It was just after 1:00 AM early on Sunday morning. I had been down in the study/library, looking for a book to read. The contents had changed a lot since I had last been here on Robby's eleventh birthday. When Hary had married Paul, obviously he had brought his library along. It was heavy on the science fiction and fantasy, but he also had a lot of mysteries and spy stories.
I knew Hary had probably had a ball reading the mysteries. She said she didn't like them. I knew she loved reading them, just so she could sneer at how the cops were usually portrayed.
When I reached the top of the stairs, I realized that there was light coming from the hall behind me, where the computer room was located. I wondered who was in there at this time of night, so went close enough so I could see in. Robby was sitting in a computer chair and he was only wearing a pair of underpants. I hesitated wondering how he would feel getting caught in his underwear.
I heard his soft voice say, “Come on in, Aunt Louisa.”
I pushed the door open and he looked up at me with his big green eyes twinkling. He said, “I'm not an exhibitionist, but if it was necessary for me to get up in front of my whole school naked, it wouldn't bother me a bit. I have no physical modesty at all.”
“How did you know I was up?” I asked with curiosity.
Robby nodded to the floor and looking down I saw his cat. He explained, “With the door closed the room is designed to be almost soundproof, but Blue's hearing is good enough that he heard you go down the stairs though he didn't know who it was, so I opened the door. With the door open, that gave you the decision about whether to approach on not. When I heard you outside the door, my hearing is good enough at that distance to tell who it was and when you hesitated I knew it was because of the way I'm dressed.” He pulled one of the chairs out, saying, “Have a chair and get comfortable.”
When I sat down, I realized immediately that it was probably the most comfortable chair I had ever sat in. His eyes sparkled and he leaned forward and picked up a business card and gave it to me. It just said John's Furniture and a phone number.
Robbie told me, “John is a werewolf and depending on where in the country you live it might be about fifty to a hundred and fifty dollars more expensive than comparable chairs, but well worth the price.” Robby's cat jumped up onto his lap and he began stroking him.
“What are you doing up at this time of night?” I asked, sure that it was past his bedtime, even on a summer Saturday.
He told me, “Werewolves differ from full humans, in that we actually have what our doctors now consider a completely separate period of growth, which they simply call pre-pubescence. That's a slightly misleading term of course, because all human children also go though a period of pre-pubescence. We didn't want to have millions of records referring to a specific period because that could lead to the secret we're keeping.”
Robby explained, “Basically what happens, is that a hormone appears, triggering this period in werewolves. It's seems like quite a simple hormone. Fifty percent of all humans have it, however werewolf children do not. I said it was a separate period of growth, well actually, that's misleading because it's really a period of non-growth. What happens is that at a particular stage of a werewolf's life, generally around twelve, the hormone appears in his/her system and triggers that period in a werewolf child. It generally lasts three or four years though it can last longer. During that period, the child does not mature, nor does he/she grow more than two or three inches.”
Robby paused for a second, before saying, “I can see in a werewolf's aura when that event has occurred and when it's about to end. However, werewolf Elders can't see their own auras. I can see my aura through Blue, but what he sees is somewhat different than I would. I can't see problems through his eyes.”
His eyes crinkled though I don't know if it was in amusement or annoyance, as he said, “My bedtime abruptly altered about of week ago, after I returned from Washington. Here I had been under the misapprehension that I had been in werewolf pre-pubescence for the last ten months or so. On Sunday, I simply couldn't sleep so I came in here until I got sleepy. Mom of course woke up and came down to see what was wrong. I assumed that I was just keyed up from the events in Washington and in a day or so, I'd be fine. However, by Wednesday, both Mom and I figured something was wrong. So she arranged for me to see a werewolf specialist in Prescott.”
Robby said ironically, “There was good news and bad news. The good news was that I was fine. The bad news is that, my assumption that I was already in my pre-pubescent period was wrong. With a blood test, he was able to determine that the hormone actually triggered about a month ago. However, it takes just about two or three weeks to take complete effect. So it only actually kicked in last weekend.”
Robby paused again petting his cat, before saying, “Apparently my brain decided since I had reached a period of non-growth, I no longer needed the amount of sleep I'd been getting. It and decided that three or four hours of sleep a night would be sufficient. The doctor, knowing I was a Healer, asked why I couldn't tell that I wasn't actually in the pre-pubescent period. As I told the Doctor. I can read the genetic level of a patient, or of my own body, I can't read the condition in a person's body. I can only see what their aura tells me and since I can't read my own aura, I can only make assumptions.”
He told me, “The doctor couldn't suggest much. He said that he didn't think that exercise would help. He figured I was going to be stuck with it until I reached puberty, which since I started almost a year later than I thought I had, was going to extend a year longer than I expected. I could be seventeen or more before I started growing again.”
I sympathized with him, I knew what insomnia was like, but since he seemed to be accepting it with amusement rather than chagrin, I had the impression that he really didn't care very much one way or the other. I hesitated for a moment, wanting to bring up a different subject. I said, “I was talking to Ford about the incident in Dwight Cargall's office, where you were able to access a supposedly secure area.”
Robby nodded, asking, “And you're wondering exactly how many people have that type of access. I assume Ford would have brought it up sometime this weekend. Since you're here, you decided to bring it up now. Well only six people have that type of unlimited access. Len and I and four Elders at Council headquarters, who are called Watchers. In fact there are only four computers that have the hardware capability for that type of access.” He nodded at the computers in front of us, “these two and two that the Watchers use.”
“And the terminal at Cargall's?” I asked.
Robby explained, “Once I swapped hard drives which gave additional hardware and software security, we were actually accessing the NIA scans through this terminal. Cargall makes all of our computers, but these two and the two at the Council, were altered by our scientists to give extra capability. Whenever I use a computer, accessing the Internet and use my password I'm automatically routed to this computer. The computer I'm using becomes a remote terminal for this one. If for some reason it couldn't access this one, it would go to the backup and then to the ones at Council headquarters.”
I was impressed, it showed me how much the Council regarded Robby and his importance to werewolf society.
He said emphatically, “Anyone else requiring unlimited access has to go through either the Watchers, or me or Len, to get permission!! Not even the Council has unlimited access!! Their responsibility is in making laws and judging and administration. If for any reason they needed access, they have to go through the same procedures as any other Elder or werewolf, or contact.”
“How do Elders choose another Elder?” I asked.
Robby told me, “Auras give a good indication of what is happening. This is Teddy a year ago, I've exaggerated the color to give you a better idea.” Suddenly in my mind, I saw Teddy and he seemed to be surrounded by a yellow light. It wasn't evenly spread, it was very thin in places and in other it just seemed like blobs of color.
He told me, “This is Teddy today.” I was amazed at the difference, there were only a few thin spots and there were only a few areas, that were blobs of color. The rest seemed, fairly even. Robby said, “The changes give good evidence that in about ten years or so, Teddy should become an Elder candidate, so he'll be watched from now on. The final determination is made by five Elders, who very closely examine an Elder's mind and make the final decision.”
“This is Granddad's aura.” I saw Roger and he was surrounded by a yellow sheath of light, so smooth and thin it could almost be a form fitting garment. Robby said, “The thinner and smoother the aura the more powerful the Elder.”
“Are you the youngest Elder ever chosen?” I asked. Since he didn't seem to mind my questions, I was going to get as much information out of him as I could.
Robby nodded, saying, “Yes, by at least two full years, as far as they have been able to determine by querying Werewolf Historians around the world. The next youngest were all in the second quarter of their thirteenth year. It was during the time of the black plague in England in the sixteen hundreds. Several Elders died of the plague and three boys were initiated to replace them. There was a clear indication that they wouldn't have been chosen at that age, if there wasn't a desperate need for them. There have been some chosen at fourteen and fifteen to forty is the normal time an Elder is chosen.”
