“No Greater Love”
“No Greater Love”
*************************************** Chapter 12 *Meka & John* ***************************************
*Meka & John*
It was sometime later, John was never sure exactly how much time, when Cassandra stumbled into the kitchen. Dressed, disheveled, and looking freshly fucked. When she spotted John, she let out a sigh of relief and moved to the chair opposite him. After a moment, she settled gingerly onto it.
“I’m right here. The person you met earlier was Meka, wearing my body.”
At this Cassandra shook her head, “Damn. Well, that’s a first. My curse has only worked on men in the past.”
‘Uhm, John, I think I need to apologize to her, can you give me control?’
‘Not a chance’ John thought at Meka. “Why didn’t you tell me about your curse?”
“Because, as I said, it doesn’t work on women.” And with a sigh Cassandra continued, “During the war my talent blossomed and I became one of the more powerful agents in the fight against the Necromancers and their Nazi allies.”
“Is that when you and Ilse became enemies?”
“Yes.” Cassandra said with a nod. “After the war we were hunting down the Necromancers that had fled and I realized I needed more control over my talent and I wanted to become more powerful. That led me to searching out ways to enhance my talent. In the end, using my gift as sporadic as it was in those days, I found a ruined temple of Apollo buried by an ancient earth quake in the Greek countryside. Using my magic and the help of a team of mundane archeologists we uncovered the temple. The night after we opened the main vault I used a spell to cause my companions to fall into a deep sleep. Once they were out, under the light of a full moon I descended into the temple and accessed the hidden chamber behind and under the statue of Apollo.” At this Cassandra paused lost in a memory from long ago.
John sat quietly waiting for her to continue and after a moment she seemed to shake herself. “The small chamber held many artifacts but there was only one that I was interested in. You see this was where the ancient Grand-Witch Pythia hid the stone tablet that contained her most potent spell. It was the spell that she used to harness her gift of Sight. Using this spell and her gift she became a very famous Oracle. I felt any price was worth the level of control and power promised by the tablet.”
Cassandra looked at John and shook her head. “I was a fool.”
“The tablet held Pythia’s spell and it held a warning. There is always a price for power. There have been many rumors and legends about the Oracle of Delphi. I ignored the warning and used the spell. And it worked!” At this Casandra’s cheeks flushed and she looked down at her hands. “The first full moon after I used the spell I was traveling with a Warlock and a Wizard hunting a Necromancer hiding in South America. My vision took us to the right village and before we could catch him the moon rose. I felt its light on my skin like it was a fire. My whole body shifted and changed.”
Cassandra shook her head, “You see at the time I was an overweight middle aged witch with red hair and freckles. The magic transformed me into the person you see today.”
John laughed, “As far as curses go that doesn’t seem so bad.”
“You think not? Any man past puberty, regardless of age, who sees me, wants me. What’s even worse is that I can refuse no one! If a man demands sex I become his plaything until he tires of me.”
‘Oh my god, that poor woman!’ Meka added.
“That’s why Pythia hid herself away in the temple. She protected herself by surrounding herself with Holy Virgins.”
“That’s why you live here. The isolation and the wards! You are specifically keeping men away.”
“But what about your son?”
“That was a mistake. Twenty-two years ago, I went into Anchorage. I thought I’d figured out a set of personal wards that would prevent the curse from working. I was wrong. I lost count of the men I slept with at five. The result, once I escaped and returned here, was that I was pregnant.”
“That’s how you had Eli? But wasn’t he affected by the curse?”
Cassandra nodded, “But not until puberty. I was able to have him and raise him here and then at twelve I sent him to London, to my dear friend Gwendolyn.”
John reached out and took Cassandra’s hand, “That must have been hard.”
She nodded, “One of the worst days of my life. Yet, we could talk by magical sendings, as it turned out he was a gifted Warlock. He didn’t have the sight, but was strong in magic.”
“That explains why you can’t go after Ilse in his body.” Suddenly, John got an idea. “Can you use your gift to find Maxwell Jackson? He’s the Syndicate assassin who stole Meka’s body. We need to find him if we’re to restore her.”
At this Cassandra smiled, “I can try. After rescuing me, it’s the least I can do.”
“Oh, and Meka says she’s sorry about what happened earlier. We didn’t know.”
Cassandra waved a hand, “I enjoyed it. That’s part of the curse, while I’m in a man’s arms I love every second of it.”
