Dark Angel Ch. 03byLevanaHyll©
"Don't touch her," he practically screamed, enraged, as he settled down between his brother and the woman he loved. Anniel's hands came up against his spread wings when he stepped back into her, clasping her hip to keep her behind him and out from Garethiel's sight.
After having callously deflowered her and then walking out as if she meant nothing, the thought of Garethiel putting his filthy hands on her again made Ashriel want to tear him limb from limb. He shook with barely contained violence.
His brother stared at him, eyes and mouth gaping. There was nothing but silence for the longest time, only Ashriel's ragged breathing from all the furious adrenaline coursing through his veins.
Garethiel slowly put his hands up with a sardonic grin.
"Easy there, little brother. I just wanted to say hi."
Anniel's fingers whispered over his feathers, as if admiring them, which caused him to close his eyes with a shiver at the intense pleasure it gave him. He felt her flinch when he moaned softly, and then step away from him.
He spun back to hold onto to her, but she'd teleported into Devon's arms. The sight of her wrapping her arms around him, burying her face against his chest as he held her tight in return, kissing her face, sent a jolt of jealous fury through Ashriel.
Forgetting the presence of all in the hangar, he took a step toward them, his teeth and fists clenched. How he wanted to kill Devon—more so now that he held Anniel.
Devon's luminescent eyes snapped back up to him. Even as Ashriel stared, black veins appeared at the demon's temples and a chill breeze blew from nowhere. Both his dragons began to snarl, and the weretigri hissed as they drew closer to their commander. None of that would have fazed Ashriel in the least. What had him backing up was the sight of Anniel's eyes changing into luminous wolf eyes and her teeth becoming elongated. She bared these at him, an animalistic growl coming from deep in her throat.
Ashriel could not have been hurt more if she'd run him through the heart with a flaming lance. Her reaction to him made him stagger back two more steps. Vaguely, he heard his brother snicker and make some derisive comment under his breath.
"I think I've seen enough," his mother snapped. She turned without another word and headed back to the star cruiser. His father gave him one last hateful glare and followed in his mother's wake.
Ashriel felt his chest tightening. This was his family.
Garethiel sauntered up next to him. Ashriel scowled into his face.
"Look, past squabbles aside, you're still my twin brother. You don't belong here with these..." he gave the Alpha Angels a condescending snort, "people. I've got a little place set up on Rhydiam Nine. You're more than welcome to stay there. I'll leave you my old Silver Comet."
Garethiel turned and pointed a silver pen-like object toward the star cruiser. Another hatch located on the lower part of the transport opened. A chrome plated transport pod floated out and settled itself on the hangar floor.
He turned back with a lopsided grin to Ashriel. "I was getting rid of it anyway. Got myself a new transport. A Supra Nova."
He tossed Ashriel the little silver rod and then walked away. "See-ya 'round, baby brother."
Ashriel gritted his teeth in annoyance. He'd been born ten minutes after Garethiel, and the asshole never let him forget it.
The ramps closed the minute Garethiel disappeared inside the star cruiser. The thin metallic legs retracted and the transport drifted back out the exit chute.
Ashriel remained staring at the chute long after it stopped glowing, holding the obvious key to the Silver Comet his brother left him. His eyes drifted back to the shiny transport pod. He wasn't sure exactly where Alpha 7 was at the moment, but getting to Rhydiam Nine shouldn't be difficult. Silver Comets had guidance systems. He could leave right now. He had no credits, but he could look for honest work. He could fight. Perhaps someone might want to hire him as a guard.
He'd have to say goodbye to Anniel.
His chest tightened.
With a hard swallow he turned, knowing that at the moment she probably hated him more than Garethiel.
Only Devon, Remien, Zachariel, and Sethaliel stood behind him. She'd gone. He wouldn't even have the privilege to have a few last words with her.
"Don't go," Devon said in a soft voice. "Please."
Ashriel just stared at him. He considered Devon something evil that needed to be destroyed, and here he stood, almost begging him not to leave. It was confusing. Ashriel had to close his eyes and shake his head to get his thoughts back in order. He needed to find out the cause to the war three hundred years ago, and hunt down the right portal into the realm of darkness to slay the dark prince, Lucien.
"You just can't walk out on Annie, man," Remien spat.
