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Illumi - Chapter One

Chapter One

Jasper Cross stared up at the ancient Angelican words written down the side of the building with pinched brows. His three long fox tails twitching in the cramped backseat of the yellow cab.

“Hey kid, you ganna get out any time soon? I got other places to be.” The cab driver asked, giving him a dirty look through the rear-view mirror.

“Yeah, yeah, sorry.” Jasper muttered, pulling out a hundred. “Keep the change.”

The man looked apologetic but still antsy. Jasper nodded to him as he slipped out the door.

He shivered as icy raindrops slid down the back of his neck, as he stepped through the big glass front doors of the Illumi Headquarters.

“Hi, I’m Jasper Cross, I was told to meet with Ian Vega at one o’clock. I’m supposed to be his new partner.”

“I’m sorry.”

He was about to repeat himself when he caught the look of pity on her face.


“I…nothing never-mind Vega’s office is up on the thirty-first floor go on up you can’t miss it it’s the last office down the hall on the right!”

Jasper bit back a growl of annoyance, staring at her blankly until she opened her mouth to repeat herself.

“Right!” He spun towards the elevators with a wave of his hand and a flick of his tails. “Thank you!”

Nymphs. He scowled as he punched the call button for the elevator.

He’d caught a thirty-one in all that, so he hoped he was headed in the right direction. As the doors closed Jasper took a deep breath to ground himself. Leaning back against the wall as the elevator began crawling upward, he wondered what the hell he’d gotten himself into.

What did she mean, sorry? He frowned as he caught sight of the numbers on the screen sliding past five… Again. What in the hell? Where the elevators cursed or something? He should have just run up the stairs.

“Oh my god, finally!” Jasper screamed as he burst out of the elevator. He froze at the various looks of amusement and annoyance on the faces of the group waiting.

“Yeah, I feel the exact same way.” The brasher looking of two almost identical dark-haired Pixies said, turning to glare at the snickering Werewolf standing next to her. He wondered why they didn’t fly down the stair shaft.

“That’s why I drop through the floor.” A beautiful Asian girl, with long silver hair that trailed off into wisps of smoke, said in a monotone voice. Jasper stared. He’d never met a Ghost before. “Though, when you do so out in the open people tend to scream at you. You’d think in a facility with such a concentrated employment of Mystic Races they’d be used to things appearing out of nowhere. But no, so now I can only do it in the elevator shaft.” She said it all in a flat tone with a blank face. “You must be Vega-san’s new partner. His office is at the end of that hallway.”

“Oh right! Yeah, thanks!” He pivoted towards the indicated hall, almost tripping over his own tails in his haste.

“Don’t let the bastard get to you.”

He glanced back at the group boarding the elevator, to find the Werewolf paused in the doorway giving him an encouraging grin.

He had rather average looks that would blend-in amongst a crowd. Pale skin, brown hair and eyes, and a light New York accent that had to of originated from Manhattan. But… There was something about him that had all Jasper’s instincts screaming not to take him lightly.

He smirked, his brown eyes flashing ice blue for a moment as the elevator doors slid shut. Jasper shivered, an unnatural chill crawling under his skin. No, he was not to take that one lightly at all.

At the end of the hall, he braced himself, wondering what the hell this Ian Vega was going to be like. With a firm knock on the door, he strode into the office, his head held high, not bothering to wait for admittance.

The first thing he noticed was the hair and eyes so black it seemed to draw in the light and made the white around his irises glow. Only Demon blooded beings had that kind of features. Followed by the sharp, cleanly shaven jawline and the broad shoulders.

Well, damn.

Hotter than hell itself was not something he’d been expecting. But then, honestly, he really should have. Bastards where always good looking.

“Can I help you?”

And that voice could melt chocolate. Jasper felt his tails curl as a shudder ran down his spine.

“I’m…I’m Jasper Cross. I… Was supposed to meet with you at 1.” He glanced at the clock on the wall to find it read 1:15. “Sorry, the elevator.” He waved his hand in its general direction hoping that was a good enough explanation. It had better be. He’d gotten here ten minutes early. Twenty-five goddamn minutes in an elevator. He still couldn’t believe it when he’d watched the damn thing go past each floor five goddamn times.

“Ah,” the man nodded in understanding, gesturing for him to take a seat. “No one here uses the elevators unless absolutely necessary. They’ve had an unbreakable curse on them for over two decades.”

Jasper frowned.


“Oh, believe me the Blue Team is currently finding the use of the elevators quite necessary after their last case,” he said with an amused smirk, before narrowing his eyes as he studied him. “You’re much younger than I was expecting.”

Jasper bit the inside of his cheek to suppress his customary screamed response to anyone calling him a child. He didn’t say you were a child, idiot, he said you were younger than he expected.

“That’s probably because I’m new.”


“I just graduated from the Academy last spring.”

Vega’s eyes widened. “You’re a rookie.” It wasn’t a question. “Excuse me.” He picked up the phone to dial a number.

What! Did the guy not want to work with him because he was fresh from the Academy?

“What the hell are you playing at?”

