Saba led the seven uniformed police officers, each of them armed with rifles through the back door of Mayor and Mrs. Korlann’s house. The small entryway and cloakroom led to a well-appointed den. Here amid countless books and artworks was a grisly scene. The lizzie butler Chunny had been hacked nearly to pieces, just as Mrs. Dechantagne’s dressing maid Cissy had been. Red blood was splattered everywhere. A trail of dripping crimson led out the other door and toward the front of the house.
Interrogating lizzies at the station, Saba had learned that a gang was responsible for not only the murder of Cissy, but of terrorizing lizardman throughout the town, particularly those who became too close to humans, or even worse, who began to take on human affectations. He remembered Cissy’s hat and her fondness for Billingbow’s. There were several dozen members of the group, but the four ringleaders, four young toughs, were all employed at the Dechantagne home. With two of them in custody, Saba had rushed out with a team of men, only to find that the other two, Skye and Starr, gone. A hurried interrogation had uncovered their plans to make another example of the Mayor’s lizzie, Chunny.
Signaling three of his officers to cut through the kitchen, Saba and the other four followed the bloody trail through the parlor. It was far too much to have dripped from a blade, even a wood and obsidian sword. One of the attackers must have been injured. He turned around and pointed his rifle at the stairway. Two lizardmen, covered in the raiment of their gory work stood on the landing.
“Halt,” he shouted.
One lizzie turned and hissed at him, brandishing a sword, while the other sped up the steps. All five policemen fired and the hissing reptile fell back against the wall, blood spraying all over several fine paintings behind him. Saba ran up the steps, leaping over the reptilian body. The blood trail continued. At the top of the stairs, it led him down the hall and through a doorway into a bedroom. He could hear the others coming up behind him.
In the bedroom was the other lizzie. He held Egeria Korlann in front of him like a shield. The clawed fingers of his left hand were enmeshed in her flaming red hair. In his right hand, he held a kitchen carving knife to her throat. Blood ran in small rivulets from several cuts on the lizzie’s arms down onto Mrs. Korlann’s light blue dressing gown.
“You have two seconds to decide,” Saba told the lizzie as he looked down the rifle sights.
The bullet hit the lizardman in the right eye, knocking him backwards. He fell into a small bookcase, which crashed to the ground on top of him. Mrs. Korlann stood statue-like with horror written across her pretty face and a single drop of blood on her neck. For a horrible moment, Saba thought the attacker had sliced her throat as he had fallen. Then she burst into sobs. The single drop of blood was the only one that escaped the veins of her long white neck.
Saba took off his jacket and wrapped it around her. He led her down the hall to another bedroom and sat her on the bed. He looked out into the hall just long enough to see that his men were removing the bodies. Once they had done so, he guided her downstairs, though she nearly swooned at the blood covered landing. Outside, he had PC Gorman drive her to the Dechantagne house so that her daughter-in-law could look after her.
“There was absolutely no danger to me,” Saba explained to his wife that evening. The lizzies had knives and we had rifles and we outnumbered them four to one.”
Saba and Loana Colbshallow were seated at one of the indoor tables at Finkler’s Bakery, Port Dechantagne’s original dining establishment. Loana sat to Saba’s left. Opposite him sat Eamon Shrubb and opposite her was his wife Dot.
“Well this certainly underscores why the War Powers Act was so important,” said Loana.
“I couldn’t agree more,” said Eamon.
Their waitress brought out crockery bowls of hearty soup to join the fresh-baked bread already there. Unrolling their silverware from their linen napkins, they all four tucked in. The soup was full of beef, squash, and potatoes. After having been gone from so many diets for years, beef seemed to be everywhere now. The cattle brought to Birmisia colony directly from Brechalon had been supplemented by others brought by train from Mallontah. Now there were cattle farms springing up all around the country, though Saba wondered if this would continue with the war on.
“You two be careful anyway,” said Dot, returning to the topic at hand.
“Dot’s right,” agreed Loana. “The last thing I need is to find myself a widow at this time in my life.”
“Don’t worry,” said Saba. “Eamon and I both had our defining moment five years ago. Now we’re destined to die in our beds as old men.”
“Here’s to dying in our beds,” said Eamon, raising his glass of beer.
“With your families gathered around you,” added Loana.
They all drank.
“Which brings us to another point,” said Loana. “Both Dot and I have some news.”
Saba was surprised to see his wife reach across the table and clasp Dot’s hand in hers. He looked from one to the other, expectantly.
“Preggers,” said Dot.
“Who?” asked Saba.
“Both of us!” Loana squealed. “We’re going to be mothers together and you’re going to be a father.”
“It’s about time too,” said Eamon, taking another swig of beer. “I was beginning to wonder if you didn’t have something broken somewhere.”
“Well that just goes to show you,” replied Saba, grinning happily. “When are we expecting?”
“Early in Magnius,” said Loana. “Dot and I think we must be very nearly the same way along.”