Burning Skies Page 31

“Right now? She’s in full-mount right now?”

“You know what that means. If Greaves doesn’t have her yet, he will soon. You ready to go?”

She dipped her chin to Marcus. He nodded. She took his hand.

“We’re ready.”

Is there a vampire on Second Earth who does not lead a double life?

—From Treatise on Ascension, by Philippe Reynard

Chapter 11

Parisa stood in the courtyard, just outside the open sliders. Her wings were fully emerged and she reveled in the cool breeze that wafted from the air-conditioned house over her naked body and into the warm dry outdoor air.

She had gone up and down the stairs and launched off the railing about a dozen times. She figured it was time to end her romp since her legs were trembling from so many jogs through the house, up the staircase, up the stepladder, and onto the railing, followed by a frightening yet exhilarating launch.

She could not have been happier and she felt incredibly free doing the whole thing without a stitch of clothes on.

She was about to begin the process of drawing her wings back into her body when she felt the air change within the courtyard, as though another kind of breeze had blown through.

A moment later, much to her shock, a man and woman, very stylish in their manner of dress, appeared as though having been beamed down from the starship Enterprise. What’s more, she knew who they were from her visions that weren’t visions.

The woman was Havily Morgan, a Liaison Officer whom she had seen most recently being comforted by Warrior Medichi. The man, who stood gawking at her bare chest, was Warrior Marcus. She had not seen him for months but recognized him even though his dark hair had been much shorter then.

Despite all that, she still asked, “Who … who are you?”

The woman, Havily, took a step toward her. “I know you must be frightened, but—”

“You’re Havily Morgan and the man is Warrior Marcus. I know you both.” Her gaze shifted back and forth between them. They glanced at each other then back to her.

“You know us?” Havily asked.

“Yes, Warrior Marcus was here several months ago for a few days while Alison Wells went through her ascension ceremony. Havily, I know you to be a good friend to Warrior Medichi.” She put a hand to her head. She felt dizzy. Was this happening? Had these two worlds suddenly collided?

Havily took another step toward her. Her eyes were narrowed. “I beg your pardon, but you speak as though you’re ascended.”

Parisa shook her head. “No. At least I don’t think so. I live here on Mortal Earth, but I have wings like Second Earth.”

“But how do you know about Second Earth?”

“Visions,” she said, but her voice sounded hushed.


Parisa nodded. “I see things, so clearly. For instance, I recently saw how Warrior Medichi comforted you because you had been attacked.”

“You saw that? How?”

Parisa shrugged. “I see things, mostly connected with Warrior Medichi.”

The woman, Havily, let her gaze drift over Parisa’s wings.

“Marcus, look at the wings. Do you see what I’m seeing?”

“I noticed.”

“I’ve seen pictures of the ancients of thousands of years ago. There are portraits of many early ascenders who had similar wings. It’s astonishing. There’s even a portrait of Luchianne with these wings. These are royle wings.”

For a long moment, both of her visitors stared at her wings as though awestruck. “What does royal mean?” she asked.

“It’s not royal as in the royal family,” Havily explained. “It’s an ancient word, royle.” She spelled it for her. “The literal translation is ‘benevolent wind,’ and it has spiritual significance in ascended culture.” She smiled suddenly. “This must sound like gibberish to you.”

Parisa blinked.

When the woman’s gaze drifted to Parisa’s breasts, Parisa remembered that essentially she stood naked before two strangers. Yet it didn’t seem to faze her. Was she in shock? The man also stared at her breasts.

She looked down as well, seeing but not seeing, aware but not aware. Yep, she was in shock. “I must be hallucinating,” she murmured, but she looked at her wings, the right one first, then the left. Her wings were real and so were the people in front of her and she knew them.

She glanced at Havily but the woman now glared at Warrior Marcus. “Are you looking at her breasts?” she cried. “For God’s sake, why do you have to be such a guy right now.”

He grinned ruefully, but he turned around.

Parisa shook her head. “It’s just so strange. I mean, I knew the visions I had were real but it’s still so different to have you standing here.”

Havily moved the final few steps toward her until she stood just two feet away. She also shielded her from Warrior Marcus even though he remained with his back to them both. “You’re not hallucinating,” Havily said, “but you are in danger. I take it you know something of our world?”


“You know we’re at war?”

