Gerry sat with his hands steepled on the table in front of him. It was a thinking man’s pose for a man dealing with some serious circumstances. He’d reoriented and redecorated the room since Caroline left. If he was going to entertain powerful guests on behalf of Prince Seere, his demesne needed to look the part.
He sat at the head of a great table that would have looked right at home at a royal banquet. His chair faced the elevator door so he could see everyone and everything entering the room. Grimm’s bed was to the side, but the hellhound sat alertly by its master.
The first to answer the summons was Jeb. The greedy Infernal was dressed to impress. He was ready to supply anything his Dux needed, and he could get resources and people moving with a few taps of his tablet. Big Lono was the next to arrive. He didn’t bring anything aside from his considerable bulk and a bag full of cheeseburgers.
Jezebel was the second to last. Gerry gave her a slight nod of respect for her recent work. The mayor of a major city being murdered – literally with his pants down – was causing enough commotion and chaos to divert all attention away from the Infernals. Better yet, it was a feast for Gerry. The city was rife with tension that was ready to boil over. People were in an uproar, and he took in the ætherial results.
She was in a tight pencil shirt, black bra, with a white blouse that looked about a second away from bursting. Her hair was styled and held in place by two hair pieces that Gerry was pretty sure were poisoned daggers. She was equal parts deadly and sexy, which was what he’d come to expect from an Infernal powered by lust.
Last but not least was Vicky. She opened her mouth to say something when he allowed her to enter the demesne, but one look around the room and she snapped her mouth shut. She knew when to speak and when to wait until spoken to. Tonight was one of the later.
None of the lieutenants knew what was happening. Gerry liked it that way. It kept them guessing, and ensured they weren’t able to manipulate his plans to their own ends.
He waited until they were all seated before speaking. “We will have visitors shortly.”
Gerry had been feeling the changes in the æther throughout Charlotte over the last hour for any indication that Lucifer’s Dux had arrived. So far there was nothing, but that was normal. A foreign Dux entering enemy territory would come ready to fight. Whether it was against the Divine or other Infernals, a Dux would only remotely trust others, and he’d bring along the power to ensure things ended in his favor. Even with orders to behave, Gerry was very wary of the newcomer.
He didn’t feel him until there was a spike in power in the building’s garage.
<A warded vehicle.> It was the only way to get in and out of the city without the Divine noticing while channeling Infernal powers.
Gerry wasn’t going to be at a disadvantage. He opened himself up to his demesne’s power. Reality flexed around him as a sea of energy poured into him. It had been so long that Gerry felt like he’d been drowning and finally broke the surface. His lieutenants took a step back as they saw the change. His human form flexed and nearly tore in two as power surged through him.
Gerry didn’t fully transform into his Infernal true form, but he did grow half a foot, and every vein bulged underneath taut skin. He looked like a roided out monster right now, but he didn’t care. He needed to be ready.
He felt the other Dux ascend up toward the penthouse. Even far away from Charleston, and his own demesne, this other Dux was strong. He’d ruled that territory in the name of Lucifer for over a century. His ætherial signature made that loud and clear.
Finally, the door opened, and two people stepped through. Although; calling them people was a bit of a stretch. One was a woman who was as drop-dead gorgeous Jezebel. Her pale skin, golden hair, and deep blue eyes were a stark contrast to Gerry’s sun-kissed lieutenant, but the two demons of the fourth choir caught each other’s eyes and glared. Jezebel’s teeth curled back in a snarl, while the other woman actually hissed. It revealed two rows of needle-sharp teeth.
Her boss might be comfortable enough in an enemy’s stronghold, but she was not. She’d partially transformed into her combat form, and made everyone know she was a biter.
“Please forgive my lieutenant,” the man standing next to her was just as good looking.
He had wavy black hair, cunning gray eyes, and a goatee flecked with silver. His smile was aristocratic, and Gerry got the sense he looked down on everyone in the room. That was pretty common of a demon of the seventh choir. An Infernal powered by pride tended to think highly of themselves.
“No offense is taken. Welcome.” Gerry replied diplomatically and gestured to the chairs at the far side of the table. “My name is Gerald and I am the Dux of this city.”
“I am Lucian, servant of Lucifer, and I come to do my Lord’s bidding.”
<No mention of anything mutual.> Gerry expected that. If Lucifer’s plans diverged from Seere’s at some point during this operation then he had little doubt that Lucian would stick a dagger in his back.
“Would you like any refreshments?” There was a fully stocked bar behind the table.
“Scotch, neat, the older the better.” Lucian smiled, but it never touched his eyes.
Jezebel rose from her seat without a word. It was previously agreed that she would be the one to serve the drinks. Of course, they hadn’t anticipated that the other Dux would bring along his own escort.
“I’ll have a Manhattan.” The female Infernal ordered with a smile.
Jezebel only got the other Dux a drink, and Gerry didn’t blame her. They needed to establish an order here, and that meant putting the other Dux’s minion in her place. He even grinned with approval at Jezebel’s not-so-innocent smile when she resumed her seat.
“Now that you have your refreshment we can get town to business.”
