Boston and Sukki sat quietly in the alley where they could watch the warehouse side door and keep one eye on the brigand horses tied there. The sun passed the midpoint in the sky a couple of hours earlier, and the afternoon felt hot, and boring. Boston looked at her watch and saw it was after three.
“Hurry up,” she whispered. “It is going to be dark soon. We don’t want them to get away.” Immediately, she heard the voice of Lockhart come from her wristwatch communicator. Boston grinned. It was just the sort of coincidental, perfect timing the little spirits of the earth tend to do without any effort.
“Decker. Any movement?” Lockhart asked.
“Nothing on the docks,” Althea spoke into the communicator she borrowed from Lincoln.
“No movement,” Decker spoke over top. “Since Alexis mentioned it, Elder Stow decided he wants to go invisible and sneak into the building. If he can isolate Millie and Evan, he has two more discs tuned to the invisibility spectrum.”
“Sukki,” Elder Stow spoke. “You still have an invisibility disc.”
Sukki took Boston’s wrist and spoke into the watch. “Yes.”
Elder Stow meant to tell Sukki to stay out of the warehouse, invisible or not, but Lockhart interrupted. “Elder Stow. Go ahead inside but take your screen device. There should be a couple of young Amazon girls in there that we did not know about before now. See if you can isolate them all behind your force field.”
“You got a screen device, one small enough to carry around?” Althea spouted her excitement over the radio.
Elder Stow huffed. “My father. It is not a force field. That description is so wrong, I cannot tell you.”
“Just go,” Katie spoke. “We will be there in five or ten minutes, and Leodis is bringing a hundred guardsmen. We want our friends safe, and don’t want them used as hostages. Out.”
“Going,” Elder Stow responded, and added, “Out, as you say.”
“Boston?” Alexis’ voice followed. “You are not allowed to go invisible and follow Elder Stow into the building. Do you hear me?”
“Yes, mom,” Boston said, in her best sarcastic voice.
Alexis turned off her wristwatch device and spoke to the others, looking only slightly embarrassed. “As long as she listens…”
“Are you going in anyway?” Sukki asked Boston.
“Absolutely,” Boston responded.
Sukki pulled her knife and made sure Elder Stow’s invisibility disc stayed in the pocket in her belt. After a minute, Sukki turned invisible. Boston immediately went invisible, the way elves do, especially when they are working around humans. Sukki could not see Boston, but Boston could still see Sukki, so she took Sukki’s hand, cautioned her to quiet, and took her in the side door.
Boston and Sukki stepped to the back as a man came to poke his head out the door, looked at the horses, and shut the door again with a shrug, like maybe the door blew open. Boston counted twenty men in the warehouse, all standing lazily by the windows, looking out, occasionally, and waiting for something. Boston figured they were waiting for the sun to go down.
“Millie,” Sukki whispered and pointed. She seemed to want to drag Boston in that direction. Millie and Evan appeared to be unhurt, but sitting quietly on chairs, while two young girls sat on the floor behind them. She wondered how many young girls the brigands carried off originally from that village. She would find out later. She tried hard to wait, patiently.
Boston watched and listened to the two that sat at a table. She caught the names, Mylo and Philocrates. They looked like the ones in charge, if only because they were not standing beside a door or window. She thought of all kinds of things she could do to spook them. The thoughts came to her, instinctively. Some of her notions, the true imps might describe as trixie-fixies. She had to force herself to refrain, but she did pass the time thinking what she could do to get the two men to draw swords on each other.
Finally, Elder Stow came in the front door. Sukki started right out across the warehouse floor. Elder Stow saw her and frowned. Sukki and Elder Stow could see each other, even if no one else could see them. Boston, on the other hand, stayed invisible to everybody, though she might have been seen if there were other spirits around, at least little spirits. Lesser and greater spirits and, of course, the gods would see her, and she might not see them. She could not worry about that. She had to catch up to Sukki.
“Millie. And Evan,” Sukki gave it her best whisper. She clutched her knife and turned to see if any of the men heard.
“Hold the girls,” Boston said. “We don’t want to frighten them.”
“Boston?” Evan spoke softly as he took Libra’s hand and Millie hugged Chloe. A few of the men’s heads turned toward them. “Is Elder Stow with you?”
