limp and unmoving in Dirk’s lap.
Tori nearly told Ryker, “What I do isn’t your decision” and then realized it was. Ryker was giving her a command as A-team’s captain.
By now, she ought to have accepted that he’d taken her place, but it still struck her as something new and slightly painful. She was no longer giving orders; she was taking them.
Ryker headed back toward the ammunitions stash, making it clear the matter wasn’t open for discussion. Somehow his confident stride irked her today.
Jesse appeared by her side, pulling on his gloves. “I know what you’re thinking. Don’t do it.”
Tori checked to make sure her rifle’s safety was on, then slid it into its sling. “You don’t know what I’m thinking. You’re not my counterpart.”
“I’ve been your boyfriend, so it works out to the same thing.”
She adjusted the sling, tugging it into position. “A boyfriend is completely different from a counterpart.”
Lilly snorted while passing by them. “Not with Tori.”
Tori glared at her back. Really, the girl didn’t know when to keep her mouth shut.
“I can tell what you’re thinking,” Jesse said, ignoring Lilly’s comment, “because I recognize that defiant tilt of your chin. You’re thinking about going into the dragon’s mind, even though Ryker just told you not to.”
Tori tilted her chin at him, probably defiantly.
Jesse opened his mouth to speak, but Rosa’s voice cut through the parking lot behind them. “Guess who I brought?”
Tori turned to look. All the Slayers did. Rosa emerged from the fog at the back of the parking lot, her dark hair swishing around her shoulders, her cheeks flushed from either the cold or excitement.
Beside her was Shang. He wore a dark wool coat, something that looked more like it belonged on a businessman than a Slayer, and his dark hair was short on the sides and long on top, gelled so that it was nearly spiked up.
He smiled at them, serious but resolute.
Had he somehow regained his powers? Why else would he be here? Hope lifted inside Tori, like a waiting breath. They needed all the help they could get today. They needed him.
Lilly left her rifle on the ground and ran to meet him. “You’re here!” she called, and threw her arms around him, hugging him so intently her feet momentarily lifted from the ground. She didn’t let go until the others had joined them. Everyone spoke at once.
“Do you remember everything?” Ryker asked.
“Do you remember anything?” Jesse asked.
Kody slapped Shang on the shoulder, his grin going full blast. “You’re a sight for sore eyes!”
Shang winced from Kody’s shoulder-slapping, which was an answer in and of itself. Shang didn’t have extra strength even though he was within range of the simulator.
Kody fell back a step. “Sorry,” he said, abashed. “I thought you were…” he stopped before he said what they were all thinking. I thought you were one of us again.
Shang stretched his shoulder to shrug off the pain. “I don’t remember any of the Slayer stuff. I wrote myself a story about it, though.” His gaze traveled around the group, taking in their weapons, cataloging everything. “I told Dr. B that when you guys went to battle, I wanted to help.”
A noble gesture. Also idiotic.
Jesse frowned at the idea. “Without your powers?”
Shang rubbed his shoulder then dropped his hand away as though the gesture were a sign of weakness. “When the dragons attack, none of the civilians will have extra powers, but they’ll still have to fight.”
“Or they’ll run away screaming,” Tori said. She was in agreement with Jesse on this one. Anyone without powers should stay out of the fight.
Lilly took hold of Shang’s hand, suddenly all sweetness. “That’s so incredibly selfless.” She directly turned to Dr. B and her sharpness returned. “You’re not going to let him actually fight with us, are you? He’ll be killed.”
Dr. B lifted his hands in a calming gesture. “Shang will help me. He can run weapons runner, do triage for civilians, that sort of thing.”
Tori stepped toward Dr. B to get his attention. “He could watch over my body and wake me if I needed it.” It was the perfect solution. When the attack happened, she and Shang could find a place to hide out, somewhere tucked away in a building out of the way.
Shang fixed her with a perplexed look. “I must have left some details out of my novel. What are you talking about?”
Dr. B didn’t answer. Instead he looked at Ryker. “That’s up to your captain to decide.”
Jesse shook his head, his lips set into a firm line. “No way.”
Tori favored him with another one of her defiant chin tilts. “You’re not my captain.”
Jesse gestured toward Ryker, motioning for him to speak.
“No way,” Ryker said, matching Jesse’s inflections.
That was so like Ryker. Honestly, the guy never disagreed with Jesse. It was like they had a pact where she was concerned. “You’re just saying that because Jesse’s your counterpart and he doesn’t want me to try it.”
Ryker smiled with forced but firm patience. “My reasoning doesn’t matter. I’m your captain.”
She clamped her teeth together to keep herself from saying things she would regret later. It was time to be logical, not reactionary. So, she would follow orders. Unless her ideas were better than Ryker’s. Then A-team might have a problem.
Dr. B put his hand on Shang’s shoulder. “Dress in your battle gear, and I’ll give you first aid supplies.”
