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   Chapter 5 Free Fall The Society Book 2

Free Fall: The Society Book 2 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 15856

Updated: 2018-03-13 11:49

Chapter 5

Ivy stared at the golden symbol on the signet ring. The Brotherhood was a story told to frighten small children. The fact that they were once a reality made them more terrifying than any fictional monster, at least in Ivy's mind. The one element that prevented nightmares was that the united clans worked together to eliminate the Brotherhood shortly after the formation of the Shadow Council. To a man they were destroyed.

'Or that's how the stories always go, ' Ivy thought.

The Brotherhood was a group of norms sworn to purge the abominations from the earth in defense of humanity. As a mage, Ivy was one of the abominations, all of the clans were, Mages, Shifters, Seers, Vampires and Fae. All were felt to be a threat to humanity and needed to be eliminated by any means necessary.

"That's why he was searching for magical items when he came to kill me, " Ivy said.

It made an evil sort of sense. In the stories The Brotherhood was willing to use any weapon that came to hand to further their cause, including magic. If they could use something a mage created to kill someone from one of the clans, then it was considered a righteous use and vindication of their belief that the earth needed to be cleansed from people who could create such dangerous things in the first place.

"Although, I'm not sure what use they planned to put my laundry packets to, " Ivy said.

Among the items collected were packets designed to eliminate trackers placed on clothing. It was a two part system, one part working in the washer and the other in the dryer. The jars were labeled wash and dry, but the packets weren't labeled at all and using them incorrectly not only wouldn't remove the tracker it would destroy the washer and drier as well as any clothing. Walter Garret wasn't a mage and used a sensor some other mage created to find anything, including the packets, imbued with magic. Anything he found ended up jumbled in one big bag higgledy-piggledy.

'Maybe they just meant to destroy the items, ' she thought. 'Depriving me of any of my magical aides.' She shook her head. That would be stupid. She made every item in her apartment, she could easily remake them. 'Of course he thought I'd soon be dead. But why take them in the first place? It wasn't like I would be keeping weapons of mass destruction in my apartment.'

"Of course they could think that all magic is a weapon, " Ivy said.

"That would play into their thinking as I understand it, " Irina said.

"Fanatical logic? Destroy everything, even the remnants?" Ivy nodded. "I have the feeling if they destroyed all that was in that bag in one go it would have gone boom in some sense of the word confirming at least to their minds that they were destroying a weapon."

"Making the results of their actions fit their dogma, " Nick said.

"But why hire a Fae?" Ivy asked. "They hate the Fae as much as they hate the rest of us. Or if not hate us then think we poor pitiful humans, whether of the clans or norm, should serve their magnificent society as slaves." Ivy frowned. "Or maybe we are supposed to worship them as gods. I've never been certain which scenario they are more fond of bringing about."

"I'm pretty certain they would happily accept any of the three; worship, enslavement or complete annihilation, " Irina said. "I do not believe they are picky."

"Aren't vampires one of the clans?" Nick asked. "Don't vampires feed on humans?"

"True, " Ivy replied nodding. "So the vampires would push for either enslavement or worship rather than extinction, but even though the Fae and the Vamps are allied in the Council, they aren't terribly fond of each other. After all vampires start off human and can feed on Fae blood as well as human." Ivy shook her head. "And the Brotherhood hates us all."

"Maybe it is strategic, " Nick suggested.

"Getting the Fae to do their work for them and after they were worn down fighting with us, taking out the Fae, " Irina finished. She nodded agreeing with the thought. "Plausible. And smart, especially if the Fae don't know they are working for the Brotherhood."

"Us, " Ivy replied. "And to what clan do you belong?"

"It's a figure of speech, " Irina said with a smile. "I belong to no clan."

"You still aren't a norm."

Irina chuckled dryly. "No, I suppose I'm not. I was a Seer once, long before you were born. They objected to my choice of husband and I was forced to make a choice." She shrugged. "So I made one. I have no clan now as I said."

Ivy studied Irina for a moment, studying the older woman and thinking about her story, or what she knew of it. She had little love of Seers as they held the deciding vote to split her family and when they sensed trouble brewing retreated to their hidden strongholds to wait it out rather than get involved. She did however like Irina, a lot. She also trusted her, considering both her and Nick part of her extended family. Thinking of extended family, her thoughts naturally shifted to the packs and something clicked into place.

"That's why you didn't go to the packs when you immigrated, or later when the two of you went into hiding, " Ivy said.

