Home > Reaper Unhinged (Deadside Reapers #6)(7)

Reaper Unhinged (Deadside Reapers #6)(7)
Author: Debbie Cassidy

“I do. I mean, I did.” She looks up at him, eyes brimming. “But I don’t want to. I stopped wanting what he offered a long time ago. I told myself it would never happen anyway, so what was the harm in continuing, and in truth, I wanted to protect the cadets I’d grown to love. I knew if he discovered that I’d gone soft, he’d send a replacement.”

He would do more than that. “He would kill you.”

“I don’t care about my life. But these cadets, these wonderful younglings with such promise…I could not let them be hurt.”

“So, you stayed,” Uriel says. “And now what?”

“Now, Mammon has Lilith, and he’s sent word to his agents. He’s mobilizing his forces. I had my orders yesterday.”

“And?” Uriel probes.

“I’m meant to take the cadets to the Underealm on the pretext of a field trip. Mammon wishes to add them to his army.” She gives me a level gaze. “Just as he wishes to add the rest of the cadets from the other academies.”

Fuck. “Jenkins, warn the other academies. Do it now.”

He rushes from the room.

“There’s more,” Luena continues. “He wanted me to set off an explosion on a timer to blow once we were clear of the place.” She shakes her head. “I haven’t set it up. I…I knew I had to come clean, but when I don’t arrive at the rendezvous point with the cadets, he’ll know I backed out, and he will send someone else to do his dirty work. Maybe more than one person.”

“Then we make sure we’re prepared,” Uriel says. “We’ll triple the wards on the academies.”

Luena exhales and nods. “Thank you. You can lock me up now.”

I grip her chin and force her to look at me. “Oh you’re not getting off so easily, demon. You’re going to tell me exactly where this rendezvous point is, and then we’re going to stage a little coup of our own.”

Chapter Eight

Fee

Cassius led me up two flights of stairs and into a plush part of the Beyond, where a bloodstained carpet led to a set of firmly closed golden doors.

A Dominion stood in front of the doors, shoulders slumped. He straightened as Cassius approached but didn’t move out of the way.

“Semil, open the doors,” Cassius demanded.

“I cannot,” Semil said. “The Righteous have sealed the chamber from within, and the lock will only disengage once all the Dread have been slaughtered.”

Cassius looked like he needed a few curses, but so far, I hadn’t heard him swear.

I’d do it for him. “Fucking hell.”

Cassius grunted in agreement. “Typical,” he muttered. “Hiding away, saving their own skins.” He walked away from the door. “How many left?”

Semil pulled out a tablet from his back pocket and studied it. “Forty on radar. Clustered in sector four, sublevel two.”

“We best get back to work then.” He pulled his sword from his belt. “Stay here,” he ordered me.

“Like hell. I’m coming with you. I can help.” And this time, my scythe appeared like a dutiful weapon to illustrate my point.

“Fine,” he said. “But try to keep up.”

Sublevel two was smooth silver metal walls and gridded metal floors. Cassius stopped us at a set of swipe doors.

“Looks like Celestia locked down this area,” Cassius said. “She must have sensed an influx of signatures that weren’t meant to be here.”

“What about personnel?” one of the Dominions asked.

Cassius didn’t answer the question, but his face said it all.

If the celestials trapped in there weren’t warriors, then they were most likely dead.

I cleared my throat. “Can we get in?”

“I can try to override,” one of the other Dominions said.

“Do it,” Cassius ordered.

The younger Dominion set to work on the panel by the door. God, this was weird. The Beyond governed by technology—panels, sliding doors, and overrides.

Long minutes passed, and I could see Cassius was getting impatient from the way he kept tapping his foot.

But then the panel fizzed and made a popping sound.

“I think that should do it,” the Dominion said. “Just need your code.” He stepped back, and Cassius took his place.

“Be ready,” he said, and then he placed his palm on the panel.

The doors swung open and screams tore through the air.

Fuck, the door had blocked sound.

The Dominions moved fast, pouring into the corridor beyond.

Cassius gave me a stern look. “Do not get killed.”

And then he was gone. I took a deep breath, allowing heat to course through my veins in readiness for battle, and then I followed.

The next few minutes were a blur of blood and death. The Dominion swords glowed like my scythe, stripping heads from shoulders and eviscerating.

