Here’s the daily dose of soundtrack steez for those that care, great to set the mood of the chapter. This one’s a serious bottom heavy bass workout, so approach with caution; http://soundcloud.com/dieselboy/dieselboy-unleashed
Here’s a chapter with no sex, but it is what it is. Sometimes situations conspire against our heroes to ruin the mood and take even a Cherub’s impressive libido away from them.
Shout out in the comments section; let me hear your voices inside.
Shout Out Internal Drown Out The Voices…[b]
Christopher’s friend Davis was a nut bar. No one who lives in a small warehouse surrounded by electronics and computer equipment so he could monitor all of those that he thought were monitoring him was entirely sane. All that was missing was the foil hat, and I had a sneaking suspicion that he’d taken it off before buzzing us in so that we wouldn’t know his secret defense. He was also a sinister genius though, and the things he seemed able to do with his racks of gear were beyond Serielle and I. Within 20 minutes of us arriving he had printed out a list of contacts and a map of their movements over the last week.
Not surprisingly their movements had been Serielle’s movements. They’d been on her at least that long if not longer. The why of the whole thing was still unclear but we now had a place to start. Davis had then tried to sell us weapons. Guns, explosives; he had a small arsenal inside that warehouse and had simply shrugged when we’d turned down his offer. Where we were heading with all of this we didn’t know, but I doubted that conventional firepower would be the answer. Somewhere at the end of this trail starting to form in front of us was something that couldn’t be stopped by bullets. That much was certain.
“Hey, hold on,” Sara said, scanning the lists of contacts as I drove her car back towards her house. “I know this one.”
“Know which?” I asked.
“This one…it’s a company here in the city. I had a client a few months again, and this is the company that transferred the payment into my account.”
Trident Holdings. It sounded fake. It certainly looked fake on the long print out Sara held as she circled it with a black felt pen from her glove box. I asked, “Who was the client?”
“Some out of towner. I think he was Korean. He just wanted to drive around and talk. That’s not so weird on its own, but he wanted to talk about me.”
“Not so normal then, yeah?” I asked Sara.
“Well, there are all sorts of clients, Sam,” she explained. “The talkers want to talk about themselves usually. They’re the ones that don’t feel listened to, or the ones that have some high pressure job where they have to bury who they really are underneath who they have to be. They just want someone to listen to them, their hopes and fears and stuff. The ones that want to talk about me are usually the ones that have lost kitty syndrome.”
“Lost kitty…what?” I asked, smiling in amusement.
“You know,” she said, smiling as well. “The ones like you, actually. The ones that just want to save the ‘poor little prostitute’.”
“Ah,” I knew what she meant. I’d made it my personal mission to bring a little love to those that sold their bodies for centuries now. “The ones like me.”
“This Korean though, he wasn’t like that. He didn’t want to save me from myself or anything, he just wanted to talk. Where was my family? Where did I come from? Did I have any close friends? It didn’t seem so weird at the time, just not what I was used to was all.”
“So what’d you tell him?” I asked her.
“I lied of course,” she laughed. “I told him what I thought he wanted to hear. That everything was fine, everything was normal, that I actually liked my job. Well, that part wasn’t really a lie. I did like my job. He seemed satisfied with that, and after he took me out for dinner he had me drop him off at his hotel and then he left.”
“Anything else come to mind about this guy, looking back?”
“I remember wondering at first what I was going to do for him. How I would figure out what he loved and how to steer him towards it. He already had something, something strong that he was tethered to. I assumed he just wanted conversation with a beautiful woman after a day of meetings or something, so I let it go at that. They aren’t all part of the mission after all…”
I felt it in my bones. This was the key to it. The crack we could get our fingers into to pry this open and start getting to the bottom of it. “So what kind of tether was it?”
“Hm? Oh, I don’t know. I didn’t think to hard about it at the time.” Serielle pursed her lips and scrunched her brow in thought. “It wasn’t romantic. It was more like duty. They’re all like that, though right? Asians? Duty and honor and all that?”
“You know that’s a bit of a generalization, yeah?” I teased her. “So; duty. Did he talk about his work at all? What kind of company is this ‘Trident Holdings’?”
“Oh Sam, it’s probably fake. I didn’t really ask him.”
“Of course it’s fake, Serielle. But what’s it a front for, I wonder?”
