(currently seeking representation; suitable as a stand-alone, but with strong series potential)
When you figure out you're the pivotal piece in an intricate game of Archangel chess, your priorities shift...
The Fallen's forces are gathering. The Treaty which protects Earth from angelic warfare is stretching and close to breaking. The outcome hinges on three people—Sydney, Jack, and Devon, and the battlefield, the urban ruins of Detroit.
Sydney's psychic abilities keep her far removed from normal friends, and the tragic accident that killed her adopted parents took care of any family she might've had. Syd keeps her abilities under lock in key in her head, but the temptation to use her abilities is heady. And, let's face it, there is no twelve step program for recovering psychics.
Devon and Jack don't get along. Not as brothers and certainly not as soldiers in the Guardian Army. Centuries ago, the Archangel Rafael recruited them, infused them with angelic powers, and taught them to kill. Now the Archangel wants them to protect a human, keep her alive so she can fulfill a Prophecy, and work—together.
Malik, demon-son of Hell's Most High, is bent on destroying them all, but the Fallen aren't the only ones with deadly agendas. Rafael's plan to keep Sydney alive is pitted with flaws and laced with danger. His alliance with a mysterious doctor may kill Sydney before the Fallen have an opportunity.
Sydney must decide to embrace her painful past and her freakish abilities or die at the clawed hands of a demon.
Jack must decide if duty and loyalty to Rafael is more important than defending the innocent.
And Devon must decide if protecting Sydney is worth more than his own life.
Yeah, Syd's dreams would suck tonight. She sagged against the crumbling brick of the building, rubbing her arms in defense of the cold.
How many times did she need to be reminded there was a reason to not use her damn psychic abilities? There was more bad in this town than good, the odds just weren't in her favor. And if she kept making ridiculous scenes of herself, one day the sanity police were going to break down the door and straight-jacket her ass.
Though admittedly, Syd was out of practice. She had spent most of her childhood and teenage years learning to turn them off. She could teach a PhD program on how to pretend you didn't have psychic abilities and disuse them into dormancy.
Rafael's voice strained tight, like a piano fresh from a good tuning. "Agree to help her, that is all I ask. Swear it on your honor."
Jack smiled without mirth. "And if I refuse?"
Rafael moved closer, his steps so smooth they had the appearance of gliding. The Archangel's expression was nearly unreadable.
"If you do this one last mission, I will grant your request." Rafael's voice was as pained as Jack had ever heard it. "Your service will be over."
Without a second more of hesitation, without wondering what Rafael was hiding, Jack said, "I swear it. On my honor, I will guard Sydney Hoven with my life."
While he waited for his new ward, Sydney Hoven, to show up, Devon made sure there was one empty space on either side of him at the bar. Excessive contact with humans was not pleasant. Not while he was working, and all his power was go. Hanging with a bunch of blottoed humans felt similar to someone breaking open his skull and pouring hot lava inside.
When it came to work assignment, wasn't like Archangels gave you much of a choice.
Instructions had been clear as freshly Windexed glass. Protect Sydney Hoven. The cost is irrelevant. Read: if you have to die in the process, no BFD.
Devon hadn't asked why she rated his protection—didn't matter. Something to do. If he was lucky, a reasonable excuse to kill something. Or maybe something would try to kill him.
Nothing had managed to knock him off in eight centuries, so he thought the odds of survival definitely tilted in his favor.
"I read palms, not bite them," Syd said evenly.
Which was not strictly true. She didn't read palms at all. She was probably the only 'psychic' on the planet who worked overtime not to be.
Plain vanilla, street-safe faux reading, she tried to convince herself. The temptation to unlock her mind, use its true potential cracked at her resolve. That, and the forlorn look on the kid's face. Who wouldn't want to help him?
The boy swallowed. "It's jus— I know what I want to know, but I don' know if I really wanna know." His head tipped sideways, staring at his zipper. "Feel me?"
Syd chuckled and nodded slowly. "Yeah, I get it. Think how I feel, knowing all kinds of stuff I don't want to know."
The boy finally raised his eyes and smiled at her. His eyes were deep brown, round.
Syd stared a moment more, holding those young, shrewd eyes. The street-wise clothes and manner sloughed off, and in those eyes Syd saw something else. Unadulterated hope of the I-still-believe-in-Santa variety. Her chest swelled, burned with the effort of a holding a breath she wasn't aware of having taken.
For God's sake, he's just a kid. Help him.
She knew what it felt like to want a chance and not be given one. She knew what it felt like to be displaced by humanity sure as Mother Nature displaced people in the path of a hurricane. She knew how the absence of family left an easily-infected wound in your soul.
Brie would be pissed, but it wouldn't be the first time.
Read "Dinner, Darts, and Demons," a short story