And he’d thought his normal voice was sin. He had a sinking suspicion he’d be trying to piss this guy off more then could ever be considered healthy.

“You asked for a partner powerful enough to kill you if you ever broke through your seals.”

Jasper stiffened. What!

“Yes and…”

“And I delivered. Jasper Cross is a half Warlock half Ninetailed Sun Fox who can use both light and dark magic. Or did you just jump to conclusions when you found out he’s a rookie?”

Vega eyed him looking a little startled before his frown returned.

“You haven’t even explained anything to him, have you.”

“No, I…”

Jasper’s heart leapt as he slammed the phone down without waiting for the rest of her explanation.

“Explained what exactly? And what the hell did she mean, a partner powerful enough to kill you! The fuck kind of requirement is that!”

Vega sighed, rubbing at his temples.

“The Academy has a pretty thorough course on the Heirs, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah and…”

“I’m the Third of Darkness.”

Jasper stared at him.

Well, that explained everything! The invasive questioning at his post grad interview. The man’s hesitation with his age. His complete exasperation at the administration assigning them together without giving him all the necessary information.

Fuck! Could he actually handle that kind of responsibility? To go toe to toe with an Heir, with a Third, if he ever lost control. Jasper swallowed, gripping at the edge of his seat. Being an Agent, working for Illumi, it’s the only thing he’s ever wanted. To turn down a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with one of the best teams in the entire organization would destroy him.

“So, you can understand my precaution.”

“Okay, okay.” He rubbed at his face as he pushed up out of his chair. Vega watched him without judgment, clearly under the assumption he was declining the job. “Stand up,” he demanded, stepping away from the desk where there was more open space.

“Excuse me?”

“Look, I get it. I do understand your concerns. I have my own. Your right, I didn’t sign up for this, but this is my dream job and I know I can handle it. They,” he waved a hand at the phone, indicating the person he’d been talking to, “know I can handle it. You think they’re wrong so I’m going to prove to you that they’re not… At least enough that you’ll give me a chance.”

Vega had a weird mixture of annoyance, frustration, amusement, and intrigue on his face as he stood and moved into the open space with him.

“I’d like to make it clear first that I don’t reveal this ability lightly.” Jasper rolled his shoulders, trying to force out some of the tension. “Growing up I didn’t give a damn who found out about it. Not until I started interacting with Mystics more. Everyone either started hero worshiping me like I was some kind of super powered god or freaked the fuck out claiming I was an abomination.”

Vega’s eyebrows climbed up his forehead in surprise before his whole face pinched into a look of sympathy. Right, as an Heir, depending on when it had manifested, he’d have been looked at as a monster his entire life.

“So, I’d appreciate it if you kept this to yourself.”

“Of course. That is the purpose of the nondisclosure you sign when accepting the job offer. Any and all information learned during your time employed here is to be kept with the upmost discretion.”

“Right, yeah, okay…” He waved a hand, drawing up a dark barrier. A five-by-five-foot cube from floor to ceiling that incased Vega in shadow, much like looking through a tented glass window. Jasper startled as he realized the man’s eyes where glowing red. He brought his other hand up, fingers spread wide, and a light barrier slid along the surface of the dark one, shinning a bright golden white of sunlight. He imagined any other species besides them and maybe Phoenixes and Angels would have had to clench their eyes shut. As a Sun Fox, lights of any kind had no effect on him whatsoever. Vega’s black demonic inner eyelids had slid over his eyes.

“Well, I’ll admit that is impressive. But at my full power I’d still rip through those barriers without much effort.”

“Yeah, I’m not done yet.” He twisted his hands, forming a circle with his fingers. The barriers pulsed and rippled before swirling together and fading into a sort of holograph of the night sky.

Ian Vega looked as though he’d been doused in ice water.

“That’s impossible!”

“It’s not actually, people just think it is because of prejudices and arrogant dogmatism. Lucky for me I was raised by humans who let me explore and experiment with either side of myself without such ridiculous notions.” He grinned at him, his fangs on display. “You can’t break that. I’ve never met someone who could. Cause you’d need the same mixed energy, and like you said,” his grin slid into a smirk. “That’s impossible.”

He shot up in bed, his heart in his throat. The apartment echoed with a shrill pulsing siren. Hands pressed against his ears, he skid across the wood floor of the living room nearly tripping over his own tails.

“What the hell is that sound!”

“The wards I put on Crossroads!” Maserati’s usual soft Asian features were sharpened into a feral snarl of anxiety. He waved a hand to shut off the noise. Blue and green magic swirling around him as his fancy silk pajamas blurred and reshaped into jeans and a hoodie. “They’ve been breached!”

“What!” Jasper’s heart lurched a second time. Almost worse than when the alarm had gone off. “None of the kids are old enough or strong enough to handle an attack!” Air caught in his throat. His chest tight with alarm. “Mom and dad were staying there tonight!”

His brothers magic slid over him, drawing forth his own comfy work clothes.

“Come on!” Maserati grabbed his arm, turning to wave a portal into existence. Jasper braced himself for the lurch in his stomach, clenching his eyes shut against the blinding light, as Maserati pulled them through subspace and out onto the orphanage’s front lawn.

