Unmarked by Kami Garcia


  “Not yet.”

  “That was some serious mother lion behavior in there.” She gestured at the bars at the end of the tunnel. “I thought you were going to tear those two Freemasons apart.”

  “Illuminati,” I said, returning the hug.

  “Whatever.” Elle pulled away and dismissed the mistake with a flick of her wrist. “The one with the baby demon whip needs to learn some manners.”

  Gabriel.

  We all stared at the floor. None of us wanted to look at the bars.

  Priest looped his headphones around his neck. “What are we gonna do?”

  “Keep your voice down.” Alara glanced down the tunnel. “We don’t need Andras listening in.”

  “Dimitri says the only way to get Andras out of Jared’s body is to find someone else for him to possess,” Lukas whispered. “And there’s still no guarantee the demon will leave.”

  Elle frowned. “I don’t know if I can do that to anyone.”

  Alara holstered her paintball gun and pointed at the text on her T-shirt: BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. “This isn’t a fashion statement. No one I care about gets hurt on my watch.”

  Lukas stared down the tunnel. “I don’t know how much time we have.”

  “Then let’s stop wasting it.” Alara turned to me. “So what’s the plan?”

  With Jared’s life on the line, the margin for error was zero—the same number of viable ideas I had right now. I walked to the end of the tunnel and forced myself to look through the bars, where the boy I cared about was chained to the wall like an animal. “We save him.”

  Alara and I waited in the hallway at the top of the stairs leading down to Jared’s cell. Priest, Lukas, and Elle had taken off into the steel halls in search of Dimitri and Gabriel.

  We were sitting on the floor with Bear stretched out in front us. Alara hadn’t said a word since we left the containment area, and without Elle’s chatter, the silence between us had turned awkward.

  “You never suspected anything?” she asked suddenly.

  “What?” I glanced over at her.

  Alara pulled at a loose string on her cargo pants. “About your mom.”

  It felt like an accusation, not a question.

  That my mom kept so many secrets that it feels like she lied to me every day? That those secrets and lies were the reason my dad left?

  I remembered every detail, every conversation, and every smile. The idea that all the memories my mind had preserved so perfectly were some kind of performance destroyed me.

  “No.” The admission made the truth feel even more painful. “The day my father left, he wrote my mom a note. It mentioned me.” I couldn’t bring myself to tell her what it said.

  “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” Alara’s voice softened, and she sounded like the girl who had given me the protective medal around my neck, in a hotel room with a pink door.

  “I may not be a member of the Legion, but I’m not Illuminati, Alara. I’m still the same person I was a few days ago.”

  Just miserable and broken and totally alone.

  Alara didn’t respond right away. “When my grandmother told stories about the Illuminati, they were the bad guys. And the reason the Legion was formed,” she hesitated. “Now Dimitri is telling us of the Order of the Enlightened is responsible for all the shady incidents since Priest’s granddad was at Yale, and it turns out your mom was one of them. I’m just trying to get my head around all this.”

  If Alara—the most confident member of the Legion—didn’t know how she felt, how were Lukas and Priest feeling? I couldn’t think of anything to say that didn’t lead back to the fact that my mom was not only a member of the Illuminati and the Order, but a spy.

  Dimitri lit a cigarette and shook out the match.

  Elle pretended to cough. “Are you are aware second hand smoke is almost as dangerous as actually smoking?”

  We weren’t in the cell anymore. Gabriel and Dimitri had given us a brief tour of the safe house, a huge sci-fi compound of gleaming metal walls and white ceilings, and now we were sitting in a room surrounded by glass dry erase boards, covered in symbols and math equations, as if Dimitri and Gabriel were developing an Illuminati Theory of Relativity.

  Dimitri took a drag and stubbed it out. “Everyone has a vice.”

  “I’m sure he has more than a few,” Alara muttered under her breath.

  “Let’s go over the rules one more time.” Dimitri paced in front of us, while Gabriel sat at one of the black tables, cleaning his whip.

  “Don’t you mean for the tenth time?” Priest asked.

