A/N: So, this will be my first entirely original posting. I have posted on FFNet, but never on Fiction Press before. Forgive me while I figure things out.
This story is obviously influenced by both the show "Supernatural" and the fictional works of Amelia Atwater Rhodes.
Please enjoy. Stories like this I write simply for fun, since they so obviously draw from ideas I've seen or read in other places. I'll do my best to work in as many original twists as I can, but I won't lie that the muse started elsewhere, lol. I appreciate reviews, particularly in regards to plot holes. Grammar I worry about a little less, since I just write for the fun of it.
Jagged Little Angels – Chapter One
"Fire and Brimstone"
Smoke poured down the hall, making his eyes sting and his chest burn, his throat attempting to seize in protest.
He checked the bodies he encountered as quickly as possible, but he was starting to think Cooper had been wrong, that there was in fact no one left alive in this end of the compound.
This section was a confusing labyrinth of hallways on a good day, and the haze and wreckage were far from helping.
His mind was as chaotic as his surroundings-who was attacking them?
Was it only this compound? How had they known all the Alpha teams were dispatched only a few hours ago, leaving the Archer compounds protected by only a skeleton crew of B-team members and free-lance hunters brought in to help handle the normal work load while the strike teams ran the coordinated assaults?
From up ahead, gunshots echoed, and he quickened his pace, bending as he ran, both to avoid the smoke as well as to make himself a smaller target.
His amulet burned dully against his chest, a smoldering coal in the dimness.
He could barely reconcile the war zone around him with the calm and orderly compound he'd grown up in the last three years.
Finally he spied someone, a girl perhaps a year or two younger than him, crouched in the recess of a doorway, aiming sure but measured shots down the hallway in the direction opposite of where he was coming, obviously low on ammo.
"Please tell me you're an Archer?" She stage hissed over her shoulder as he crouched beside her. Her dark hair was a tumbled mess around her face, and she tossed it impatiently out of her eyes again as she took another shot.
"Depends on who you're shooting at?" He hissed back, racking his brain to place her features, but he didn't recognize her.
A free-lance hunter picking up a job assignment, the wrong place at the wrong time?
An Archer cousin from a satellite compound he hadn't met before (Since the Archer families numbered in the thousands, this was quite possible).
Or an enemy taking advantage of the chaos and confusion.
"Whoever the hell is shooting at me. Who I'm assuming are not Archers, unless the hospitality around here has gone way downhill!"
They both ducked at the staccato clatter of bullets hitting the door frame just over their heads.
"I'm Rhys." He said, pulling his Archer stone out from around his neck for her to see, hoping she'd show hers in reciprocation.
"There are two people pinned in the library still." She said instead, angling her body to speak into his ear. "Lanky guy and a blonde."
"Cooper said there were people stuck." Rhys agreed.
She jerked her head impatiently in the direction of the attackers. "I can't get past these fucks and I wasn't sure anyone else was coming. There another way to the library?"
Rhys shook his head grimly. "No."
"Shit. Okay, straight through then." She said, clenching her jaw.
"We need a distraction" Rhys said, wracking his brain for a way to disconcert their attackers.
The smoke was growing thicker by the second, tears making silent tracks down both his and the girl's soot stained faces. The heat was beyond intense, like being inside an oven.
"On it." The girl said with a nod, standing and Rhys realized with a start that she was holding a new gun.
One that looked a lot like his back up piece. His hand flew to his ankle holster, and yes, it was indeed empty.
"There's three left in mine. Give me a ten count and make those bullets COUNT". She ordered and Rhys wondered when the hell he had lost total control of the situation.
"Wait, what are you going to do-" But she was already gone, down the hall, returning the enemy fire with an almost cool detachment.
"She's nuts!" He whispered to himself as he sprang after her, hugging the wall, dodging bullets and debris. A part of him wanted to go after the kamikaze hunter, but concern for the two people still trapped in the library made him press forward.
He had to force his way through the door, past a fallen part of what looked like the roof of the library. One of the original bombs must has been near here. They had obviously been small, or there wouldn't have been any building left at all, but they'd been well placed.
They'd done their intended damage admirably.
