Raven

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•Three•

"Incoming call from Ghost," my demon chip repeats over and over until I wake up and answer it.

"Goodmorning, Raven. Did I wake you?" he greets in his accent. British gentleman... from the 1800s?

"Nope. I've been awake for hours," I answer through a yawn.

"Good. You have a pickup," he informs me. He hangs up.

"Ugh. Why do I have to be the recruiter?" I get up and shower. I shed the old feathers on my wings and grow new ones instantly. My closet is still full of the same shirt and same pants. When I'm finally fully dressed, I teleport to Ghost.

"What took you so long? I thought you had been awake for hours," he mocks me.

"Just because I was awake doesn't mean I was dressed and ready. Is he actually dead this time?" I roll my eyes.

"Yes. Game of Russian Roulette. Bullet to the side of the head." He gives me the address and I leave.

"Hey, buddy. How's it going?" I ask the teen. I can't tell which gender they are.

"Who are you?" they ask.

"I'm the recruiter of death. I take you to the afterlife."

"Are you sure the doctor can't do anything to save me?"

"You took a bullet to the brain. I'm pretty sure you're screwed in this situation."

"Okay. Let's go," they hold out their hand. They're really going to go that easily?

"Okay," I grab their hand and teleport us to Zoe's hospital. "Self-inflicted bullet wound to the head."

"Thanks, Raven," she puts her hand on the side of the teen's head and closes her eyes. Within seconds, he's healed. "Your turn."

"Thanks. See you later, Zoe. Happy corruption day!"

"Bye!"

I teleport us to Ghost.

"Who is he?" the teen slightly hides behind me even though they're taller than I am.

"This is Ghost. He's the king of the Underworld. He'll give you a job and a demon chip."

"A what?" they question.

"I'll explain. You go train," Ghost demands.

"Fine. Bye, kid." I teleport to Jess' district.

"Hey, Jess," I jump on her back. She flips me over, but I teleport before she can land on top of me.

"Really? Cheater," she rubs her arm that was supposed to land on me.

"All's fair in training and the Underworld."

"Yes! Finally! Bring it on!" Jess grabs my wrist and I teleport us to the training grounds. Pretty soon, we're both bloodied and bruised. I have a three inch cut above my right eyebrow and on my left cheek. Jess has a cut on her neck and two large cuts on her torso. My eyes turn fully black; I'm at my strongest.

"Calm down. Your eyes are-"

"I know. I got the notification on my chip," I cut her off. When I'm at my strongest, my eyes turn black, my voice gets demonic, and my fingers grow to be as sharp as swords. I feel them growing.

"Breathe. Close your eyes. Relax," Jess grabs my shoulders. I close my eyes and try to relax, as she told me to. Soon enough, I go back to normal. "There you go. Much better."

"I just wish I had the control I used to," my strength deteriorates fast. I collapse into Jess' arms.

"Careful. Let's get you to bed, alright? On second thought, I'll take you to Zoe. Your face needs to be fixed."

Everything goes black.


"She should be fine. No. It wasn't you. Ever since her chip got removed, her super has drained her energy faster than ever. Okay. Goodbye."

I start to wake up. I'm in a bed. My bed. I'm back at the apartment. There's a tube in my arm. My black veins are showing in both arms. I have something over my mouth. Oh yeah. The breathing machine. I'm already dead. Shouldn't that keep me out of the hospital?

"Morning, Raven. How was your sleep?" Zoe comes into my room.

"Okay, I guess. What happened?" I try to sit up.

"Stay laying down. You're still unstable. You triggered your super yesterday. You passed out, and Jess brought you to me. Because I know how much you hate the hospital, I brought you home. The adrenaline is almost out of your system. When it is, I'll take out the IV."

"Okay." My throat is still sore. Why did Ghost have to choose to corrupt me?

A few hours pass and my side effects slowly subside. Zoe returns to take my IV out and I teleport to Ghost.

"Can I ask you something?" I sit at his desk.

"You just did. But sure. Go ahead," he doesn't even look up.

"I want to be assigned a different job," I tell him. I immediately realize I messed up. He stands, comes around the desk, and starts advancing towards me. Naturally, I back up. He corners me.

"Didn't I tell you your job was permanent when you first came here?" he softly puts his hand on my neck.

"I don't want to bring people from earth anymore," I almost whisper.

"Well, that's too bad." He squeezes my throat, choking me. I'm still weak. I shouldn't be choking right now. His eyes turn black.

"Please," I tug at his wrist. "Stop." My vision blurs. It sounds like I'm underwater.

"Since you asked nicely," he shrugs and lets go of my throat. I fall to the floor in front of him. "Give me some time to decide your punishment. Until then, stay where you are."

I stay there, trying to catch my breath. He walks back to his desk. "Why," I cough. "Why are you so cold?"

"I'd rather break everyone else before they can break me. I've watched you from here since you were only a child. You always asked how everyone else was doing, but when they asked you-"

"Stop."

"-you would always say the same thing."

"Enough."

"I'm fine. Until the day that boy finally broke you. Then you trusted a girl. She broke you, too."

"I said stop!" I try to raise my voice.

"So you finally gave up. You stopped trusting anyone until the day you were killed."

"I said enough!" I teleport to him and punch his left temple since it's forbidden to damage another person's demon chip.

He touches his fingers to his temple, feeling the black, metallic liquid dripping from the wound. "Summon Hybrid for me, will you?"

I summon him.

"Hybrid, convince Raven to live on earth until she has learned to respect her elders."

"What? I refuse!" Hybrid yells.

"Would you like to go with her?"

"No, sir."

"Okay then."

"Hybrid, don't do this." I sprint to the other side of the room. His ability only works if the target is close by.

"Raven, don't make this harder than it needs to be. I can get this over with quickly if you cooperate." He slowly walks towards me. Once again, I'm cornered.

"Block teleportation abilities," Ghost says. His mansion, his settings.

"Hybrid, please," I whisper.

He jumps at me and I jump out of the way. "Raven, end this and I won't have to hurt you."

"What are you going to do? Be his pet or help a friend?" I step behind Ghost.

"I'm not his pet."

"Are you sure?" I grab Ghost's mask, but don't pull it off yet.

"Kill them," Ghost demands.

"What? No," Hybrid refuses.

"Then join them on earth."

"No."

I rip off Ghost's mask. Or, try to. It's attached to his head.

"Fine. I'll go," I give up.

"No wings, no teleporting, no flying. Act human. You know the drill," Ghost puts his feet on his desk.

"Be careful, Raven," Hybrid comes around the desk. I hug him. I didn't think I'd be this sad to leave every human's worst nightmare. But, this is my home. I'll have to start over when I get to earth. I'll have nobody.

"Goodbye, Hybrid. Tell the others I said bye."

"I will. Love you."

"What?"

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