Home > Fallen Academy: Year Four (Fallen Academy #4)(9)

Fallen Academy: Year Four (Fallen Academy #4)(9)
Author: Leia Stone

So I unloaded. I told her about Sera and Raksha, and how it killed me to just be living my life up here while they were down there. I let out each repressed thing I hadn’t realized I was carrying, and she just sat there for over an hour, kind and patient, and listened.

Sometimes all one needs is a good listener.

I felt better already.

Seven

After I’d had my therapy session with my mom and sent her home, Lincoln came back. His uniform was dirty, and a few pieces of hay were sticking out of his collar.

Immediately, I leapt up from where I was sitting at the table—with a cup of tea and my lesson plans.

“How’d they do? Did Tiny kick ass, because she’s like a shaken bottle of soda, ready to explode. Oh, did Ray do that thing with his bow and arrow? I wonder if—”

His hand came up over my mouth to quiet me, and then he pulled out his phone, plopping it in my hand. “I expect two of the three groups to pass. You’re an amazing teacher, and Tiny totally kicked ass. She reminds me of you.”

My attention dropped to his phone, to see a video cued up and ready to watch. “You recorded it for me!” I shrieked, jumping up and down, causing the trailer to wobble.

Lincoln chuckled, gently shoving me over, so we could sit next to each other. “Let’s watch it together. Tell me if you can think of a way that all three teams could pass.”

This was a test. Dammit. He was always trying to help me be better, which was an awesome, yet annoying trait.

We tucked into the table and I hit Play. It was captured mid-action. Tiny was standing on top of the highest hay bale, her group down below coaxing the demon with candy. The Snakeroot was too smart, not going for it; instead, it stayed fluttering in the air, spitting acid on the team below him.

That’s when Tiny leapt.

“Holy shit!” I shouted as Tiny tore off the top of the hay bale, and collided midair with the Snakeroot, taking it to the ground, and landing hard on her shoulder. Her teammates jumped in immediately, to finish the demon off, and help Tiny to safety. Damn, it was one of the coolest takedowns I’d seen all year. They were a strong team with advanced skills.

The next group did awful—worse than awful, actually. The Yew demon almost set the apartment building on fire, and Mikey and Lincoln had to take it out, failing the team. They were all weak links, I could see that now. I’d paired them up based on skill level, but in doing that, I’d grouped all the kids who were slower and insecure.

After quickly watching the next group, and seeing that Nick was clearly the leader of that team, having knocked the Snakeroot demon out fearlessly, I looked up at Lincoln. I knew what I needed to do to pass all three groups.

“I need to rearrange the teams. Tiny and Nick can afford to have a few weak members on their teams, because the stronger leaders will pick up their slack.”

Lincoln grinned. “Exactly. Tiny and Nick should each lead a team of four, with one other strong student and then two weak students. Your team of three can have one weak student and two strong. That way, you give all eleven students a chance to pass.”

Happiness bubbled up inside of me, chasing away my earlier depression. I was going to get each student through the damn gauntlet and into the army.

Yet, that bubble burst as a thought occurred. “What if the weaker ones don’t do well in the Fallen Army and get killed? Then it will be my fault.”

The pressure I felt when in charge of someone’s education was immense, but Lincoln shook his head. “They’re just slow learners. They’ll pick it up on the field, and their sergeant will pair them knowing they still have some kinks to work out. It’ll be okay. The important thing is, after failing the gauntlet the first time, they didn’t give up.”

I sighed in relief.

“Police! Open up!” a strange female voice shouted.

Lincoln and I both jumped at the loud banging that followed on his trailer door. But just as quickly as he’d looked alarmed, Lincoln grinned, bolting from where we sat and ripping open the door.

What the hell?

As soon as the door opened, I knew this was Catia based on his description of her. Short-cropped dark hair and a lean build, and she had a pretty but strong face. The Paris Fallen Academy plane must have just landed. They embraced, both laughing, and I noticed there was a twenty-something female standing just behind Catia.

“Bonjour. I’m the girlfriend, Scarlet.” She waved, her long curly hair bobbing as she moved.

“I’m the wife, Brielle.” I smiled, stepping out of the trailer.

“Brielle!” Catia shouted enthusiastically. “I’m so pleased to finally meet you. I’m glad you’re okay.” The genuineness in her words was unmistakable, and her hug was firm and without reservation. We’d spoken a few times on the phone, but meeting in person was the icing on the cake.

“Scarlet, welcome to our home on wheels.” Lincoln gestured to the trailer and we all laughed.

Scarlet smiled. “We couldn’t exactly turn down a heartfelt plea from all four archangels.”

