Anna pushed herself away from the edge of the large building she was standing on and breathed again, a simple action that wasn’t necessary but too hard a habit to break. There was a dull aching in her back and her throat was still very sore from when Amy had lost control and attacked her after she found out her daughter had been captured. But no matter how angry Amy was at her, Anna was even madder at herself for what had happened. She should have been there with Gabriella; she should have been protecting her like she had been told to. Because of her damn emotions and confusion Gabriella had been taken and was already probably dead!
She had heard the summons a few minutes before, James’s voice calling her and the others in her head but she decided not to go. She couldn’t face James or Amy right now. She wasn’t so much afraid of getting thrown around again by an angry mother, because that she could handle. It was the fact that she was right. Gabriella was her responsibility while the rest were gone and she had thrown that responsibility on someone else while she wallowed alone trying to figure out what she felt and if it was right or not.
Gritting her teeth together she smashed her fist through the cement wall of the building sending little chips and powder flying through the air as she pulverized it. She should have killed Andromeda when she had the chance back at the school; no one would have blamed her then either. Instead they played right into her hand and she ripped away one of the most precious gifts to ever be given. She still held tightly onto the memories of when she was a child and her Guardian Angel Amy first told her about being pregnant. Even then she knew it was a miracle and she was so excited for her new parents. She had always wanted a little brother or sister and when Gabriella first came into the world she finally had one.
The big shining eyes so full of hope and wonder, the small tuft of golden hair atop her head, and the small dimples in her cheeks were the most beautiful things Anna had ever seen in her short life. She instantly fell in love with Gabby and would hold her almost as much as her actual parents did, even convincing them to put the crib in her room so she could watch her sleep at night. Even though they were about six years apart in age Anna would always go out of her way to spend time with Gabriella every chance she got and when she gained her powers she had told the others she didn’t want a celebration like they always had and instead taken her sister out for dinner on the other side of the world.
She had always loved Gabriella but with recent events the lines were starting to get blurred. The night when she had taken her sister to a London nightclub to make her feel better is where it had started to change for her. It was the kiss that haunted her daydreams now, the one that she had just given to her to get the guys to back off so they could just spend some time together. It had taken her by surprise how natural and good it felt, and as Gabriella drank more and more and began to cuddle up next to her she could hardly keep the smile from her face. Not to mention being curled up next to her Gabriella’s naked body while she slept all night had been one of the hardest things she had ever had to do up to that point.
She knew it was wrong on some level but she just couldn’t help herself. She had once thought it was a blessing that the immortals were no longer destined to fall in love with one another and that they now had their choice, but with everything that had happened with Gabriella she was beginning to see it more as a curse. It would be so much easier if she had been forced to fall in love with one of the men like Henry, he was a decent guy.
As Anna was lost in her own thoughts she barely heard the soft pop of an immortal appearing behind her and for a split second she hoped it was Ares so he could end her misery right there. She wasn’t that lucky though and as she turned to face the newcomer she found both Lucy and Samantha had somehow tracked her down, not even bothering to wear their amour in these bad times.
‘What do you want?’ she demanded. She wasn’t in the mood for a friendly chat right now.
‘If you’re looking to jump I think you might need to find a taller building, I don’t think you would even crack the cement from this height,’ Samantha said with a small laugh before Lucy drove her elbow into the redheads ribs roughly.
‘Why didn’t you come to the gathering?’
‘I didn’t feel like getting my eyes ripped out by Amy again,’ she sighed and turned back to the ledge of the roof, ‘Now if you don’t mind I’d like some time alone.’ She leapt off the roof and before gravity could thrust her toward the sidewalk below she extended the power in her body and shot into the night sky like a rocket. She hadn’t travelled more than a couple of blocks when she felt her friends chasing her through the air, the sound of them cutting through the wind right on her heels. She quickly stopped midflight, staying aloft as Lucy and Sam flashed past her before finally stopping themselves.
‘Why are you running from us?’ Lucy asked over the sound of the wind, a look of hurt shining in her eyes.
‘I just want to be alone right now!’
‘Would you just stop and listen for a second!’ Samantha yelled at her, ‘We found Janice!’
‘What about Gabby?’ she replied quickly, her heart swelling even though she knew she shouldn’t get her hopes up. She realized if they had found Gabriella as well she would have led with that, which she didn’t so that had to mean only bad news was coming and as soon as the hope faded her chest grew tight and her mouth dry.
‘She’s alive, we know that much. Ares captured her after she killed Andromeda and James and Amy are looking for where she is hidden right now.’
‘Wait! Gabriella killed Andromeda?’ she asked in shock, ‘How is that possible?’
‘We don’t know,’ Lucy answered.
There was no way any of this could actually be true, Andromeda had all the powers of an immortal and was a seasoned warrior. She would have cut Gabriella to shreds before she even knew she was being attacked. ‘Are you sure this isn’t some kind of trick Ares is playing?’ she asked.
‘Janice was almost killed Anna, I don’t think she would lie about what happened. The only reason she is still alive is because Ares wanted her to give a message to James.’
‘Is she alright?’
‘She’ll be fine in time,’ Samantha answered, her ginger hair whipping about in the furious wind at this altitude, ‘Michelle patched her up pretty good and is with her now. You need to come back with us and talk to Erin.’
