Vampire huntress rebel a.., p.26

Vampire Huntress (Rebel Angels Book 1), page 26

 

Vampire Huntress (Rebel Angels Book 1)
 


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  The two brothers grappled in the sludge, before Rebel pinned Wings beneath him.

  I glanced at the Supreme Commander and the Fallen Army. Not a single vampire stirred, instead watching the gladiatorial combat with glee.

  Rebel bit his lip so hard it bled; his shoulders quivered. He clouted his brother across the face, first one way and then the other. At each word he laid into Wings, ‘Why…won’t…you…forgive…me?’

  Two swollen eyes scowled up at him. ‘Because that’s not redemption.’

  Rebel scrambled back, like his brother had spewed fire.

  I blinked, squinting up into the sky.

  On the opposite side of Hackney to the red dawn crawling behind the Fallen, indigo bled into the sky.

  A violet horizon…flew towards us.

  Wings slunk to his feet. ‘Still a traitor then? You brought your friends to the party?’

  ‘The angels aren’t my mates.’ Rebel had become still; his face ashen. ‘They’re my gaolers.’

  When Wings limped back towards his ranks, Rebel snatched up Eclipse.

  ‘This is war then? Both sides are going to battle over me?’ I clasped Star in sweaty hands. ‘Why am I so special?’

  Rebel grinned, but his eyes were achingly sad. ‘You’re so much more than I’ll ever be. I wish… I’m sorry—’

  ‘Save it. If we’re not sliced into a fine red mist by either side, then I’ll expect the best on your knees apology, with begging and chocolate. But first? We fight.’

  He nodded.

  Butterfly light, the angels landed: an army of pulsing violet winged beauty. I fought not to prostrate myself before them in adoration.

  Yet every one of those angels hadn’t saved me when I’d called out to them.

  Drake marched forward: David to the Supreme Commander’s Goliath. He ignored me, as if the monster in the midst of the two armies was nothing but a pawn.

  Commander Drake was in for a shock.

  ‘The princess belongs to us,’ Drake faced down the Celtic giant, even as his bare feet sank into the mud, and his sheer trousers stuck to his arse in the rain.

  ‘She’s ours, and we intend to take her,’ the Supreme Commander of the Fallens’ gruff response — the counter in a fierce business negotiation — shot flames coiling through my guts.

  The bastard spoke about wanting me, but he wouldn’t even talk to his own son…?

  ‘Hey,’ I yelled, ‘better tell your soldiers to go home. Because nobody owns the Bitch of Utopia.’

  Rebel grinned. We both spun, until we were back-to-back. Then we raised our weapons.

  ‘Is she always like this?’ The Supreme Commander grimaced.

  Drake’s lips curled up, before he coughed, hiding his smile with the back of his hand. ‘Unfortunately, yes.’

  ‘Commander Drake,’ Rebel’s dad asked, with the reluctant respect of one old war leader to another, ‘in your judgement, is she insane enough to fight, regardless of our own battle?’

  Drake lifted an eyebrow at me, before nodding, ‘Supreme Commander Flynn, that would be another yes.’

  Then both Commanders raised their arms in signal.

  Listen to me, you make a choice: black or violet. Bones or feathers. This war is—

  Crazy. A couple of months ago, I thought I was just a regular woman. Before my twenty-first birthday and the fever that changed me, I was only a gamer with a kid sister. But now there’s angels, vampires, and wars between them over me. You want me to choose? I choose humans, J.

  You didn’t choose Jade. In an hour, she’ll be dead. And the angel at your back? He’ll have Fallen.

  I grasped Star so hard the hilt bit into my palm.

  Rebel glanced over his shoulder at me, before gripping my other hand.

  Slam.

  This time the sugary copper spiralled me high, until I was bouncing on my toes, like Rebel. Until we were both grinning like wallads, as Drake sighed…and brought down his arm.

  The steel sweep of beating violet wings, mixed with a wall of grey feathers. Flashes of flame. Shrieks, screams, screeches. Tearing of flesh from tendon and bone: hands and fire.

  Johnny Rotten’s swag punk vocals and the killer guitar riff of “God Save the Queen” looped around my mind, whilst I shanked, barbequed, and booted in the balls.

  Our brutal dance was beautiful.

  Why had I ever let Rebel think he was a bad Custodian?

