"Did we hear something about a plane?" Natalya said.

Ignoring her, Declan scraped his sword along the bottom of his boot, cleaning the contagious blood off his own blade. He sheathed the sword, then col ected Regin against his chest.

Still unconscious. How injured was she? Has to be internal bleeding from the wall falling. He kept reminding himself that she'd live. How many times had he cursed an immortal's resilience?

"Have you cal ed for boarding yet?" the fey asked. "I'm a medal ion member, and I'd prefer a vegetarian dinner."

Declan turned toward the exit with Regin, saying over his shoulder, "Bul shite. We're ful up." He'd let Brandr aboard because he owed the man-but no more of these miscreats.

The fey's voice grew menacing. "How shal this play out, Blademan?"

He heard the unmistakable buzz of a cocked charge thrower and turned slowly. "You've only got so many shots with that thing."

"Which is why I didn't utilize it against the Wendigos. In any case, all I need is one to end you."

One shot would, in fact, electrocute him.

"Think, Chase," she continued, "if we meet other creatures-perhaps some of the many who want you dead-we can help you fight."

"She might have a point," Brandr said. "How many more Wendigos do you have here?"

"Dozens."

Brandr swore under his breath. "And that being from the outside, that Dorada, brought even more. What about ghouls?"

"Hundreds."

"Then we need her," Brandr said. "And the boy."

"We need the charge thrower and nothing more." She wasn't budging. They wasted time. Biting out an oath, he said, "We've got minutes to reach the plane before this island disappears. If any of you fal on the way, I'll step over your corpses." With that, Declan sprinted out of the warehouse, leading them down a smoke-fil ed service hal , then out into the blustery night.

Rain pelted them, but Regin remained unconscious as they sped toward the airstrip. The smaller runway there was an older alternate to the current one where transport planes touched down, unloaded, and immediately took off.

Yet something caught his attention far on the other side of the facility grounds. It was Vincente, running hand-in-hand with that succubus. He was shirtless; she was no longer wasting from hunger-Just feet behind them, a vampire stalked closer, sword raised.

"Vincente!" Declan yel ed a warning, but he couldn't be heard over the storm.

The vampire swung; at the last second, the succubus shoved Vincente out of the way and took the hit in her arm. Vincente whirled around and shot the leech in the face with a combat shotgun then scooped up his bleeding female.

Declan's mind could hardly wrap around this. The succubus took the hit for a mortal.

"Vincente!" he yel ed again.

The guard's head jerked up this time. They met eyes. Declan waved him over, but Vincente shook his head. When Declan pointed to his watch- place is about to blow, boyo-the man nodded, then hastened toward the forest.

"God speed, Vincente," Declan said, continuing on. In the distance, he caught sight of the hangar's tattered wind sock flapping in the storm. He muttered to Regin, "Almost there." So far, they'd had no encounters with other creatures-at least, none that wanted a fight.

As they closed in, the fey asked, "Where's the airport?"

"You're lookin' at it."

"Is that a hangar or a barn? I'm confused."

The wide entrance doors were padlocked. Cradling Regin in one arm, he used his free hand to wrench free the chain, surprising even himself with his strength. Then he and Brandr shoved open the doors.

Inside was an old aerial reconnaissance craft, a weathered six-seater prop plane.

Brandr raised his brows. "That is the plane?"

Declan unlatched the Cessna's door, hurrying up the steps. "It'l get us to where we're going." He laid Regin along the back bench, then climbed into the cockpit.

"Is there no other way off this rock?"

There was one, a ship in a berth on the west side of the island. It was even more of a long shot than this and impossible to reach in time anyway. "You want on the plane or not?"

Brandr fol owed, taking the copilot's seat. "Beggars can't be choosers, huh?"

The fey and the halfling dashed in behind him. The halfling's pack took up a seat.

Natalya reached for the pul -up door, but hesitated. "Wel , well , look who's come calling."

Lothaire stood just inside the hangar. He had two MK 17s strapped over his shoulders and a bloody sword in hand. His clothing was riddled with burn holes. Bites and gashes covered his exposed skin.

Natalya asked, "How'd you escape all the vampires out for your head?"

In a monotone voice, Lothaire stated, "I'm that good."

She aimed her charge thrower. "Maybe, but you're not getting on this plane, vampire."

Thad peered out. "Let him on, Nat!"

Brandr and Declan both twisted back in their seats, bel owing:

"No' a feckin' chance."

"No f**king way."

Lothaire gave her weapon a withering glance, then canted his head sharply. "I do not care to board this plane, as it happens. We'l talk when you come back down." With that, he turned and strode outside.

Come back down? "Crazy Horde vampires," Declan muttered as he fired up the engines on each side of the cockpit. When both started and the propel ers began turning, Declan hid his relief.

Another miracle? The fuel gauge read ful . But God only knew how long that fuel had been sitting.

"How many miles is it to the mainland?" Natalya asked. She was sitting on Thad's lap in the sole remaining seat.

"Eight hundred."

Brandr gave a laugh. "This thing won't make it that far!"

"There's an alternate island site nearby." Basical y a dirt runway and a camp. "We'l figure out what to do there." He glanced down at his watch. The incendiaries would detonate in two minutes.

"We've got more company!" Thad said, face glued to the port-side window. "Wendigos on the runway."

No time for a systems check. Declan pushed in the throttle, and the plane lumbered forward out of the hangar.

He taxied down the runway, forced to shave off as much length as he dared to avoid the nearing throng of Wendigos.

To take off, he had to reach a minimum of eighty miles per hour. Eighty, with cold engines, a short run-way, and gusting winds. At the far end of the track, a stand of fir trees whipped in unison, like a moving wal . Have to clear them.

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