Before she could even make up her mind she was thrown from the sky as an explosion ripped through the air and tossed all three girls about as they struggled to stop falling. A second rocket screamed through the air missing all of them before curling higher into the air and exploding with a thunderous boom that rattled Anna’s bones. A split second later a military fighter jet hissed past them as it turned quickly to the left to make a second attack run.
‘Seriously?’ Samantha asked as they watched it fly out over the city and turned quickly.
In less than five seconds the jet was on them once again, using its onboard machine guns instead of rockets. Being such small targets most of the bullets missed the girls and they thought that was going to be the extent of it until one smashed into Lucy. In the blink of an eye Anna realized something was wrong when a few drops of gold blood sprinkled into the air from where Lucy had been hit in the leg and quickly began to fall towards earth before both Sam and Anna swooped in and caught her. While the jet quickly swooped right over their heads, tossing them about in the jet wash Anna quickly glanced at the wound on her sisters leg to find it was nothing more than a small scratch like she had been hit by a BB, but it was still bad news.
‘That actually hurt!’ Lucy growled.
‘No more playing around! Sam get Lucy back to Erin and tell her what happened while I deal with this clown!’
Samantha nodded and with her sister in her arms she teleported away as the jets nose turned and was facing Anna once again, spraying hundreds of bullets through the air. Instead of trying to dodge each individual bullet Anna gathered her power and quickly teleported right onto the wing of the jet, the roar of the engines screaming in her ears and the blast of wind on her body threatening to toss her off. With her amazing strength she easily managed to keep her footing and she took a few steps closer to the bubbled dome of the cockpit, her golden sword appearing in her hand.
She watched as the pilot quickly looked over at her, his eyes growing wide in surprise at this new development and he violently pushed the joystick to the left and the plane started to roll over. It was nothing she couldn’t handle though and she merely enjoyed the ride and the look of utter amazement on the pilots face as she finally reached towards the cockpit. She simply tapped on the clear material separating them and wagged her finger from side to side. The man was beyond scared though and as he panicked he pulled the ejection handle a half a second before he rocketed out of the cock pit and into the night sky as his parachute opened up and he drifted lazily on the winds.
With no pilot guiding the multi-million dollar war machine the jet began to careen out of control, the nose dipping as it screamed towards the city below them. It was heading right for a large apartment complex where Anna could see hundreds of dim lights in the many windows and she knew it if crashed into it too many innocent people would die. She jumped off the wing and fought against the turbulence as she flew under the plane and placed her hands on the belly, using her strength to lift it into the air. The engines were still pushing them on but she managed to tilt the nose up a touch and they were flying high into the air once more. With the danger averted she pointed it towards the ocean and when she was sure it was safe she released it, watching it plummet at amazing speeds until it smashed into the water with a massive fireball, lighting the water for hundreds of feet.
Not wanting to get blindsided again Anna quickly teleported away before any more people could start shooting at her. She knew she should probably go and see Erin and let her know she was fine but she still couldn’t face her right now so instead she went to the one place that would always be home to her, no matter what. She instantly appeared at the center of her old room in the large house in Northern Canada and found that the police had gone through everything she owned, leaving a massive mess on the floor of clothes, pictures, books, movies and other such stuff.
Kneeling down she picked a torn photo up that was right at her feet, looking at the image of her young childish face smiling back out at her. She remembered this picture, it had been taken a few weeks after the demons had been pushed back and the world saved, it was one of the happiest moments of her life. James had taken a picture of her and Amy in front of the new house he had just bought with the money he had saved from many lives and once again Anna had a place she could call home and a real family. She quickly rummaged through the rest of the pictures on the ground but couldn’t find the other half or any picture of James or Amy at all.
‘I already looked for it,’ Erin said softly from behind her. Not having heard her appear Anna jumped back up, her muscles tensing before she realized who the voice belonged to. ‘I didn’t mean to scare you.’
‘How did everything get so bad?’ she asked when she looked at the young and beautiful woman, her green eyes shimmering in the darkness, ‘It feels like yesterday when I was still living here and things were perfect. Now look at it.’
‘I wish I could tell you that things will get easier,’ Erin whispered and moved closer to her, ‘but they won’t. A lot of people are going to die before this is over Anna, and you will feel a lot more pain than you already do. We have to keep carrying on though, because if we don’t then everything is lost.’
‘How do you do it?’ she asked, ‘How do you find the will to keep going on?’
Erin’s eyes quickly went hard and Anna knew she had struck a nerve with the eldest immortal. Erin had seen more than her fair share of loss and pain in her life and compared to her, Anna had really nothing to complain about. Erin had lost her husband Baal long ago and Anna could never know what that anguish must be like, they had been together almost longer than time.
‘It’s the hardest thing I have ever had to do,’ she answered softly, ‘but I push through it because I have to. There are things we must do that we cannot simply ignore Anna, and once it is finally over I will be able mourn him. That time is not now though.’
‘But this is all my fault,’ she whispered but quickly shut her mouth as Erin flashed her an angry glare.
‘NONE of this is your fault Anna. Andromeda is the only one to blame, because it was she who took Gabriella and if you had been there you would have died if you fought her alone. Hell Gabby might have been killed in the battle because you know as well as I do that she would try stop you from getting hurt! It’s what she did for Janice and she didn’t even love her like she does you. The way I see it Gabriella saved three lives today, including her own.’
