Ice slid down my spine. "Define `anything.' "
"Necromancers, vampires, creatures, your precious shapeshifters, you, me. Anyone with any significant amount of magic. We. All. Die."
Fucking shit. The entire city wiped out. Men, women, children ... By the latest estimates, at least thirty percent of the population used magic or depended on it. If the Lighthouse Keepers had the device, they would use it. It destroyed magic--they would fall over themselves in a rush to activate it and they could strike anywhere. If they turned that thing on near the Keep, Atlanta would be free of shapeshifters. Curran, dead. Julie, dead. Derek, Andrea, Raphael, Ascanio, dead, dead, dead.
I stared at Saiman. "Why would he build something like this?"
"Kamen's wife required dialysis to live," Saiman went on. "Three times a week. When the magic interrupted the process, one of the nurses had to hand-crank the machine to return the blood to the patients. One day the magic wave caused several patients to go into cardiac arrest. While the nurse tended to them, Kamen's wife bled out and died. He wanted to create a small model of the apparatus that would generate a magic-free zone in which technology could work unhindered. And once he did that, he had to build a bigger machine, just to see if he could improve on it."
"You knew what it was and you let him build it? What the fuck is wrong with you?"
"I didn't!" Saiman hurled his glass across the room. It shattered against the wall. "I was too closely supervised to bring in a weapon, so I tried to poison him. He survived. Then I hired half a dozen men, trained, expensive professionals. They were supposed to cut through the Red Guard and destroy everything: Kamen, plans, prototype. Everything. I supplied them with enough plastique to make a crater the size of a football field."
"They never got to the Red Guard. They were met in the woods by someone and the next morning their heads were delivered to my doorstep in a garbage bag."
"Could one of the other investors have done it?" Derek asked. Saiman shook his head. "His other investors are Grady Memorial and the Healthy Child, Bright Future charity fund. They are actually what they pretend to be--do-gooders."
The volhvs wouldn't have dumped the heads at his door. They would've just made the hired muscle disappear. No, that was a terrorist tactic designed to frighten and intimidate. It had to be the Lighthouse Keepers. Killing Saiman would've created too much noise. He maintained damaging files on every prominent person in the city. If he died, they would panic. Every law enforcement agency would be crawling all over his murder. The Keepers didn't want noise, not yet.
"What do you know about the Lighthouse Keepers?"
Saiman's face fell. "That would explain volumes."
"What happens if the device is broken?" Derek asked.
"The magic escapes in a huge burst," Saiman said. "Theoretically, if the machine is activated, the people in the immediate area would survive the longest. Those on the perimeter would die first, because the magic would stream from the perimeter toward the device. Standing next to the device would be like standing in the eye of a storm, so it is possible to interrupt its operation. However, the inpiduals who stole it are unlikely to permit any such interruptions. The six heads in the garbage bag testify to their resolve." He paced back and forth. "These people had me monitored, they killed my mercenaries, and they've taken the machine from under the noses of an elite Red Guard unit. This indicates to me that they're both competent and highly motivated. If they are, indeed, the Lighthouse Keepers, they will use the device where it will inflict the most damage. They have to use it. The destruction of magic is the entire purpose for their existence. I need to resume my packing."
I exhaled rage. The entire city was about to die and he was packing. God damn selfish asshole. "Why didn't you come to me? I have fifteen hundred shapeshifters at my disposal."
"I had a perfectly good reason."
"I'm dying to hear it."
"Please, allow me to demonstrate." Saiman turned to the giant flatscreen, plucked a DVD case from the shelf, and slid the disk into the DVD player's slot.
The screen ignited, showing an inside of a large warehouse, filmed in high definition from above. Cars sat in two lines: a Porsche, a Bentley, a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, something sleek I didn't recognize ... I'd never seen so much horsepower crammed into one place.
I glanced at Saiman. "What is this?" "These are the contents of the Merriweather, one of the vessels in my shipping company." Saiman braided his long fingers. "This fleet of cars was purchased in Europe, brought over to Savannah at considerable expense, and then shipped up to Atlanta to one of my warehouses."
We looked at the cars. The cars looked back at us.
"After the events of that unfortunate night at Bernard's, I expected immediate retribution from the Beast Lord. When it didn't come, I called you to check on your well-being. You confirmed that you were in good health. I began to believe that perhaps I had dodged a bullet."
"Let me guess, you didn't dodge?"
"Keep watching," Saiman insisted.
We stared at the cars.
"I don't get it." Derek frowned. "None of them are water-modified. What's the point of having a vehicle that's not drivable during magic?"
"To experience speed," Saiman said. "Have you ever driven a luxury car at a hundred and sixty miles per hour? It's a feeling you never forget."
The door in the wall opposite the camera opened. Curran walked into our view. He moved in an unhurried way, almost relaxed. The camera locked on to him, zooming on his face. His eyes were dark. The digital clock in the corner of the movie said 10:13 a.m. Twelve hours after Saiman had delivered a monumental insult to Curran while the Pack's elite watched. An hour since Saiman had called and Curran listened to our phone call, rolling one of my metal plates into a tube. Forty-five minutes after I refused to go with him to the Keep to announce that we'd been mated and His Furry Majesty had walked out on me in a huff.
Alarm prickled my fingertips.
A large man in a dark uniform approached Curran from the right, brandishing a baton. "Hey, buddy. You can't be here."
Curran kept walking.
"Why a baton?" Derek asked.
"Because I'm not about to give security guards a weapon that could make holes in my merchandise."
"Stop!" the guard barked. A streak of light dashed along the baton's length.
"That's not a baton." I leaned to the screen. "That's a torpere. An electric stun weapon. It was the top of the line in crowd control just before the Shift." "Quite right. A typical stun gun delivers its voltage in short bursts to avoid the death of the target," Saiman said. "This is a modified model. When triggered, it emits a powerful uninterrupted electric current for up to twelve minutes. It has been shown to induce cardiac arrest in two."