Irina nodded. She looked tired and older than usual. "I could have gone to the packs when we arrived and perhaps things would have been different. My husband and sons were good men as were the other men in the pack, their alpha included. They treated me with respect. They found my abilities useful, very profitable too and I could see the greed building. My husband and sons were all powerful men, strong lykos and well-thought of by the pack so the greed was always held in check. When they were gone, I feared the greed, both for myself and for my daughter."

Ivy wondered how Irina's husband and sons died but didn't ask.

"She had the abilities of your clan?" Ivy asked instead. Nick was staring at his grandmother, his eyes occasionally darting to her before returning to Irina's face. Ivy had the feeling this was a part of his family history he was not familiar hearing.

"She did, " Irina confirmed. "As well as some of her father's wildness. I did not want to join another pack and find the same situation, or worse. The Seers would have taken me back then as it was just the two of us, but I couldn't really forgive them for making me choose in the first place. So we were on our own." Irina shrugged and sighed. "Living outside the clans has both benefits and drawbacks."

"As does living within it, " Ivy agreed.

"True, " Irina confirmed. She shook her head as though separating herself from thoughts of the past. "You know the rest of the story, or can guess the parts you don't know. My daughter was in love and revealed her skills to her husband. Nick's father found her skills useful and when she reached a point where she would not see for him, his temper got the better of him. And we left. So, here we are."

Ivy nodded. As was usual with both Irina and Nick's stories of family, neither of them ever used names. Ivy was certain she could find the names out with a little effort if she wanted, but it never seemed important. What mattered more was who they were now, rather than who they had been in the life they left behind.

"You know there are few secrets in a pack, " Ivy told them.

Irina laughed. "Few? I thought the phrase was there are no secrets in a pack, fire mage."

"As my husband likes to tell me, mages are a sneaky lot. Although, since you stepped through the shields with no problem, everyone knows you are close to me, which will make them curious as you seem so normal."

Nick laughed at being called normal. "That's us, " he said. "Straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting."

"I'm not sure a Norman Rockwell painting is the standard for normal anymore, " Ivy told him. "I'm sure once Russell's herbal delirium diminishes he will recall that your hu

sband was a wolf."

"Then the whole pack will know, " Irina said. "And the rest?" She stared at Ivy.

Ivy sighed. "I honestly don't know. Personally, I think it is your business. You owe nothing to either this pack or any other. You've taken no vow of loyalty or whatever it is the packs require for non-wolves to be associated with them. Given your past and the fact that you are my friends they may feel some loyalty to you and think you owe them some loyalty, but only if you stick around. They might dismiss you immediately if you leave and only send messages to me when you want to talk to me." Ivy ran a hand through her hair and sighed.

"I'm new to this whole pack thing, " she told them. "And with everything going on…"

"You may not be able to keep the secret, even if you wanted to, " Irina finished. She patted Ivy's hand affectionately. "I remember what they are like. I also know what you are like, and I do not believe you would bring us to harm's doorway. We will not fault you if the story gets out." Irina shrugged. "And now, with so fearsome an enemy arising, our own disunity makes us weak. In times like these, friends should stand together."

"And speaking of working together, " Nick said. "I've dug out as much as I could on your nemesis Ron, the Destroyer."

"I thought he was The Unholy Terror, " Ivy said with a smile.

Nick handed her the file. "Either way, I can keep tabs on him but beyond telling you when unexpected money transfers occur there is not much else I can do. I will monitor if you want, maybe look for patterns."

"Monitoring and pattern searching sound good, " Ivy said.

"The information you wanted on Lila Perkins, nee Dunlap is in there as well. She was also being paid by the UF corporation, although it was from a different corporate account and a smaller monthly sum. Greg Foster was in charge of that one, he is standing to the right of Ron your nemesis in the photo. The information I have on him is in there as well. The account was closed down when Lila died."

"Mrs. Perkins died?" Ivy asked, still processing a mage working for the Brotherhood.

"Yeah, a few months back, " Nick told her. "I put the obituary in the file with the rest of her information."

"A few months back, " Ivy repeated. Somehow she suspected the death came shortly after she had her talk with Albert.

"Is that significant?" Nick asked.

Ivy shook her head, even though she felt somewhat cold and numb inside. "It just seems like everything is happening at once." She told them. "How do you feel about some historical research?"

