Dark Angel Ch. 00-01byLevanaHyll©
Book five of the Alpha Angels series:
Angel of Retribution
The Witch and the Dragon
This is Ashriel and Anniel's story...
The number of battleships flying into the Edenian solar system like a galactic tsunami, numbered in the trillions. Ashriel stared in abject horror at the silent destruction all around him. Death cloaked itself in a dazzling display of light, surrounding him and Amaranth.
"Ashriel, what are they doing? What's going on?" Amaranth cried out over the com-link in his ear.
Bursts of fire exploded everywhere. It was like being in a nest of newborn suns. Only the fire died out quickly, leaving nothing in its wake.
"We need to call the others. This massacre must stop, Ashriel."
"W-we can't," he gasped, moving in closer to the Edenian solar system. "It's forbidden."
"We can't," he snapped in fury, and then closed his eyes to breathe in deep. "Reapers are forbidden to interfere in these matters."
"Then why did you send some of our own to Earth?" Amaranth asked in exasperation.
A vision formed in Ashriel's mind, of a cold darkness so dark, not even the rays of the Edenian sun could touch it...or warm it.
"They are to help Dresdael, Nimael, and Yureel guard the portals."
There were millions of portals into the realm of darkness, where Lucifer had been cast. Earth had three.
Ashriel's heart hammered so hard it hurt. Even so, he leaned forward in his seat, gripping the throttle levers of his Fire Chariot to zip closer to Alpha 7.
"Where the hell are they?" he hissed at no one in particular.
"The Edenian Master Guardians? I can't get a feel for them," Amaranth replied over the com system. "It's...it's disturbing, Ashriel."
Ashriel felt it too—the absence of power. Whenever he cruised close to the Edenian Master Guardians' territory, he'd feel the roiling power hours before he was even close enough for the solar system to blip on his screen. Now, there was nothing but a cold emptiness that had his flesh crawling over his shaking bones.
Devon, the archangel of the Edenian Master Guardians, was powerful. Son of Davariel, the angel of destruction, and Luciel Nguyen, the most powerful Master Guardian in Edenian history, he was a force to be reckoned with. As a child, Devon was protected by Dominatios, cherub-like entities. Even if Ashriel had tried to slay the demon child, the Dominatios would not have allowed it. To this day, Ashriel did not understand why a divine entity would protect an unclean creature, because that was what Devon was—half demon, half humanoid.
The Seraphian Master Guardians protecting Edenia during the time Devon was just an infant, did their best to raise him surrounded by love and benevolence. He'd grown into a man, never once manifesting his dark side, but Ashriel knew it was a matter of time before the tainted blood within him turned him into a full-fledged demon.
"If he's still alive," Ashriel muttered with a frown.
"Devon. He's virtually indestructible, Amaranth. What in God's name could have..."
He was at a loss for words. Devon's powers were godlike. Anything that could wipe him out without a trace was more than all reaper kind could contend with.
"God save us," Ashriel rasped dodging a beam of purple laser fired their way. Amaranth flew tightly behind him, their transports, called Fire Chariots, locked in synchronization.
Alpha 7 came into view, half of its silver-grey hull dimly lit by the sun, the other half completely black.
Ashriel stared hard at the markings on the space station. She should be resting right now. Only Devon, Rowie, and Seth were supposed to be patrolling. The others, including Anniel, had to be inside.
However, as he drew closer to the hangar entrance, he sensed nothing living within.
Ashriel slapped his hand upon the com unit screen.
"Alpha 7, this is Ashriel of Angelos. I am coming in."
As a high priest reaper, Ashriel did not require permission to board any space station, especially during a situation like this.
Still, there was no human answer. Only Alpha 7's automatic hangar airlocks flashing green to let him know he had access inside.
His defense systems blared a warning. Fighter transports were approaching fast behind him and Amaranth.
"Ash, they're trying to get inside too," Amaranth exclaimed.
Ashriel cursed and opened a link to the pilots crowding behind them. "You are not authorized to enter. Desist. The space station's defense systems will vaporize any unauthorized ships trying to gain access."
The small fighter transports drew ever closer.
Amaranth gasped," Ashriel."
Again, Ashriel tried to warn. "Stop now. I repeat. The space station's defense systems will attack unauthorized ships attempting to enter Alpha 7."
Light flashed and his Chariot shook. They were firing at them from behind. He immediately worried about Amaranth, angry at himself for letting her talk him into allowing her to accompany him on this mission. With a hissed curse, he leaned heavier against the throttle levers.