“And we need Angel City to stay standing just as much as you do. They fund our schools, and give us our supplies. Without Fallen Academy, the sister schools are nothing.” Catia added.

“How many came from Paris?” My husband asked.

“Forty-six. Everyone over eighteen who we could spare. Are you doing drills tonight? I’m anxious to get back into action,” Catia answered, her fingers twitching over her gun.

Lincoln chuckled. “Yes, Michael and I have planned some raids to flush out the demon clusters in the war zone. You’re on my team.”

“You’re coming too?” Catia turned to me.

I frowned, “I can’t.”

“Lucifer spoke to her through a demon today,” Lincoln explained, clearing his throat. “Brielle has to stay on campus.”

“Oh, shit. I’m so sorry.” Catia looked down at her feet.

Scarlet stepped closer to me. “I’m just a human cook at the school, so I’ll be staying with you here, where it’s safe.”

A grin tugged at my lips. I didn’t feel so left out, now. “Perfect. I’d love some company.”

And just like that, I’d made a new friend. While everyone was out on the raid tonight—including Shea and Chloe—pushing the demons back and away from the city, I’d be getting to know Scarlet.

Catia and Lincoln had left about an hour ago, to take part in the biggest raid in Fallen Army history. Luke, Noah, Shea, Chloe, Mikey, and everyone else, had left too. I’d even seen the archangels suit up, and leave with the busloads of soldiers. This was an ‘all hands on deck’ operation. A few staff members, Elodie and her son, the healing clinic’s injured, my eleven students, and I, were the only ones staying on campus, so the dozen warriors Raph left behind to protect it was plenty. My mom was safe in her apartment, watching a movie with her neighbor, who was a civilian spouse to an army soldier. I just hoped like hell that tonight turned the odds in our favor.

“Oh my God, it smells like I’m in a restaurant.” I drooled as Scarlet made quick work of cooking dinner in our tiny kitchen. She’d claimed the kitchen was no smaller than most in France, but I figured she was just being nice. Lincoln’s and my favorite dinner to cook in the tiny trailer kitchen was cereal.

She flattened her knife, laying it over the garlic, and then came down on it hard, smashing it. “You’re going to love my coq au vin dish.”

“If the smell is any indication, then yes, I will.”

She smiled, reaching for some cooking wine, when the shrill sound of the school’s demon alarm rang through campus.

Chills ran up my entire body.

“Shit!” I bolted into a standing positon, adrenaline coursing through my veins.

Scarlet froze. “Is that…?”

I nodded, bursting into action. “Demon alarm. Come on.”

Did one of the demons get pushed back in the raid and sneak onto campus? Surely the dozen gate guards could handle it, but in case it was more than one demon… in case it was a full-on attack, we needed to follow protocol.

The trailer wasn’t safe. We were sitting ducks, and I also had eleven students to worry about, as well as Elodie and her son. Reaching under the bed, I took out my gun and holstered it, then grabbed my sword—on loan from Raphael until I was reunited with Sera.

“Can you shoot a gun?” I asked Scarlet, who’d already shut off the stove, and was now holding her meat cleaver like a weapon.

“No, but I’ve killed a demon before with this.” She indicated the large knife. Paris was a war zone, and Lincoln had told me the school there operated in secrecy, so Scarlet must have had her fair share of action.

“All right. The school has a contingency for this sort of thing. We’re going to go to the main gym, where we can band together and fight as a team. Can you run?”

She looked nervous but competent, and I knew Catia wouldn’t bring someone who couldn’t hold their own. My students would be making their way to the gym right now, and hopefully, Elodie and her son would be too, but we needed to get there quickly to help them.

She nodded and I sent a quick group text to Lincoln, Shea and Noah saying the academy was under demon attack. Hopefully they could send backup soon.

Stepping forward, I inched the trailer door open as the siren blared full force into the small space. The last time that siren went off, Lucifer had come and taken me to Hell, but I refused to let the fear take me. That wasn’t going to happen again.

A quick scan told me there was a massive fight at the front gates. A burst of gunfire, and red glowing magic lit up the Fallen Academy entrance. This was a full-scale attack, not the single demon I’d hoped for a second ago.

Shit.

“This way,” I whispered to Scarlet, ducking low and away from the front gates. We ran, headed deeper onto campus toward the gym, which was our meeting point for demon alarm emergencies.

We were just cutting through two buildings when I smelled it. Sulfur and oil. Nausea rolled into me and I spun, coming face-to-face with a Larkspur demon. The seven-foot-tall, pug-faced asshole was grinning as bile crept into my throat. Larkspurs were fast and strong, so I needed the element of surprise.

   
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