She drew a line down the print out with one red nailed finger. “It says here it’s a stand alone. It’s not owned by another company, and it doesn’t seem to actually ‘hold’ anything. No assets but cash,” Sara said. “Oh! They have an office here in the city!”
“Well, we know where we’re going next I guess,” I pulled into her parking lot. Davis hadn’t even batted an eye at her, other than the typical up-and-down rake of his eyes that all Cherubs received from humans. We couldn’t really go anywhere else though, anywhere normal, with her looking the way she did. The front of her shirt and jacket were caked with the dried blood of the men she had battered into pulp when they’d shot me, and it was in her long curly red hair as well.
Once inside I heard her run the shower after she went into the bathroom and I tried to look up Trident Holdings on the internet. Nothing. I expected that though. I made a mental note to buy Christopher something nice and big and destructive when he was next in the city; without Davis we would never have come across this. I wrote the address on the print out on the back of the pack of gum in my pocket and started taking the clothes I’d bought earlier out of their bags and folding them neatly on top of Serielle’s dresser. It felt weird to have a place to put my things; I’d been on the move for so long that I wasn’t used to having somewhere to call ‘home’.
Christopher had offered to let me use his condo but after the first day I’d left; there was way too much noise from the work crews replacing the windows on that side of the building. Downtown LA was back to normal now, but for the first few weeks after the rapture that Aliona had brought down on it there had been no peace to be found. What the detonation of her wrath when she destroyed Raguel hadn’t destroyed, the hail had battered to bits and pieces. Two months later the awed shock that most had worn on their faces was gone and they’d jaded over again, going back to business as usual as though a huge hole in the sky hadn’t opened up and let in a whirl of destruction. That’s how I’d gotten into this to begin with; Cassidy fucking Swanson and her hips and her lips and her tits and her power. She’d managed, in one week’s coverage, to gloss it all over and convince LA that an atmospheric disturbance or some crap like that had brought this to bear, effectively wiping out any chance of snapping the mortals out of their stupor of greed and selfishness that had made Raguel so powerful in the first place.
Things had been easier and the lessons had stuck longer back before the marvel of mass media. It used to be that a good wrath could stick for years, sometimes a whole generation if it was flashy enough. Now it was just so easy for them all to lie themselves back into submission through digital excuses and broadband compromise.
I tossed the black and white striped shirt in the garbage and put on another. I’d long ago gotten into the habit of buying two or three of anything I liked. You never knew when someone was going to shoot you. It had always been like this. I had rather liked the elegance of being run through, but since they’d invented guns the mortals had lost all the grace and beauty of using your hands to take another’s life. When you had to feel the last beats of their heart though the yard of steel you’d pushed through them you tended to think long and hard about it before you lunged. It used to be that a man would rage and fume for a day or two before challenging another to a duel over a lost love or some other slight to his honor; these days people were shooting each other over scuffed sneakers.
Serielle came into her room naked and wet from her shower. She had a small look of distaste on her face and I didn’t need to ask why, it was plain on the surface of her thoughts. Watching another’s blood trail down your body and swirl around your toes before going down the drain was never an easy thing, no matter how much they deserved it. It wasn’t hard to picture her in Germany in 1947, covered in the gore of her wrath after what the Seraphim had manipulated and arranged to teach her about her place in their ‘Truth’; every Cherub had within them the capacity for hot vengeful wrath to equal the depth of their love. What was hard was trying to reconcile that mental image with the creature of love and light I knew she was. Fucking Seraphim.
“So what do we do when we get there?” she was asking me as she put on a clean pair of jeans and a tight white sweater. She frowned in the mirror and switched the white for black as I answered her.
“Let’s stay back and watch. See what we can see. We’ll look for someone that has the same kind of tether your Korean had and follow it back to wherever it leads, yeah?”
“You’re good at this stuff,” she said, kissing my cheek when she was satisfied with her clothes and going back out to the living room.
“It’s what we do, cupcake,” I said as I followed her. “It can’t all be sex and salvation, nice as that would be.”
I grabbed her keys and we left. As I drove she had an introspective look on her face and though I wanted to brush the surface and see what she was thinking I gave her the mental privacy I thought she wanted. Finally she spoke, “This soldier stuff isn’t really what I’m used to, Samael.”
“Christopher told me once that the people who like this sort of thing are the wrong ones to be doing it. They tend to prolong a conflict so they have something to do. It’s the ones who want it to be over that are best suited to fight.”