"Amaranth, go to the ninth planet. Find Gareth, Anniel's son. She's been leaving him with her mother."
"The weres' colony?"
Alpha 7 was growing ever larger. "Yes, Amaranth, hurry. Take them both and meet me on the outskirts of our solar system."
Amaranth began to talk but he ripped his com unit earpiece off. With a white-knuckled grip, he pushed the throttle levers full forward. Blue-white fire streamed from the Fire Chariot's rear jets.
It would take him three seconds to pass the initial security shields before disintegrating upon the first airlock barrier if he didn't pull back quickly.
The screens in his Fire Chariot blared a warning, but Ashriel was too busy counting. On three, he yanked the throttles full back and was thrown out of his seat. His reaper's wings and head hit the rear of the Chariot's interior. Lights danced before Ashriel's eyes before he lost consciousness—then again, it could have been the fighter transports that tried to follow him into Alpha 7 exploding on the security shields.
His ears rang and his head throbbed. Black fluff floated around inside his Fire Chariot. With a grunt of annoyance, he swatted the evidence of his youth out of his face. He'd been molting his baby feathers for the past twenty years. Most of the fluffy down was gone, but he still had a few annoying bits of fluff amidst his shiny new adult plumage.
Rising to peer over the edge of the control panel, he blinked out at the absolute darkness in the hangar. The only light source was the lone spotlight over his transport.
Nothing changed when he opened the hatch of his Fire Chariot and unfolded his seven-foot bulk from the cramped interior. The silence was overwhelming as he brushed back his shoulder-length dark hair. Darkness yawned out to infinity. Overhead he could make out the metal webbing holding up the roof and walls of the hangar.
At one time, there were legions of Fire Chariots resting within Alpha 7. As time wore on, there were less Seraphian Master Guardians as the Edenians became part of the League of Stars, or LOS. Ashriel knew the Edenian government disapproved and distrusted Master Guardians, beings with extrasensory powers. They preferred to rely on well-trained Guardian soldiers and barely tolerated their own Master Guardians, which had dwindled down to only seven; Devon, Lucien, Sethaliel, Raguel, Remien, Zachariel, and Anniel.
At the moment, the transports utilized by the seven Master Guardians, called Vipers, were nowhere to be seen. The hangar was empty.
Ashriel lifted his wings and looked around. There were hundreds of metal double doors leading into the interior of the space station. The closest one was about two hundred paces away.
He couldn't spare a second to walk or run to the doors. He needed to see with his own eyes if the Edenian Master Guardians were indeed missing. The fact the Vipers weren't there did not convince Ashriel enough. He'd witnessed Devon rounding the transports up—alone—to lead them into Alpha 7 for his precious angels.
Spreading his black wings wide, he was airborne in seconds, making the trip to the closest set of doors quickly. Before his second boot touched the metallic hangar floor, the silver doors opened with a soft hiss.
Tucking his wings tight, he walked through the open doorway. The corridor walls were rounded and a pale pearlescent grey. The black gloss of the floor reflected the overhead lighting made to simulate the evening sky of Earth. Evenly spaced spherical globes attached to the walls kept the corridor from being too dim with their soft golden light.
Ashriel knew his way around, and in no time, he was on the one hundred and eleventh level...where they slept...where she slept.
Devon's quarters were first with Lucien's across from him. Anniel's quarters were just before Zachariel's, with Seth, Rowie, and the new red weredragon's afterwards.
Ashriel entered her rooms, the scent of feminine perfume filling his lungs with every breath. Silver and furry white throw pillows decorated an enormous fuchsia seating area. The fire pit in the center was unlit, with a lone glass sitting on one of the transparent plastiform end tables.
Ashriel lifted the glass and sniffed. Pink lemonade. It was her favorite.
Padding into her bedchamber, he noted she'd left her bed undone. Bright pink sheets covered the round bed sitting atop a pedestal, flanked by frosted glass partitions. Ashriel turned to look at the thick glass wall that held back the vast expanse of space. Flashes of light assured him that ships and planets were being fired upon. It was total chaos. Death and destruction everywhere...and where were the Edenian Master Guardians? Where was Anniel?
Turning back to let his eyes roam her room, he stalked toward one of the night stands by the bed.