Willow hadn’t said anything since Shang came. She’d just stared at him, head cocked in curiosity. Tori assumed this was because Willow hadn’t known Shang well and didn’t know what to say to him. But now she spoke. “Shang, you look wrong. Empty. Like you need help.”
He stiffened in offense and folded his arms together. “Thanks, Willow. You look great too.”
“I didn’t mean it as an insult.” She was still eyeing him like he was an oddity.
He started toward the stack of jackets and helmets. “Yeah. ‘Wrong, empty, and in need of help’ aren’t exactly compliments.”
Willow caught up to him with a leaping step that made her hair whip against her back. She took hold of his hand to stop him and moved directly in front of him. “I want to help you. Let me try.”
Without further explanation or permission, she put her hand on his cheek and ran her fingers upward through the hair at his temples. A look of concentration came into her eyes, an intensity that was unusual for her.
Shang blinked, obviously uncomfortable. “Um…” His eyes darted around the group, checking to see if this was some sort of joke or forgotten ritual, but he didn’t push Willow away.
Lilly sputtered in indignation, stormed over to Willow, and planted her hands on her hips. “Excuse me. This isn’t exactly the time to make the moves on a guy who—if he could remember it—is my boyfriend.”
Shang had stopped paying attention to Lilly. He didn’t even seem to be paying attention to Willow. His head jerked and he gasped, eyes wide. He stumbled backward, away from Willow’s touch, peering around and breathing deeply. “Everything got brighter.”
It hadn’t. The sky was still overcast.
He scanned the sky anyway. “Brighter and warmer too.”
Had his Slayer senses returned? Was that possible? What had Willow done to him? Willow stood beaming at Shang without offering any explanation.
Jesse stepped over to him, eagerness making his words quick. “Are you stronger?” They were all thinking it now, wanting it to be true.
Instead of answering, Shang’s gaze circled the group as though seeing each for the first time. “I remember things.” He opened his jaw, snapped it shut, then repeated the action. “I remember fighting a dragon. Twice.” He muttered something in Chinese and ran his hand over his forehead. “We nearly got killed both times. I can’t believe we’re here doing this again.” He didn’t sound disbelieving though, he sounded happy.
Lilly drew in an excited breath, her blue eyes eager. “Can you extinguish flames?” His memories had returned, but his powers might not have. She motioned to Kody, her fingers fluttering her request. “Hurry. Set something on fire.”
Dr. B cleared his throat and raised a hand to get Kody’s attention. “Something small and safe.”
Kody, in his exuberance, had charred several trees at camp along with an unfortunate restroom. He swung his arm and a fireball lit up a branch of a nearby tree. A birthday candle complete with a wish, waiting to be blown out.
The Slayers watched in silent, hopeful expectation. Please, Tori thought, please.
Shang waved a hand in the tree’s direction and the fire vanished, leaving only a trail of smoke snaking upward until it vanished in the fog.
A jolt of happiness went through Tori, the first she’d felt in a long time. As though with one voice, the Slayers let out a cheer—Shang loudest of all. Lilly moved toward him, arms outstretched, but Kody beat her there. He picked Shang off the ground in a hug. “Dude! You’re back!”
“A good thing,” Shang pushed Kody away with a laugh. “Because otherwise, you would have just broken my ribs.”
Tori hugged Willow, nearly knocking her over in her enthusiasm. “Willow found her superpower!”
Tori wanted to laugh and cry, and the sounds that came from her throat were a bit of both. Dr. B’s medieval records had said a way existed for Slayers to get their powers back quickly, but the manuscripts had never mentioned what the method was. And now they knew. It was an ability like quenching fire, shielding, and flying. Willow could restore powers. With this one turn of events, the Slayers weren’t as outnumbered as they’d supposed.
Willow grinned in the attention. “Who just became a valuable member of this team? Oh, that would be me.”
Rosa nearly bounced up and down with excitement. “Willow can help Alyssa, Leo, and Danielle.”
They all turned to Dr. B. He was already on his phone, scrolling through contacts. He motioned to Lilly. “Call Alyssa and find out where she is. Tell her you and Jesse are on your way to see her.”
Lilly pulled out her phone, already dialing. “You want me to go with Jesse?”
“No, but she doesn’t know who Willow is. If she’s expecting you, you’ll be able to set up a meeting place. We need to contact everyone before their cars and cell phones die.”
They might not have much time.
Next Dr. B motioned to Kody. His words were shotgun fast. “Call Danielle. Tell her Jesse and you need to talk to her immediately.” To Rosa, he said, “I’ve got Leo’s number. Tell him you want to see him.”
He turned to Jesse last of all. “As our most experienced flyer, I need you here. However, I’ve no choice but to send you. Leo and Danielle don’t know Tori or Ryker. Bring Leo back first. We need shielders. Then Danielle, then Alyssa.”