“What’s she like? Avrielle I mean,” Sara asked me.
“Hard and ruthless,” I told her honestly. “You’d think that giving her Spark to her sister would make her more cautious, but now that she has mortality she seems more willing than ever to throw it away for the cause.”
“I hope I don’t end up like that. Cold I mean.”
“I doubt you could if you wanted to. She was Elohim, yeah? They’re a bit cold to begin with,” I told her.
To be honest, I’d never really liked being around Elohim. They had a detached stance that made them seem uncaring. They probably cared more than any of us what happened to mortals, cursed as they were with the ability to feel everything all of those around them could feel. Reading one’s thoughts was one thing; people had a disturbing knack to lie even to themselves. Reading one’s feeling though; I wouldn’t want that. You can fool yourself about why you feel something, but it’s just too hard to fool yourself about what you feel. Mortals must look like sinking pits of desperation to an Elohim, so it was no surprise that they fell more often than any other caste. A fallen Cherub was terrifying, a fallen Elohite was despicable. Raguel had been proof of that.
We spoke on this and other things as I drove to the address I’d written on my gum. I told Serielle step by step what had happened since I’d started following Avrielle in my effort to save her from herself. She seemed most upset about Gavin Day and what he’d done to his wife at Raguel and Jezebel’s prodding and prompting. It made me smile; Serielle was a good Cherub. Here I was telling her a story about the End Times and the angels that had set it in motion and she got hung up on the mortal who’d had his own love for his wife put through a shredder so that he would turn into an instrument of frenzied hate. I’d loved her already, but I found myself stretching my vocabulary to its limits to describe to myself how I felt about her now. Serielle must have heard it on the surface of my thoughts because she smiled shyly in the passenger seat and toyed with one of her red ringlets.
When we found the building I was surprised. I shouldn’t have been, but I was. It was a church. Not a big cathedral like you might imagine, but a small out of the way place that probably used to be a corner grocery or something. The neighborhood was grimy and a veil of corruption seemed to drape over the place as we sat in Sara’s car down the block and across the street.
“Fuck,” she breathed. “Who would go pray in there?”
“Mortals probably don’t see it the way we do,” I told her. “They just see the neon cross and hope takes over.”
“What kind of truth is that to hold on to, though?” Serielle asked, more to herself than to me. She didn’t expect an answer, it wasn’t really a question.
We got an answer anyways when the door opened and we saw the woman in the grey suit walk out and get into the only nice car on the block besides our own. Her dark hair was in a severe bun on the back of her head, her glasses were perched on the end of her nose, and the suit clung to her like some sort of post-modernist bondage gear. It was less fashion than it was function, telling any who looked at her right away that she didn’t live in the physical world the way they did. Her skin tone made her look foreign; most would guess perhaps Egyptian or maybe Persian, but I saw something older. I thought of the Elamites, the Sumerians, and those that had come before. I saw Serielle squinting at the woman and knew she was doing what I was doing; she was looking for the strands and tethers. Rather than a connection to something we might be able to follow we found instead a handful of bonds leading into her. They were strong and stern connections, lashed to her rather than gently woven. They didn’t shine of a nice and pure Love, they glowed dimly with unreciprocated longing; the kind of tether that forms when one does what they do and feels what they feel because they have no other choice but to serve or suffer.
“What in the fuck am I looking at Samael?” Serielle asked me.
“A Seraphim,” I said quietly to her. “A strong one.”
“Ephra never looked like that, though,” she said in awe. “People actually loved him. What the fuck is all of that?”
“Bondage,” I answered, still stunned as the woman drove off.
“Aren’t we going to follow her?” Sara asked me. I could tell just by her tone that she was hoping the answer was ‘no’. When I said as much she sighed in relief.
“She’d just know we were after her anyways,” I explained. “And then we’d probably be dead and we wouldn’t be able to help anyone, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Serielle whispered, like she was afraid to speak too loudly. “Holy fuck Samael, I could actually feel her moving through the Choir.”
“Seraphim that old don’t move through the Choir, Sara. It parts for them as they pass.”
Sitting in her car, wondering what to do next, neither of us spoke. The stern Seraph had left and so we could no longer see her tethers, but there was still an almost tangible sense of service when a man and woman came from the church and into a van parked nearby. I brought into focus their own strands and connections to the world around them and saw a single thick cord of light from each of them trailing off into the distance in the direction the ancient angel had gone. It reminded me of the bond between Christopher and Avrielle when I’d first met him.
