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Mature story contains dark themes involving graphic violence and taboo topics that may contain triggers for sensitive readers. Please do not read further if this bothers you.

Rich Boy: Growing Pains - 29. Chapter 29

"What a way to spend Christmas." Carlos Rodriguez said over the noise of the plane's tilt-rotor engine. The flight so far was bumpy, especially since they'd descended to skimming just above the waves as they approached the small island.

"Can the talk, Rodriguez," Weatherby said in a stern voice as he looked out the small porthole-like window of the aircraft at the dark water below them. Brandon was curled up, still half-asleep next to Worthington, who leaned back against the bulkhead of the aircraft and tried to close his eyes.

"It's still two days before Christmas," Collins said with a grunt from where he sat next to Lowenthal, just two seats down from the young Latino who had been on active duty in Afghanistan three weeks ago. "You'll get home in time to see your little girl."

"If you don't end up in a demon's stomach." Buchowski who was sitting on the other side of Rodriquez added. Buchowski was a veteran of the last fight with a demon lord.

"You guys are serious about that shit?" Rodriquez swore. "They really eat people?"

"Yes, they do," Worthington said as he opened his eyes and looked at one of the newest team members. Rodriquez visibly shivered before crossing himself and praying silently. Only the dimmest of red lights lit the cabin of the Osprey aircraft. He knew they were miles out when even that light winked out, and the plane went totally dark.

In the cockpit, the pilots of this aircraft and the two other aircraft that flew in formation with it were the only ones who could see the small island fifteen miles off of the California coastline. That was where the Ferdun said they had taken the demons. It had taken Worthington a day to match up the image in his mind from the Ferdun with the actual location. For the last week, long-range reconnaissance planes and satellites in orbit had taken picture after picture of the island.

It didn't appear the lightly populated island was under illusion. They had been able to identify two government mages lost to the demons in the pictures, and nighttime infrared images had shown what likely were s everal demons feasting on humans. So far, there was no evidence that the demons were preparing to create a pocket of their plane on this world, but Worthington and the government officials weren't going to wait around for that to happen.

Forty soldiers, all equipped with dwarven-made assault rifles, armor, and military-style uniforms were on the planes. Another eighteen mages, most from the government, and including Worthington, Brandon, and Jamie (who was on another of the planes) were all part of this expedition. Carl and Colin were both unhappy about being left behind, but this time Rob was on the same plane as Jamie. Weatherby and Lowenthal had both stated that Rob was ready for this, and Worthington had agreed after testing the mage.

They weren't all that was taking part in this exercise either. Lokar had sent twenty dwarf warriors with them, armed with the same assault rifles as the soldiers, and all carrying short swords or battle-axes on their backs. Worthington had a sword that had been made for him by the dwarves as well and was halfway decent with the weapon.

Kelvren and Olara were not about to let the dwarves get all the limelight for ‘helping' in this situation. They had sent fifteen elven warriors to act as scouts. Their arrows and their swords were coated in the same demon-piercing metal as the bullets in the dwarven assault rifles, and they were all experienced fighters. Elves didn't like to risk their all but immortal lives on trifling matters, so their inclusion in this was a big deal, something he'd been certain to impart to Huntington and other government leaders who had chafed impatiently for quicker action.

"Get your gear ready!" Weatherby's shout could be heard over the noise of the planes propellers as land could be seen outside the small windows of the plane. There was the sound of people gathering their gear, shrugging back into place anything they had removed, and the distinctive sound of low-light vision equipment warming up. For his part, Worthington woke Brandon, who put his lighter pack back on, and Worthington turned on his own low-light equipment, lowering it into place.

Even the darkened interior of the plane was more clearly visible with the low-light goggles. The sound of the plane's engines changed as they rotated upwards and the plane slowed until it was just barely moving forward. In the cockpit, the pilots would be searching for the clearing about a mile from the shore where the other aircraft would be landing.

