Chaos Rises: A Veil World Urban Fantasy

BOOK: Chaos Rises: A Veil World Urban Fantasy
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Chaos Rises
#1 Chaos Rises
Pippa DaCosta


C
haos
Rises’

#1 Chaos Rises

Pippa DaCosta

Urban Fantasy & Science Fiction Author

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Copyright © 2016 Pippa DaCosta.

June 2016 US Edition. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictions, and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

US Edition. Edited for US readers.

Version 1.0

www.pippadacosta.com

Summary

W
hen the veil fell
, any half bloods not strong enough to withstand Chaos were torn apart. Some, like me and my brother, survived the Fall. Most did not.

That's the good news. The bad news saw a whole other world try and devour ours. Demons, we call them. They came in countless waves. Destroying. Killing. Many people thought it was the end...

The Fall lasted a week.

Tens of thousands died.

Hell almost claimed our world as its own.

And then, from one day to the next, it was over. The veil came back, stronger than ever. I'm not sure if anyone knows how it was put right. But I do know it's been six months since the Fall, me and my brother are on the run, and the leftover demons aren't the most dangerous things in LA.

We are.

* * *

Chapter 1


C
’mon
, little demon. Nobody wants to hurt you.” That was a lie, but the spiny badger-sized
vitiosus
couldn’t know that.

I extended my right hand, kept my left hovering over my dagger tucked into the waistband of my combat pants, and watched the demon’s oddly pale blue eyes narrow. If I could snag it by the back of its neck, it would fall limp, like a kitty. But unlike a kitty, if I got my grip wrong, the
vitiosus
would chew my arm off. I had to strike fast. In anything demon related, hesitancy killed.

Icy fingertips of unease trailed down my back. A warm breeze fluttered trash against the fence behind the
vitiosus
, and the lesser’s haunches trembled.

C’mon, lil’ demon. You don’t want to bite me. I taste like half blood.

“Hurry it up, Gem.” Del’s voice echoed around the empty buildings from his position on the abandoned resort’s wraparound balcony.

The
vitiosus’
slug-like black lips rippled. Ambient light slid off its needle teeth. It squatted low, submitting—or readying to pounce. Why anyone would want a
vitiosus
as a pet was beyond me, but it wasn’t my place to question Allard. Like always, I followed his orders.

“It’s half the size of you,” Del added, a hint of laughter hidden behind his brotherly tone.

“You come down here and snag it,” I grumbled through tight lips to keep from spooking the lesser.

Del heard and chuckled. He heard everything, the curse of growing up in one tiny room with only the noises behind locked doors for company. We used to hunt down those noises and guess their sources. Was it the guard about to slide our food tray under the door or the science doctors coming to take one of us away to the place where nightmares were born?

Don’t think about that.

“There, there…” I reached closer, well aware that my fingers were within biting distance.

The
vitiosus
were faster than their bulky bodies suggested. They also had a nasty habit of spitting goo if they were backed into a corner—as this one was. Its rubbery flanks rippled, and a low growl rumbled up from its belly.

“Nice little demon. We’re all friends here.”

“Any longer and it’ll imprint on you.”

I fought the smile from my lips, readied my back foot for the final lunge, and held the
vitiosus’
blue-eyed stare. Now—the time to act was now. But where this lesser was going, it would be caged, prodded, and if it was really unlucky, it might find a new home in a research center, where it would be dissected for science. I knew all too well what that felt like. But if I didn’t take the lesser back to Allard, it would be my ass on the line, and my ass was worth more than this lesser demon’s freedom.

Survival of the fittest
.
I always win.

I sprang. It squealed and tried to dart around me, but I locked my hand into the loose flesh at the back of its neck and yanked it off its feet. The squeals rolled one into the other, echoing around and around, but it
had
fallen limp. I clamped my other hand over its mouth, careful to avoid its teeth, and held up my trophy.

“Got it!”

Del leapt over the edge of the balcony and landed in a crouch beside the drained swimming pool. He wasn’t even looking my way and had completely missed my triumphant capture. I started toward him then stilled. Ahead, where the squat buildings parted, a wave of black spilled over the walls and through broken windows. Hundreds of little blue eyes shone in the dark.

“Oh, sh—”

“Drop the demon!” Del palmed both his daggers. The naked blades glinted against the incoming wave of demons.

“No way.”

“Drop the damn demon, Gem!” he snarled.

Allard would be angry if I returned empty-handed. I’d rather fend off a wave of
vitiosus
than face Allard’s wrath. Quickly scanning the derelict buildings, I spotted the doorway we’d used to enter the resort. The door hung lopsided from its hinges.

