I glanced back at the cab in confusion. Mary was staring out of the back window; her expression as confused as mine. I waved her off, but as I did, I searched the area for any color shifts; auras that hadn’t been there before. All living things have auras, even plants. So, there were some softly pulsing colors shifting around the trees lining the road, but other than that… wait.
“It can’t be,” I whispered in disbelief.
Flares of bright white were emanating over the railing of a flight of concrete steps. The stairs led to an apartment building, but the light came from the hollow on their far side. He must have been ducking quite low in the depression because only the edges of his halo were showing. Yes; I said “halo.” There are three types of supernaturals: Alien Races, Evolved (also know as Mutated), and Transformed (through accident, experiment, or magic spell). The guy hiding so ignobly behind the cement wall was a Triari; one of the first types of supernatural. You may know his kind better as Angels.
Don’t get too excited. There are several races who have been greatly misunderstood by humans, and the Triari are at the top of the list. These aliens have nothing to do with God or Heaven; they’re just an advanced race with ingenious toys and powerful weaponry. Right beneath them on the Falsely Labeled List are the Bleiten, aka Demons. Triari tend to be the nicer of the two, but not always. In fact, the Triari and the Bleiten have been at each other’s throats for years, and neither of them seems to care if their battles bleed onto foreign soil.
Both races are known for their unearthly good looks, but the Bleiten can shift their appearances into something monstrous to intimidate their enemies. The Bleiten-Triari War spread to Earth a few, unforgettable times; leaving its mark on human religions worldwide. The myths of Angels and Demons were born; the Bleiten’s brutal battle-forms setting them firmly in the role of villain. Not that it wasn’t accurate; the Bleiten are savage killers.
But back to the Triari. To counter the Bleiten battle-forms—many of which included leathery wings—the Triari created battle wings of their own. Those massive, feathered appendages seen in angel paintings everywhere are real, but they are manufactured, not grown. The Host provides each of its soldiers with a pair of feathered, flying devices that meld with the muscles in the shoulders and are controlled via brainwave sensors. The higher ranking the Triari, the nicer the wings he’s given. Humans revered the Triari; not just for those awesome flying devices, but also for their beauty, strength, and shining auras—their halos.
The question was; why was an angel following me?
I turned around as if I hadn’t seen him and started heading toward the Supermarket again. With my senses on high alert, I could see him coming up behind me; his blinding aura was like a spotlight pointed at my back. In fact, halos were so bright, that most humans could sense them; they believed it was proof of angelic purity. Purity; what drivel. It couldn’t be further from the truth.
Triari soldiers—pretty much the only Triari who came to Earth—were trained to suppress their emotions. This didn’t make them unfeeling precisely, just very calm and aloof; the perfect demeanor for battle. Triari soldiers could switch on their emotions as soon as their mission was complete, but when they were on the job, they kept their feelings under wraps. This tight control resulted in an aura that flared white. Allow me to explain; you may have heard that white is the absence of color. That’s not altogether true. White is a compression of all the colors in the spectrum. The colors are there—within the whiteout—they’re just squeezed so tightly together that they seem to be one.
“You can ignore them, but you can’t get rid of them, darling,” I muttered as I pulled one of his controlled colors to the surface.
I heard a startled groan and the shuffle of stumbling feet behind me. I casually turned on my heel and strolled back to where the Triari had fallen. He stared up at me in shock; one hand pressed to the sidewalk and one over his chest—directly over a spot of determined walnut-brown that was bleeding into his shiny halo. A nearby streetlamp shone directly into his eyes; making them shine like polished sapphires. The light glossed his fine hair as well; making the blond appear as pale as his halo. He had high cheekbones, a long nose, and swooping brows, along with the radiant complexion his kind were known for—a step away from being an actual inner-glow. He was exceptionally handsome, but that was common for Triari. He was also tall—just a foot shorter than me on his knees—with a body on the athletic side but not what I would call muscular; more water polo player than wrestler. My gaze lowered to the gold pin on his lapel; a symbol of three sets of wings joined together and splayed out so that one set pointed up, one went straight out, and one angled down. The Trinity Wings.
“An Arc?” I asked with shock and horror.
Arcs were nearly the highest order of the Host—the Triari military—one rank beneath the Princes who were, in turn, just beneath their King. And no; there’s no H in Arc—silent or otherwise. Although, I suppose it’s the least of what humans got wrong about them. Arcs were only sent on the most dangerous or important missions, and I had one on his knees before me. That was bad. Very bad.
I released his aura and backed away warily.
“How did you do that?” He whispered in a low voice that I inappropriately found to be sexy.
“What do you want?” I countered.
“Just to talk.” He held out his hands in the universal I-don’t-want-to-hurt-you gesture.
I didn’t believe it for a second.
“Then why are you stalking me like a miscreant?” I asked as I lifted my chin in challenge.
The Arc’s lips twitched and his shoulders relaxed. “After watching you mess up that other miscreant, I wasn’t sure how to approach you.”
“You saw no such thing,” I said calmly. “All I did was startle the man. He must have been on the verge of a mental breakdown.”
“So, he was about to rape that woman, but because you startled him, he lost his mind completely and then fell into an exhausted slumber?” He asked with a wave back toward the alley and the sleeping rapist within.
The sound of a lone police siren cut through the quiet. I glanced down the street and grimaced; that would be the cavalry. When you want them there, they take forever, but when you needed them to take their time, they were suddenly punctual. Go figure.
“Let’s get into the Market, and then we can talk,” I said irritably.
“Don’t want to deal with the authorities?” He said the last word as if it were laughable than anyone could have authority higher than his own.
“Not particularly.” I started walking crisply toward the Market’s entrance.
The Triari came abreast of me and looked me up and down.
“You’re not what I expected,” he murmured.
I glanced down at my Chanel suit and frowned as I brushed a piece of lint off it. “Since I have no idea why you’re stalking me, I can’t decide whether or not to be offended.”
“You’re lovely,” he said with a grin. “Sophisticated. You speak with a refined accent. I expected someone a little more… casual.”
“Casual?” I lifted a brow. “I can be casual. You just happened to accost me on my way home from work.”
“I did not accost you.” He rolled his eyes. “In fact, I believe I was the one who was attacked.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I sniffed as I passed beneath the red, Chinese arch that led into the Supermarket.
Red is a very powerful color; it gives off energy and boosts sexual desire. It’s the perfect color for a charmed entryway. As we passed beneath it, the sound of the approaching siren faded and the dull drone of the Supermarket replaced it. Not that the Market was noisy; it just had a sound and a feel of its own. The Supermarket was active twenty-four-seven; supes had all sorts of sleeping habits and peak hours so there were always people strolling about the streets. I instantly felt safer; the Triari wouldn’t attack me out in the open in front of so many witnesses. But I didn’t want to lead him to my home either.
I stopped walking and turned to face him.
“How about a drink?” He offered with a wave of his hand toward the nearest establishment.
The establishment happened to be a bar called The Wilds; my favorite hangout due to several reasons but the top one being that I was raised in it. My foster father owned the bar, and I didn’t want to bring the Triari there during one of his busiest times of night.
“I’d rather not,” I said disdainfully.
“Too classy for a bar?” He asked with a grin.
“Too tired, darling,” I corrected. “How about a coffee instead?” I indicated a diner across the street.
Mama’s Diner—affectionately referred to as Mama Mutant’s Diner—was situated perfectly; as most businesses in the Market were. More often than not, supes would go drinking at The Wilds and then stumble across the street to gobble down some greasy nourishment before they headed home to sleep it off.
“Coffee is fine,” the Arc agreed.