In their own plane, everyone stood up and began hooking up to the lines that were being draped out of the now-open doorway. Their aircraft moved to a full hover over the edge of the clearing, and the first set of soldiers repelled down the lines to land in the clearing below while the aircraft with the elves made a full landing. The elves and dwarves would have to land and get out of the planes normally, while everyone except Brandon in this plane was quite capable of repelling out of the plane.

"Do I really have to do this?" Brandon asked nervously as Worthington faced him and began to hook their safety equipment together. They would be going down in tandem since Brandon was so inexperienced at this.

"Yes," Worthington said firmly and ignored the frown on Brandon's face. His Channel really did hate these dangerous expeditions. All he wanted was a protected, safe life. He had no choice, though, because he was soul-bound to Worthington and shared Worthington's fate.

By the time they reached the ground and Worthington had unhooked them, the plane carrying the elves had already taken off, empty, and the plane with the dwarves onboard was now landing. The Osprey really was a wonderful aircraft, capable of speeds far greater than that of a helicopter, but still able to land in areas that only helicopters had been able to access before. As the mercenary soldiers and dwarves fanned out to secure the clearing, the elves were already heading into the sparse underbrush of the island, beginning their scouting run.

This section of the island was uninhabited and extremely difficult to navigate with sharp cliffs and rolling hills. It was the other side of the island that was a resort town, and more densely populated. Small mansions and mountain cabins dotted out from that location, but infrared pictures had revealed that all of them were currently unoccupied. That was consistent with what Worthington had expected once demons had taken over this idyllic location.

Nor were they likely to ever know for sure, with the orders Worthington had issued himself. All mages were to be killed unless they surrendered immediately. No mercy, no quarter to anyone who fought at all. Anyone with a weapon in their hands was also to be killed. They had chosen this timing for a reason, hoping it would be the time when their enemy was least aware, least ready for action, and when demons would have gone back to their own dimension.

The demons had all the ingredients they needed to create a permanent connection between this world and their own, except for one thing. They had no Adepts they were willing to sacrifice. Worthington was certain they had at least one unknown of Adept potential in their ranks of demon summoners, or how else would they have managed to summon a Demon Lord, but that did not mean they were willing to sacrifice that Adept. Two nights ago a raid against the home of Darius Ruckert had failed, and the Adept was now taking refuge in Sinclair Keep.

Darius had surprised Worthington on several fronts when he'd shown up at the Clairville gates in a battered SUV. The older Adept had told Worthington that he'd been right all along to work with the government and to form the Mages Council. Then the Adept had offered to join them on this expedition, an offer Worthington turned down. Ruckert was simply too out of shape for this fight and would be more of a liability than an asset despite his power.

"Remember, just focus on letting the energy flow through you." Brandon was saying to Bill Matlin, the government mage who had thought he was just abnormally weak in the power of his gift. Worthington's Channel had identified the government mage as another Channel and had been giving him a crash course in how to do what a Channel did. Certainly, Matlin wouldn't be able to pull power from their surrounding environment nearly as effectively as Brandon could, but he had proven able to work with Jamie, who was standing nearby, surrounded by a joint team of dwarves and human soldiers.

"You sure about them?" Weatherby asked as he approached the point where Worthington stood.

"We need Jamie's power, and he can handle the physical rigors," Worthington said in a non-committal tone. "As for actual combat, I have faith in my brother."

"I hope you're right, Sinclair," Weatherby said with a sigh while several soldiers worked at getting a tent erected.

"M1, E4." An elven voice said over the combat headset everyone was wearing in their right ears, with a throat mike around their necks.

"E4, M1, we read you," Worthington replied.

"Waypoint 1 is clear." The elf said in a clear tone before ending the transmission.

"Roger, proceed to #2," Worthington replied over the radio network. Behind him, the tent was set up, and several of the soldiers were setting up some equipment inside. Worthington stood with Weatherby as the first groups, including Jamie's set out at a trot.

"It will be another ten minutes before we get the satellite links established," Weatherby said in a calm voice as Worthington watched the men setting up the base camp equipment. "What do you think?"

