tagSci-Fi & FantasyThe Fallen Ch. 04

The Fallen Ch. 04

byRubyStorm©

Sorry for the delay in getting out this latest chapter. Life has been busy, and writer's block can be a catty bitch sometimes. I hope you enjoy chapter four!

The usual disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. All characters involved in erotic scenes are over 18, even when not explicitly stated.

* * * * * *

THE FALLEN

CHAPTER 4: MYSTERY

"Seraphinus is the first of the heavenly rank of Cherubim to escape the Abyss. The tear is becoming larger."

I recall my father's words from earlier today as I stare out the window of his big, black Cadillac Escalade. I haven't gotten a complete explanation about that statement, so the full implications of it still elude me. I would think more powerful Eternals appearing on Earth would be a good thing, but who knows? Maybe the old codgers in charge are getting nervous in their ivory towers over this news. Between all that's happened last night and today, I've found my head is spinning too much to think about it.

Dad is driving with Chiaki riding shotgun, myself and Danni seated in the middle row, and my brother Chris all back-of-the-bus in the third row. We're navigating through the city's business district. It's a late Sunday afternoon, and traffic is pretty heavy.

It's still hard to come to grips with calling Thomas "father" or "dad". Up until this morning he was just a friend and classmate, a young man I thought was my own age. Hah...a young man. If what Chiaki said is accurate then he's over 120 years old.

One thing I'm aware of now, though. The name Thomas Devore is a fake. I know his real name from the intermittent letters he'd send as I was growing up. They were always signed "Ash Nightlock". For some reason his masquerade as a Bay Ridge Academy student seems important to him, so in public he'll still have to be Thomas.

After my recent awakening, I've found myself part of a much larger world. It's one I'm about to be thrown into head first. I'm not totally sure why, but we're on our way to meet the territory Overseer, a woman named Harmony Grace.

I'd insisted on a shower first, and my father insisted I dress in something nice. Luckily, Danni and I went clothes shopping yesterday, and I have something nice to wear. All five of us are decked out in suits or dresses, shiny shoes or high heels. I swear it looks more like we're heading out for a night of clubbing than anything else.

I suppose father thought Chiaki and I might make a poor impression on Ms. Grace if we showed up in our grungy, sweaty running outfits. He's probably right, but it's still funny it was a guy who insisted we get all fancied up for this little meet-n-greet...or whatever it is. Left to my own devices I probably would've just thrown on a clean pair of jeans and a t-shirt and slapped my hair into a quick pony.

Now I have to walk everywhere in these high heels and hope I don't stumble around like a total dweeb. I am so not used to walking in them. I thought I'd get more practice before I had to wear them out on the town. Danni acts quite at home in hers, as if she's used to this high-society stuff.

Considering the way she threw money around while we were shopping yesterday, I'm guessing Danni comes from a wealthy family and actually is from high society. Not that something like scads of money is important to me, but I'm sure Danni will tell me about her family when she's ready.

During our slow drive through the city, we all listen to father give Danni the same lessons he'd given me about Eternal culture and government. In spite of all the clichés about blonds, Danni is a sharp cookie and understands just fine.

After my father wraps up, I ask, "Okay, so why are we going to meet this Overseer?"

He explains, "When I asked for permission to form our original Covey I was granted a limit of five members, but no suitable candidates ever presented themselves...until now."

Danni questions, "But if she already gave you permission why do we have to go see this Ms. Grace?"

Dad tells her, "She granted a limit of five with the condition she approved my other two choices."

No one asks the obvious question, though I see it written on Danni's face when I look over at her. What if Harmony Grace says no? I take Danni's hand and give it a reassuring squeeze. No matter what, Danni and I will be together...even if the Overseer forces us to leave Bay Ridge Academy.

We can always live in the city or the small town in between and commute to classes. I have a sneaking suspicion Chiaki's father, Ken'ichi, would put us up until Danni and I could get settled in elsewhere.

At our lack of response my father assures us, "Don't worry. Harmony is a reasonable woman. I don't foresee any problems. This is mostly just a formality and a matter of protocol."

Silence descends on the Escalade again, and Chiaki reaches out to turn on the radio. Her fingers hunt through stations, and I remember there was something I wanted to check. I reach down, open my purse, and get out my phone.

