Angel fire, p.73
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       Angel Fire, p.73

         Part #2 of Angel series by L. A. Weatherly
Page 73


  It was that word “quickly” that kept him awake at night and made him keep the plan firmly to himself. Because they just didn’t know what was going on now. They couldn’t be sure of getting to the Council quickly when they had no idea if the schedule was still the right one; no idea what the layout was, or what room the Twelve would be in. Alex had nightmare visions of the team wandering around, looking in doors, while security came racing towards them, having tipped off the angels that there were intruders in their midst.

  The train came to Zócalo station; Alex stood up abruptly. The others looked at him in surprise – their stop was still several stations away. “Let’s get off here,” he said, shoving his hands into the front pockets of his sweatshirt. “I want to check something out. ”

  As they came up the stairs from the station, they could hear shouting on the sidewalk – there was a shoving match going on between some of the Crusaders and the Faithful. “My mother is dying!” screamed a man. His face was wild, contorted with fury. “There are no beds for her, no doctors—”

  “If she had true faith, the angels would help her!” bellowed someone back. There were signs waving; elbows flying as people scuffled. Alex and the others skirted around them; a man in a business suit lurched backwards and just as quickly flung himself back into the fray. Trish looked worried as they passed, glancing back over her shoulder. Alex could see that she wanted to somehow defuse the tension, just as she always wanted to smooth things over for the group.

  “Alex, that looks like it could get serious—” she started.

  “I know, but ignore it,” he said, not breaking his stride. “We don’t want to get involved. ” The police mostly seemed to ignore the Crusaders, unless things got violent – then, undoubtedly, whoever they arrested got dragged off to the angels.

  Trish bit her lip, but nodded. When they were directly across from the slightly tilting mass of the Catedral Metropolitana – no, the Catedral de los Ángeles; he kept forgetting – Alex dug his cellphone out of his jeans pocket. Tapping the buttons with his thumb, he sent Kara a text: We’re at Zocalo. Where r u? Can u check out cathedral with us?

  A few seconds later a reply came: I’m here 2. Meet u outside cathedral in 5.

  Alex texted a quick Yes and tucked his phone away again. Good – he’d thought she’d still be here. Though he’d been to the cathedral several times now to study the layout, he felt twitchy with impatience suddenly – he wanted to see the place again; see if he’d missed anything. “Come on, we’re going to check out the cathedral,” he said to the others.

  “Well hallelujah, we’re finally doing something,” said Sam with a grin.

  Alex gave him a level glance. “Yes, we are. We are going to go in and look. Not start shooting. Got it?”

  Sam gave a slight grimace, but nodded. “I got it, don’t worry. ”

  They headed across the broad stretch of the Zócalo, accompanied by the incessant beat of drums from Aztec dancers. Alex knew that in December the city usually erected a giant ice-skating rink in the square, but this year there was nothing – either el DF no longer had funds for it, or they’d decided it would detract from the glory of the converted cathedral. There were hardly any Christmas decorations up around the city, either; he’d heard on the news that a lot of people saw the holiday as lacking in meaning now. Many were planning to start celebrating Arrival Day – October 31st – as their main holiday instead, to honour the angels. Great, thought Alex in distaste, picturing it.

  They passed through the cathedral’s wrought-iron gates; the faded red and black tiles that had once been underfoot were now celestial silver and light blue. Wesley glanced up at the golden angel.

  “I still can’t believe they did that,” he muttered to Alex. “That angel was the most famous monument in Mexico City. ”

  “It still is,” pointed out Liz, overhearing. “Even more famous now. But that empty column on the Paseo de la Reforma just looks weird – like it’s waiting for something to happen. ”

  Kara was standing beside the cathedral’s massive wooden doors. Despite his worry, Alex held back a smile when he saw she had on a pair of pink satin angel wings. “They’re really you,” he said as they reached her. “Or have you got angel burn, and I should shoot you?”

  Kara rolled her eyes; the long, braided wig she was wearing made her look like Cleopatra or something. “It’s called camouflage, dear. You should probably all get some too, so our group doesn’t attract attention. This is Church of Angels central – where the people are whacked-out and the angels are plentiful. ”

  Sam recoiled. “What, us wear those things? No way. ”

  “No, it’s a good idea. ” Alex reached for his wallet; taking out a few hundred pesos, he handed the notes to Sam. “Here, go and get us some, okay?” As Sam opened his mouth, he added, “And no complaining, Tex, or I’ll make you wear the pink ones. ” The others snickered; Sam gave him a dark look and headed off to one of the angel-wing vendors wandering around the square.

  “Listen, I was just about to text you myself,” said Kara in a low voice. “I finally managed to get the security code today – the whole thing, first try. If they only change it once a week, it should be good for another three days. ”

  Alex’s heart leaped. “Really? Are you sure?”

  “Yeah. And I’ve got an idea of when the best time might be for us to try to break in too, but. . . meanwhile, something’s come up. ”

  “What?” Alex felt his exhilaration fade. The look on Kara’s face did not herald good news.

  She fell silent, her beautiful features twisted in thought. “Let’s wait till we get inside,” she said finally. “You can see what I mean for yourself. ”

  Sam returned with a cluster of angel wings and they put them on, helping each other straighten them. “Perfect – you all look like real devouts now,” said Kara. “Just gaze around wonderingly, and you’ll fit right in. ”

  The white wings on his back felt ridiculous. But the team looked ready, Alex saw with approval – alert and reasonably relaxed; a big change from only two weeks ago, when they’d had their first hunt.

  “Okay, I want all of you scanning and prepared, in case any of us is attacked,” he said. “Stick together – don’t anyone go wandering off. If we do have to defend ourselves, try to do it without being noticed; I’d sort of like to avoid starting a riot today. ”

  “Riots, bad – got it,” muttered Brendan.

  A cavernous coolness fell as they entered the cathedral. When Alex had been here years ago, an altar had stood just inside the entrance. Now it was gone, as was the organ behind it, turning the cathedral into a vast airy space. White pillars marched in a silent line to the single, lavish golden altar far away down the aisle – it stretched from floor to ceiling, ornate with detail, glinting like liquid. A golden angel took pride of place here, holding a trumpet to its lips as smaller angels cavorted around it. From some unseen source, harp music fluttered through the air.

  Hundreds of people were inside, though the cathedral was so large it didn’t seem crowded. Many sat praying in the long pews; others wandered respectfully about, taking photographs and videos, or lighting candles that stood on small winged stands. Alex spotted one or two being fed from, their faces alight as angels stood beside them – hands buried deep in the humans’ life forces as their halos burned brighter and brighter.

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