"No sign of magical activity yet," Worthington said quietly as he did another quick passive search. He could set up wards, but the truth was that risked detection if they had any mages watching, and there had been far too many mage residents on this island. Most had probably ended up in a demon, but a few of the strongest were probably now among the ranks of the demon-controlled.

"So we're probably not detected yet," Weatherby said with relief as Worthington nodded. They remained silent until the word came that the satellite links were operational. Then they went into the command tent and looked over the shoulders of the two technicians.

"What is that?" Worthington asked as he pointed at something on one of the infrared channels. It was tied to the dock, and the normal visual picture showed that a tent covered it.

"Some kind of ship, most likely." The tech at the infrared computer said. "Navy analysts are looking at it now to tell us what it is, but you can guess it's the engine plant of some ship. Bigger than a speed boat, but smaller than say, a merchant ship."

"Military?" Weatherby asked.

"Not likely." The tech said quietly.

"Zoom out." Weatherby directed, and the map panned into a larger view that showed the satellite transponders of the elf scouts. "Amazing how much ground they've covered."

"They don't have as much stamina as a human, but they're a lot faster." Worthington reminded him. "It looks like they're going to be in position on time."

"Let's start the threat assessment on the town itself." Weatherby directed, and they stepped back to let the technicians do their work while he and Worthington discussed their planned deployment options. Fifteen minutes later, the two techs were ready and called them back over.

"This is the local school, where they appear to be holding the majority of people like we expected." The tech said as he panned an infrared view of the school. "There has been no major change from pre-deployment recon, so we're pretty much on track. These heat sources in this room here are the children you expected them to be holding near the evac route."

"You sure?" Worthington asked.

"Yes, sir, all the heat sources are smaller than your average adult." The tech affirmed with a slight pause as he swallowed. "I'll stake my career on it."

"Good, because you are," Worthington warned the man, who winced.

"What's changed?" Weatherby asked.

"The tent over the dock area and the heat source under it is new." The second tech, a female in her late twenties, said with a frown. "Navy says it's either some type of large diesel boat or a submarine. One of their guys seems to think it's an old Russian submarine."

"You're joking." Weatherby snorted. "Where would they get a submarine?"

"I don't know, sir, but they've got a fairly large group of people in this warehouse near the dock." The female tech continued. Worthington was pretty sure her last name was Montague, but couldn't be sure since she was one of the newest additions to the team and not a combat soldier. "They may be trying to move a group out by sea."

"Now why would they be doing that?" Weatherby asked Worthington.

"Maybe they expect us to be able to eventually track them down, or they don't plan on making the gateway here." Worthington frowned. "It might not be hot enough here on average for them, or they might prefer some place down in Mexico, or something. Weren't there reports of drug operations trying to buy up old submarines for their smuggling operations? Maybe they've hooked up with one of the drug cartels."

"That's just great," Weatherby said with derision. "Just what we need: drug-running demons. Okay, we should redeploy team four to take out whatever is under that tent before they can get out to sea. If it's not a submarine, those Coast Guard cutters can stop the ship. If it is a submarine, it'll be able to dive and sneak right past them. Get on the line and see if the Navy can get a sub-hunter out here."

"They're not going to like this." The female tech said.

"That's my worry, Mongalle." Weatherby said sharply, showing that Worthington had been wrong about her name. At least he'd been close.

"Team four understands their new priority." The first tech said after relaying the instructions to the team leader.

"Can you manage your part?" Weatherby asked Worthington.

"No problem, once I get close enough," Worthington said without hesitation.

"Well, then, you better get going," Weatherby said as he held out his hand. "Good luck."

"Thanks," Worthington said as he shook the hand. Outside the tent, he took a deep breath before rounding up his team members. He and Brandon were the two mages, and he had seven mercenaries, and five dwarves waiting for him in a rough circle. They nodded as he explained they were proceeding as planned and set out as a group at a fast trot.

The dwarves were actually faster than the human soldiers as they trotted out ahead of the small group, forming a perimeter screen. Brandon, as the least prepared human, set the level of their pace, and the frequency of their rest stops. There was very minimal chatter over the radio network, just in case the other side had equipment that could detect radio chatter. Yes, their communications were encrypted, but they would still give away the fact that they were on the island.

