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   Chapter 6 NO.6

Damsel[ed] Rescue Required (3 of the Damsel[ed] Series) By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 7512

Updated: 2018-02-01 10:57


Syndicate— a name months ago I would have thought belonged to a teen-run garage band, maybe spelled with an '8' and a backward 'S'—and I are intimately intertwined. The same mother who shares my genes, the one I used to imagine as a tragic figure, ruled this organization. It's such a funny thing, what I used to think about her. A young woman leaving her kid in a basket on a church doorstep. Or maybe I thought she was dead. Like all those dead mothers of Disney princesses.

A prince. To them, I'm their prince.

"Please don't." My body is stiff like I'm built of hot glue and wax, the aftershock of old pains thrumming through my achy muscles. But it's the best I've felt in weeks, and I'd do anything to avoid another kick in the teeth. Heaven drops to a fighting crouch. So do I, but my hands are up in a gesture of surrender. "I'm..."

What? I told Jaylin I needed to rule the organization. I needed to dismantle it. Now beads of sweat are gathering on my forehead, drawing a slow, warm drip down my face.

Poison coaxes Heaven's fists down at her sides with a soft tap. Jaylin spits. "Hey, Ang, do you just, like attract fights? Do you just walk into a bar and people start punching you?"

Darkness has spread at the edges of my peripherals. The woman behind the mic pushes down her hood. Her hair is a soft yellow, a faded blond.

"I don't want to fight, " I say.

"You don't want to fight?" She rolls her eyes. They're cornflower blue. Rounded. Pretty. "You expect to be respected as an heir and a leader and you 'don't want to fight?'"

My wings arch. The feathers are loose and brittle. "I wouldn't want to step on your toes."

Heaven squirms. Poison's fingers are intertwined with hers. I glare in his direction. He glares back. Heaven stares down at her shoes, veins bulging in the side of his neck. Her free fist is twitching.

"Are you our leader?" she asks, and I can feel the eyes on me. The heads swiveling up and the faces focused on my spreading shadow of the heavy, outstretched wings. My teeth are ground down. I'm exhausted, serially exhausted. I meant to investigate, not, I don't know, jump into a pit of Syndicate lackeys, most of them either vying for my leadership or vying for my flesh.


p a shard of red glass to swipe at my opponents, never quite touching them, just inching close enough to scare them. The floor is showered in sparks. Few of the hooded figures dare approach me anyway. Most of them race for Poison, who has finally stopped snickering. All I can hear is his grunting, yelping, and shallow breathing. Good, I think for a second, and I loathe myself for it.

Heaven dances. A kick to the collarbone, a hook shot to the side of the face. They swing, she ducks. She attacks, they fall back. She moves so quickly her attacks blur together. Hooded figures fall around her. Sometimes I forget she's a superhero, but watching her fight, listening to the 'thunk' of dazed villains crashing to the floor, it's a stark reminder.

So the horde falls back. I kick the door open so hard glass shatters, little shards cracking when they hit the ground. "Heaven, Jay! Come on!"

Jay points at the trembling girl. Heaven's knees visibly trembling, her shaking hands caught in her half-tangled hair. "Hev, " I shout. "Hev!"

Poison is on the ground, his eyes opening and closing sleepily. He's half curled, two arms outstretched, knees pushed to his chest. One eye is ringed with black and blue, his face bruised and blood-splotched. Figures in black pull at his arms and tug him to his feet.

Jaylin has already hobbled out the door. "Hev?" I say. "Hev? Please. Come with me."

She looks at his limp body, closes her eyes, and races out the door without so much as a word.

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