“This way!” I bolted.

The static crackle of Del’s element sparked against mine, stirring the part of me that lived for the hunt. With my brother close behind, I burst into the barren apartment, ran through its gutted innards, and skidded out the back onto what had once been Third Street Promenade. Moonlight washed over the road’s cracked surface and flooded into gaping storefronts, lighting the way to the fringes of the netherworld zone.

Del breezed by me, his jacket flapping, milky light skipping off his daggers. He slowed and turned. His slanted smile told me exactly how much he enjoyed running for our lives. A ripple of power swirled the colors of his mismatched eyes—one black, one blue, and a little tickle of fear trilled through me. He’d missed his last hit of medication. The crackling, intangible sensation beating the air around him was his demon stirring awake. Dangerous. Stupid and dangerous. What was he thinking?

Behind me, the pounding of hundreds of lesser feet shuddered against the sidewalk. I tucked my squealing
vitiosus
under my arm and ran. The lessers came from everywhere, clambering over rubble, surging from open drains. Something had to be driving them. A bigger, nastier demon? I wasn’t planning on sticking around to meet it.

My lungs burned, throat sore where the noxious netherworld air clawed at it. I threw a quick glance behind us. They were closing in. We wouldn’t lose the horde by sprinting along the open promenade.

Del must have been thinking the same. He veered off, jumped over a rippling carpet of purple weeds tangled around a fallen chair, and dashed into what had once been a department store. We wove through vacant aisles and scrambled over fallen racks, then ducked out a side door. There, a few hundred yards away, was the edge of the nw-zone. Blue and white warning lights flashed along the barriers. But between us and safety, the wave of demons washed in, blocking off our exit. Del skidded to a halt. The lessers crowded around, but they didn’t attack. Nervous ripples passed through their huge numbers. What were they waiting for?

The captive lesser under my arm wriggled.

“You could drop their little pal?” Del suggested between ragged breaths.

My heart pounded. “It’s mine,” I growled, blinking sweat out of my eyes. My brother arched a brow, and I shrugged. “Okay, it’s Allard’s. You know what I mean.”

“Alright then.” He squared his shoulders and faced the rippling lake of blinking blue eyes. When he flicked his daggers out, an elemental shiver nudged my senses. I knew that feeling.

“Del?”

“It’s okay.” He pointed the daggers down at his sides and strode forward.

“Del, don’t.”

“Stay close.” His voice had deepened and coalesced into the kind of delicious demon grumble that made my breath catch. How long had it been since his last hit of PC34A? Long enough for his element to permeate the air around him, cloaking him in shadow. How far gone was he? Could he summon his entire demon? If that happened, I’d have more to worry about than a herd of angry lessers.

“I’ll drop the lesser. Okay?” I said. “Don’t do this.”

He paused and looked over his shoulder. His one dark eye swirled with an oily blackness, while his other, the pale blue human eye, glinted with delight. “It’s fine. It’s all under control.”

That’s what I was afraid of.

His jaw clenched, and for the briefest of moments, darkness flowed over his face, pooling in his eyes, hollowing his cheeks, making him seem…
netherworldly
, and then, in a blink, he smiled and was Del again. To prove it, he tucked one dagger away and held out his hand. “I’ve got you.”

I swallowed, tasting street dust. When I stepped closer, I breached his bubble of power, and a gasp slipped free. Static fizzled over me like metal shavings sprinkled against my skin, painful to my human senses, but outright arousing to my hidden half. My teeth chattered, and adrenaline surged while the deeper, buried part of me shifted and strained against my control.

“You shouldn’t be doing this,” I whispered, closing my hand around his.

“Shh…”

“It’s d-dangerous.” And I didn’t mean how he was approaching the
vitiosus
.

He drew me close against his side, curling his element around me. He smelled of spices, of leathery heat and an earthy richness, of the only home I’d known. Everything really would be fine because it always was when we were together.

He looked me in the eyes—into me—seeing the monsters coiled in us both and whispered, “Dangerous is not understanding our demons.”

Anger flashed hot and fast, cutting through what remained of my fear. How dare he be so reckless? He knew very well what happened when we missed our hits, when our demons worked free of our control. He
understood
well enough. This wasn’t necessary. It was just one
vitiosus
—we could get another. He didn’t have to do this.

He wants to.

Del saw or felt my anger. His smile faltered, the humor faded from his blue eye, and he turned his face away. “Slowly now.” His hand tightened around mine. We pressed into the lessers, one excruciatingly slow step at a time, my fear taking root for other reasons.