“You said you can't see your own aura, do you know what others see?” I asked.
Robby shook his head, saying, “When I became a Healer, it changed my aura drastically, so what they now see is no longer relevant. I can show you what Granddad saw when I was a baby.” I exclaimed at the difference between my brother's aura and Robby's, even as a baby. No wonder they had been watching him. It was visible, but so thin that you had to look closely to see it.
He said solemnly, “They figured that they could have initiated me anytime after I was eight. They realized that it would have been impossible to give a position of such responsibility to a boy that young. They decided to delay until I was twelve. When I used the Death Chant against the dogs, they decided to initiate me right away. If I had been an Elder when I went against the dogs, even though I still would have been in danger, I would have had much more of a chance to survive. The fact that I did live was astonishing in and of itself and they wanted to give me as much of a chance as possible, if I ran into any similar situations.”
Robby looked at me intently, before saying, “By the way Aunt Louisa, just because you're only half werewolf and can't change doesn't mean you can't use the Death Chant. I know you have a brown belt in karate. If you ever get involved in a situation that you figure is hopeless, remember that. It will make you stronger and faster for a few minutes. Long enough perhaps, to save your life.
“What was it like?” I asked softly.
He pursed his lips, thinking, then said, “It was probably harder on Seamus than it was on me. I knew I was going to die, so though I felt some fear it wasn't overwhelming. As I began to say the mantra of the Death Chant my energy began to gather and at the same time, I was purging myself of all negative emotions, anxiety, fear, hatred and anger. Until when I was ready to change all that was left was serenity and determination. I knew if I could take out the three larger dogs, Seamus even if he was a bad shot, at that distance he could probably get at least one of the two smaller dogs. The shotgun would make a nice club, if he had to go against the other hand to hand. He's only in his mid-fifties, he's still a strong man and probably wouldn't have much trouble with one dog. As soon as I changed I attacked and at that point I was no longer thinking consciously, but simply reacting.”
Robby said somberly, “I was aware when the fight was over and when I changed back, of almost overwhelming pain. Seamus said I made a comment about how I was glad to see he was still alive, but I don't remember it. I just remember the darkness closing in on me and welcoming it.”
He said, “I've talked to Seamus about it since then and at that point he was feeling anxiety, resentment because a member of a race who he hated had saved his life and shame for the resentment. Over the next couple of weeks, the resentment gradually turned to gratitude and relief that I was all right and finally peace of mind. The need to explain why he had reacted as he had and then gladness when the explanation was over. Liking as the wedding was planned and then, though he's not aware of it, forgiveness of Estelle White, as he's gotten to know Barry.”
Robby said thoughtfully, “Ironically, after I saw Estelle that Easter, I was uneasy about the Outcasting. I didn't do anything about it at that time, but after a few months my conscience was bugging me so I went back over it. Of course I annoyed some people because though Prescott General where she worked, is computerized, the computer records only go back twenty-five years unless the patient is still alive. So, our people had to go through the inactive files. Comp File Estelle White/Maureen Riley, on screen.”
He explained, “This is the only patient file I was concerned with specifically though I have records of all the files that led up to her Outcasting. This one is Maureen Riley, Seamus's wife. I won't make you look through her whole file,” he grinned at me, “I'll just summarize what I found out.”
Robby shook his head in obvious annoyance, saying, “The attending physician notes in the file that, Maureen Riley and child are terminal. He told her alone, which he shouldn't have done. He should have told them both at the same time. She wasn't thinking because she begged him not to tell Seamus and he wasn't thinking because he agreed. Stupid.” and he shook his head in disgust. “I can understand Maureen's reaction, she was thinking with her heart. But the physician should have known better. Worse, he wanted to get her death off of his record or at least share it, so he assigned Estelle White to the case.”
He gave a snort of contempt for the doctor, as he said, “Estelle White, in the end took all of the blame, because she had heard of an experimental drug that might at least save the child. Her hands were tied in one sense. The attending physician had agreed not to tell Seamus, so she couldn't go over his head. She explained everything to Maureen and she got her permission to try the experimental drug. She came within an ace of saving the child, obviously she didn't quite succeed. Of course, she was disciplined by the hospital board. The attending physician was quite happy to get out from under, because that kept his record clean. Seamus said that when he saw her she wasn't sorry about what had happened. Of course, she wasn't. Maureen and the baby were already terminal and she had tried her best to save at least one of them despite the odds. How could she be unhappy about doing her best.”
He waved his hand, saying, “The complaints over the next few years involved similar cases. Estelle with the arrogant self-confidence that a doctor who took on terminal cases had to have, had several complaints against her. When a sufficient number of complaints were received the Council convened a panel of Elders to look over her case. The Council wasn't very bright either, which I told the present Council. None of the Elders were doctors and none of them knew that Estelle was an experimentalist, taking on terminal patients and doing anything to keep them alive. They simply didn't have enough knowledge for the task they were assigned.”
Robby told me, “When they judged that she should be Outcast, in her stubborn arrogant way she didn't complain. She accepted the judgement and then ignored it. I asked the Council to convene a new panel, composed entirely of Elders who were doctors. They reversed the original judgement. Her record has been cleared of the Outcasting and in fact they commended her record as a medical doctor. All through her career, she dealt almost exclusively with terminal patients and she had a sixty percent success rate. As I said, the arrogance was a necessary part of her. Unlike most doctors, four out of ten of her patients died, no matter what she did and that was an average over her career. At times maybe twenty in a row might die. She had to believe that the next patient would be different, or she couldn't have gone on. The panel thought that was an extraordinary achievement, given the type of patients she dealt with.”
“I've never mentioned it to Seamus, there's so much of an emotional burden that I don't think he needs to deal with. As I said he's come to acceptance through Barry, he doesn't need to know the full story.”
Robby gave a grin, saying, “Getting onto a different subject, if you hadn't shown up tonight I intended to get you in here sometime tomorrow. The computers at Council headquarters go though all video shown on television. They use a recognition program and anything having to do with werewolves is flagged. When it has to do with an Elder then videos are double flagged, when his known relatives are shown. Close associates such as your campaign manager are also identified. Then the computer compares all double flagged videos for any indication of problems. Comp One. File Aunt Louisa one on screen.” Robby said and a video appeared on the screen. I recognized one of the fund raising events that I had recently held.
He said, “Put selected frame on large screen.” and the wall in back of the computers lit up. I hadn't realized that it was also a screen. It showed my campaign manager and me.
“File Aunt Louisa two up.” A second video appeared on the screen. It took me a few minutes to realize what this video was showing. It was one of my congressional rivals. Robby told me, “Since this man is a known rival of yours a video like this would also be double flagged and therefore compared with the others. Put selected frame up on big screen.”
I realized what I was seeing and I snorted with disgust. On screen was my rival and obviously trying to hide his presence was my campaign manager. Robby said, “Print out screen.”
In a few seconds, Robby handed me the printout. He said, “If I were you Aunt Louisa, I'd really ask your campaign manager why the congressman recently deposited five thousand dollars into his account on two separate occasions. ”
My fellow congressman had a cousin, who planned to run against me. He bribed my campaign manager, to sabotage my campaign. The little weasel was going to sell me out, for a paltry $100,000 dollars. I'm almost insulted.
Not a particular surprise, since I've never liked him, but I employed him because he was good at his job. I decided not to fire him. I showed him the printout and told him I could quite easily get access to the video if necessary.