‘But nothing! Those are the facts and nothing can change that now! You cannot let your emotions get the better of you Anna, nothing good will ever come from that. If you love Gabriella you will pull yourself out of your despair and do something productive. And don’t give me that look; I could see how much you really cared for her in your eyes when we found Andromeda at her school.’
‘Is this the part where you give me a lecture about how wrong this is?’
‘No,’ Erin stated simply and pulled Anna into her strong arms, ‘Who you love is your own business and no one else’s. If you choose to believe it or not those aren’t even my words, they’re Amy’s.’
‘What?’ Anna sniffed.
‘She’s known for a few weeks now,’ the woman explained softly while wrapping her arms tighter around Anna’s back, ‘The night you took Gabriella to that bar in England she had me keep an eye on the two of you after she found out about you taking a mortal to one of your sparring sessions with the others. I saw the way you two were together and the kiss you gave her, and I told Amy about it all. She wasn’t angry or upset in anyway though. In fact I think she was glad that her daughter was with someone Amy knew wouldn’t hurt her.’
Anna knew she should probably be mad that Erin had spied on them that night but she couldn’t blame them for it really. It had been pretty irresponsible to bring Gabby to those fights but she just wanted to spend as much time with the girl as possible. The rest of the immortals had only been a few years apart at the most but Gabriella was six years behind Anna who had been the last one to ascend, so she was often left out of those kinds of events.
‘I did hurt her though,’ she mumbled, ‘I pushed her away when all she wanted was to get closer, and because of that she is gone!’
‘No one blames you for that Anna,’ Erin tried to persuade her but Anna shot her a knowing look, ‘well when Amy has had time to cool down that will be true. She’s a mother who is worried for her child, so of course she would be upset. She needed to do something with all the emotions that were crashing down on her and unfortunately she saw you as a good outlet. She will get over it though, you have my word.’
The two immortal women embraced one another for a few minutes as the world continued to go on around them. Anna let Erin’s words wash over her soul and gained a little comfort from them. She had never known her to lie and if she said that’s the way Amy really felt, well then it was good enough for her. While she would never admit this to anyone, she knew if she had fought Andromeda one on one she probably would have been killed. She had heard the stories of how great a warrior the bloodthirsty Andromeda was and if it came down to it Anna wouldn’t be able to stand against her for very long.
‘Did you hear that?’ Erin whispered as she pulled away from the hug. Straining her ears Anna could barely make out someone breathing softly in the room across the hall, Gabriella’s room.
Holding a finger to her lips Erin quietly made her way over to the door and opened it before walking through the dark hallway until she was standing on the opposite side of Gabriella’s door. Anna quickly moved next to her sister, picturing the weapon she wanted in her mind and feeling the cold metal tingling against her hand a second later. Summoning her own weapon Erin opened the door into the room and jumped in to find a woman with golden brown hair standing with her back to them, naked from head to toe.
‘Gabby?’ Anna cried out and tried to rush over to her, wanting to pull her into a crushing hug as her emotions rolled about in her. Erin quickly stopped her though, wrapping her slender yet strong fingers around her wrist before she was out of range. ‘What are you doing? It’s Gabby!’
‘I’m not so sure about that. Look at her closely,’ Erin whispered and Anna did as she was asked. Through the dim light coming in through the window Gabriella was standing in front of them and she gazed upon the naked back side of her sister but couldn’t find a single thing wrong with her. That’s when it hit her though; Gabriella looked perfect when she shouldn’t. Her muscles rippled under the layer of flawless skin and Anna couldn’t find a single blemish anywhere. Even the dimples on her butt cheeks that Anna had found so cute were gone.
‘Gabriella?’ Erin said loudly and the girl tilted her head to the side, her ear pointing directly at them, ‘What’s going on?’
Anna gasped loudly when Gabby turned to face them and she struggled to keep the bile from rising in her throat. Everything she was seeing was impossible and in her mind she knew everything was wrong. Standing before them was no longer the shy mortal girl Anna had only seen a day before, but a perfectly formed and powerful looking immortal woman. Gabriella was easily the most beautiful immortal in the group now, not even Erin compared and she had been created perfect in almost every way. There was not a single thing wrong with Gabby’s body now and even though she knew this was wrong Anna couldn’t help but get a little turned on by the beauty standing before her. When she looked into her eyes though that feeling was tossed aside and dread filled her body; they were no longer the shade of baby blue that Anna felt weak in the knees when she looked into them. They were balls of bright liquid silver.
‘Where is my father?’ Gabriella asked and Anna noticed that her voice had changed and now sounded more like classical music to her ears.
‘What’s happened to you?’ Anna asked as she stepped closer, shaking Erin’s grip off.
‘Am I pretty enough for you now?’ Gabby asked and with a flash she reached out and grabbed Anna by the throat so fast she hadn’t even seen it. The next instant she was being pushed up against the wall by the window, the fingers on her throat like a vice grip as tears were literally squeezed out of her.
‘GABRIELLA!’ Erin screamed and rushed towards her. With blinding speed though Gabriella lashed out with her leg, striking Erin directly in the chest and tossing her through the open door and back into Anna’s room. Paralyzed by fear Anna could do nothing but watch and once Gabby had dispensed of Erin she looked back at her, her liquid like eyes digging deep into her soul. Out of nowhere Gabriella leaned in and planted a very hard and rough kiss on her lips, her tongue pushing through her tight lips like they weren’t even there before breaking the kiss.
