Read Demon Accords 6: Forced Ascent Online

Authors: John Conroe

Tags: #Fantasy

Demon Accords 6: Forced Ascent

Forced Ascent

A Novel of the Demon Accords

 

By

 

John Conroe

 

This book is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

 

Copyright © 2014 John Conroe

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.

 

The Demon Accords:

God Touched

Demon Driven

Brutal Asset

Duel Nature

Fallen Stars

Executable

Forced Ascent

 

 

Cover art by Ryan Bibby.

Contents

Chapter 1

 

The hotel had seen better days—Hell, better decades.  It was one of those generic franchises, forgettable in every way.  This one had started its life as a sterling example of modern hospitality and gradually tarnished, day-by-day, till it had reached its current state of benign neglect.

 

It was located smack dab in the middle of a really nasty section of Albany.  That’s Albany, New York, not the warmer, more Georgian location. 

 

The lobby was worn and shabby, even though it was basically clean.  The décor was stuck in the seventies and despite the signs proclaiming it to be smoke free, it still stunk of years of free-burning cigarettes. 

 

A sign on a pedestal welcomed Pee Wee cheerleading teams to a regional competition, giving me the answer to the burning question of why so many screaming pre-pubescent girls were running helter skelter through the halls and lobby.

 

When I turned to the desk to ask directions, I found both registration clerks and their customers watching me with slightly widened eyes.

 

My first thought was that I had jelly on my face from the half dozen donuts I’d decimated in the car before coming in. After a moment I realized that wasn’t it.

 

That’s been one of the hardest changes to digest—the attention I get.  For most of my life, I’ve flown under the radar, drawing little to no attention from my fellow man and woman.  But ever since I came to sudden, abrupt awareness in a Carolina forest, staring at a mansion and two giant wolves, that comforting anonymity has been gone, along with two or so years of memories. Now I attract glances and stares simply by entering a room or walking on a street.

 

But let’s be real.  That’s the very least of the changes I’ve woken to.  My physical abilities, my supernatural abilities, the psychotic combat persona that takes over during violent conflict and fights like a nuclear Bruce Lee, and my involvement smack dab in the center of supernatural politics all overshadow this attention thing.  Not to mention that fact that I have a girlfriend.  If you can call the future queen of the vampire world, who is the only vampire born to the species, just a girlfriend.  Oh, and she’s a self-fallen angel—like me.  Yeah, another little bombshell to fall on my head.  I was an angel till I volunteered to give it up and fall to Earth and become a human.  Hence my odd ability to banish demonkind.  My God-given talent.  At least, that’s one mystery cleared up, although I’ve got to be the least angelic angel going and I can’t for the life of me remember any angelic memories.  But the hardest change, the one that bothers me the most, is the fear.  So many of the beings I find myself surrounded with fear me.  Vampires, werewolves, humans who know what I can do, all of them smell of fear to one degree or another.  There are really only a handful of friends who aren’t afraid of me.

 

But anyway, all four of these women at the check-in desk were just staring at me, their own business apparently forgotten.

 

“Ah, hi.  Can anyone tell me which room was reserved for Congressman McFeeney?  I’m supposed to meet him there.”

 

Of the two behind the counter, one was older, maybe middle-aged.  She looked tired, of Slavic descent, and the least impressed.  Her coworker was a fresh-faced, early twenty-something, with beautiful mocha-colored skin and brown eyes that were currently ready to pop out of her skull.

             

The two customers were both mom types, my conclusion based on the small child each had clinging to their purses and pant legs.  One had heavily constructed blonde hair that weighed maybe as much as the toddler at her feet.  The other was a tall black woman wearing an expensive gray pantsuit and flashy red shoes and clutched a designer purse that could double as a carry-on bag.

 

The Slavic lady pointed down one hallway to the left.  “Heese in the Lock Georgia room.”

 

The accent confirmed my guess as to her ethnic background but left me wondering what she’d actually just said.

 

My confusion must have been apparent because her pretty co-worker gulped once and translated.  “The congressman and the others are in the Lake George room, just down that hall and to the right.”

 

“Thank you,” I said, heading toward the hall and simultaneously dodging three laughing girls.

 

Some older buildings look better the further you go inside them, possibly because the main entrances get the most wear and tear.  This wasn’t one of them.  If anything, it looked worse.  Stains on the industrial red and black patterned carpet, dim florescent lights, and little black streaks around the edges of the doors, about ten inches off the floor.  Those had me puzzled until a uniformed maid came down the hall negligently pushing a cart that had black rubber bumpers on its edges about ten inches up.

 

I found the Lake George room right off the bat.  The black-suited guard with the white curly cord leading up to his ear was a dead giveaway.  So was my attorney, who was leaning against a wall, waiting for me.  He straightened up, tugging his two-thousand-dollar Italian suit into perfect alignment with his athletic build.  Six-two and a solid two-twenty at a guess, Darion Cornell looked about thirty and could have just as easily been an NFL wide receiver as an extremely well-dressed and very expensive attorney.  This was only my second time meeting him, the first being last evening when Lydia and Tanya had set this whole thing up. 

