Chapter XLIX

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Jason drove the Suburban down another dusty, rutted trail meandering its way through the Mojave.

"Good lord, there's more bumps on this one than the last!" Carter said as the SUV hit another deep rut in the path, tossing the vehicle's passengers around in their seats. "I'm glad you know where you're going. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear we were lost."

"Trust me, Carter, we're almost there," Jason assured the sniper, navigating the vehicle around a sandstone outcropping and finally into a wide, open valley.

"Wow!" Louisa exclaimed, as she observed what appeared to be ancient homes carved into the face of the rocks above. She reached over and tapped Angel on the arm. "Check it out...ruins."

"I'd say that's cool if I weren't so nervous," the former cheerleader replied.

Jason slammed on the brakes, the Suburban's tires kicking up a large cloud of red dust.

"Is that a motorcycle gang blocking the road!?!!" Angel asked, leaning forward between Jason and Gadreel. She pointed through the dirt-covered windshield at a man standing next to a black and chrome beast of a machine. "Check out that guy, he sure is tall. Tall like a..."

"Watcher. Son of a bitch, that's Penemue!" Gadreel exclaimed.

Michael sat up and banged his head on the roof of the Suburban. "I thought he was dead."

"As did I," Azazel added.

The SUV's doors opened and Louisa, Angel, and Carter stepped out followed by the rest.

Michael peered through the dust cloud at Dante. "Is that you, Penemue?" he asked waving his hand through the dirty air.

Dante removed his helmet and took a knee. "Brother Michael, please I beg your forgiveness. I..."

Michael grabbed the Watcher by the shoulders and helped him to stand. "Please, no apologies. What's done is done, brother."

Dante frowned. "I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't see it with my own eyes. Dustyn said you had Fallen, but..."

"Dustyn!?!! He's here?" Angel shouted from behind Michael.

Dante nodded and threw a thumb over his shoulder. "Yes, he is somewhere around here. Back there I think."

"DUSTYN!!! Where are you!?!!"

Someone tapped Angel on the shoulder and she turned with tears in her eyes.

Dustyn lifted his pink helmet from his head and let it fall by his side. "You like me..."

Angel grabbed Dustyn by the face and pulled him to her, pressing her lips to his.

The former King David lowered his hands and wrapped his arms around Angel as the event went from one of unexpected surprise to enjoyment.

Shiloh elbowed Verne with a wink. "Our little boy's growin' up."

Verne narrowed his eyes and shook his head. "Weirdo."

"I saw that coming from a mile away," Carter whispered out of the side of his mouth at Michael.

After a few moments, Angel and Dustyn paused to find everyone staring at them. "Heh, sorry. Kinda lost control for a minute," he said, running a hand through his hair.

"We could see that, Dustyn," Carter replied.

"Well...um, I suppose introductions are in order, then?" the young man said sheepishly, a bit embarrassed by all of the attention.

"Wait, something's different," Angel said, still wrapped in Dustyn's arms with her head on his shoulder. "I feel it." She lifted her face and ran a finger over the odd mark on his chest...one completely different from her own.

"Yeah, you guys are not going to believe this."

"Believe what?" Carter asked.

"He has the mark of that bastard, Samael," Azazel interrupted with a sneer.

Dustyn nodded. "Cain gave it to me."

"Cain as in Cain and Abel, Cain?" Louisa asked incredulously.

Dustyn laughed. "He did say everyone always did that when he told them who he was. And who might you be?"

Louisa smiled. "Louisa Jiminez, or as Danny told me, Annie Oakley."

All of the Cherubum bustled. "Did you guys hear that?" one asked in excitement.

Dustyn looked around. "Speaking of Danny, we're missing someone. Where is that crazy trucker?"

"He's gone, Dustyn," Angel said looking up at him with sad eyes. "The Grigori got him."

Dustyn winced. "Oh, damn."

"Not to break up this little reunion, but has anyone noticed how quiet it is?" Verne asked, looking around the open sandstone valley. "We should be up to our necks in Grigori by now and I  just know Bezaliel, that Myriad witch, has to be around here somewhere."

"Jason, do you know?" Michael asked the young Native American man. "Can you see them?"

"No, it's almost as if I am cut off from everything. I can't see anything beyond what's here."

Gadreel looked up at the ruins. "This is definitely Bezaliel's doing. They knew we were coming."

"How?" Louisa asked.

"The Grigori have eyes everywhere and it's probably gotten worse since they've been working with that witch and have her sight," Dante replied.

"You have no ideer," said a voice with a thick southern drawl.

The collection of Heavenly fighters all turned to find a strange looking Grigori standing all alone behind them. He was wearing what appeared to be a Confederate uniform and a floppy brimmed hat. "How ya'll doin'?" he asked, tipping the edge of the hat with a pair of golden fingers.

"Bloody Bill Anderson," Louisa said.

The Grigori smiled. "Pleasure to meet a fan...especially one so lovely."

"I wouldn't call me a fan by any stretch. I just know history...and you are a murderous part of that history. One that I don't want any part of," Louisa fired back.

"Tsk, tsk. Too bad, I'm always on the lookout for talent, just like your friend, his name was Bill, right. Ain't that ko-rect, there, Willy?"

Louisa covered her mouth as Sergeant William Hicks began to materialize, seemingly from thin air. The desert scene behind the golden former police officer rippled like a vertical sheet of water as the Grigori glided through and then landed next to Bloody Bill.

"Bezaliel must be using a spell to hide her army," Dante said to Michael. "It's why we don't feel her presence..."

"Or see their army," Carter added.

"You Confederate son of a bitch!" Louisa screeched and prepared to flash across the valley, her rifle forming in her hands. "I will freaking destroy you!"

Carter wrapped his large arms around the woman before she could launch an attack on the Grigori commander. He leaned his head down to Louisa's ear. "This is what they want you to do. You would be vaporized before you even reached that asshole."

"Oh, did I upset you, sweetheart?" Bloody Bill said with a smirk. "I'd say I'm sorry, but I ain't. And since I'm in such a givin' mood, I have one more person to bring to our little reunion. Send him out!"

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