An unbelievable sight—twelve heavenly-beings of death, ranging from four feet to six feet tall. Pale skin visible on the hands and arms they allowed us to see, everything else a mystery cloaked in impenetrable mist. I was not happy to see the fuckers so soon.
“Do you mind explaining?” Sin said as he unsheathed his sword, voice calm.
“What the fuck does it look like?” I barked. “Fight or die.”
Sin chuckled. “Fair enough.” He rushed forward, struck down the first of the pack with a single blow and moved on. I followed suit, beat him to the second kill, and then dashed for the third. The misthangers suddenly stopped. We did too, cautiously. One of the remaining ten stepped forward.
“You three are getting in the way. Why?” That voice sounded like a slightly frustrated woman.
“Getting in the way? You’re the one charging,” I said.
“Not at you. You caught us off guard, even underestimated us. How embarrassing.”
The two misthangers we thought we’d killed stood up and dusted themselves off. I…didn’t see it coming. They bashed Sin and I to the ground with force.
The lead misthanger walked over to me and placed a misty foot on my chest. I know because I felt that.
“Who are you anyway?” I blinked, confused.
Before I got the chance to answer that, the misthanger laughed. “I’m just kidding, everyone knows who you are. You’re of no concern to me. My question is at her.” The misthanger pointed a pale finger at the witch. “Never mind. Questions are for later. We’ve got bigger things on our plates. Besides, I can’t stay out in the open for too long, or else an annoying bastard might show up.”
The lead misthanger force-bashed us to the side and the squad of the fuckers moved on. Sin and I stood up.
“Let’s follow them,” the witch suggested.
“No, are you fucking crazy?” I bellowed. “If they lead me to a hunter—”
“There are no hunters in this city,” Sin said. He gestured at the witch. “Amony would’ve detected them.”
“I don’t like to be involved with heavenly-beings. Anyone could report me, and every goddamn hunter and their mom would come here to kill me.”
Amony gave me a skeptical look. “Sin, you have a friend that’s wanted by every god in the universe? Why didn’t you tell me you knew someone this sexy?”
I shot her a blank glare. Sin stood between the two of us.
“Look, there’s no time for you to be horny, Amony. Or piss him off. And Epex, a part of our offer is to keep you protected from the gods. I admire you for following the old saying to never trust a devil. Keep following that because I’m not a devil. If we’re going to be partners in this job, then we’re going to have to set aside our differences.”
“It’s for the job, but I’ll explain that to you tomorrow. Let’s go.”
I reluctantly followed. Amelia would kill me if she found out that I had decided to participate in something this reckless. Still, if Sin claimed he could help keep me shielded from the gods, then curiosity would let me find out what he’s got in mind. If he was full of shit, I’d end him. Or, should I say, Amelia would end him.
We followed the misthangers down a few blocks and into an alley way. Humans didn’t seem to notice us. When I had found the demon, no one was at the park—but still, somebody should’ve questioned their sanity. The only explanation is that the hidden instinct that signaled danger kept them away. Lucky bastards.
My eyes widened when the misthangers stopped in front of a man dressed in a business suit,with a smug look on his face. I didn’t need to feel his presence to immediately know that he was a devil. He stood too confidently before a dozen misthangers, arms folded. Black hair, red eyes, shaved face with high cheekbones and what not—this guy looked like he meant business. Literally.
“I know this guy. His name’s Jow,” Sin whispered to me.
The misthanger lead stepped forward. “We can do this the easy way, Jow, and you tell us what we need or the hard way.”
Jow laughed. “Am I really hearing this? Me getting threatened by misthangers?”
The misthanger lead shook its head. “You should fear us. Allow me to restore that in which you’ve lost.”
The misthanger raised a pale finger high. I could see its delicateness, like a woman who just had a manicure. Jow suddenly fell to his knees, holding his ears, yelling in agony. Sin and I immediately took a few steps back. Note to self: do not fuck with that misthanger.