Opening a web browser, I search for any shops in the city named "The Third Eye". It takes a bit of hunting to find what I'm looking for. When I see it's location, though, I'm a bit surprised. I realize the magic shop is nowhere near the warehouse district where my "time-warp-erased" experiences took place.

Strange.

No stranger than being transported back in time to alter a seemingly insignificant decision. A decision I changed that basically brought a girl back from the dead and erased a horrible and frightening night. I should see if we can make a quick side stop after our meeting with Ms. Grace, but I'll have to think of a way to deflect any questions.

Nothing comes to mind. On second thought, maybe I should just go there on my own.

Or...maybe I should let sleeping dogs lie and simply be grateful Emma and Graves did what they did. I probably would if I didn't have a nagging suspicion there were ulterior motives involved. I'd rather find out what those motives are. I don't relish the idea of playing an unknown part in the plans of two people powerful enough to bend space and time to their whims.

I've also been itching all day to ask about Trina, the other lupines, and this "accord" we supposedly have with them, but then I'd have to explain how I even know about any of that. No one has uttered a peep in that regard, and I don't feel ready to reveal the circumstances of how I'd come by the knowledge.

My life has come to feel like I've been handed a scant few puzzle pieces and asked to guess what it's supposed to look like when completed. I suppose I'll just have to roll with the punches for now until I can start throwing some of my own.

But...it would seem we're here. My father is pulling into a large parking garage situated next to a towering skyscraper.

Must be time to put on my game face.

* * * * * *

We're checked thoroughly by lobby security, the two armed, bruiser-types wanding us, sending us through metal detectors, and x-raying we ladies' purses. Despite the intimidating size of the men, they're incredibly professional, polite, and friendly with all their pleases and thank-yous.

Once that's done we're allowed to enter one of the six elevators arrayed behind the security desk. As I step inside I notice there's no buttons beyond the emergency ones required for safety and a single button labeled "lobby". Apparently, wherever we're heading allows for no unauthorized stops.

My twin brother sees the direction of my gaze and says, "This is Harmony's private elevator. It goes all the way up to her penthouse suite."

I raise an eyebrow at how Chris talks like he's on a first-name basis with the Overseer.

"Oh," I mutter as the doors close. "One way ticket, eh?"

Chris grins and scratches his head when he answers, "Naw. It can actually stop anywhere. It's controlled from a panel in Harmony's suite, and there's also an emergency recall at the security desk."

There's a quiet hum, and I can feel a mild lurch in my stomach as the elevator starts moving.

"So what's that?" I ask, pointing to a small slot beneath the few buttons.

"Card reader," my father explains. "It opens a panel with more buttons so Ms. Grace can use the elevator as she sees fit."

"Pretty slick," I admit.

Numbers on the readout showing our current floor are whizzing by at a pretty good clip. They start to slow when they pass forty, and my body feels lighter for a moment as the steel box bleeds off it's inertia. The readout stops at "50", and there is a ding before the door opens.

The five of us exit the elevator into an impressive space, a pair of steps descending into a wide open living room. There's maybe a dozen pieces of artwork on the walls. A few pedestals in one corner hold some unusual sculptures. Centered and mounted to another wall is a huge flat screen TV, it's surface dark. Directly below this is a gas fireplace with some pretty realistic-looking fake logs glowing a cherry red. Flickering flames lick upward randomly from them. Much of the center of the room is taken up by a rectangular configuration of couches and chairs that face each other inwardly, their frames covered by a mahogany hued leather. A large, fancy coffee table of equally dark wood sits in the middle.

My attention, however, is riveted to the three huge windows that take up the opposite, outer wall. I've never been this high in a building, and even from across the room the vista from 500 feet up is breathtaking. I can see the far away mountains along the horizon, a large jet climbing lazily in the distance from the easily visible airport. I've been through that airport so I know how big it really is, but it looks so tiny from here.

Oh, and the smog. It hangs in the air like a dirty blanket.

"Quite the view, isn't it?" a woman's voice calls from the middle of the room.

My eyes are drawn to the source of the sound. I'm mildly startled because I could swear there was no one sitting in that leather chair a moment ago. This must be our Overseer, Harmony Grace. Going by appearance she looks little more than 25-ish. With what my father told me about her position, she's likely at least 200 years old. If not older.