“What’s the other part?”
“It took quite a bit of research, and Gwendolyn helped me learn the rest of it. You see, I won’t age a day until I give birth seven times.”
Surprised John blurted out, “How many children have you had?”
“One from that first night of wild magic in South America and one from my night in Anchorage.” Then she rubbed her belly, “And unless I’m wrong you can tell Meka from me. Congratulations, she’ll soon be a father.”
John stood in front of the Gate that led to St. Louis. “Where will this take us, exactly?”
“It’s keyed to the Traveling Room at the St Louis Grand Coven. At this hour, it should be empty.”
A thought occurred to John, “I’m not that familiar with Gates and Traveling. Why can’t someone from St. Louis use the gate to travel here?”
Cassandra grinned, “They could, if I unlocked my gate. Think of this as a magical door. The doors to the gates in St. Louis and London are public. So they’re unlocked. My gates are private. I keep them tightly locked. Gwendolyn has used the London gate to travel here several times but she has to ask me to unlock it for her first.”
“How was Ilse able to use it?”
At this Cassandra’s face fell, “I set it to always open for Eli. I’ve changed that now.” Then Cassandra put a hand on John’s shoulder, “You’ve the gift. There is quite a lot I can teach you, without taking short cuts. You won’t have my control, or power, but you also won’t be cursed. When this is over, if you are still female, come to me.”
John shook her head, “I’m just using Meka’s body. I’m a Grad-A-All-American male through and through.” John ignored Meka’s snicker and comment that John had the best boobs she’d ever seen on a male.
At this Cassandra’s face fell slightly, “I will miss you, then added, give my best to Meka.”
‘Are you ready?’ John thought.
‘Yeah, unless you want to give me control so I can say a proper goodbye to my baby-momma.’
‘Not happening. We need to get to St. Louis if we’re going to stop Max!’ John thought, then out loud, “Goodbye Cassandra. I’ll be in touch.” With that John stepped through the St. Louis gate. There was an intense tingle and a moment of vertigo and then John stumbled forward into darkness.
John lifted his cane and the Cavanaugh crystal he’d reattached to it flared to life. The blue-white light filled the room and he saw what he figured was the traveling room at the St. Louis Great Coven.
‘I’m surprised that you’ve never been here before.’
“The fact that we can travel by gate isn’t commonly known.” John replied moving away from the arch he’d just come through. “Also, the Coven doesn’t advertise that this room exists. Until Cassandra said she had a gate to St. Louis I didn’t know about it.” After looking around John headed toward what looked like the only mundane exit from the room.
‘Uhm, John, don’t you think we should change? I think you, or rather, me, Meka, is still wanted. Plus, didn’t you say there was a raid here? If Max was involved any security still here might be a little jumpy if they saw Max’s twin running around.’
“Yeah, you’re right, and now that you’re away from Cassandra, I think I can trust you.” John sat the backpack down and pulled out the wrinkled and slightly dirty jeans and t-shirt before stripping. “We either need to hit a laundry-mat or buy some clean stuff.” Then he pushed back allowing Meka to surge forward.
“Well, I could just swing by your place and pick up some fresh stuff.”
‘What would you tell Elaine?’
“She works, right? All we have to do is stop by after she’s left.” As she spoke Meka started getting dressed.
‘Fine, but from what Casssandra said, we don’t have a lot of time.’ John still felt like he was in shock. The information from Cassandra seemed sureal. When he’d asked for her help Cassandra had agreed and taken John and Meka to her santum and settled into the comfortable chair.
“I’m going to miss not having my mirror. With it and my gift spying on the Syndicate was easy. It also gave me the option to show a guest my vision within its surface. Now you’ll have to relay on my words instead of seeing for yourself.”
“Does that mean you can’t help?” John asked settling onto the carpeted floor cross-legged at Cassandra’s feet.
“No, my talent should sufice.” With that she closed her eyes. After a time John wondered if she’d fallen asleep then he felt Cassandra draw upon the power of the ley-line under them. When the energy moved into her Cassandra’s eyes flew open. John gasped when he saw that Cassandra’s eyes had gone entirly white. She remained that way for almost a minute before she blinked, shuddered, and released the power.