"Could be fun, " Nick said, shrugging off the topic change. He glanced towards his grandmother. "I think I'm going to be doing some of that anyway. Perhaps a trade?"

"And what would you like in trade?" Ivy asked, knowing what he was probably going to ask.

"Depends on the research you want done."

Ivy nodded. "There were two men killed in the 1940s. Probably between 1944 and 1946, " Ivy guessed the dates from Jerome's story, giving a wide range. "I might be able to narrow that down a bit depending on research of my own, but for now that's all I have on the time period. The two men were named Billy Warren and Gerald Watson." Ivy added the locations of their accidents. "Both involved death by a recklessly driven Packard, probably the same one in each case."

Nick nodded and even though he didn't write anything down, she knew he would remember every detail.

"So what'll that cost me?" She asked.

"Some reading material on the werew…Shifters and the Seers, " he told her. Irina snorted but didn't say anything.

"I can see what I have, but specific questions will help me get you what you want."

Nick nodded, expecting the answer. "You still have your back-up e-mail active?

"Yup, " Ivy replied.

"I'll get you a list of basic questions by the end of the week. If you can answer the general questions and come up with further reading for the rest, it will help."

"Agreed, " Ivy said. Nick stood, leaving the file folder on Ron The Unholy Terror slash Destroyer slash CEO for her to peruse at her leisure.

'Definitely have to find a better nickname for him, ' Ivy thought as she and Irina both stood as well. Ivy started towards the door and then looked back at the table.

"Better get rid of the tea, " she said. "One goofy wolf is bad enough. I don't need a house full of them."

"Heaven forbid, " Irina said with a laugh. She helped Ivy dump the remains from both the cups and the tea pots. For good measure Ivy put them all in the sink and ran water in them. She then returned the canister of tea to the cupboard.

"I'll have to remember to mark that with a warning later, " Ivy reminded herself.

Irina smiled widely and chuckled to herself.

"You know this is the first time we've ever had tea where you haven't read the leaves for me, " Ivy said.

"You do know I was reading you and not the leaves?" Irina said as the three of them exited the kitchen and walked to the lobby. "The herbs are designed to help loosen up a mage's defenses."

Ivy frowned, not certain how she felt about that.

They entered the main lobby area. A few men were seated on the scattered chairs and couches having some sort of conversation. As she saw Alex and a roll of blueprints in the center, she figured it was construction related. Neither Eric nor Russell were with them.

"Not so loud this time, " Irina commented as they moved past without causing a disturbance. Nick watched the group as they went past as though unwilling to trust their current state of calmness.

'Or studying them and thinking about the grandfather he never knew, ' Ivy added wondering what Nick thought about Irina's revelations. She knew asking him would be pointless. Nick tended to gather information, processing everything once he felt he had enough data. Only then would he reach a decision about anything. She didn't know if it was his natural state or if running from his father trained him to be cautious.

"Are you heading back right away or staying in town?" Ivy asked.

"We have rooms in the local motel and will be going back in the morning, " Irina told her. "My old bones cannot stand driving both ways in a single day."

"The motel is in Isliton?" Ivy asked.

Irina nodded. Ivy made certain none of the pack members were too close.

"It is owned by pack members and the local café serves as the unofficial meeting place, " she told them quietly. "It is also the only place in town to eat." Both Nick and Irina nodded. "I highly recommend the pot roast."

The front door opened and Russell, followed by Eric walked in. Both were naked and in human form. Russell also seemed to have lost the goofy, glassy eyed look.

"Russell is fond of the chocolate pie, " Ivy finished as Russell looked Irina over with suspicion.

"I offer my deepest apologies, " Irina said to Russell. She looked as though she was trying to hide her amusement and failing badly. "I have been away from the packs so long I forgot about the effects."

Both Russell and Eric sniffed the air, scenting her words. Russell nodded grumpily, realizing she spoke the truth, even if she was unrepentant about the accident.

Ivy continued outside, walking them to their car. She tugged her open coat closer for warmth even though she didn't bother to button it up. Ivy looked at the older model hatchback, somewhat surprised that Nick even had a car. She expected a rental. It was rare that she ever saw him out of his basement clean room. She strongly suspected this was the longest he had been away from his computers in years.

The gate was unlocked and open and after Nick drove through, Ivy closed and latched it, feeling the extra shields snap back into place. A cold wind blew through her hair and Ivy huddled into her coat and quickly crossed the yard to get back inside.

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