"Wait, let me get this straight. Me, Alex fucking Develin, is the savior of the free world? I can't even control all of my abilities, let alone to save the world! Are you sure your working those powers right?"
Sera gave me a sad little smile and nodded.
"Don't let my age fool you Alex. I am the best Diviner in my clan and my visions have shown that only you can return balance. You are born of light and raised of dark. Allegra was born of dark and raised of light. You are the opposite side of the same coin and only you can hope to contain her ambitions. For if you do not, she will extinguish those deemed unworthy, and her views of humanity do not match that of Him. It will be the end of everything you were sworn to protect."
Okay, this was some heavy shit. First, there is someone else like me but raised in Heaven. Seems like I got the short end of THAT stick. Now she is raising an army of Light Walkers to herald a return to Earth and mark the End of Days. Also there was somebody here on Earth that does not want this girl to talk because last time I checked, Demons and Angels don't exactly get along. That was the only way I could explain the fun time bunch from earlier. I was going to need more information and I was going to have to cash in a few favors to get it.
"Look Sera, even if what you say is true then why was a Greater Planar Demon sent to find you? Some serious power went into breaking the wards on this place. It would take someone really high up on the food chain to get through the protection spells on this church, its one of the most well guarded buildings in the city, off limits to any Dark Walker. Plus, why would the enemies of Heaven want to stop you? Shouldn't they be FOR what you're trying to do?"
Both Quint and Sera drew silent at the thought of that. Hell, Quint even dropped the shocked look off of his face for a few moments to process this. Quint was a wild card here, on one hand he had been trained his whole life to believe that the Walkers of Light worked at the hand of God and their path would lead him to Heaven. But if what Sera said was true this could shake his faith.
Here was an angel who had lied to him and manipulated herself to get to me through him and had put him in mortal danger. At the same time you could not argue with the fact that she WAS a Light Walker and somebody wanted her dead. Her return to Earth alone was fantastic enough to warrant concern. Finally, it was Sera who broke the silence.
"I know not why the Armies of the Dark have struck out at me nor who sent them Alex Develin. What I do know is that you hold the key to stopping the coming apocalypse and that the Armies of Heaven do not want me to help you. Only He who walks in shadow and light can find the balance,only you Alex Develin, this I believe. The answers to this mystery lay before us, you need but choose your path."
I looked over to Quint and he stared back at me. Whatever I did I knew one thing. Whoever sent that fucker was after Sera would not stop and if they thought I was involved (and I guess I was after that tussle upstairs) they would be coming for me. Besides, nobody gets away with trashing my turf. Fuck that.
"Okay Serapha, you just got a savior but we do this shit my way. We need information, backup, and a place to hide out. This sanctuary will probably last until dawn, but I think we should move by daybreak. We have to think that we got lucky and that they didn't know about this room but whomever sent them won't make the same mistake twice. The wards have fallen around most of the church and I don't want to be here if Heaven itself shows up looking for you. That puts me at a disadvantage and I don't want to take any chances."
"What about hiding out at your place Alex?"
The Padre had hit on another point home. Dear old Dad had ruined my wards so that was out. That left only two places I knew with enough protection to offer any kind of support. One was Vickers, and I wasn't sure that Able would be all that appreciative about showing up with a Light Walker looking for sanctuary after being told to keep out of his fucking business just last night. That left a visit to The Copper Cup, and to Julien. After telling the two of them my plan, I set into the next part. Backup.
"Padre, first thing I think you need to do is notify your superiors and get Brother Tristan down here. We are to need whatever help we can get, maybe a couple of Vatican Regulators even. You should probably clear out anyone who doesn't need to be here in the morning."
Tristan was Quint's initiate and watched the church during the times that our business drew us out. After what had happened with Father Malkin, the Order had provided each member with a backup in case something happened to them. That way you wouldn't have to train a completely new handler, they would know the ins and outs already. To be honest, Tristan was kind of a douche bag. Quint may not have been comfortable with what I was, but he never openly derided me and he always did his duty. Tristan let it be known that I was pretty much the bottom of his food chain in his book. He did it if Quint told him to, but he never made it easy. He may fucking hate my guts but at this point, we were going to need all the help we could get.
"You two stay here and I will be back before daybreak, I'm going to call in one other favor before we take off for The Cup. That's the only place that may give us some information and would be willing to hide us. If Julien's in a giving mood that is. Padre, you don't open this for anyone but me until I get back, including Tristan you got that?"
When he nodded yes I went back upstairs. After quickly checking the building to make it secure, I dragged the bodies inside and locked the doors. A quick rinse and change of clothes later (and I was going to have to restock this wardrobe soon!) I grabbed my jacket and rig and slipped everything into place. Picking up the balefire shotgun, I headed back downstairs to check in one last time and drop off a few additional supplies.
"Padre, take this, I know you'll know what to do with it and remember what I said."
I had tossed him the shotgun and left a few things on the table, including a first aide kit and some food and turned back towards the door. As I started up the stairwell I felt a hand on my shoulder so I turned around. It was Quint.