We came to an agreement which satisfied me, if not him. If my rival's cousin gets elected, I turn over the video to the newspapers and television stations. He got in touch with my rival and they decided that the cousin wouldn't run. He is also donating ten thousand dollars to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, which as you know is my sister-in-law's favorite charity.
I also hinted that if I was defeated I'd turn the video over anyway, not that I intend to, but it should give him a little incentive.
Now by doing this I might have inadvertently assured my defeat, because the person, who takes over from the cousin, could blow me out of the water. I hate to lose, but I'd rather lose to an honest person than a crook.
I chuckled about that, my Aunt ever the politician.
It was a dream and yet at the same time I knew it was much more. Charlie Davis was standing right in front of me and behind him were the spirits, much more solid than I had ever expected to see them. I knew if I saw them now, they would be much more real, though they would still be ephemeral.
Charlie grinned at me. He said, “Hello, mate, it appears that the connection you made between us is permanent. Or so say the spirits, at any rate. They are reaching through me to give you a warning. The little one is going to be in danger. They say it won't be for a few days, so you have time to get here, but it will happen within the next week.”
“They say, if you bring your friends,” and Charlie nodded behind me and turning, I saw the Ross family. They were in human form, but their alternate forms were faintly visible. He told me, “The spirits say they can help them all to learn how to use the ability that the girl has and to recognize it in their people and pass it on to those who have the ability to learn. See you in a couple of days, mate.” Charlie grinned again and gave a casual wave of goodbye.
I woke up then and when I looked at my clock, I saw it was almost 4:00 AM, I'd only been in bed an hour. I got up and began to get dressed. I slipped my cell phone into my pocket and headed for Len's bedroom followed by Blue and knocked on his door. He was at the door within fifteen seconds. Seeing that I was fully dressed, he grinned, asking, “Where are we going now?”
“Sydney, Australia, then to Three Trees, that's the werewolf community I was at.” I told him. “I imagine the Ross family will be joining us. Get dressed and logon and charter a jet. Tell them to file a flight plan for 10:00 o'clock. Have them get in touch with our contact in Sydney and find out where the Paget's are. He'll know who they are.”
I said musingly, “We'll book the hotel after we find out whether the Ross's intend to come back with us. Steve and Carrie were planning on taking the kids overseas this summer anyway so they got them passports. They might want to extend their time in Australia to a full vacation. Also have the contact alert Art Carvel that we'll need a ride to Three Trees.” Len quickly disappeared back into his room to get dressed.
Pulling my cell phone out of my pocket, I dialed the Ross's, I knew that they would be awake. I heard Steve answer his voice sounding somewhat distracted. “Ross residence.”
“Well you had the dream, do you want to go to Australia with Len and I?” I asked.
He hesitated, before saying, “We all had the dream and Jenna says that they can teach us how to Dream Cast, but we don't know what else happened, just that you need to go to Australia.”
I explained, “I told you about what happened when I went to Australia. Two werewolves were trespassing on sacred land and they took their nephew with them. The spirits are warning me that their nephew, Jackie Paget, who's seven and a half, is in danger. It appears that my abilities are going to be needed.”
I told him, “That won't involve your family. As Jenna said, they can teach you to Dream Cast and to recognize others who have the ability and to teach them. Angelo's people must have the ability as well, because he was included.”
There was a brief pause, I assumed he was talking to Carrie. He came back on the phone. He asked, “When are you leaving?”
I explained to him, “I've got Len chartering a jet and having them file a flight plan for 10:00 o'clock. That means that your luggage allocation is unlimited. Since you were planning on going overseas this summer anyway you and Carrie might want to stay on in Australia after Len and I come back. Since we're getting you there we'll also pay to get you back if you want to extend the time into a full vacation. In that case, just pack what you would for a commercial flight. We'll want to get there by nine or earlier, so that means we'll have to leave around six-thirty or seven.” I told him.
Steve said, “We'll be ready by six.”
“Okay Steve, see you then.” I disconnected and flipped my cell phone shut.
The knock on the door woke us up, I could feel Paul stirring as well. I said, “Come on in, Robby.”
I grinned at that, remembering a time when he had knocked and I had told him to come in. He'd been so distracted at the time that he actually asked how I knew it was him. At that time, Barry and Teddy never knocked, though Teddy occasionally did so now. I would hate to say that my beloved eldest son asked dumb questions, so I'll just say it wasn't very bright of him.
When I saw that he was fully dressed, I was a little worried. “More sleep problems, Robby?” I asked, a little anxiously, relaxing when he shook his head.
“No, I had a dream message.” and he quickly told me about it.
I accepted it, but at the same time even though I was on maternal leave, I was still a cop and asked, “Are you sure it wasn't just a dream?”
He grinned, telling me, “Well if it was then I don't know why Steve and Carrie and their kids dreamed it as well. The spirits said to bring them along. That they could teach Steve, Carrie and Angelo how to Dream Cast, to recognize it in their people and teach them how to do it. I called Steve and they're going along.”
I relaxed a little. I knew that he wouldn't put them in danger but even having them there made me feel a little better. I asked, “I assume the little one that your friend was talking about is Jackie Paget?”
Robby told me, “Charlie didn't say, however he's the only white child, aside from me, who the spirits would even recognize, so it has to be him.”
“Do you intend to move him, if that will get him out of danger?” I asked.
Robby shook his head. There was a somberness in his big green eyes, as he said, “No. Even if I knew that his death would be inevitable if I didn't move him, I still wouldn't do it. Jackie is bound so firmly to the land he lives on, that to move him would be worse than killing him. His time in the aborigine Dreamtime brought him even closer to the land. At his age his world is an area about fifty miles in diameter surrounding Three Trees. As he gets older his world will expand, probably to include his whole country, but he will always be most comfortable where he is now. Therefore I have to remove the danger, since I can't move the boy.”
I stopped the car and nodded to the building. “That's where the Paget's live. As far as we know, they haven't got up to anything illegal since they arrived in Sydney.”
Robby closed his eyes. But before he reached out for the Paget's minds he said, “Yes, Len was in Naval Intelligence, when he acted as Naval Attaché in Canberra.”
I protested, “I didn't say a thing.”
He was serious but at the same time, there was humor in his voice, as he said, “The question marks stuck out all over you like chicken pox spots. I couldn't let you go to bed and be kept awake by unbridled curiosity, when one answer would let you sleep like a babe. I'm kinda sensitive about sleep issues right now. My body decided, without consulting me, that I only need three or four hours of sleep a night and it's very annoying.”
Robby was silent then and when he spoke, “I'm almost relieved that they had nothing to do with it. At least consciously. However they stayed with Paula's distant cousin the first night they were in Sydney. They know he's a werewolf, but from the impression I got from their minds, he's much more powerful than they're consciously aware of. One Brian Reeve.”
I stiffened when I heard that name and I looked at Robby, his big green eyes were looking at me calmly. He said, “I gather from that reaction that you're very familiar with Mr. Reeve?”
I spoke, unable to keep my loathing out of my voice. “He's a werewolf Elder. A rogue, though we've never been able to prove it. He can lie using mind-speech and none of our Elders has been able to get beyond his blocks to find out if the rumors are true.”
“And the rumors are?” asked Robby.
I told him, staring straight ahead, “Over the last fifteen years since he went rogue, the rumors connect him to at least twelve deaths and those are just the ones we know about.”
Robby voice was just as soft as it usually was, but it was different type of softness and when I looked at him, his eyes were still calm but they were the coldest eyes I had ever seen. The anger wasn't directed at me yet a shiver went up my back, as I realized that this little boy was probably the most dangerous person I knew.
It was almost as if his words were dipped in liquid helium so cold were they, as he said. “I was thinking about inviting you to go along, but I'm afraid that won't be possible now.”