"M1, CB Actual." Weatherby's voice came over the radio when they were about a mile out from their initial position.

"Go ahead," Worthington replied.

"They're bedding down for the morning," Weatherby said, and Worthington looked back to the east where the sun was now a few degrees over the horizon. The hilly terrain had been tiring to negotiate, and they were resting up before the crawl into the perimeter of the town.

Luckily the demon-controlled mages had a mostly nocturnal pattern. Demons were summoned just before sundown, feasted on human flesh early in the night, and did different things that he could only imagine from the images they had been able to gather. There seemed to be a lot of sex, or torture, or both, involved in those nightly activities. Demons would leave sometime after two in the morning, and then the mages would do their own activities until near dawn. There was minimal activity from dawn until a few hours before noon, and that was the time period in which they intended to strike.

"We're almost in position," Worthington said.

"Just waiting on your team," Weatherby replied, and Worthington sighed.

"Roger, we'll get a move on."

"Signal when ready." Weatherby cut the transmission with that signal and Worthington signaled with his hands for everyone in his group to get moving. Dolaro, the lead dwarf grinned at him and made a brief comment about humans needing too much rest before his team moved out ahead.

"Damn dwarves." Rodriguez, who was leading the group of mercenary soldiers grunted as they trotted up the last hill between them and the small town.

"Be nice, Rodriguez," Worthington warned him gently. "If they manage to get some demons summoned, you're going to be very happy they're here, and that they made the weapons you're carrying, and the armor you're wearing."

"It's not that, sir." Rodriguez joked. "It's them and their jokes about us being weaker. How can we help it if God made us the way we are, and made them the way they are?"

"Yeah, well, if you want to tease them about something, tease them about that little pond they created back at Clairville." Worthington chuckled.

"Why's that?" Rodriguez asked with a furrowed eyebrow.

"They made a great pond for swimming." Brandon gasped out from behind Worthington. He didn't like talking while running, especially at the fast pace they were setting.

"So?" Rodriguez asked.

"Dwarves can't swim," Worthington replied with a smile. "They sink like stones."

"Oh." Rodriguez laughed. "I get it."

"Good," Worthington said and remained silent as he slowed their pace just a bit for Brandon's sake. Soon enough, they reached the top of the hill and could see the town lying down below them.

"Pretty place," Dolaro said as Worthington crawled forward up the hillcrest in order to keep from being seen. The dwarf was looking down with a pair of binoculars. Worthington used his binoculars to scan the area of the town that was their concern. It really was a pretty place with whitewashed buildings made of stucco or wood, all with fabulous views of the ocean below them. Some of the homes even extended halfway up the hill they were now on, but at this hour of the morning, there was no activity. There should be sailboats heading out to sea for a day of fun, but they were all tied up at the marina, as were a few fishing boats that had once plied their trade here. A few figures could be seen sitting on porches, the obvious sentries set by the mages, more to keep anyone from running than to watch for signs of impending attack.

"In position." Worthington radioed.

"All groups report ready to proceed," Weatherby said firmly.

"Roger, give me a few to get my spells set up," Worthington replied and took a deep breath while focusing his binoculars on the school. It was easy to pick out the room that the kids were being held in, and this was the most important thing to get right. Their plan of attack called for cutting off all lines of retreat for the demon-controlled mages. He wanted none of them to escape.

It was doubtful they would be able to complete their attack before any demons were summoned, but keeping the demon-controlled mages from getting away was more important than stopping them from summoning demon support. It didn't matter how many they killed if even one got away. There would always be a risk of them summoning more demons and starting a similar operation somewhere else.

The children in that room were likely their primary escape route. In an emergency, they would sacrifice one or more of the children to create a portal that would let them escape to almost anywhere. Therefore, Worthington reached through his link to Brandon for a great deal of power and began to craft one of the most powerful shields he had ever created. This shield would have to last under whatever bombardment launched against it from mages desperate to escape.

