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Fated 02 severed, p.6
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       Fated 02: Severed, p.6

           Sarah Alderson

  ‘Flic, no fighting!’ the girl called after her. ‘You know the rules.’

  ‘Hey, Jamieson, looking hot, I like the shift,’ the other shouted.

  ‘Brad Pitt – if only it was actually him,’ the other girl sighed.

  ‘Hey, how do you know I’m not the real Brad Pitt?’ Jamieson asked, laughing.

  ‘As if Flic could land Brad Pitt,’ the first girl said, snorting through her nose.

  Issa was already pushing her way through the door, so Flic’s answer was muted by the noise that boomed out. As she followed after them, Evie glanced down at the iPad the two girls were looking at and felt her heart smash into the roof of her mouth. She had guessed right. They were looking at pictures of Lucas. Even upside down there was no mistaking those sullen grey eyes and razor-sharp cheekbones. A hand on her arm alerted her to the fact she had stopped walking and was staring dumbly, her mouth hanging open. Issa yanked her through the door before the two girls on cloakroom duty could notice.

  ‘Did you see that?’ Evie gasped. ‘They were looking at pictures of Lucas. Why were there photographs of Lucas on Face …’ She stopped mid-sentence, her words evaporating instantly into the whirl of noise and flashing lights that assaulted her. Before them was an enormous concrete shell of a room. Strobe lights strung from the ceiling were flashing pink, red and green over the pulsating crowd below. The entire floor space looked like a heaving sea of hurricane debris – green gyrating bodies forming a mass in the centre around which a five-metre radius of empty dance floor had opened up.

  Running along one wall, with a crowd three deep pushing against it, was a makeshift bar. The bar staff behind were shimmering like heat mirages as they flipped bottles and slapped drinks and change down onto the counter.

  Evie scanned the crowd immediately below her, spotting three or four famous faces, whether Shapeshifters or the real thing she couldn’t tell. Over in one corner was a small group of pale-looking kids. They were noticeable because they were the only people not moving in the entire place – they were just standing there rigid, dressed in an assortment of questionable clothing. Only their eyes were moving, roving across the crowd as if searching for something. Or someone? Evie could make out the pinprick irises of the girl closest to her and then the flicker as a tongue darted out and licked a pointed incisor. She gripped Issa’s hand. ‘What are they doing in here?’

  Issa followed her gaze. ‘Thirsters are allowed in too. So long as they abide by the rules.’

  ‘The rules?’

  ‘Yes. No eating on the dance floor. Or anywhere else for that matter.’

  ‘But they look like big cats eying up the impalas at the watering hole.’

  ‘They won’t dare,’ Issa said, nodding up at the ceiling. Evie glanced upwards. Hanging from the beams above them were rows of industrial-sized stage lights.

  ‘UV?’ Evie asked.

  ‘Yes,’ Issa nodded. ‘For emergencies. The way things are playing out I think they’re going to be used tonight.’

  ‘Where’s Lucas?’ Evie asked. She scanned the crowd again trying to see him or sense him, but with the flashing lights and all the unhumans it was impossible to feel anything other than the icy drip of terror coagulating in her veins.

  ‘He’s down there somewhere,’ Issa answered. ‘It’s OK,’ she added. ‘In about two minutes Flic’s going to start a fight with that boy over there.’ She jerked her chin in the direction of the Thirsters on the edge of the dance floor. ‘And Lucas is going to end it.’

  Evie turned her head. Issa was pointing at a wiry boy with auburn hair and a pointy chin, dressed in a grubby tank top and skinny leather trousers. All of a sudden Evie’s attention was caught by something else, something far more alarming than the group of Thirsters below them. ‘Oh my God!’ she cried out.

  Flic, who was standing on her other side, whipped around, her mouth twisted in a snarl.

  ‘I’m on the wall,’ Evie said, pointing with a trembling hand to the wall behind Flic.

  ‘Jesus!’ Flic swore as she spun back around and looked in the direction Evie was pointing. ‘I told Lucas we shouldn’t bring her here!’

  ‘Why am I on the wall?’ Evie asked, trying not to panic at the sight of her face projected ten metres high onto the warehouse wall.

