Angel fever, p.43
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       Angel Fever, p.43

         Part #3 of Angel series by L. A. Weatherly
Page 43


  There were seven of them; from hidden cameras, it was obvious how close-knit they were. Good. Raziel ordered two of them sacrificed immediately and made sure the others heard. Standing alone outside a door in the downstairs corridor, Raziel inspected his nails as the frantic, pleading shouts echoed and finally ended. This sort of thing was beyond crass, but necessary.

  Finally he entered a room. They’d separated the AKs, and a girl – Chloe, he believed – sat huddled in the corner, crying. She flinched when she saw him.

  “Do you know this girl?” he asked, holding up a photo of Willow.

  Her face emptied of colour. “No, I – I’ve never seen her before,” she stammered.

  Raziel smiled. “In other words, yes, you do. Everyone knows who Willow Fields is. Your lie is rather obvious, my dear. Where is she?”

  Chloe looked sick. “I mean, I know who she is, but I don’t know her – not personally. ”

  Raziel perched on a table, one foot still on the floor;he swung his other leg casually. “You heard the screams, I suppose. Tracy and Paul, I believe, were their names?”

  Her face contorted and she pressed her cheek against the wall, her throat working.

  “It would be such a shame if anyone else had to die,” Raziel went on mildly. “Especially when this is all rather futile. We will find your intrepid leaders, you know. We can just do it with more deaths, or without. Which do you prefer?”

  “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she whispered.

  How tedious. Raziel held back a sigh as he took out his cellphone and dialled. “Another one,” he ordered. “And I think you’d better do it in here. Chloe doesn’t seem convinced yet of how serious we are. ”

  It took two more AKs in the end; Raziel was tetchily wondering whether he’d have to start bringing in random strangers off the street next. But Chloe finally broke, sobbing out that the Angel Killers were in Nevada. She didn’t know exactly where; they had an underground base in the desert north-west of Vegas, about a hundred miles out. And other groups of AKs had also been sent into the field, though she didn’t know where they were either.

  Raziel held back a smile. He hadn’t even asked about that last part – they’d definitely made progress. He touched Chloe’s face, his fingers lingering. She was really a very attractive girl.

  “Well done,” he said. “And now suppose you tell me why you and your friends are immune to us? Is it something the AKs did?”

  She stared blankly at him, shook her head. “I…I don’t—”

  She wasn’t lying this time – he could see her struggling with the definition of immune when her little group had just been decimated. “Never mind,” he said, rising to his feet. “You’ve done very well to tell me about your friends in Nevada, my dear. Very well indeed. ”

  “Please don’t hurt them,” she whispered.

  “Never,” said Raziel. “Why, the very thought. ” He left the room and closed the door behind him; as he strode back to his office, a church official joined him.

  “Well?” the man asked.

  “Take care of her and the other two – no need for drama this time,” said Raziel without pausing.

  Back in his office, Raziel’s satisfaction faded as he realized his dilemma.

  As he’d long suspected, Willow was alive – alive – and was training new AKs. Even through his fury, Raziel felt a flash of hard pride – he’d known that no daughter of his could be vanquished so easily. But finding her might take a while, now that the angels’ psychic skills were so compromised; Chloe’s description could encompass hundreds of square miles.

  And with all that was going on, Raziel didn’t have time to undertake the search himself.

  He glared down at the map of Mexico. Unbelievably, there were now almost a hundred immune humans locked away there, with more being discovered every day. Through a sense of trepidation he hardly understood, he’d put off this journey for as long as possible – but now if he didn’t deal with it, word was sure to explode among the angels. For unless stopped, this immunity might just keep spreading throughout humanity, until angels were unable to feed at all.

  It would be like a judgement.

  Absurd. Even so, Raziel was gripped by a cold fear. The Council deaths had occurred in Mexico City, orchestrated by his own hand. What if this powerful, unknowing energy that he kept sensing was in response to that? What if the human immunities in Mexico City, in the Angel Killers, were somehow his fault?

  No one can be allowed to know what I did, thought Raziel. Currently, not a single angel alive suspected that he’d been responsible for assassinating the Council. If they found out, it could be the thing to galvanize the despondent ones back into action, so that they banded together with those who already hated him – all of them united against a common enemy.

  No, he had to go to Mexico City and could waste no further time about it – if there was any evidence against him to be found there, he had to suppress it. The problem of Willow would have to be solved some other way.

  Bascal, he decided. Let him get a good-size gang together and go searching in the Nevada desert for the Angel Killers, using whatever psychic powers they still had left – the little thug would enjoy doing away with them immensely.

  Raziel had just reached for his phone to give the order when it rang, vibrating under his fingers. And even though he was barely psychic himself any more, he felt a sense of dread.

  He hesitated, then answered. The news that came, on top of everything else, was like a punch in the throat.

  Pawntucket. His daughter’s hometown.

  “Don’t let the news leak any further,” Raziel said finally; somehow he sounded in control. “I’ve got to go to Mexico City for a while first. I’ll be in Schenectady by the tenth – we’ll take care of them then for good. ”

  When he hung up, he sat very still. His fingers closed around a plastic pen; it bent and snapped. He had a flash of the willow tree from his dream, its branches blazing in the glow from his wings. And now he remembered where the real tree had been.

  The knowledge chilled him; more than ever, he had the sense that everything was slipping from his fingers – and that it was all because of Willow somehow. Raziel’s jaw clenched. No. He would not be defeated.

  He called Bascal and explained what was going on, snapping the words out. “Go to Nevada immediately and find the Angel Killers – leave no one alive,” he finished. “Do you hear me? No one. ”

  The clock read 8:41.

  Still hugging my pillow, I stared blearily at the numbers – then it hit me, and I swore and scrambled out of bed.

  For days I’d been having unsettling dreams I could barely remember, which kept me lying awake for hours. Last night had been the worst yet. Now I’d overslept; I had less than twenty minutes to help set things up for the simulation.

  I threw on jeans and a V-necked black T-shirt, then brushed my hair with quick strokes. As I did, my crystal pendant caught the light, sparkling against my skin.

  Two days ago, Alex had been dead for a year.

  I put the hairbrush down and hesitated, looking at my dresser drawers. I didn’t do this very often. But now, though I was already running late, I pulled open the top drawer.

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