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Chapter Ten: A Plan Of Action

Liam helped his father to the living room couch before he closed and locked the apartment door. He drew the blinds on the single window, turned on a lamp with a low wattage bulb and checked the volume on the police scanner that sat on the floor in the corner. His father lay his head back and closed his eyes.

"I'm getting old. Back in the day I would shake something like this off and keep right on going until I put the hostile down." He winced as he shifted position. "Not anymore. Maybe I should think about retiring."

"Maybe you should think about what we should do next" said Liam as he pulled the curtain back just enough to glance outside. "We could have the cops here any second," he turned to face his father, "and what would we tell them?"

"The same things we usually say when the local police start asking questions."

"Well, I don't think that will go over too well." Liam crossed the room and fell into a shabby arm chair. "Our stock stories didn't convince Lily."

"Lily? - oh, the nurse." Xavier opened his eyes to look at his son. "There's something there that bothers me."

"I think she's the girl in my dream, dad." He got up from the chair and began to pace the room. "It's the only dream I've had that has anything to do with being a Guardian and I don't know what it means."

"Those dreams usually help us find and destroy our enemies."

"Yeah, so? That doesn't really help." Liam stopped pacing. "From what I can see, some monster or demon is set to kill an unknown girl - maybe Lily - but I don't see how the dream helps me find the thing before it does the deed."

They were silent for a moment before Liam spoke again. "I need to get out there and start prowling around. That's what we usually do when we're looking for hostiles."

"Yes, but we don't usually have the locals setting the police on us" said Xavier. "At least not this early in the game."

"Well, as far as we know, no one saw the pickup. And no one knows who we really are or where we live."

"Probably true." Xavier started to shrug, but the stabbing pain made him think better of it. "But in a town this size everyone sees everyone eventually. If nurse Lily does call the police and they start asking around, it won't be long until someone who knows where we live spills the beans."

"So what? We haven't done anything wrong."

"No we haven't" Xavier replied. "But past experience tells me that we would have a heck of a time trying to do our job once the cops locate us and decide to keep an eye on us 'just in case'." He paused a moment. "Don't forget; our job is to eliminate hostiles and -"

"Exactly!" Liam stepped directly in front of his father. "We aren't going to take down any monsters sitting here, hiding from, from – whoever."

"I know that and I'm not saying we should just sit here - at least you shouldn't." He sighed loudly before continuing. "Liam, I'm just saying we need to tread softly right now. We need to be smart about this."

"Okay, okay, I agree. What do you suggest?"

"Stay out of sight for awhile. At least for the day. We're usually asleep during the day anyhow."

"Then what?" asked Liam as he settled back into the armchair.

"Think a little. What is the significance of the murder? Why a pregnant woman killed and her baby ripped out and killed like that?" Xavier inclined his head toward the three volume Guardian bible resting on the coffee table. "I suggest you start by looking through the books." He stopped and squinted at the first book a moment. "In fact, I remember something like this in the Mordecai section. Try page ten or eleven" said Xavier as Liam reached for the book.

The younger man opened the binder and carefully turned the plastic encased yellowed pages at the beginning of the book, mentally counting until he reached page ten. He ran his finger along the faded lines as he scanned the three hundred year old entries for clues to their current crisis. He had passed through page twelve and began to skim page thirteen when he sat upright.

"Here's something." He re-read the section and recited his interpretation of the colonial English and spelling. "Mordecai says that there was," he paused to review a sentence or two, "there was 'a demon creature unleashed upon the good citizens of New Haven in the year of our Lord, 1695, which sought to undo the Guardian race by destroying the mother's of those called by our most blessed Redeemer, the Son of Man..." Liam stopped reading and look up at his father. "You think that's gong on here?"

"Did Mordecai kill the demon?" Xavier asked. He had managed to reach the cigar box on the coffee table and was preparing to light a Nicaraguan toro.

"Not that I can see," Liam said as he continued to scan the book. "He was able to drive it off but he doesn't say it was eliminated."

"Then there's every possibility the thing has come back to do more damage." He fiddled with the cigar a moment. "And if I understand Mordecai correctly, that must mean there's a Guardian about to be born somewhere in this town. I would assume that's why we were brought here." Xavier blew a stream of smoke at the ceiling. "By the way, what active form did it take?"

Liam turned several pages while holding a finger in the book to save his place. "Um, it looks like it was a creature with 'dagger like talons'" he quoted. "There's a sketch here so Mordecai got up close and personal at least once." Liam held the book up to show his father. "Looks to me like the thing we encountered" he said.

"Was there a resting form?" Xavier asked, using the Guardian term to describe a hostile assuming another appearance in order to go unnoticed by humans. This would often be the likeness of an inanimate object, an animal - or human.

