Rachel Van Dyken
To all my readers… this one is for you!
When men began to multiply on earth, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw how beautiful the daughters of man were, and so they took for their wives as many of them as they chose. Then the Lord said: "My spirit shall not remain in man forever, since he is but flesh. His days shall comprise one hundred and twenty years." At that time the Nephilim appeared on earth (as well as later), after the sons of God had intercourse with the daughters of man, who bore them sons. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-4)
My whole life I’ve been taught to be good.
I’ve been good.
I remind myself of that every time the job gets to me. On days like today, when I look at what I’ve done — repentance comes to mind.
I took in the complete and utter mess around me. By the looks of it, I clearly had a lot more in store at the end of my life than normal people.
The word itself mocked me.
My feet touched the cold slate of the floor. Blood pooled around the spike of my leather heels, instantly making me feel irritated that I’d have to clean them.
It had been too easy this time. We were supposed to be looking at the apartment across the way. Adonis convinced the real estate agent that I needed my space, so we boarded the elevator alone, and when we reached the fifth floor, headed to the room where the human was waiting.
It was over before she could even pull the trigger on her .45 Auto, not that it would have done much damage.
But after we found out she was trying to trap us for the Phantoms, her only remaining option was death — not that it was an option to begin with. Death rarely was.
I rolled my eyes and knelt down by her body. I was literally standing in a mess of my own creation. The form was pale and lifeless. Its entire source of energy… gone.
The Phantoms started this war. Now it was up to those who remained in His favor to end it.
It’s what Seekers did. They sought out the evil in the world that threatened to destroy everything pure and good.
All I knew was that until the Phantoms were burning in Hell, my entire existence was spent saving the weak human race from being destroyed by their own stupidity.
After taking a deep breath, I realized I only had two options: call for reinforcements or clean up the mess myself. I decided against the latter. I didn’t feel the need to get dirty. After all, a girl hates to get messy, and I was dressed in all white, the typical uniform of the Seeker.
I whistled to bring my partner Adonis around the corner, where he was most likely basking in the glow of our victory. Not that he was any help. Well, I mean he had his uses. Each of the Seekers did. Mine was to fight, his was to… entice. And I mean that in the literal sense of the word. He could get anyone to do anything. Case in point: the young woman whose corpse I was stepping over had been so entranced by Adonis’s face she didn’t even feel the sting of my knife in her back. One twist and she was done for.
He blew her a parting kiss, his way of keeping it classy. And voila, case closed, mission complete. His job was easy; mine was hard. Adonis never got his hands dirty, or his clothes for that matter.
His dark, curly hair and crystal blue eyes almost made a person uncomfortable, not that I would ever admit that to him. It would make living with him absolute torture. Being his partner was hard enough without having to live with a man whose ego was larger than that of the entire cast of Jersey Shore. “So we cleaning this up, or are you calling in Headquarters?”
I rolled my eyes in disgust at his mention of Headquarters. Too much red tape. “Don’t do this, Athena, don’t do that…”
I could tell Adonis thought I was about to do my usual “I hate everything about the rules in our society” speech. He took out our card and made the decision for me. The card immediately melted into the body, leaving a giant gold S in the middle of the corpse.
“I’ve sent the signal. Let’s go.” He wrapped his arm around me, pulling me in close to his body. All six feet five inches of him was covered with thick corded muscles that made any ultimate fighter look like a pansy.
I sighed into his shoulder, thankful that at least I’m one of the few Seekers whose partner was still living, and followed his lead into the elevator.
“It’s getting harder for you, Thena.” Adonis pushed the illuminated lobby button and ran his fingers through his hair. “I never thought I’d say this, but you’re losing your touch.”
I bit my lip to keep from causing him physical harm. “Me? I’m losing my touch?”
He shrugged in a totally Adonis way, which infuriated me even more. “I just killed her. I took her down in less than five seconds. How on earth am I losing my touch?”
“It used to be less than three seconds.” He sighed.
“You’re kidding, right?”
He stopped the elevator and pulled me closer. “You’ve been doing this too long. Maybe my concern for you gets in the way, maybe…”
The words were left unspoken, but I knew they were there. Behind the cool mask of indifference and cockiness was a heart. He didn’t want me to become like so many other Seekers who ended up losing their minds and being sent back to Headquarters. They were sentenced to live a life being hand-fed bottles of medicine that made them forget all the horrible things they’d done in the name of saving a few measly human lives.
“It’s not them I mind killing,” I said.
And he did. Phantoms weren’t meant to be walking among us. They were half-breeds: half fallen angel, half human. Many of them still possessed powers nobody on planet Earth should know about, let alone possess.
The humans had a word for our kind: Nephilim. We were also half-breeds — all of us. It’s what made us different, what made us almost immortal, considering we were basically demi-gods.
