eden ex machina

Well, you’ve never heard from me on a Saturday, and hopefully you never will again, but a whole bunch of shit went down yesterday and I want to write this all down now before someone tells me I have to stop writing on this blog.

So yesterday, I was updating on my phone, right? Just writing along, feeling sorta… mildly frustrated, but ultimately satisfied in that we were going to get our way or these assholes were going to realize how incredibly powerless they actually are. Maybe start feeling a little embarrassed that they made this big scene about choosing their own leadership in the first place.

Because that’s all we really wanted, right? We wanted them to realize their incredible arrogance in thinking they could do this job with no knowledge or experience. ESPECIALLY at our expense.

I probably shouldn’t have been hiding from Rook. I mean, I wasn’t far or anything. I was just sitting away a little, sorta against the side of building, watching all those hunters hang out like they were on vacation.

Which tbh compared to what everyone deals with most of the time — they were. LOL fucking Billy Ace trying to be all powerful and dangerous and ending up being an excuse for all the established hunters to eat a meal together.

I probably shouldn’t make him seem all harmless at this point lmfao. For sure the reason I suddenly stopped writing yesterday was because one of his people fucking grabbed me off the side of the building.

One moment, there I am, writing my silly little observations on my phone — the next, my mouth is covered by the fleshy part of someone’s hand and I’m being jerked around the corner out of sight.

I fought, obviously, I squirmed and writhed and kicked, but there were three of them and they were all bigger than me and they didn’t let go of my mouth even when I bit down on that palm.

They shoved me into the kitchen through the back door, stuffed a rag in my mouth and tied it down so hard I gagged on it, zip-tied my hands behind my back, then gave me a solid push so I toppled, sprawling, onto the floor of the kitchen at Billy Ace’s feet.

When I looked up at him, his eyes were wild.

“Hello,” he said. He wasn’t the only one in the room. There were maybe ten men in there, and I vaguely recognized them as Billy’s inner circle, all standing around looking down at me.

Billy knelt, put one rough hand on my forehead — thank god I shaved my head so there was no hair for him to pull — and tilted my head back to make me look up at him.

“Here’s the thing,” he said. “I know that Julian was dead. I watched Merl kill him, and checked his pulse myself. I know he was dead. So imagine my surprise when my PI found pictures of him alive.”

He turned my face from one side to the other, looking me over intently.

“So I’m wracking my brain, trying to understand how such a thing would be possible. There’s only one other case of resurrection that I know of, and I know for a fact that that clearing in the woods is still empty. Which leads me notice that the only connection between these two resurrections…” he patted my cheek and I felt bile rise in my throat. “Is you.”

He stood to his full height and looked down at me.

“I’m done fucking around with you people,” he said. “You’re going to give me a straight answer.”

I stared at him. Obviously, with a rag in my mouth and my hands zip-tied behind my back there was no way to communicate with him, even if I’d wanted to. Also — HA I wasn’t gonna tell him jack shit either way.

“Billy…” it was the judge Gutierrez. “Are you sure about this?”

“True resurrection,” Ace snapped. “If they have the power to bring people back from the dead, and they’re hoarding that power to themselves… think about what that means. Think about the kind pathological selfishness it would take to have the power to heal the dead — and to keep that power a secret.”

And I bit down so hard on those rags. Rage tears raised in my eyes.

This fucking man, this horrible, awful man. I mean he didn’t know, I guess, that my dealings with life and death have been the fucking trauma olympics. But surely he must have guessed that if this was a secret we were keeping, there was a reason we were keeping it?

Billy raised his voice. “Not two months ago one of their witches killed Richie — just a kid, and they had the power to bring him back, but they didn’t bother?” He shook his head. “And then they have the nerve to come in here and tell us they’re here to protect us? No.”

He nudged me with his foot.

“No more games.”

He gestured behind him and Rudy Allen shoved Rook down beside me. I knew him unconsciously by his long limbs and dark hair before I even saw him properly and started screaming through my gag.

I don’t know how they knew to choose Rook. Maybe they saw him drag me out of the bar Thursday. Maybe they just grabbed someone random.

“Time for a demonstration,” Billy said, and pulled a kitchen knife from the block on the counter. He went around behind Rook, took a handful of his beautiful, shiny hair and jerked it up, exposing his long throat. Ace placed the knife against Rook’s Adam’s apple. I saw it bob as Rook swallowed hard.

I mean I lost it. Just lost it, I was screaming and struggling, but someone behind me held me back and the gag muffled any noise that came out of my mouth enough that I didn’t hear when the swinging doors between the kitchen and the bar squeaked open.

It was the guy who came to warn us yesterday morning — Marco Torres and he was aiming a shotgun, but not at me.

Everyone froze.

“That’s enough, I think,” Marco said. David, the chubby one with glasses was at his side, pointing a little hand gun, the end of which was badly shaking.

“You think that’s a good idea?” Billy asked. “Bit outnumbered, aren’t you?”