“They look like…thralls,” Serielle said. “I thought angels didn’t take thralls?”
“We don’t,” I responded. “At least we aren’t supposed to.”
“Looks like we’re not the only ones coloring outside the lines these days,” she replied, awe still hushing her tone.
We followed them, keeping our distance. I was painfully aware of a critical error in our judgment up to this point; with all the information collected on Serielle so far, here we were pulling up their doorstep and following them around in her very noticeable and very green car. It was like a rolling advertisement that said ‘Here there be Cherubs!’ I told Sara as much, and of course she wasn’t pleased with the idea of painting it. That’s not what I was suggesting though; we needed a different vehicle all together. Christopher’s keys were in my pocket, and the jeep he’d purchased to replace his destroyed car after the debacle in downtown LA was parked in his buildings garage. There was no time for that now though; I’d figured out where their path was taking them.
“We have to get ahead of them,” I said, taking the next exit. “I know where the bastards are going and we have to get there first.”
“Oh yeah?” Sara asked, buckling her seat belt as I accelerated onto a different freeway and dodged and wove through traffic. “Where?”
“They’re heading for Becca’s school,” I said grimly.
My knack for getting places faster than anyone else guided my path and I tore through traffic with single minded zeal. When we pulled to a stop in front of the private school’s wooded campus Becca was standing by the curb holding the straps of her backpack, laden with books no doubt, waiting. She looked back and forth with pursed lips as though whoever she was waiting for was late. I honked once as Sara rolled down the window and yelled “Becca! Get in the car!”
She looked over, bending a bit at the knees to see through the open window of the green car. “Oh! Hi guys!”
“Get in the car!” I yelled as Sara waved her closer. In the rearview mirror I saw the white van pulling into the approach, past the parking lot and towards the pickup area. “Now!”
Becca skipped over and got in the backseat and I mashed down the accelerator, spitting gravel as I pulled away. She let out a little squeal and Sara climbed into the backseat with her, on her knees looking out the back window.
“What’s going on?” Becca asked, looking excited and curious instead of nervous or scaraed. How could she know? She couldn’t. She was about to find out though.
“Just get down and hang on, kiddo,” Sara told her, pushing Becca over onto her side. “And buckle up.”
“What’s going on!?” Becca squealed as I yanked the car around a corner without slowing down. The van was still in the mirror, careening around the corner after us and accelerating to catch us.
“No time!” I said, pushing the car to its limits on the narrow residential street. “Just hang on!”
“They’re still back there Sam!” Serielle shouted to me.
“Yeah, I see them,” I said calmly as I jerked the wheel and drifted around another corner. “Thanks though, love.”
My heart jumped in my chest and I responded instinctively, swerving for what looked to be no reason. A dog ran into the street where I would have been had I not moved before I’d had to. The van kept going straight, over the dog, and was gaining on us. At the next corner I felt the same lurch in my chest, and instead of turning on the street I went onto the sidewalk, across two yards, and jackknifed the vehicle up someone’s driveway and through their fence into their backyard. Shrieks of alarm to my left rang out as a man and his wife, barbecuing in the sun, leapt to the ground. I swerved through their fence and into the gravel alley, punching the pedal to the floor again as I raced between back yards.
At the end of the alley I saw the van half a block away, coming around the corner down the street to intercept us. I span the car in a tight circle, pointing back down the alley we’d come out of, and floored it. The van couldn’t turn in time at the speed they were moving and as we sped back the way we’d come I knew that we had to do something else fast. At the opposite end of the alley I turned right, back towards the school, watching them come up fast behind us.
“What should I do!?” Serielle yelled as Becca screamed and pleaded for someone to just tell her what the fuck was going on.
“I’m still thinking about that!” I yelled back at her.
Dodging and weaving around people and cars with the white van drawing inexorably closer I cut through alleys and side streets, I ripped across yards and through fences, my knack showing me the fastest route away from them. Without an actual destination though I was driving blind and it was only a matter of time before cops joined our pursuers behind me.
“What the fuck is HAPPENING!?” Becca shrieked at the top of her lungs.
“There are people after you, kiddo. Just trust us and stay down!” Sara shouted. “Sam, I don’t see them back there anymore!”
“About time!” I yelled, yanking the car in a sliding turn onto an exit to the freeway.
