End of Days Page 77

Uriel and his angels must realize it at the same time I do, because they suddenly dive-bomb us.

The music is still blaring. The closer they get, the louder it is for them, but they commit to their attack.

The lights turn off, pitching us into the dark.

I feel the makeshift stage thunking with the weight of bodies landing hard around me.

The lights turn back on.

Around me are three angel warriors. They leap up, punching blindly as they spin in place with their eyes shut. They can’t see, and the noise must be pounding their heads into mush, yet they’re ready to fight.

Angels land all over the bridge. Some are crashing, lying broken on the concrete. Enough of them make it, though – uninjured enough to kill the nearest human even as they’re adjusting to the light and recovering from their impact.

A bloody fight erupts on the bridge. People everywhere are running or fighting. The gunners aren’t sure what to do, and they stutter in their aim. They can’t open fire on the bridge without hitting our own people, and the angels above us are mostly out of easy range.

The angels don’t even pull out their weapons. Either they’re worried about my little trick with the sword I no longer have or they’re so confident that they don’t bother with weapons.

We can’t beat angels one-on-one. We had anticipated the ground crew having to fight some angels who landed or fell onto the bridge, but not the entire angel host. That was as far as our planning skills and time allowed.

People are getting slaughtered as angels punch our fighters off the bridge or break their backs or kick them into oblivion. People use their handguns or rifles to shoot at the angels despite the risk of hitting other people.

I raise my knife against an angel who heads my way. It feels really flimsy compared with the sword I used to have. I don’t know if he can see me now or not, but he has murder in his eyes. He knows he’s going to kill. It’s just a question of who.

If I’m super lucky, I might be able to fight him off and maybe even the warrior after him, but it’s not a long-term survival strategy. By long-term, I mean the next ten minutes.

We’re screwed.

63

Knowing we signed up for this doesn’t help even if we all knew our chances of survival were close to zero. Actually being faced with death is totally different.

My hands are trembling and clumsy as I brace for a fight. I try to calm down so I can fight effectively, but adrenaline screams through my veins, making me jittery.

As I calculate my best options, I see motion out of the edge of my vision. Another angel has snuck up on me. His wings are golden and his face chiseled, but he looks at me with the cold eyes of a killer.

Before I can figure out what to do, snowy wings blot out the angel.

It’s Raffe.

And he has two of his Watchers backing him up.

My heart races even though I thought it was already going full speed. He has his back to me as if completely confident I won’t attack him, despite the fact that we’re enemies.

He punches the attacker, then grabs him and tosses him off the stage.

I let out a deep breath. My hands shake with relief. Raffe is fighting another angel, not humans.

He whips out his sword, ready to strike. I step back-to-back with him, slicing at the other angel coming at us. His Watchers step to each side of us, making a defensive perimeter around us.

The angel I’m fighting leans back to avoid my slice. I swipe my feet under his, and he goes down, landing hard. He’s probably not used to fighting on his feet.

My opponent rolls away from me, blindly finding a new place to fight.

Raffe turns to me.

It’s the first time I’ve seen his face look less than perfect. He’s squinting in pain and blinking rapidly.

He came to help me.

Through all the screaming noise and blinding lights, he came.

I dig into my pocket and pull out a handful of industrial-strength earplugs. He looks at the orange plugs in my hand, then back at me. I grab one and push it into his ear.

He understands and puts one into his other ear. I know they don’t help a lot, but they must help some, because his face relaxes a little. He gets the attention of the two Watchers beside us who also pluck earplugs out of my hand and put them in their ears.

I give Raffe a quick hug. I don’t care who sees me at this point. Raffe might, though.

As if to prove it, he glances up at the sky. The rest of his Watchers and hellions are hovering above the fight where the noise is less. And beyond that is the cloud of winged spectators. I’m sure it’s just my imagination, but I sense the arctic winds of disapproval coming down at us from the spectators above.

He came down to help us rather than hunt us even though the entire angel host was watching.

Raffe makes a twirling gesture to his two Watchers. They nod.

The two Watchers jump into the air and make the same twirling gesture to the rest of the Watchers hovering above.

Raffe’s entire crew dives down through the painful noise and blinding lights and lands on the bridge.

When angel meets Watcher, they’re like two feral cats meeting each other in an alley. They raise their feathers, making their wings look spiky and larger than before.

At first, our freedom fighters assume that there are just more enemies to fight and withdraw into a more defensive position against them. But when they see the Watchers attacking Uriel’s angels, they waste a second, watching the scene unfold with slack jaws.

I raise my arms and whoop even though no one can hear me. I can’t help it. With Raffe’s group, we now have a fair shot of fending off Uriel’s attack.

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