Jasper gasped, eyes widening. The whole place glowed an unnatural green, the entire sprawling five story compound alight with Dragon Fire.

“Jasper!” Maserati shook him out of his stunned disbelief. “Go! Get the kids out! Find mom and dad! I’m going to try to put it out!” Trying to put out Dragon Fire was like trying to catch smoke with net. But his brother had always been creative. And his magic was a lot more powerful than most other Warlock’s.

Jasper pivoted on a heal and ran for the south wing dormitory, throwing up his shields as he went. He sucked in a breath of alarm as he slammed trough the door to the stairwell and heard desperate banging and screams for help coming from the second floor. He leapt up the stairs five at a time, only to freeze on the landing. His fangs and claws elongated as he fought back a snarl. Someone had sealed the exit shut with Angelic magic!

“Hey? hey!” He called through the door, placing a hand over the Angel Sigil to try to determine its strength. At least the metal was cold. The only good thing about the Angelic magic.

“Jasper? Jasper the door won’t open! The whole top floor is on fire! Makayo and Darius are barely holding it back!” Thank the Fates they had Fae amongst the children this year. But neither of them had hit puberty yet, meaning they wouldn’t be able to handle Dragon Fire for long. Jasper examined the seal. It ended at the doorframe. Good.

“Hey! Listen, I’m going to get you guys out, but I need you to back up as far as possible, okay?”


He waited a moment for them to follow his instructions before he took a few steps back himself and concentrated his raw light magic on the edges of the doorframe. With a wrench of his arm and a tremendous crack and whine the large metal door and its entire frame flew over his head and across the stairwell. It crashed into the wall before falling to the floor below. A bit of the tension eased from his chest as his eyes scanned the number of heads.

All thirty-seven kids who lived in this part of the compound were huddled together in the hallway. A little burned in places and clearly shaken, but alive.

He waved them through the door and down the stairs. “Get out to the road and wait there! Help should be coming soon.” He watched until they disappeared into the green smoke shrouding the grounds in darkness and pivoted on his heal, headed straight through the fire.

The sight that greeted him in the courtyard outside his parents’ private rooms made his heart drop into his stomach. A column of white light mixed with glittering crystals of obsidian rose up from the fountain at the center of the compound, broke off into many smaller beams, and shot off in every direction.

His parents might be human, but they’d spent enough time around the Mystic races to have the recourses and knowledge to use their soul and intent to invoke natural earth magics. And the strongest intent his mother ever had was protecting these kids.

A sob tour it’s way from his throat.

“I swear to God if either of you were in on this…” Anthony Malone’s large black Angel wings manifested in his anger, puffed up and fidgeting with agitation. Vega stepped between him and Jasper with a low growl, a dark shimmer of warning swirling around him. Maserati’s eyes widened at the blatant display of protectiveness. The way Jasper had spoken made it seem as though the man was entirely against his placement.

“Enough! Their parents where literally just murdered. Take a step back Malone!”

Malone’s wings drooped as the anger drained out of him and a look of dawning horror and remorse bloomed across his face.

“I…” He floundered a moment. “Sorry… I’m sorry…” he turned, moving away from them. Staring out at the still smoldering buildings, a tremor running through his wings, his back rigid. Maserati stepped up next to him, knocking their shoulders together lightly.

“You okay?”

Malone gave him a searching look.

“You’re asking me that?”

He shrugged with a grimace.

“The Crosses adopted me at seven… After my father violently murdered my mother in front of me. I’ve been dreading this moment form the time they signed the adoption papers, because a part of me always feared it would happen.” He glanced up at him, sucking his bottom lip into his mouth. “If my powerful witch mother couldn’t protect herself, what chance did two humans have? Especially two humans who insisted on toiling in the affairs of Mystics.”

Malone’s jaw clinched as he glared out at the sunrise.

“I… I think this attach was my family’s fault…”

“What? How, the Malone family is the farthest thing from Order supporters.”

“Marcus Malone isn’t my biological father. He married my mother after she fell… Samael Bane is…”

He seemed to be waiting for his disgust or fear. Maserati shrugged with a bland look of sympathy.

“My biological father is Zagan Azazel… The only parents who influence who we are, are the ones who were there for us.”

Malone’s eyes fell shut, a look of pain overcoming his face. Maserati frown.

“How exactly does your father being in the Order make the attack your fault?”

“My father has always been obsessed with my mother. After she fell that obsession turned into a horrible hatred that cultivated a goal of forced attention. His last attempt at achieving that goal resulted in my baby brother.” He grimaced, his face contorting in a pure furry. “He doesn’t know about my brother… we realized that only way to keep in safe was to give him up…”

“He was here.” It wasn’t a question. Jasper had raved about a little Angel boy of mixed magic. He’d been so excited about helping him train. Maserati hesitated before reaching out to take Malone’s hand.

“We’ll get him back. There’s no way Illumi will let this slide.” Jasper certainly wouldn’t rest until he’d brought them to justice over this. “And the only ones at fault here is the Order.”

Malone took in a shaky breath, relief flooding his features, and squeezed his hand in gratitude.


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