Vaul disappears. If I use the Light to see him, the Vetalas will be on us in no time at all and I have little protection. I have no plan to use the gun in my hands. The safety is on and I’m not even sure if there are bullets in the mag. The strange kid crumbles to the ground, unconscious. Fear sets in and panic vibrates my chest. A sharp whisk of air shoves me off my feet. I land on my back, coughing as breath knocks from my lungs.
Is Vaul now my enemy?
I connect to the Source, careless to the Vetalas, and rush to the doorway. To my horror, Vaul has Kyla by the neck pinned to the wall. His sharp dentai wings threaten to tear open her belly.
I swing around and search for the gun frantically and locate it just inches from my feet. Latching onto it with shaking hands, I return to the doorway. “Let her go.”
He had amble time to kill her. If I can talk to him, make him see how amazing she is perhaps Vaul will help me save her against the world.
“You don’t know what she is.”
“I’m starting to understand it. But we don’t have much time. The Vetalas are going to be here any moment.”
He maneuvers her into his arm, holding her vertically so her head rests up against his chest. His hand still has her by the throat, ready to snap her neck at any moment but he faces me now. His wings flap prepared to fight.
“This girl is dangerous. If the wrong people get a hold of her, it will be the end of the world. Do you understand?”
I swallow harshly, “Then help me make sure the right people get her.”
“And who are they? No one like that exists anymore.”
“Powerful Angels and Fallen are searching for her. They get her and it’s over. You are going to start a war!” He nods as he notices the widening of my gaze, “We have to kill her. Kill her before worse things happen.”
My body trembles as I look down at Kyla. She is completely silent, sleeping in her silent world. I wish I could meet her eyes just once, just to know the color of them. I wish I could hear her voice to finally put a sound to her. More than anything, I want to meet her. I want to know her. Who is this woman that I’m sacrificing so much of my life for?
“I can’t.” I murmur. “And I can’t let you.”
I stiffen my hold on the gun. I’m surer of my role in this than ever. I’m not going to abandon her.
My eyes widen as a black shadow encompasses the window, “Look out!”
Vaul jumps from the stained windows as a Vetalas crashes into it. The glass shatters, loud and piercing as it clatters to the ground. My arm reaches over in an attempt to shield Kyla’s face but Vaul’s wing is already keeping her well protected. He snatches the gun from my hand and begins firing at the demon. It screeches but hits the ground hard.
He sends a dark glare my way, “You didn’t have the safety on.”
On our feet now, I lift Kyla into my arms as Vaul snatches his necklace off the floor and quickly putting it back on. His wings dissolve much to his disinclination and he rests besides his own ward. “There will be more. We have to get out of here.” He heaves the boy over his shoulder.
I hesitate. He believes Kyla’s death is the best way to stop this mayhem. I cannot trust him and even though I follow him to the front door, I prepare to take off down the street never to see him again.
A Vetelas drops on the hood of a car, digging its talons into the black exterior. Spreading wide its translucent wings, it screams gruesomely in greeting, barring its rows of razor fangs.
We spin around, racing down the elongated hallway for the backdoor. I stumble on the stairs, clenching Kyla tight and leaning against the rusty railing as I look up between the ripped overhang of the terrace. Vaul tells me to hurry but he can’t see what I can. Only the horror written on my face stops him from rushing out behind me.
“What is it?”
Twenty beasts circle, screeching, crying, and moaning; all desiring, all searching for one thing. “God.” I whimper and fall, clinging to Kyla as my only form of comfort in this hopeless moment of surrender.
The gun cocks and I snap my eyes up as Vaul aims the gun. “I’m sorry, Alex, but I can’t let them have her.” He presses the gun to her temple.
“Wait right there, Shini.” From the Dust, a woman exits. A navy cloak billows with each bold step she takes in the thick weeds budding from the dirt. In her hand, an elongated staff juts upward twisted and made of mostly wood except at its very tip there is a steel point. She faces us, silent, stalling the inevitability of death.
Vetalas cry, signaling a formulated attack. Two dive from the left, another two from the right. The symmetry is perfectly calculated and orchestrated.
We do nothing, relying on this stranger to save the day it seems. And its at that moment, she simply lifts her staff, and slams it to the grassy plain at her feet.
A pulse shoots, electric and tingling to the senses, I feel it course through every inch of my body and shoot out through my fingertips. Chills rack up my spine. The Vetalas scream and spin away as if some giant hand sent them spinning through the air. Their wings twist to catch themselves but they continue tumbling as they’re shoved out of sight.
The newly arrived Undead posted a Net, one I’ve not yet witnessed. Nets usually go unnoticed and do not have electricity integrated into them. It has something to do with the staff. They’re using magic.
Vaul lowers the gun, glaring at the stranger set before us. “Who are you?”
“No thanks necessary.” The long braid coursing down her hip is the only identifiable feature she possesses. “I require only one thing: That girl.”