Ashriel glared at him. It was all his fault. If Ashriel had decided on his own to become fallen, he would have gone the honorable route. He would have chosen to renounce his rank. He would have had to assume a hundred siglon task and then...
Would Anniel have awaited him for one hundred siglons?
She hated him now, knew he was Garethiel's twin. Garethiel, who'd seduced her with pretty words and his pretty face and beautiful stark white wings and blond hair. After fucking her for a few weeks, when it was time for the Seraphian Master Guardians to leave, his coward of a brother was one of the first to transfer his services to another world without telling her anything. When Ashriel confronted him about this, his brother had only shrugged his shoulders carelessly saying it was better that way. He couldn't stand clinging females and their tears.
"And now you're doing the same thing."
Ashriel's anger bristled. "Stay the fuck out of my head, Devon of Angelos."
Seth snorted with a scowl. "You're broadcasting. Pull your emotions into yourself and we won't hear it."
Ashriel turned and strode with determination toward the Silver Comet. The side door opened and he slid in. Just before closing it, he took a deep breath and looked back up at the Alpha Angels. "Thank you for bringing me here and caring for me in my time of need. When I acquire employment I'll send whatever amount of credits you need to cover any expenditure you may have incurred..."
"We don't want your money," Devon said in irritation.
Ashriel nodded. He had a feeling they would refuse his paying them. "Then I am in debt to you. If I can ever assist you in any task—as long as it's for an honorable cause—"
"We get it, Ash," Zachariel interrupted with a frown.
Ashriel nodded, his eyes going over reach of them.
The lighting made Seth's white-blond hair almost glow as well as his pale blue eyes. Devon watched Ashriel, his electric blue eyes bright in his perfect face framed by a fall of jet hair. Next to him, Remien sulked, his blood-red hair falling in soft wisps over his face and the rest pouring over his shoulders. Zachariel folded his arms over his wide chest. His expression was hard, disapproving, stern. It made Ashriel feel like a worse bastard than Garethiel.
Was he running away from Anniel like a coward? "She hates me," he whispered to himself.
"She's just hurt, Ash," Devon said softly. "Just stay. Work things out."
Ashriel looked back up at him. "Why do you want me for her? Did you all conspire to my falling? Did you think taking me out would deter me from my mission to destroying all that is evil? To turn to the dark side?"
"We aren't evil." Zachariel scowled. "Where do you get off continuously accusing us of being evil?"
Devon put his hand on the golden weredragon's arm in a soothing gesture.
"I need to keep an open mind. I refuse to take sides until I have all the facts straight," Ashriel stated coldly.
Devon nodded. "You do that, Ash. We'll be here if you ever need a home and a family."
Ashriel winced, his mouth opening. What could he say to that? Clamping his lips shut, he nodded and closed the door to the Silver Comet. It could be a trick. Ashriel needed to remember that. If he ever found out they'd used Anniel to tempt him away from the light he'd come back and slay them all, even if she hated him even more for the rest of her existence. They had her fooled with their insincere affection, but they weren't going to fool him.
He inserted the silver key into the ignition.
Ashriel frowned, ejected the key, and re-inserted it.
Maybe it was voice controlled. What was he supposed to say if it was?
"On," he commanded.
The transport control panel remained unlit. With a terse curse, he opened the door again. The alpha Angels had come closer.
"Transport trouble?" Zak asked trying to keep a straight face.
Remien's hands caressed the Silver Comet's nose. "Pop the hood, Ash. I'll take a look-see."
Ashriel hesitated, wary of letting the red-haired weredragon fiddle with the transport's mechanisms.
Seth rolled his eyes and snapped his fingers. The Silver Comet's front slid open revealing an intricate array of metal parts and multi-colored cables and wires.
"Wow, this shit is old," Remien scoffed whipping his shirt off. He immediately stuck his head into the transport's front compartment and began fingering the dizzying amount of cables and wires.
Ashriel looked over the gleaming Silver comet. It didn't look old, but then he knew very little about transports, except that this was an expensive brand.
To Ashriel's dismay, Remien began pulling out various wires and tossing them out onto the hangar floor. Zak frowned and poked his head into the transport also. "Need help, Red?"
"Yeah, man. This shit is a death trap." He suddenly straightened, regarding Ashriel with a grimace. "Sheesh, he must really hate you."
Ashriel opened his mouth, but was at a loss as to what to say. Garethiel did hate him. Always had. He'd had his parents to himself after Ashriel was removed from their home, and resented the fuss made over his dark brother whenever he was allowed to visit.
