“It does not matter if you believe you have embraced your Ankh side, Ms. Winslow. You are an abomination, once a creature of darkness. The Circle allows you to live and worse to live among them. It is an affront to our legacy and to the memory of the people who have lost their lives to your kind.”
Certain she understood, Eden’s eyes narrowed. “People you’ve lost?”
Before Cosmina could answer, the sound of the apartment door opening surprised her. Eden felt a loosening on the telekinesis holding her up as Cosmina spun around and began backing towards Eden away from the doorway as loud footsteps, more than one pair, echoed ominously closer towards them.
“Friends of yours?” Eden asked sarcastically.
There was no need for the Neith to answer for at that moment three soul eaters strode into the room. Two of them were dressed in long leather coats, chains dangling from black jeans, black kohl around their eyes. The other was in a dark blue suit, so odds with his companions who looked as if they’d watched The Lost Boys one too many times.
“Arcos?” Eden’s heart pounded as Cosmina drew up into a defensive position. “Why don’t you kill me later and let me help you kill these guys?”
“I don’t need your help!” she spat and with a flick of her wrist one of the soul eaters whooshed back through the doorway and into the kitchen on the other side of the hallway. A loud crash told Eden his landing hadn’t been any better than hers, but at that moment she didn’t care. Her body was sliding down the wall.
Arcos’ telekinesis wasn’t strong enough to hold more than one object… or person… or whatever.
“I think you do need my help.”
Cosmina shifted backwards as the two soul eaters began inching warily towards her, the surprise of seeing their companion blasted off his feet by invisible hands making them cautious.
“No need for violence,” the girl in the goth gear placated Cosmina. “We’re just after the girl.” She jerked her head up at Eden.
Boy, it was so nice to feel so wanted. Eden grunted. “Rice, I presume.”
The girl smirked at her. “He said you or the Scottish bitch. I think he’ll be happy it’s you.”
“Arcos,” Eden growled between clenched teeth. “Let me… oomph!” she hit the floor with large thud and a wince. “Thanks.” She sighed and jumped to her feet, ignoring the ache in her knee. She braced herself next to Cosmina. “You take the guy, I’ll take The Corpse Bride?”
Cosmina threw her a guarded look and a tight nod.
Then all hell broke loose.
While Cosmina used her telekinesis to slam the male soul eater around the room as if she was a rolling pin and he a piece of dough, Eden wasted no time and moved towards the girl. The female soul eater was fast, dropping to the floor, sweeping her leg out at her.
Eden was faster.
She launched upwards to avoid the sweep and kicked out as she spun through the air at an angle, her foot making hard contact with the soul eater’s face. She landed back on her feet and eyed the soul eater who lay flat out, disorientated by Eden’s powerful butterfly kick. She felt smug and elated. In training she’d attempted the butterfly kick many times but the warriors were too fast and Noah had reprimanded her again and again for trying a move that had proven ineffectual in combat. Not so ineffectual against a sneak floor sweep.
“Yeah, you like that?” Eden growled as the soul eater started to groggily rise. Eden had hit her good. With adrenaline and fear and hate and confusion all controlling her amidst the sounds of the woman who wanted to kill her annihilating the male soul eater, Eden knocked the girl out with a formidable axe kick down across the forehead. The blur of movement was the only warning she got before the goth soul eater from the kitchen dove on top of her, taking them both to the ground with a hit that was nowhere near as painful as Cosmina’s had been. His hands went for Eden’s throat and she thanked his stupidity. With arms he should have restrained, Eden struck him in the face with her elbow and his head whipped back. The heel of her palm followed it up with a bone-breaking smash to his nose and he howled in outrage, falling off her body. She punched him again, blood smearing her knuckle. With a hoarse sound of victory, Eden rolled to her feet before slamming her foot down onto his face to knock him out.
