The Shadows(Black Dagger Brotherhood, book 13)(59) by J.R.Ward
Twisting around, he checked out the rear window. Blue and white flashing lights were speeding along, but the cops were cutting across their path instead of following—which would give them a pass for only a block or two before the CPD pulled a recalibration of their own.
Shit, how were they going to get out of this?
Before he knew it, Fritz had them down by the river, but not on a road. Instead of taking one of the legal routes, he popped yet another curb and began to fly directly under the raised highway. Pylons the size of redwoods passed by the windows, the doggen playing dodge-’em car, jogging left and right like a runner in an obstacle course.
No one was behind them, but they could hardly keep this up indefinitely. The Northway, which was what was overhead, was going to rejoin the earth—
Sure enough, the descent from up above started to happen, and at such a velocity, Trez became convinced they were going to mash-potato themselves into the coming horizontal asphalt merger.
Except, no. Fritz jerked out from underneath, riding a ridge of pavement around to the roads that ran parallel to the Hudson. Somehow, he managed to get them in between a break in the guardrails and then, justlikethat, they were on an exit ramp that would take them onto the highway in the right direction.
Heading away from town.
Trez waited for a lineup of CPD units with their lights going all Fourth of July to fall in behind them.
Instead, he saw a fleet of those boys in blue tearing it up on the other side of the Northway, heading to the site of all the fun and games.
Fritz slowed down and put his lights back on. Pulled into the stream of traffic. Floated away at a modest seventy miles an hour.
“How the hell did you do that?” Trez said with H2G respect.
“Humans are rather easy to lose. They tend to track lights, rather like cats with a laser pointer. Without the illumination? It gives one a serious advantage—well, that and possessing twice their horsepower.”
Trez turned to his queen. “You okay—”
Selena reached over and pulled his mouth in for a kiss. And another. “What a night! That was the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me!”
Adrenaline quickly transferred into lust as he kissed her back and pressed her into her seat. Licking his way into her mouth, he found one of her breasts with his hand.
“Should I tell him to gas it again?” Trez growled against her mouth. “’Cuz I don’t think I can wait…”
“We’ll be home soon,” she murmured, smiling. “And I like anticipation. I’ve been hungry for you since the ride in.”
Trez groaned deep in his throat as he reached for the button to raise the partition. “Fritz?”
“A little faster, if you don’t mind.”
“My pleasure, sire!”
Shortly after Xcor and Balthazar made yet another running turn in the maze of alleys, Xcor was hit by something so big and so hard, he was totally stunned as he went airborne, the world spinning whilst he stayed steady—or, more likely, he was the one going ’round about.
In mid-air, he braced for a nasty impact—but for some absolutely stupid reason, he landed on his combat boots. It was a hole-in-one kind of thing—and not a blessing that would last, given his momentum. To keep from falling to the ground, he sprang forward, trying to continue his run.
Something was very wrong. His legs weren’t working right a’tall.
Scrambling to stay upright, he was dimly aware of Balthazar shouting his name, and then suddenly, his soldier was right beside him, grabbing onto his arm and dragging him forth.
In the back of his mind, he sensed a presence departing the enormous vehicle in the manner of a vampire. And then the sound of the bullet impacts changed. High-pitched pings replaced the lower-register noises of lead burrowing into brick, asphalt, stone.
The lessers had come across that RV.
Which meant he and Balthazar had a second or two of greater coverage, and Balthazar took advantage of it. With a hard yank, Xcor felt his entire body get pulled off-track.
And then a moment later, he was behind some large structure.
No, a second vehicle—or something. Indeed, it was a gigantic square box with some kind of writing on the side.
P … O … D … S …
His overactive brain traced the shapes of the red letters, but the pattern they made meant nothing to him. What did register clearly?
They were about to get a clean shot.
He lifted his gun at the same time Balthazar did.
Forcing his lungs to cease their greedy gasping, he waited … waited … waited …
The shower of bullets grew louder and louder as the shooters proceeded toward them. And so caught up were the slayers in their noisemaking and their pursuit, neither of them bothered to slow down as they came up to the cover that worked so well—and continued forward.
With unspoken agreement, Xcor took the one on the left whilst Balthazar trained in on the right.
Two bullets. Not two thousand.
Two very well-placed forty-millimeter bullets square in the backs pitched both of the shooters forward, face-first into the dirty pavement.
“I have them,” Balthazar barked, switching out his gun for his daggers.
Xcor would have argued, but he was beginning to feel the extent of his wounds.
Bali leaped out, his blades flashing. He hit the closest one first, a great explosion of light turning the alley into noontime. With nary a pause, he rolled off and stabbed the second shooter. Recoiling away during the second illumination, the soldier managed to reholster the daggers and grab both of the AKs before …
… that massive vehicle, the one that had hit Xcor, came barreling down the alley.
Balthazar ran back for cover, slamming his shoulders into the metal cube, and the two of them stared straight ahead, freezing in place as the thing left the area.
But the fun and games weren’t over quite yet.
They needed to calm …
… down …
Dematerializing out of downtown was the only way they were going to get out of here: Sirens from the humans’ police cars were growing louder and louder, and then headlights appeared down at the end of the alley, their brilliant illumination making shadows out of everything.
“Go,” Xcor ordered, knowing his soldier was in far better shape than he.
“Not on your life.”
“To tarry here with me may be on yours.”
“Then we shall die together.”
As Xcor inhaled and exhaled deeply, trying to slow his heart rate and ease off his blood pressure, the smell of heated metal and gunpowder tingled in his nose along with the diesel fumes from that vehicle and the lingering nasty stench of the slayers’ sweat and incinerations.
His legs were killing him, both of them. At this rate, the pain was becoming such that he was going to have to sit down—or pass out.
The police cars zoomed by, going at breakneck speed, one … two … three of them in quick succession, their noise and strobing lights going on a fade as they passed.
There would be more. And the next wave would be slower, in recon rather than pursuit mode.
“How badly are you hit?” Balthazar demanded.
He wanted to lie. “My legs are a problem. One is shot, the other likely broken.”
“When was the last time you fed. From a female, that is?”
Months and months. Since he had first met Layla. Her ultra-pure blood had sustained him for a record amount of time, and when the strength had finally begun to fade, he had taken the veins of deer he hunted in the forest without telling his males he had resorted to such.
But Bali knew. They all must have known.
“That long, indeed,” his soldier grumbled.
Xcor looked around, not about to take the conversation further. Across the way, there was a fire escape, but he lacked the strength to drag himself up there at a sufficient speed, and he would not be able to dematerialize.
“Go,” he said to Balthazar.
“You can do this.”
“I have not the strength to make it back to—”
Balthazar pointed up. “There. The roof. That is as far as you must go.”
Barking dogs. At least two of them. At the head of the alley.
Ah, yes, the humans had brought in noses worthy of a search. As opposed to the lame ones on their pitiful faces.
“You must,” Balthazar said. “Just that far. And no farther.”
Xcor traced the way up the fire escape, past the series of windows, up some fifteen floors. It could be worse, he supposed.
Closing his eyes, he knew it wasn’t going to work. “I want you to go. That is an order.”
“I shall not—”
Xcor raised a tired arm and slapped his soldier across the face. In a weary voice, he said, “The others need organization and tending to. You are it. Go—and take those guns with you. They are valuable. Go! Someone must lead them!”
Balthazar was still swearing as he disappeared … and the dogs came ever closer to Xcor’s position. With the fresh scent of his spilled and ever-welling blood, they would find him in a matter of seconds.
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