  As she watched, the image dissolved in a cheap slideshow effect of snowflakes and, pixel by pixel, a brand new image formed over the top. This time Lucas was staring out at them, his face twenty metres wide, his dark-grey eyes seeming to burn a hole right through her. Evie registered in some recess of her mind that several people had started whooping on the dance floor below. The image of Lucas fuzzed out and dancing psychedelic swirling hearts appeared in its place. At the same time the thumping house track that had been playing scratched to a stop and a new track started up – a souped-up version of a Celine Dion song. The dance floor went wild. Evie shut her eyes and tried to wake up. When she opened them she saw the psychedelic hearts were no longer swirling. Now they were bleeding, raining great crimson drops, which together with the red strobe effect that had ramped up to full throttle, created the sensation that the entire warehouse was filling up with blood.

  ‘Jamieson, get her out of here!’ Flic shouted over the music and the whoops.

  ‘No, I’m not leaving,’ Evie answered, pulling her arm out of Issa’s grip.

  Flic was suddenly right there, in her face, her violet eyes flashing. ‘Do not think,’ she hissed, ‘that because your photograph is on the wall in high-definition glory surrounded by love hearts you are welcome here. Though those imbecile Shifters down there might think it’s the most romantic thing since Edward Cullen impregnated Bella Swan do not be fooled into thinking you are safe. You are walking meat. You are the impala. In fact, you are a lame impala, dripping blood. And if they scent you, they will each and every one of them – Thirster, Mixen, Scorpio, Shadow Warrior, Shifter – take you down. Do you understand?’

  Evie swallowed and nodded.

  ‘Jamieson,’ Flic said, not taking her eyes off of Evie, ‘take her and leave. Now please.’

  ‘Take her out the back way, Jamieson,’ Issa cut in. ‘There’s a crowd of Mixen about to come through that door up here – in thirty-eight seconds from now to be precise. You take her that way and Evie gets recognised.’ She paused, shooting a nervous glance at him. ‘It doesn’t end so well for you. If you go out the back, you’ll be fine.’ She smiled at them reassuringly as they headed for the stairs. ‘Just remember to duck!’ she called to their backs.

  Chapter 11

  He was dissolving into a sea of bleeding hearts while a song about love lasting a lifetime played in the background. And now Evie had appeared on top of him, thirty metres high. It was the same photograph that Tristan had given to the members of the Brotherhood, right before he’d ordered them to kill her.

  Lucas turned quickly back towards the stairs to head Evie and the others off before they got inside. If Evie walked in here she’d be recognised in seconds. Why the hell hadn’t Issa seen this? It wasn’t exactly hard to miss. Damn the Sybll and their faulty, inexact visions. He wove through the crowd, his eyes on the door, willing Evie not to walk through it, but it was already too late. She was standing at the top of the stairs, staring open-mouthed at the photograph of herself projected onto the wall. He watched her grab Issa’s arm and point, and then saw Flic spin around and bark an order at Jamieson.

  But Evie wasn’t moving. Instead she was throwing back her shoulders and arguing with Flic. Damn it. Lucas pushed past a crowd of Scorpio, ignoring their flicking tails and grabbed the banister. They needed to leave. Now. Before someone spotted her. The fight could wait. He was about to launch himself up the stairs three at a time when he finally saw Evie nodding in agreement and Jamieson taking her quickly by the arm. Lucas froze, waiting for them to turn and leave. But instead Jamieson was pulling her towards the stairs, heading in his direction, down into the club. What was going on? Why weren’t they leaving? He looked up at Flic and Issa, won
dering if maybe Issa had seen something coming. And, as if on cue, the door behind them exploded open and a swarm of Mixen burst through screeching with laughter, their green skin pulsing a toxic warning under the strobe lights. Lucas thanked Issa silently for the heads up.

  He let Jamieson and Evie pass him by, resisting the urge he had to reach out and take Evie by the arm and pull her towards him. Instead his fingers trailed the air behind her. He didn’t want her distracted. He wanted her to keep walking and get the hell out of this place. If he let her know that he was there, right next to her, shadowing her every move, she might change her mind. Knowing Evie, she would change her mind. So he stayed invisible, following them as they made their way across the dance floor towards the rear exit.

