Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter #6)(6)

Written By: Nalini Singh

“Sire.” Aodhan inclined his head, the rain clouds that had begun to creep across the sunset doing nothing to dull the glittering shine of his hair.

“The injured?” Raphael asked.

“We’re moving them all to dedicated floors inside the Tower. The transfer will be complete by midnight.”

Raphael, his wings glowing in a silent testament to his rage, continued to stare at a city that had gone eerily silent. No horns blew, no brakes screeched, no one fought, the events of this day so nightmarish as to erase the petty problems of life.

“Status?” he asked after several minutes.

“Three hundred and fourteen required emergency medical intervention as a result of life-threatening injuries,” Aodhan answered, “and will be down for months. The rest have broken bones, and most will need at least four weeks to recover.”

Despite explanations, Elena didn’t quite understand the drug used today, except that the closest human analog was epinephrine, though the two weren’t identical. According to Montgomery, the drug was a last-ditch option, because while it could kick-start the self-healing process in a badly injured angel—when that angel’s body might otherwise simply shut down—it had one very bad side effect: it extended the normal recovery time by months.

After seeing the stuff revive an angel who’d been all but decapitated, his head attached to his body by the gleaming wetness of his spinal column alone, and his lower body torn off to leave him a bloody stump, Elena didn’t have any argument with the drug.

“The Tower-based healers were able to speak to a number of the injured who regained consciousness,” Aodhan added, the world turning to twilight as the clouds succeeded in hiding the last rays of the sun. “They all report a sudden sense of dizziness, followed by unconsciousness before they could land.”

Glancing at Aodhan when Raphael didn’t respond, Elena spoke with her eyes. Unlike with Illium, her relationship with this member of Raphael’s Seven was new yet, but he was one of the most empathic angels she’d ever met. Now, he gave a small nod and disappeared inside the Tower.

“Are you subverting another one of my men, Elena?” Raphael said into the quiet.

She came to stand beside him, their wings touching. An instant later, the rain clouds released their store of water in an unexpected deluge. It would, Elena thought, wash away the blood on the streets and the buildings, but the trauma of this day would never be erased. “I think nothing on this earth is capable of subverting your men.” The Seven were as loyal to Raphael as hunters were to the Guild.

“But,” she said, blinking the rain from her eyes as Raphael’s wing rose over her in a protective curve, “I do have certain rights as your consort, including the right to stand with you against this thing, whatever it is.”

His arm sliding around her waist, Raphael brought her against his body, the midnight strands of his hair even darker with the rain.

“I’m sorry, Raphael,” she whispered, spreading the fingers of one hand over his heart, needing to feel the life of him as a ward against the awfulness of what had taken place. “I know an archangel can’t be seen to grieve, but I know you grieve for the people you lost.” Her own throat was thick, her eyes burning.

“They were under my protection,” he said and it was all that needed to be said.

Elena didn’t try to comfort him with words. She simply stood with him as the rain pounded over them both, cold and harsh as the death that had come so darkly to their city. Lightning burst in the distance, the roiling clouds turning the early evening into midnight. As if in defense, warm golden light began to flood the windows of every skyscraper within sight, but there was nothing eerie or “other” about this wild black storm. It was a simple, beautiful display of nature’s power.

“Have you ever flown in something like this?” she asked, protected from the ferocious wind by the shelter of his muscled body, his wings.

“Yes.” Raphael looked out over the downpour, the lights in the windows refracted by the hard rain coming in from the left. “It was above an island in what is now called the Pacific, the sky a rage of thunder, the lightning a violent dance. My friends and I, we made a game of dodging the strikes.”

She wanted to smile at the image, but the wounds of the day were too raw to permit it. “An immortal game of chicken?”

“Perhaps.” Blinking away the rain, he stepped back. “Come, we must see to the injured.”

They stopped in at their Tower suite only long enough to dry off and change, before heading down to the infirmary. It made no difference that she’d already seen the damage—it was as bad now as it had been the first time. An angel with wings patterned like a sparrow’s had lost most of his internal organs, his chest a gaping cavity, but at four hundred, he’d survived the damage and now slept in an induced coma that would help him heal.

Beside him was the near-decapitation victim, his life signs flickering. Kneeling beside the young male, Raphael placed his hand over the gruesome injury. Only Elena was close enough to see the faint blue glow that was an indication of Raphael’s growing but nascent healing ability. He couldn’t fix all the damage, but he could give the hurt man more of a fighting chance.

Two beds down lay an angel who’d lost both legs at the upper thigh and broken most of the remaining bones in his body, including those in his brutalized face. But whether through luck or through fate, his brain was still inside the cracked eggshell of his skull, his heart in his chest, his spine damaged but not fatally so—because Izak wouldn’t have survived otherwise, being far too young to heal such trauma.