And then I let it go. It still warped the air, but it was focused—the firespell moving in the air in a tight spiral that ripped toward the monster and hit him square in the chest.

He went down . . . and he didn’t get back up.

Sebastian might have been evil—but he definitely had some firespell skills. And maybe because it was kind of like fire, vampires weren’t immune to it.

Together, the four of us used our magic to knock out the rats one by one. It wasn’t easy—there were so many of them, we hardly had time to get one on the floor before the next one attacked. Even with my focused attack, I’d gotten too close to their claws and had burning scratches up and down my arms and legs as I fought back the army.

I finished up the knot closest to me, then glanced over at Scout. She was using a pencil from her bag—a make-do wooden stake—to take out a rat in front of her. It worked, and he hit the ground, but the rest of them were beginning to surround her.

“Scout!” I yelled over the sounds of fighting and squealing monsters. “Duck!”

She did, and I threw out another dose of firespell, which put the creature lurking behind her on the floor. Then she popped up again, gave me a thumbs-up, and knocked out the one in front of her.

“Lily!”

At the sound of Detroit’s voice, I glanced back, expecting to see her encircled by monsters. But there was a pile of them at her feet, her silver-tipped walking stick between both hands like she was wielding a sword. For an Adept who wasn’t supposed to be a fighter, she was definitely holding her own. But she used the stick to point into the other corner—where Jason was quickly getting surrounded.

I couldn’t see Jason’s entire body, just bits of bloody fur as he leaped and rolled with the monsters.

“Jason!” I ran forward toward the melee, my hands outstretched, spiraling the firespell at each monster that jumped forward to attack him.

One of them jumped out at me, but I tossed firespell in his direction. He was too close for a shot and the bobbling air nearly bounced back to knock me down as I moved toward Jason, but I shimmied and sidestepped it.

I became a dervish, spinning and tossing firespell at anything and everything that stood between me and him. I finally reached him and helped him claw his way out of the pile. When the path was clear, he sat back on his haunches, tongue lolling as he caught his breath.

I couldn’t help but smile down at him. “Good dog.”

He might have been in wolf form, but the look he gave back was all Jason Shepherd. He shifted back, scratches on his face and arms, and looked around. “Thanks,” he told me. I nodded and squeezed his hand.

We stood, chests heaving, in the middle of a room full of dead rats. Whatever genetic engineering the Reapers had done, they really hadn’t done much for their postmortem longevity. They were beginning to smell.

He glanced around. “Everyone okay?”

Scout wiped at her brow with the back of her hand. “I’m good.”

“I’m tired, but fine,” I added.

Michael and Paul gave waves from their corners of the room.

Detroit looked up. “I’m—I’m not” was all she got out before pulling up the knee of her pants. There was a giant bite on the outside of her calf; blood was everywhere. Jason reached out to grab her before she went down, but didn’t quite make it. She stumbled backward into the wall—and into some kind of emergency button.

A piercing alarm began to ring through the sanctuary.

Jason let out a curse. “That might alert the Reapers,” he yelled over it. “We’ve put the monsters down, and now we have got to get out of here.”

Detroit slid onto the floor. “I’m not sure I can make it out.”

“You just need a little help,” he said soothingly, then scooped her up and into his arms. “I’m taking the lead, and I’m going as fast as I can. Stay close behind in case we missed anything.”

He began running down the hallway. Michael snatched Detroit’s walking stick and took off behind him. Scout and I followed through one corridor after another . . . at least until she stopped short. I watched Jason, Paul, and Michael disappear around another corner.

“Scout, come on! Reapers might be coming, and we need to go.” I tugged her arm, but she wouldn’t move.

She pulled her arm free. “I can’t go, Lily. I’ve been in the missing vampire’s position—being hurt and alone. And what they’ve done is awful. We can’t leave it intact and let them continue the work. We just can’t.”

“Scout, we have to go. Detroit’s injured and—”

“You don’t have to be here. I’ve been working on a spell. I can plant it alone and get out afterward. You don’t have to be here.”

That, I realized, was what she’d been working on her in room. Getting rid of the sanctuary had been her plan all along.

“I was one of them, Lily. I know how they work—how much it hurts, how bad it feels.” She slapped a hand to her chest. “I’m an Adept. I make a promise every day to help the people they try to hurt. To stop them from doing it. I can’t leave this place here for them to use at will. I can’t.”

Tears began to brim in her eyes. “I can’t.”

We looked at each other for a moment, before I nodded. “Then I stay. And I help.”

She shook her head. “You should go. You used up all your firespell.”

“I think Sebastian taught me how to make my own power.”

Her eyes went even wider. “Lily—” she began, but I shook my head.

“I’ve already kind of tried it, and I think it will work. You need it, and that’s all I need to know to try again. What’s your spell supposed to do?”

“Implode the sanctuary.”

Well, that would probably do it.

“Won’t that take down the buildings on the street?”

She shook her head. “It’s a pinpoint spell. It’ll wipe down the interior, but leave the architecture—the hardware—intact. It’s like cleaning off your hard drive—the hard drive’s still there afterward, right?”

I still wasn’t crazy about the idea—one wrong move, and we single-handedly brought down whatever building happened to be above us—but she was right—we couldn’t just leave this place intact. Decision made, I nodded back at her. “Okay. What do we do?”

She reached into her bag and pulled out one of the tiny houses from her shelf. “We have to set this spell. Then I give the incantation, and we run.”

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