  Jamieson skirted wide of the Thirsters and the Mixen, pulling Evie through a group of Shifters whose wall of shimmer offered some cover. Finally they broke free of the crowd and he could see them heading towards the green glowing exit sign up ahead. He was wondering whether it was now safe to leave them and head back into the club to start this fight when a curtain of shimmer erupted suddenly out of nowhere blocking their path. Evie stumbled backwards, almost banging into him. The shimmer faded almost instantly and two Shapeshifter girls appeared. Lucas was already beside Jamieson and Evie, standing there invisible, sword raised.

  ‘Oh my God!’ shrieked the first girl. ‘You’re so that girl! You’re so her. Aren’t you?’

  ‘Aren’t you?’ squealed the other in unison, jumping up and down.

  ‘Er – what girl?’ Evie tried.

  ‘That girl,’ the first one said, pointing one arm at the pixelating picture on the wall behind them. ‘The one who Lucas Gray is going to die for!’

  Lucas was holding his knife at chest height, pointing it at just the right angle to slide between the ribs and into the left chamber of the girl’s heart. They were completely unaware that the person they were talking about was at that moment standing right in front of them, ready not just to die, but also to kill for that girl.

  ‘Girls,’ Jamieson suddenly burst out laughing, ‘do you really think an on-the-run Hunter would come to a place populated by demons who want to rip her to shreds and scatter her body parts to all corners of the realms?’

  The girls stared blankly at Jamieson and then frowned at Evie.

  ‘But you look just like her,’ the one with the knife against her ribs said unhappily.

  Lucas didn’t want to kill them. It would be like killing puppies. He took a breath, calculating whether he could knock them out instead and drag them somewhere without anyone noticing. Maybe it could look like they’d had too much tequila – be a lesson in under-age drinking. But before he could sheath his knife and bring his hands up to squeeze the nerve at the back of their necks, he caught sight of a ball of shimmer just to his left.

  For half a second Lucas wondered what the hell Jamieson was doing and then he started praying that his sister’s boyfriend was shifting into something good – a lion or a three-metre tall bear, anything that would send them running, screaming, in the other direction.

  But Jamieson went one better.

  Chapter 12

  Evie turned to look at Jamieson but he had vanished. There was just the mirror on the wall opposite and her own reflection smiling back at her. It took her a good five seconds to register that she wasn’t staring into a mirror at all, but at Jamieson. He had shifted. Into her. He’d copied every detail, from the camisole strap that had slipped down her arm, to her mussed-up hair, which she’d swept over to one side in an attempt to obscure her face. The only visible difference between them was that he looked a whole lot calmer than she knew she did. And he was smiling. She was fairly certain she wasn’t smiling.

  ‘It’s like totally our thing,’ Jamieson said, turning to the two girls. Evie’s jaw dropped. Was that what she sounded like?

  ‘So don’t copy us, OK?’ Jamieson said, planting one hand on his hip. That was so drag queen. She’d have to talk to him about that. She never stood like that.

  The first girl’s mouth fell open like a dead fish. ‘OH, MY …’

  ‘GOD!’ the second girl chorused.

  They both started shimmering wildly, like faulty Christmas lights, and in the next instant Evie was surrounded and staring back at two more reflections of herself. She felt dizzy, as if she’d been led unexpectedly into a hall of mirrors after a wild turn on a teacup ride. The two Shifters standing opposite were now admiring their arms and legs – her arms and legs – and groping each other’s butts – her butt. Then, once they were done groping her body, they turned to each other and started admiring each other’s eyes and eyelashes.

  ‘I am so totally hot like this,’ declared the first.

  ‘I call dibs on the first Shadow Warrior.’

  ‘Do you think we’ll be able to bag someone as hot as him though?’ the first one shrieked, grabbing hold of the other Evie’s hands and pointing up at the photo of Lucas, which had appeared once again on the wall behind them.

  ‘Ahhhhh!’ they both squealed, before running off into the whooping crowd.

  Evie turned to Jamieson. ‘Please tell me I do not sound like that,’ she said.

  Jamieson gave her a lopsided grin. ‘Freaking you out?’

  ‘Yes. But thanks,’ Evie said, still blinking in amazement at him. ‘I think you saved my ass.’

  ‘It’s a cute ass,’ Jamieson said, groping his own behind admiringly. ‘Definitely worth saving.’ He took her hand and started off towards the fire exit. ‘Now, let’s get out of here.’

  ‘No. Let’s stay,’ Evie said, pulling her hand free. ‘Come on, you created a great cover.’

