“Zara kind of scored the sickest military attack copter ever.” She’d traded up after the crash? “She and Sol fly in it. It’s tricked out with machine guns and even missiles.”
Fortune’s arsenal was growing more powerful, like Lark’s. I wondered if Zara had discovered the full extent of her luck manipulation. “Is Richter still with them?”
Joules’s dark eyes flashed. “Right with ’em. That fecker learned how to ride waves of lava.” Just as I’d read in my chronicles. “Even if we could target him with lightning, Zara’s always there to provide cover.”
Aric looked furious. “You allowed her to acquire an attack copter? After you’d been raiding them?”
In a blustering tone, Joules said, “I’ve struck and fried every sittin’ helicopter, at every base, every airport, and every hangar we’ve passed. Even parts of helicopters, so she couldn’t do repairs. But she’s been hidin’ this one.”
“That craft employs infrared vision,” Gabriel said quietly. His speech and accent were as old-timey as his suit, even as he spoke about infrared. “Such technology thwarts even the Magician’s illusions. And there are few heat signatures left in the world—no engines, scarce animals and humans—for us to blend with. No trees provide cover.” He unfurled a silky black wing. Multiple bullet holes riddled it. “How do you suggest we concentrate on them? You have wisdom, Endless Knight. Impart it. I will heed you.”
As much as I would love to fly, those wings truly were a weakness. He’d had a bullet hole in one the last time I’d seen him. And Aric had stabbed through one not too long ago.
“Step one,” Aric said, “do not lead them to the alliance that could actually stop them.”
“We broke clean from ’em,” Joules said.
“What about Bagmen?” I asked. “They scout for Sol.”
“Gabe would’ve scented any Baggers.” Joules waved off my concern. “Hell, I would have.”
Gabriel cocked his head. “Wait.”
“What do you hear, friend?” Joules murmured, producing another baton. Though he usually sounded like a streetwise bruiser, sometimes when he spoke to Gabriel, he seemed younger, not as coarse.
Made me wonder what the Lord of Lightning had been like before the apocalypse. Before Calanthe’s gruesome death.
“A . . . helicopter is, in fact, approaching us,” Gabriel told him. “Somehow, Zara has our location.”
“Leave me, Gabe.”
The Archangel shook his head. “If I had a dollar for every time you have said those words . . . And I give you my customary reply: Never.”
I frowned at my feet. A tremor? I heard the copter in the distance and . . . crackling asphalt? The need to fight and kill blistered me inside, the heat of battle burning as hot as the flames I’d nearly walked into four months ago. But without a plan and prep, we couldn’t take on a military copter and earthquakes.
Aric snapped, “Into the truck, sievā!”
I hurried toward it. Across the lot, fissures forked out like Joules’s lightning. My jaw dropped as Finn’s abandoned sedan plummeted into one. An explosion rocked the area.
I reeled, clutching the door handle. Aric appeared behind me to shove me into the truck. As he raced to his seat, the back door opened on my side.
Joules and Gabriel piled in! The falcon screeched when Joules elbowed Finn to move over.
Aric slid behind the wheel, his demeanor lethal. In a low tone, he said, “I’ve been known to grant Death wishes.”
Gabriel retracted his silky wings, but they were still huge in such a confined space. “We respectfully request a trues.” As Matthew had called an Arcana truce.
Another quake. More fissures snaked around our truck.
Four voices cried to Aric, “Go!”
With a muttered curse, he gunned the engine. “If we escape, I will be tossing you from this vehicle, and when I do, I’ll most likely slit your throats.”
Aric sped through the parking lot, his quick reflexes adjusting our course as quakes continued. He expertly veered toward the exit, then out onto the highway. The engine roared as the truck raced forward.
He narrowed his eyes at the rearview mirror, telling Joules, “One of Fortune’s missiles takes out five of us. Five. She will unleash everything in her arsenal to hit this truck.”
“Looks as if you drive like you do everything else. So don’t bloody let it take us out!”
Finn cast his former friends a glare, then turned from them, speaking to the falcon in a hushed voice.
Joules swiped a hand over his face. “How the feck did they find us? The Sun’s Baggers?”
“I didn’t scent any,” Gabriel said. “They have a very distinctive scent.”
Joules asked Aric, “Can the Sun disguise it?”
Aric glanced at me. “Empress?”
“Maybe. If he washed their skin. The slime is what stinks.”
“Oi, what makes her the expert?”
Eyes on the congested highway, Aric absently answered, “She spent several days in the Sun’s company.”
“Damn, Empress. You move fast.”
Aric grated, “You do wish to die, Tower.”
A new crevasse opened up not two feet away from the truck. “Uh, Aric.” I stared down. “Fissure directly to our right.” It ripped along as fast as we drove.
He answered, “And one on my left.”
I craned my head around and got my first look at Zara’s terrifying new weapon. The helicopter’s shape was angular and sharp, with huge guns mounted beneath it. The painted nose looked like a dragon’s roaring mouth, fangs glinting.