Three orbs of varying sizes began to glow. Ashriel picked one up to peer inside the holographic orb. It contained an image of Anniel sitting on her son's bed, reading him a bedtime story. The tiny boy, with golden ringlets and blue-green eyes smiled at his mother. His lone white wing spread out in relaxation as he grinned up at her. The boy's skin was golden brown, made more noticeable by the stark whiteness of his wing. One wing.
Ashriel slammed the orb back onto the nightstand in anger. His brother, Garethiel had sired the child and then abandoned both. If he knew his child had been born deformed he'd hate them even more. Ashriel never told him what he knew, but had always kept an eye on the female and his nephew, guarding them as best he could.
"Until now," Ashriel said on a shuddering breath. His vision blurred and he touched his cheeks to discover tears.
With a snarl of rage, he spun on his heel and stormed out.
Flying out of Alpha 7 in his Fire Chariot, he found himself surrounded by Edenian soldier guardians. There were fifty Edenian battleships with fully loaded plasma cannons pointed at the space station.
Ashriel opened his com link to them.
"What have you done with your Master Guardians?" he accused.
A white-haired Merulian appeared on the com unit screen.
"Greetings, reaper." The Merulian gave a small smile. "We don't know where those demons have gone to. They could be on any of the ships attacking our solar system."
Ashriel frowned. "That's ridiculous. Devon doesn't need a battalion of battleships to destroy this entire solar system." Ashriel clenched his fists. "All he needs to do is look at the sun and will it to detonate to wipe everything out."
The Merulian winced. Of course, he knew that. They all knew. Devon was a menace, a ticking time bomb the Seraphian Master Guardians thought they could tame with love and gentleness. His father's tainted blood ran through his veins. The first time Ashriel had met him, the boy's glowing blue eyes had gone black, and his stark white skin had laced over with black veins making every feather on Ashriel's wings ruffle in apprehension.
"You want to hurt me," Devon had whispered. Ashriel had been thinking of running him through with his divine sword, but one of the Seraphian Master Guardian's stepped between them, scowling at Ashriel.
"You should be ashamed of yourself," Aria had admonished Ashriel.
Looking at the destruction around them, Ashriel shook his head. "I should have killed that bastard when I had the chance."
"Move out of the way. We're about to open fire on that space station," the Merulian ordered snapping Ashriel back out of his memories.
"What good would that do? They're not in there. They're gone. I don't feel the power of any of them—anywhere."
"Good. They'll have nowhere to slink back into when they're done trying to destroy everything."
Again, Ashriel thought of Anniel. He knew she was innocent. She barely even had powers. "I told you, I don't feel their presence. They've disappeared. They have nothing to do with what's happening here. You can't condemn all of them. You—"
"Don't dictate to use who is guilty or not," the Merulian hissed. "They're all vile, unclean, immoral scum. We're sick of all these things with supernatural powers trying to take over, wreaking havoc—"
Ashriel slammed his fist on the console. "Their powers aren't supernatural...well, except for Devon, maybe. The reapers can help—"
Again, the Merulian snorted. "We don't want or need your help. Get out of the way. We're opening fire in ten seconds whether you do or don't."
With that, the com unit screen went black.
Ashriel opened his mouth to hail them back online but the sight of the plasma canons firing up had him spinning his Fire Chariot around and zipping away from Alpha 7.
They were mad—crazy—all of them. Destroying Alpha 7 would accomplish nothing.
Amaranth's distress signal distracted him from the destruction occurring behind him.
Homing in on her signal, he headed farther from the Edenian solar system.
A group of Utuduodian hunter ships zipped past him, but up ahead, he saw the saucer-shaped vessels of Grei aliens. Amaranth's signal was coming from within one of them.
Ashriel's blood boiled with rage and he zipped full throttle toward the Grei ship.
Entering the landing hangar was easy. It always was. It was getting out that was lethal.
Ashriel piloted his Fire Chariot down next to Amaranth's. They allowed him to land, to climb out of his transport and walk to stand next to her.
Amaranth stood, black wings spread and divine sword drawn. Her hair was a vivid splash of fiery red down her back and her leather clad legs crouched down in battle stance.
"What happened?" Ashriel murmured coming up next to her, his eyes never leaving the horde of Greis surrounding them.
Amaranth turned her head to look at him. The inside of her eyes were completely black with no whites showing. A reaper in kill mode.
"They grabbed my Fire Chariot with a tractor beam and hauled me in here."
He swallowed twice before trusting his voice not to break. "And the boy? The woman?"