Remien went back to poking around inside the Silver Comet.
Devon came up to Ashriel. "Rem and Zak are really good at repairing things. Don't worry. In the meanwhile, you haven't broken fast with us."
"Food? Did somebody mention food?" Remien blurted standing back up. "I need to eat. I gotta feed Rowie in a few hours."
With that, he disappeared from sight. Ashriel gasped in alarm. What about his transport?
Zak straightened also with a frown. "That idiot's not leaving all the work to me. I'll be back when he's done stuffing his face."
Zak disappeared too.
He stared dumbfound at Devon and Seth. "I need to leave," Ashriel snarled at last.
"Uh...I think I hear Angel calling me." With that, Devon vanished also.
Ashriel glared at the weretigri.
Seth scowled back at him, crossing his arms over his chest. "Don't look at me, reaper. I know shit about repairing Silver Comets."
Anniel jumped when a pair of tattooed arms circled her waist from behind. Heat engulfed her as Remien hugged her against himself and buried his nose in her neck, his unique scent of cinnamon and spice filling her nostrils.
"I've got to feed Row in a few. You know how she loves your food. I know you're still mad at me, but would you mind making us that great vegetable stew you make? You know, the one with the Vildminorian tomatoes."
Anniel remained ramrod stiff, unyielding. Mad? She was furious with Remien Fyre.
"It's for Row, Annie. Whatever I eat flavors my blood—"
"Alright," she snapped. She wasn't going to punish Rowie, who she loved like a sister, because her mate was a meddlesome idiot.
Remien shivered and suddenly teleported before her. To Anniel's shock, he fell to his knees and gripped her shirt with two hands. "Please, Anniel. Forgive me already. I'm sorry. I can't stand your silent treatment anymore. It's killing me. Have pity."
She stood there, her mouth gaping as he wrapped his arms tight around her, burying his face against her stomach. Remi held her tight and she feared he'd never let her go if she didn't tell him the words he longed to hear.
Her fingers sank into his mop of hair, the thick strands inhumanly soft and luxurious. How could she stay mad at him? Yes, he was a brat, but he was so sweet. Besides, they had to live in the same space station. Giving him the silent treatment and watching the hurt in his eyes every time she snubbed him was beginning to make her chest ache.
"It's okay, baby," she whispered. "I'll forgive you."
He suddenly towered over her, crushing her to him as his mouth took hers. It must've been from the emotion or relief, but Remi kissed her in a way he never had before.
His tongue stroked every corner inside her mouth, the silver stud on his tongue clicking against her teeth sporadically, before he obviously realized what he was doing. He startled and pulled back with a sheepish grin. "Sorry. Ash's feelings are all mixed up with mine."
Ashriel. A mixture of anger, hurt, and desolation filled her. "I hope he's gone," she snapped pushing out of Remi's hold.
"He really doesn't want to go. He just doesn't trust us."
Anniel winced, but Remi gripped her again, pulling her up against him. "Us, not you. You he has on a pedestal."
"Well, that's just too bad. I feel nothing for him. Either of them."
Remi's eyes narrowed and she felt her face heat. She was lying and they both knew it.
"So how about that stew," Remien grinned instead of pointing out her huge fib. "You know what it's been ages I haven't had either? Your chocolate and mint chip cookies."
Ashriel walked toward the enviro level entrance. The others were most likely breaking their fast. He didn't want to eat yet. God only knew what he'd been fed all the time he was unconscious. He needed to re-purify his body. A few days of fasting would accomplish that. He also needed to exercise. Working up a healthy sweat also went a long way to expelling toxins.
The doors to the enviro level were inconspicuous. They were at the end of a well-lit corridor. The two silver doors gleamed, the seam between them barely noticeable.
Ashriel approached and stopped looking up at the height. The enviro level had been added to Alpha 7 by a giant race of Master Guardians before the Seraphs had taken over.
"Open," Ashriel said.
The silver doors opened with a soft hiss. The paradise beyond never failed to take his breath away. The enviro level had fauna from all around the galaxy stretching out ten miles wide and five high. It was like being on the surface of a planet. The sky was a holographic projection simulating Earth's sky, but virtually any world's sky could be reproduced.