  Jamieson grimaced at her and she made a mental note to never grimace. It wasn’t a good look.

  ‘What about Flic?’ she tried. ‘She might need our help. Look, there she is!’ Evie pointed at Flic who she’d spied wading through the crowd in their direction. Jamieson spun to look just as Flic hit the edge of the dance floor and vanished.

  ‘Where’d she go?’ Evie asked, craning her neck to see over the crowd.

  ‘Over there,’ Jamieson said, pointing.

  Flic had reappeared on the other side of the dance floor. She was standing in front of the group of Thirsters, hands on her hips, smiling flirtatiously. The skinny one with auburn hair gave her a crooked smile and flashed his fangs at her. Flic smiled back – a long, seductive smile that elicited a few loud whistles from the group of Thirsters.

  ‘What’s she doing?’ Evie asked, clutching Jamieson’s arm.

  ‘Oh, she’s starting a fight. She claimed Lucas was good at it, but let me tell you, Flic’s a pro. Normally they have her work the door at this place.’

  ‘Seriously?’ Evie asked, looking up at him in astonishment.

  ‘Just watch,’ Jamieson said, nodding his head back at Flic.

  ‘But she’s unarmed,’ Evie whispered. She’d seen Lucas fighting a Thirster and it had been violent, brutal and bloody. She’d tried to kill one herself. Three crossbow arrows, including one through the brain, still hadn’t been enough to finish off Joshua. She glanced at Jamieson, but he didn’t look at all worried.

  The auburn-haired Thirster was swaggering towards Flic now, his fangs fully out. What was that? Some kind of Thirster mating ritual? Display teeth and impress the ladies? Next he started to gyrate his pelvis in Flic’s direction. She didn’t look all that impressed by his moves. Evie heard Jamieson snort as Flic gave the Thirster a bored stare, raised one eyebrow, and turned swiftly on her heel.

  The Thirster’s friends all collapsed laughing at the brush-off Flic had given him, but the auburn-haired one hissed through his teeth, rounded his shoulders and sprung like a cat at Flic’s back. Somehow though, Flic anticipated it and moved in a blur, spinning fast and delivering a kick to the Thirster’s head that for certain, Evie thought, would have decapitated any human.

  As it was, the Thirster flew backwards, his head snapping viciously to one side and lolling there for a second unti
l he grabbed it in both hands and cracked it back into place.

  Chapter 13

  Lucas had watched Flic fade and cross the dance floor. He had hesitated before following her, not wanting to leave Evie. But then he’d seen what Flic planned to do, and he dived instantly through the crowd trying to head her off. By the time he’d made it to her side, Flic was aiming a perfect roundhouse kick at the red-haired one. Lucas heard the sickening crunch of bone as her foot made contact with the Thirster’s face and watched him fly backwards, his head cranked at an unnatural angle. The dance floor immediately erupted around them as people started screaming and trying to get away from the fight. Lucas forced his way through the crowd, stepping in front of the Thirster, who had wrenched his head back into position and was marching towards Flic with murder in his eyes.

  Lucas didn’t hesitate for even a second. His blade was out of his hand before he could even think. It flew silently, slicing through the marble flesh of the Thirster’s throat as if it was no more solid than air, embedding itself up to the hilt in the concrete pillar on the edge of the dance floor.

  Chapter 14

  Jamieson was tugging Evie through the crowd, his fingers wrapped tight around her arm. Someone bowled into her, and she felt a stinging pain as something sharp scratched her above her left eye. She and Jamieson shoved a path through the screaming people. The crowd was thinning as it streamed towards the exits and they were finally able to push their way free, when suddenly a shadow fell over them. Evie glanced up, remembering Issa’s words almost too late.

  ‘Duck!’ she yelled, reaching a hand out and grabbing Jamieson, pulling him down just as something hard smashed to the ground by their feet, making a crater in the concrete floor and sending a cloud of dust up into the air.

  Evie opened her eyes slowly, almost too afraid to look. It took her several seconds to piece together what she was seeing. The Thirster with the auburn hair was staring back at her unblinking. His mouth was frozen in a silent shriek, his blackened tongue lolling out of his torn-out throat. She was still staring at the frayed edge of skin and the white rope of spinal cord that was visible when someone lit the place up in a blaze of UV. She curled into a ball and closed her eyes, sealing out the light as well as what was in front of her.

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