A boy he'd seen once or twice before was crouched over a fallen figure, gun pointed threateningly in Rhys's direction.
"Archer!" Rhys called, jerking his necklace up again for good measure, though by now the library was so smoky he doubted the guy could see it.
He must have, though, because after a tense second he jerked a nod. "She's awake, more or less, but her leg's pinned. Every time I try to get in place to move it, somebody takes a shot at me!"
"Someone's covering us, but we've got to move!" Rhys shouted, crouching beside him. Now he could see the girl's face and he sucked in his breath.
She was pale, soot and blood marring her even features, but she was awake, like the guy had said, and she grinned weakly at him.
"Hey, Rhys…" She managed before coughing.
"Hey gorgeous, let's get you out of here!" He nodded at the other guy, and as one they simultaneous lifted the beam off of Nora.
She grimaced, but immediately started trying to gain her feet. Rhys whipped his t-shirt off, doing his best to tie it in a makeshift bandage around Nora's leg. The bleeding wasn't bad, but she was far from steady.
"Can you get her out on your…own?" He said, nearly choking on the last words as a coughing fit overcame him.
If not for his Archer stone, he'd have already been in deep trouble.
"Where are you going?" Nora protested weakly.
"I got to go get our cover!" He shouted back, glancing quickly outside the door to the library to make sure it was clear before ushering them out.
"Better Hurry! This place only has a few more minutes!" The guy said, scooping Nora up without further ado. Though he was built lanky, he was obviously in good shape, and her weight didn't seem to pose an issue for him.
Regan fired her second to last shot (unless she had miscounted, the bullet misfired, or her day got worse…)
She was once again tucked into a recessed doorway, though this time she was significantly closer to the location of one of the original bombs. The smoke was much thicker here, and every breath was a battle. She'd sunk low to the ground, one hand pressed to the wound on her side.
She hated getting shot.
She needed to start making her way back, if she hadn't given the Archer guy enough time to get his people out, then they were just screwed, because she was out of bullets, out of time and out of energy. The world had started going in and out of focus, and of all the stupid, stupid things, her phone had just pinged her.
She had a new text, apparently.
A figure suddenly hurtled out of the smoke, looming over her and she nearly spent her last bullet before recognizing the hunter from earlier. His Archer stone was gleaming dully against his chest, the blood wards laid upon it obviously working overtime as they attempted to shield their charge.
"Let's move!" He said, pulling her to her feet. She wavered for a moment before steadying. His eyes widened a little when he saw her hand pressed to her side.
"Are you hit?" He said as they began maneuvering around the fallen debris.
"Just….a…..graze". She gasped, before coughing. "Keep Going."
She hoped he'd keep a hold on her hand, because she still wasn't seeing too well, and had no idea where an exit was at this point.
Mal would have had a fit if he knew she'd let herself get lost, but she comforted herself with the thought that if she died, it wouldn't matter, and if she made it, she sure as hell wasn't telling him.
A bullet blasted into the wall directly to the left of her, and both she and the Archer dropped, Regan wincing as her side screamed in protest.
Archer (as her oxygen-deprived mind) had started to refer to him, fired a shot back, and then there was silence.
She was glad he'd managed to finally drop the guy (or girl, or ghoul), but flames were dancing along both walls of the hallway, the air pitch black with smoke.
She managed to make it to her feet one last time, but even Archer didn't seem to know which way to turn, the flames were everywhere now.
And then, by some miracle (and with her upbringing, she tended to avoid that word whenever possible), the sprinkler system in their section of the hallway finally came on.
"Rain in the forecast." She mumbled haphazardly, drops of water mixing with the soot and tears as it raced down her face. It was like a rainstorm trying to put out a volcano.
She jerked, trying to right herself as she started to pitch to the side. The water was meant to be helpful, but it seemed to be making the smoke worse, and her lungs cried out for clean air.
Archer wasted no time, scooping her up in his arms and sprinting down the hall. An exit sign came up on the right and he kicked it open with breaking stride and she had to give it to the Archers, because they were raising some rather impressive heroes when they weren't being blown up.
Cooper surveyed the wreckage grimly. Outside was little better than in.