Jesse zipped up his jacket and grabbed his gloves. “Leo won’t want to talk to me.”
A few weeks ago, Bess and Jesse had contacted Leo and tried to help him regain some of his memories. They were attacked by Overdrake’s men in the process and now Leo knew hanging around them could be dangerous.
“Leo will talk to Rosa,” Dr. B said.
He was probably right. During camp, Leo had an unspoken crush on her. None of the Slayers had realized Dr. B had known about that. Perhaps he wasn’t as oblivious as they’d supposed.
“Two flyers should go.” Ryker said, pulling off his helmet. “That way as soon as Willow finishes restoring Leo’s powers, I can fly him back here and Jesse can fly Willow straight to Danielle.”
Kody speed-dialed the number, his gaze on Willow. “I just wish you had discovered your power yesterday.”
Tori understood why she hadn’t. “Until now, Willow has never been around anyone who’d lost their powers.”
Kody put her phone to her ear. “Well, you’re about to meet three of—Hey, Danielle, it’s Kody. I need to see you as soon as possible. It’s an emergency.” A pause. “Trust me. This is worth ditching basketball practice.”
While Kody went on with his conversation, Willow took off her helmet and handed it to Theo. He gave her a motorcycle helmet in return. It would hide her identity while she flew but wouldn’t make her look like a cop when she landed.
“Wait,” Willow said, as much to herself as the others, “how am I supposed to tell three strangers that I want to touch their heads? This has awkward situation written all over it.” She tied back her hair with shaking hands. “Is it too late to change my superpower?”
“You’ll figure something out.” Dr. B turned toward Lilly, maps on his phone screen. “What’s Alyssa’s location?”
“She’s home,” Lilly mouthed, still on the phone.
Willow adjusted the collar of her jacket. “Like…I’m just supposed to say, ‘Hi, you don’t know me, but I need to feel your skull for a few moments.’”
“Yes,” Dr. B said. He headed toward the van, punching a number in on his phone. “Rosa,” he called over his shoulder, “where’s Leo?”
Rosa slid her phone back into her pocket. “He’s still at school, but he’ll be at his house in ten minutes. He’s expecting me to bring him a surprise.” She lowered her voice and tilted her chin at Tori in a conspiratorial way. “He asked if I was wearing something flirty.”
“And you are.” Ryker took his rifle off for the trip and laid it against the side of the van. “Your battle gear is totally flirty.”
Rosa huffed. “How are you going to explain why you guys came and I didn’t?”
Jesse smiled and laid his rifle next to Ryker’s. “That’s the surprise.”
Rosa huffed again. “Leo never wanted to see me in any flirty little outfits back when we went to camp together. Unlike the rest of you, we kept that no dating rule.”
Jesse checked the GPS on his phone, already planning his route. “You can be a rule breaker like the rest of us as soon as the dragons are dead.”
“Maybe he’s not my type anymore,” Rosa said airily. “I mean, what sort of guy asks a girl he hasn’t seen in months to flirtify herself for him?”
Dr. B, thankfully, had been too busy talking to Booker at the van to hear the wardrobe conversation. He strode back over, his scarf dangling and precariously close to falling off. “Booker will drive a simulator in your direction, so you don’t lose power.” He motioned to Jesse and Ryker. “Fly beneath the radar. Go.”
“But—” Willow started. She didn’t get to finish. Ryker scooped her up and he and Jesse shot into the sky. Within seconds, they were dark spots against the gray clouds. Still too visible until they got higher. All of this would have been easier if it were darker.
Booker unhooked the simulator from the van and attached it to a three-wheeled motorcycle. It was more maneuverable than a car.
Tori finished loading her weapons, then mounted Bane. She and Kody would head to the mall area, where mounted police patrolled. The other groups would be on motorcycles in other parts of DC. If the attacks happened before Jesse and Ryker got back, she would be the only flyer, and therefore, the default captain.
Dr. B took his laptop from the van and turned it on. His motions were businesslike, but a nervous energy gave his voice an edge. “I’ll wait here for the others to return. When they and Bess come, I’ll send them out to different areas of the city. Try to be as inconspicuous as possible. Remember that your first priority is killing the dragons. Your second is protecting civilians.”
He had given these exact orders often enough during practice, but never with so much worry in his blue eyes. “Your natural instinct will be to reverse that order, but don’t let yourself. If you save civilians and let the dragon escape, it will just strike again somewhere else, and you won’t be around to stop it.” He paused and swallowed. “Be careful, be focused, be triumphant.” He stepped aside and swept a hand in the direction of downtown. “Tori, you’re the interim captain.”
Normally, at least one of the Slayers would have called out something a little disparaging. Lilly would have had some sort of complaint about Tori’s temporary promotion. But everyone just nodded at Dr. B and turned their motorcycles and horses toward the city. This wasn’t a normal drill, and they all felt the weight of that knowledge pressing against them.