‘You’re not even going to kiss me back?’ she sneered and tightened her grip on Anna’s throat as little black spots clouded her vision.
‘Gabriella let her go now!’ Erin demanded and she was now standing in the doorway once more. While still holding onto her, Gabriella turned her body to face Erin as blazing silver light enveloped her entire body leaving silver armour everywhere it touched.
‘Would you like to see Baal once more?’ Gabriella asked roughly, ‘I can make it happen.’
‘This isn’t you Gabby,’ Erin said softly now, ‘You would never hurt Anna. You love her too much!’
Gabriella glanced back at her now and Anna could see her reflection in the swirling silver eyes, her lips were starting to turn blue and her face was a bright red as her eyes started to bulge from the pressure. Gabriella contemplated what Erin had said quickly and a wicked smile crossed her lips as she said, ‘I guess it’s just you and me, Erin.’
With that Gabriella tossed Anna through the window, shards of glass spraying out from the impact as she plummeted to the ground almost twenty feet down. Everything moved in slow motion for her as her brain tried to keep up with everything and just before she landed roughly in the grass of the backyard she heard Erin’s voice in her head, ‘No matter what happens do not come back in here!’
Struggling to catch her breath and regulate her heart that was beating way too fast she quickly looked back up to the window she had been tossed from, bright flashes of gold and silver lighting the dark house from top to bottom. She could hear the metal clang as both women struck at each other with immortal weapons, and the pained cries from Erin a horrible note over it all. Even if she had wanted to go back in there her body wouldn’t let her and Anna found herself rooted on the spot, on her hands and knees as she watched the flashes of lights get brighter.
The fight hadn’t even lasted five seconds when for the second time in her life Anna felt the crippling wave of pain explode in her mind and body as another name was etched into the walls of her brain; Erin, Third Born. Anna cried out in sheer anguish as the name was carved into her memory and she wept loudly, slamming her fists hard into the ground as the earth exploded around them.
‘Crying isn’t very attractive,’ Gabriella’s new voice said through the quiet night in the middle of Canada and Anna looked up to find her floating a few feet above her. In her hands she held a liquid silver sword that was covered in golden blood, and as she stared at it the shape of the weapon began to change right before her eyes as the liquid metal took the form of a long staff.
‘WHY DID YOU DO THAT?’ she bellowed and managed to pull herself to her feet, her long golden sword appearing in her shaking hand once again.
‘Do you really want to fight me?’ Gabriella asked and nodded towards the sword she held in her hands, ‘I don’t want to kill you, but I will if you force me too Anna.’
‘Just like you killed Erin?’ Anna demanded.
‘Would you have preferred it if she had killed me?’ Gabriella asked with a knowing smile, ‘I know you like my new body, and I will give it to you. First tell me where my father is and when I am done with him I will let you do whatever you want to me.’
‘Listen to yourself Gabby! This isn’t you!’
Before Anna could react Gabriella dashed at her and slapped her so hard her head snapped to the side and she could taste blood in her mouth as she struggled to clear her blurry vision. Quickly after striking her Gabriella knelt down beside her and placed a gentle hand on her cheek, rubbing the sore spot she had just made and planting a soft warm kiss. ‘I wouldn’t recommend getting me angry like that again, it’s hard to keep my emotions in check!’
‘Don’t do this Gabby,’ Anna pleaded and tried to pull away from her but found her strength was nothing compared to this new Gabriella.
‘Where is my father?’ Gabriella demanded, grabbing her by the hair and tugging roughly.
‘I’m sorry,’ Anna sniffed, ‘I can’t tell you.’
Gabriella roared in rage before slamming her fist into Anna’s stomach so hard she shot high into the air in an arc as the small town quickly disappeared under her. A moment later she crashed through a group of trees in the nearby forest, shattering dozens before she landed in a pile of splinters as the trees fell on her a second later. Just as Anna tossed the last tree off her like it was a beach ball Gabriella dropped on her from the sky, roughly pinning her arms and legs so she couldn’t move them with a soft smile on her gorgeous lips.
‘If you would just tell me what I want to know we could have so much fun right now,’ she teased and placed another gentle kiss on her lips before going on, ‘Why don’t you call them? Tell them where you are.’
‘Such a pity,’ Gabriella growled and smashed her head into Anna’s forehead so hard she lost consciousness.
‘Your orders were to kill them all!’ a gruff and powerful voice bellowed, bringing Anna back to her senses as she stirred.
Her head hurt more now than the first time she had ever gotten blind drunk as a mortal and the smell of smoke and sulphur burned in her nose making her wretch when she tried to take a deep breath. Opening her eyes she found herself in the one place she never hoped to be, the hellish world of the demons created by the Dark God. Massive black clouds roiled in the sky letting loose torrents of red lightning and the ground was covered in nothing but black ash painted red when a flash of lightning rippled through the sky. It was even more horrible of a place than she had ever feared.
‘She might have information you need,’ Gabriella’s voice cut through the air like a knife and suddenly the memories of what she had done flooded Anna’s brain as dread gripped at her heart. She rolled onto her back and looked up to find Gabriella standing over her, her liquid silver weapon clutched in her hand and her eyes hard as she stared at someone just beyond Anna’s view.
‘You cannot hide your feelings from me! You want this insect don’t you? You wish to keep her as a pet?’
‘I wish to keep her as my lover Ares!’ Gabriella said hard and the nondescript weapon in her hand began to form into deadly looking axe.