Once the shield was established, his team would strike directly at the school, killing demon-controlled mages, or anyone who resisted. Once everyone was either dead or captured, Worthington and the other primary mages that survived would have a long day ahead of them as they scanned all those who had been on the island. No one whose mind was controlled by demons could be allowed to live.

"I'm ready to put the shield in place," Worthington said in a tight voice fifteen minutes after he'd begun.

"I can feel him." Jamie's voice came over the combat circuit. That meant that more than likely any mage who was awake in the town was feeling Worthington's spell as well.

"You better get a move on, Sinclair," Weatherby growled.

"It's in place, give the word," Worthington said through gritted teeth as he released the shield and it settled into place, protecting the children from anyone going into the room where they were being held. He would like to say it was for the children's own good, but the truth was that there was no telling what condition the children were in now. They could be relatively free of demon taint, or so far gone that they would have to be ‘taken care of' later.

There was no sound of gunfire as the word went out over the command channel. Their first strike was by the elves who used their long bows with deadly accuracy, taking out the sentries that were located outside. Dwarf shock teams then stormed the houses that infrared cameras on satellites and observation planes indicated activity inside. The soldiers and mages moved in behind them from four points even as Worthington signaled his team forward.

Brandon slipped once on the steep slope, and Worthington hauled him up onto his back as he hurried down the slope. The dwarves were already at the base of the hill, moving into the two houses on their end that had some indicated activity inside. This close Worthington could hear the relatively quiet sounds of their assault rifles as they eradicated the people inside. When they hit the first paved road, Worthington sat Brandon back down on his feet, and they took off together, surrounded by soldiers and dwarves who began to sweep any house where there was an indicated person living inside.

It took them nearly fifteen minutes to reach the school, where the elves had already swept off all the sentries with their bows. Worthington nodded at the lead elf who smiled at him before heading inside, with the dwarves hot on his heels. That was when he felt the first shudder against his shield.

"They know something's up," Worthington said even as a massive explosion sounded somewhere off to the northwest. The radio channels filled with chatter as the demon-controlled mages began to respond, and two of their groups became involved with direct combat. Worthington led his own team deeper into the school.

At first, they encountered nothing but dead bodies. Several had arrows sticking out of them, but there were just as many that had been brought down by gunfire. All had the dirty, unwashed look common to demon-controlled mages, and Worthington gripped his own weapon tightly. It quickly became apparent that the school had been converted into living quarters, and the dwarves and elves were sweeping the classrooms as they went along. Worthington led his group down a different hallway, towards the room he had already shielded.

Three people ran into the hallway about thirty feet down from them, and all three were shot dead before Worthington had even raised his weapon. As they got closer, he saw that they had been armed with shotguns and nodded to the men around him who had fired. Their reflexes were all he could hope for in this situation.

When the far wall exploded, he barely had time to expand his personal shields to deflect the debris that flew towards them. While they were all knocked to the ground, none seemed to be injured. "Demon!" Rodriguez called out as his ankle bracelet went cold, and the soldier fired into the cloud of dust.

As the dust settled, they found that there had indeed been a demon, but it was dead from bullet wounds. At least one of them was using the demon-penetrating ammunition, and Worthington noted that three of the soldiers were changing magazines so that they too had the special ammunition ready to go. It was just in time as two more demons, both low-level orange-skins, flowed through the hole in the wall.

Worthington fired his weapon with the others and felt a tingle of danger as a mage gathered power for a strike from behind them. He spun around, moving his shield to encompass the group in a full circle instead of a half-circle, and fired at the three figures that had somehow gotten behind them. His bullets penetrated the shields of one of the three mages, and he had to concentrate a moment to keep his shield steady as the other two let loose with different attacks. One of the other soldiers switched from firing at demons that were still trying to get at them from the hole in the wall to firing at the mages who were now holding their own shields against bullets.

