“Tell her to stop freaking out.” Hellfire leans back in her chair, thumb moving over the surface of her phone. She doesn’t even look at the messenger. She doesn’t have to.
“Mistress was very insistent! Mistress does not like the PLE in Chicago one bit. Mistress feels Lady Hellfire should leave now!” The shrillness of the messenger’s voice should grate on Hellfire’s ears, but she’s used to worse.
“I’m not worried about the PLE,” Hellfire waves her free hand, “they don’t have the resources to deal with me.”
“The PLE has new Named! A woman, a shapeshifter of great skill!”
This gets a glance from Hellfire. “I said, I’m not worried about it.”
“This new Named could be anyone, could pretend to be someone Lady Hellfire trusts–”
Hellfire raises her hand in a cupped gesture that they both know she often uses to call on her fire. The messenger quiets, fearfully eyeing her empty hand.
“Tell her I’m not worried.” Her voice stays calm, collected. It doesn’t dim the threat.
The messenger bows and leaves, muttering dire predictions. Hellfire shifts in her chair, taps through a few more things on her phone, and dials a number.
Predator picks up after two rings. “Done?”
“Mmhmm.” Hellfire stands, and stretches her arms over her head. Dealing with the messengers is irritating at best; her sister worries more than any one person should be able to. “Are you and Flare still at The Pink Elephant?”
“Yep.” There’s clinking in the background. Someone laughs, someone else yells something obscene in return. “Just waiting on you, Miss Mysterious.”
“I’m on my way.”
The Pink Elephant is only a bus trip away, and before long, Hellfire sits on the other side of Flare from Predator, the three of them in a line at the bar. The bartender doesn’t have to be told her usual, and has it ready before Flare and Predator are done saying hello.
“So?” Predator asks after a few minutes, looking at Hellfire out of the corner of her eye.
“Aiyana changed teams.” Hellfire leans forward onto the bar. “She’s with the competition, and they’re in town in full force.”
Predator purses her lips, and Flare shakes his head. None of the three of them speak for a bit, then Predator says, her usual confidence slightly shaken, “she wouldn’t. If my girl’s with the other side, it’s because they forced it.”
“It doesn’t matter why.” Hellfire sips at her drink. “What matters is that they know about her big mirror trick, they know about you and her, and they’re here.”
“They’re here for real?” Flare speaks up, frowning. “Not just the kid we scared the other night?”
Hellfire nods, slow and heavy. “Smoke and Abyss are both in town, and if they have Abyss, they have a healer on hand.”
“And they don’t ever have just three,” Flare shakes his head. “So there’s Smoke, Abyss, a healer, and that kid.”
“The kid could be the healer,” Predator points out.
“Could be,” Flare admits, “but then there’s still at least two we don’t know about, and they might send in more after a while.”
The three of them drink in silence, then Flare asks Hellfire, “do they know you and me are around?”
Hellfire shakes her head. “I don’t know, my source didn’t tell me.”
“We’re not subtle, the three of us,” Predator says wryly, throwing back a shot.
“Maybe it’s time to recruit more Named,” Hellfire says.
“Maybe so,” Flare agrees, thoughtful. Predator nods, pursing her lips.
Nothing else of substance comes up that night, but the thought stays on all three minds in one form or another.
Arc Four is tentatively called ‘Pursuit’. It doesn’t quite fit the way I want it to, and is subject to change.
Sometime soon, I will be going back and adding small bits of content to two chapters in Named, to clarify the setting a bit. It’s been brought to my attention that I haven’t gotten into why everyone seems so cloak-and-dagger about things, and I’m going to fix that.