flailed out and punched him in the face. Oddo put his right hand to his mouth, his eyes widening in astonishment when it came away bloody. Surrounded and outnumbered, he dropped back, his eyes growing darker as he lifted his left hand.
Suddenly Hexe was no longer at my side, but pushing his way through the crowd. He grabbed Oddo by the left wrist, pulling the warlock’s arm back and pinning it to the small of his back. “Stop, Oddo!” he shouted. “It’s bad enough as it is already, without you making things worse!”
The drunken wizard struggled to free himself, only to stop upon recognizing Hexe. As the flicker of hellfire cradled in Oddo’s palm winked out, a bottle came flying out of nowhere and struck Hexe in the head. A couple of Kymerans quickly darted forward and grabbed him and Oddo, dragging them into the protection of their circle.
I dove into the crowd and made my way toward Hexe, putting my formative years in the mosh pits to good use by throwing elbows and knees in every direction, and God help anyone or anything that got in my way. Suddenly a Kymeran with a turquoise mohawk stepped in front of me, deliberately blocking my path. He smelled dangerous, like gunpowder and a lit match.
“Keep to your own, nump!” he growled, raising his left hand in warning.
“Leave her alone, Skal!” Hexe barked, pushing his would-be protector aside. “She’s with me!”
Skal lowered his hand and stepped away, but the loathing in his eyes as he looked at me did not disappear. I pushed past him and threw my arms around Hexe, only to gasp at the sight of blood running down the side of his face.
“Oh my God, baby—you’re hurt!”
“Scalp wounds bleed like a bitch, but it’s superficial,” he reassured me, pointing to the laceration just above his left temple.
Suddenly the air was filled with the wailing of sirens, and a couple of old-fashioned paddy wagons drawn by centaurs outfitted in riot gear rounded the corner. The wagons had the letters PTU stenciled on their sides and flashing blue lights mounted on top.
Hexe muttered, “About damn time.”
“You’ll tell ’em I didn’t mean to put the nump through the window, won’tcha, Serenity?” Oddo asked anxiously. “They’ll believe it comin’ from you.”
“Of course I will, Oddo,” Hexe said, doing his best to calm the worried sorcerer.
The doors of the paddy wagons flew open and members of Golgotham’s peacekeeping force, the Paranormal Threat Unit, jumped out onto the streets. Composed of a mixture of Kymerans, “gifted” humans, and other paranormal races, they were outfitted in specially charmed and modified police gear designed to handle the dangers unique to the magic-using community they policed.
The leader of the PTU squad, a tall Kymeran woman carrying a bullhorn and dressed in full-body armor and riot helmet, stepped forward to address the unruly crowd. “Everybody calm down! My name is Lieutenant Vivi of the PTU and I want your hands where I can’t see’em!”
While the Kymerans did as they were told, placing their hands either behind their backs or in their pockets, the humans in the crowd exchanged confused looks, unsure as to what to do. Baffled by the instructions, one of the humans automatically raised his hands over his head.
“I said keep ’em where I can’t see ’em!” Lieutenant Vivi snapped.
Pale green ectoplasm shot from her right hand, wrapping itself around the befuddled human like bandages around a mummy. Within a heartbeat the human was cocooned in the viscous substance from the neck down, rendering him completely immobile. The remaining humans started to shout obscenities and push and shove one another in a panicked attempt to escape, mistaking the restraint of an unruly suspect for another attack.
Lieutenant Vivi raised the bullhorn to tell the crowd they had nothing to fear, but her words were drowned out by the scream of sirens approaching from the other end of the block. The PTU officer frowned