Eleven: City of Angels (and Demons)

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A/N: I'm aware the picture is of New York, and the chapter title is Los Angeles. The feel of it was right, though, so just pretend that there's no Empire State in the background :P

My first thought upon entering the city is simple.

We're going to die.

Behind us are Dakros and his people, and in front of us are three Burned that we can see. Who knows how many are behind them!

The Burned see us running towards, unsheathing massacre weapons, preparing to take our lives. I glance backwards, at the oncoming cloud of dust, and then forwards again. With a yell akin to a battle cry, Kyros flings the gun over his shoulder into his hands, screaming like a demon as he opens fire. Not ten feet away, the Burned people's eyes widen in surprise. They weren't expecting him to shoot. Holes from the bullets patter against their flesh, spurting blood all over the place as they collapse in pools of red. Titus merely stares at Kyros in horror, while Thea is transfixed by the massacre before us.

I glance backwards, and then at the city before us.

"Kyros..." I start, but he cuts me off.

"I hear it! Get inside!" he yells, icy eyes transfixed on his mission as he rushes us into a nearby building. Climbing over rubble and avoiding missing chunks of flooring, we climb higher and higher. The staircase we run through is littered with destroyed pieces of the building, a staple to remind of us the danger we face here.

Kyros' gun is trained in front of him, his nervous eyes scanning every turn of the staircase before allowing us to proceed. I glance down the stairwell, finding no sign of any life. With a trembling hand, I pull the handgun from the holster at my side, pulling it off of safety. As I turn, Mikhail's hand laces with my own.

"Relax. We'll get out of this. Promise," he whispers, placing a hand on my cheek to steady me. I merely stare at him blankly for a few moments, unsure of his words.

"Listen. If they come for us, I'll get in the way first. I'll protect you," he whispers, and I close my eyes momentarily, hands still shaking. Part of me wants to tell him I'll be fine, that I can defend myself. The other part cannot force words out of my mouth. My eyes snap open, and I raise an eyebrow as I force a smile.

"You die first, and I'll kill you myself," I whisper, letting out a nervous chuckle. With a grin, he starts up the stairs again.

"There's my girl. Come on, now."

Kyros stops by a broken doorframe, leading us into what used to be someone's apartment. Rubble and concrete dust line the floor, and some dead vines lace along the windows. We've walked into what used to be someone's living room. Three long abandoned couches are in the middle of the room, only their frame and the odd wisp of cotton remaining. A small metal table is by the side of it, a set of dust-covered keys on top of it. A cracked television is fallen on the floor, fallen from a wooden desk that had long since rotted away.

The feeling I get from this place is surreal, like we're disturbing the final resting place of the innocents. I almost want to throw up when I think of who might have lived here. A young couple with a baby girl, perhaps. An old woman and her daughter who could barely scrape by to survive.

This place is a snapshot of stories, a graveyard untouched until now.

We spread out through the house, and I decide to follow Callie and Felix. We enter the kitchen, where a fridge and oven are still intact. The granite countertop collapsed after its wooden support rotted away, leaving it in cracked fragments on the ground. Drawers ripped out by these people in their final moments leave heavily rusted silverware spilled all over the house.

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