Amaranth's voice trembled with unshed tears. "There was nothing left of the ninth planet. Ashriel, I saw the Edenian battle ships decimate it." She sniffled, directing her gaze to the Grei aliens surrounding them. "I'm sorry."
Ashriel knew he shouldn't feel shocked by what Amaranth told him. What would decimating an entire planet with its inhabitants accomplish? The Edenian government could easily blame their Master Guardians for it. Just another tactic in their hate campaign so their citizens would be wary of anyone with developed extrasensory abilities.
A wave of anguish over the loss of his nephew washed over him, followed by coldness. The air around him distorted as he opened his wings. Had the aliens standing before him been demons or devils, they would have all been dead right now. As it was, they only backed away nervously at his show of power.
"Release us. You have no right to abduct two Seraphian high priests," Ashriel hissed.
The Greis had evolved from their inter-breeding with other humanoid races. No longer frail, hairless little creatures, they had developed more human-like bodies, bigger, brawnier, with tentacle-like hair atop their head that hung in thick coils past their shoulders. Their strange almond-shaped eyes still dominated almost half their faces and some had noses and lips
Amidst the sea of aliens around Ashriel and Amaranth, a large tattooed Grei made his way to the forefront. He was without a doubt, the largest Grei alien Ashriel had ever seen. Dressed in deep grey leather-like pants with an array of weapons strapped to his legs and bare torso, Ashriel had the feeling he was looking at the leader of the Grei race.
The alien puffed his chest out more with a lopsided grin as he shoved his hands in the pockets of his tight pants. "You are Ashriel," his raspy voice hissed. Tiny pointed teeth peeked through his lipless mouth.
Ashriel's eyes narrowed. "That's right. Release us now."
Although his almond shaped huge eyes were a glistening solid black, Ashriel could sense the Grei alien's gaze moving back to Amaranth.
The Grei's grin became leering as his head cocked to one side. "I want her for a mate."
"Blasphemy," Ashriel snarled. "Reapers must remain chaste."
The Grei alien's head turned to regard Ashriel. "That is a waste. The reapers are the superior beings of your race. Why do you suppress the superior genes?"
"We are holy warriors. We are the only ones with the ability to kill beings from Ainrodonden."
The Grei leader grinned. "More the reason you should procreate between yourselves. That would make more black-winged ones."
Ashriel scowled. "Release us. Abducting reapers is not tolerated by anyone. Your kind will be hunted down and slaughtered until you are wiped out."
The Grei frowned now, especially when his people began to murmur nervously amongst themselves. Everyone still remembered the horror of Davariel's reign as dark prince, demons and devils running amok. No creature was spared the bloody horror. Only reapers were able to slaughter the demons and devils almost effortlessly. Reapers were revered throughout the galaxy. To hurt one was unforgivable.
The Grei snorted and waved them away before turning and snarling out orders to his people.
The Grei's moved aside, giving the two Fire Chariots enough room to fire up and fly away.
Ashriel waited until Amaranth boarded her Fire Chariot first before boarding his. He followed her out and once they were far from the Grei ships, they turned back toward Seraphia.
Behind them, war waged.
"Ashriel, what happened? Why were all those aliens attacking each other?"
"Power, Amaranth. Greed for territory, slaves, and wealth."
"Are you sure we can't do anything?"
His eyes brimmed with tears. "I am sure. We are not allowed to interfere in those matters, Amaranth."
"B-but they're all killing each other, Ash. I saw the Edenians blow up Pluto. There was an entire colony of weres there. It was horrible. I was getting ready to land when I noticed the battleships' plasma canons firing up."
Ashriel closed his eyes as shame, frustration, and fury filled him. He'd been too late to save Anniel and her son. Now they were gone...gone forever.
More than three hundred years later; Haddasha.
There she sat, like the most beautiful dream he'd ever had...and Ashriel had many with Anniel. She was alive. After being lost—disappeared for about three hundred years—his secret love had returned. He swallowed hard and stuck his suddenly sweaty hands into the pockets of his leather pants.
That fateful day, when the intergalactic war had started, the Utuduodian hunters had captured the Edenian Master Guardians in suspended animation orbs. Now, the Edenian Master Guardians had renamed themselves Alpha Angels and they no longer guarded the Edenian solar system. The Utuduodian hunters no longer abducted men—or so they claimed. How they managed to capture Devon and his angels was still a mystery. They claimed it had been a terrible mistake.