As I sped up to the top of the ramp my heart pulsed hard in my chest again and I glanced left instinctively. Racing alongside us on the road as I merged was the white van. How the fuck had they done that? With the accelerator to the floor I yelled “Hang on!” as they swerved right and pressed Sara’s car against the concrete barrier to our right. Sparks flew from the car scraping along at top speed and there was a sickening crunch of metal as they pulled back and rammed us again.
“MY CAR!!!” Serielle shrieked in rage.
“Sara, don’t!” I yelled, but it was too late. There was the sound of shattering glass and I wrenched the mirror around to see into the back seat.
Becca had sat up and was covering her mouth with her hands as she let out a high pitched screamed. The van had pulled back for another ram alongside us. The driver’s side window of the back door was gone, and Serielle was gone too.
Young impulsive Cherub’s could be such a bother.
[b]I’m Doin’ a Hundred On the Highway, So If You Do the Speed Limit Get the Fuck Outta My Way…
With a scream of anger I leapt through the window and slammed into the side of the van, denting in the side of its body and grasping the edge of the roof with my fingers, digging into the metal with my nails. It swerved to the right again, slamming my once beautiful car against the concrete barrier with me between the two vehicles. I let out a yell of pain and scrambled along the side of it while they pulled back for another hit.
I jabbed my fingers into the space where the sliding side door met the body of the van and ripped it free, sending it flying and bouncing off the road behind us, other cars swerving to avoid it. I swung into the van and the woman in the passenger seat leaned around to spray at me with some kind of automatic weapon. Some of the bullets hit me and the rest ricocheted around inside their vehicle. It felt like being hit with little slaps; I didn’t feel any pain anymore. The force of the bullets impacts made me reel backwards and when she let go of the trigger I lunged forward again, staggering to keep my footing in the wildly swerving van.
As she was about to pull the trigger again I reached her, wrenching the gun from her hand to clatter to the floor of the van. I grabbed her arm and twisted, trying to rip it off, but couldn’t. I yanked her from the seat and into the back with me, tearing the seatbelt free from its mounting as I did. I slammed her into the wall of the van hard enough to make it rock and swerve. Holding her throat in one hand and her arm in the other I tried to snap her bones in my hands but she twisted and tried to struggle free. She was a mortal; she shouldn’t be so strong. She brought her knee up into my groin and punched me in the throat with her free hand. We fell backwards, her on top of me and me on my back, as the van smashed into my car again.
She slammed her forehead down onto my face and I felt my nose break under the weight of the blow. She shouldn’t be so strong. As the van weaved we slid closer to where I’d ripped the side door free and she tried to force my head over the edge as they slammed into my car again. I forced her off of me with all my strength, jumping into a crouch. Her body flew up against the inside of the van’s back doors and I lunged into her to pin her there. She kneed and punched at me, fast like a mortal shouldn’t be. I took one step back, releasing her, and as she clenched her jaw with her hair hanging in her face I pushed forward with one straight kick into her stomach, bursting the back doors open to send her bouncing awkwardly off the road behind us as we sped onwards.
The driver had been crashing onto my car over and over as I’d fought in the back with the woman. I could see it, the driver’s side mangled and dented from trading paint with the van and the passenger side still throwing sparks as it was ground into the barrier on the side of the elevated freeway.
“THAT’S MY FUCKING CAR!!!” I howled as I reached around the driver’s seat and punched him in the side of the head savagely. He swerved left, crashing into another car, and then back to the right to slam into mine again.
I wrapped my right arm around his neck from behind, choking him against the headrest of his seat. He let go of the wheel with his left hand to try to loosen my grip around his neck and as Samael tried to steer back into the van to get some space to maneuver the driver lost control in one fast second. My car pulled forward enough that when the van careened back into it both vehicles tangled in a wild spin and locked bumpers. An exit ramp was ahead and we smashed into the concrete median separating it from the rest of the flow of traffic. The van flipped end over end and I lost sight of what was going on outside of the vehicle as gravity inverted and I lost my grip and bounced around the inside of the van.