I saw, even from that vantage point on the ground, as Marco glanced around at the other new hunters in the room.

“Maybe,” he admitted.

“Not as outnumbered as you think,” someone else said, an older guy I didn’t recognize. He stepped forward and I caught the gun in his hand.

“If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last few days,” Marco said, raising his voice a little so everyone could hear him. “It’s that we don’t know jack shit about magic. We gonna kill a kid on the off chance that this girl knows how to raise the dead?”

There was a long pause in which all Billy Ace’s people took a moment to see what was happening in the kitchen behind closed doors.

We waited on a knife’s edge while the crowd tried to work out what it was going to do.

And then —

Alec, Alec who was once Nolan Hawthorne’s close friend, said, “For fuck’s sake,” strode forward, pulling his handgun from the back of his ratty jeans, raised it and without even a moment’s hesitation, shot Marco Torres in the back.

Everything happened really fast after that.

A bunch more shots went off and everyone dove behind tables. Rook rocked back onto his bound hands and hopped his feet over them, bent a knee up to his chest and in one practiced jerk, braced the zip tie between his wrists, and broke it over his knee. He tugged his gag off then reached to help me.

We both scrambled behind the counter. I couldn’t see what happened next because I was too busy hiding, but I heard more gunshots, windows breaking, doors crashing open and over the cacophony, Neal screaming for me.

And then, impossibly, the whole room became so, so calm

It was almost euphoric it was so calm. I felt all the fight go out of my body, felt myself relax back against the cabinets.

I watched as if in slow motion as the kitchen door opened and Cooper came in, and behind him, Eden Nemerebai with a hand on the doorframe as she paused to survey the scene. Behind her, patient and enormous: Julian, monstrous, owl face watching from over her shoulder.

I watched as they came into the room. Julian had to shift from creature to human and back to get through the door, but he did so easily, effortlessly, expression almost vacant.

It was Eden of course. It was all Eden. Turns out she can force you to feel things other than world shattering fear. Turns out she can make you feel anything she likes.

I got up and picked between the people to join them. I reached to touch Julian’s fur, feeling a thousand miles away. It was the best high of my life. Better than the winnows, better than the vampire venom. Just pure, uncomplicated bliss.

Julian was so soft. When he felt my hand on his shoulder he turned that enormous, antlered head to look at me, and I saw Julian there, saw who I pulled back to this world, right there in the creature’s face. I smiled.

“You’re Shiloh, correct?” Eden said. Her voice seemed to come from a long way off. I nodded. “You’re going to feel it all come back again, ready?”

“What?” I asked, and then all that bliss just evaporated and I was me again, with bruised up wrists and a whole basket of problems and a brain full of land mines.

“I can’t do this much longer,” Eden said to Cooper. “We need to work fast.”

Luckily, there were a lot of us.

I’ll tell you, it was unsettling to tie up all these people who didn’t fight us. They couldn’t fight us. They didn’t want to. They were in their own private, blissful prisons. They smiled benignly and followed instructions as we cleared the furniture to one side of the bar and sat them all down like kindergarteners on the floor of their own bar. We all worked fast and efficient, but any of the earlier jubilance was long gone.

The dog saints were together at last. They were terrifying.

Julian, meek as a kitten — a very big, very terrifying kitten — watched from the corner until everyone was secure, and then finally, with a gesture from Eden, he shuddered and shrank and was suddenly himself again. Neal passed him a pair of sweats and when he was dressed, I watched the bliss fade out of his expression.

When he was himself again, his eyes searched for me immediately. I saw the relief fill his face when I stepped forward.

“We thought we lost you,” he said and I sorta just let myself collapse against him, exhausted.

I would find out later that Eden and Cooper arrived literally AS Ace was snatching me up and dragging me back to the kitchen. Everyone was in the process of assuring them that everything had gone alright, and that Eden’s abilities wouldn’t be necessary when they heard gunshots going off inside the bar. It took Neal and Julian a split second to realize I was missing, and at that point they just said fuck it.

Eden didn’t even need convincing. Julian told Eden to change him, and she did it. Then she set her jaw and went to show everyone what she’s really capable of.

We left the bar in the Walther’s hands.

“I need to call Lana,” Beverly said, and Silas nodded.

“We’ve got this covered,” he assured her, which was the truth. Even once they were free of Eden’s bliss, the new hunters were all quiet, for the most part. I guess they finally realized how far in over their head they were.

I guess we sorta realized how far in over our heads we are, too.

“Do you see now?” Eden said, when we were all clear of the bar. She had deep, dark circles under her eyes, and had to lean on Cooper to stay upright. “Why I don’t use my power? Do you see why I stayed away?”

“That was a peaceful solution,” Cooper said, but he didn’t sound convinced. “It was the right thing to do.”

Eden said nothing, and in the quiet I saw all the ways the five of them could manipulate the world if they so chose.

I don’t know what comes next. Immediately, more napping. After that…

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