Eden felt the rush of defeating an opponent, her chest heaving with the exertion. She made a rookie mistake of letting her guard down, not even aware of the hand that reached out and wrapped itself around her ankle. It yanked her hard, bringing her crashing down.
She was on her back again, this time pinned by the goth girl she’d thought she’d knocked out. She grabbed at Eden’s hands with a strength Eden hadn’t expected.
Eden screamed in pain as the bitch bent back both of her wrists hard enough to break them. Water streamed from her eyes as the girl glared down at her with a pale grey, depthless expression. Perhaps it was the fury of having been so badly incapacitated for the first time since she’d become an Ankh, perhaps it was the desperation of the situation, perhaps it was the girl’s long dark hair and slanted eyes that reminded her so much of a girl she used to see when she looked in the mirror, but Eden found herself lost in that gaze, wishing for another destiny for this girl, wishing she could take it all away. The girl would be free of the monster inside that screamed to be fed, a monster that haunted her every step. Eden knew that monster. She’d destroyed it… or Cyrus and Val had. If only she could destroy the girl’s monster. The need to do that, the want, was painful, chokingly, horrifyingly painful - as if an energy were reaching out from her chest and into the girl’s, tugging at all of Eden’s insides as it struggled to do what she wished.
It took her a moment to realize the girl had stilled, her hold on Eden’s wrists – wrists that were trying to knit themselves back together in painful agony – loosening. And her eyes.
Oh my god, her eyes.
The grey was bleeding from them, a dark blue flooding out from around the pupil into the rest of the iris.
“What the hell did you do?”
For a minute she thought Val might not answer, there was such pain and concern in her dark exotic eyes. Finally, she heaved a massive sigh. “I did what only the Unforeseen can do. What only you and I can do.”
Afraid to ask, Eden’s eyes did it for her.
The ancient warrior bent down to the girl, two fingers on her neck checking for a steady pulse. Satisfied, she looked up at Eden. “I turned a soul eater into a human.”
With a gasp of fright, as if the girl was struggling to draw breath, she fell over, choking and crying. It was only then that Eden saw the shadow over her. She glanced up and saw Cosmina staring down at her.
“What did you just do?” she gaped at her and then looked at the girl. Before Eden could answer, Cosmina dropped to her knees and jerked the girl’s face up with a sharp tug. The girl was still crying but through the tears you could see the warm dark blue of her eyes. Cosmina gasped and turned slowly to Eden. “What did you do?”
Eden shuddered, from the fear of Cosmina knowing or from the pain in her wrists as the bones reset themselves she didn’t know. Struggling up into a sitt
ing position, she looked up from behind a curtain of messy dark hair, the panic probably visible in her eyes. “I saved her. I made her human.”
They stood facing one another in the wrecked sitting room. The girl had passed out just as the girl Val had saved on the streets of Boston had. The two male soul eaters were unconscious, the one Cosmina had been battling was just a pulpy mess.
Arcos was white with shock and she hadn’t made a move towards attacking Eden.
Eden had no clue what that meant.
Finally, the Neith shook her head. “How is that possible?”
Well, it wasn’t like she could deny it happening. Cosmina had witnessed it, so she might as well tell her everything. Well… not about Val. Obviously. Eden sighed, touching her swollen wrists. They were healed but Eden still winced from the memory of the pain. “It’s my gift if you will. Everyone thinks what I am… that it means I’m stronger than the ordinary Ankh. But I’m not. Whatever you might think, I’m not a soul eater anymore. I am full-blooded Ankh. But I was once a soul eater, although for the record I never took a soul. Not once. The transition… the destruction of the monster that was inside me… it gave me the ability to do the same for other soul eaters. I can kill the soul eater in them. It makes them human.” She blinked, glancing back down at the unconscious girl, remembering the aching, almost fanatic source within her that had reached out and into the girl. It had been a cold, unforgiving ice that had frozen over the soul eater’s monster and then punched the ice into a million brilliant pieces, until those pieces melted away into nothingness, taking the monster with it.