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  • Writer's pictureC.A. Lightfoot

The Guardian - Chapter Twenty-One


Chapter Twenty-One

It took only a moment to recognize the angel standing before her. Dover stared for a beat, then allowed her muscles to take over by memory.

Her spare pistol’s grip was heavy in her hand as she opened fire. Bullets struck the center of the angelic being’s chest with unerring accuracy. She heard the demons gasp and felt the male crowd the female into the wall as Dover attacked the man who would be her ‘boss’.

He was more like her boss’ boss.

Gabriel, for his part, took only one step back. His eyes remained on Dover’s even as he grunted with the pain of her warded bullets. Of course, she hadn’t bothered to load the anti-Celestial ammunition Embry made for her, not yet. The rounds would do little to harm the beautiful angel. They flattened on the thick plane of his chest before falling harmlessly to the floor with an accompanying tinny ring.

When she ran out of ammunition in one pistol, Dover unloaded the second. The reverberation of gunshots left her ears ringing long after the final shot rang out. Dover stood in front of her foe, pistols still smoking, staring down the barrel into his obsidian-hued gaze.

“Can’t say I didn’t deserve that.” Gabriel’s cool voice was tinged, ever so slightly, with irritation. “I didn’t consider you a shoot-first type, Miss Ellis.”

Dover holstered the pistols slowly. “I owed you one after you attacked me at my apartment. What the hell is going on here?”

Gabriel sighed, fingering the holes in his starched white button-down with an exasperated look. “My best shirt, you know. Guardians.”

“I don’t have time for this.”

Dover strode toward the door, intent on wrenching it open. She didn’t want to know why an Archangel would deign to be in the same room with an Elite demon and whatever the hell the other one was. Everything in her body told her this was not good news. She should go home, shower, call Hanael and tell him that his brother had lost his damn mind.

She stopped just short of the door, however, when Gabriel spoke again.

“Elise wanted you tapped for this mission before she died. You would do her no honor if you refused even to hear me out.” Gabriel’s tone spoke of his deep sorrow and that, more than anything else, got Dover’s attention.

Hanael was right; the Archangel had loved her friend.

“What mission?” Dover asked without turning. “And what does Elise have to do with it?”

Again, the higher angel sighed.

“She was my child and someone murdered her. I want you to find out whom, Miss Ellis.”

Slowly, Dover turned to face him. The demons continued to watch silently, so the Guardian gave them little thought. Elise’s face flared into focus in her mind. There was no deception in the eyes of this archangel, no reason for him to lie.

She took a deep breath before stepping closer to Gabriel.

“Ok. What the hell is going on?”


In seconds, Gabriel repaired a broken table and chairs, inviting Dover to sit. She did so, though dubiously. When the demons approached, it was only because the female appeared injured.

“I’m not apologizing,” Dover commented resolutely as she reloaded her pair of .9mms. “You started it.”

To her surprise, the woman chuckled. Her demonic cohort kneeled by her chair, carefully dragging his hands over the injuries. Dover watched as a beam of violet light appeared to stitch the various cuts together, and peeled back some of the bruising.

“Neat, isn’t it?” Gabriel asked as he took the seat across from her.

“I didn’t know demons could heal.”

“Only our own, much like angels. And humans, if we concentrate.” The male replied as he continued to administer demonic first aid.

“Papa, I can do this myself, you know.” The girl’s voice held reverence, teasing.

“Let me fuss. You never let me fuss.”

Dover braced her hands on the table and stood, peering toward the demons.

“Tarc?”

The male demon turned to look over his shoulder, hands still moving over the injured female. He offered what Dover could only make out as a sheepish smile.

“Hello, Dover.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?” The Guardian sighed, fingers massaging her temples as she collapsed back into the rickety chair.

“I wanted to meet you and you kept sending my envoys back with bullet holes,” Tarc told her with not a hint of shame.

“You could have just called me.” Dover shot back, desperately trying not to be charmed by the demon.

“Things were moving swiftly,” Tarc explained, his healing still working over his child. “I wanted to be sure you were up to the task. Emotionally.”

“Ok, my brain is melting. There’s got to be an old bottle of something around here.”

Gabriel’s rumble of a voice followed her into the kitchen. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.

Dover rolled her eyes, halting in her quest for a drink.

“Ephesians 5:18,” she answered quickly. “I remember, but I didn’t want wine.”

A quick search of the kitchen yielded nothing, so Dover returned to the table empty-handed.

The Guardian sat back heavily as Tarc stood, his ministrations done. Dover took a good look at the man now, astonished to find so little in the way of Hell’s touch etched onto him. His ice-blue eyes pierced, his handsome face lined with a facsimile of age.