Robby answered my unspoken question, “When dealing with werewolves who are also police officers, you all have an oath which basically says the same thing, in most democratic countries. Your oath requires you to serve and protect. If he is indeed a rogue, I'm afraid Mr. Reeve won't be coming back.”
I felt a savage satisfaction go through me. I had no doubt that Robby could and would do exactly what he was telling me. As the assistant to the contact responsible for the eastern half of Australia, I had read about some of things Robby had done. I was aware of the assessment that the Council had made about his capabilities. They considered him the most powerful Elder alive, by a wide margin.
His voice lightened, almost as if he had put his anger into a compartment for the time being, “So that's how Mr. Reeve found out about Jackie. There is no indication that Paula knows that Reeve is an Elder. He just took the whole incident right out of their minds. He should realize that if I removed the knowledge from their minds I would do the same thing to Jackie. Possibly he does, so we also can't make the automatic assumption that Reeve is the one who is the danger to Jackie.”
I shook hands with Art Carvel and introduced my companions. He just looked at Steve and shook his head. Steve was used to that reaction and just grinned. My voice showed my good wishes as I said, “Congratulations, on your new status as an Elder, Art. How do you feel about it?”
He shook his head and said, “It feels kind of strange, yet at the same time it's a very satisfying feeling. Charlie told me about the spirits warning. What do you intend to do about Jackie? Move him?”
I waited until I was sitting beside him in the plane before answering. “You know kids who are forced to move by their parents, sometimes say 'I'd rather die than move.' You've read his mind and you know for Jackie, it's true. As I told my mother, if it was a choice of moving him and letting him die, I would let him die, because for him the other choice would be worse than death.”
I saw Art relax, as he said, “I wouldn't have argued with you if you decided to move him, but I agree. Death would be better and I never thought I would say that about a child as young as Jackie. I've had a chance to see the minds of the other children and their emotion is just as real as an adults. Jackie’s feeling about where he lives, is on a completely different level from any of the others in our community.
him, as he began on the checklist, “If you were able to read the aborigine's
minds you might find something like what is in Jackie's, in some of
Charlie and the chief Magic Man were waiting for us when we landed. I shook hands with Charlie. I knew the chief Magic Man, Thomas Whitefoot, was three-quarters Native American and I couldn't resist. Raising my hand in the air I said, “Ugh. How.” I saw Charlie break into a broad grin and Thomas's lips twitched and I could feel the embarrassment that Jenna was suddenly feeling.
I said wickedly, “Don't worry, Jenna. I figure with the four years he spent at Harvard, he can translate the ugh and the two years he spent at Oxford, should suffice for the how. If that isn't enough, the time he spent in Australia learning to become a solicitor should cover any other educational lacks.”
Everyone burst into laughter including the previously embarrassed Jenna. After the laughter died down Thomas asked with curiosity. “How extensive a dossier do you have on me?”
“Not very.” I answered. “Place of birth, the fact that your mother was half Lakota Sioux and half Australian aborigine. The names of your parents aren't even included, but your education is. Also the fact that you're the community's only practicing solicitor and that you're the chief Magic Man. About a dozen lines all told. If there had been any anomalies, we would have looked deeper. We don't consider the fact that you're three-quarters Native American an anomaly. The fact that you're the chief Magic Man answered that question. The spirits called you, whether you were aware of it consciously or not. The whole dossier covering all members of the community is under twenty pages.”
I frowned as I continued, “The dossier on the person we think may be the danger to Jackie, that the spirits informed me about through Charlie, is almost one hundred pages long. It would be much longer, but most it is speculation.” Len handed me the binder containing the dossier. I handed it to Charlie, telling him, “You don't have to read the whole thing, but see if you can get a feel, a resonance between the dossier and the spirits. It's much easier to defend against known dangers than unknown ones.”
Charlie nodded. I looked at my watch. It was 10:00 AM. I said, “I assume Jackie is in school right now. I want to see him. Art told me that he hadn't been informed of the danger he might be in, so I intend to tell him. Also, I plan to plant a tracking device, just in case he suddenly disappears.”
Neither Art nor the one Robby had introduced, as Len seemed to mind sitting in the back of my pickup truck. I knew Robby wanted to talk to me or he would have sat in back and allowed one of the adults to sit up front.
“What do you think about killing, Charlie?” Robby asked, in his soft voice.
I told him, “I've never had to do it myself, but my ancestors certainly have. If one of our people broke our laws and the spirits decided the offense required death, then I would do it.”
He eplained, “Werewolves are much more bloodthirsty than most humans. I have killed on two occasions personally and I've used my mind to force several others to commit suicide. If the one in that dossier is the one who is a danger to Jackie and he is the rogue that many people think he is, then I will kill him. Len and Art know it and Jackie, despite his age, will accept it, because it is Werewolf Law. I just wanted you to be aware of that fact. I know Art has only lived here for the last five years, so doesn’t have the extensive knowledge you have. We are going to need you or someone familiar with this country to go with us. If you can't accept it, arrange for someone who can to go with us.”
I was silent for a moment. Robby had said it quietly and with little emotion, yet I knew he was going to do what he had told me. I said with equal determination, “I can accept it. I know from Art, that the Elders of your race are responsible for judging and punishing those who have broken your laws. By the way, since you removed the knowledge of the whereabouts of the opals from Jackie's mind, the spirits have told me of a place some can be found that are off of the sacred land. If you put that location in Jackie's mind we'll know where they'll be going.”
enough.” he said as we pulled up in front of the school.
Nancy Fairlane was the principal of our little school and she also served as the school nurse, since she'd been a Medic in Sydney for five years. How she got from a Medic to principal of a school I have no idea and she had never volunteered the reason.
Jackie knocked on the door and came in a little reluctantly. Seeing who was waiting for him, his small face went thoughtful. Obviously, he knew this type of firepower wasn't needed just for some boyish transgression.
Robby was absolutely honest with him, telling him everything he knew and exactly what type of danger Jackie was in. Jackie followed every word intently and he showed awareness of danger, but no actual fear. I realized that this was the right way to approach this boy, perhaps every child. I know my own kids preferred this type of honest approach to beating around the bush.
“You intend to let him get me, don't you? “ asked Jackie.
Robby nodded, saying, “Yes, I do. It's not very nice of me, but I'd rather risk one life by making you easy to get at, than risk several if he decides to come after you when you're with friends.”
Jackie just nodded thoughtfully. I'd always felt these kids were more mature than a human child would be at the same age and this proved it in my mind. He asked, “How you gonna keep track of me?”
“Painfully I'm afraid.” Robby picked up a small piece of medical equipment. “This looks like a gun and in a sense that's exactly what it is. It shoots a tracking device into your butt. The device is a little over a millimeter in diameter and twenty-five millimeters in length. The device is designed to dissolve in just over a week.”
“How painful?” asked Jackie, with apprehension.
Robby told him ruefully, though with a bit of a grin, “Most of the time, all it will do is sting when it goes in and your bottom will be sore for a couple of days. If you're unlucky and it hits a nerve on the way in, as I know from experience you jump so far that you can almost touch the ceiling.”
Jackie was distracted enough to ask, “How do you know that?”
Robby explained, “I asked for it to be designed so I felt I should be the main guinea pig once they had it developed. So in the last four months I've had twenty-four shots in the bottom with it. Twenty-two were like the first type I was telling you about, two hit a nerve on the way in and as I said I could almost touch the ceiling on those occasions.” Nancy chuckled and I could see everyone else was restraining laughter just like I was.
Robby said reproachfully, “It wasn't funny.” then he giggled, “well I guess it was, but not from my perspective.” He shrugged, “Oh well after about an hour, everything was fine in the end.”