The other woman barred her mouthful of fangs, but a silent communication between her and Lucian shut her up. “Yes. We have a mission to accomplish.”
With a thought, the dossiers that Prince Seere had left Gerry appeared on the table. “This is our target.” Gerry took the picture of the target off the top. As he slid it across the table it duplicated itself and slid into place so everyone had the picture. “Step one of our operation is to find this woman.”
“We are willing to pay for information.” Lucian interjected. He pulled out a metal briefcase, spun it so everyone could see, and opened it to show the stacks of Benjamins inside.
“How much?” Vicky spoke up, which had the other Infernal woman looking like she wanted to eat the smaller Soulless.
“Half a million,” Lucian said it like it was nothing, and for someone who’d been around as long as him it was.
“Pass it over then.” Vicky smiled. “I know who she is.”
Every eye in the room snapped onto her. Suddenly, she looked extremely self-conscious. She had a lot of powerful people’s full attention.
“Please, continue.” Lucian smiled after a second and slid the case to her.
Gerry nodded for her to go on. He didn’t sense any lie in her words.
“The girl is name Mary…or Marcy…maybe Maria. Whatever her name is she goes to my school. She’s my homework bitch.”
“Homework bitch?” Lucian tasted the words with a confused expression.
“She’s that person who does things for me I don’t want to do. In this case it’s homework. I’ve got better shit to do with my evenings than algebra.” Vicky smiled. “She’s kind of annoying, but she just made me half a mil, so I’m not complaining.”
“How well do you know this woman?” Lucian leaned closer.
Vicky looked to Gerry for guidance, and he nodded for her to go on.
“Not very well. Like I said, she’s my homework bitch. I’m a senior and she’s a sophomore. She rides my coattails. I’ll throw her some cool party details or a juicy bit of gossip every once and a while, but aside from that I don’t give two shits about her.”
“Marvelous.” Lucian clapped and smiled. “You were a hair away from death and you didn’t even realize it.” He sounded like he was on the verge of laughing.
“This woman is a Nephilim, Vicky.” Gerry answered the confused look on her face. “You are lucky to be alive.”
The already pale Vicky got a shade paler as that sunk in. Jezebel and the other Infernal woman both smiled at her misfortune, until they both noticed they agreed on something, then they went back to glaring.
“You will continue to go to school like nothing is different.” Gerry instructed. “Now that we know who she is we need to capture her and make preparations.”
“Why can’t I just kill her? Now that I know what she is I’m sure I can get the drop on her.”
“Silence!” Lucian snapped. “You will do no such thing.”
“We need her alive for now.” Gerry reiterated. “But her being at your school offers us an interesting opportunity.”
As far as Gerry knew, only him and Lucian had the full details of what was required. The wheels in his head were turning, and he had an idea. “Your homecoming is coming up correct?”
“Yeah, but what does that have to do with anything?” Vicky looked confused.
“Is she going to be there?” Lucian inquired.
“I don’t know, but I will, and if she’s hunting me then I guess she will be too.” Vicky shrugged.
“Then it has everything to do with everything.” Lucian replied, seeing where Gerry was going with this.
“I have all of the location information.” Gerry promised to send it to the other Dux. “We’ll make preparations for everything.”
“Homecoming is in two days.” Vicky informed. “If you’re going to need me to do something you’re running out of time.”
“We don’t require you to do anything.” Lucian brushed aside her comment.
“Just go about your normal routine and act like everything is normal. Show up to homecoming and we’ll take care of the rest.”
“Is that it?” Vicky asked with a sour expression plastered on her face.
“Jezebel, Lono, and Jeb will need to get onto the premises before the dance to do some warding. Can you accomplish that?”
“Yes.” She looked eager to do something other than dress up and win homecoming queen for the twentieth time.
“Facilitate that, and your job will be complete.” Gerry held up a hand to end the conversation before Vicky could reply.
“It looks like this is going to be easier than expected.” Lucian smiled. “I have established a base of operations on the outskirts of town. My people are warding it as we speak. We will conduct some additional reconnaissance and eliminate any human interference.”
“The humans have been sufficiently diverted.” Gerry inclined his head toward Jezebel. “If we can meet a two-day timeline then we should be fine.”
The two Duxes stared at each other for several seconds before Lucian nodded in agreement. “It is your city, Dux Gerald. But we will recon the school for any additional threats.”
“Very well.” Gerry stood, signaling the end of the meeting. “I have another pressing appointment that I cannot be late for.”
Lucian and his female companion didn’t need to be told twice. They didn’t want to be in the enemy’s demesne for any longer than absolutely necessary.
“Stay.” Gerry ordered Grimm after everyone left and he marched toward the elevator.
He needed to shower and exorcised any lingering Infernal remains from his æther. If he walked into his meeting with the Dominion smelling like an Infernal, then that was going to be the end of his mission and time on Eden. He wasn’t careless enough to make that mistake before engaging in one of the biggest moments of his life on the eve of one of the most important mission of his existence.
If he was a lesser man he would have been nervous, but he’d fought countless wars in Hell. How did a conversation with an angel match up to that.
His thinking just went to show he had no idea what he was walking into.