When she looked at John she shuddered, “You need to go to St. Louis. The Syndicate plans to use the Key to open the Gateway Arch to the Shadow Realm of the Insectoids. They plan to allow a swarm to enter our world.”
John still, even now, several hours later, couldn’t believe that anyone could be so foolish, so hartlessly cold, that they would bring those monsters into the human realm. It all just seemed insane. For a moment he felt a stab of panic for his family but he crushed it. Now was the time for actions not emotions.
“I know.” Meka tossed the backpack over one shoulder grabbed the battle rod. As soon as she touched the rod the light shifted from blue-white too purple-white. Then Meka headed out the door. This was an area of the coven where John had never been but it didn’t take too much searching to find an exit sign. From there a set of stairs led up to the ground floor. As they moved through the building it was strangely empty and Meka spotted a clock that read 7 am. Continuing through the building it was impossible to ignore the signs of recent fighting; bullet holes, burn marks from witch-fire, and a few blood stains.
Approaching the entrance Meka spotted the first sign of life. A pair of security guards stood by boarded up glass doors. Both guards had crystal focus items hanging from chains around their necks marking them as Witches. More alarming were the guns that were drawn and pointed at the ground just in front of Meka.
“State your name and the reason for your visit to the Coven outside normal hours.”
“My name is Jonathon Bedford. I’m an Inspector-Guardian here in St. Louis. I was sent on a mission by the Great Coven and needed to return as fast as possible. I can show you my credentials.” As Meka spoke she lifted a hand and moved toward her pocket.
“Slowly. We’ve been hit hard by the Syndicate and I’m not taking any chances.” The guard to the left said. As he spoke the two guards separated moving several steps left and right. Then the guard on the right continued forward holstering his gun and holding out his hand for John’s identification.
Max looked around trying to spot her Insectoid contact. The sun was just rising and its light spilled over the horizon casting long shadows from the nearby trees over the field. This late in the year most of the corn had turned a golden brown and under the blooming light the field looked like it was topped with gold.
“I’m not,” Max said glancing over at Eli. “Where are they?”
“They don’t use watches, and sunset isn’t a precise moment. Would you rather wait in the car?”
“Are we late?”
The words had a buzzing quality and both Max and Eli spun around. Standing between them and the car was a pair of women. Each woman was naked one had long dark hair and exotic eyes while the other’s hair was colored with gold and black stipes. Both women held an alien beauty that caused Eli to catch his breath.
“No. You’re right on time.” Max said. Then she reached into the bag by her foot, and pulled out a large round stone. “This is the artifact we discussed.”
The brunette insectoid queen took a half step forward, “It will open the Great Gate?”
“Yes, all you have to do is take it to the gate. Channel your magic into the stone and spill a drop of blood on it. Once you do the Great Gate will respond and open a Way to your native Realm. To any location within that realm you choose.”
“Our magic is not like yours.” The brunette said. “We don’t channel magic into dead objects, as you do.”
Then the blonde spoke and based on the buzzing quality of her voice Max guessed she’d been the original speaker. “We will also need to be close to this Great Gate? My daughters have scouted the city you call St. Louis. I might be able to fly in under a veil but we will need time to activate the gate. Time to bring the swarm through. It would be best to arrive unnoticed.”
“That isn’t our problem.” Max said. “We were told to deliver the key to you.”
“No, my dear. The deal was that your Syndicate would help us open a Way for the Swarm. The key is critical, but we require additional help.” The brunette replied. “Or are you going to break our arrangement?”
At this Eli held up a hand. “Peace. Give me a moment.” Stepping to one side Eli pulled out his phone and dialed a number. Max couldn’t hear the conversation but she already knew what Jason was going to say. Eli nodded twice and then returned to the queens.
“My Lord Drake has ordered us to help you open the way. However, once it’s open it’s up to you to hold it open so that your kind might enter this world.”
“Agreed” The hornet queen buzzed. “Shall we go?”
Max shook her head. “Not just yet. Can you maintain those forms for extended periods?”
The spider queen nodded, “We are equally comfortable as human or insect. Our hybrid forms take work to maintain and are normally only used for battle.”
“Then we need to find you some clothes. When we get to the city, try to be silent around other humans. Your voices might give away the fact that you’re not human.”