Jackie didn't get the pun, but the rest of us burst out laughing. Ten minutes after Robby had transferred the information from my mind to his about the location of the opals Jackie was limping back to his class. From the look on his face the device going in had obviously stung and he was rubbing his bum ruefully. Just as obviously it hadn't hit a nerve since he hadn't tried to reach for the ceiling.
“You said this Reeve, is an Elder, what if he reads about what happened here in Jackie's mind?” Art asked.
Robby said with a twinkle in his large green eyes, “Have a look at Jackie's mind.”
Art closed his eyes in concentration, after all he was new to this. After a little while, he opened his eyes and stared at Robby with astonishment, saying, “According to his mind, he's spent the last few minutes in class and I can't see any sign that he was even in this office this morning. Even knowing that he was here, I couldn't find a trace of it.”
Robby said matter-of-factly, “As a Healer, I can put up blocks that nobody else can even find and that completely hides the information that I don't want anybody to read. Jackie remembers every second of what happened here. I'm the only one that can see the information that's hidden and unless he tells somebody verbally, it'll remain a secret. I've also put the same types of blocks in your minds, covering this event and the fact that I'm an Elder and a Healer. I've had the chance to work on Len's blocks much more extensively and if an Elder looked at his mind, depending on the situation, the information he would get would change. Right now, it would tell him that Len's my guardian, that we're both werewolves and we're visiting friends here. If he happened to find the Ross family, they would give exactly the same information.”
“What if he tried to read your mind?” Art asks.
Robby said, calmly, but with deadly intent, “If he wasn't the one I was looking for, he'd see the same thing in my mind that's in Len's. If he was persistent and got to the point where I considered it was rude and if I was undercover, I'd have to ignore it. If I was home and not working on an assignment, I'd tell him to get out of my mind. If he didn't, he'd wake up with a splitting headache.”
Len chuckled, saying, “If he was lucky. Edward was telling me about an incident that occurred before I signed on. An Elder, who at the time was the junior Council member, actually hit one of Robby's little brothers. Edward said that it took him fifty-one hours to wake up from the blow that Robby dealt to his mind. It was, three or four days after that before he was fully recovered. That's the reason Robby gets these types of assignments.” He nodded at me, “I know that Charlie contacted Robby in this case, but if Charlie had gone to Art, it probably would have been Robby who would have been assigned in any case.”
His story was no surprise to me, I'd already realized that this was one dangerous little kid. Len pulled a device from his pocket and turned it on. Then he turned it so we could see the screen. We could recognize the school as seen from above and a light holding steady. He told us, “That's Jackie, in his class, as you see we can zoom in to show a close up, or we could just show a world map, on which the light would show up in Australia. We can locate him to about two yards, just under, two meters.” He flicked a second switch and suddenly there were two lights on the screen. He pointed to the second light, “That's us. Each tracker also has a bug just like the one we planted in Jackie. Robby has a tracker as well and that's what this tracker is picking up and we have four spares just in case something happens to either of these.”
I saw Robby close his eyes and when he opened them again, he said, “I think we got here just in time. I think that it's going to be this afternoon.” I looked at him with a question on my face. He shook his head, “Not a hunch. A specific feeling that I get about things and it's very seldom wrong. What type of classes does Jackie have this afternoon, Nancy?”
“Normal, except that for the last hour his class will be having gym and he'll be outside.” said Nancy.
Robby said with certainty, “That'll be it then. If it's Reeve he'll simply take over Jackie's mind and order him to come right to him. With all that'll be going on, the fact that Jackie is missing might even go unnoticed until roll call is taken, just before they come back in to change.” When Nancy looked surprised, Robby smiled briefly, saying, “Since this concerned a kid, we wanted to know the school routine. We know whenever a class is held outside you take a roll call to make sure one or more of the kids hasn't snuck off somewhere.”
He clapped his hands together and said, “We're on alert from now. I think it'll be this afternoon but it could happen at noon. I'll stay with Charlie, at his place. Art you and Len stay together, at your place. I don't want whoever is after Jackie to get scared off. If it's Reeve, he's a very patient man. He waited almost ten years once to kill a man. If he leaves, we have no way of knowing when he might come back and that means Jackie would be in much more danger at that time. You and Art follow the bug. Charlie and I will probably head directly for the opal location, depending on what we know at the time.” Robby said, his eyes colder, as he gave instructions.
As we started to leave, Robby gave one last instruction, “Art, take your rifle with you. Both in case it isn't Reeve,” and in a very soft, hard voice, “and in case it is.”
Charlie had gone through the dossier on Reeve. He said there was some resonance, but it just wasn't clear if Reeve was the culprit. It was a little after two when the bug started moving away from the school. I looked at Charlie and he just nodded as we headed for his truck.
“Reeve, assuming it is Reeve, is on the wrong side of the village. He'll have to circle around to get to the opal site.” Charlie said “We can be there and hidden by the time he gets there. Do you want to do it that way?
I might be wrong, but I was sure that it was Reeve. I told him, “Head directly there. As soon as he gets to the opal site and makes sure that they're actually there, he no longer needs Jackie. I don't want to get there five minutes after he kills the boy. If it's not Reeve, we have no way of knowing what will happen or why Jackie was kidnapped, unless it's a child molester. However, that's why Art and Len are following them and part of the reason that I had him bring along his rifle.”
Charlie said, “Unless he's stupid, he'll have a guide and since he's able to control them, it'll most likely be a werewolf.”
with you.” I told him, “I don't imagine that the guide knows that
Reeve plans to kill Jackie. Most werewolves, even crooks, are reluctant
to kill a child. Since that's the case, he probably also plans to kill
the guide.” My voice was filled with disgust.
“They're definitely headed in this direction.” I said, I flicked the second switch to bring up the other tracking device. “Art and Len are about a mile behind them.”
Charlie said looking though his binoculars, “They're in sight.” He gave a whistle. I looked up at him and he grinned. “Sorry, I was just admiring his Land Rover. Your Mr. Reeve goes first class. It's top of the line.”
After a few minutes, he said, “Three in the front seat. Two adults and a kid. The driver is definitely Reeve and it's probably Jackie. He's too small to see more than the top of his head.”
I reached out with my mind, telling him, “It's definitely Jackie and Reeve of course. Do you know a Jeremiah Smith?”
Charlie said, “I know a Smith family. They're of your people and it seems to me that a Jeremiah got into a lot of trouble ten years ago and headed for Sydney.”
The Land Rover stopped below us and the doors opened and the two men got out and it really pissed me off when Reeve jerked Jackie out by the wrist. From the pain that Jackie felt, his wrist was at least sprained, possibly broken. I locked the men's muscles so that they couldn't move.
The only time I had ever been angrier was when the Council member hit Barry. I was taking deep shuddering breaths trying to control my rage. I felt Charlie's hand on my shoulder. I didn't usually like to punish someone when I was angry and I was calmed down a little, when I said, “I'm all right, Charlie. Mr. Reeve however isn't going to be.” My voice sounded a little strange in my ears.
Suddenly Reeve screamed in anguish and finding he could move his arms he let go of Jackie and grabbed his left arm. Jackie, who had been trying to pull away, ended up falling and landing on his bottom. I took one last shuddering breath and then my rage was under control and I could breathe normally. I locked Reeve's muscles again. In a more normal voice, I said, “Thanks, Charlie. I'm all right now. I was just angry.”
He said, in my ear, “I think that angry was a rather mild term for what you were feeling.”
I said in a cold voice, “Oh, yes, Mr. Reeve almost died a little sooner than I had planned, which I didn't want to happen. I dislike judging and handing out fatal punishment when I'm angry.” He got to his feet and gave me a hand up.