‘You dare speak to me like that? I should cut you down for your insolence!’
‘You can try!’ Gabby breathed the threat, her words dripping with venom.
‘You owe nothing to these people child! When you confronted Erin she tried to kill you did she not? If you leave this abomination alive she will do the same the first time you turn your back to her! Kill her now or I will!’
Anna pushed herself until she was standing on shaky legs, her heart pounding in her chest. She looked in the direction Gabriella was gazing but could only make out a massive black arm covered in muscle holding a giant black spear through the shadows. She knew it was Ares though, he was the only one of the immortals to ever use a spear as a weapon and after what happened when he turned no one wanted to be associated with that.
‘Gabby,’ she groaned through her pain, ‘We can kill him together!’
‘You see how she already tries to turn you against me? I told you they cannot be trusted and now you have your proof!’
‘Let’s do it Gabby!’ she yelled more loudly this time and turned to look at her sister only to find she was pointing a silver sword right at her chest. ‘What are you doing? We can end all of this right now!’
‘Take care of this before I get back Gabriella!’ Ares demanded and with a flash of red lightning his dark form vanished before her eyes.
Gabriella tilted her chin down but kept her silvery eyes on Anna as she turned her bodies to the side and held her sword out, the liquid tip pointed towards the ash covered ground. A stiff breeze kicked up spraying the powdery ash into the air as small little dust swirls broke out on the ground.
‘You don’t have to do this Gabby!’ Anna cried out hoping to reach her lost friend, but the hard look in her eyes as they flashed red from the lightning sent a shiver down Anna’s spine.
‘It will be easier if I do it Anna,’ Gabriella said gently, ‘If Ares comes back he will make you suffer for years before he gives you want you will beg for.’
‘Listen to yourself, this isn’t you!’
Against all her will Anna moved closer to Gabriella, her hands held out at her sides to show she meant no threat to her. Her sisters eyes danced over her as her muscles tensed, but Gabriella made no move to attack her and Anna continued to move closer to her until they were standing only a few inches apart. She never took her eyes off the weapon though.
‘What are you doing?’ Gabby asked stiffly but again made no move to walk away.
‘I’m sorry for pushing you away,’ Anna replied with a whisper, ‘I was just afraid. The truth is that I love you Gabby, more than I ever imagined possible and I know you don’t want to kill me because I can see that you love me too. Just put your weapon down and we can get out of here and be together. Please I am begging you.’
It was Gabriella who took a step closer to her and snaked a single arm around her waist, pulling their bodies close together. Gabriella was amazingly warm and the heat seeped through the cool air around them as Anna wrapped both of her arms around her tightly, their mouths only a few inches apart. Anna leaned her head and touched her lips gently to Gabriella’s for a second before pulling away with a flushed look on her face. Gabby didn’t seem to want that to be the end of it because she brought her other hand up to the back of Anna’s head and pulled into a deep and passionate kiss.
Their lips danced together for a few minutes before Gabriella finally pulled away, but never let her go. She pulled her into a tight hug and grazed her tender, warm lips over her earlobe as she spoke softly, ‘I do love you Anna, and I am very sorry for this.’
Without warning Gabriella’s hand moved from the back of Anna’s head a second before she shoved her silver weapon right through her stomach. The pain was unbelievable as Anna gasped and golden blood passed over her lips and stained the dark sky as Gabriella drove the weapon deeper until it was pressing up against her spine. As large black splotches swam in her vision Anna was gently placed on the ground, Gabriella’s stoic face looking into hers as a single silver tear slipped down her smooth cheek.
‘I truly do love you,’ Gabriella whispered softly and placed one last kiss on Anna’s cold lips as her eyes closed and she was lost to oblivion.
James knelt down in his daughter’s room over the body of one of his closest and easily oldest friends, Erin, her face covered in a little bit of golden blood but looking serene. He gently closed her eyelids and covered her blank stare as he said his last goodbye to someone who had always been there for him. He only wished he could have been there for her at the end, he owed her that much for everything she had ever done for him.
‘Do you think it was Ares?’ Henry asked from the other side of Erin, his weapons drawn and a dangerous look on his face.
‘She would never have taken him alone,’ James said sadly, ‘This was someone else.’
He stood back up and turned from his sister’s lifeless body, pulling Amy into a hug as she fought back tears. The last couple of days had been really bad for her, for all of them, and he was amazed that she was managing to keep it together right now. They hadn’t spent more than a few hours on the outer reaches of the universe when they felt Erin die in their thoughts, and as much as they both wanted to keep looking for their daughter they had come back and find out what had happened. They still had no idea where Anna was, only that she had been with Erin when she was killed by this new threat.
‘What do we do now?’ Samantha asked as she fought back her own tears.
‘I don’t know,’ James admitted sourly, ‘Both Gabriella and Anna are missing now.’
‘I can’t lose both my daughters!’ Amy cried and James hugged her harder, their golden armour clanking loudly together.
‘Lucy and Francis are out there looking for Anna right now, if she is in the surrounding area they will find her,’ Michelle said softly trying to alleviate some of the fear, but they all knew it was a long shot.
‘We’ll find them,’ he whispered to his wife as she buried her head into his shoulder, ‘Both of them.’
