Angel fever, p.21
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       Angel Fever, p.21

         Part #3 of Angel series by L. A. Weatherly
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Page 21

 

  Lamar slammed him into the car again. “Don’t give me that! All that fiddling around with the gate in our own world – all those times you insisted you had to go over alone – and now this! You’ve torn us apart!”

  “Get him!”

  “Kill him!”

  As if by magic, Bascal and his gang had descended then; there’d been a brief but violent fracas, angels scrabbling in both human and ethereal forms, shifting to their winged selves, fighting on the ground and in the air. It hadn’t taken long for Bascal’s lot to subdue the shocked, panicked crowd.

  Finally Raziel stood panting, a bruise on one cheek. “Will you listen to sense?” he hissed at Lamar, held in a headlock by Bascal.

  “There’s nothing you can say,” gasped out Lamar. “No justification you could possibly—”

  Raziel raised his voice, sending it ringing out over the crowd. “What if I did separate us? Do you realize it would only have taken the deaths of barely over a hundred more for us to destroy us all?”

  Anguished faces stared back at him. Behind them, Raziel could see some of the arriving angels – stunned, making hasty landings. Others were still in the air, reeling like shot birds.

  “It wasn’t a decision for you to make alone!” cried someone. “You had no right!”

  “I had every right,” said Raziel in a low voice. “Because that is what a leader does. If I’d asked you, what would you have said? Oh, Raziel, no, no, we can’t let that happen! And then we’d be vulnerable, open to attack whenever the Angel Killers finally decide to strike! You should be on your knees thanking me for having the fortitude to go through with this. ”

  “The Angel Killers?” echoed another angel. “But they’re all dead!”

  The patient in the Austin Eden hospital bed had flashed into Raziel’s mind. “We don’t know that,” he said harshly. “And it doesn’t matter. It just might occur to other humans to question what’s going on here. What about that wretched Voice of Freedom? If only a handful of humans acted, we could have been exterminated – extinct! Now we’re safe for ever. ”

  The angels had visibly deflated as he spoke. Now they just looked frightened and unsure. Lamar slumped against Bascal’s grip; at a signal from Raziel, the little thug loosened his hold with a smirk.

  “Safe, but at what cost?” Lamar moaned. “I can’t feel anyone. I’m just locked inside my own head! First the Council and now this – soon there won’t be anything left of what makes us angels!”

  For a startled moment, Raziel thought Lamar was blaming him for the Council’s deaths as well, then realized he was speaking more generally. Lamar didn’t know. No one could.

  “Then we’ll become a new breed of angels,” he said in a crisp voice. “This is about survival. ”

  Lamar’s head snapped up, his eyes hard. “Survival,” he repeated. “And I suppose this will help us survive too?” He gripped Raziel’s hand. At first Raziel was too surprised to pull away, and then slow horror grew. He struggled to keep his face impassive.

  The psychic link between angels had always been immediate, enhanced by physical connection. The unfamiliar silence in his head was bad enough, but this…

  Lamar’s hand was merely a hand: warm flesh coating muscle and bone. When Raziel concentrated, hard, he got a glimmer of emotion.

  That was all.

  He let go of the other angel’s fingers. Lamar looked as sick as he felt. The angels’ psychic bond was at the heart of all angelic interaction – even at its most innocuous levels, their society revolved around both psychic sharing and subterfuge. Without it, they were what? Human? No – never, Raziel told himself, shaken.

  “As I said, we will have to become new angels,” he said, his voice giving away nothing.

  He shifted to his angel form and lifted into the air. For several minutes he hovered defiantly before them. And for the first time ever in a gathering of angels, no psychic undercurrents stirred. With the arriving angels, there were enough in the parking lot now to take on Bascal and his gang, had they tried – instead they stood glancing uncertainly at one another, wondering what to do, how to act in this new state of being. No one moved.

  And Raziel knew that he had won.

  “Spread the word among the new arrivals,” he said finally. “We have room for some here in Denver Eden; the rest will need to go to Edens elsewhere. My staff at the Church have the details. ”

  His smile was cold, insincere. “And now, if you’ll excuse me. ”

  At the hospital ward’s waiting area, a pair of angels stood talking – they turned as one when Raziel approached. From their body language, they were unhappy but trying to hide it.

  The room was empty apart from them; this was the restricted ward. “Anything?” asked a male angel with tousled blond hair.

  Raziel shook his head. “I’m pretty certain we already have all there is to get – that’s why I’ve decided to let Salt Lake Eden have its fun with our esteemed guest. ”

  The male angel was named Gallad, one of Raziel’s cronies of old – he’d just come across with the Third Wave. He lifted an eyebrow, as if trying to put the best face on things. “Well, you never know. Mind if I try?”

  Raziel gave a sardonic bow. “Be my guest. ”

  The angel headed off. The remaining one, a svelte dark-haired female named Therese, sank into one of the blue plastic chairs. “I still can’t believe you did it,” she said after a pause. “Gallad and I were just talking about it. I’ll never get used to this. ”

  This past week it had felt as if Raziel were perched on a shifting mountain of sand. It drove him mad that he couldn’t sense what the other angels were feeling and thinking. They seemed too stunned still to band together and overthrow him – but how could he be sure? He’d ordered Bascal to keep patrols going, ready to crush any sign of dissent.

  At least he could trust Gallad and Therese – as much as he could trust any angels now, which perhaps wasn’t saying a lot. He sat beside her. “I had no choice,” he said tersely. “I would do it again in a second. I won’t be dragged down by the deaths of others. ”

  “Or the presence of others?” Therese asked, her tone suddenly arch.

  He glanced sharply at her; she gave a pointed smile. “Imagine, just a dimension away but no way to get here,” she said in a soft sing-song. “They must be furious. ”

  Raziel laughed then; he couldn’t help it. When he’d separated the angels, he’d also used the energy field in their world to destroy the gate between dimensions – and made it impossible for new gates out of their world to be formed. There were still several thousand angels now trapped there, all violently opposed to Raziel. Picturing them slowly starving as the ether died had cheered him more than once this last week.

  He rose, suddenly restless. “I’ll see you and Gallad back at the church,” he said. The two angels were thinking of moving here to Austin Eden; for now they were all staying in his church quarters.

  Therese’s beautiful face grew pale. “You’re leaving? But—”

  “Only for a while. ” Raziel tried to squelch his irritation – he’d noticed that many angels didn’t like being left alone any more; they tended to travel in small packs or not at all.

 
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