Victor looked over at Gwendolyn as she strode into the command tent. The word tent didn’t really describe the command center. Carpeted, with several tables covered in maps and its own generator powering lights, flat screens, computers, and the communications systems needed to command and control the guardian witches and the Society soldiers currently deployed for several miles around Victor’s estate. Leaning back from where he’d been hunched over a table, looking at the latest update on the Insectoid nests activities, he gave Gwendolyn a tired smile and gestured at the petite blonde next to him who’d also been studying the map.
“Gwendolyn, I think you’ve met Sarah Mag Aoidh, chief of the St. Louis Guardians?”
“Yes, of course.” Gwen nodded. Before she could say anything, Victor continued in a rush, “You traveled all the way from London? Did you bring reinforcements?”
“I did. Fewer than I would have liked. We are spread thin. The Syndicate has started assaults on almost every continent. However, I understand your people are desperate for reinforcements, and it is critical to contain this incursion.” Then she looked down at the map, “We’ve become too reliant on the information Cassandra provided. Now that she’s been neutralized we are a step behind.”
*Did someone mention my name?*
At this all three Witches spun around to see the ghostly image of the stunningly beautiful auburn haired Witch-Seer.
“Cassandra!” Gwendolyn exclaimed taking a step forward. “You’re free!”
*Yes, your agents, John and Meka were successful. They are both very gifted.*
“They are.” Sarah agreed, then added, “Not to sound insensitive, do you have news? Our situation is increasingly desperate.”
*Yes. The worst is that the Syndicate put the soul of one of their agents, Ilse Hirsch into my son Eli’s body. They then killed Eli.*
“Oh, no! I’m so sorry.” Gwendolyn responded, a stunned look on her face.
*Besides the cost of that to me personally, I cannot SEE what Ilse is up to while she wears his skin. That is an advantage I’m sure the Syndicate will exploit. Additionally, when they trapped me in stone, Ilse stole the mirror of far-seeing. I have used it in the past to get around my inability to use my gift on blood relatives. Instead, it is in Tia Drake’s hands. I don’t doubt that she’s been using it for months to make sure every aspect of this plan has been fully delved.*
“Son-of-a . . .” Victor cursed and then caught himself. “That does explain how they’ve been able to run circles around us lately.”
The ghostly image of Cassandra nodded, *All hope is not lost.* Turning to look at Gwendolyn, *Take your soldiers and guardians, Gwen, and use this key.* with that she waved her hand over the table. There was a shimmer of light and a small crystal materialized and dropped to the table top with a faint thud. *The Syndicate has been holding Princess Laicistiel Aeradiir prisoner. Use the key to open a way and travel to the prison. Once you free Laicistiel the Winter Court will stop supporting the Syndicate and express their displeasure at being blackmailed. Violently.*
“I knew there had to be a reason the Fae were supporting the Syndicate!” Victor growled slapping his hand on the table.
“I’ll take care of it.” Gwendolyn said scooping up the crystal. Then she spun around and started shouting orders.
“Should we start our assault on the nest?” Victor asked looking at Cassandra’s ghostly image and then giving Sarah a fierce grin.
*No. It is difficult for me to see into the Nest. The magic used by the Insectoids is so different from ours that it obstructs my Sight. I can only say that I think they may have opened several smaller ways to their Realm. As you know the barrier between the Realms has grown thin over the last few months. I don’t think they’ve managed to bring through more than a few hundred, but I think your force would be destroyed if you attack.* She drifted over to the map and pointed to St. Louis. *Take your force and get to St. Louis, as fast as you can. The insectoids plan to open the Great Gate. John and Meka are attempting to stop them, but if they fail, everyone who can fight will be needed.*
Victor’s mouth fell open and then he looked at Sarah, “Do you have any Guardian’s left in the city?”
The petite woman shook her head, “No. Most of my guardians are in South America or here.”
Victor sighed, “Son-of-a-bitch! Alright, let’s get moving.” Victor turned to look for Cassandra but her image had already disappeared. “Damn it. Blackthorn! I need you!” When a middle-aged Guardian with closely cropped, hair stuck his head in the tent Victor continued. “Send out a message to all squads. Rally at point Alpha, from there we’re going to travel as fast as we can to St. Louis! The Gateway Arch is about to be opened to the Insectoid Realm!”
“I like the new place.”
Meka pulled the car she’d borrowed from the Coven into John’s driveway. It was just after 8 am and the morning traffic had been terrible. It had taken almost forty-five minutes to get from the Coven to John’s house. Although, they were in a hurry, they didn’t want to arrive until Elaine had left.