The immortals gathered remained quiet as the darkness surrounded them, their own sorrow pulling them down as the body of their mentor and friend lay before them. A few minutes later the silence was broken with two soft pops as Lucy and Francis returned, hopefully with some good news. James pulled himself from the hug with Amy and turned to face the two young immortals, noticing the sad look in their eyes as they held a golden sword out towards him.
‘We found Anna’s weapon in the woods not far from here,’ Lucy sniffed as James grabbed the hilt of his daughter’s weapon and felt the weight in his hands.
‘It looked like there was quite the fight there,’ Francis said, his voice gruff and his eyes red around the edges as if he had been crying, ‘Trees were ripped out at the roots and there was a little blood among the splinters. It was gold.’
Amy wailed at the news of the golden blood as they all knew it had to belong to Anna as Erin had died in the room they were standing in right now. James wrapped his big arms around his wife once more and kissed the top of her forehead while whispering in her ear that a little blood was nothing to get worried about. It meant she was still alive and out there somewhere.
‘Did you find anything else?’ Samantha asked as she brushed tears off her cheek and quickly looked out the shattered window as the wind howled by the dark house. James had always loved living this far North, the smell of pine needles wafting through the air, the friendly people, and the peace and quiet were always something he wanted his child to grow up with.
‘The area around the blood was scorched like an intense heat had burned the ground. I’ve only seen that once, when Ares sent Janice back. Whoever it was must have used the same type of transportation as he does.’
Richard appeared a moment later, his eyes moving right to Erin’s body for the first time as he had been left with a few others to keep an eye on things happening in the world around them. Not liking to give into his emotions the big man quickly turned his gaze to meet James and a grimace crossed his face as he undoubtedly had more bad news.
‘What’s happening?’ James asked him.
‘Do you want the bad news or the really bad news first?’ he asked but there was no hint of a joke in his words.
‘Doesn’t matter, I doubt this day could get any worse than it already is.’
‘We found a military bunker with the same ammunition that they used against Lucy and discovered they managed to melt down the weapons the demons left behind in their last attack. That’s why they were able to penetrate her skin and if she had taken more than a few direct hits it probably would have killed her.’
‘That is really bad news,’ Michelle said weakly as Samantha latched onto her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.
‘It’s not the worst news I have,’ Richard said stiffly and James knew what he was about so say next would change things forever, ‘Demonic clouds are gathering over Berlin and the lightning is already starting up.’
‘So the war is finally here,’ Francis said as he summoned his golden weapon, ‘But why only Berlin? I expected them to attack like they did the last time.’
‘Ares probably figures we’d be too busy looking for Anna and Gabby to notice so he is going to hit Earth with everything he has from a single portal,’ Michelle said.
‘We have to stop it from happening again,’ Amy said and from the tone of her voice James knew it wasn’t what she really wanted to do, but she had seen the destruction that happened the last time the immortals decided to sit it out and she couldn’t let that happen again.
‘Get everyone gathered there now!’ James said sternly and everyone quickly teleported away, leaving him and Amy there to spend a few moments alone together. He refused to let go of the embrace so soon and held her tightly to his chest, wishing he could take all her pain away. They all knew hard times were coming but he never dreamed it would be this bad with both their daughters now missing and the threat of another invasion becoming real, but they had a job to do.
‘Promise me we’ll find them when this is all over,’ she cried, her tears cool against his skin.
‘I promise you Amy, when we push them back through their gates again we will find Anna and Gabriella. Nothing will stop us from finding them!’
‘Then let’s finish this quick!’
The sky was already pitch black when they arrived on the scene and quickly flanked by the others as the red lightning above began to pulse through the sky at a vicious pace, preparing to open the Nexus Point that would spew the demons into their world. It was only just after eight in the morning in Germany but the streets were already completely empty, random cars lining the streets as their open doors swung in the wind as the locals fled as fast as they could. It was almost like peering back in time as James gazed out over the streets and knew they wouldn’t look so clean and well-kept when it was all over.
‘I hoped to never see this again,’ Samantha said stiffly as her eyes shimmered. Like a few of the others she had been there the day the demons came, stuck in a major city that had quickly become a warzone and none of them wanted to see it be repeated. James knew they could take the anger they had in them for everything they had lost and direct it at the demons.
‘Don’t break the line!’ he began to instruct them on the battle plan, ‘Stay together and protect your brothers and sisters backs at all times! They are going to hit us hard and fast so be prepared, do not give into your bloodlust! If we work together we can end this here and now! Priority is Ares, if you see him let the others know and under no circumstance are you to engage him alone!’
The line of immortals murmured their agreement and they all took defensive stances as they readied themselves for the first wave. The sky above them was a constant red now and James watched as millions of massive lightning bolts converged together at the center of the mass of black clouds, the smell of burnt ozone filling his nose as the gate gathered the power it would need to create the bridge between the two worlds. It wouldn’t be long now.
‘All of us saw the destruction these monsters brought on our planet eighteen years ago and most of you were helpless to stop it then!’ James yelled loudly, ‘We will not let them do it again! You all have the power living in your eternal bodies to make a stand today and throw them back to their wretched world! Today we fight for the living!’
‘FOR THE LIVING!’ the immortals around him shouted at the top of their lungs in unison, thrusting their golden weapons into the air at the very moment the sky exploded over them and a massive red bolt of lightning crashed into the street a few hundred feet ahead of them.
