THE NIGHT ROARED, SHAKING the house, shattering glass.
Peter shot to his feet, moving before the flash faded. Leeza was struggling upright with a strangled cry, Ariadne Demodakis stepping toward her.
“Get down!” He pulled them both behind the couch. “Keep your heads down.” He squirmed across the floor to a window as another explosion ripped the night, shivering the foundations. He could smell smoke. The lights flickered and died. “Damn!”
He raised his head to peer over the sill. “Air attack, I can’t make out. . . .” Darker movement, out in the twilight. “There. I think ultralights, maybe shielded, probably came in low so your radar didn’t catch them with the ash—”
A deeper, muffled roar cut him off.
The Despoinis was climbing to her feet, pulling Leeza after her. “That last was one of our guns. Quickly, this way.”
“My boat’s down there! I’ve gotta—”
The door crashed against the wall and a dim clot of Med League soldiers burst into the room. A voice shouted in Greek, “Air attack! Into the shelter!”
One grabbed Ariadne’s arm and pulled her free of the clinging Leeza. Two more ran past Peter to crank down an armored shield across the broken windows. Leeza stood gawking as another flare shattered the dark behind the half-lowered barrier. A pop and a hiss, tendrils of black cloud snaking over the terrace in the flash of light.
“Jesus—chemicals!” Peter lunged toward the men, jerking at the lowering shield as the others levered. It snapped down into place.
The soldiers were dragging Ariadne away. Leeza stood frozen. Peter scooped her up and hauled her along, stumbling through darkness and booming echoes.
Dim halls, doors, stairways down. Lights flickered on. The soldiers led them from the basement down a stone passage into a natural rock cavern. Fluorescent lights, air filters humming. The honcho from the quay—a brother of the Tyrannos, he’d learned—cut them off, hustling from another rock tunnel.
He stopped, hand on the gun at his hip, breathing hard, stare glinting from Leeza and Peter to the Despoinis.
“Well, Ariadne? Take a look at our soldiers hit by these bastard Sons of the Prophet! Turks!” He spat. “Maybe you’ll start caring about security now. These are no mercenaries after your healing secrets. These people have one purpose—to kill you, and die.”
Peter blinked, grappling the torrent of Greek, staring baffled at that tawny-skinned glorious vision from the cove who’d somehow transmuted into this stony-faced Ariadne Demodakis.
But the man strode toward a group of soldiers in bubble suits coming down another passage. Helmets unsealed, they carried two stretchers. Stefanos Demodakis paused, then moved on as Ariadne stepped toward the men. Peter followed. Somewhere beneath the hum of air filters, overloaded machinery squealed.
“How bad?” She reached for the sheet over the first stretcher.
A soldier, face streaked with grime, shook his head. “He’s gone.”
She lifted one corner.
Mangled mass of flesh, bone, and pooled blood in the chest cavity. Twisted face and empty eyes.
The sheet dropped over the corpse. Ariadne Demodakis moved woodenly to the next stretcher, the shrill squealing louder now. Peter looked down and saw what it was. The man’s teeth clenched in a grimace, a choked scream wrenching his throat to knotted cords. His hands gripped the stretcher bars as he strained blindly upwards.
Peter was locked there, staring, like it was all just yesterday. Now, then, all the same. The man’s burned eyelids couldn’t close over bulging eyes covered with a milky film.
“The chemical bombs.” The soldier’s voice echoed out of some dim remorseless replay. “We killed the filthy dog, knocked him from the sky. But by Christos, poor Yannis—” The voice broke. “He was slow with his helmet. We tried to rinse his eyes with water, but it only burned. I gave him as much morphine as I dared. . . .”
Peter cleared his throat. “Dragon’s Breath.”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish