This is usually where I'd put a note, but I don't really have anything special to say today. So, for the full chapter list, go here.

“Whoa,” a few of the kids chorused. One of them said a very harsh word that kids her age shouldn’t know.

Jo grinned in spite of herself and said, “Yeah, I’m awesome, but the lady my new friend is beating up just outside the door? Way scarier. We need to get out.”

“Through the window?” the girl named Ash asked dubiously.

“Yeah.” Jo leaned out to look down to the ground. She could probably make the jump without too much danger to herself, but the kids certainly couldn’t. She leaned out further and looked to Tom, who leaned out his window, staring back at her. “Baltimore,” she said.

“No,” he said.

She heard the low growl in his voice and gave him her best crazy grin. “Oh come on.”

“Absolutely fuc-” Tom caught himself, glancing to the girl who peered at him around Jo. “Freaking not.”

She barely stopped another grin creeping over her face and he eyed her sternly.

And then the wall behind them shuddered. Hard. It kept shuddering for the longest fifteen seconds she could remember.

“Fine,” Tom snarled, throwing up his hands. “Do what you want.”

Jo scanned the alley below and found a useful metal trash can with an even more useful metal top. She reached for it, imagined it lifting into the air as if she picked it up with her own two hands, until it lifted smoothly into the air. She smiled and made it spin until it made an appealing whistle as it cut through the night air. Then she sent it crashing through the window directly below them and then back through again, and then once more inside to break it just a little bit more.

“Whoa,” said the kid who leaned out beside her and watched.

“Be careful,” Tom said.

Jo motioned the kids aside, judged the angle, backed up, and took a running leap, feet first, out into the alley. She hit the wall and kicked off, shielding her face and concentrated, using the same power she used on the metal top to keep on course. She crashed through the window, slamming into the floor and sliding in, and for a moment the blackness that took her in the hallway threatened to take her again.

She pushed herself up, swaying.

“Jo!” Tom called.

“I’m alright,” she yelled back and took a deep breath to steady herself before she picked up the metal top to break the rest of the glass out of the frame. She eased herself up onto the windowsill and looked up in time to see Tom climbing out of his window and into the other. “Start handing them down.”

Tom wasted no time. Jo could hear the kids upstairs, some excited and some scared, but he started lowering them down as far as he could and dropping them one at a time into her waiting arms.

“We have a situation.”

“Tell me what you need, Commander, and I’ll do it.” Antony Bridger was on the other end of the line, and she wished his presence in operations hadn’t surprised her. It was probably John’s doing—he’d been in charge of scheduling and if Tony had volunteered for a shift in ops, John didn’t have any compunction about putting him there.

Brigid closed her eyes for the barest moment, ignoring the sudden crash upstairs and the way Wes looked away from his prisoner toward the noise and then back to her. “I need backup and a pickup to my location. Three hostiles alive that need to be taken into custody, maximum security.”

“Should I call in Burn?” Tony asked.

She didn’t want to, but at the same time, she knew they could use the psychic’s help with this one—at the very least, he’d be able to scrape some information out of their prisoners even if they didn’t want to talk.

“Yeah,” she said. “Yeah, call him in. We’ll need that caliber.”

“And Ghost?”

Ridley was more of a wildcard, but she figured she could use him, too—to keep an eye on the area, at the very least, once they moved on, possibly to track anyone coming or going.
“Send him,” she said.

“Will do. Sending the calls out now.”

Tell him.

Brigid grimaced. “I need you to do one more thing, Tony.”

“What’s that?”

“Call your brother and warn the Angels,” she said, heart fluttering inside the cage of her ribs. “Make sure everyone’s kids are accounted for.”

There was a moment of silence, then, “B, what’s going on?”

“Someone’s taking kids again.” Her throat was so tight, it was hard to speak. “Gifted kids. It’s starting again and I’m not sure who the hell is responsible—but we’re sure as hell going to find out. Tell your brother that, too. What happened with Sterling isn’t going to happen again. We won’t let it.”

She hung up the phone and sucked in a breath. She didn’t care if Wes was staring at her or how much he’d heard.

She wasn’t going to let him shut them out of this—UNSETIC had a job to do, and she’d be damned if they weren’t going to do it.

Tom handed the last kid down, and said, “That’s all of them.”

“Alright. Now you,” Jo called back.

Tom looked back at the door, frowning, and said, “I’ll be a minute. Wait for me.”

“No! He can take care of himself!”

But Tom was already off. He kicked the door hard enough to break the lock as though it were only a toy, and the hinges nearly gave as the door slammed into the wall.

Tim had gained ground in the hallway, pushing the woman a few doors away. Both the magus and the Hunter were coated in flying drywall dust and Tom could only see her as a nearly indistinct shape in floating grey-brown-white.

Then she charged.

A blade rasped free of a sheath that Tom couldn’t remember seeing. For a split second, he thought things had gone from bad to worse, then he realized that something was gleaming in Tim’s hand. The magus was chanting something in a tongue that wasn’t Hebrew or Latin, but something strange and in between. Something shimmered in the air around Tim, almost too fast and too thin to notice.

The magus leveled his blade at the charging woman, his feet planted and his expression blank.

She saw the sword in the clouds of drywall dust at the last second and dodged to the side, but Tom saw a small spray of scarlet, heard her give a sudden, ragged gasp, and then she moved past Tim and past the open doorway. She stumbled a little, regained her footing, and started to turn, and Tom saw a gunmetal glint as she raised her hand.

“Oh, shit,” Tom said. He darted forward and got a handful of the back of Tim’s shirt, dragging him back through the doorway as the crash of a revolver echoed through the hallway. “One more!” he shouted back toward the window and Jo.

He heard the magus swearing at him. Tom managed a feral grin.

“You’ll thank me later,” he said, then threw Tim out the window.