  He’d freed me, as I’d freed him.

  A hiss of pain, and I twisted to look over my shoulder.

  The Albino Fallen’s claws were sunk into Rebel’s chest. Rebel struggled, pinned and panting. But the Albino Fallen raked his claws, like Legolas’ evil twin, down Rebel’s chest to his guts.

  Rebel howled, swinging Eclipse, but the Albino Fallen crushed his wrist.

  I didn’t notice Ash in the melee, until he’d hooked his arm around the Albino Fallen’s throat. Then he’d dragged the other vampire away from Rebel, into the sea of wings.

  I thrust Star through the nearest wing; the feathers steamed. I yanked back my blade, booting the howling angel.

  Suddenly Ash, his forehead streaked with scarlet, was at my back as well. I shuddered with the solid warmth of his touch.

  And then there were three…

  But for how long?

  Don’t you get it? That doesn’t matter. They have my back now when it counts. I won’t forget it.

  ‘I couldn’t be in debt to you for saving me from frying,’ Ash shot at Rebel, clouting an angel in the nose, ‘or miss this Game of Thrones battle.’

  ‘This is a game?’ Rebel blinked.

  ‘Box set marathon. Pizza. My place,’ Ash twirled to kick the next vampire, but the vampire caught his foot, twisting his leg out of its socket. Then he hurled him back into the ranks of the Fallen.

  Away from us.

  Wings.

  He was the bastard who’d dragged Ash back to the side of the Fallen.

  I turned to help, only for Rebel to snatch my arm. ‘He’s after using the Brigadier as bait.’

  ‘What?’

  Wings jumped on Ash’s arm.

  Crack.

  I flinched as Ash’s arm broke, and then as Wings stomped on it again.

  Ash’s bellow rose above the clash of the battle.

  I quivered, burying my shank in a vampire’s guts; his squeal equaled Ash’s.

  Crack.

  I cringed.

  I couldn’t lose myself in the beauty of the fight and the beat of the Sex Pistols anymore, only the crunch of bones, blast of fire, and gash of the shank.

  Crack.

  I turned my head towards Ash, almost missing the flash of movement behind me.

  Rebel.

  I whirled, but an angel with shiny jet braids to her waist and glowing ebony skin, had already pinned Rebel’s arms at his side, wrapping her wings around him like a Venus flytrap.

  One hard yank and Rebel had been swallowed into the pulsing angelic mouth.

  I howled, searing a blistering path across grey and violet wings alike.

  But Ash and Rebel were lost.

  I was alone.

  Crack.

  I swung Star, shuddering at Ash’s pain. Then I sprang over crumpled bodies for a glimpse of Rebel. He’d been pushed to his knees; Drake’s fingers pressed at the base of his neck.

  I’d sworn Rebel would never be touched by Drake again. That he’d never go back into the dark.

  Star fell limp in my hand as I collapsed to the muddy grass.

  Tears joined the rain streaming down my face; their salt was tangy on my lips.

  I’d saved the world but I’d sacrificed…everything.

  I’d known I would. But that didn’t make it easier.

  Get that hoochie ass up. Since when did you give up?

  It’s not giving up to save my blokes. They’ve earned that.

  Someone dragged me backwards by my feet, banging my head against the ground.

  Bump, bump, bump.

  I sprawled in a d
irt splattered heap.

  Past the sound of my own quick breathing, the fast thump of my heart, and the heavy drum of rain against my face, I could hear how silent London Fields had fallen.

  They’d stopped torturing Ash and hadn’t violated Rebel then.

  A bitch could get used to this positive thinking.

  I stared up at the bearded Supreme Commander, who scrutinised me back. The soft corner of his coat swung against my face like seaweed. Then he tangled his meaty hand in my hair and wrenched me up onto my knees.

  I hissed, stumbling to crawl after him, as he dragged me forward through the parting ranks across the battlefield. When he stopped, I looked up through panicked eyes — straight into Rebel’s.

  Drake held Rebel on his knees by a hand at his neck, inches from where the Supreme Commander gripped me.

  This time, Rebel didn’t even try to smile. Terror vibrated from him in shuddering waves.

  ‘We both have something the other wants,’ Drake shook Rebel, like he was a sewer rat. ‘So, I propose an exchange: the princess, for your son.’

