Home > Hellion (Relentless #7)(4)

Hellion (Relentless #7)(4)
Author: Karen Lynch

More sloshing came from the toilet. It didn’t take being a warrior to know that puking up something that moved was a very bad thing.

I reached for my clutch on the vanity and pulled out my phone to send off a text to Mason. Trouble in restroom. Human down. Call for backup.

His reply came thirty seconds later. On my way.

Stuffing my phone back into the clutch, I grabbed the folded karambit I carried when I went clubbing. My dresses didn’t leave any room for concealed weapons, but I’d seen enough in my life to know I’d have to be an idiot to go out unarmed.

The curved silver blade was only three inches long, but I could do damage with that. Gripping it in one hand, I placed myself between the unconscious woman and the stall. I wanted to know what that thing in the toilet was, but my main priority was to protect the human until backup arrived.

Water splashed again, followed by a scraping sound. Before I could register that the thing was trying to climb out of the toilet, I heard a wet plop on the tile floor.

An ominous silence filled the room. I didn’t breathe.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught movement, and I jerked my head to the right in time to see a black tentacle appear under the neighboring stall door.

I barely had time to react before the creature came flying at me. I sidestepped the attack, and the thing crashed hard into the mirror, sending glass raining down on the vanity.

A shapeless black glob landed in one of the sinks. I raised my knife and took a step toward the vanity. At the same time, the restroom door started to open. I shouted a warning as the creature launched from the sink toward the door.

My arm moved without conscious thought, and my knife sailed across the room. The blade struck the creature and pinned it to the wall, inches from Mason’s startled face. Impaled on the blade, the thing thrashed violently and went still as smoke poured from its body.

Mason hurried into the room and shut the door, his eyes never leaving the creature. “What the hell is that?”

“No idea, but my guess is it’s a demon.”

He scanned the room, taking in the damage. “Where did it come from?”

I pointed to the woman on the floor. “It came out of her.”

His eyes went wide. “Shit. Is she dead?”

“She was alive last I checked, but God knows what that thing did to her.” I studied the demon that had stopped moving, but I couldn’t make out a shape. It was a blob with tentacles. I saw a curved black claw on the end of one tentacle.

Someone banged on the door, and Mason put his hand against it to prevent them from coming in. He looked at me. “I called for backup, but we won’t be able to keep people out of here for long.”

His meaning was clear. We had to get rid of the demon before the humans saw it. It was too big to flush, and I had a feeling Raoul was going to want to see this one. I could stuff it in the garbage, but what if it wasn’t dead and it attacked someone else? Or one of the humans found it?

I grimaced when I realized there was only one place I could hide the thing so we could get it out of here. I dumped my phone and cash from my clutch and carried it over to the door. Grasping the handle of my knife, I yanked it out of the wall and dropped the demon into the purse. I had to use paper towels to get all the tentacles inside because no way was I touching that thing if I could help it. It was a tight squeeze, but I managed to squish the demon into the clutch.

Once the demon was safely tucked away, I handed my knife to Mason, and he put it in his pocket. Then I motioned for him to stop blocking the door.

A bouncer in a black club T-shirt was the first one to enter the room, and he came up short at the sight before him. “What’s going on in here?” he demanded, no doubt wondering why Mason was in the women’s restroom.

I put one hand to my chest and pointed to the unconscious woman with the other. “She was throwing up, and then she went into convulsions and broke the mirror.”

Moving past Mason, the bouncer crouched to check on the woman. “What is this black stuff? And what is that god-awful smell?”

“I think a toilet backed up,” I said innocently. I hoped he didn’t push the matter because I had no good answer for him.

He stood and spoke into a wireless radio attached to his ear. “Call nine-one-one. We have a possible OD.”

More club staff poured into the room, and I motioned to Mason that we should leave. We slipped past the crowd outside the restroom and exited by the club’s rear door. Before I left, I looked back and found the man I’d danced with. He was still where I’d left him and looking at his watch. I felt a stab of disappointment as I turned away and followed Mason outside.

Raoul and Brock were the first to arrive, and they met up with us in the parking lot of the building next to Suave. I gave them a rundown of what had happened in the restroom, and Mason added the part where he’d come in.

By the time we’d finished recounting our story, a white van pulled in and Jon’s team got out. I used to share a safehouse with them when I first came to Los Angeles, so we knew each other well.

Jon, a big blond Norwegian whom I’d nicknamed Thor, grinned at me. “Why am I not surprised to see you? Causing trouble again?”

“Just saving the world. Same old, same old.” I waved at the van. “You have a cleanup kit in there?”

“Yah, what do you need?” he said.

I held up my clutch. “Something to store this thing in.”