“Right here,” Elder Stow said in his normal voice.
As he got close, he got ready to turn on his screen device, but Boston yelled, “Hey.” She got knocked over from behind. Elder Stow nearly dropped his screen device in a sudden wind. The wind coalesced in mid-air. A wraith appeared in the image of a zombie-like woman with flesh rotting off her body. The wraith floated six feet off the ground. She turned her head all the way around to grin wickedly at the travelers and Amazon girls, then finished turning her head the rest of the distance to face the two men at the table and the men against the walls.
“Your enemies have found you,” the wraith spoke in an eerie, chilling voice. “Now, you will all die.” The wraith laughed, and a number of people in the room threw their hands to their ears to not have to hear that laugh.
Boston got mad. She whipped out her wand and lost her concentration on staying invisible. Fortunately, when she became visible again, she came with her glamour of humanity in place. Boston aimed her wand at the wraith, and a stream of fire, like a miniature flame-thrower came out of the end. The wraith shrieked and managed to side-step in mid-air. Then, because Boston and Elder Stow might hurt her, or because she finished making her dastardly prophecy, she raced to the ceiling.
“Die,” she yelled, and laughed again as she went right through the roof and out into the afternoon sun.
Elder Stow turned on his screen and turned off his invisibility disc so he and Sukki became visible again, looking human enough. Elder Stow looked like a bearded fifty-year-old, which was plenty old for that day and age. Sukki looked like a big, broad-shouldered girl, like maybe an Olympic weightlifter, or wrestler, or some such thing.
The screen made a bubble, covering overhead, as well as beneath the floor. Boston got caught outside the screen, but she knew how to get through the screen, and quickly phased through to get behind the protection. All at once, the men around the room appeared to wake up from their shock. They all moved.
The two at the table ran straight for the side door where their horses were tied up. Three men followed them. Ten burst out the warehouse double-doors that faced the docks. They ran into the dozen Amazons who were ready for them, and well hidden. The rest raised their bows and tried to shoot the intruders, only to see their arrows bounce off Elder Stow’s screen.
A couple of them shouted, and two joined the others on the dock, to be cut down by the Amazons. The rest tried for the front door where Decker played turkey shoot.
Inside the screen, the Amazon girls pushed past Millie and Evan to get at Sukki and Boston. “You are a spell caster,” both said to Boston, more or less together. The awe in their voices could not be hidden.
“I wish I was a spell caster,” Chloe said, while Libra turned to Sukki.
“You look really strong. I wish I was really strong.” Libra touched Sukki’s muscled arm and Sukki smiled but did not know what to say.
“She is stronger than you might imagine,” Elder Stow said, and the two young girls bowed their heads slightly to the old man as a sign of respect. “And Boston here was the first spell caster in the Amazon nation, back when Zoe was queen of the people. They called her Little Fire.” Elder Stow looked at Boston. “I remember, even if I spent most of that time passed out in a drunken stupor from that Amazon beer.”
Chloe’s eyes got big, but Libra did not buy it. “Can’t be. That was a gamillion years ago.” She looked at Millie for adult confirmation. Millie smiled with her response and responded gently.
“I wasn’t there at the time, but I believe it.” Libra still looked uncertain, but Millie turned to Evan and said something not entirely unexpected. “I want to have a daughter.”
Evan opened his eyes, wide. While he did not say no, he looked glad when Elder Stow interrupted.
“We have prisoners.”
Three men threw down their weapons, put their hands on their heads, and knelt, one with his eyes closed like he started praying. Decker came in and shouted. “Lie down on your faces. Hands over your head.” The men did not argue.
Elder Stow turned off the screen device as Althea and three Amazons came rushing in the warehouse double-doors. Boston walked up to the corner of the building where her flame-thrower started the wall on fire. She had to think, and that felt hard to do with Chloe clinging to her side and walking in her steps. Finally, she pulled out her wand and pointed at the building fire. The flames appeared to suck back into the wand, though the wooden wall still smoldered, and the fire looked like it might start up again any minute.
“Amazing,” Chloe said. “I wish I could do that.”
Boston smiled for the girl and patted her head. “You are an Amazon. You can do whatever you want.”