“It’s nice to see you again.” He inclined his head in a bow.

“What are you?” Dover asked, unable to help herself. “I didn’t want to probe too much at the bar and have us make a mess.”

“I’m an Incubus.” He replied as his mouth turned up in amusement. “And this is Shae, my daughter.”

“She is Cambion,” Gabriel chimed in. “The offspring resulting in the mating of a human and a demon.”

Dover swallowed hard, desperate for two fingers of Jameson, neat.

The demon conjured a bottle and a glass from his jacket pocket as though he had read her mind. He poured without comment, dropped the glass onto the table before her, and nudged it in Dover’s direction. After a moment’s hesitation, he set the bottle down before taking his seat.

Dover murmured her thanks before she gulped the liquor down.

The woman, Shae, arched a brow. Dover shrugged. “I already shot him. If he didn’t want me to drink, he’d do something about it.”

Dover sat back in her chair with the odd quartet now in place. She shot the Archangel a quizzical look. He leaned forward, clasping his massive hands together on the dingy table top.

“The mating of humans with the supernatural is discouraged, obviously. It does happen, though. Tarc here is a demon whose sole purpose is to create half-demons.”

“Actually, my purpose is Lust,” Tarc replied as he conjured himself a glass and indicated for Dover to hand over her Jameson.

She did, mildly amused.

“I inspire it, condone it, use it as a weapon for my evil bidding.” Tarc sipped his whisky with a sigh. “It’s exhausting.”

“And Elise?” Dover asked, turning to Gabriel. “She was your child? How many do you have?”

“A dozen,” Gabriel replied honestly. “Over the last millennia. Some angels produce more, some less. Elise’s mother was special to me. Elise was special to me.”

Dover poured, drank, hissed as the liquor burned her throat.

“And you think that the necromancer I met a few weeks ago was right, someone is murdering half-breeds?”

“Cambion.” Shae cut in, appearing to be annoyed. “We’re not half-breeds.”

“Sorry,” Dover answered. She held her hands up in surrender. “I meant no offense.”

“Yes,” Tarc replied, shooting his daughter a quieting look. “Nearly fifty have been killed, the numbers increasing over the last two years. The losses are felt on both sides.”

Dover frowned. “For what purpose?”

“We believe someone has decided to enforce “God’s” edict.” Gabriel raised his hands, fingers creating air quotes. “The Law all angelic beings follow does not come from the Creator, but from the rulers of the Host. One among them has decided to destroy our children.”

“And demons?” Dover asked, her gaze swinging toward Tarc’s impossibly handsome face. “Is the same person killing Cambion?”

“I’m not sure,” Tarc admitted. He shifted closer to his child, as though he could protect her through sheer force of will. “But the murders are even on both sides, so it stands to reason that a Legionnaire is attempting the same on Hell’s side.”

“The violence is escalating,” Gabriel said gently. “Dover, we need your help.”

Sitting back in her chair, Dover covered her face with her hands. She had to shake off the memory of finding Elise’s cold corpse hanging in her doorway, the feel of her mentor’s body as it landed heavily in her arms.

Someone killed her. Had that person, angel or demon, done it because of something she had no control over?

“A demon didn’t do it,” Dover said, her words muffled by her hands. “A demon didn’t kill Elise.”

“No,” came the answer from Tarc. “We wouldn’t have bothered making it look like a suicide.”

“Right.” Dover dropped her hands. “You believe others have been killed?”

“None of the others were Guardians,” Gabriel replied solemnly. “To take out someone so strong is a feat.”

“A higher angel. Seraphim or Principality.” Dover blinked at the superior angel, unable to process the information. “That’s why the clandestine meeting.”

“You’re right, Gabe. She is clever.” Tarc replied as he, too, sat forward. “The current suspects are Raziel and Hanael.”

Swallowing her shock took almost every bit of training, of Grace, she had in her body. Dover stared at the demon as though he’d grown another head. How could anyone, especially Gabriel, accuse those two angels? Raziel walked the straightest moral line in history, second only to Hanael.

If they suspected, though, enough to work across party lines, Dover knew they must have evidence. She tamped her own emotions down, swallowing hard.

“What do you need me to do?”

Surprise lit in Gabriel’s dark eyes, though Dover decided to ignore it. He had seen her with Hanael at the funeral. Was he expecting her to turn into the embattled ‘girlfriend’, screeching that her beloved boyfriend couldn’t be behind it?

Damn it. Her Guardianship would always come first.

“Investigate,” Gabriel replied. “We’re doing the same on our side and have been for the last six months. Tarc and Shae are handling their end as much as they can. Dover, you’re trusted and inconspicuous at the Arbor, I need you to report on anything unusual.”

