It’ll be okay, Dan, Karen said as they raced towards Sarah. But we’re lucky you sensed them. They must have had a second layer up.She gave a mental growl. Clever.
Do you know who they are? he asked.
Let me look. He felt her mind flick out ahead of them. They’re all Barkses. They’re one of the Lavernes satellite lines and usually more involved in hiding our existence than hunting. They’re an odd group to pick to go after Aunt Sarah. They really don’t care one way or the other about resonants. I wonder what…. Oh, of course. To keep them occupied because Marian’s trying to keep her family unaware of what’s going on. Her thoughts were so fast he could barely keep up with them.
So they’re more likely to be worried about all this weird stuff that’s happening than us?
If we tell them, yes, she said. Which is useful.
They burst through the trees to find Sarah and Birke facing off against the attackers he’d sensed. One of them was lying unconscious on the ground next to a young woman he thought must be the one she’d been chasing. The others were circling warily.
“What do you mean have we seen the news, Sarah?” the oldest of them asked – a middle-aged man with greying ginger hair.
“We haven’t had chance,” a young woman added. “That crazy Marian’s been running us ragg-” She broke off and swore. “Dad, she’s been hiding something from us!” She looked back at Sarah. “That weird psychic spike the other day. I said it might have after effects. It did, didn’t it?”
“Don’t be silly, Mel!” He snapped then gasped and turned to stare at Karen, who had projected a brief summation of the escalating pattern of weird events. “You’re lying! Not even Marian is that obsess… except… Damn it! This why the Hutchinsons didn’t want to come in when she called them, isn’t it? They were trying to tell her something and she cut them off. Sent Adrian and Kayleigh and some of her more trusted people to force them or kill them, but they’d vanished.” He shook his head. “But the Seatons came in even later and they must have known.”
“Of course we knew.” The young woman who Sarah had been fighting before she was intercepted had come around while they were talking and was struggling to her knees. “Fortunately Carl got to us before she called us and warned us she was hiding it. Mum sent me to tell you while she was distracted by the fight – but Doctor Tyler and her heart friend are damned fast.” She twisted around and looked up at Sarah. “You didn’t have to hit me so hard. I was trying to surrender.”
“I wasn’t at all sure what this thing does.” Sarah waved a strange object – which must be the weapon Jason had mentioned – and looked down at her suspiciously, then turned to Ebona. “Is she telling the truth?”
“Yes,” Ebona replied simply.
“Of course it’s true,” the young woman snapped. “What reason do I have to lie? And be careful with that. It’s one of mum’s toys.” She looked at her hands. “She thinks that this is more than just that spike and it’s worse than a security breach as well.”
“Worse than a security breach? Is this one of Lou’s wacky theories again?” The Barks man asked in an exasperated tone.
“Pretty much. She thinks someone is deliberately destabilising the barrier between worlds, Keith.”
He tutted sharply. “I swear that woman is as paranoid as Marian.”
“I know, though not as unstable. And I’m not sure she’s wrong this time. There’s a feeling in the air that scratches at my skin.”
“We’ll figure it out, Ella… you’re Ella right?” Matthias said from behind them. Daniel spun around and stared at him; he hadn’t sensed him or Lyrrekka come up.
Matthias cocked his head at Keith. “The others have gone back to the house. You should join us so we can sort out what’s going on. At least I presume you surrender?”