They were wasting valuable demon-killing ammunition, so Worthington lowered his weapon and let loose with blasts of magic instead. His repeated strikes took down the shields of one of the mages quickly enough that the soldier's bullets riddled him. The other mage panicked and threw up a heavier shield before taking off at a run down one of the hallways. Worthington ignored him at that point and turned back to face the demons, whose bodies were now piling up in the hole.

"Hold fire!" Rodriguez called as he saw no more fresh demons. "Ammo check!"

"Five special, six normal," Worthington answered first and moved forward to check the hole in the wall. It was their destination, and since they had a little breather, he used his magic to push the bodies out of the way, waiting until Rodriguez signaled they were ready to proceed to go through. Meanwhile, he was trying to pretend he couldn't hear the calls for help from Jamie's team. They had met with a stiff bit of resistance and Weatherby was sending team two to help them out since that team had met no resistance whatsoever.

The room on the other side of the hole proved to be the gymnasium where seven mages were working on summoning more demons. Fifteen more men and women, all armed with rifles opened fire on Worthington and his escorts, trying to protect the demon-summoners, but the professional soldiers were protected from their initial shots, and they never got a chance to fire twice before being cut down.

"Grenades?" Rodgriguez asked, and Worthington nodded. Five grenades were thrown before they took cover, and after the explosion, all the demon summoners were dead. The room where the kids were being held was nearby and turned out to be the boy's locker room they saw when they approached. It was there that they found two more mages, desperately trying to bring down Worthington's shield.

"We should take these alive, for questioning," Worthington said with a grimace. It would be more like torture than questioning since he'd have to use Dark magic to break through the demon-controls and barriers on their minds, but at least this way it sounded nicer.

"Right, switch to normal ammo and fire until their shield goes down." Rodriguez nodded, and the soldiers opened up even as the two mages noticed their presence. One of them proved to be of considerable power, easily mid-level Adept, and that was the one Worthington focused on first. While the soldiers fired bullets to keep the mages focused on defense, Worthington used stun bolts to hammer them.

He was panting by the time the Adept-level mage collapsed, and he signaled Rodriguez that the other wasn't necessary as a prisoner. The truth was he'd used so much power up to this point that Brandon was on the edge of collapse, and he wasn't far behind. The radio chatter indicated that the battle elsewhere was over and that it had indeed been a submarine under the tent. Unfortunately, five mages had gotten on the sub before it took off, diving as soon as it hit deep water.

The Navy would be sending a plane to hunt it down.

"If you see a red glow come over him, shoot him," Worthington instructed one of the soldiers while he quickly spun several spells into the collapsed demon-controlled Adept. He'd cast three spells on the man. The first was a type of shield that should prevent him from achieving his ‘center,' effectively preventing him from casting spells. Second was a spell putting him in a full body-bind so he couldn't move. Last was a spell that would create a red glow around him should either of the other two spells be broken. The soldier he'd pointed to nodded and Worthington turned to face the door to the locker room that he'd shielded earlier. "Rodriguez, I'm about to take the shield down around that room. Let's get the kids inside out here, and keep an eye on them. We have no idea if they're controlled, or what."

"Got it," Rodriguez said and used hand signals to order the remaining soldiers to fan out. Worthington closed his eyes, and let the shield fall, mentally noting that this battle was nothing like the last one. Hours of planning and reconnaissance had paid off well, minimizing their own casualties and making things far, far easier.

"It's down," Worthington said and made sure Brandon was right behind him as he followed the soldiers into the room. The lockers that had once filled the room were gone, and there were neat rows of beds, far neater than anything Worthington had expected to see here. All the beds were empty, and the soldiers moved between the rows towards the half-circle of wide-awake young boys that were standing on the far side of the room.

"It's okay boys; we're from the government," Rodriguez said as he lowered his weapon a bit, so it wasn't pointing at the boys who ranged in age from probably eight to their early teens. Worthington's quick count ended at sixteen of them. The room itself was filled with demon spoor, and he wondered how badly these boys had been abused. Hopefully, none of them were too far gone so they'd have to be ‘put down' but could be saved. Quite a few of them looked sickly, with a greenish cast to their skin color. "The bad guys are gone, and we're going to take you someplace safe."

