Chapter 18

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The air suddenly feels very still. In front of us stands Romulus's army of monsters – waiting for the command to attack. Behind us stands Cal's army of cupids – I can hear the sound of the tension in their bows as their arrows are pulled and held back. The war we were trying to prevent seems inevitable. And if there is a war, it could bring back Mars.

And that will not end well...

Crystal tenses beside me. Our eyes meet.

"Plan, love?" I say out of the corner of my mouth.

"Romulus said he could control them," she whispers. "Get him. Force him to stop this."

I give a subtle nod of my head – my eyes fixed on the wolvish guy. He looks no older than about seventeen, scrawny – his messy hair standing out at random points, his eyes wild with excitement – but I know better. He won't be easy to catch – especially when he has an army to hide behind.

And then Romulus laughs.

"Well, shall we get started?" he says. He takes a step backwards, away from Jekyll whose red rimmed eyes are on me, and disappearing into the depths of his troops. "ATTACK!"

The ground begins to rumble as the monsters charge forwards across the blood stained tiles. A rain of arrow fly past us, and Crystal and I jump down to the floor – avoiding getting hit. Then Jekyll reaches me, picks me up, and throws me up into the ceiling. I make impact, searing my spine, then crash down to the ground again.

Crystal is now on her feet, Cal beside her. He throws her another quiver, filled with arrows, and she dumps hers – almost empty – and swings it over her shoulder. The two shoot a range of arrows in unison, causing one of the monsters to topple to its feet. Behind them cupids race past – leaping up at the huge, muscular beasts and disabling them any way they can.

I jump back to my feet and see the young lad I'd encountered in the Cupids Matchmaking Service fly past into the wall as he's swatted away by one of Romulus's army.

Jekyll swipes at me again but I block her blow – push hard against her strength which is more than a match for my own. She swipes at me again and I stumble back. I grab her by the waist and – with all my strength – throw her backwards.

"I don't want to fight you, darling," I say through clenched teeth.

She stumbles and crashes into the wall – giving me a couple of moments respite.

I glance around.

Where's Romulus?

I just see chaos – it rings in my ears with the sound of grunts and cries. The ground rumbles. Blood and arrows fly through the air. I can smell sweat and gore mixed with the clinical disinfectant of the building.

Crystal is on the back of one of the creatures, clinging on for dear life. She leaps off and catches my eye – her blue irises blazing.

"We need to find Romulus," she says as she dodges the tree trunk blow of the monster.

"Agreed, love," I say as Jekyll pushes off the wall and charges toward me.

"He went that way," she points at the end of the corridor.

I nod.

Time to go.

As Jekyll runs at me I grab her neck and pull her down so her face is level with mine. She swipes at me but I dodge her blows.

"Sorry, darling," I say. "I'd love to stay and chat, but I have places to be."

I look into her raging eyes.

I don't have time to pull the real Jekyll out. But hopefully I can disable her without causing too much harm.


She swipes at me, grabbing my head in her hand and crushing.

"SLEEP," I put more force behind it this time.

The pressure on my skull does not cease.

"SLEEP!" I roar.

Her eyelids droop and she crashes onto the tiles – sending fragments of them exploding upwards into my face. I stumble back, run my fingers through my short hair – feeling the soreness of my head, and feel a wave of relief.

It's hard to fight someone when you don't actually want to hurt them.

"MINO! COME ON!" yells Crystal from ahead.

I look up – through the battle – and catch Crystal already at the far side of the corridor, blood trickling from her left eyebrow.

"Coming, love," I call back.

I race forward.

I dodge past arrow and swinging, tree trunk arms, throwing punches through the chaos when necessary – and come out on the other side beside Crystal. We share a look.

"He went this way," she says.

She starts running down the corridor, away from the battle, and takes the right turn at the end. I follow close behind. The next corridor ends in a dead end, but there are a number of doors on either side of the walls.

Crystal begins kicking them down – looking inside – then moving onto the next one. I follow suit – exposing one clinical looking room, and then another.

"He has to be here somewhere," she says. "Where else could he have gone?"

We reach the final door.

"Would you like to do the honours, love?" I say.

She gives me a half smile. Then she turns to the door and kicks it open. We walk inside.

The room is divided in two by a glass wall. On the other side of it Romulus sits in a chair within a steel cage like the one Crystal and I used to contain some of the monsters. He grins when we enter. He has a needle in his hand.

"I thought you might come after me," he says. "Try to force me to stop the War. And I'm sure with your abilities you would have been able to."

He pulls up his ragged sleeve. His wolvish grin widens.

"But it won't work if I'm asleep – will it?"

I realise too late what he is about to do. I leap forward – ram my fists against the glass. It shatters into thousands of pieces.

"By the way – if you're thinking of killing me – you'll never be able to control my army without me. And I know you don't want them to die, Mino."

His eyes meet mine – wild, triumphant, dangerous.

And plunges the needle into his flesh.

I roar, charging toward him, as slumps down – unconscious.

I run at the steel bars, attempt to prise them apart with my hands, my muscles screaming. Crystal puts a soft hand on my bicep. I turn to look at her and she shakes her head. Her eyes blaze – defeat and sadness dancing around the cool blue of her irises.

"We won't wake him," she says. "And by the time we do it'll be too late – the War will be over. We can't stop this – only his blood can control the army. Mars will return."

I frown.

"Only his blood..." I mutter.

She looks at me in question.

Then I turn on my heel and walk toward the door.

"Where are you going?" says Crystal.

I look over my shoulder at her and grin. 

I know exactly what to do.

"It's not over yet, love," I say. "I'm going to save us all."

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