Home > The Hunt (Devil's Isle #3)(6)

The Hunt (Devil's Isle #3)(6)
Author: Chloe Neill

   That made me feel better. “And what are you going to do while I’m gone?”

   “Try and get my damn comp up and running. Managed to find a working power supply, but I still can’t get the OS to boot.”

   We reached the end of the alley, prepared to turn right down the sidewalk, and stopped short. Across the street, a man in fatigues sat inside a Containment-branded jeep. Another man walked toward him, opened the front passenger door, and climbed inside. RECOVERY was printed in large letters on the side.

   Moses and I were the types they wanted to recover: Paras and Sensitives who weren’t in Devil’s Isle, where we belonged.

   “Shit,” Moses said, stepping back into the shadows. “We wait here or run?”

   There was no way to tell if they were here for us—if they’d followed us across the neighborhood—or if there were others on the hit list today. “Wait,” I said. And watch. Figure out what they did, and which way we’d need to run.

   The sounds came first, high-pitched and spitting with anger.

   “A wraith?” Moses said.

   But as two agents dragged the man out, I realized we weren’t that lucky.

   The man they’d found wasn’t a wraith or a Sensitive. He was a Para, short and slender, with elfish features, pointed ears. His name was Pike. He was a friend of Liam’s who’d helped protect Eleanor when she’d lived in Devil’s Isle.

   “I didn’t know he made it out,” Moses said, voice tight with concern.

   “Me, either.” I hadn’t seen Pike during the battle or in the brief time after that I’d been in the Quarter, and I hadn’t been back inside Devil’s Isle since. If he’d been on the streets the entire time, I hadn’t seen him there, either.

   I didn’t know Pike well. If Liam trusted him, Pike was smart enough to be careful. But Containment had ways of finding people. I glanced up and around, looking for the magic monitor, found it hanging on a light pole across the street. The light blinked green. The power was on in this sector of the city, and Pike had done something magical, which tripped the alarm.

   I started forward, but Moses’s fingers tightened on my arm. I tried to shake him loose, but he held firm. He may have been small, but he had plenty of strength.

   “Let go,” I said. “I have to help him.”

   “You can’t just run out there. We’re outnumbered.”

   “I can use magic.” I could clear a path for Pike, get the agents out of his way, and put him somewhere safe—as long as I could do it quickly. I could use only so much magic without having to manage its side effects.

   “Okay,” Moses whispered, “let’s assume you get out there and kick some ass with your magic, and they don’t take you into Devil’s Isle. Gavin already told you they’ve moved you up the most wanted list. You do this, you definitely can’t risk going into the bayou.”

   And wasn’t that a shitty choice? I felt angry, guilty, helpless. “We can’t just let them take him.”

   “He’ll go back inside,” Moses said. His voice was quiet. “There are worse places for him to be.”

   “Even if freedom’s the other option?”

   “There’s a time and place,” he said. “And out here on the street, in broad daylight in front of operational magic monitors ain’t either of those.”

   Pike hadn’t stopped struggling, so the agents forced a jacket on him—a special restraint usually used to control wraiths—and moved him into the back of the vehicle.

   A moment later, they climbed inside and were gone. When the neighborhood was quiet again, the birds began to chirp.

   “We’ll talk to Lizzie,” Moses said. “Make sure she’s got an eye on him.”

   Right now that didn’t feel like much consolation.

   • • •

   It had been a gas station—a corner business with atomic-era architecture and a couple of garage bays. It was now a bunker and a secret archive of banned magical objects. And my home sweet home.

   Inside, there were long wooden tables and shelves along the walls, each holding priceless and completely illegal weapons, books, masks, and other items. My father had hidden them here to keep them away from Containment bonfires.

   For now, I was outside and above the magic. I lay on a blanket on the roof, where the low walls gave me cover from Containment patrols.

   Tomorrow would be the first night I’d spent out of New Orleans in years. My father had refused to evacuate, even when the city was bombarded. We’d lived together in a house until he died, and then I moved into Royal Mercantile. After the Battle of Devil’s Isle, I’d walked to the gas station and spent the first of many nights here. It had become my home, my new piece of New Orleans.

   Tonight I watched the sun sink in the west, sending streaks of brilliant orange and purple across the sky. The sight was beautiful enough that I could nearly pretend the world was whole again. But nearly wasn’t enough. Nothing—and no one—in the Zone was whole anymore.

   The gas station sat on what had been a busy road. But in the weeks I’d been here, I’d seen fewer than a dozen people nearby. An older couple lived up the street in a double camelback. A man lived two blocks up in the kingdom he’d made of a former Piggly Wiggly. Everyone else had been moving: passersby, nomads, Containment officers.

   “I understand I missed some excitement.”

   I jumped at the sound of Malachi’s voice, sat up to find him standing behind me, his body a dark silhouette against the brilliant sky. “You have got to stop doing that.”

   His wings retracted, changing his shape from Paranormal to human. “You have got to listen harder.”

   I shouldn’t have been surprised; Malachi had a habit of visiting me at night. Darkness reduced the chance he’d be seen, and I think he enjoyed the company and the quiet. I hadn’t let him inside the building—too many secrets there—but I’d given him the address. I knew I could trust him to keep the location secret, and I didn’t have to worry about his evading Containment if they somehow found out about it.

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