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  • Writer's pictureC.A. Lightfoot

The Guardian- Chapter Twenty-Two


Chapter Twenty-Two

She landed on the familiar street, woozy from using Light to travel. It was long past dawn, since her last real infusion of power. Going into battle weary, confused, and torn was not something she would recommend. Roy needed her, though, and that meant everything.

Dover startled when movement brought a creature from the shadows to her left. Shae Stepped out beside her, nose to the air as she seemingly searched for danger.

“The men stayed behind, to keep their cover,” Shae explained. “The middle house?”

Dover nodded, not bothering to be bothered by the company. If what Gabriel and Tarc said was true, she just might need the backup.

The Guardian decided against calling for Hanael as she jogged across the street. It was not the scents of rot and excrement that wafted toward her from the little house that held the family she loved. In contrast, she smelled warm chocolate and clean soap. Worried, Dover paused to look more closely at the house. Light from the northern windows told her that the attackers were concentrated there.

“Roy has a family. An infant, preteen, and twin girls. Get them, and the grandmother out of here. Take Roy’s truck.”

“Are you sure?” Shae asked as they reached the yard.

Dover quickly reloaded from the ammo belts strapped across her middle, filling the shotgun with practiced ease.

“I’m sure. Roy is my responsibility, not his family.” Dover replied, pulling her pistols from their holsters.

“Angels are fucking brutal,” Shae replied. “Which way?”

Dover chose to ignore the claim of brutality as she reached out with the Perception that would tell her where the demons had congregated. She indicated to the bank of windows on the eastern wall of the house.

“Take the windows. The truck keys are in the ignition. Go.”

Before either woman could move, a massive concussive force shook the previously silent street. Dover and Shae dropped to one knee, holding on to the crimson clay of the earth beneath them to keep from being tossed on their backs.

Through the blast of air, Dover heard a familiar voice in the wind. The bittersweet scent of burnt sage brought her a string of muttered Gaelic. Dover grinned to herself.

“Embry.”

She took off at a dead run, Shae breaking off in the center of the street to head around the side of the house. Dover pulled her shotgun from the holster on her back, suddenly glad that her rage-fueled trip to the Bluff had forced her to don full armor for the evening.

A swift kick with one booted foot pulled the door from the hinge. Dover stepped inside, her sawed-off raised in anticipation. She could not, would not, lose a Charge.

In the center of Lupe’s decimated living room stood her best friend in the world, doing battle as though he were an ancient Druid of the Dark Ages. Dover stepped into the whirlwind of power, startling herself when she realized a second after she entered the house that these were not demons.

Astonished by the knowledge, Dover popped open the shotgun in her hands to reload it. The ammunition in the barrels would do nothing but irritate a few angelic creatures. She fumbled in her ammo belt for the newly warded buckshot, sliding shells into place with shaking fingers.

The creatures she faced looked unlike any angelic creatures she’d ever seen. They were smallish creatures, just over five feet tall with lean limbs and elongated fingers tipped with fine nails. Long flaxen hair draped over shoulders as they stood, arms extended toward the ceiling. They chanted in flawless Celestian, spells that Dover did not recognize. A whirlwind of absolute power swirled around Embry.

He stood with his legs braced apart, one hand on a charm bag on a leather thong around his neck and the other extended as he chanted over the whispering Celestian. Whatever Embry was doing, he appeared to be winning even as sweat beaded on his brow.

“BEDROOM! GO!” Embry shouted, breaking his concentration for only a moment. That moment was all the angelic beings needed. One broke rank, making a play for Embry.

The Druid, however, would not be taken by surprise. He brandished the bo staff behind his back, knocking the Celestian back out of the circle. Dover smirked to herself, shouldering her newly-loaded shotgun one more time.

Confident Embry could handle this on his own, Dover darted for the hallway that would lead to the master bedroom. She moved with as much caution as she could with speed being necessary. Dover hoped that Shae had gotten Roy’s mother and children out of the house. There was no way she could get to them and if Embry broke his line, it was likely that Dover would be overwhelmed.

Dover stepped into the short corridor, striding over broken glass and wood, pictures of a happy family having fallen from the wall onto the floor. She tried to ignore the portent of ill will. She wouldn’t lose Roy.

Though the bedroom door was closed, a light flickered in the space between carpet and wood, along with another stiff wind. Dover swallowed hard before she reached out to turn the knob. The double barrels of her weapon remained up high, even as Dover stepped into the horror that was her Charge’s bedroom.

Roy stood with his back against the far wall, Lupe cowering at his feet. Dover blinked, taken aback by the tall, lanky creature he battled on his own.

It was impossibly large, immeasurably thin. Dover could easily see around it, the white blond of its hair whipping in the unnatural wind it created. It wore a loose white tunic and graying trousers, its feet bare. Dover thought the clothing resembled pajamas. As she stepped up behind the thing, she realized it was bleeding. Crimson covered the creature’s shoulder flowing from a wound deepening with every movement.

Roy had his hands out, one batting away the books or photographs that swung toward him on the tornadic wind, the other clutched into a claw-like fashion that seemed to be more offense than defense.

As Dover watched, the angelic creature before her screeched in mangled Celestian, its lips never moving. The wound she had seen on its shoulder deepened, and widened. Blood splashed over the white clothing, even as it slashed at the object of its ire. Sinewy flesh and ropey muscle were exposed moments before the meat tore, and the wound deepened.