Worthington felt a prickle of danger as he realized that all the boys were mage-gifted, even the youngest ones who shouldn't be showing any sign of power yet. He opened his mouth to whisper a warning but was too late as all the boys pounced, bending their knees before leaping across the twelve feet that still separated them from the soldiers. One, a particularly handsome dark-haired kid on the cusp of being a teenager, landed on his chest. He had a glimpse of red, glowing eyes before sharp claws dug into his chest at the same time that a blast of power ripped his shields away.

"Fuck!" One of the soldiers around him managed to shout as all the men found themselves swarmed by nearly a dozen of the children. The one that had knocked Worthington onto his back was viciously shredding his military uniform, and after three blows his claws that were extending out of his hands penetrated the dwarven armor Worthington was wearing. With a gasp of pain, Worthington gathered his magic, preparing to blast the child off of him when the sound of a pistol firing in the room reached him, and the kid's head exploded.

"Thanks," Worthington said to Brandon, who was holding a pistol in an uncomfortable posture. He'd been spared from attack because he'd been behind Worthington, who was now climbing to his feet, ignoring the bloody gashes on his chest. His weapon came up, and he fired a short burst of three rounds into a child that was ripping away Rodriguez's armor. Another burst caught a kid as it leaped off a soldier, where he'd been drinking blood from the soldier's rent throat. His next burst took out the kid trying to feed off of the soldier's heart that he'd just ripped out.

Rodriguez was on his feet now, firing at the demon-children, because as Worthington tried to save the lives of the two other soldiers not yet dead, he realized that's what these were. No story he'd ever heard said humans and demons could inter-breed, but he was not naïve enough to claim it couldn't be done. With enough power, time, and intelligence, almost anything was possible using magic.

"Cease fire!" Worthington called out as the last of their attackers died from bullet wounds. Rodriguez was checking out the two soldiers that had gotten back to their feet while Brandon tried to check out Worthington's wounded chest. For his part, Worthington's gaze focused on the four boys that were huddled together in the far section of the room where the demon children had hid them. Averting his eyes from the dead bodies of soldiers, some of whom the demon children had tried to feed on, Worthington crossed the room while keeping his weapon trained on the still-alive children huddled together, on their knees, their heads facing the cold cement.

"Andrews is still alive!" Rodriguez called, and Worthington sent Brandon to help the soldier with the wounded man while keeping his weapon trained on the children that were now in front of him. They were all at least eleven or twelve, maybe thirteen, and were all sobbing quietly. All four of them were white, and there was no tinge of green to their skin as there had been with the others.

"Get up," Worthington said fiercely, and the four boys all started crying louder but didn't move at all. "I said get to your feet!"

"Just kill us!" One of the boys, a blond kid who lifted his head and stared at Worthington with eyes that were closer to a fuschia color than anything else. Worthington tightened his grip on his weapon, but the kids made no move to attack.

"Why?" Worthington asked in a softer voice as he extended his mage senses towards the four. All four of them were gifted and quite strong despite their young age. It was difficult to tell how tainted they were with all the residual demon spoor, but he knew from this boy's eyes that they had some taint to them.

"They're making us like them!" The boy cried while his entire body shuddered as he pointed at one of the dead demon children. As Worthington stared at him, the boy told his story, and Worthington found himself sitting on the floor, staring at the four boys, all of whom were now looking at him, and nodding in agreement as the blond boy begged him once again for death.

He'd never imagined that there could be something worse than what he'd faced in Northern Arizona, but here, now, was something he'd never dreamed of facing.

What was he to do?

Copyright © 2018 dkstories; All Rights Reserved.
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Outstanding chapter! The children turning on their rescuers was unexpected, and the few survivors begging to be killed is very sad and very emotional for Worthington. He’s got to make a decision on what to do with these hostages/prisoners, can he just kill them? Can he formulate a plan to save and cure them with no danger to anyone else? I’m definitely looking forward to the next chapter! 😢❤️

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