He eyed the purse. “What is it?”

“Dead demon. At least, I think it’s dead.”

That got everyone’s attention, and they came closer as Jon reached into the van and lifted out a large bin. From the bin, he took a thick plastic bag, which he held up to me. I walked over to him and unclasped my purse, dumping the demon into the bag. Jon immediately sealed it and placed it inside a silver mesh sack as an extra precaution. If the demon was playing possum, it would not be able to break free of its confinement.

Raoul took the bag from Jon, turning it over in his hands and staring at the demon for a long moment. “This came out of the woman?”

“Yes.” I waited for him to say something else, but he just continued to study the demon.

“Do you know what it is?” Mason asked him.

Raoul wore a puzzled expression when he looked at us. “It looks like a Hurra demon, but that’s not possible.”

I looked from Raoul to the demon. “Are they not usually found in North America?”

He frowned. “They aren’t found anywhere on Earth because they were eradicated three centuries ago.”

“Whoa.” Mason’s eyes rounded, and I’m sure his shocked expression mirrored mine.

Raoul rubbed his chin. “We need to get it back to the lab for identification before we report this.”

“And if you’re right about what it is?” I asked him.

His eyes met mine. “Then we have a serious problem.”

Chapter 2

“Any word yet?” I sank down on one of the visitor chairs in Raoul’s office. Mason took the other chair.

Raoul looked up from his laptop. “Should hear something soon.”

Once we had gotten back to the command center, we’d taken the demon to the medical ward that had been set up in the old guesthouse. At any given time, there could be up to two dozen warriors in southern California, so the powers that be had seen the need for a full-time medical staff at the house. We had two healers who also ran a small lab in the ward. The lab wasn’t as sophisticated as one you’d find at a stronghold, but it worked in a pinch. Like now. Instead of having to send the demon to the nearest stronghold for identification, the healers could run a genetic test in our very own lab.

I tapped my fingers on the arms of my chair. “While we’re waiting, can you tell us what a Hurra demon is? Must be bad for us to kill them all off.” I decided not to point out that we’d obviously failed in that endeavor.

Raoul leaned back in his chair. “A Hurra demon is a parasitic middle demon. Outside of the demon dimension, it can only survive inside a human host.”

“Like a Vamhir demon,” I said.

“Or a Mori,” Mason added.

Raoul nodded. “Closer to a Vamhir demon. A Hurra demon takes control of the host, and it feeds off the flesh of other humans. But unlike a vampire, the host body will deteriorate and die within a year of infection, so the demon has to find a new host.”

I made a face. “A demon zombie. Nice.”

Raoul nodded. “It’s actually where some of the zombie lore started. Fortunately for us, the Hurra can’t reproduce outside of their dimension, which made it easier to wipe them out.”

So how did this one get here? I wondered. Demons couldn’t just pass from their dimension to ours. About two millennia ago, something happened to create a hole in the barrier between Earth and the demon dimension, and thousands of demons escaped to our world. According to our legends, angels fixed the breach and created the Mohiri to hunt the more dangerous demons, like vampires. But by then, the demons had started multiplying and there was no way to get them all.

The only way a demon could cross the barrier now was by a summoning ritual performed by magic wielders such as warlocks and shamans. Only upper demons could be summoned, and only in non-corporeal form. Physical matter could not pass through the barrier.

The demon I’d bagged tonight had definitely been in solid form. If it was in fact a Hurra demon, then we obviously hadn’t killed them all off.

I voiced my thoughts and Raoul nodded gravely. “Good question. Maybe I’m wrong.”

“You’re not wrong,” said a voice from the doorway.

I looked over my shoulder at the red-haired healer standing there. George, who usually wore a pleasant smile, was as serious as I’d ever seen him.

He stepped into the office. “Leslie and I ran a DNA sample against the database and found a match. It’s a Hurra demon. We’re sending it off to the lab at Valstrom for further analysis.”

Raoul nodded and reached for his phone. “I need to notify the Council immediately.”

“Wait.” I held up a hand to stop him. “I don’t understand. If a Hurra demon stays in a host until it’s worn out, why did that girl throw up this one? She looked pretty healthy…except for the whole puking thing.”

“I think I know the answer to that,” George said. “I spoke to one of my contacts at Cedars where they took the girl. He said she had lupus. I don’t know how she came in contact with the demon, but I believe her body rejected it.”

“She didn’t make it?” I asked.

George shook his head. “She died in the ambulance.”

I slumped in my chair. That poor girl. What a horrible way to go.

“Jordan,” Raoul said almost apologetically. “I know it’s been a crazy night, but the Council is going to want a thorough account of what happened at the club. Can you write up the report while I make this call?”

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