Home > Fallen Academy: Year Two (Fallen Academy #2)(9)

Fallen Academy: Year Two (Fallen Academy #2)(9)
Author: Leia Stone

I raised my hand and Lincoln nodded in my direction.

“Inferno?” I asked.

Lincoln smirked. “We’ve named all of the local demon strongholds after the levels of Hell in Dante’s Inferno. The city of Treacherous, formerly San Francisco, is the most powerful demon stronghold in the world.”

I wanted to chuckle at the silly names, but his statement gave me chills. It reminded me that we were a small part of a very big problem that extended all over the world. Every major city, in every state, in every country was divided—Angel City on one side and Demon City on the other.

When the bus dipped onto a side road, I saw streetlights up ahead, and the buildings looked more and more put together. Lincoln’s hand moved to rest on the butt of his gun as we rolled closer to Inferno.

“I want everyone to just look outside the windows, get accustomed to this town, because it’s our current base. The goal is to take it back, then extend the wall of Angel City out here, and start cleaning it up,” Lincoln announced. “But that’s obviously confidential. Fallen family only,” he added.

“Fallen family” was another word for the army. That meant any of this intel could be shared among others in the Fallen Army but no civilians.

Wow, we’re going to be taking an entire city back from the demons? The thought was both thrilling and terrifying.

As we pulled onto the main road, I started to hear music and see a hustle and bustle of people scurrying along the sidewalks.

My eyes landed on a Mugwort demon. They were total alcoholics, and you could tell one not just by the yellowish bone-colored horns that protruded off their warty faces, but also by their drunken walk. The one I saw now was swaying with a beer in his hand, singing something.

Shea and I kicked one in the balls once. They were lecherous assholes, constantly hitting on women. The one Shea and I had attacked had been too hammered to retaliate, so luckily, we’d gotten away scot-free.

As if he wanted to prove my thought, I saw the Mugwort demon reach out to a passing woman who looked human and grab her ass.

I waited for her to smack him with her purse, or flip him off, or at least scowl, but she didn’t. She just gave him a hollow look and kept walking, like maybe she’d been grabbed too many times to react anymore.

Oh God.

It was such a small thing to notice, but it affected me deeply, as deeply as if I’d seen an innocent woman murdered or raped. Because they were the same. They’d broken that woman’s spirit, and that was as horrifying as death to me.

My eyes flew to a street fight that was in progress, and I gasped when I saw it was children. The two boys didn’t look more than twelve years old, but they were throwing punches that resembled those of a trained fighter. Demons stood in a circle around them, cheering them on, and waving dollar bills in the air.

No.

“Don’t look away.” Lincoln’s voice shook me from my trance, and I pulled my eyes from the fight to see him speaking to one of the other rookies on our team—Valerie, a Necromancer. “You have to see what we’re up against, and you have to get the shock over with, because the next time we bring you in here, we’re going to need your help. We need to save these people, and we can’t do it without you,” he declared.

Something unfurled in my chest then. A deep purpose was growing within me; I was having a total paradigm shift. I no longer wanted to just get by and have a job for money. I wanted to fight, I wanted to be the greatest soldier the Fallen Army had ever seen, and I wanted to kill every demon on this Earth. I also wanted to be a healer like Noah, running out into the trenches, and healing humans from their demon-inflicted injuries. The two opposites warred inside of me.

Lincoln’s eyes met mine and something passed between us. I could see it in his eyes—this was his passion too. Each time he came out here, I wondered why he kept coming back. He was always getting injured, or was gone for weeks at a time, but now I knew. We needed to liberate these people.

I needed to find James. My old friend from Demon City was Sighted. He would be able to tell me if the prophecy regarding Lucifer and me was true. Because if it was, I was going to kill that bastard. Even if it cost me my life. I wanted the world back the way it was when I was a kid. Yeah, bad shit still happened, but nothing like this. If I could do that, then I could think of nothing better for which to live my life.

Lincoln’s walkie-talkie squawked, interrupting my life-pondering.

“All available units near Madison and 4th, requesting help. I’ve got a Succubus demon trying to take a little girl. Repeat, all available units, please respond.” Lincoln’s eyes widened and we all just stared at him. He wasn’t answering the call.

What the hell is a Succubus demon? I’d never seen or heard of one, other than in horror films.

“Someone else will answer. We’re not taking calls tonight,” Lincoln told the van filled with terrified rookies.

Standing, Noah walked to the front of the bus, where Lincoln’s hand was poised over the walkie-talkie.

“Mayday!” The voice came back, more urgent that time. “All available units to Madison and 4th. This innocent kid is going to die!” he shouted.

Lincoln cursed and picked up the walkie-talkie as Noah instructed our driver.

“Sergeant Lincoln Grey here. I’m with a team of rooks on a sightseeing quest, not cleared for missions. What’s your status?”