 

“You ready?” he asked me, looking me up and down, nodding slightly.  I too was wearing a nice suit, although not quite as expensive as his.  Tanya, once she had acquiesced to the meeting, had decided I needed to look utterly respectable but not ostentatious.  “Who’s in there?” I asked, ignoring the Secret Service guy by the door who definitely was not ignoring me and was having a conversation with his shirt sleeve.

 

“Congressman McFeeney, Senator Gleeson, General Creek, Director Stewart, and a representative of the President,” he said.  “And three more of him,” he added, swinging his head toward the bodyguard at the door.

 

“So who’s the leader of this little lynch mob?” I asked.

 

“Well, Stewart is likely on your side; the rest, not so much.  The congressman and the senator each chair their respective Appropriations Committees, which control the budgets of just about all the alphabet soup intelligence agencies.  They also both sit on the Intelligence Oversight Committee. That’s why they insisted on being here. McFeeney is a young Republican powerhouse, an up and comer, maybe even a presidential candidate someday.  Gleeson is an old-school Democrat, likes to crow the civil rights stuff and work the minority votes.  Underneath it, he’s an elitist bastard.  Watch them both.  But the most dangerous person in there is Alexis Bishop.  Deputy Chief of Staff for the White House.  The President’s Fixer.”

 

“Fixer?”

 

“She fixes problems.  Makes troublesome people and embarrassing issues go away.”

 

“Which am I?  Troublesome or embarrassing?” I asked.

 

“You’re a nightmare of Biblical proportions,” he said, looking down at his hands as he tugged each shirtsleeve into position.  I froze up at his words, then realized it was just an offhand comment.  Maybe.

 

He looked back up and then stepped back a smidge. “Hey, you are.  Just being real with ya and all.  The parts of the government that know about you—and those are growing by the day—have all classified you as the most dangerous man on the planet.  And they don’t control you.  That’s what this is about.  They know that somehow, you bombarded a hardened facility with an asteroid and blasted it to dust.  They don’t know how and have no idea how to rein you in under their control.  So when we go in, let me do the talking.  If they ask you a direct question and I don’t jump in right away, then feel free to answer, but don’t answer more than you have to.  Tell the truth, as much as you’re willing.  Don’t lie—these people can smell lies instantly.  If
I
ask you a question, answer it fully, as I’m likely trying to make a point.  Got it?”

 

I nodded, thinking that Tanya would do much better in my place.  Not that she didn’t want to be here—hell, it had been a knockdown, drag-out fight, the worst I could remember having with her.  She insisted on being by my side, and I insisted that having us both in the same room was too great a temptation for the government not to try something ultra-stupid.  She finally settled for picking this out-of-the-way dump, telling them at the last minute, and staying very close by.

 

The guard opened the door, looking slightly offended when five yelling mini-cheerleaders ran by, and we filed into the meeting room.  It was part of a larger room but had one of those folding dividers that cut the main room down in size.  It was just as shabby as the rest of the place.  A pair of long folding tables had been set up with tablecloths.  One long side was open and empty, just two chairs, each place set with a pad of paper and a pen.  Across the table sat a thirty-something brunette in a red power suit; a middle-aged, ginger haired man in a nice black suit; and a silver-haired gent in a gray pinstripe with suspenders.  At the left-hand end of the table, Nathan Stewart, Director of Oracle, sat looking relaxed and comfortable, white mustache twitching, while across the table at the right end sat a salt-and-pepper-haired bundle of tension with a hard face wearing a banker’s gray suit like a uniform.  Another Secret Service-type guy stood behind the three politicians, and one stood behind the salt-and-pepper guy who had to be General Creek.  Tanya and Lydia had filled me in on him.  Apparently I had worked with him but he didn’t like me much—at all.  The third and final guard was standing against the wall to the door’s left, leaving him behind Darion and me. 

 

We moved to the table and took our seats.  Director Stewart stood and shook my hand and introduced himself to Darion.  The others remained seated and just studied us.  Well, studied me. 

 

I folded my hands in front of me and looked up, matching each of their gazes for a moment.  The woman, Alexis, didn’t look away, and something about the set of her head and shoulders along with the up twitch at the corner of her mouth told me that she was enjoying this. Her gaze seemed mildly fascinated. Both politicians held my stare for a moment before their eyes slid away, both of them choosing to look at Darion.  General Creek watched me like I was a rabid dog.

 

“Nice place you picked, Darion,” the senator remarked with a look around the room.

 

Darion smiled widely and opened his arms to include the whole room.  “It’s perfect.  Out of the way and easy to keep clean of any unwanted additions to our little gathering.  But now that we’re all here, perhaps you could tell us what you wanted to discuss?”

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