I tighten my hold, “That’s not going to happen.”
“You’ve done well, sir. However, you are no longer necessary. Tymician’s mission had been to get that child to me. You succeeded where he failed.”
I stumble in a response. She knows? Can it be true? Can I trust her? It was obvious he was heading somewhere. Kyla’s identity was a secret to even himself but he was moving her, covertly. Could he have been trying to get to this woman?
She continues. “We’ve not much time. Isis’s clan is weak for the moment. They linger in Heaven but word will reach them that Vetalas roam their city. We must move quickly. I can help her, Alex.”
My eyes lift, desperation shining in my gaze, “How?”
This is it. This is everything I’ve needed. Ariel will be able to heal Kyla’s damaged Soul and waken her from this coma. She’ll wake and become whoever she is supposed to be and be great. No more running. No more fear.
Vaul places his unconscious partner down on the steps before he swings around to whisper in my ear. . “You don’t who know who this woman is. You don’t know if she speaks true. For all you know, she means to bleed Kyla dry over the Nephilim cages!” He bites. “Ariel has been missing for six hundred years! What makes you think this woman knows anything to her whereabouts?”
I touch Kyla’s face. He’s right. I’m latching on to this out because I’m so eager for a saving grace. I could give up Kyla right here, right now, turn my back on the entire situation and live normal. I can forget Kyla existed. Place this burden on someone else. I can return to a life of regularity.
But it’s not possible. I will be there when Kyla wakes. I will be the first person she sees.
I lift my eyes and attempt to find the woman’s face beneath the shadows of her cloak. “Okay. But I’m coming.”
She shifts her head to the left. Then to the right. She has friends with her. My heart pounds. I slowly move and twist the gun from Vaul’s fingers. He’s hesitant but concedes and with the pistol clutched into my fingers, I lift Kyla and stand firm on my feet.
I take the steps down into the grass, coming to a stop before her. She nods. “Alright Alexander. If that’s how you will it. There will be battles, there will be death. Ariel is trapped in the cells of the Ruling and that is our destination. Tell me, Angel, are you willing to kill for this girl?”
I stare down at the gun in my hands. “Can’t you tell? I already have.”
The woman rises a hesitant hand to her hood and pulls it away. Her pitch black hair is abundant and heavy, flowing around her thick cheeks which are white and pallid. A stern glare shines in her deep-set eyes, displaying her race to be either Hawaiian or Inuit. She is remarkably beautiful, though it’s obvious from her stare and her voice, she’s anything but friendly. “Then welcome, Angel, to the Fallen Gate Keepers of the Ten Sheol Rips.”
My muscles tighten and I instinctively back up, terror catching in my throat as I force, “You’re. You’re. You’re--”
“Fallen?” She smirks. Chuckling, she continues, “Does that scare you? For one who has killed, I’m surprised you hold judgment on me, Angel. Do you still wish to come?”
My eyes flicker across the ground. I’m not any better. I’m the same. I’ve killed and I’d do it again. God, forgive me, what am I becoming? I swallow harshly, “Y. Yes.”
Her face hardens drastically. “Then let’s move.”
“Alex!” Vaul chasties. “You cannot risk your soul.”
The woman interrupts, “His soul is already at risk. It will serve you well, Shini if you forget this moment.” She replaces her hood, hiding her features, flicking a fist to her friends watching in the shadows.
Vaul growls back, “I will report this to Danemonte, be assured.”
“I assure you. Master Dane does not wish to be bothered with this situation any longer. He desired her to be in the proper care and thus came to me. You may thank him for me, in your report.” Her attention lands on me, “We must hurry. The Angels have arrived.”
She then proceeds to jump a six-foot fence. An easy feat, sure, in UNREALISTIC world! How the hell am I supposed to do that? Not only do I have another person in my arms but I’m a person myself!
She’s probably an Elder. They aren’t restricted by normal muscle qualms because they do not feel pain. They can jump higher and take punches like their flicks of a wrist because they have no senses. I’ve seen it before with Ariel, I’ve just forgotten what it’s like to witness it firsthand. How am I supposed to keep up with someone like that? On top of it, she’s Fallen. She doesn’t need to breath or eat. She’s the perfect running machine.
I run through the house, darting down the steps to find her friends. Six of them dress exactly as she does, completely submerged in the navy cloak, hiding their features. The sun and heat, heedless to their woes. They don’t sense the rays of the sun nor sweat. I’m in a league of my own here. It’s going to be really odd traveling with this breed of creatures.
“Move out!” The woman orders.
Unsure I join behind the line and they all start a low-grade jog. It’s difficult to run with Kyla but I do so. Somehow, the group soon surrounds me, three on each side, guarding me as we run in the street. Their pace is in exact unison while my feet slap the pavement out of tune. They are straight back, looking directly ahead, making as little sound as possible, while I’m huffing and puffing, constantly tripping on my own, continuously readjusting Kyla’s form, which seems to be growing heavier each moment we keep this jog up.
