Once outside, Diane did not have to take them far. There were a dozen nasty looking brutes a hundred yards off across the parade ground. Fortunately, there were no people between them and the orcs.
“We may need to run,” Heinrich whispered.
“Diane, go back to the others,” Emily said.
“Not the point. You are unarmed. I said go back.”
“Yes Ma’am, Majesty.” Diane started out Army and turned Amazon. Mindy and Amina thought that was great.
“Arrows ready,” Heinrich said as the two parties stopped twenty yards apart. The orcs were hard to look at, not because they were especially frightening or ugly, but because they looked unstable. They were on earth, on the parade ground that doubled as a ball field in the summer, but they appeared to still have a foot in some other realm. Besides that, whatever they once were, elves, dwarfs, imps of one sort or another no one could say. They all appeared to share the same distorted, mean and pained expression.
“Why are you here?” Heinrich asked. “You do not belong here.”
One orc, no doubt the leader, took a step forward. “We were sent to find the called one and her coven of evil.” The voice was distorted as well as the face, and hard to hear without feeling the chill of death.
“And what will you do with her?” Emily had to ask.
“We will kill her and crush her bones and have her for our meat.”
“That doesn’t leave much negotiating room,” Mindy said quietly while Amina spoke over her head.
“The others. There are two groups.”
“Return to the Second Heavens while you can. You cannot survive here,” Heinrich ordered the orcs, not that they were likely to listen.
The orcs laughed, and Emily took that occasion to speak softly to her group. “Back away slowly, like from a wild dog.” She was anxious about the others. She chided herself for jumping before she had all the facts. She swore once again that it was a mistake she would not repeat, assuming she survived this encounter.
The orc laughter stopped as suddenly as it started. Diane, Hilde and Greta ran up from behind with military issue rifles. They must have busted into Captain Driver’s gun locker and ammunition box.
“Armed and ready, Ma’am.” Diane was all military that time.
Emily raised her sword. “Aim!” She skipped right over ready. “One warning.” She looked squarely at the orc leader. “Run,” she suggested.
At sight of the rifles, several of the orcs at the back began to move away. But the orc leader chose to be stupid and charged as Emily said “Fire!”
Of the orcs who braved the guns, five were struck immediately. One took two arrows dead center and went down, but the others continued on. The guns fired again. Mindy and Amina pulled their small knives, but counted on their bows to fend off any attacker until help could arrive. Heinrich took down two with his sword and without a sweat, but one went for the rifles and the other went after the archers.
The orc leader was the one who was miraculously untouched by arrows or bullets. He went straight for Emily. And he had a wicked looking sword with a jagged edge. Emily and the orc went thrust and parry for a good ten seconds, and Emily dropped her shoulder twice when she went for the orc’s legs. She remembered what Heinrich told her and scolded herself. When she dropped her shoulder the third time, the orc dropped his weapon to parry, only instead of aiming at the orc’s legs, this time Emily went for the arm. She sliced through the orc’s arm without even pausing at the bone. The orc dropped its sword with the arm and looked up, dumbly, as Emily followed up with a slice through the orc’s neck.
Greta and Hilde both shot the orc that attacked Diane. It collapsed before it reached the girl. Mindy and Amina double-teamed their assailant. While Amina blocked the orc’s big club with her bow, held like a staff, Mindy, the short one, slipped under and stuck her knife in the orc’s heart—or at least where a heart would have been in a human. The orc staggered and Amina jumped up and thrust her knife into the orc’s ear. Whatever hesitation Amina had with killing, apparently it did not include orcs.
“Quickly!” Amina shouted. “They are attacking the gym from the other side.” And they ran.
Latasha and Keisha walked to Janet’s house, Keisha happy to have her friends together again, Latasha with some trepidation, but she didn’t say anything. There was an ambulance out front. When they rang the bell, Janet’s mother looked to be in shock. Janet came home from an outing barely an hour ago, and now she was dead. Keisha burst into tears. Latasha called Detective Lisa. She would cry in a minute.