He stepped into the enviro level and looked around. Most of the foliage was varying shades of green, but there were just as many splashes of bright colored plants and flowers spread around. Farther ahead, he made out the glittering surface of a lake.
For some reason, he felt it sacrilegious to use his boots on the grass. He leaned against the wall beside the double doors and pulled his boots off. Ashriel stared at the beauty all around him and a sense of freedom he'd never felt before assailed him. With trembling fingers, he unfastened his belt and pants and shed these too.
He stood at the entrance to the enviro level as naked as the day he'd been born. As his head tipped back to look at the incredible blue sky, he opened his wings. The unfamiliar feel of his hair brushing his ass made him shudder, and then he was airborne.
It was so realistic. He soared up toward the holographic sun and he actually felt the blistering heat of the star on his wings and skin. It blinded him so he diverted his flight pattern and let himself fall into a spiraling plunge toward the blue lake below. Just as he reached about a foot above the water's surface, he pulled up and skimmed the surface. He stared in wonder at his reflection. He was smiling. He laughed then, feeling joy in being able to fly to his heart's content.
Dipping his hands briefly into the cool water, he ascended again toward the heavens. Ashriel began to circle the entire enviro level. There were hills and mountains. He saw various streams and rivers flowing into the lake and even spotted a waterfall with a cove surrounded by the most beautiful fauna he'd ever seen.
Unable to resist, He landed in the cove. The cliff face was almost vertical and had plenty of grips for climbing. There were a few large boulders scattered around. Perhaps if he devised a harness with a few belts, he could strap one to his back and climb the cliff face. That would be a good exercise, similar to what he did back on Seraphia.
Thinking of Seraphia made him pause and look around. He would never see his planet again...ever. The joy he felt dissipated like smoke on a windy day.
The memory of the faces of Seraphia's citizens came back to haunt him. People sobbed, others looked angry. His arms had been stretched out to a pair of columns and the tips of his wings bound to two columns farther out. Four reapers stood before him and the high priests and priestesses stood to either side. He kept hearing Amaranth's sobs over everything else.
One of the reapers approached him.
Kasdael looked at him sullenly. "I'm sorry, Ashriel. They threw a fucking lottery between all of us. I don't agree with this. I don't want—"
"Kasdael," Reushuel snarled at the young reaper.
"I don't want to do this, but they threatened to deplume me as well for treason."
The high priest began stomping over to them.
"Obey, Kasdael. You are a good reaper. Do not curse yourself for me."
The young, dark-haired reaper nodded and moved away before Reushuel got to them. The high priest turned away after giving Ashriel a hateful glare.
Ashriel bowed his head, filled with shame. How many times had he looked with the same disgust at other fallen reapers? Now it was his turn to bear the humiliation.
The sight of Natanael standing before him startled him out of his reverie. Natanael had gotten drunk with two off worlders. They'd taken him to their hotel and the reaper had returned to Angeloria the next morning with his aura streaked and dirty. Now, Natanael had so many colors streaking his aura, it looked like a kaleidoscope.
Natanael sat gingerly on a rock a few feet from Ashriel, absently dipping his bare foot into the pool of water below the waterfall.
"You're lucky, you know," he began. "The rest of us had to fend for ourselves when we were kicked off planet."
"I'm sorry, Natanael. I had no idea what this was like."
"What happened to me wasn't my fault. I was pretty much raped. And then the people I thought would protect me tortured and threw me out of my home. My mom was old when she had me. I don't know if she's even alive at this point. Seeing me deplumed probably killed her," he finished in a soft voice, his look faraway.
Ashriel knew for a fact that Natanael's mother had indeed died a few weeks after his depluming. He'd made sure she had a proper cremation ceremony.
"I...I took care of everything, Natanael."
The reaper's head snapped up to look at Ashriel. His eyes filled with tears. "When?"
"Not long after...what happened. I had the priestesses buy her a lovely gown and we all stood by her side as she was consumed. I personally took her ashes and set them free over Mount Chielos."
Natanael stood and rushed into Ashriel's embrace. His flesh pressed against Ashriel's, but since he was sobbing it didn't make Ashriel feel uncomfortable. Ashriel held him, caressed his trembling wings and just let him cry.
"Thank you. I don't know how I can ever repay your benevolence."
Ashriel shook his head and then leaned his cheek on Natanael's bright red head. "You have no need of such a thing. She was a good woman and didn't deserve anything less."