Charlie nodded down at Reeve, “What did you do?” he asked.
I told him, “Mr. Reeve is also a sadist it seems. All he had to do was order Jackie out. There was no need to jerk him out of the car that way. He at least sprained and possibly broke the boy's wrist. I took the pain that Jackie felt and doubled it several times, so when I fed it back into Reeve's mind the pain was thirty or more times as intense as what Jackie felt.” I was feeling more cheerful at the very thought. “It was quite painful, I assure you.”
Charlie chuckled with amusement, “I heard.”
Jackie saw us coming down the slope and he headed in our direction. Len and Art pulled up just as he reached us. I asked him, “How's your wrist? Is it broken?”
He shook his head, “Don't think so. Hurts, but I think it's just a sprain.”
“Well, since you were on the skins team in the game that you were playing during gym, you don't have a T shirt, so I guess it'll have to be mine. You should be ashamed of yourself, taking the shirt right off an Elder's back.” I teased, as I pulled off my T shirt, so we could make a sling for his arm. He chortled in amusement.
As we pulled up, Jackie was making his way up to where Robby and Charlie were climbing down the slope. He was holding his wrist and Robby stripped off his T shirt and fastened a sling for his right arm. Reeve and his companion were standing stiff and unmoving and I realized that Robby had locked their muscles down. When I became an Elder, I had practiced on my kids. By the time I was finished, they were much more respectful of my new status than they had been.
Obviously he hadn't locked their voices, because Reeve said arrogantly, “I'm a werewolf Elder, I can tell all of you are werewolves, except for the aborigine. I demand that you release me right now.”
Jackie showed his obvious dislike for Reeve, by kicking him in the shin and I saw the man wince. Jackie drew back his foot for a second kick and Robby touched him on the shoulder. Jackie looked over his shoulder. Robby shook his head, saying, “One's all you get. I've got him locked in that position, would it be fair to take advantage of a helpless man?”
I saw Jackie, considering it, then he shook his head, reluctantly. “I guess you're right. It wouldn't be right.” Robby nodded in approval and I saw Jackie's little chest puff out in pride.
Robby turned his gaze on Reeve and his eyes went cold, reflected by the chill in his voice, “I'm also an Elder, Mr. Reeve and I'm here to judge you. If I find that the rumors are true then I intend to kill you.”
Reeve sneered, “Try. I've been probed by the best. They didn't get nothing.”
Robby cocked his head to one side and just stared at Reeve for about thirty seconds. Those big green eyes locked on him must have been disconcerting because I saw Reeve start to sweat.
Then Robby spoke, his voice calm and matter-of-fact. “No Mr. Reeve, you haven't been probed by the best, because I'm the best. If you were thinking straight, you'd realize that I can get through your blocks. In order to lock down your muscles I already have.”
Reeve's eyes went wide with shock, as he realized the truth in Robby's statement. Robby closed his eyes and suddenly I was in Reeve's mind, a mind he had been so confident couldn't be breached. I could tell Robby was barely strained by what he was doing. I knew I wasn't alone, that everybody else was with me. Robby began to run though Reeve's life, the pride as he was chosen as an Elder that quickly gave way to contempt. The first killings, that he enjoyed so much that he craved more and many more followed. Then we were up to today and the death he planned for Jackie and the guide as soon as they were no longer of any use to him.
When Robby released us as he exited from Reeve's mind, I saw that the guide was no longer locked down. He had a look of shock on his face as he was taking in the fact that he had almost been a victim. There was a pinched look on Jackie's face and I knew that Robby had shown him exactly the same thing. We didn't protect our young by hiding from them the world's bad side, we simply let them deal with it. If they needed help, they went to an Elder, which in Jackie's case would be me.
Robby held out his hand and without being told, I knew he wanted the rifle. He took it from me and from the way he handled it I could tell he was experienced with using a firearm. He made sure the safety was on and pointing the muzzle at the ground, he asked me, “Is there a round chambered, Art.”
“No, Robby. It's empty.” I told him.
Smoothly he chambered a round. Reeve was starting to look at him in panic. His voice was hoarse, as he said with fear. “You intend to kill me in front of the child?”
“Jackie?” Robby said with a question in his voice.
Jackie's voice was a little unsteady as he began to speak, but quickly became firm. “I saw the people you killed. The primary Werewolf Law, an eye for an eye. They no longer have the chance to avenge their deaths, that's why we have Elders to hand out justice. I will be proud to witness your death for them.”
“You will change into wolf form, Mr. Reeve. That will solve the problem of having to explain a human body.” Robby said, his large green eyes and his voice serene.
“I will not!” screamed Reeve.
“Yes, Mr. Reeve, you will.” Rubby said with purpose. Though the others couldn't feel it, I felt the pressure Robby applied to Reeve's mind. Reeve was desperate, so he held out longer than I expected. But eventually he whimpered and changed, cowering in his tracks.
Robby told him soberly, “The last time I did this Mr. Reeve, I gave the rogue a few seconds to make peace with his God if he had one. I had a much closer look in your mind and you don't seem to have one. However I will give you fifteen seconds anyway, just in case you have last minute thoughts.” Robby said to me and Len, “Please move to the side Art, Len. I don't want an accidental ricochet to hit you.”
We obeyed immediately. Robby pushed the safety to off. At the count of fifteen, Robby brought the rifle to his shoulder smoothly and gently squeezed the trigger. Reeve must have died instantly, but Robby chambered a second round and fired a second time to make sure. Putting on the safety, he handed the rifle to me and his eyes were still serene. Looking around I could see satisfaction on every face, even that of the guide. I took a quick look into Jackie's mind and I could see that he hadn't enjoyed what had happened, the satisfaction was for Reeve's victims.
Robby looked at the guide, telling him, “I won't punish you for what you did, though I could, but I think the shock of finding yourself on the victim's list was enough of a punishment. Your name will be conveyed to my contact and if you get involved in something like this again, the Elder looking into it will know about this incident. Nobody in law enforcement has any idea that Reeve was even here, as far as I know. Take the Land Rover and go.”
Without our ever hearing him say a word, as I found out later from Robby, he hurriedly got into the Land Rover and took off.
While Charlie went to get his truck, Art and I prepared to bury Reeve. Art held up a chain, asking, “What do you want to do with this, Robby? It's got Reeve's name on it.”
Robby took it and looked down at in puzzlement. He said, “What is it? And then there's a much more important question, why is it still here?”
Art just looked at me and I shrugged. Art said tactfully, “I know what it is. About ten years ago a small meteorite landed on a farmer's property, I can't remember where it was exactly, New South Wales somewhere. The scientists demanded he give it to them. He got his back up at that and he sold it to a jeweler. It was almost entirely metallic and the man smelted it down and made chains like this. They were all the rage and I heard he made a fortune.”
Robby wandered away while Art and I dug a hole to bury Reeves canine body. Jackie caught our attention after a few minutes by yelling, “Art, Robby's about to walk right into a gully.”
Sure enough when I looked up, Robby was about six yards from taking a nasty tumble. I reached him first and when I turned him around, I recognized that blank stare. I groaned, I would need to watch him more closely from now on. Art passed his hand in front of Robby's eyes and there was no reaction. Puzzled, he asked, “What's wrong with him, mate? Is he sick?”
I said, ruefully, “No Art, he's thinking. He concentrates so intently that he's not consciously aware of anything else. Though, subconsciously he's aware of everything that's going on around him. He'll be able to repeat this conversation verbatim if necessary. One of my jobs is to watch his back when he starts thinking like this. This is the first time that he's ever done it when moving. That means I'll need to pay more attention, in the future.”