"Let's see." Liam ran his finger down one page and started on another. "Yeah, right here." He blinked and shook his head. "You won't believe this, but Moredecai says the creature assumed the appearance of a man who, and I quote, 'pried incessantly into the affairs of each citizen of the town and surrounding country in the employ of the Sheriff.'"

"No kidding?" Xavier blew a series of smoke rings toward the small lamp on the end table. "Was he sure of that or was he guessing?"

Liam was silent for a moment, then, "Says here he was sure of it - he actually saw it change from resting to active form, so that was confirmed."

"Well, then, If I were a betting man I'd bet that this particular monster likes to assume the form of someone in authority."

"Like a cop."

"True, but it doesn't have to be law enforcement."

"But that makes sense." Liam closed the book and placed it back on the table. "If I was a betting man, I'd bet this demon likes to take the form of a cop - or a sheriff's deputy - or maybe a detective."

"We don't even know if there are detectives on staff in this County." Xavier gently lay the ash from his cigar in the tray. "Even if there are, we need to keep an open mind on this, Liam."

"I have an open mind, but you've always said the Guardian bible is the best guide we have to discerning the identity of a hostile."

"I know." Xavier paused a moment. "So what do you propose to do?" He reached with his good arm and gently touched his wounded shoulder. "It looks like I'm out of action for awhile, so this one is all yours."

Liam didn't answer at first. Instead he got out of the chair and began to pace again. "Okay, I think the first thing to do is to try and make contact with Lily again."

Xavier raised his eyebrows. "Liam, I get the distinct feeling you're interest in her is more than professional." He took a long pull on the cigar. "I know she's a good looking girl, so that's understandable, but don't let your attraction to her cloud your judgment."

"How am I letting her cloud my judgment?"

"Liam - she called the police, for crying out loud - or at least she said she was going to call the police. Going to her might land you right in the hands of the hostile. - if it is one of the cops"

Liam stopped pacing and checked out the window before continuing. "Look, dad, I'm not stupid. I'm not going to walk right up to her at the hospital." He crossed the floor and leaned on the back of the easy chair. "I'll keep an eye out and catch her alone, see if she will listen to me. If she does, then she would be able to funnel information to me - find out what's going on at the sheriff's office and that sort of thing."

"You could just call the court house and ask if the sheriff's office has any detectives on staff."

Liam shook his head. "I can, and I suppose I will, but if I can gain Lily's confidence she would be a big help. She would be able to ask questions and go places I couldn't." He stepped around the chair and sat down.

Xaxier made an indistinct gesture with one hand. "From what you told me you've already spilled the beans to the young woman we met at the church; why not enlist her help? Seems like that would be easier."

"Connie? Yeah, well, I intend to keep in touch with her if possible. But there isn't any problem between Connie and I so that shouldn't be hard" He shook his head. "Frankly, I'm confused. It seems that Connie and Lily are both connected to the dream somehow."

"Whether either one of them has something to do with your dream isn't really the main concern Liam."

Liam shook his head. "I disagree. I know this isn't the way it usually works but I think the dream was given so I could find the monster and protect whoever it is that's in the vision." He paused a moment as he drummed his fingers on the arm of the chair. "Besides, if she - Lily - trusts me, then it would be a lot easier to keep her in sight."

"So, when the events of your dream take place…."

"Right; if she's the one in the dream, I'd be there to stop it from happening."

"Sounds like you're using her as bait" said Xavier.

"That's not true" Liam shook his head. "But If I had to come down on one side of this or the other, I'd say the dream is telling me it's Lily and not Connie that's going to be targeted by this demon; the same demon Mordecai encountered three hundred years ago."

"Killing women who were pregnant and may have been carrying a Guardian" Xavier said. "That seems to indicate something else, doesn't it?"

"Yeah, I've already thought about that." Liam shrugged. "If Lily is the girl in the dream either she's pregnant," he glanced at his father. "Or she will be." He held his father's gaze. "Who knows, maybe I'm destined to marry her."

Chapter One: Slaughter In The Churchyard
Chapter Two: The Guardians
Chapter Three: The Detective
Chapter Four: Checking Out The Church
Chapter Five: Lunch With Connie
Chapter Six: Back To The Scene Of The Slaughter
Chapter Seven: Suspects In View
Chapter Eight: An Unbelievable Story
Chapter Nine: The Suspects Disappear
Chapter Ten: A Plan Of Action
Chapter Eleven: Lily's Help
Chapter Twelve: Another Victim
Chapter Thirteen: The Briefing
Chapter Fourteen: Attack On A Guardian
Chapter Fifteen: The Fury Of The Fiend


THE END WAS NEAR
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