It was the humans. The informants. The ones who mindlessly worked for the Phantoms, thinking they have some sort of use, when really they were pawns in a much bigger game than they’d ever imagined. Those were the ones I hated killing. Even if they were idiotic enough to think they had any say in this war.
I stared at Adonis as his eyes searched mine. He brought his hand up to my face. I shuddered as his touch brought me reeling back from the darkness that plagued me.
It was what saved Seekers from turning into their worst fear: evil itself. A person could only see so much evil, and commit so much in the name of a cause, before they truly forgot which side they were fighting for.
The touch of another being, another energy source, was what kept Seekers balanced, and what kept us alive. It was one of the main reasons Seekers were partnered up. We needed one another in order to stay strong.
God help me, but Adonis was my strength.
His lips touched mine for a brief second before he pulled back and traced the outside of my jaw with his finger. I leaned into him, nearly swaying on my feet as I did so.
“Better?” he asked, kissing the top of my forehead.
I sighed. “Better. Thanks.”
“Anytime.” He winked and moved back to push the button as I rolled my eyes. I needed to remind myself to never give the guy compliments.
“Stop talking trash about me, Thena.”
I offered him an innocent look. He and I both knew he couldn’t read minds, even though some Phantoms could.
Unfortunately, he also knew me well enough to guess almost exactly what I was thinking most the time.
I knew I had to put my game face on. After all, the entire reason for going into the building had been a set
The elevator door opened, leading us back into the lobby where the real estate agent was waiting anxiously. I took Adonis’s hand, as per our arrangement and laughed as I looked into his big, baby blues.
“Oh, baby, it’s so perfect, let’s take it!” I kissed him firmly on the mouth, enjoying the fact that I got to see him squirm. He hated being the one being hit on, considering his life’s work was doing the exact opposite.
“So what did you think?” The real estate agent walked up to us in a full-out red leopard jumpsuit and gold heels.
What I wanted to say was, “I should kill you for dressing like that.”
What came out was, “My boyfriend and I really need to discuss it.”
I plastered a grin on my face as Adonis worked his magic.
He leaned in toward the middle-aged woman and closed his eyes for two seconds before focusing the weight of his godlike appearance onto the poor soul. “What do you think, Katrina?”
Katrina blinked a few times and sucked in a deep breath, before placing her hand on her heaving chest.
Nice work, Adonis, you’ve officially given her a stroke.
I nudged him in the ribs, signaling him to back off before the woman started panting. Katrina shook her head and giggled.
“I don’t know what came over me. Well, you two just take your time. You have my card. Call me if you need anything.” Katrina said the last part with a suggestive wink toward at Adonis.
“Cougar,” I coughed as she sauntered off.
Adonis laughed and led me out the door to the waiting black SUV.
“So…” I exhaled once he got in on his side.
“Food.” He grinned and drove off faster than a bat out of Hades.
I was gripping the seat like a vice. Adonis looked at my hands and snorted. Clearly he sensed my irritated mood. So we drove up to the first fast food place he could find. I needed carbs, the only thing that seemed to make my mood better — other than being in his arms for an extended period of time — but that’s just uncomfortable for a number of reasons I didn’t feel like thinking about.
My head was spinning with possibilities. The war had been going on for as long as I could remember, which by the way was quite a long time.
I’ve been around since close to the beginning.
When angels chose the human race as mates, they went against their creator and creation in order to please their carnal desires. Not the wisest of choices, considering the side they willingly chose meant certain death.
Made my job that much harder. After all they were my family, my race. My entire heritage is evil. Try sleeping at night with that little piece of information plaguing you. My whole existence is basically Purgatory, fighting for Heaven while living in a personal hell. Really, it’s great.
My heritage was actually of the Nephilim, but by choice I lived the life of a Seeker, not a Phantom. We’ve lost many Seekers in the war, those who do so much for the price of freedom that they forget exactly who they are fighting for. The evil overtakes them like it so easily does our kind, and they are forever lost.
My job as a fighter was to kill those who informed and those who threatened us. All together Headquarters had only about fifty of us who walked around killing. The rest pushed paperwork, or as Adonis strongly put it, “Sat on their butts all day and act like idiots.” I didn’t say we were perfect. The Greeks called us gods and demi-gods, the Romans followed suit, and modern day society would most likely call us freaks, vampires, or superheroes. You name it, we’ve been called it.
Adonis constantly complained about the ones who refused to fight. Hercules was his biggest complaint, since he did nothing with his life except try to convince Hollywood producers to make another movie about him. He was an actor, always had been, but even he wasn’t the worst. No, the worst had to be Achilles, ever since that, uh, incident, he’d walked around with a chip on his shoulder the size of the Grand Canyon. If and when we did see him, he was drunk. Nobody was really sure if he would go with anyone to Eden when everything was said and done. Not that it mattered, considering it could be thousands of years before we even got a glimpse of Heaven.