The street shattered and sunk under the portal opening, tossing large chunks of fiery pavement through the air and raining down on nearby buildings and shops. James could feel the heat of the magic wash over his body and if he hadn’t been immortal he probably would have burst into flame even at the distance they were standing at. It was more intense than the portal that they had assaulted in Japan all those years ago and it only reinforced the idea that Ares didn’t want to spread his forces too thin over the planet. If they could hold them from getting loose into the city they would achieve the victory they needed.
The heads of three massive dragons appeared through the portal, quickly followed by their huge bodies and wings as they immediately took to the air. As James readied himself to fly off after them multiple explosions broke in the sky around the dragons, hitting one directly in the head twice as a cloud of black and orange erupted and tore it’s head off. Ten ultra-modern fighter jets, with sleek bodies and massive payloads screeched through the air, banking hard in multiple directions as the two remaining dragons spewed molten lava at them, catching one on the wing and it quickly spiralled out of control, dropping below the skyline as an explosion tore through the city.
‘CF-35’s!’ Francis roared with a jubilant laugh, ‘Looks like they are from Canada and Germany!’
James watched as they danced around in the sky and he could barely make out the Canadian and German flags as they reengaged the dragons, rockets screaming through the air and barely missing their targets. ‘Looks like they can handle it! Focus on the Nexus!’ he ordered and everyone quickly put their attention back on the massive red portal that was already pumping out thousands of demonic troops.
With no vocal order the immortals began to move as one, maintaining their line as they advanced on the demons and their dark gate. With their augmented speed they closed the two hundred plus foot buffer zone, their weapons dancing in the red light radiating from the Nexus as all at once they let out a terrible battle cry. In a matter of seconds they smashed into the demons, their weapons slashing through the air as they cleaved through anything and everything before them. The first demon James came upon didn’t appear to expect their appearance so quickly and barely managed to hold its arms over its head a second before one of his swords cleaved through the flesh and bone, crushing the skull in one mighty swing as black blood clouded his vision.
As he struggled to clear the blood from his eyes a massive six armed demon holding vicious looking axes and swords in each hand charged at him a second before getting cut down by a dazzling volley of arrows from Amy’s bow. Not trusting to look back and thank her James launched himself back into the fray, cutting a small imp like demon in half before driving his swords deep into another’s chest, piercing its heart and kicking it away.
The smell and sound of battle assaulted him and he had visions of the last time he had been in a situation like this eighteen years ago. The putrid smell of sulphur, burned ozone, and oozing black blood hit him like a brick wall and he had to breathe through his mouth in fear of getting sick to his stomach right in the middle of the battle. As he removed the head of a bull like demon with dozens of razor sharp horns atop it’s disfigured head a shot rang out through the streets and James barely glimpsed a tank shell arc over his head before smashing into the pack of demons before them, throwing bodies and disjointed limbs high into the air with a cloud of thick black smoke and debris.
Quickly glancing back he saw the military had arrived with multiple tanks, Hum-V’s, LAV’s, and soldiers with American, Canadian, and German patches on their shoulders. The street was soon thick with the sound of small arms fire and the loud cracks as the tanks and LAV’s kept up a constant barrage on the demons and James was quickly reminded of how the immortals and the Japanese military had worked together to defeat the demon hordes last time. It was funny how history seemed to repeat itself like that and he was grateful they weren’t seen as the threat this time. With the new ammunition they had they could easily cut the immortals down if they chose to.
For every ten demons they slayed the Nexus would spew out another hundred and the immortals were starting to get a little overwhelmed. Every face James looked at was covered in black and gold blood as they fought their hardest to even the numbers out a bit, but James had actually expected more than this. Had Janice exaggerated the numbers of the demons she had seen getting ready to assault Earth or were they hiding just beyond the portal waiting for the order to go in?
Ducking under a black axe James spun on his feet quickly and caught his attacker in the abdomen with both of his swords as he lashed out with his left foot and struck another demon so hard in the side of the head that he felt the skull cave under him. Quickly freeing his blades he tossed one into the air a second before he drove the other straight through a demons skull, twisting his body as the sword sliced through the flesh and bone and grabbing his other sword out of the air just in time to cut another’s arms off with one swing. Before he could finish this one off Francis jumped in, bringing his weapon down on its skull as black blood sprayed into the air a second before rushing back to his wife and deflecting a blow that would have cut her down where she stood.
‘What the hell?’ Amy yelled out behind and him and when he looked back at her, fearing the worst he saw that she was pointing towards the red Nexus Point before them, ‘Is it closing?’
James wouldn’t have believed it if he didn’t see it for himself, the portal was indeed closing leaving a couple thousand demons stranded as the immortals pressed them to the breaking point. The black clouds feeding the energy to the gate were already starting to vanish in the sky and the golden yellow sun started to push through, showering them in warm light. The red portal shimmered for a second as its source of power vanished then it died all at once leaving a massive crater where it had once stood.
The demons quickly noticed they were trapped and tried to flee, only to be cut down from behind as the immortals gave chase to them. They were slaughtered by the thousands and their thick black blood covered the once pristine streets until the last one fell to one of Amy’s arrows. The thundering sound of the military’s guns and jets sputtered to a stop and James found himself pulled into absolute silence as the realization crashed down around him; they had done it!
The immortals gathered around him, pulling their power together as they summoned their armour again and rid themselves from the stains of battle, shimmering in the brilliant sunlight raining down from the heavens. Right before a cheer broke out among them one last snap broke through the silence and a bullet struck James in the chest, denting his armour from the impact. All their eyes flashed to the military and James made out a single man waving his hand over his face and chest, palm out as he shouted for them to cease fire.
