“You can’t be serious.” I mutter, incredulous.
“Never been more serious in my life, Kali.” Shiva retorts, swinging the grapple hook up at the window. I roll my eyes and spread my midnight wings pointedly. She grabs my wing, hard. “We’ll be seen!” She snaps and I reluctantly fold them again. I sigh heavily and her red eyes narrow, she shakes out her scarlet wings, folds them again then grabs the rope and begins to climb. I curse softly but follow her up, avoiding her long, barbed, red tail.
The rope swings as we climb and the breeze pushes my long dark hair into my eyes. Should’ve tied it back like the ever prepared Shiva.
My wings half-spread, my tail thrashing, I fight to stay on the rope. Shiva merely chuckles and hauls herself through the window, I stay still and wait. The rope shakes and I grin, scramble in and pick up the grapple, winding the rope up.
Shiva and I creep forward, being very careful not to knock anything over with a careless sweep of our wings or swish of our long, barbed tails. We reach the door at the end of the hall and open it slowly, soundlessly.
In perfect unison we draw our combat knives and advance into the pitch-black room. Though it is dark, we see everything perfectly, our eyes stronger than eagles eyes. There is a desk in the centre of the large room, and a high-backed leather chair facing away from us. There are no other furnishings in the office-like room, and something’s not right. There is an arm resting on the side of the chair, but we hear no heartbeat or even a whisper of a breath. My black eyes narrow and I slink forward, knife-first. I grab the back of the chair and spin it round, to find a dead man in the chair.
His brown eyes stare at something, blank, dead fear in them, blond hair caked in blood and gore. There are multiple laceration wounds in his chest and neck.
“Kali look out!” Shiva yelps and I dive to the side, just in time to avoid the metal cage that crashes down over where I had been seconds before.
“Go!” I roar and run after her out the door, nets, darts and all sorts of non-lethal traps raining down on us as we sprint for the window, for freedom.
A metal sheet slams down between us and our only escape route and we hear a chuckle behind us. We whirl to see Carlos, his pristine black suit, sleek blond hair, mean little green eyes and polished demeanour marking him as an obviously high up businessman. We know what ‘business’ he’s in better than anyone. He runs a series of prisons, work camps, institutes and facilities all over the world, holding all the paranormals, supernaturals, demons, angels that get captured, offering ridiculously high rewards for every captive. Funded by secret societies, governments and private companies, Carlos is one of the richest, most powerful, hypocritical humans in history, living or dead.
“Girls,” He grins toothily, “Girls, girls, girls.” He tuts like a mother chiding her children. “You should know it’s wrong to break into someone’s property. If you wanted to see me, why not pop into the Birmingham centre?” I growl savagely and his smile grows. Shiva looks so ready to rip out his throat, but we need answers.
“Where are the princes of hell?” she spits.
“Well,” He smiles like a shark, “If you’ll come with me and my friends, you can join them!” Four huge, burly men appear, carrying guns which I know are loaded with tranquilising darts; I can smell the sharp smell of the chemicals.
“Shiva..?” I hiss, taking a defensive stance, realising I’ve left my knife in the dead man’s room.
“On it Kali.” She says quietly, pulling out one of her special knives, holding it out. It’s red and glows subtly. The gunmen take aim and Shiva draws her arm back, as if to throw the knife .She spins and launches it at the metal sheet, which bursts into flames and melts on contact. We run at the window and the darts hit the molten metal, clearly they didn’t expect a move like this. We leap and spread our wings, taking off. A second lot of darts come out after us, one catches Shiva’s arm; she snarls, rips it out and speeds up.
Within four minutes, the chemicals begin to take effect, slowing Shiva down. I grab her and try to lessen her efforts, but she gets slower and more lethargic by the second. I manage to get her to the tallest building I can find, which happens to be the Worcester cathedral. The irony. Shiva succumbs to drugged sleep, and I must keep watch until she wakes again.
Several helicopters with Carlos’ logo on them come by in the night, searchlights blazing, almost blinding me. When the third passes and almost spots us, I drag Shiva behind a turret and crouch on it, wings spread, so I appear to be a statue. Anyone in a helicopter or near me would know immediately that I’m not stone, but someone on the ground who happens to look up might. It’s a huge risk being this exposed, but I must keep watch, and to keep watch, I have to be able to see my surroundings.
The ninth helicopter spots me, and I throw myself off the cathedral roof to distract it, spreading my wings wide, flying high and enticing it to follow me away from the cathedral. Bullets and darts skim past, closer and closer with every shot. I curse and dive, making it look like I’m trying desperately to escape. I pull up, the helicopter close behind me, the pilot is laughing, I can hear him. I smile and dive again, aiming for the nearest building. The helicopter is almost close enough to hit me now, the darts are so close. Without a swerve or a warning, I pull up, scraping myself on the building but avoiding it. The pilot is not so lucky; the helicopter is too close for him to avoid it and it smashes into the building, the engine exploding, fire engulfing it, it topples off the building and smashes to the ground. I watch as people swarm around the raging inferno like ants, screaming and shouting. The emergency services take their time getting there. I fly back to my turret, guarding Shiva.
Fire engines are working hard to put out the fire, water hissing as it comes into contact with the heat. People are being driven back by armed officers as the pilot is pulled from the wreck. He’s barely alive, but is conscious enough to point weakly at the cathedral – at me, and as the police look up; I skip backwards out of sight.
Shiva stirs and I grin. As her eyes flutter open I mock-punch her and point at the now-doused wreckage of the helicopter.
“That’s for missing me bring down that!” I laugh and she sits up to look over the edge, rolling her eyes as she does. She freezes and trembles, sitting back behind the turret. She swears softly and I look over to see what’s upset her.
“They’ve got Satan.” She murmurs.
“What?” her eyes have a faraway look in them, and I realise she’s not looking at my ‘artwork’.
“Carlos, he has Satan.” She says louder, and life returns to her eyes as she looks at me.
“Where?” I gasp, grabbing her arm. An agonising second’s wait.
“The Santiago centre.” She says, her expression stony. I swear loudly, Santiago’s in Chile! That’s in South America! We’re in England!
“Well? How are we supposed to get there?” But before Shiva can reply, police officers appear on the roof, armed.
“You!” They shout, “Stop!” We run to the side and look back. The shock on their faces as we spread our wings is hilarious, but their weapons are raised, so we leap off the roof and soar into the sky.
We carry on flying until we get to Bristol, deciding that it is far enough away from the Worcester police force – and Carlos. We find an old warehouse to sleep in, use old painting sheets for warmth, and settle for the night.
I drift into the world of sleep, then realise that dreams aren’t going to take me tonight. I kneel before the Lords of Hell, Satan of the South, his throne of fire brilliant and scorching, Lucifer of the East on his throne of air, Belial of the North on his throne of earth and Leviathan of the West on his throne of water. Shiva and I lower our heads in respect and Satan is the first to speak.
“You are doing well Kali.” He smiles. Satan’s voice has the heat and power of the flames of Hell.
“You and Shiva both.” Adds Belial confidently. His voice is rich and deep, giving me the impression of stability.
Shiva bows her head in acknowledgement, and I do the same, before looking into the faces of the four Lords of Hell.