I stepped over dead celestials and bloody, torn wings to cut down the Dread responsible. Yes, they’d been given a dud deal, but this…This was bringing calamity on us all, and it had to be stopped.

The sublevel was made up of chambers lined with cells and linked by corridors. There were beings behind the doors. I could sense them. Prisoners like Uriel had been? No time to think. I fought on instinct, my body a weapon as I ducked and dove, evaded and attacked. I caught a glimpse of Cassius to my right as he plunged his sword through a Dread’s mouth so the end protruded out the back of the creature’s head.

Nephilim and third-generation Dread were here, but soon they would be no more.

“Up there!” a Dominion shouted. “On the balcony.” He ran for the stairs, wings flaring as he took off in the air. A Dread came out of nowhere and grabbed his wing, yanking him down.

The Dominion careened in the air, taken off balance by the weight of the Dread. I broke into a sprint and skidded to a halt, close enough to plunge my blade into the Dread’s back.

The Dominion was free. He shot up after the other Dread. The one stuck on my blade pitched forward, pulling himself off the steel. He turned to me, hands in the air.

“You don’t understand,” he said. “If we die, they die. If we die, they starve.”

I brought my scythe up, ready to make the death swing that would take off his head, but he moved fast, using some final reserve of strength, passing out of range but not away from me, toward me, and then his hands were on my head, gripping me hard.

“See!” he screamed in my face.

My vision went white, and something surged up from the back of my mind. No. Not this time. Never again.

“Fuck you!” I stabbed him in the face with my obsidian dagger.

I staggered back, suddenly free, and the silence registered.

Eerie and complete. Around me, Dominion flexed and folded their armored wings.

“Clear!” Cassius said.

I wiped my bloody hands on my pants. “Now let’s get that fucking audience with the Righteous.”

This time the Dominion guarding the golden doors stepped aside, and the doors swung open to admit us.

Cassius ordered his men to stay behind but didn’t stop me from following him into the vast chamber beyond. It was a circular room with several balconies, but the celestials were all gathered around an impressive-looking table on the ground floor. Silver goblets and trays of strange glowing fruits covered the surface.

My ire rose at the sight. While we were out there busting our asses to kill the Dread, they’d been cloistered in here sipping beverages and eating magical fruit.

The Righteous, my fucking ass. They were cowards. Look at them in their flowy robes with their pinched faces and silver hair.

“Cassius, the threat is averted. Well done,” one of the Righteous said.

“Lianel, the Dread are all dead, but we’re losing power fast,” Cassius said.

The Righteous exchanged glances. “Yes. We are aware. Which is why we have decided to initiate protocol Flagship.”

Cassius went very still. “You wish to abandon our home?”

“We are at a juncture where there is no other alternative. Seats are limited. Righteous, of course, will be given priority. You’ll select twenty of your best men, and the rest of the seats will be filled with domestic celestials. We will use the last of the power we have to propel the Flagship into the ether.”

Wait a fucking second. “You’re leaving? You’re running away?”

Lianel transferred his pale, wishy-washy gaze to me. “You have not been given leave to speak, demon.”

“Dominus.” I glared at him. “I’m a Dominus, and I can’t believe you’re giving up.”

“Cassius, why does it continue to speak?” Lianel sounded genuinely confused.

“Seraphina Dawn is a descendant of Samael,” Cassius said.

Lianel’s brows twitched upwards. “Is she now? It explains her insubordination.”

“Last I checked, I worked for Lilith. You, we work with. And giving up is the coward’s way out.”

Lianel sighed. “There is no other way, child.”

“That’s not what you thought centuries ago when you sent a troop of Powers to the Underealm.”

His lips pinched, and he turned an icy gaze onto Cassius.

Cassius didn’t flinch. “If there is a power source out there, however dangerously placed, we need to know. We have to try.”

“Celestials died,” Lianel said. “Have you any idea how difficult it is to snuff out a celestial?”

“And more will die when you abandon them here and fly off in your flagship.” I stepped forward, sweeping my gaze over the gathered Righteous. “Whatever you were after is still out there. I can get it for you. All you need to do is tell me where it is. Give me a chance to save this world and mine.”

“Lianel, what do you have to lose?” Cassius asked.

“Time,” Lianel said. “We are short on time.” He sighed and studied me for a long beat, and then he closed his eyes. The other Righteous did the same, and their foreheads began to glow.

   
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