‘That’s right, you’ve not seen this house. We moved here last summer. The old place was just too small for the four of us.’ When Meka opened the door, John was greeted by the familiar clutter of a house filled with small children. Then it hit him, ‘Meka we can’t fail. If what Cassandra saw happens the city will be overrun by Insectoids. My family lives here. We can’t let it happen!’
“We won’t. But the timing couldn’t be worse for Sarah to have taken the St. Louis Guardians to Louisville. From what the guard at the Coven said, everyone with any battle magic or combat experience was asked to help contain the Insectoids. That’s why those guards at the Coven were pointing guns at us instead of crystals.”
‘I’ve got a few weapons here. Let’s get changed and get going. If we stop Max before she opens the gate, then the swarm won’t arrive.’
“John, I think it’s time to take a risk. Remember my theory? If we divide the Cavanaugh again, it might separate us.” Meka felt John’s reluctant agreement.
‘Do you think we’ve got enough time?’
“Yeah, I think we have to take the time. As for Max, I think that body is hers now, I’ve just been too stubborn to admit it.” Meka went into the bedroom and stripped. Then she removed the crystal from the battle rod and held it in both hands. “Are you ready to go back to being a guy?”
‘Damn straight. Let’s do this!’
Meka drew in as much power as she could hold and then started casting. The magic spilled out and John felt a tingling sensation run through their body. Then with a cry Meka made a twisting move with both hands and there was a crack like a shotgun had been fired in the bedroom. The energy running through their body turned to fire in their veins and both Meka and John cried out in pain. Then everything went dark.
Slowly, John fought for consciousness. ‘Meka?’ When she didn’t feel her presence, John forced her eyes open. “Meka?” For a moment, the familiar sounding voice didn’t register and it wasn’t until John sat up that she realized she still had a set of boobs on her chest. “Damn! It didn’t work!” John swung her feet over the edge of the bed and then paused. “How did I get on the bed?”
“Actually, I carried you to it. And the spell worked, just not the way we’d planned. I put you there after I woke up. You looked cute, but uncomfortable, lying on the floor.”
John turned to the door and saw Meka leaning against the door frame already dressed and smirking down at her. John felt a sudden urge to cover her naked parts and pulled the blanket off the bed.
“Seriously?” Meka laughed. “You know I’ve seen everything, I mean I grew the things you’re covering up.”
“Oh, shut up.” John snapped and then blushing giggled and shook her head. “It is sort of silly. I just feel like I need to . . . you know. What happened? Why am I still female?”
“It looks like the crystal still thought I was the male version of us and that you were the female so when it separated us you got the female body.”
“Then if we use the body-swap spell we used last time, we can fix this?”
“Yes, but John, we’re out of time. The magic drew the organic material for your body from this one. While it was a shock to both of of us, it was worse for you. I was out for about an hour, you’ve been out for three. It’s almost eleven thirty.”
“Son-of-a-bitch. Are we too late?”
“I don’t think so, but we don’t have time to do the body swap spell. If you remember we were both out for an hour or so after we cast it last time.”
“Alright,” then John spotted her Cavanaugh crystal laying on the stand next to the bed and picked it up. “I can feel my connection to it.”
Meka held up his crystal, “Yup. I’ve already made sure I can use this.” Then he looked at John, “As I remember, Elaine and I were about the same size. You should probably borrow some of her clothes and then we need to go.”
John hurried to Elaine’s dresser shaking his head, “My wife would be stunned to learn that I’m about to be wearing her panties.”
“Ha! At the moment, I think she’s my wife. Now get dressed.”
John quickly dug out the clothes Elaine normally wore to work out in the garden; jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt that said AC/DC across the front. Then after stepping into a pair of Elaine’s underwear John looked at a bra. “I think I’m going to have to wear the one I’ve been wearing. Elaine’s too big up top for this to work for me.”
“Are you complaining that my boobs aren’t big enough?”
“No.” John retorted defensively then glared at Meka. “Why don’t you go down stairs? I’ve got a gun safe in the basement. We both need more weapons than just magic.”
“Sure, what’s the combo?”
“35-24-63 Now scoot. I’ll be there as soon as I finish.”
