Ascension, Book Three
Copyright © 2018 by Hayden West
I’m one of the Seraphim. I exist in the uppermost part of the hierarchy. I am to dispel and destroy the shadows of darkness. One day my perfect world is tossed into chaos and I meet Felix. He intrigues me unlike anything or anyone before him.
Our lives and intersecting and instead of this upsetting me, this pleases me. I want to be around him and see what comes from this.
Felix Oberti muttered beneath his breath as he left the office and covered the ground in long strides to reach his SUV waiting for him. Slipping behind the wheel, he kept the smile on his face as he waved to the officers streaming out of the door.
Only once he was on the road did the mutterings grow louder. “I can’t believe they are stupid enough to think this is some random animal attack.”
He pressed the accelerator and smiled as the powerful vehicle responded in kind. “No animals do this kind of killing. There’re multiples, and if I’m not mistaken this is more ritualistic killing than anything. Animals eat the internal organs, not set them aside and leave them behind. No, this is someone, some sick fuck, looking to make a statement.”
He turned on some music and as he continued on up into the mountains, he thought about the past five kills he’d come upon. The main question was why his commanding officer wasn’t all that interested in solving this case. Felix got blown off and told to look into it, if he must, on his own time. That didn’t make sense, not any way he sliced it.
Off the main road, he shifted the Jeep into four-wheel drive and continued on up the rutted and muddy road that was more like a trail. But he needed his gear as close as he could get it and he’d come up here already and was aware of how far up he could get.
His silver Jeep Wrangler was handling it like a pro, and he loved off-roading. It would be an absolute perfect day if he wasn’t trying to track down people killing animals for fun, ritual, or whatever their pointless excuse happened to be.
Reaching the plateau he knew to be the end of his driving road, he turned around so he was pointed out, as more rain was in the forecast and, really, why make it more difficult to leave. Killing the engine, he hopped out and grabbed his bag and weapons, and then locked up. Shouldering his pack, he marked his position with his watch’s compass then struck out toward the last spot he’d been.
Early afternoon had hit already, and the clouds were rolling in at a quick pace. He lengthened his strides, wanting to get back there before the rains reached him and took away any more potential clues to having this solved. Jogging easily along the elk path, he settled into a ground-eating stride.
About two hundred yards out, he heard a sound that wasn’t like anything he’d heard before and he slowed to a stop. Straining his ears, he couldn’t identify the sound. It wasn’t an animal killing another. That was typically very identifiable. This was different.
He wasn’t sure it was human either. There was rustling and other sounds he wasn’t familiar with. Swinging his rifle off his shoulder, he continued forward with caution. The woods weren’t as thick as they had been, but it was by no means a clearing.
He blinked a few times, uncertain of what he was staring at. There were three things there, all black. Instantly he could tell that was a disguise. There was some missing coating on two of them. He could see white hair on one and a grey shirt on another. However, that wasn’t what shocked him. What had was they all had wings.
If that’s a harness set up, it’s fucking stellar.
They had a bear up and were gutting it, slowly, taking their time. They were making a mess and had obviously tortured the animal before he was put out of his misery.
“Step away from the bear,” he commanded, stepping into view.
All three of them whirled toward him. He wanted to curl up in a ball and whimper. There was such power rolling off those before him it hurt his eyes to look directly upon them. Shaking his head, he tightened his grip on the rifle and gestured.
“I mean it, step away.”
Blinking away the tears that had gathered, he reached for the radio at his hip and pulled it to his mouth.
“Base? This is Oberti. I have three suspects before a dead bear. I need backup ASAP. I swear, they, they have wings.”
Over the line was nothing but static, and he tried again, holding both his stare and the rifle on the trio. The one in the middle moved toward him. He was taller than those with him, and a tightening around Felix’s chest took him to his knees.
What the fuck?
All three of them snapped their heads to the south and immediately took to the skies.
It’s official. I’m losing my sanity. Men don’t fly.
His heart pounded, and he took deep breaths as his lungs expanded fully and allowed him to get some much needed air. As soon as he could, he jumped to his feet and ran toward the hanging ursa, swearing a blue streak. This pissed him off.
He took pictures as the clouds grew thicker and darker. Cutting down the animal, he documented all he could. It was the same as the others he’d come across. But now he had an idea of what was doing this.
Right, because going to the boss with humans who have wings had done this is going to make me sound like I’ve been up here drinking. I didn’t even think to get pictures of them.
While he berated himself for that stupid lack of action, he felt a brush along the back of his neck, one that typically only happened when he was about to step in some shit. Whirling around, rifle still ready to fire, he froze.
Maybe I was drinking and just didn’t know it.
One man stood there in the rapidly darkening afternoon. But, truly, was he a man? For as sure as he stood there, Felix swore there were wings coming up from his back as well. Like the other three.
Then again, maybe I’m not standing here. Perhaps I wrecked my vehicle on the way here and am dead. This is nothing but a vision in the afterlife.
He swung his gaze around, taking in the tall trees rising out of the earth, brushing the darkening sky. The increased winds rustled through the leaves. What he didn’t hear were any animal sounds. No squirrels chattering, calling of the birds, or animals rooting through the underbrush.
Unbidden, his focus returned to the one standing there. He blinked a few times, as the man had come closer. One second he was farther away, then he was close enough to touch him with the barrel of the rifle.
Not like that is scary or anything.
“Who are you? What are you doing here? Are you with those who did this to the bear?” He interjected authority into his tone when all he wanted to do was curl into a ball once more.
The one before him didn’t speak. The pale blond hair hung onto the remaining vestiges of daylight. Light blue eyes never wavered as they held his. His wings were a faded rose hue.
“What are you?”
“I won’t hurt you.”
The tone escaping from that throat was unlike anything he’d heard before. Felix was sucker punched out of left field with that tone. Instant heat flared in his veins.
“You may as well put down your weapon. It is ineffectual against my kind.”
“And your kind, what is that exactly?”
He touched the black shirt on his chest. “I am Seraphim.”
“You say that like I should know what the fuck it is.” He shook off the exhaustion weighing down his limbs and lifted the rifle once more.
“You refer to me as an angel.”
“So you’re an angel? Really?”
“No, I am Seraphim. I just told you that.”
He moved closer, and the rifle was suddenly gone. There was no struggle for it. One minute it was there, the next it was gone.
“What the hell did you just do? Give me my rifle back.”
“We need to talk. I need answers, and you are focusing on killing. That isn’t conducive to this discussion.”
“Are you going to kill me like the other three seemed to want to do when this discussion is over?”
Blue eyes narrowed. “Other three?”
“Yes, the ones who did this to that animal back there. I’ve been tracking them because I found more than just one.”
The being held up a hand, and darkness overtook Felix.
Then he knew nothing more.