"Can't build anything now," Adam said. "Can't hold a screwdriver. Can't hold a wrench. Or a brush. Finished. Zakonchen. My life's over."

I surged to my feet, grabbed him by the hair, and twisted his head to the window. "Their lives are over. My kid is dying because of you, you damn asshole, and you are whining about your hands? Look at me. Look me in the eye. I want to skin you alive, do you understand?"

"I never meant for this," he said, his arms limp. "I meant it for good."

"There were armed men guarding you. Why the hell do you think that was? You tested it. You saw things die in the forest. Why didn't you destroy it?"

"I couldn't do that. That's what my purpose is, to build things. It was special. I gave it life. It was important."

"More important than dead children?"

Adam's mouth went slack. I glimpsed the answer in his eyes. Yes, his gadget was more important than dead children. Nothing I could say would reach him.

I shoved him back into his chair.

"I told you," Vasiliy said. "Not right in the head. Defective."

"There is a sect of anti-magic fanatics," Curran said. "The Lighthouse Keepers. They have the blueprints for the device. They've built their own version."

Grigorii paled.

"How big?" Vasiliy asked. "Five-mile range."

Grigorii swore. Vasiliy leaned back, dragging his hand over his mouth. "Five miles?"

Curran nodded and looked at Adam. Kamen cringed.

"How long does it take to activate?"

Kamen blinked. "The smaller model took forty-two minutes. For the larger, I never tested ..."

"Three hours, twelve minutes," Jim said.

"There is a coefficient ... Ten hours, fifty-nine minutes, and four seconds," Kamen said.

"That's our time frame," Jim said. "Ten hours and fifty-nine minutes from the start of the magic wave. Magic hits, we start the countdown."

"Can it be turned off once activation starts?" Curran asked.

"Yes," Adam said. "There is a switch to power it down. I will show your people."

"What about the machine that has been used?" I asked. "What happens if you open it?"

"Do you have it?" Kamen's eyes sparked.

Grigorii leaned over and slapped him on the back of the head. Kamen rocked forward and glanced at Grigorii like a kicked dog. "No need to hurt. I know, I know. Do you have a beer?"

Barabas stepped away for a moment and set a beer in front of Kamen.

"There is a valve at the top." Kamen shook the beer. "The device is of limited capacity. There had to be a way to empty it so it could be refilled."

He'd built the equivalent of an atomic bomb, and he'd made it reusable. Words failed me.

"So they can go from town to town murdering us," Evdokia murmured.

Kamen set the beer down. "You push the switches and poof." He grasped the beer again, tried to twist the cap, and stared helplessly at it. No working thumbs. Barabas leaned over him and twisted the cap off with a snap of his fingers. Liquid shot out. Foam spilled over the sides of the bottle.

"Have to be careful to push the switches correctly or it goes sideways," Kamen said. "Boom and the cylinder breaks. Everyone's dead."

Great. I made a heroic effort to ignore Curran's stare. "If you open it correctly, does most of the magic shoot straight up?"

Kamen nodded. "Yes. Some goes down, but most straight up. Like a laser." "The magic that washes down, is it potent?"


"Like a small flare?"

"Yes." Kamen nodded several times. "Just like that."

I looked at Evdokia. "Can this magic be harnessed by a coven and focused on one person?"

"Possibly," Evdokia said.

Grigorii snorted. "That much magic, your witches would break. And your focus would overload. You'd need an anchor for it, an object, to take the brunt of it, then draw power from it."

The duck-bunny-kitten stopped its rolling and hissed at Grigorii.

"Was she asking you?" Evdokia raised her chin.

"I'm just saying. There is a proper way to do things."

"Mind your own business."

Vasiliy gazed at me. "Why do you need the power?"

"Blood magic."

The table went so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

"What for?" Vasiliy asked softly.

"To purge Lyc-V from a little girl."

Grigorii pointed a long finger at me. "That is an unnatural thing."

"Some would say wolves with wings and wooden staves that bite you are unnatural things," I said. "Some would say that sacrificing a man and turning his innards into ants are unnatural also." If you live in a glass house, don't fire any shotguns.

"We will do this for you," Evdokia said. "My coven will do it. I'll bind them to silence. Nobody will talk about it."

Aha. "What's the price?"

"You will sign a writ of kinship. A document that acknowledges your mother and her ancestry. It will be kept sealed, so do not worry. We just want a paper. In case things do not go as expected."

What was the catch? There had to be a catch in there somewhere. Grigorii came to life like a shark sensing a drop of blood in the water. "Why? What is so special about her?"

Evdokia slapped the table. "I've told you to mind your own business, old goat! This has nothing to do with you. Go kill something and revel in its blood."

Grigorii's eyes bulged out of his head. "You will keep a civil tongue in your head!"

Evdokia leaned forward. "Or what?"

"Or I will teach you some manners, woman!"

The tattooed witch behind Evdokia glared in outrage. "Dad! You will not speak to Mother this way!"

"I will speak to her in whatever way I please!"

The witch in the robe heaved a sigh. "Oy. Papa, really, there is no need."

I backed away from the table in case somebody started throwing things. Andrea backpedaled right behind me. Curran stayed, his chin resting on his hands clenched into a double fist, probably trying to decide if he should get in the middle of this.

"Yes, go right ahead." Evdokia pointed at Grigorii. "Live up to your reputation. Civil like a rabid badger."

The duck-bunny hissed and growled. Grigorii's raven cawed, beating its wings. Grendel lost it and broke down in a cacophony of excited barks.

Vasiliy put his hand over his eyes.

Grigorii slipped into Russian. "Crazy old hag!"

Tags: Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Vampires
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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