By the time John was dressed Meka was done and they met in the living room. “I’m guessing the .380 is Elaine’s” Meka said handing the small gun in a cute pink holster to John “and the .40 is yours?” he said patting his hip where the Barrette 96A was holstered.
John had already returned her crystal to the cane she’d learned to use with the Guardians and sat it down to run the holster through the belt to her jeans. Once done they both hurried out to the car. They both made for the driver’s side but Meka, with his longer legs, reached it first.
“Do you know how to get to 100 Washington Ave?”
“I’ve never been there but we’ve got a GPS!” Meka said sliding behind the wheel, “hurry up and get in.”
John rushed around to the passenger’s side and barely had the door closed before Meka put it in gear. As they drove toward the Gateway Arch John tried to focus on Max and for once she felt her talent respond. John’s vision swam and suddenly it opened and she had the image of Eli and three women walking along a sidewalk. The Mississippi river was to their left and up ahead she could see the top of the Gateway Arch. After a second she recognized the tallest of the three women as Meka. She had her hair back in one long braid and was wearing all black leather despite the heat. Next to her walked two people John assumed were children at first but they were far too developed to be girls even if they were more than half a foot shorter than Meka. Then the brunette lifted her sunglasses and looked around and John noticed her eyes. The way they glittered in the sun light reminded John of multifaceted insect eyes.
“They’re at the park. Step on it!”
John shook herself trying to dispel the vision. Then she dug into her backpack and pulled out the crystal Gwendolyn had given them. With a word and a minor effort John activated the powerful veil spell stored inside. “If there was ever a time when we needed to speed, its now.” John felt the car accelerate as Meka started weaving aggressively in and out of traffic. John did her best to curb her impatience and couldn’t help thinking that if she’d been driving they’d be getting there faster.
“Just a couple more blocks, hang on!”
John looked and grimaced, “That’s Walnut St! We’re still on I-44. Meka we’ll never make it pull off onto the shoulder, NOW!”
Meka reacted quickly pulling over and John jumped out holding her battle rod the crystal glowing bright blue-white. “What are you doing?” Meka asked coming around the car. “Someone will see you.”
John glanced at him and said, “We don’t have time to be subtle. Follow me.” Then she jumped. The magic boosted her sending her up over the embankment that separated I-44 from Memorial Dr. For a moment John gloried in the feeling of flight and then realized she’d over shot and started flailing her arms for balance as she sailed into the trees just north of the Old Cathedral of the Basilica of Saint Louis.
As the branches of the nearest tree rushed up John brought up her body shield and tried to use Air to cushion the landing. Branches snapped around her then John hit the ground, hard, stumbling forward onto her chest. “Oww . . . damn it. That hurts!”
John pushed herself up just as Meka landed next to her. “That was fun.”
“Shut up! Give me a hand, we need to hurry.” She lifted an arm for assistance. Cutting through the trees they hit the Gateway Arch Trail and then the large open lawn under the Arch stretched out and John pointed. “There they are!”
Walking up the steps from the river side Meka spotted Eli’s multi-colored hair and then the three women as they got closer. “Come on!” Meka shouted sprinting forward using one hand to hold his crystal and the other to draw his semi-auto. John took off, hot on Meka’s heels, but he quickly pulled away with his longer legs, and John hated to admit it, but her current body, wasn’t used to running.
Then John saw Max set a bag down and pull out what looked like a stone the size of a softball. Meka didn’t hesitate, he lifted the hand holding his crystal and shouted a word of power. Purple-white light blasted out and knocked Max back, causing her to drop the stone. “Take that, you body stealing bitch!”
Max’s three companions froze at the unexpected assault and John could hear people shouting. She ignored them and ran closer, a stitch in her side and her throat on fire. Then the two women with Max and Eli changed. Their bodies seemed to burst free of their clothes and in seconds a creature that was a cross between a woman and a hornet with wings buzzing on her back took flight. On the ground a second hybrid, a woman-spider thing, climbed free of her clothes.
“Open the gate. My daughter’s and I will deal with these.” The hornet queen buzzed and suddenly in the air around her four giant hornets swam into view as they dropped their veils. Then they too transformed, turning into human-insect hybrids that John realized must be their battle form.
“Oh shit.” John gasped coming to a stop next to Meka. Then she saw Max stand up and move toward where she’d dropped the stone. “Meka, stop Max. I’ll deal with these.” John shouted.
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