Season Notes: violence, magical coercion and related self harm, references to suicide, cliffhanger
Salem got the text while they were holed up in a no-tell motel. It was crowded with five, which would have been bad enough. But it had only one bed and the floor was the type of thing you didn’t want to walk on without shoes, never mind sleep on. They were eager to get gone.
The address was halfway across the country, which had the advantage that no one would look for them there. And the satellite view from a map app was enough direction for their teleport. They couldn’t have brought their new ‘Mentor’ with them, but he wasn’t at the motel anyway. At Mobb’s insistence, no one had gone to Lawerence Park yet.
Scouting the place was Salem’s job, of course. But she needed backup. So Salem had Mobb piggyback, and they clasped wrists to help keep her steady without strangling Salem. And Salem just… faded out.
“Oh my god,” Quickmoon said. “Hold up, did you see that?”
“What?” Mobb dropped down from Salem’s back and went for her weapon — and Salem immediately reappeared.
Blade shook his head. “Come here, Guns, I want to try something.”
“What’s wrong?” Salem asked. “We have places to be.”
“Nothing’s wrong,” Quick said, “I don’t think.”
“Come on, Guns,” Blade repeated, “Just hop on me the way you did Speed.”
Then they were all talking over each other.
“Stop!” Astaroth barked, putting a bit of force behind the word, enough to shake them. “Speed, Guns, when you grabbed wrists, Speed faded out too. Like your camo spread to cover her or something.
“Blade, you’re right: we need to test that. But not now. Let’s scope out the new place and get under cover. We shouldn’t meet up with Mentor before dark, so we’ll have a few hours to check it out.”
“He’s not ‘mentor’ yet,” Mobb grumped, climbing back on Salem’s back. Salem faded out again, and Quickmoon’s voice trailed after them.
“We wouldn’t even have a place if it wasn’t for him…”
A few moments later, Salem zipped up to a large cabin in the wood. Unlike the old one, it was way out in the woods. No power lines, not even a mailbox. Leaves and clutter piled in front of the door. No one around for miles.
Salem explored the outside while Mobb searched the inside. Of all of them, Mobb had the best chance of spotting any bugs or tampering. As specified, the key was under the doormat. A lean-to had a working well-pump and generator.
The inside looked like some rich guy’s old hunting lodge — animal heads on the walls, fur rugs on the floors. Salem, when she came in after scoping out the exterior, thought it was creepy. But the water ran, and the lights turned on. The cabinets and fridge were stocked with food.
On the kitchen table was a note. “C.S.M.,
“I called in a few favors of my own and managed to keep everything but ‘I need a safehouse’ between us. My own people swept it for bugs, but I can’t promise someone else here in Alphabet Land won’t get curious. Stay safe and call me when you have something good.
“You Know Who.”
“Shit. Alphabet Land.” Mobb muttered.
“What?” Salem asked, coming up behind her, “What the hell’s Alphabet land?”
“Washington DC. Our… friend has a government official who owes him favors. Big time.”
“What the fuck!”
“Yuuup. We’ve been fucking lucky so far that the Feebs or spooks haven’t pinned us down. I’m sure they’ve been trying. Now…”
“Temporary safe house. Very temporary.”
They finished searching, but Mobb wasn’t worried about finding anything. If You Know Who owed Mentor this big, then they’d have made sure their people swept good. It bugged her — what could Mentor have done to get this kind of favor from Alphabet Land? And what was it going to cost them later?
After a dozen years in the guard reserves, that almost scared Mobb more than Mourningdagger.
They left the note where they found it, and Salem zipped to bring in the others.
The team got ready to go — mostly emptying out their backpacks so they’d have room for the supplies they were grabbing. Then spent the next few hours watching the clock, exploring the new place, and taking turns playing piggyback with Mobb.
The problem with teleporting was you never knew what was at the other end. So they waited until after sundown and aimed for a secluded corner under some trees. They still lucked out to not be spotted — that ‘secluded corner’ would have been a likely spot for some homeless kid to hide for the night. And there were lots of homeless kids even before MourningDagger tore the city apart and built his fortress in the middle of it. Blade and Salem took the backpacks to the pile of leaf litter under some trees the supplies were hidden in. Astaroth, Quicksilver, and Mobb spread out to search the park.
It wasn’t that big a park, and it didn’t take long to be sure that the only other person there was a homeless man wrapped in a blanket under a bench.
“This isn’t good,” Quickmoon said. “He should be here.”
Mobb snorted. “Look, he took off. Can’t exactly blame the bastard. Let’s get this shit out of here and get home.”
“We’ll wait a bit.” Astaroth started heading back toward Blade and Salem. “He maybe could camp out here, but he’d still need to step away for food or to find a bathroom.”
“You think he’s taking a piss?!”
Quickmoon giggled. “Hey, since when are bladders convenient?”
Mobb grumbled, but as she jogged to catch up with Astaroth, admitted, “Never.”
Blade decided to pass the time catching up on social media. Barely a minute had passed when he said, “Team? We have a problem.”
They all crowded around, and Blade pulled up a photograph from a recent tweet.
The scene was lit by the glow of the shield surrounding MourningDagger’s castle. It cast everything in a creepy purplish light, distorting colors. It took the team a moment to recognize what they were seeing.
Just inside the shield, Mentor knelt with MourningDagger’s hand on the back of his neck.
Mea culpa, mea culpa. I said I’d try not to have season cliffhangers, but sometimes the story goes where it will regardless of what I want.
Anyway, time for a new story. Well, new to here anyway: Next week we will be starting the first season of The Bargain.
It takes a rare and desperate human to deliberately seek out a fae noble. But rumor says that not all nobles are the same, and Mattin Brenson is desperate. Desperate enough to bargain with Countess Jahlene n’Erida for the highest of stakes.
Bargains with the fae are dangerous, but sometimes what starts as a bargain, can become something more.
The Bargain is a multi-season story that melds chosen family aromance and noncon kinky fantasy, with a very little sex. The Bargain was previously released as a novel, it has been heavily revised for this new ‘edition.’