It’s becoming obvious, the woman in the lead must have altered the Net’s dynamics. No humans interrupt our travel. We dart around abandoned cars, passing the huge building in front of us. “Where are we going!” I puff out between breathes.
She doesn’t answer right away as we turn yet another corner. This road is more congregated then the last with abandoned vehicles. It must be a popular road. “We are getting to the water, a boat waits there. It’s straight ahead.” Her head twists to the sky. “Keep moving.” She jumps to the side, standing straight and still, her staff landing on the cement by her feet.
“What’s going on?” I holler back.
“The Angels are breaking the Net. Do not stop.”
Hands keep me moving. Fallen hands. Do I have the right to be skeptic? I’m finally getting the help I’ve been needing. Help I can trust in and relieve all my burdens upon.
Sweat drenches my shirt but soon we make it to the water’s edge and sure enough a boat resides there with two other Fallen dressed in their navy cloak. Relief pours on me and a smile stretches on my lip. We pack on the large vessel. It sways only slightly with the lapping of the waves. I’m directed down the stairs and left on a couch. I feel it jolt as it takes off.
I rest Kyla on the bench beside me, propping whatever’s in the cabinet to stop her from falling off. Then I sit exhausted next to her, unwilling to ever rise again.
Holding my knees to my chest, I stare at my shoes. They’re hideous. Nearly black, they are covered in dry blood, dirt, mud, grass, gravel. There’s no end to the assortment of nasty debris they have collected.
Back in the days when showers didn’t exist, when we lived by the ocean and took baths out of the sea, I was never so dirty. My hand moves through my hair. Sweat greases in every tendril. My nails are black with sludge. I’m a complete mess. I’ve gotten nothing to my name. I’ve a scar bubbling on my face, no money, the clothes on my back, and only my name. But I made it through. I glance back at Kyla and grasp her little fingers.
We made it through.
“Commander wants you topside.” A man hollers down into our cave.
I groan making it to my feet and climbing the steps much to my dislike. I cling to the railing as the boat bobs with each wave locating the woman with the long braid. I’m guessing she’s Commander. She yanks off her hood to catch my gaze. There is no normal sign that’s she been through battle. No red cheeks, no heavy breath, no blood. Only her torn cloak and the broken staff that lays forgotten on the floor at her feet. It’s disturbing how different we are.
She begins calmly, “I don’t suppose you will go quietly.”
“Go?” Her brows rise, as if her statement wasn’t clear enough. “No, I’m not going.” I respond absurdly. “You said I could stay.”
“In front of God’s Prophet and His Warrior, could I deny His beloved breed? Who am I? You left me no choice and with little time to explain the situation to you. You are in over your head, Newborn. This mission is dangerous and will likely get you killed. You wish for adventure? Did your clan not provide enough entertainment for you?”
Rage boils as she mocks me. My lips curls and I am finding it hard not to hit a woman.
“You’ve seen a Vetalas floating in the sky, but have you seen one so close, you can see the color of its eyes or count the rows of its teeth? You know nothing of Darkness. You know nothing of suffering. You seek thrill, go to a whore house.” She turns to ignore me but I’m done with that. I’m done being alone.
I pull the gun from my jeans and aim for the sky, shooting one stray bullet into the air, gaining her swift attention. “I’m a cocky son of a bitch, ready to brag about, well, just about anything, if it gains me attention but what I’ve been through, I don’t want to talk about. But one thing you should know, the Vetalas are after me.”
Her eyes dart down. It’s an emotion. It’s rare but it’s there, I know it. “That’s unfortunate. Your life is forfeited, you know that, don’t you?”
“It doesn’t matter. I’m going to be there when Kyla wakes up. I’m not going anywhere.”
“You were a risk simply by being a Newborn Angel, Alexander. Now you are an even greater one for what lusts after you. I cannot allow you to stay.”
My gun lowers and the barrel points upon her. I now find pity in her gaze.
She tilts her head to the side, “You will find my will to live is greater than yours.”
Tears build in my eyes. “Please. I’m a doctor. I can help her.”
Her brows knit. “Is there something wrong with her?”
It’s in that moment, I gain my board along this ship and in this crew. I know that we are heading toward Ariel but it’s going to be a rough adventure getting there. She is half a world away and since we can't use the Dust we must utilize human transportation, a time-wasting voyage that gives our enemies the upper hand.
How long can we keep ourselves hidden in a world that’s surrounded completely by high rank security in every airport, train station, and cruise liner this earth must offer? And with Angel and Fallen Clans owning more than eighty percent of all transportation divisions will we even be able to leave North America without being hunted down?
I don’t know. At least I’m not alone anymore and who knows, I might find some more emotions hiding away in the Commander. She’s bound to warm up to me sometime. I’m way too sexy to be ignored for long.