Shots could still be heard in the distance, and all around them the various buildings were burning. Over half the cars in the lot were missing, taken with the strike teams hours before. The majority of what remained were useless, either on fire or badly damaged.
The entire compound had been thoroughly ambushed.
He had seen Nika pull out only a few moments before, a handful a scared faces peering back at him through the windows and he prayed she'd been able to get all the little kids out. There had been less than a dozen young children here, most were at the main compound near Atlanta, but there had been some.
Nika was obviously heading for one of the safe houses, and he would happily do the same, once he found the others.
"What the hell are we waiting for, dude?" The girl beside him gritted out angrily. He'd tied her jacket around her arm as best as he could, a sorry excuse for a sling, but by his guess her arm was fractured.
And Carly wasn't exactly the patient type at the best of times.
"There were others still inside." He replied, eyes still flitting desperately back and forth between the two most likely exits. Nora, Rhys and the new girl, Regan, were all inside, as well as another guy who Cooper had never met himself, but thought perhaps was one of the free-lancers who had been coming in over the past few days.
A cursebreaker, maybe…
"If they're not out by now, they're not coming!" Carly snapped, pain making her voice harsh.
"We're still under attack, we need to go!" She added.
Gravel crunched behind them and they both spun, guns raising (and boy, Cooper hoped Carly didn't see his hand shaking).
A huge guy, easily six four with shoulders twice the width of Cooper's was standing, body braced to fight. A much slighter figure stood behind him, and Cooper relaxed a little when he recognized her.
Leigh exhaled, obviously recognizing him also. "It's Okay, Dom. He's an Archer." She said, starting around the big guy.
"I don't know who the hell attacked us." The guy growled.
Now Cooper recognized the surly tone, even if it took him a second to place the face that went with it. They were all battered and soot stained, but Dominic Travers was…memorable, to say the least.
And not one of his favorite people at the best of times, which this clearly wasn't.
Leigh sighed. "Well it wasn't Cooper and Carly." She frowned at him. "Who are you waiting for?"
Cooper bit his lip. "There's still people inside." He admitted, knowing Dom wasn't the type to wait patiently while they were being shot at.
"Shit." Dom swore. "They're probably dead."
"Exactly." Carly chimed in behind him and Cooper actually found himself fantasizing for one moment shaking her until her beautiful little head rattled.
"Look!" Leigh said, drawing his attention to the far end of the compound. Three weapons shot in that direction but lowered just as quickly as a lanky boy emerged, helping a limping blonde girl.
"That's Nora!" Cooper cried, looking anxiously beyond them to the burning building. It could only be described as an inferno now, a stark silhouette against the starless sky.
Dom ran towards Nora and the other guy immediately, he was a jerk but obviously not a coward. Cooper brushed the still trickling blood out of his own eyes as he peered back the way they had came.
Just two left.
"Come on Rhys…." He muttered, worrying his bottom lip with his teeth. He could taste ash and blood, a sickening combination.
The lanky guy was gasping, sweat sheening his face. "A guy, an Archer. Went back after someone else."
"Regan." Cooper supplied without thinking, still searching for the last two. The others were right, they couldn't afford to wait any longer, they were sitting ducks where they crouched, the wrecked cars providing scant cover.
"Any of these still work?" The tall guy asked.
"This one." Carly said, leaning against the remaining SUV. "Cooper has the keys."
"Let's move. We have more injuries than ammo. We need to get to the safe house. If there's anyone left here, that's what they'll do, too." Dom ordered.
Cooper's lips thinned as he struggled internally. He knew Dom was right, but he'd let Regan go back without him, and then sent Rhys after her, which made him-
"There they are!" He cried, relief washing over him.
Rhys was carrying someone, a slight figure, and judging by what he could see of her clothes under the soot, it looked like Regan.
"What do we got?" Rhys ordered as he jogged up. He'd obviously been carrying the girl for a while, but it didn't seem to have fazed him much, as he joined the circle, still holding her in his arms.
The girl was coughing more than she seemed to be inhaling at this point, and Cooper could see small, sluggish drops of blood falling from her body as she struggled for breath in Rhys's arms.
"She's hurt." He said, going over to them.
"We all are. We need to move." Dom said, gesturing at the SUV.