“Yes.” She then expounded on her visions, which had revealed the dimensional world of Second Earth over the past year. “Does this mean I’ve been called to ascension?”

The Liaison Officer lifted her brows. “I … I don’t know. I guess that’s something we’ll have to discuss, although I find it hard to believe that you’re not called if you are able to tell me all about Second Earth. The problem is, this isn’t the traditional order of events.”

Parisa nodded then shook her head. “I just hope I don’t have to fight in an arena like Alison.”

“Okay. Wow. You really have seen a lot of our world.”

Parisa’s pulse quickened, and her mouth grew dry. “Can you tell me something?”


“Well, is Warrior Medichi as tall as he looks?”

Havily laughed. “Yes. He’s six-seven.”

“Uh, ladies?” Warrior Marcus called out. “Just want to remind you we might have a time crunch here since the enemy is on the hunt for a mortal-with-wings.”

“Right,” Havily called back.

Parisa looked down again. “You know, I really am naked, aren’t I?”

“Maybe you could fold some clothes on? You know what fold means, right?”

“To materialize, but I’ve actually never tried it before. I don’t think I can.”

“Well, that doesn’t matter. Let’s get you dressed and then we’ll figure out what to do next. But first, go ahead and draw in your wings.”

Parisa nodded. She tried to relax but found that her heart was pounding. She took a deep breath and focused on her wings … and nothing happened. “I don’t think I can, at least not yet. I’m kind of freaked out here.”

“Don’t worry. I’m sure we’ve caused you emotional distress, and the mounting of wings or retracting is often affected by our emotions. Try to take a few deep breaths. In the meantime, tell me your name?”

“Parisa,” she said, dragging air into her lungs. “Parisa Lovejoy.”

“Well, it’s very nice to meet you, Parisa Lovejoy. I’m Havily Morgan and this is Warrior Marcus Amargi, Second Earth, though lately of Mortal Earth.”

Parisa might have offered a word of welcome, but at that moment a man materialized several feet away from Warrior Marcus. He was tall and fierce-looking with long black hair and startling blue eyes. He wore the familiar warrior battle gear of black leather kilt, heavy black sandals, and weapons harness. She recognized him from her visions of four months ago, from Alison’s arena battle.

“Warrior Leto,” she said, stunned.

“Oh, my god,” Havily cried.

A second later, swords flashed into each hand and the sound of metal on metal rang through the small courtyard.

* * *

Crace stared down at the grid he’d just turned back on. He hated General Leto. He hated him in a way that made his eyes bulge and threaten to burst into flames.

Leto had sent a message to the forge, letting Crace know that he’d found the mortal-with-wings, but then he’d left the war room at exactly the same time, getting a head start on Crace. Several of the generals had confirmed Leto’s moves. According to witnesses, Leto had sent the message then dematerialized.

Crace knew exactly where he’d gone—in pursuit of the mortal-with-wings. He wanted the glory for himself, the chance to win favor with Greaves. Worse, when Crace realized Leto had folded and where he’d headed, he’d tried to follow after him but found his trace blocked. Blocked! Jesus H. Christ, Crace’s head was about to explode.

So Leto had gotten a head start then had deliberately switched the coordinates on the grid to throw him off the scent. Goddammit. Crace had made a tactical error trusting Leto, but he had a few tricks of his own. He tapped on the keyboard, and the grid returned to the former position. Yep, there was the location with four strong signatures. Four.

Only then, as Crace stared down at the glowing lights, did his temper calm down as his heart fired up. Adrenaline streaked through his chest and his pecs twitched. Three powerful ascenders were with the mortal woman, and the mortal woman was a dynamo of power, hence her signature. One of the signatures would of course belong to Leto, but what about the other two? Undoubtedly, Endelle had sent a Warrior of the Blood to protect the ascendiate, but was it possible the final signature belonged to a certain red-haired Liaison Officer?

Crace smiled. His biceps flexed and he swiveled his neck to give his spine a good crack. He closed his eyes and breathed in hard through his nose. Was she there, the woman he’d come to think of as his personal blood donor?

Goddamn, she sure as hell could be, since Endelle would have naturally sent a top Liaison Officer to tend to such a powerful ascendiate. Wouldn’t that just make his century if ascender Morgan was there? Holy shit.

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