Jow jumped up and took off running around the corner. The misthanger turned to me. I gulped.
“Well, what are you waiting for? Chase him, if you want me to keep quiet about you living here.”
I didn’t challenge it—no need to make it do to us whatever it had done to that devil. I nodded at Sin. He nodded back and followed me as we chased the devil.
The blood trail led us over a few fences, through some yards, and right to him. He cursed and swore to himself as he wiped his ears with a cloth. I manifested a gun, preparing to end it right then and there, but a cold hand shoved my weapon downward.
“That won’t be needed.”
Jow’s eyes widened as he saw us. He turned to run, but the other misthangers appeared right behind him.
“You saved us the trouble,” the misthanger lead said to me. “We’ll take it from here. If you steal our kill, we’ll kill you.”
“You think you’ll kill me easily?” Jow snarled. “A bunch of misthangers!”
“We asked you for the information, yet you declined.”
Just then, Jow punched the ground. That sent out a wave of force and power with enough kick to smack us all to the ground. Except the misthanger’s leader: it just casually walked…no…floated over to the devil. Jow must’ve seen that fighting the heavenly-beings was useless. He tried to run. The leader knocked him down with force of its own. While it still pointed at the devil, a ball of fire shot from that finger and engulfed him in flames. The devil screamed in agony. In seconds, he was ashes.
“Holy fuck,” I whispered. The misthangers that Yulese sent on us were nothing like this. Were they newbies at their jobs? If only I knew—but this group was powerful.
“Let’s go,” Sin said. “There’s nothing for us here. We saw nothing.”
“I like that thinking,” the misthanger lead said, “but I’m afraid I’m going to have to kill you.”
My eyes widened and my blood began to boil.
“I don’t know if you’re kidding or not, misthanger, but I’m not going down with a fight,” I said.
The misthanger lead laughed. “I’m kidding. You’ll make a perfect pawn, my dear Epex, demigod, son of Conus.” The mist vanished, revealing a pale woman with ridiculously long black hair. The thick mist covered her body in a way that implied the pure nakedness underneath. Her eyes were red and piercing. “You can call me…Misty.”
“Is that a part of your misthanger humor, too?” I said, eyes still gawking.
Misty laughed. “Lazy parents. But never mind that. Out of the goodness of my heart, I’m allowing you to live here in Middleburg, my territory. You’re free to come and go as you wish but while you’re here, you’ll obey my rules. It’s simple, being my pawn. If I call upon you, you’ll come. Or die.” The mist engulfed her again. “I’ll be off now. And don’t any cause trouble in my beautiful city. I don’t want to have to kill you.”
The misthangers disappeared, just like that, leaving me with relief. Sin looked at me, his color returning.
“Did that really just happen?”
I chuckled. “Fuck, yeah, it did. And we’re alive.”
“To think we’d actually encounter a misthanger queen,” Amony said. “Damn.”
“They have queens now?” I said.
“That’s nothing new,” Sin said. “Much like bees and ants, misthangers follow one powerful female.”
I laughed. “Did you really compare to her to bees and ants? What are you going to tell me next, they have some hive, workers, and drones that mate with her to have thousands of babies.”
“I’m not sure if it’s like that. Fuck, Epex. They have a queen. End of story.” Sin shook his head, glaring.
“What?” Sin said.
“You said fuck.” I held out a hand. “I’ll accept this partnership for the job.”
Sin sighed and accepted the handshake. “You’re a piece of work, son of Conus.”
“The same goes for you,” I said.
End of part one…
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Alvin Atwater is a man of humor, a starving author. With a unique writing style that can outshine even Jim Butcher, Patria Briggs, or Kevin Hearne (It's a joke. These are among my favorite authors) , he is a character-driven lovable lump of mass. Born in Florida, he's on a mission to defeat his arch nemesis, Florida Man, once and for all.
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