There was a sudden silence; all I could here was the constant click of the van’s turn signal and the long drawn out drone of my car’s horn. I picked myself up to find the van was on its side. The driver was dripping blood from the side of his head and was just starting to move slowly, reaching for his seatbelt to free himself. I felt my ribs knitting themselves back together under my skin and gritted my teeth through the pain. When he had released the buckle he fell from the seat to the passenger side of the van, now under us. He crawled slowly through the destroyed windshield on his hands and knees, and I came up behind him. I grabbed him by the seat of his jeans and the back of his neck and tossed him free of the wreck, climbing out after him.
I saw my car. My beautiful beautiful car, lying on its roof a few feet away on the street. We’d cleared the off ramp and landed below on the road that passed under the freeway. I could smell gasoline and saw it spraying from a rip in the metal. My beautiful car. The driver of the van was still struggling ,trying to get to his feet and failing. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and the driver’s door of my car was kicked outwards. Samael struggled free and I stepped quickly over, yanking the back door off. Becca was limp but breathing, held upside down by her seatbelt. I ripped it loose and caught her as she fell, setting her gently on the ground before turning my attention back to the man gasping for breath and trying to get his bearings. I clenched my little fists and crouched to spring.
“Whoa!” Samael shouted, shaking his head clear from the crash. “You’ve done enough!”
It was too late. I was already in the air and the driver was under me. I felt strong hands on my shoulders pull on me and I found myself landing on the ground several feet away. I sat up to spring again and saw Samael crouched over him. He was holding him by the sides of the face, asking him questions. What are you on about? What do you want with Becca? Why are you after us? Why are you following Serielle? The driver looked too out of it to respond and Samael shook him to get his attention.
“Fuck you, Fallen!” the driver snapped, clenching his jaw and swallowing. He convulsed once and vomited clear bile and foam from his mouth.
“Fucking zealots,” Samael spat as he let go of the driver, who dropped lifeless to the ground. “He’s dead; killed himself somehow. We have to get Becca out of here.”
There were sirens in the distance, getting closer every second. Becca was stirring on the ground where I’d left her and the gas spraying form my car was getting dangerously close to the now smoldering and smoking van. Samael picked her up and as we started to run the spreading pool of gas ignited and both vehicles burst into flames. The sirens had reached the top of the off ramp above us, police and a fire truck and an ambulance. That’s when I saw her.
The woman I’d kicked through the back door of the van was standing on the concrete barrier looking down at us. My eyes narrowed as the police cars screeched to a halt and officers leapt out with their guns drawn, the fire truck coming to a stop as the crew jumped out and went to work with efficiency on the smoking and burning tangle of vehicles. I crouched and spread my wings.
“Fuck, Sara! Stop!!!” Samael yelled, but I was already in the air, screeching towards her.
Her face twisted in rage of her own as I slammed into her. I howled in rage, taking her chin in my left hand and the back of her head in my right. With one thrust of my wings I cut a tight spiral in the air around her and landed on my feet growling. Her headless body dropped to its knees then fell sideways and I looked into the lifeless eyes of her head in my hands. Her mouth was still moving, trying to speak, and I heard one choked sentence that made my hands lose feeling and my body go cold.
“The Nephilim have come…the blood draws the pack.”
My eyes went wide and I dropped her head to land without a bounce between my feet. My hands were shaking. I looked back to where the police had their guns on Samael and they were yelling at him to put Becca down and get on the ground.
“They’re fucking Nephilim, Sam” I thought to him dumbly.
“Oh sweet holy fucking shit,” he thought back. “Go then. I’ll be fine. I can’t leave Becca, she needs an ambulance. Someone has to protect her.”
“Good luck,” I said into his mind. “Get away when you can.”
“Hide, Serielle. Hide as well as you can.” he thought.
Another police car screeched to a halt right in front of me. I stretched my leg straight up and slammed the sole of my foot onto the hood of the cruiser, caving it in right to the ground. The front wheels shot from the axles to the sides as the officers dove from the open doors with stunned looks of horror on their faces, and I threw myself skyward. In terror I flew from the scene as fast as I could.
I had to get as far as possible. I had to hide. But where do you hide from the Nephilim? They were the Seraphim’s secret weapon; half angel and half human, all menacing terror. They were the hunters and the destroyers of our own kind that we couldn’t feel or sense coming. They were the implacable face of the Seraphim’s will. They were the caste none of the others spoke of, except in their deepest and darkest fears. They were heartless, soulless machines of death and destruction and there were as many of them as the Seraphim needed to get the job done; and they simply did not stop until the will of the Council was done. They were the ones you hoped weren’t real and that you prayed you never met.