The beauty of her light brown face is what I'd call eloquent, her chocolate-colored skin flawless and silky-smooth. She possesses thin, elfin features that taper downward to a triangular jaw. Her liquid hazel eyes are dark and earthy, and her red-painted lips are full and pouty. They part slightly and pull upward with the barest hint of a smile. She has her brunette hair pulled back into a tight bun, two thin strands of her wavy bangs hanging down each side of her face.

Harmony is wearing white, boot-cut slacks and a matching two-button jacket, with a pastel yellow guayabera shirt beneath. She has one leg crossed over her knee, and I can see black, four-inch high heels on her feet.

"Ah, there you are, Ms. Grace," father says in a pleasant, friendly voice. "Good afternoon."

The exquisitely beautiful woman laughs lightly, the sound reminding me of a wind chime as it jingles and rings in the breeze.

"Ash, please," she smiles fully now, showing off her perfectly white teeth. "You know I don't stand on ceremony. It's Harmony."

Danni gazes at me with a look of confusion, but it's brief and comprehension dawns on her.

She turns to my dad and says, "Oh, duh. Thomas wouldn't be your real name, would it? So your name is Ash?"

"Yes," my father nods. "My apologies for not telling you sooner. I get so wrapped up in my Thomas persona I sometimes forget."

Harmony stands and slowly approaches the five of us with flowing, elegant steps as she looks to me and says, "You must be the second half of the infamous Nightlock twins."

Her reference to my father Ash's last name throws me for a brief second, but then I realize her mistake and inform her, "It's Gray, actually. Erykah Gray. It's my mother's maiden name."

"Then I beg your pardon," she says, placing a hand over her heart and bowing ever-so-slightly. "Either way, I'm pleased to meet you."

She extends that same hand in my direction as she comes closer, and I'm a little stunned at how damn tall she is. Even without her heels she must be about six foot in height, but with the footwear she's taller than all of us. More than just that, though, her very presence seems to exude an aura of poise, charisma, and power.

"Thanks," is all I can think to say as I shake the woman's hand, her grasp delicate and reassuring.

"You do look so much like your brother," Harmony tells me, turning her gaze briefly to Chris.

In that small moment where she looks at my twin, I see her eyes gain this intense glimmer. The incredibly minute expression speaks volumes to me, and I know for certain there's something romantic going on between my brother and this woman. The fleeting expression disappears as she looks to me and releases our handshake.

I suppose that explains why I haven't seen Christopher with a girlfriend at school. I was wondering about that. Mystery solved. Apparently my brother likes older women. Much older women.

Harmony turns to Danni to greet her as well, and I decide to take this opportunity to try out one of my abilities. I turn my head slightly and concentrate on my brother, focusing my thoughts in his direction.

I attempt to mentally broadcast to him, thinking, "Dad know about you and Harmony getting it on?"

Chris coughs in surprise, while at the same time Harmony is saying to Danni, "And you must be Danni Wilson. Ash didn't tell me you were such an ethereal beauty."

Danni blushes a touch as she shakes Harmony's hand and graciously replies, "Thank you. That's kind of you to say."

My brother's words pop into my head with a pleading tone as he begs, "Please don't say anything."

I have to stifle a laugh at his look of relief when I reply, "Don't worry. Wasn't going to."

As I close off the mental contact, I have to wonder why it's such a big secret...but whatever. It's Chris' love life. Who am I to judge?

"It's also very nice to see the rest of you again. Please. Come. Sit," Harmony tells us all, waving a hand toward the middle of the room.

We all take a seat on the leather furniture, Danni and I sitting next to each other. Harmony moves into the area as we all get situated, but she remains standing. The Overseer motions to a silver platter atop the coffee table where a fancy looking bottle of wine and six glasses wait.

"Would all of you care to share a drink with me?" she offers.

My father surprises us when he nods with a smile and answers, "Yes, that would be great. Thank you."

"It's my pleasure," Harmony replies.

Chiaki holds up a hand and tells the Overseer, "Thank you, but I must pass."

"That's perfectly fine, dear," our hostess replies with a nod. "No one should feel pressured to join us if they don't want to. I promise not to take offense."