"Kneel my son."
As I lowered myself to my knees I realized how far Quint and me had come tonight. Whatever was going on with Serapha, I knew Quint was on my side. I listened as he gave a benediction and blessed me. It meant a lot to know that Quint was starting to trust me. I had forgotten what that felt like, someone trusting you. As I got got up, Serapha appeared. She leaned over and gently kissed me on the cheek.
"Safe travels Alex Develin."
In that instant I saw Juliet again and my vision swam. I closed my eyes and forced the images into my subconscious. This was no time for any fucking daydreaming, I had shit to do. When I opened my eyes again Sera had walked back to the couch and picked up her book so Quint walked me to the top of the stairs. As I left out the door I left him one more piece of advice.
"Look Quint, watch out. Not just for more bad guys, but watch her too. I still don't think she is giving us the full story. I believe that she needs our help, but don't trust her to much. Keep your guard up and your mind clear.'
"But she is an Angel Alex, a messenger of God."
"Yeah, and you once thought I was just another Night Walker."
With that little bit of wisdom, I waited until I heard the lock fall in place behind me and I could see the tell tale signs of Quint reaching into the weave for even more spells to protect the door. He was going to burn himself out at this rate. Still I cast a spell of my own, one of the tricks I had learned in my youth. I thread a small bit of my Ethereal weave around the threshold of the door. If anyone, or anything, crossed this door it would break the strand and alert me. It wasn't much but it would have to do until I could bring in the big guns.
After that I headed out the back door and around to the front. I dug through my pockets until I found what I was looking for, a set of keys. Out front a large black panel van sat and I had swiped the keys off one of the guys I had dropped. I was pretty sure that the User and his cronies had arrived in it earlier. It made a good vehicle to transport Walkers in, either Light or Day, as it would be protected from the sky at either time. It could also move that troll around pretty easily. I popped open the rear door, checking that out first. It was blocked off from the drivers compartment by a metal partition and padded in, though completely empty.
I moved around to the drivers seat and hopped in. Automatic, good. I never did learn to drive a stick. Hell, I could barely drive as it was. Somehow, my line of work wasn't all that conducive to hours at the DMV. Go figure. I slammed the tranny into drive and spun out. As I looked around the cab I saw a crumpled pack of smokes on the dash. I reached out and lit up.
Ugh, somebody smoked the cheap shit. Still, it was better than nothing. I smoked the cigarette down to the filter and immediately fired up another one. Better get all the relief I can now, Lord knows it only goes downhill from here. Not only was I going to have to go to Julien's later tonight, I had to visit another person I wasn't sure was going to be all that happy to see me.
I drove for about 30 minutes until I hit the outskirts of Santa Diego. I turned off the main road and down a dirt side street. The road was dark, but straight and I cruised along for a few minutes before I shifted my Second Sight on. In the distance, I saw my destination.
It was a huge spire towering in the air, over 40 stories tall. As I got closer I could see the smaller towers dotting up around the central spire. Colors of 5 of the 7 schools of magic could be seen alighting the sky. Reds and oranges of Evocation and Ethereal schools intermingled with the ribbons of white Divination, green Elementalism and yellow Creationism. The only absent colors were the blue of Holy and the black of Dark Magic.
As I crested the last hill the full building came into view. Five smaller towers which where connected by walls and ramparts around the central spire. Each tower fed a separate school of magic into the central spire, each color swirling about the complex before feeding into the peak, which contained a huge ball of massive energy. I looked up the the central spire, called the Master's Keep, and parked the van. I went to look at my watch, forgetting that I had broken it, to check the time. Fuck. Instead I tapped another smoke our of the pack.
The building was massive in size and scope, the energy almost to blinding for my Second Sight to handle. I couldn't turn it off though, it was the only way to see the place. Fuck magic sucked sometimes. It was just another trick to keep the place hidden from prying eyes. The only way to see it was to be taught the the spells of magic that allowed one to see the weave a caster makes, or to be lucky like me and have the Sight.
I walked up to the portal that acted as the doorway and looked for the sigil. See there wasn't any real doors here, if you didn't know magic, you weren't getting in, and you needed to know a helluva lot more magic before they would let you out. This wasn't for some half ass User who could do a couple of tricks, like had been pointed out to me several times before.
Still I kept looking for the sigil until I finally found it under a crenellation. I sent a small orange arc of magic into it, like Quint had done in the pantry back at St. Augustine's. I wasn't a User in any sense of the word, but I this was another trick I had picked up over the years. I watched the sigil glow and the beginning of a portal form in the wall. there were probably several Users in the city that would pay good money for this information. Even if you were a User, there was no guarantee that you could even get in the place. many a User had spent years learning to find the right sigil to gain entrance.
As the portal opened I turned to head inside but before I could get in I was greeted by a tall bearded man in flowing crimson robes.
"Hello Mr. Develin. Welcome back to the Academy."
Have I said fuck me yet?
End of Line.