Putting my hands on his shoulders I pushed down to see if he would sit and he did so, crossing his legs. I looked around, until I saw the younger boy. I told him, “Now that he's sitting Jackie, it's unlikely that he'll get up again, but if he does, could you make sure he doesn't end up in a gully. Just grab his arm and turn him. You can easily do it with one hand, because he won't resist. You'll know when he gets back to the land of the living, because he'll thank you.”
When we got back to the hole, Art said, “We're down four feet. That's plenty deep enough.” We lifted Reeve's canine form into the hole and started covering him. We were just finished when Robby pushed himself to his feet and ruffled Jackie's hair. He came over to us. He handed the chain to Art, telling him, “Drop it into a cave or a crevasse somewhere where it won't be found. I don't want the police to turn their attention in this direction. Of course, it doesn't matter if he's found, but a werewolf community has too many secrets to hide. We don't want to expose Three Trees to that type of scrutiny if we can avoid it.”
Charlie back from retrieving his truck was sitting on the bumper. Art just nodded. Robby said, “A second point. What do you know about the Littletons?” He thought for a moment. “A better way to put that. Charlie and Art, what connection do the Littleton's and the aborigines have?”
Art shook his head and Robby looked at Charlie, saying with a grin, “You're up Mr. Davis and from the look on your face, you have the answer that I want.”
Charlie grinned, saying cheerfully, “I don't know if Adeline Littleton knows it or not, but we share a great grandfather. I doubt if she's aware of that fact. Australians like to brag when they have aborigine ancestors nowadays. From what my Dad said, it used to be much different.” He didn't say it with any bitterness, it was just a comment on what had been and what was.
Robby nodded, saying emphatically, “That's the right connection!! Mrs. Littleton, as I'm sure you know, is expecting. From the dossier, she's due within the next week and it's supposed to be twins. It makes much more sense that Adeline Littleton would have an affinity to your spirits, than Jackie would. Since she has some of your blood, her ancestors would be able to read her. The time frame is much more realistic for her to be having a problem than for Jackie and the little one would be one of her babies. We can just thank whatever spiritual guidance we believe in, directed our attention first at Jackie and therefore saved his life.” and we all nodded.
Robby looked at Jackie, telling him, “We can hardly keep the fact that you were kidnapped a secret, besides you have the right to brag. Keep it among werewolves and don't mention Reeve's name.”
Jackie nodded, saying, “I'm a werewolf. We're all used to keeping secrets from the time we're real little. I won't slip up.” Robby ruffled his hair again and Jackie grinned.
Charlie headed for home and the rest of us piled into Art's Land Rover. I asked Robby as Art was driving us back to the village. “Why were you so interested in the chain?”
“It set off a whole train of thoughts,” Robby said. “The chain didn't change when Reeves did. Why not? Assuming, it has as much magic as our clothes have, since it's of extraterrestrial origin, the probability is that it's not compatible with our magic and therefore doesn't change.”
Robby paused before continuing his explanation, “When I rescued, Jenna, she had a chain around her neck. If she had changed, it would have effectively cut her throat. It never even occurred to me at the time, to wonder why the chain around her neck wouldn't change when she did. Obviously, Mitchell found out in some way that a chain made from a meteorite wouldn't change. Once he knew that fact, he got a hold of a meteorite or part of one and the chain was made from that. I assume he would have demonstrated to her that it wouldn't change if she did.”
He paused again, thinking it out, before saying, “That thought led to another one. My Dad wanted to know why our clothes changed and I gather he went about it very scientifically, because that's the type of man he was. He just assumed our change was a physical phenomena. Unless he had the same type of experiences that I have had, he would have always discounted the possibility of magic existing. Therefore it would have been impossible for him to ever discover the reason. He may even have had the answer. If he had gone to a Werewolf Historian, he would have been told that's it was magic. He would have considered that was simply a superstition, he wouldn't even have realized that in fact that was the answer, it is magic, but he simply wouldn't have believed it.”
He explained, “Our clothes and whatever else we wear has magic in them and that magic is compatible with the magic that allows us to change and that's why it also changes. However it seems to need an extra boost and I would think our auras provide that. Everything that is fully within our aura will change with us. No object that could only partly change, such as anything that will have part of it sticking out beyond the aura, can change at all.”
“Uh huh.” I said, trying to show evident non-interest.
Robby giggled, then said, “It's a long, boring explanation, but it is important because there is danger involved. Less to werewolves, than to Sasquatch and Yeti. The way that Mitchell was able to stop Jenna from changing could be used against other Sasquatch. They possibly already have that knowledge, but we have to make sure. Some of their bulk actually shifts to their neck as they change, but with werewolves almost everything stays about the same size or gets smaller. The part of our neck that seems to get bigger is actually a weight shift where our shoulders narrow at that point.”
He said, “You could use meteorite ore to create chains. However once we are in wolf form, a tight chain of any kind, around our back leg would act in the same way as the chain around Jenna's neck. It would sever the large artery in our leg if we tried to change back to human form.”
“Art, will Mr. Littleton be home and if so what is he like?” Robby asked. “Will he cause any problems that we might have to deal with?”
Art considered before answering, “Normally, he's a pretty calm individual but right now, with his wife expecting, he's inclined to be a little argumentative.”
Robby nodded, telling him, “All right, Art. You're his Elder so you get to deal with him. The only way to see if there is any danger to the babies is to look. Since they also have auras, I think I can look inside her womb to actually examine them, but it's something I've never done before. I don't want him interrupting, especially right at the beginning.” He grinned, “As you found out earlier, once I'm concentrating it won't matter if he starts to shout and yell, because I won't even hear him, but it might disturb his kids, so keep him calm.”
He looked at me, saying, “I saw you looking at Jackie's arm earlier. I know you had some medic training when you were a counselor. How is it?”
I told him, “I'm definitely sure that it's not a break, only a bad sprain. While you're attending to Mrs. Littleton, I'll borrow Art's Land Rover and take him down to the Clinic and have either the Doctor or the Nurse have a look at it and then take him home.”
“If the Doctor isn't there, find out where he is.” Robby said, thoughtfully. “We could very well need him, though there shouldn't be any urgency.”
Mr. Littleton was indeed argumentative and also, a little drunk. It appeared he didn't handle stress well. However, Art was six inches taller than he was, so I didn't think the resident Elder would have much of a problem with him. I just walked around them. He already had three kids and I said to the oldest who looked to be about nine. “Where's your Mum?”
“She's lying down. She's finding the babies a burden.” she told me, then she giggled. Obviously, she had been quoting her mother.
“I want to see her, could you lead the way, please?” I asked her.
She nodded and said, “Sure, come on,” and turning she skipped a couple of times and then began walking more sedately. The other two, both boys, about four and six followed us. When we got to the bedroom, Mrs. Littleton, pushed herself to her elbows and nodded, saying, “Welcome, Elder, my cousin was in and told me that Jackie, disappeared. Is he all right?” she said with obvious anxiety.
I reassured her, “He's fine, except for a sprained wrist. Len took him down to the Clinic to have it looked at and then he's going to take him home.”
I didn't like what I saw. Mainly because I wasn't sure of what I was seeing. With Rose's twins, it was quite easy to tell that they were twins and that there would be a girl and a boy. With Mrs. Littleton, I couldn't tell if they were twins and I couldn't determine the sex.
I asked her, “Did you know that you had some aborigine blood in your veins? Charlie Davis's great-grandfather is also yours.”
“No, I didn't, El...” she started to say.
I grinned and said, “Robby will do fine.” She nodded and looked thoughtful for a few minutes and then a pleased look appeared on her face. Charlie had been right about how she would react.