The woman lifts the bottle and uses a corkscrew puller to pop the cork. She fills five of the glasses about half way and hands them out, each of us giving our thanks. She takes the last glass for herself, replaces the cork, and sits in the chair she inhabited before.

I feel kind of weird sitting here with a glass of wine in my hand. As I look back and forth between dad and Harmony I realize they're gripping their glasses by the base of the stem. Maybe it's some sort of etiquette thing? It seems right, so I match my hand position to theirs.

As if by some hidden consensus, we three youngsters hold our glasses and wait for one of our elders to drink first. I think we're all a little wowed that my dad agreed so easily. It's surprising to me he's allowing us to have alcohol even though we're still underage. Not that he looks of age, either, but technically he's about a hundred years older than he appears.

My father sniffs the crimson liquid before taking a small sip. He seems to consider the flavor for a moment before he swallows it.

"This is quite excellent," he pronounces, giving Harmony a charming smile. "Very well-defined with a powerful body. It evokes words like delicate, sensual, frank, and full."

"I'm glad you like it," Harmony nods, giving dad a warm smile in return. "It's a 1960 Romanée Conti."

"Ah," my father says, "from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Their Burgundian Pinot Noir grapes always were subtle and complex."

"And flamboyant!" Harmony says, giving out an enchanting laugh.

She holds out her glass toward my father before taking a small swig herself. Dad laughs along with her, as if at some sort of inside joke. Mirth and fondness fill his eyes, letting me know his laugh is genuine.

Oh damn...I get it now. After that little interaction it's obvious why Chris wants to keep his fling a secret. Seeing the lingering affection in father's eyes, it would appear he and Harmony used to be an item. Bro is banging dad's ex.

I feel like face-palming, but instead I smile and take a sip of the wine.

"Mmm," I hum in appreciation at the flavor.

It is, as my father said, quite good, but I taste an unusual, tertiary hint of leather and underbrush. Strange...I don't remember my sense of taste being this keen. Not to mention noticing all these little details about the things and people around me. I mean, I was never a dope, but ever since we arrived at this skyscraper it's like my powers of observation have been on steroids.

It's not a perfect analogy, but the closest thing I can liken it to is this - it's like my whole life I've only seen things in black-and-white, but now I'm seeing the grand detail of colors for the very first time. Long silent, Cassie pipes up briefly.

"We...we have remembered an ability. Our senses...they have become stronger, but we may heighten them to an even greater magnitude than what you feel now."

Well, let's see just how sharp my senses can get. I might regret this, but...I inhale deeply and picture the mixture of scents that fill my nose becoming sharper and more defined.

I close my eyes and sniff the wine. It's pungent fragrance fills my nostrils, and I swear I can smell the very dirt the grapes were grown in. It's not the only thing I pick up on, either. Somewhere in this penthouse suite is a stash of weed.

I was never a huge fan of that powerful aroma, so I let my sense of smell go back to normal. I power up my taste buds this time and take a small drink of the wine, almost immediately sorry. The flavor isn't bad, but it is so overpowering I almost gag.

"You okay?" Danni asks with concern as I fight to swallow the wine without coughing it up.

"Sorry," I say once I win the battle. "Ah, went down the wrong pipe. Guess I'm a wine noob."

I cough and release my enhanced sense of taste. I have to blink a couple times at the weird sensation.

"We may do this with all our senses, but beware loud noises or bright lights. Too much sensory input may blind, deafen, or disorient us."

"To business then?" father asks before taking another sip.

"I suppose so," Harmony sighs, looking back and forth at the rest of us. "He can be such a...how do you kids call it these days...a buzzkill?"

We all smile at that, and Chiaki says sarcastically, "Naw. Him be serious? Never."

"Oh, of course not," Harmony laughs lightly in good-natured teasing. "You're right, though, Ash. We should get our business out of the way."

Father nods and states formally, "Overseer Grace, I've come to officially request the remaining two spots in my Covey be filled by Erykah Gray and Danni Wilson. I strongly believe our already existing bonds of family and friendship will serve well in the task of protecting Seraphinus until the upcoming Grand Conclave."

What? We're protecting Chiaki? Hahah, that's funny. Though the Overseer smiles beneficently, my heart gives a little lurch at her next word.

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