  “If you’re going to stay at the safe house until we figure out how to resolve the current situation, your safety is our responsibility,” Dimitri said.

  After our tour, Dimitri had invited us to stay in two, identical, sterile-looking rooms, which could’ve passed for sleeping chambers on the Starship Enterprise. To his credit, he obviously realized we weren’t going to leave Jared alone with them.

  “Never go downstairs alone.” Elle was stretched across the table, with her head resting on her arm, as if she were listening to a boring lecture in Bio class.

  “Or without wearing your glasses.” Lukas flicked the plastic sunglasses on the table in front of him, sounding bored.

  Gabriel dropped the whip of the table. “This isn’t a joke. If you make eye contact with Andras, he can jump out of your brother’s body and into yours in seconds. Or he can mark your soul.”

  Elle rubbed her arms like she had goose bumps. “What does that mean?”

  “If a demon marks your soul, he’ll always be able to find you, no matter where you go,” Gabriel said.

  Priest held up his protective glasses, examining them. “There’s gotta be a more effective way to keep him from making direct eye contact.”

  Him.

  They were talking about Jared.

  “Letting them stay here is a bad idea, Dimitri.” Gabriel stopped cleaning the ivory bones. “They’re untrained—”

  Priest pushed his chair away from the table, the legs screeching across the floor. “I can make a weapon out of a soda can, or whatever you’ve got in that black bag of yours. So do your homework before you start talking about who’s untrained.”

  Dimitri shot Gabriel a warning glance. If Gabriel was the storm, Dimitri was the eye. “I think Gabriel was referring to experience with demonic possession and containment.”

  Containment.

  Jared soaked to the bone in holy water, probably freezing. Charred and covered in burns. That’s what he meant.

  Dimitri continued. “Our apologies, Owen.”

  Priest stood up, shoving his chair back. “Don’t ever call me that again.” He pointed at Dimitri. “No one called me that except my granddad.”

  Alara stopped sifting the powders in the bowl in front of her and smiled.

  “I’m sorry, Priest.” Dimitri emphasized his name.

  Priest grabbed his hoodie off the back of the chair. “I’m outta here. You wanna show me where I can do some work? Otherwise, I’m going to my room, or whatever you call those cryogenic chambers where you said we could sleep.”

  Elle stifled a laugh.

  “Gabriel can take you to the Mech Room. This is one of the Illuminati’s older safe houses, and it’s well outfitted. You should find everything you need there. We might even have a soda can or two.” Dimitri kept his voice light, as if making a stupid joke might win Priest over.

  Alara stood up, adjusting her tool belt on the hips of her olive cargo pants. “I’m going with him.”

  Gabriel stormed out of the room and led Priest down the hall. Alara rolled her eyes, following them. Bear lifted his head and trotted after her.

  Dimitri sighed. “This isn’t going well.”

  Lukas flipped his coin over his knuckles a few times before he responded. “What did you expect?”

  Dimitri rose and walked toward us. Even his black tactical gear couldn’t offset the dark shadows under his eyes.

 
Had he slept at all?

  Do I care?

  “We locked Jared up to protect him from himself. Right now, he’s the blade in the hand of a killer. How do you think he’d feel if he hurt someone—or one of you?”

  “All I want to know is how we’re going to get Andras out of my brother’s body.” Lukas looked Dimitri in the eye. “Find a way to do that, and I’ll trust you.”

  Dimitri lit one of his black cigarettes, letting the match burn down to his fingertips. “I don’t know if I can.”

  Lukas, Elle, and I spent the rest of the morning pouring over the journals, searching for anything that might help us save Jared. We tossed out suggestions to Dimitri and Gabriel, who shot them down. At least, we were sharing.

  The Illuminati members spoke in low tones and didn’t invite us to join their conversation, which only made Lukas more suspicious.

  After lunch, Priest and Alara returned. Priest tossed a small, white, plastic case across the table in front of Dimitri. At least they made some progress.

  “A gift?” Dimitri raised an eyebrow.