I didn't tell her to lie down again, she was a full adult, if she felt that she was all right on her elbows it was no business of mine. I told her, “Charlie contacted me at my home in the US, through a dream. He said that there was danger to the little one. Since I was here not that long ago and the Pagets were punished we assumed that the little one referred to Jackie. It was just as well, because that saved his life. But the spirits weren't referring to Jackie, they were referring to one of your babies. They wouldn't have contacted me if my abilities weren't needed. Since you now have an Elder, it must be my ability as a Healer that is required.”
I asked her, “I think that I can look at the babies auras inside your body and see if there is any problem, but I've never done it before?”
“You're not really asking my permission, are you?” she said shrewdly.
I shook my head, telling her, “No I'm not. I'm telling you as an Elder, what I plan to do. It would be different if there was any danger. Just looking however, poses no danger to either of us.” and she just nodded and lay back on the bed. I looked around for a chair and moved it to the bedside and sat down. Normally I'd look for the strongest energy flow, however, I wasn't going to be looking at her body but her babies.
I put my hands above her stomach and closing my eyes I went right into a trance taking her with me and then I reached deep. It was a short distance but it was a long and somewhat painful journey to me, as I learned how to use mental abilities I had never used before. Finally I was there and I could see the three auras plainly. Yes three, she wasn't expecting twins, she was having triplets. I examined their auras carefully. The smallest was only about two thirds the size of the others. The way he was positioned, he was completely hidden by the other two. Normally I couldn't read heartbeats from an aura, but they were so young that they were more physically connected to their auras than would generally be the case, so that I could and his heart was in perfect synchronization with the other boy. Someone listening with a stethoscope would only have heard two heartbeats, maybe the occasional echo as their heartbeats went out of sync for a short period.
I wondered if he had been able to get enough nourishment to develop properly, but the healthiness of all of their auras reassured me. I considered, I had been summoned, but there didn't appear to be any damage to the babies, the danger must be somewhere else. Since only the smallest was in danger according to the spirits, that meant that there could be something wrong with the mother, so that she would be unable to deliver all three properly.
I could see no problem with her aura, so that must mean a birth problem from the human part of her. I began to withdraw, once I was fully awake, I released her from the trance she had been in. I was still hyper-sensitive and I could feel Len and Art and a third person. It wasn't the husband, so probably it was the Doctor.
“How long was I under, Len?” I asked.
“Almost three hours, you're slowing down in your old age.” he teased.
“Learning to use new abilities can take a long time.” I said, seriously. “Doctor Ames, what type of imagining systems do you have at the Clinic?”
I felt him give a start, since I hadn't looked at him. He told me, “X-ray and ultrasound. She wouldn't let me use the x-ray and she's a little superstitious, aren't you, Addy?” She nodded. “She didn't want to know the sex of the babies, thought that was bad luck.”
I said gravely, “I don't know enough about either, to know if they would have helped. But there are three babies, not two. The third is only about two thirds the size of the others. I'll use it,” and I smiled at Adeline, “since you don't want to know their sex. It's completely hidden by the others and two of the babies heartbeats are beating in sync, so you wouldn't have been able to tell with a stethoscope. The spirits said there was danger to the little one, so I assume a normal birth would kill the baby. Mrs. Littleton's aura is fine, so the problem isn't from the werewolf side of her, so I can't give you anymore information than that.”
I turned in my chair and looked at the three men, Art and Len just had grins on their faces but the Doctor's mouth was hanging open. I grinned and said, “I'm a Healer, Doctor Ames, what I can't detect with that ability, I can deduce and I'm very good at both.”
He looked at Art. Art shrugged, sayinjg, “Now that I'm an Elder I have access to a lot of things. From what I've read about Robby, you have to trust him, because everyone at the top does.”
Doctor Ames delivered the babies via Caesarian Section and during the operation, he found a problem that would have resulted in the death of at least one and possibly all three of the babies. By that time, Robby was in Sydney with Len and the Ross family. The Ross's had decided not to extend their vacation in Australia, it appeared that the kids weren't very good sightseers. At least in a country as large as Australia, so they had decided to go to England instead, to see if that could attract their kids' interest.
When I called him in Sydney, Robby told me, “I hate sightseeing, but it appears that Angelo and Jenna are as bad as I am. Steve and Carrie wanted to at least see the Sydney Opera House. Len volunteered to take them, since he was there several times, when serving as Naval attaché in Canberra. David Hume and his girl friend are watching the three of us and Len told him to keep an eye on me, just in case I started thinking too hard and inadvertently walked out into the traffic. I have no doubt I'll be seeing you again, Art, so this is just a temporary goodbye.”
“A hunch?” I asked.
He told me, “A feeling, Art and they're seldom wrong. See ya later.”
“Bye, Robby.” and I hung up the phone with a bit of sadness in my heart.
I nodded at Angelo and Jenna, who were showing off their skill with in-line skates and asked Robby, “You don't want to join them?”
“Too dangerous,” said Robby, with a twinkle in his eyes. “I prefer to keep both feet firmly on the ground.” Sandra behind him smothered a laugh. “Well, you're actually a couple of inches off the ground, it has to be dangerous.” Then he giggled.
“Actually I'm not bad on either roller-blades or skateboards, but neither of them turn me on. I prefer running.” said Robby and this time he was serious. “From the number of times you must have been to the Opera House, you're probably glad that Len has been there several times and could escort Steve and Carrie today. I know your taste runs more to Petula Clark than Pavarotti. Mine too actually.”
Thinking he was kidding again, I said, “Ha, I bet you got that from my mind. I don't believe you even know who Petula Clark is.”
Robby's voice was solemn, “Actually I do. My father collected fifties and sixties records and Petula Clark was one of his favorite singers. I sang one of them at his funeral.
Suddenly I was in a chapel and if I hadn't known I was sitting in Sydney, it would have been hard to know that I wasn't actually there. I heard Sandra gasp, so I realized she had been gathered into this dream as well. Robby was standing in front of a closed coffin. You could tell he was several years younger and he was dressed in gray flannel shorts, a white shirt and blue bow tie.
There was absolute silence as he spoke in his usual soft voice, people obviously straining to hear him. “Prob’bly some of you are wondering why the coffin is closed here and at the funeral parlor. Well Dad requested that it be closed. He wanted us to remember him as he was, not just someone lying in a box.”
“I'm not a very good singer, but I want to sing one of Dad's favorite songs. I know it's not a funeral song, but he loved it.”
He began to sing then, Petula Clark's Downtown, 'When you're alone and life…'
Robby sang the song all the way through. As he said he wasn't a particularly good singer. That didn't matter, there was so much honesty and love, that he was pouring out in this tribute to his father that there wasn't a dry eye in the chapel by the time he was finished.
Well there was one, his and I wondered why, as Sydney reappeared. I heard Sandra give a sniff and I must admit there were tears at the corners of my eyes. I cleared my throat, asking, “Why weren't you crying?'
He answered gravely, “I'd known Dad was dying since the day they learned about it. As you know we tend to be more honest to our children about things like that, than a lot of full humans and they hadn't kept it from me. Dad and I had the time for all of the tears that we needed. I was sad but the piercing sorrow had come before his death and occasionally since. I felt sadder for my little brother than I did for me. Dad worked at home, so he was a constant in our lives, especially in Teddy's. Suddenly he was no longer there and Teddy was devastated.”
Robby sighed with regret, saying, “I don't think he fully healed until my mother remarried. Paul is his father now and he doesn't even remember the man who suddenly disappeared from his life when he was three and that is as it should be. Someday when he's old enough, Mom and I will talk to him about his birth father and he'll learn about the other outstanding man who contributed to his life. As I showed you a little, I can show him much about his birth father. My memory is very good and we had many happy times together.”