‘Friendlies!’ he yelled out with a thick French accent.
Holding out his own arms to his family James held them back and could feel a collective groan run through them. Their minds were still locked on battle and if the young ones weren’t careful right now they could start a whole new war with humanity. As they relaxed beside him he began to step towards the military line, sending his swords away and holding his hands out to show he meant no harm to them. The man who was still yelling at the troops gathered to hold their fire waved over two other men and started to move towards him, their own hands held out as well as they met between the two groups present.
‘Colonel Morris, Royal Canadian Military,’ the man with the French accent said, ‘This is Captain Rogers US Marines and Colonel Schneider German special forces.’
James nodded at each of the men, noticing the American seemed angry he was this close to him and the hard look in his eyes told him that James was considered an enemy. He quickly shook it off and introduced himself, holding his hand out to each man to greet them. The German and Canadian both seemed eager to meet him but once he held his hand out towards the Marine he didn’t take it and continued to glare at him.
‘That was pretty impressive,’ Colonel Morris said with an envious smile, ‘We were glad to have you here with us.’
‘We’re just here to help,’ James said trying to hide his own smile.
Colonel Schneider said something quickly in German that James didn’t understand but the Marine quickly translated in a rough and distant voice, ‘He wants to know if you really are Angels from heaven.’
James wasn’t sure how to answer the question right away. It wasn’t that he didn’t want them to know the truth but the men seemed to be religious and James didn’t want to ruin that for them, belief was a very powerful tool if used right. He also didn’t want to lie to them either so he found a middle road.
‘I’m afraid not, we’re immortals who were created to protect the earth from the demons when they came.’
‘Sounds like a load of crap to me,’ Captain Rogers spat but a quick glare from a higher ranking officer he snapped back to attention and tried not to let his trust issues get in the way of the talks.
Before anymore could be said a young looking German man rushed up and quickly whispered something into his commanding officers ear that made his face go white. He quickly repeated it to the Marine who swore when he heard it.
‘What’s going on?’ James asked with concern.
‘More of these portal things have been opening up all across the globe while we have been focused here!’
‘That’s not possible,’ James cried in disbelief, ‘Are you sure?’
Colonel held up his finger for a second before barking something French into a radio he carried. A moment later conformation came from the other side of the radio and he simply nodded grimly as James found himself stunned. ‘Ones opened up in Frankfurt and we’re the only military presence close enough, we have to leave immediately,’ the colonel said with determination, ‘We could really use your help again.’
‘I have to talk with the others,’ James said with a lifeless voice, ‘We’ll do what we can though.’
‘Good luck then friend,’ the Canadian said and all three men saluted him before rushing back to their lines and telling their men what was going on.
Amy was at his side now, the rest appearing a second later as they looked at him and saw the lost look on his face. He used all the will he had left in him and pulled himself out of the hole he had fallen into before turning to them. ‘What’s going on?’ Michelle asked.
‘This was a diversion,’ he said slowly, ‘More gates are opening all over the world right now.’
‘What do we do now?’ Henry asked as he hefted his massive sword onto his shoulder.
‘I don’t know…’
‘Welcome back,’ Gabriella said softly as she cupped Anna’s cheek in her soft hands.
Anna opened her heavy eyes and immediately had to close them as bright light stabbed at her tired brain and pain shot through her head as a dull headache began to take root. The last thing she remembered was being kissed by Gabriella a second before she was stabbed through the stomach with a brutal weapon and she felt herself dying. Everything after that was black and she didn’t even know how she was still alive or where she was right now.
‘W…what’s going on?’ she asked slowly, her throat aching with every letter that escaped her lips. It felt like she was dehydrated, but that wasn’t really possible.
‘Take it slow,’ Gabriella whispered and slowly helped Anna sit up as she opened her eyes once more, braced this time from the bright sun that was beating down on her. They were sitting at the very top of a massive sand dune in the middle of desert that stretched to the horizon and further, not a single living thing in sight besides them.
‘I’m here baby, you’re okay. Don’t try to stand up; you need to rest for a bit.’
‘I should be dead. What happened?’
Gabriella’s gorgeous face and soft golden hair moved into her vision, a soft smile crossing her lips as she softly kissed the tip of her nose and backed off a few inches so they were looking into each other’s eyes. ‘You are dead, as far as Ares is concerned. I’m sorry for what I did to you but it was the only way to save you from him. I hope you understand.’
‘But why? Why are you doing all of this?’
‘Hush now Anna,’ she said and pressed a thin finger to her lips to keep her quiet, ‘I couldn’t lose you baby. You’re safe now and that’s all that matters. We’re in the Sahara Desert, far away from the gates and fighting.’
‘Gates?’ Anna asked in horror, swatting away Gabriella’s hand from her lips.
‘The invasion has already begun, but you don’t have to worry about it. I promise to keep you far away from the death and destruction. I’ll keep you safe forever.’
‘This isn’t right Gabby; we should be out there fighting beside your parents! Instead we’re hiding?’
‘I won’t lose you Anna! We will stay here until it is all over!’ Gabriella said strongly and the look in her silver eyes said this was not up for discussion. Still feeling too weak to even stand up Anna sighed as her thoughts moved to her family, wondering if they were still okay.
The war had erupted.
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