  Priest crossed his arms. “You wish.”

  Dimitri picked up the case. “Contact lenses? Are you concerned about my vision?”

  Priest pushed his blond bangs out of his eyes, his expression unreadable. “Hardly. Like I said, based on what happened to Jared, your wraparound anti-possession sunglasses obviously aren’t very effective. And they definitely aren’t my style.” Priest pointed at the contact case. “My granddad used to say if the trap doesn’t catch the mouse, you’ve gotta build a better mousetrap.”

  Alara stood behind him with a smug smile on her face. “Tell them how they work.”

  “Those babies are soaked in holy water, with some of Alara’s Haitian magic thrown in for good measure.”

  “He means herbs and wards, not magic,” she said.

  Dimitri examined them cautiously.

  Priest stifled a smile. “I thought you Illuminati guys were badass, with your SWAT gear and bone whip.”

  “I value my eyesight,” Dimitri said.

  Alara rolled her eyes. “I’m wearing a pair right now. So is Priest.” She tossed Lukas, Elle, and I plastic cases of our own.

  I caught mine. “Thanks.”

  Dimitri held his eyelid open and positioned his finger in front of his eye, with the contact lens balanced on the end. “You’re positive these will work?”

  Priest slipped on his huge headphones. “Only one way to find out.”

  25. LOST BOY

  Dimitri wasn’t willing to take Priest on his word, without some evidence the contact lenses worked. Instead, everyone had trekked down to the Mech Room so Priest could explain how he engineered them.

  I stayed behind, staring out the warehouse window. I missed the rain—my rain—because that’s the way I thought about it now. It was comforting, the only constant in my life since the night I assembled the Shift.

  Where was the Shift now? Buried in the mud under the prison rubble?

  I imagined taking it apart. Going back and undoing all the damage it had caused.

  Some things wouldn’t change—my mother’s death and the secrets she’d kept from me; a world full of angels and demons, vengeance spirits and secret societies, and my place within it.

  But the rain would never have started.

  Faith wouldn’t be dead.

  The human race wouldn’t be on the brink of destruction, or enslavement.

  Jared wouldn’t be possessed by a demon.

  Boots scraped against the concrete floor behind me. When I turned around, Gabriel was leaning in the doorway. A day’s worth of dark stubble made him look younger and less intimidating, but it didn’t change how I felt about him.

  “Need something?” I pulled my hair into a ponytail to avoid making eye contact.

  “If you want to go down to the containment area, I’ll take you.”

  My eyes flickered from his face to the tail of the whip curled behind him. “Why?”

  “Because I know you want to see him, and I’d rather you go with me than sneak down there alone.”

  He was smarter than I thought.

  “Why?” I asked again.

  “I just told you.”

  “I mean, why do you care?” It was a fair question. Gabriel had shown no interest in helping us before now.

  He didn’t respond right away, and I could almost see him weighing the pros and cons between lying and telling the truth. “Your mother and I were friends for a long time. And she loved you more than anything in the world, even if she hid her past from you.”

  “She hid more than her past. If she was a spy from some rogue order of Illuminati, then she wasn’t the person I thought she was.” I tried to sound indifferent, but the pain in my voice betrayed me.

  “I don’t know why she lied to you. But I know she’d want me to keep you safe.”

  “What was the deal between you and my mom, Gabriel? Because you seem way too worried about what my mom would want, for a guy who was just her friend.”

  Gabriel started to say something, then stopped. After a moment, he cleared his throat and tried again. “Our relationship was none of your business. But since you seem to think it is, I’ll say it again. Your mom was my friend. She saved me when I wasn’t strong enough to save myself. And I owed her for that, a debt I never had a chance to repay.” He walked toward me. “So I’m not going to let Elizabeth’s only daughter get herself killed.”

  “Fine.” I shouldered past him and stood in the doorway. “Take me down there.”

  Gabriel didn’t say a word until we reached the metal door that led into the tunnel. A row of winter jackets hung on pegs next to the door. He slipped one off a nail and handed it to me. “Put this on.”

