Come on, Ayers. Pick up. The phone buzzed in Minos’s ear. Four times. Five. On the sixth, the voicemail started. He hit the end button, severing the connection. What had happened to his man in the field?
Had the female ‘Vider woken from her injuries?
Couldn’t have. Ayers had said she was nearly dead. Minos lifted the carriage curtain and peered outside.
In the streets of Abaddon, lines of male prisoners raked leaves into piles over the squares of dead grass. Shackles clanked as they trudged in front of posh houses. The chains linking them together snaked across the cobblestoned streets.
“Pick it up, boys. We ain’t got all day.” Leaning against a streetlamp, a guard tapped his whip against his leg and scratched his nose. Flakes of dead skin drifted away from the sunburned nose and forehead.
The world was dying, slowly. Didn’t the fools see it? Watery sunshine shone in rays through the leadened clouds. This year Spring resembled Fall. Buds withered on the vine. Young leaves browned and tumbled to the ground. The grass greened in small patches.
The phone vibrated in Minos’s hand. Without looking at the screen, he accepted the call. “What the hell happened?”
“I should be asking you that, lover.” The soft female voice drifted over the air. “You are two minutes late reporting in.”
He stiffened. Damn, of all people to lose control in front of. “I thought you were Ayers.”
She tsked. “No names. I must remain above.”
Above. Always above. Funny that she wanted change but wasn’t willing to do the work necessary to bring it about. He smoothed his hair. “My apologies, sweet.”
“Have you anything to report? Or was I simply waiting for my health?”
Did he? Minos replayed what he knew and what he could relate so she could remain gloriously above. Inhaling a calming breath, he shook the irritation out his fingers. She had her role in the remaking of Dark Hope, too. “Chief Dawson has a line on who smuggled the weapons out of the city.”
“Yes, Dawson was always too smart for his own good.”
“I’ve taken steps to plug the leak.” Tapping filtered through the line. Minos pictured her manicured nails drumming on the table.
“I will take steps to muzzle the Security dog,” she sighed. “Our little coup d’etat would go so much faster if he were on our side.”
The carriage slowed as they entered the business district. Concrete patched the ancient brick facades. Dark Hope issued Ultraviolet resistant glass filled the large store fronts and bay windows reaching to the second story. The Art Deco Marquee of the Opera building jutted proudly into the street. The glittering citizens of Abaddon waited at the street corner, blinking at the sunshine. Surly servants fidgeted in the shadowy alley—invisible people.
“They all will be. Eventually.” There was only one way to save the planet and the people. His phone chimed a warning. Radiation exposed climbed to dangerous levels. Again. Solar activity exceeded the record set last month. Minos closed the curtain.
“Yes, well, eventually will take too long. Any movement on your front?”
“Lake has taken the bait. I believe an attack is imminent.”
“You said that last week and the one before.”
Minos swallowed his rebuttal, tempered it. He would not be removed from the mission this close to completing it. “His men are pulling the weapons from the barn.”
“Ahh,” She gasped with pleasure. “Do you know the target?”
“No, but I begged him not to attack Sanctuary.” Lake had practically salivated when Minos had groveled. Damn, he was good.
She chuckled. “I knew those advanced degrees in psychology would work in our favor.”
Minos relaxed into the soft cushion. He didn’t need any degrees to manipulate Lake. The man was power hungry. “It’s just a matter of time before Gavin Neville’s descendants and his followers are wiped from the planet.”
Two enemies slain with one stone.
“If Dark Hope’s cabinet doesn’t begin war preparations after the attack on our border, our people shall remove them from office. Permanently.”