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.These demons gave us apretty bad beating, especially the women.We‟re not sure what their goal is, but whatever it is,they‟re extremely determined.”“Well thank God you all came out alive.”There was a brief pause.“I understand that the absence of my brother‟s spiritualpressure means he‟s no longer with us.”“Affirmative sir,” Steel sighed.“Is Niomi with you?”“Yes sir.”351“Is, is she holding up —”“I‟m fine, Father,” Jade assured him softly, breaking into the conversation.Steel rolled his eyes in her direction.Fine? She was anything but that.“In order to heal the pain, you must acknowledge it first, my child.We will pray togetheronce you arrive.”“Yes Father,” Jade whispered, lowering her head and slumping against thewindow pane.“Tell me about Lady Bird.What is it?”“Sacred Packages.An amulet, which is in Jade‟s possession and the others are two spiritualswords for the Dragon Queen.And before you ask, we have no idea who she is.”“So that‟s what he was trying to tell me before the demons attacked.I assume the demonsknow you have those items in your possession.”Steel swallowed hard.“Yes sir, they know.”“When are the military going to send for you and the team?”“We were told forty-eight hours at the most.”“No! That‟s too long!” His groan of frustration radiated through the connection.“Within that time the demons would have found you and your team.”“Uh, they‟ve already found us, sir.They‟re currently regrouping beyond the prayer barrierset by the shrine keepers.”352“And they‟re saying forty-eight hours! You‟re sitting ducks!”Steel snorted in amusement.“Yes sir.I believe that‟s the phrase to best define ourcurrent situation.”Another groan filled Steel‟s mind.“I don‟t understand! There is a government baseright there in Japan! Why forty-eight hours?”“Oh sir, I thought you knew.This mission is not sanctioned by the government.They don‟teven know we‟re here.Well, perhaps they do now since we made a pretty noisy exit in Osaka.Ourconnections back at base are trying to get here as soon as possible, but to swipe a bird under theradar is a bit difficult.That‟s why we are at a standstill until they arrive.”“That won‟t do! I‟m going to make a call to the ministry‟s armed forces.I have got to getyou and your soldiers here sooner.You said the women in your team are pretty badly injured.Arethey in good enough condition to travel within four to six hours?”“We‟re always in good enough condition, Father,” Jade attested.“No worries about us.This is what we do.”Steel glinted at Jade‟s back with a smile, feeling a dose of pride engulf hisheart.“If you can make it happen, Father, we‟ll be ready.”“Good.Give me about fifteen minutes and I will contact you with your new travelarrangements.”353Copper slid her eyes open and was instantly overcome with dizziness.Wincing, she pressed her palm to her forehead.She withstood the whirlingsensation and shifted her eyes around to check out the unfamiliar surroundings.The modern Asian furniture in the small space indicated she was still inJapan.Dim light shone through the small window and faintly illuminated theroom.How long had she been out of it?In the midst of her disorientation, an odd feeling consumed her; a massivepressure from someone‟s spiritual energy.It couldn‟t be anyone on the team,because she didn‟t recognize the force and it didn‟t fuse with her own.Who wasemanating such powerful energy?The painful tingling sensation, radiating from her abdomen, reminded her ofwhat had happened and who caused the pain.Fucking demons!She attempted to push up to a sitting position, only to find her body wasstrapped to the bed.“Bloody hell?”The fusuma door slid open and Blaze appeared.“Hey sleepy head.”Right away she noticed Blaze‟s right shoulder and arm was wrapped upwith an elastic bandage.“You all right?”354“Am I all right?” Smiling, she brushed her long, inky hair from her shoulder.“I should be asking you that.”Copper attempted to take in a deep breath, but it only caused her more pain.She grimaced when her stomach muscles contracted.“Can‟t even breathe,” she grumbled, clenching her teeth.“Yeah, it‟s going to be like that for a little while.” Blaze slid down into thechair next to the bed.“Me, you and Jade are at the mercy of the shrine keeper‟shusband.He‟s a healer.The man expended his own soul‟s energy just to save ourlives.”“What?”“Yeah.The demons did us in pretty bad.Internal bleeding, I think.Stillkinda foggy on the details.” Sighing, Blaze grazed her fingers across her wrappedshoulder.“We all exhausted our energy to keep fighting.”They had to.It was the only way they could‟ve gotten out alive.She took in a slow breath to fill her lungs then push out a tad of her pain onthe exhale.“How‟s Jade?”Blaze shook her head.“Physically, she‟s fine, well except for the leg, but…”She nibbled on her bottom lip and rested her hand on her injured shoulder.“Onceshe woke up and realized what happened at the temple wasn‟t just a bad dream…”Blinking back the rise of tears, Copper nodded in understanding.355Blaze looked away as she continued.“She‟s hard as a rock right now.She‟sholding in her emotions.If she doesn‟t release the pain, she‟s going to selfdestruct.”“Give her time.You know we all have our own way of dealing with the innerpain.She‟ll break sooner or later.We‟ll just have to be there to give her supportwhen she does, to help her press on.” Copper fell silent and smiled at the sound ofSpade‟s laughter coming from the other room.“What happened after I dropped?”she asked, vaguely remembering the moment when everything went black.Blaze snickered, but not in humor.“I dropped…then, from what the guys tellme, Jade dropped soon after.” She leaned back in the chair and stretched her legsout.“They carried us to the nearest town where somebody was nice enough to giveus a ride to the hospital.” Blaze started to unhook the straps that bound her to thebed.“Before the nurses even had a chance to prep us for the emergency surgery wewere supposed to have, the doctors started asking questions…” Blaze pushed out ofthe chair and held onto her arm to help her sit up.“Questions about the blacksubstance we were covered in when we arrived at the hospital.”Ignoring the throbbing pain in her abdomen, Copper let Blaze ease her upinto an upright position.“And they told the doctors, what exactly?”“They didn‟t tell them anything.” Blaze lowered back into the chair.“Theywent into ninja formation and snuck us out of the hospital.”356Copper chuckled helplessly then cringed at the tinge of pain [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]