The Darkest Whisper(4)

By: Gena Showalter

How much worse would that bloodlust be when the next fight ended? Sabin feared they would have to summon Legion, the tiny, blood-hungry demon who worshipped Aeron like a god and was the only one who could calm Aeron during his darker moods. Unfortunately, she was currently doing surveillance work for them in hell. Sabin liked to keep up-to-date on Underworld happenings. Knowledge was power and one never knew what one would be able to use.

Aeron suddenly slammed a fist into a Hunter’s temple, sending the human to the floor in an unconscious heap.

Sabin blinked at him. “What was that for?”

“He was about to attack.”

Doubtful, but just like that, Paris cut whatever invisible tether had been holding him in place and swooped through the rest of the huddle, methodically punching the Hunters until every single one of them was down.

“That should keep them calm as Amun for the time being,” he rasped darkly.

Sighing, Sabin switched his attention yet again. There was Strider, Defeat. The man couldn’t lose at anything without enduring debilitating pain, so he made sure to win. Always. Which was probably why he was digging a bullet out of his side in preparation for the battle to come. Good. Sabin could always count on him.

Kane, keeper of Disaster, walked in front of him, ducking as a shower of pebbles fell from the ceiling, plumes of dust spraying in every direction. Several warriors coughed.

“Uh, Kane,” Sabin said. “Why don’t you stay here, too? You can help Reyes watch the prisoners.” A flimsy excuse and they all knew it.

There was a pause, the only sound to be heard the scrape of stone against sand as the doorway continued that slow glide. Then Kane gave a clipped nod. He hated being left out, that much Sabin knew, but his presence sometimes caused more problems than it solved. And as always, Sabin placed victory above his friends’ feelings. It wasn’t something he enjoyed doing, wasn’t something he’d do in any other situation. But someone had to act with cold-blooded logic or else they’d always lose.

With Kane out, that made the coming battle seven against seven. Totally even. Poor Hunters. They still didn’t stand a chance. “Anyone else want to stay behind?”

A chorus of “No” circled the chamber, eagerness dripping from the different timbres. An eagerness Sabin shared.

Until Pandora’s box was found, these skirmishes were a necessity. But it couldn’t be found without those damn godly artifacts to show the way. And as one of the four relics was supposedly here in Egypt, this particular skirmish was more important than most. He would not allow Hunters to claim a single artifact, for that box could destroy Sabin and everyone he held dear, drawing the demons out of their bodies and leaving only lifeless shells.

Despite his confidence that he would win this day, he knew he would have to work for victory. Led as the Hunters were by Sabin’s sworn enemy, Galen, a demon-possessed immortal in disguise, those “protectors of all that was good and right” were privy to information humans should not have been privy to. Such as the best way to distract the Lords…the best way to capture them…the best way to destroy them.

Finally the stone ceased sliding, and Amun peeked inside. He waved a hand to signal it was safe to enter. No one stepped forward. Sabin’s men and Lucien’s had only just resumed fighting together, having been separated for over a thousand years. They hadn’t yet learned the best formation.

“We going to do this or just stand here and wait for them to find us?” Aeron grumbled. “I’m ready.”

“Look at you, all unenthusiastic and shit,” Gideon said with a smirk. “I’m not impressed.”

Time to take charge, Sabin mused. He considered the best strategy. These last few centuries he’d gotten nowhere with the Hunters, rushing heedlessly into battle with only a single thought: kill. But the enemy’s numbers were growing, not shrinking, and to be honest, their determination and hatred were growing, as well. It was time for a new way of battle, of cataloging his resources and weaknesses before charging ahead.

“I’ll go first since I’m the least injured.” He curled his finger under the trigger of his gun before reluctantly sheathing it. “I want you staggered, a less injured man paired with a more injured one. You’ll work together, most injured acting as backup while the healthier takes out the target. Leave as many as you can alive,” he commanded. “I know you don’t want to, that it goes against every instinct you possess. But don’t worry. They’ll die soon enough. Once we ferret out the leader—and learn his secrets—they’ll be useless to us and you can do what you want to them.”