“And you must speak of this to no one.” Tarc chimed in.

Dover nodded. “Alright. I’ll see what I can find out. How do I get in contact with you?”

Both Gabriel and Tarc reached into their pockets, sliding what looked like business cards across the table. Dover took each, memorized the phone numbers attached, and handed them back.

“Do you want someone at the Arbor to know I’m talking with a demon?” Dover asked, lifting a brow. “I’ve got enough angels up my ass about my working with demons.”

Tarc chuckled darkly as he reached for his card, shaking his head. “Yeah, no one was expecting you to summon a necro. Nicely done, by the way.”

Dover’s cheeks flushed. She paused, thinking about the book she found in Elise’s apartment. She reached for the mobile phone in her pocket, thumb swiping it open to find the photo gallery.

“Does this make any sense to you, Gabriel?” Dover asked, sliding the phone across the table. “We’ve deciphered enough to know it’s a list of names.”

Pain flashed over Gabriel’s beautiful face, as though he recognized the elegant handwriting of his dead child. Dover resisted the urge to touch his hand for comfort, clenching her own together in her lap.

“Elise was cataloging Nephilim,” Gabriel revealed quietly. “I believe that may have been why she was murdered. These symbols here, the final column, that is the Nephilim’s sphere.”

“Sphere?”

“Power sphere.” This from the Cambion called Shae. “It’s the symbol of what classification their powers fall under.”

“Oh.” Dover’s brow furrowed. “How many are there?”

“Four,” Gabriel replied, leaning over to indicate to each symbol in the photograph. “Bio, War, Power, Psy.”

Dover frowned. “Much like angelic specialty? Bio are healers, War for strategy and speed, Power are telekinetics, and Psy are gifted with foresight and telepathy?”

“Well done.” Tarc refilled her glass, as though a reward for good behavior.

“Cambion have similar classification.” Shae chimed in. “Death, Lust, Strife and Power. Death includes necromancy and a death touch. Lust includes greed and power. They can make someone want to their detriment.”

Tarc was busily smirking into his glass. When Dover caught his gaze, he wriggled his brows outrageously. Dover rolled her eyes, glancing at Gabriel who did the same.

Shae continued: “Strife manipulates emotion and includes the biokinetic ability. Power is based in telekinesis and telepathy.”

“Similar to one another,” Dover mused. “Like demons and angels.”

“Yes,” Tarc answered. “But with one major difference.”

“Both are immune to Celestian and Hellspell,” Gabriel said with unnerving solemnity. “What wounds an angel may not harm a Nephilim. They are without weakness and can grow far more powerful than any Celestian.”

“Is it the same for demons?” Dover asked quickly.

Tarc nodded once. “Yes. And we believe that is why the matings were outlawed so long ago.”

“Cambion were not outlawed?” Dover asked, feeling as though she needed to be wearing a large, conical hat with DUNCE stamped on it.

“No.” Shae answered. “We normally know our demonic parent, are trained by them when we come into our power. In my case, Papa raised me when my mother died.”

Gabriel chimed in. “This is not the case for Nephilim, Dover. Most of them will have been abandoned by their angelic parent, for their own good. They may not even know what they can do, or what they are. This makes them more dangerous than their demonic counterparts.”

Dover shook her head, standing away from the table. She paced away from the group, rubbing at her neck as she considered the information she’d just been given. Her brain wanted to explode from the overload, but a few deep breaths kept her from running out of the building screaming.

“Ok.” Dover sighed, turning back to the group. “I’ll see what I can find out. If nothing else, what they are doing is wrong. Nephilim and Cambion don’t deserve to be killed just because they were born to power.”

Gabriel’s smile reminded her so much of Elise, pain winded her. “And Elise would want me to help you.”

Tarc slapped Gabriel’s shoulder with the back of his hand. “El was right. She’s a damn fine example of a Guardian, Gabe.”

“My daughter was rarely wrong, Plutarc,” Gabriel replied.

Their voices began to fade, the words garbled and distant. Dover rolled her shoulders. Trepidation crept up her spine, leaving gooseflesh in its wake. She knew, without a doubt, that she was being Called to a Charge. Something had gone wrong, terribly wrong.

Swallowing hard, the Guardian met Gabriel’s dark, turbulent gaze.

“My charges, are they Nephilim?”

Gabriel nodded without hesitation. “Yes, some of them.”

Frowning, Dover stood.

“Roy.”

Before anyone else could speak, the feeling of panic hit her in the chest, the force of it almost debilitating. Only one other time had Dover felt a Call this harshly. She turned, throwing her hands out to gather Light around her.

Without another word, Dover threw herself into the Slide.

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