  “Are we going outside?”

  “Do you ever cooperate?” He held the jacket between us.

  “No.”

  Not with you.

  He sighed. “Are you wearing the contacts your friend made?”

  I nodded.

  “Remember, Kennedy. That isn’t the boy you know in there. Andras is one of the most powerful demons in hell. He might look like your boyfriend and sound like him, but he’s not Jared.”

  A knot formed in my throat.

  My boyfriend.

  Did Jared think of himself that way? Would I ever get the chance to find out?

  “One more thing.” Gabriel took a glass baby food jar out of his pocket and unscrewed the lid. He dipped his finger in the jar and scooped out a thick, black paste. “I need to spread some of this on your cheeks.”

  I took a step back. “Excuse me?”

  “I’m going to use it to draw protective sigils on our faces. It’s ash.”

  I tucked my hair behind my ears and turned my face toward him. “From a fire?”

  “You could say that.” Gabriel drew a circle on my skin. “Incinerated demon bones.”

  I jerked away, disgusted. “I feel sick.”

  He grabbed my chin. “You’ll feel sicker if Andras possesses you.”

  “How do you know about this stuff?” The jar of ash seemed like the kind of thing Alara might stash in one of her pockets.

  “Metaspiritual warfare is my specialty, to use Legion terminology.” He worked fast, drawing what felt like circles and swirls on my cheeks. When he finished, Gabriel traced the sigils on his own skin from memory. They resembled the tribal markings of a warrior heading into battle.

  Gabriel opened the iron door, and a blast of freezing air burst from the tunnel. A sudden drop in temperature was a sign of demonic activity, but it felt like a meat locker down here. It wasn’t nearly this cold last time I was down here. I zipped the coat and followed Gabriel, my breath coming out in white puffs.

  “There are gloves in the jacket pockets,” Gabriel said.

  “I’m fine.” I didn’t like Gabriel telling me what to do like I was a child.

  All I could think about was how close we were to the cell door. The gray metal glistened in the dim l
ight, and a layer of frost coated the bars.

  The chains running from the wall to the shackles binding Jared’s wrists and ankles were longer now—long enough to allow him to walk around the tiny cell, but short enough to keep him from escaping. Words were scrawled across the back wall, some horizontal while others were vertical, diagonal, or backward.

  Not words. Names.

  The names of the dead girls.

  I gasped.

  Gabriel rubbed the stubble on his jaw, studying the writing. When he realized what he was looking at, he shook his head. “Great. Now he’s got a hobby.”

  Jared sat on the floor with his back against the wall, wearing jeans and white undershirt. His clothes were soaked.

  “He’s going to freeze to death,” I said.

  “Demons don’t get cold.”

  At the sound of Gabriel’s voice, Jared lowered his chin, his eyes still closed. “He’s right.” The voice wasn’t Jared’s or the demon’s but a blend of the two.

  My hands trembled, and I reached for the bars to steady them. The icy metal burned my palms.

  “Ow.” I winced and pulled away, trying to ignore the pain.

  “You should be careful. You could get hurt down here.” The demon’s voice was softer now, more like Jared’s. Hope swelled inside me. He opened his eyes and Jared’s blue ones stared back at me. “I forgot. It’s the people around you who always get hurt. Isn’t that right?”

  Gabriel pointed between the bars. “Shut your mouth, or I’ll show you what it feels like to hurt.”

  Andras rose and cocked his head to the side. His movements were slow and deliberate, like he was trying out a new body that didn’t quite fit. “Are you going to take out your whip, Gabriel? Beat me with the bones of my soldiers?”

  “Maybe I’ll add your bones to them.” Gabriel unhooked the whip from his belt and let it pool around his feet like an ivory snake.

  “You’re wearing your war paint. Are we going to war today?”

  “I’m ready whenever you are,” Gabriel said.

  The demon stepped closer, his feet bare. Holy water dripped onto the floor around him. “Are you certain, Champion of God? The only man ready to face the Maker of Nightmares is a man with no fears. You are not one of those men.”

 
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