After going over the plan, everyone received mandatory orders to get eight hours of sleep. Amelia mostly eyed me as she gave them. We couldn’t afford to let lack of rest be the cause of a pathetic failure.
Amelia tried to apologize at least five times on the way home but I interrupted each one, following up with a grim shake of my head. She knew that I would never point a finger of blame toward her or anyone—I’m the fugitive. not them. Tssh—since when did I get this soft? I’m not cut out of this Die-Hard shit.
Amelia was furious with her sister, but also agreed with the obvious conclusion that we couldn’t beat her alone. I’ve gotten my ass handed to me enough to not even consider barking up that tree. There was only one way we could slightly better the odds—that, of course, being my old friend, the deity-trapper.
That night, Amelia slept in my arms. It took some time to ignore the awkward boner before I, too, dozed off. Of course, she did tease, sly smile on her face, before drifting off to sleep. Damn goddess, finding amusement in my struggle to hold off child-bearing as long as I could. I’d have to convince her the human way—though, it’s dangerous. There are MANY rumors of condoms not working on heavenly-beings. Shit, Amelia could simply trick me, and that would be the end of that. Despite the good intentions, she still had the self-centered grace of a goddess. It only peeked out a little—the rest simply being that she’s the naïve Amelia that I always knew.
I pulled her closer. She woke, kissed me with an intense passion, which I returned. After like five minutes, I pulled back before I decided to just throw aside the thought of consequences and trim off our sleep time.
“Go to sleep, already,” Amelia said, beating me to the words.
Everyone met up, bright and early, at seven. I nodded. Combat clothing and boots, with weapons tucked in coat pockets. Devante had to be the odd man out, sporting an expensive black suit, looking as if he belonged in a business meeting. Well, if he fought his best this way, so be it.
Amony decided to show off just how powerful a witch she was by erecting a dimensional barrier over the entire city. No human would be able to see, hear, or interact with us, nor heavenly-beings. A spell like that would be a convenient thing to place over the entire earth, if it was indestructible.
“I appreciate the loyalty of every one of you,” I said, uncharacteristically pouring out my heart. “But…this suicide game is my problem. I’ll have no ill will toward anyone who backs out for their own safety, your life.” Nobody moved.
“You know we can’t allow them to throw you back in Hell,” Devante said. “It’s bullshit.”
I sighed. “But you haven’t known me long enough to merit risking your lives.”
“You’re not going to Hell,” Elly said, voice stern.
“Besides, you saved our asses during that cluster fuck demon throw down at the graveyard,” Devante said. “I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to repay that debt.”
“You’re an asshole,” Sin said, playfully, “but the first real friend I’ve had. So, as you would say, let’s dust this bitch.”
Everyone stared at the normally well-mannered demi-devil for a second before laughing. He blushed.
“I’m not going to tell you not to worry,” Amony said, “but follow the plan. You’re the best damn employee I’ve got and I’ll be damned if we let them snuff you.”
I nodded, touched. I honestly didn’t expect to have much of an impact on anyone’s life, seeing how fucked I was after escaping Hell. Still am, but someone helped me stand. I turned to her, graced by the smile on her lit-up face. She gave the nod of approval.
“You’re mine,” Amelia said, loud and clear, putting blushes on the faces of the other women. “I won’t lose you again. Now let’s show that hag that we ‘youngsters’ aren’t easy prey for her games or politics.”
She kissed me, then walked off with her friends, ready to be the power source to the biggest fucking deity-trapper I’d ever fashioned. That’s right, we set a trap for Karma. Everyone would fight—they’re here because of the inevitable small army she’d bring with her to be fodder. Arrogance would be her downfall or my ticket to infinite torture in the depths. I couldn’t help but think how strange it was for Conus to simply give up his spot as a judge.
Shit, something like that could never be allowed—he’s the head of the House for a reason. His punishments were harsh as the bastard threw me in Hell. So what take him out the position? My statement was truthful statement. There was no way I should’ve been eligible for the depths. And what’s this about politics? Was Karma doing all of this for political power? I pushed aside those thoughts for now. Corruption in Paradise Realm was the least of my concerns.
Just then, the sky grew dark. The scent of honey and roses smothered the area. Karma had appeared early, just as I predicted. Not that the obvious hints she threw at me could be missed. The hunt had begun.
A dozen armed misthangers and angels descended from the skies, some hollering war cries like idiots. Under different circumstances, I’d probably laugh. Fucking angels, always dramatic. The sound of gunshots—the planned pre-emptive strike—set me in motion. I’d keep on the move, avoiding Karma as long as I could—if possible—until it was time. Sin was assigned to stick with me and so we jogged around the perimeter we’d set, taking out misthangers along the way. Karma’s voice playfully boomed from the sky.
“Oh, handsome, come out, come out, wherever you are.”
Sin and I made eye contact, nodded, then continued the jog. It felt good to have Ruin in my grasp, courtesy of the others recovering it after my capture. This ordeal would suck so bad without it. “Come to me, Epex. You know you want it.” Karma laughed.
I continued to ignore the annoying voice in the sky. Amelia probably seethed in anger. Twenty minutes passed with no enemies, so Sin and I stopped to analyze the situation.
Before we were even five minutes into the discussion, two angels wielding gold-hilted swords stepped from around the corner, sneering. Fuck. Now wasn’t the time for shit—if they gave up our location, we’d have to take on the goddess earlier than anticipated. Not that I hadn’t predicted the possibility.
My five C’s led me to coming up with the plan to beat Karma. Amony and Amanda had found some flaws, so we’d all adjusted it until agreeing upon the best winning scenario.
Sin beat me to the punch, rushing into the fray and engaging an angel.
His partner bolted for me. I parried his sword then swung for the midsection. Ruin grazed the angel as he back-stepped. I knew from that instant that Karma once again brought novices. Fodder or distractions—all the fucking same. Amelia’s family tree…is probably fucked up a little. Just maybe. At least the highest members of the Venus clan.
Sin and I took no time killing the angels and then moving on.
We rounded a corner to see Elly, Amony, and Devante holding their own against some misthangers and angels. We joined the fray, eliminated them, and separated from the group again, sticking to the plan.
The darkened sky shifted into a lightning storm. I started to have hope that maybe we’d pull this impossible victory off, though Amelia took her sweet ass time, not that I could give her shit. The activation of such a massive trapper needed perfect timing.
And, our time ran out: when Sin and I hit another block, we saw her, standing with a glistening silver sword in hand, smug expression on her face. At least she wasn’t dressed in ball gown—just jeans and a stylish pink shirt with floral printing all over it.
“Took you long enough,” Karma said. “And it looks like you’ve brought a friend. Sorry, but I don’t do threesomes. I’ll be sending him back to your friends.”
Before I could protest, Sin was gone. My heart raced—this prediction—the one I hated the most came true. The hard scenario. Karma laughed. “Come, Epex Helios. I’m going to rock your world.”
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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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Author of the Blood for Soul series and a secret coming-of-the-age epic fantasy. Lover of anime and manga: so yeah, weeb shit? Fun. Sue me haha.
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