Adonis pulled into the drive-through and ordered the usual: two cheeseburgers, three large fries, and water. For some reason, any sort of soda made Seekers drunk, as if we’d just had a barrel of rum.
“Penny for your thoughts, Thena?”
“You sure you want to know?”
He lifted his perfectly-arched eyebrow and shook his head. “How long have we been doing this?”
“Oh, please don’t make me count the years,” I grumbled, pulling out a hot fry.
“Yes, reminding you of your age is a sore point. Sorry for forgetting. You know you can always go pout with Achilles if I’m aggravating you.”
“Not fair!” I yelled. “Do not pair me with him. Just yesterday Dionysus said the entire room was a pig sty from that guy. I don’t see why he can’t just get over it.”
“He lost the Trojan War and the woman he loved, Thena. People don’t just get over things like that.”
I shook my head. “Yes they do. It’s been over ten thousand years!”
“Ah hah! See? I knew I could get you to mention age!”
I threw my fry at his face and stuck out my tongue. “You never play fair.”
“I’m Adonis. Whoever said I’d play fair?”
“Do you really need to remind yourself who you are over and over again? Yes, you are Adonis. Congratulations. People love you. Women swoon in your presence.”
“I thought the real estate agent was going to have a stroke.” He passed me the water as I took a big gulp and tried to talk at the same time.
“I could have sworn she was going to. You need to learn to back off sometimes. Humans aren’t used to your…”
“Perfection?” he offered.
I threw another fry. “No, your presence.”
Adonis shook his head in disgust. “You’d think after all the movies Hercules has been in, they’d be used to it by now.”
“One.” I held up my finger. “I think you’re jealous. Two, eventually people are going to start noticing he doesn’t age, so his film career is basically over, and three… well, three, the movies are kind of good.”
“If I have to see another Brad Pitt movie, I might go insane,” he lamented.
“Shh!” I swatted him. “You can’t just go around using their names together.
“Oh yes.” Adonis’s voice got quiet. “Because people will really believe me when I say an A-list movie star is really a Nephilim.”
I smacked him on the arm and took my cheeseburger out. “When do we have to be back to Headquarters?”
“Ten minutes ago.”
I groaned. “Please tell me you’re lying. We can’t be late again, or they’re going to give us the worst assignments!”
He looked at me as if to say every assignment was the worst assignment, which is only partially true. In return, I gave him a pitiful “I hate getting into trouble” look.
“Fine, let’s go.” He started the car in the direction of the Pike Place Market, downtown Seattle.
It was always amusing to watch Adonis in public. Women couldn’t seem to help themselves. Yes, ladies, he looks like a god. Greeks used to worship him for a reason. Those were the things I couldn’t say out loud, even though it killed me inside.
Adonis loved the attention. He practically bathed in it. I, for one, got irritated by it. Men stared at me the way women stared at Adonis, but I knew what men thought when they gawked at my five-foot-ten form. It didn’t help that my hair was pitch black and my eyes an odd shade of violet. My pupils tended to glow when I was upset, which, for a warrior like myself, was quite often.
I hated to say it, but if someone was tall and attractive, I immediately found them suspicious. Not that every movie star and supermodel was a part of the fallen race, but a good many of them could be, and I didn’t like taking chances.
Adonis motioned for me to follow him as he walked against the crowds toward the pier. I trailed behind him and tried not to make eye contact. Cat calls and whistles continued to plague us as we made our way to the bottom of Pier 39.
“Do you see anyone?” I asked, scanning the deserted pier.
“We’re safe, stop worrying.” Adonis briefly touched my face again and kissed my mouth. I instantly wished he would stop.
I hated feeling weak, like I needed him in order to survive.
I was irritated that I was attracted to the one man I’ve been told by Headquarters not to get involved with. He knew it, I knew it. But Nephilim had more heightened emotions than humans; granted, we can control them better. It didn’t mean we didn’t feel. And well… it was hard to feel anything but lust when a man like Adonis was kissing you.
“Let’s go.” He broke the kiss and pinched my cheek. I could feel the color flowing through my veins. I hated being weak after battle almost as much as I hated the fact Adonis didn’t seem to have any feelings for anyone but himself. Yes, he cared for me like a sister, but I could almost guarantee he’d choose himself over me any day. Adonis, thy name is Vanity.
“Are you talking to yourself and leaving me out again, Thena?” he asked as he pushed the elevator button.
“Yes,” I said, turning toward him. “Too bad you can’t read minds.”
He grunted “I know you better than you think.”
If only that weren’t so true.
The elevator opened.
In we walked, waiting for the bone-crushing plummet that would kill a normal person. Under the Puget Sound we go, to Headquarters, or as all Nephilim call it, Halcyon.