Rhys nodded, looking down at the girl in his arms.
"Can you stand now?" Rhys asked, brows lowered as he studied her.
She nodded tiredly, and Cooper moved over to help support her. He could see Rhys looking them over, quickly but efficiently trying to determine who needed what the most. The SUV was large, but eight would be a tight fit regardless.
"Nora, let's get you in the back where we can put pressure on your leg. Dom, you too. Don't let her jostle too much, keep pressure on the wound. You-" He looked at the tall inquiringly.
"Barnes." The lanky kid supplied shortly, and Rhys studied him a second longer before nodding.
"Okay, Barnes, you're shotgun. If someone shoots at us, shoot back. Should be a 9mm in the glove box, . Leigh, you next to Carly, help her keep her arm stable. Cooper, sit in the backseat with, Christ…I don't know your name either." He rubbed his head suddenly as he faced the girl he had carried out of the fire.
"Regan." Cooper said for her, as it still seemed hard for her to talk. She leaned heavily against him for a moment before straightening and facing Rhys.
"Regan." She agreed, her voice a husky ruin compared to when Cooper had first met her only a few hours (had it even been that long?) before.
"Right, Regan. Cooper, you sit next to Regan, keep pressure on her side. We can triage everyone better at the safe house, but for now we have to get there."
They climbed in the vehicle quickly, Cooper helping Regan with her belt, before belated realizing he should belt himself in too. If they had to start driving…defensively, he would be glad he remembered.
"Which one are we going to?" Nora asked as Dom carefully situated her in the back, climbing with surprising gentleness around her until he was situated in a way that he could support her leg.
"The Connor's Ford location." Rhys answered immediately, and Cooper frowned.
"That's over an hour away, there's at least two closer." He argued, thinking about the injuries they had. Regan's side, Carly's arm, Nora's leg. His own head needed stitches, he could tell, and he's noticed Dom favoring his own leg when he'd climbed in beside Nora.
Rhys shook his head. "Connor's Ford is smaller." He climbed behind the wheel, checking to make sure everyone was situated before turning over the engine.
Their attackers seemed to have disappeared as quickly as they'd appeared, but Rhys drove swiftly anyway, not taking any chances. Cooper glanced anxiously out the windows as they pulled away, but the villains seemed to have melted away into the darkness.
"Think about it. An attack that big, no back up appearing, no one calling us…." Rhys began.
"And the Archer stones lighting up like lightbulbs." Dom added from the behind Cooper.
Cooper swallowed, dread curling in his stomach. "You don't think our compound was the only one attacked, do you. You think the safe houses are compromised?"
"Maybe." Rhys allowed after a moment. "The stones don't usually light up like this unless a large portion of the family is in danger. Mine lit up before the first explosion, not once the fire started. Who knows how many hunters are heading for the safe houses. At best, they'll be crowded, by my count, the lot we just left was missing six cars plus the one we took."
Cooper thought that through. "Okay, so six other groups got out. Yeah, okay, I saw one. Nika and some kids."
Rhys seemed to relax a little at that. "Thank god for small favors." He said.
"The safe houses aren't meant to take on everyone at once. No single one is big enough. There won't be enough supplies." Rhys drove resolutely, and Cooper could only admire his calm.
"Assuming they weren't hit, too." Cooper said morosely.
Rhys nodding, agreeing silently.
Cooper swallowed, his conversation with Rhys swirling in his head. Could Rhys be right? This was obviously a well-planned attack, but had it been coordinated also? Had the other compounds been hit? What about the strike teams?
Trying to take his mind off his grim suppositions, he turned to Regan. His eyes widened a little when he once again noticed the blood seeping under her fingers. He pulled his shirt over his head, looking at her for permission before quickly lifting her hand and replacing it with his own shirt.
It certainly wasn't clean, but it would offer more pressure than her equally dirty hand. She barely seemed to notice, she was staring at her phone screen with a kind of intent exhaustion.
"You know…" Cooper started awkwardly. "I never caught your last name."
"Huh?" She glanced at him in confusion, hey eyes over bright in her smoke smudged face.
"Oh, uh, Michaels. Regan Michaels."