The Night Force: Night Forces, Epilogue: No Losses

by CSyphrett

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Baron Winters lounged in a soft, comfortable chair beside his flickering fireplace, a glass of wine resting on the table by his elbow. Merlin, the leopard, lay at his feet. “Another success, Merlin,” Winters remarked. “No loss of life or limb for a change.”

A low mrrow escaped the leopard.

“Of course¬†I’m still charging Constantine,” Winters added with a hint of displeasure. “I’m not running a charity here.”

The cat fixed its gaze on him.

“No,” Baron Winters continued. “I don’t care if he saved the world or not. Rules are rules, and the number one rule is cash on delivery. Besides, I am not paying Monaghan out of my own pocket. That’s out.”

Merlin closed his eyes, resting his head on his paws.

***

A trio approached the front of the building and ascended the stairs to where young Timothy Hunter lived. The blind man in white, leaning on a walking stick, pressed the door ringer.

The door opened almost instantly. A haggard, middle-aged man stared at the trio, and his face lit up with joy. He embraced the youngest one, lifting him off the small step. “Tim!” Bill Hunter exclaimed with relief. “Where on earth have you been? I’ve been worried sick! And what happened to your glasses?”

“Tim had an accident, Mr. Hunter,” Tommy Monaghan explained. “Nothing major, but he was delayed by the doctors at the hospital. We were visiting and decided to help him home on the way to the airport.”

“Thank you. Thank you both.”

“No bother at all,” said the hitman. “It was right on our way. Goodbye, Tim. Nice meeting you.”

Mister E nodded, shaking both of the Hunters’ hands. Turning away, they left to catch their plane out of the country.

Tim found himself holding a plain white card with the name Mister E and a phone number on the front, and a handwritten phone number on the back. Below the number, words were written:

In case of need, call. Someone will come to help you.

The revelation was almost too much for young Timothy Hunter. John Constantine had explained that he’d been specifically targeted due to his strong affinity for magic. That was news to the twelve-year-old, who had never intentionally tried to practice magic, but it did help to explain a lot of strange occurrences in his life.

Mister E had already told him about a special school in the South Pacific, the Grimoire Academy of Applied Knowledge, which was tailored for youths with his kind of talents. Tim and his dad would have to decide soon if he would attend, as the new semester would commence next month at the beginning of January.

***

Zatanna and John Constantine locked eyes in a lingering gaze, a silent exchange of unspoken words hanging in the air. Constantine felt an urge to promise the world, to extend their fleeting closeness, but he knew the futility of such words. He couldn’t abandon the life he led, and Zatanna wouldn’t share in its shadows.

A sense of missing something precious, something to regret, lingered with Constantine amid the myriad wrongs on his trail of tears. Zatanna, seeming to grasp his sentiments, offered a fond smile and a simple, “Goodbye, John. Try to take care of yourself a little better.”

With a smile, Constantine lit up a cigarette and began walking away. Zatanna turned, entering the teleporter building, destined for the satellite and her place in San Francisco. Neither of them looked back.

***

Henry Valdemir rested in a cradle beneath the city, surrounded by a room that housed the core of his computer system and life support. A rack held the system off the floor, and Valdemir, wearing a helmet with a large visor over his eyes, gestured with gloved hands. A crude form of his doppelgänger conducted repairs and forged new connections.

It might take years to get operational again, but he would. And when he did, he would target those two meddlers and that woman and make sure they died as painfully as possible. Then he would return to making his body work again as it once did.

Continued in The Books of Magic: Orientation Day

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