His element coiled up my arm, invisible to my human eyes, but real enough to prickle gooseflesh across my skin. I shuddered, and the
vitiosus
under my arm whimpered.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Just get back to Fairhaven, deliver the lesser to Allard, get the meds, and stand over Del while he damn well injects himself before it’s too late.

The lake of
vitiosus
shied away from Del like an oily ocean receding from the shore. Some yipped and snapped and snarled, but most pressed their bellies against the road and eyed Del with wide, fearful eyes. I could hardly blame them. They were lesser, and right now, despite being a half blood, Del gave off demon vibes that had these little demons crouching in their own piss.

“A few more steps,” he whispered.

I squeezed Del’s hand, a touch I hoped told him I was with him, no matter what. I’d always be with him. There had been a time, among bright white lights and nothingness, when the only real thing in my life had been his hand in mine. I hadn’t let him go then, and I wouldn’t now.

My grip on the lesser slipped. It bucked, turning into a snarling, snapping ball of claws and teeth, then twisted, clamped its teeth into my upper arm, and vomited up its goo, coating my jacket in acid. Pain—sharp and blinding—burst up my arm. The
vitiosus
let go, and I staggered, trying to swallow the scream clawing up my throat. Noise, agony—it all happened too fast.

The ocean of lesser demons rose up.

My fingers slipped free of Del’s. He reached for me, eyes wide, but the weight of hundreds of hissing, snarling bodies hit me from all sides, tearing my legs out from under me. My forehead cracked against the curb, grit dug into my cheek, and my ribs threatened to pop apart. Teeth tore at my fingers, my legs, and knotted in my hair. Pressure pushed against my back, crushing the air from my lungs. On and on it went—more weight, more pain. The lessers would tear me apart piece by piece.

Screw that.
I yanked on the wild, hungry part of me, flinging the mental restraints off my demon, and freed my element.

Ice spritzed across my face, into my hair, and snapped across my skin, encasing me—clothes and all—in brittle crystal. With the cold came demon strength and demon needs. The physical pain and the mental fear all toppled beneath a hard, cold, ruthless knowing.

The
vitiosus
recoiled, hissing and spitting. Ice chased them across the road, lashing outward in lightning-quick bolts. They scattered, and the freezing ghost of a voice in my head growled,
More
. The demon inside me pushed, reaching, climbing from her cage. If I let her, she’d claw all the way into my body and ride high on the taste of freedom. But unlike Del, I’d taken my meds. I had control. I reined in my demon, wrestling her under
my
command. She fought, like always, hissing and groaning the way ice did as it swelled. She’d never won, and she wouldn’t today.

With room and space to breathe, I levered myself onto my feet.
Move!

Demon urges made my fingers twitch, and illicit skitters danced across my skin.
To run, to chase, to hunt
… I growled at the madness and shoved it aside.

Del… where was Del? Only a few minutes could have passed. Melt water left drying streaks in the gutter, but it
was
wet.
He’s here. He has to be here.

The street blurred. Ahead, blue and white warning lights throbbed in time with the ache inside my head. I wiped a dripping wetness from my cheek and hobbled forward. Sight and smell were cranked up to painful levels of clarity. I should have been able to feel my brother close by, feel the fizzle of his demon touch. But when I reached, there was nothing.

He must have left the nw-zone.
He left me?

A
vitiosus
sprang out of the dark. I flung an ice dagger without thinking, knocking the lesser out of the air mid-leap. It fell, dead before it hit the ground, the shard of ice embedded in its skull already melting away.

Del. I had to get through the cordon to Del.

I can’t sense him. Why can’t I sense him?

An ear-splitting screech shattered the quiet.
Ventores
—hunter demons. Bigger. Nastier. In flight and closing fast, but they wouldn’t leave the nw-zone.
A few more steps…

This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. One little demon, that was all Allard wanted. It should have been a simple snatch job. The winged demons cawed overhead, circling like desert vultures. With my demon stalking just below the surface, I could fight off one or two but not the entire population of the promenade nw-zone.

My legs wobbled, muscles burning and cramping around countless throbbing bites. My combat boots had turned to lead, and with every step, I drifted, detached from my body.

I pushed through the nw-zone’s shimmering border. The cloying air spat me out into Los Angeles’s sweet, oxygen-rich night. I gasped, drinking down the elixir. Sirens and the constant hum of traffic flooded in. Streetlight and the lingering nighttime heat wrapped around me, grounding me in my human skin.
I’m in LA. This is my home now.

BOOK: Chaos Rises: A Veil World Urban Fantasy
6.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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