  The Supreme Commander’s hold tightened in my hair. ‘Tactical error, Commander. Maybe because you were raised… broken? You never did understand emotion, Duma. You see, I already have my true son.’

  The Supreme Commander glanced at Wings, who stole to stand at his dad’s shoulder, leaving Ash curled in a ball with his left arm shattered.

  Wings’ face was a swollen bruise, but he didn’t look as satisfied to see his brother a prisoner as I’d expected. Instead, he glowered at me.

  Rebel snarled, wrestling to break free from Drake. ‘Da, please, I’ll prove—’

  ‘The traitor chose you when the battle lines were drawn.’ The Supreme Commander’s hand wound even tighter in my hair. ‘Keep him. We only have room for true rebels.’

  Whoops and catcalls.

  Wings didn’t join in.

  Rebel slumped to the mud, and Drake didn’t stop him.

  ‘You know what will happen to me if I leave without the princess,’ Drake’s voice was low and careful.

  The Supreme Commander nodded but his grin was feral. ‘Now to win her, boy, you’ll have to fight.’

  The leader of the Fallen Armies launched me to the side, at the same time as Drake flung Rebel. Our foreheads banged in a star blinding crack.

  Then Rebel’s arms flung around me, pulling me against his chest, as if he could still save us. But it was too late. Because we were the winner’s trophies.

  The angel and vampire armies circled. Wings passed the Supreme Commander a giant two headed black axe. The Supreme Commander swung it from side-to-side. It hissed through the air, as he tested its weight.

  Drake paced forward in nothing but silk harem trousers, which slipped down his hips. Then he stretched out his glorious wings, their beat loud in the hush, and rose into the sky.

  The Supreme Commander rushed Drake like a bull, lifting up at the last moment.

  They clashed mid-air, battling across the dawn-tinged heavens; the axe sliced and gashed, whilst Drake’s speed was mesmerising. Drake slipped under the swing of the axe, booting the Supreme Commander bloody.

  I gasped when I realised these supernatural creatures had only been playing with us before, like a cat does with a mouse it’s already caught.

  The ancient forces inside me rose up, greedy and thrilled, thirsting for this power. If this was what I could learn in Angel World, then I wouldn’t be the one helpless on my knees.

  Yeah, power, it’s an addiction.

  When Drake’s wing slashed down across the Supreme Commander’s back, crashing him to the ground like Zeus’ thunderous fall to earth, I grinned.

  Gank him… Do it… Do it now…

  Then I heard Rebel’s sob.

  Rebel’s dad was a bastard, but Rebel was about to witness…

  The skank with the braids lobbed a huge sword with a hilt built out of violet feathers to Drake. He laid the blade, fizzing with fire, over the Supreme Commander’s neck.

  Then sliced it down.

  ‘Christ, no…’ Rebel hurled himself to his dad.

  At the same time, Wings staggered to his knees next to Rebel.

  Both their flame red heads bowed over the fallen vampire. Their backs shook with silent, united grief.

  How could I’ve wished for that?

  The shadow of Rebel’s grief shrouded me through the bond.

  In the veil of the rain swept park, less than an hour before dawn woke over London Fields, two armies stood in shock over the death of a leader.

  Drake threw down his sword, before prowling towards me. Both sides quailed before him.

  ‘I’ve won you,’ Drake held out his hand: it was shaking. ‘You’re my prize. Zachriel too.’

  It was the shaking that did it.

  So, Drake was dangerous? A killer of vampires?

  How many had I killed in Tower Block B? Wasn’t I a huntress? And now Drake was scared of me?

  I clutched Drake’s hand, surging up and crushing his fingers. ‘You haven’t won me, Commander.’ He tried to pull away, but I squeezed harder; scarlet tears bled between where our hands joined. ‘You’re mine.’

  He jerked. ‘Don’t—’

  ‘You bastard angels lost me twenty-one years ago.’ Dark pleasure snaked at the alarm dancing in his eyes. ‘Now I’m coming home.’

  He tossed his curls to control the pain. ‘As you like. Angel World, however, may not be quite as you hope. Remember I warned you.’

  The dark pleasure curdled to fear.

  I dropped Drake’s hand — his blood sticky on my palm — at the anguish that’d flashed across his face, before he’d buried it.

  But I’d been brought up in Jerusalem Children’s Home. I’d savoured every flavour of trauma from the kids who’d passed through.