“Lincoln! It’s Tanner,” a new voice came over the walkie. “We’re at the Madison Apartments doing our street patrol, and the girl’s mom ran out screaming for us. I tried to enter the apartment, but the Succubus threw me across the room. She’s already taken one kid. They were twins.”

My whole body flinched as bile rose in my throat. “Tell him we’re coming!” I shouted and stood.

Were. He said they were twins. That meant….

Lincoln cut me a glare and spoke into the walkie. “Noah and I are coming to assist. I’ll have the driver take my rooks back to Angel City. ETA two minutes.”

Pushing out of my seat, I beelined it for my boyfriend. My sergeant. My asshole, who was about to tell me I couldn’t go inside.

I tried to lower my voice. “Sir, we may not be trained for missions, but we all passed the gauntlet. If it means saving this little kid’s life, then let us help you.”

Lincoln looked down at me like I was a child. “Do you know what a Succubus demon is? Have you ever seen one?”

I squirmed, holding onto the rail as we took a hard turn. “No.”

Lincoln looked pleased with himself, as if he’d won some battle with me. “It’s the only female demon we’ve ever seen, and she’s a fucking nightmare. She feeds off children’s fear and bad dreams, which usually kills them from the shock. Then she escapes into open portals back to Hell, which she leaves open so more demons can filter through.”

I winced.

“Oh, and she shoots razor blades from her mouth for fun,” Lincoln added.

Well, that definitely didn’t sound awesome, but it only served to reinforce my point. “You can’t take her on with only four of you. You need all of us, especially me. I have dark magic, and I can use it against her.”

It was the first time in a long time that I’d ever thought about using it.

“We’re going!” Shea shouted and stood. I turned around to see the other rookies suiting up, adjusting their weapons and tightening belts.

Lincoln gave me a death glare. “Has anyone ever told you that you’re really bad at obeying orders?”

I nodded. “All the time. So what’s the plan?”

Lincoln sighed, his eyes dropping to my wrist cuffs.

“You have Sera?” he asked.

I pulled her from my thigh holster.

Lincoln looked back at Noah, who nodded.

“Okay, here’s the plan. Noah, the other two senior Fallen Army guards, and I will go in first. We alone will battle the Succubus while you guys split into three groups. The first group will grab the dead child’s body and bring it back to the van so this poor mother can have a proper burial. The second group will grab the other little girl, hopefully still alive, and ferry her to the van to be with her mother.”

We all nodded our understanding, and then he looked at Shea. “You closed that Hell portal one time. Think you can do it again?”

Shea nodded without hesitation. “Absolutely.” She’d been working with Mr. Claymore in her advanced independent study, and was doing all kinds of stuff she shouldn’t know how to do yet.

“The third group, which will consist of Luke, Shea, and Brielle, will close the portal and make sure everyone gets out of the apartment alive,” he finished with a heavy sigh.

I nodded. He was letting me go in, giving me a big job, and I wasn’t even nervous. That was weird.

Noah crossed the space, and placed a hand on my shoulder. “You’re the only healer here besides Lincoln and me. Remember that. If the girl is injured and it’s minor, you can help heal her while we’re battling the Succubus.”

I gave him a curt nod. I forgot sometimes that I was all of those things: fighter, healer, part angel, part dark magic wielder.

Lincoln threw a sideways glance at me. “Don’t be a hero. Let us handle this, and you just extract the little girl. Do you understand, Atwater?”

Me? Be the hero? Never.

I grinned. “Yes. Sir.”

Our bus pulled up to the curb, where I could see two Fallen Army soldiers comforting a grieving mother.

Lincoln held the walkie to his mouth. “All available units make your way to Madison Apartments. We’re going in to sequester the Succubus.”

The radio squawked. “I’m inbound, but I’m a good twenty minutes from you,” said a familiar voice over the radio. Darren.

“She’ll be dead by then,” Lincoln told us. Over the radio, he simply acknowledged Darren, and then we were moving out.

“Luke, can you shift for me? I might need you to knock the door in,” Lincoln asked the Beast Shifter.

Luke nodded. “Men, always using me just for my body,” he joked and then disappeared behind some bushes. The two Fallen Army soldiers helped the grieving mother onto the bus, then gave Lincoln and the group a rundown of the situation.

“She’s powerful. She chucked me across the room like a tornado,” one soldier said. I glanced down at the insignia on his chest to see he was a Necromancer.

Lincoln nodded. “Let’s move. We don’t have a lot of time.”

We quickly split up into the groups of three, while the driver stayed behind to keep the mother on the bus.

As we were taking the steps up to the second floor, Luke roared behind us, announcing his presence.

“You scared the shit out of me!” Shea shrieked at him as his fur brushed against my leg. He bounded along beside us and then squeezed past me, knocking my body into Shea. Soon he was at the front of the line, right beside Lincoln.

   
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