Another wound opened on the back, thick and deep and jagged. Dover stepped back, unsure what to think as the bones in the thing’s arm seemed to crush beneath invisible pressure.

Biokinesis. Dover had seen the mind-control of biology only in higher angels. Raziel was exceptionally gifted. She had never seen it used this way and certainly never with the level of precision that she witnessed here.

Roy. Roy was Nephilim.

“Dover!”

His call of her name brought her attention back. Dover lifted the sagging point of her weapon and fired. Buckshot scattered as it left the barrels, spraying the anti-angel warding all over the room.

Dover swept around the thing, trying to move closer to Roy and Lupe. The creature moved again, so this time, Dover aimed for the head. It screamed again, facial tissue torn as the buckshot burrowed into its mark. Veins of black stretched from where the projectiles landed, diseasing the angelic flesh immediately. Dover hadn’t ever seen anything hurt an angel that way.

With those shots spent, she dropped her shotgun to palm both pistols. She hadn’t had a chance to reload them.

“Cover me!” Dover shouted to Roy, moving to step in front of Lupe as the creature swelled itself up to attack again. Though she hadn’t known what he was until this night, Dover trusted her old friend immediately. She was not disappointed.

The Guardian threw the useless clips from her Sigs onto the floor, reaching for the precious two clips Embry had warded for her against Celestian beings. They hadn’t thought she would need more.

When the door pulled away from the wall, leaving a gaping hole where it had once been, Dover realized they were in trouble. She took the butt of her weapon, the sharp edge and turned to the experimental mark Embry had drawn on her that previous evening.

The mark made her invisible, untraceable by angels. Dover mussed the image as well as she could, breaking the line and sending one, desperate thought to the angels of the Arbor.

She couldn’t deny that Hanael’s name was prominent in the message. When she needed help, his name would always surface in her mind first.

In the heartbeat that motion took, Dover realized they were surrounded. Dover couldn’t help the smirk that crossed her lips as the smaller angels moved into the room with murder in their luminous blue eyes.

Battle.

She gave herself over to the siren’s song screaming in her veins. Being lost in the fight was the one true pleasure she had found as a Guardian. Dover lifted both pistols, taking two steps until she stood directly in front of Roy. The resonating crack of her weapons firing was almost impossibly loud. It carried over the bittersweet smell of the wind, bringing the creatures both large and small to focus on her.

Dover had no words, she merely dove into battle without caution or care.

When her ammunition was spent, Dover tossed the weapons away. She pulled the hunting knife she preferred from the holster at her belt, holding it across her forearm with the precision of a professional. The lanky creature joined another of his stature, but the others were smaller.

Embry came in behind the angelic creatures, looking battered and exhausted, but still fighting.

Dover flipped her slender body around one of the angels, digging her blade into another as it made a grab for Roy. The edge slid through flesh as though it were nothing more than wet paper. As wispy and flimsy as the creatures appeared, they were immensely strong. Dover swore under her breath as one of them tossed her toward the wall.

She left a dent in the drywall with her back. Lacking breath did not slow her. The Guardian leaped back to her feet in the space between heartbeats, blade flashing as Roy tore flesh and Embry battled with Earth magic.

She focused on protecting Roy with her body and so, her attention was divided when she heard Embry cry out. The Guardian turned, exposing her back and giving one of the smaller creatures the opening it was looking for.

Dover’s scream caught in her throat when claws dug into her rib cage. The swipe of nail sliced her from under the right breast through to her back. Skin and tissue dragged across bone, caught on the talon’s edge. Immediately, coppery blood pooled at the back of her throat. She stopped fighting, the knife dropping from her hand with a muted thudding to the carpet.

Someone yelled her name, but the voice was so far away. Dover fell to her knees, staring at her bloodied hand holding the shredded flesh of her ribcage. Roy stood across from her, staring with wide eyes as Lupe screamed. Dover swallowed the blood caught in her throat as he thrust his hands out, losing his concentration on the creatures before them.

Pain amplified a moment later, torn flesh screaming with objection. Dover stared curiously as the battle raged around them. Embry’s chanting was still on the air, even as he continued the fight alone. Dover’s skin gave another pained objection, the flesh pulling together and she understood.

Roy was healing her.

She knew, though, that the attempt would be futile. Her wound was mortal.

To her horror, one of the angelic creatures sidled up beside Roy, who appeared too concerned with healing his Guardian to notice. Dover tried to call out a warning, succeeding in only spraying crimson blood over her lips.

Roy did not scream when the creature’s claws slid into his back, piercing his heart until the tip erupted from his chest. Panic crossed his features, but the light in his eyes faded almost instantly. The dual heartbeat she could always tap into, the joining of hers with her Charge slowed to a staccato beat. Then, with little warning, Dover felt her own heart shatter as the connection she carried with her Charge severed forever. Her beloved Roy fell to the floor silently, leaving his wife to throw herself over his body.

Dover continued to bleed, falling onto her front with her eyes locked onto the corpse of someone she loved fiercely. The room stilled as her world came undone.

Dover could not even vocalize her pain.

She blinked heavy eyelids, choking on tears and blood as her body tried to die while her soul mourned. Her mind reached out, desperately, to the hive of the Host, screaming her loss into the joined souls she always found there.

Another swell of pain overtook her and Dover lost herself to darkness.

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