  Drake wasn’t kidding: Angel World was no heaven.

  I drew back, but Drake cradled his small hand around my neck, his thumb pressing into the base. ‘Allow me to escort you home, princess.’

  Dawn over London Fields exploded into violet.

  29

  Vampires? Angels? All I know is they’re both bastards.

  And I hunt bastards.

  The problem is: I’m both vampire and angel.

  So, what does that make me?

  Monster? Princess?

  When the violet fractured — jagged edges of a mirror reflecting my own dazed face back in an endless tunnel — I collapsed onto the cave floor. And into a crushing dark.

  I shivered. My breath puffed in painful frozen wheezes. My knees bruised on the icy rock. A dank foulness caught at the back of my throat; I gagged.

  I staggered up, feeling along the cavern’s wall.

  Hell, I thought it was vampires who didn’t like the light?

  Rebel had hated…

  Rebel…

  Weak violet pulsed from someone huddled in the corner.

  If it was Rebel, then he hadn’t Fallen. His wings were restored again.

  I grinned, shuffling towards the light, but yelped when my foot hit something hard. I groped around testing the rock.

  Bars speared from floor to ceiling.

  Rebel’s cell: a birdcage prison.

  I dropped to my knees next to Rebel. He looked small. Toy-like. Broken.

  I paled, and unsure what to do, gripped the cold bars.

  Rebel didn’t even look at me. He was bent over, his hands clutching his head as he whimpered, ‘Bad angels are punished. Bad angels are punished. Bad angels…’

  He was naked.

  His punk clothes had been stripped away. Even his collar had been taken, and I flinched at that, remembering his distress when I’d touched it.

  My sister’s necklace in the pouch around his neck — my gift to him — stood out stark.

  And Rebel’s wings…

  Yeah, they were violet. But his broken, bent left wing had been bound down with stiff leather straps against his back.

  …The gits strapped it down…You
do that? It’s the worst pain an angel can endure…

  I’d have fought battles right then to see Rebel’s wings outstretched and whole.

  For his freedom to fly.

  Yet Rebel had betrayed me for his family.

  I shouldn’t care. Vengeful joy should’ve been spiralling through me to see the bloke who’d played me, kneeling back in his cell.

  Then why was it despair howling through me instead?

  The pretty boy fell into your lap for a reason. And you chose to bind him to you by blood.

  So, what? Next step wedding dress shopping?

  You shouldn’t be alone, girl, not in Angel World.

  Some of these angelic assholes can worm into your mind like Drake. If they find me? We both die.

  But I am alone.

  Are you listening? The punk bitch needs an ass whipping for what he did. But his daddy died today. And he’s the only one, despite everything, that you can trust now.

  I thought I was home.

  Who said anything about home being safe?

  I hesitated, before reaching my hand through the bars to stroke Rebel’s soft hair.

  ‘Bad angels are punished. Bad angels are punished…’ Rebel hunched over.

  I tilted his chin, trying to focus his gaze on me. His face was scored with scarlet slashes, where his dad had struck him.

  ‘Bad angels are punished. Bad…’ He faltered, like he was only just noticing me. Then he flushed with bright shame. ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t protect you.’

  I couldn’t stop the tears slipping down my cheeks.

  His head tilted as he watched the tears, before raising his trembling hand to touch them.

  I knocked him away harder than I’d intended; he cried out, his wrist hitting the rock bar.

  I scrubbed my eyes harshly with the back of my sleeve. ‘We’re not ganked, which means I’m waiting on your best apology with begging. If not, you’re number one on my List of Asses to Kick.’

  I wished I hadn’t made the weak joke, the moment Rebel uncurled with agonising difficulty and pulled himself onto his knees.

  Crimson gashes bloodied his chest and a band of bruises swelled over broken ribs. ‘I’m kneeling, Feathers, and if it’s begging you want: please forgive me. I’m not good. I never was. And I never fibbed about that but I tried, for you. To pretend I could be a Custodian…and give you the choices I never had. Even if you don’t understand yet. But I don’t expect you to forgive me.’ Rebel’s hands clenched into fists, and I remembered the way they’d pounded into his brother’s face when Wings had refused to forgive…what? What terrible sin had Rebel been trying to make up for by sacrificing me? He hung his head. ‘I don’t deserve it.’

 
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