Home > House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)(5)

House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)(5)
Author: Sarah J. Maas

He’d learned the hard way not to disobey her. Learned exactly who in Command supported her, and would rain down Hel on her behalf. Monitoring the approaching vessel, Richmond said, “We’ve made radio contact. Your operative is not on that ship.”

Pippa went still. “The brother?”

“The boy is there. And eleven other children from Kavalla. Sofie Renast stayed behind to buy them time. I’m sorry.”

Sorry. Pippa had lost track of how many times she’d heard that fucking word.

But right now … Emile had made it to the ship. Was gaining him worth losing Sofie?

It was the gamble they’d taken in even allowing Sofie to go into Kavalla: possibly losing one valuable asset in the quest to seize another. But that was before Sofie had left—and then informed them, right before entering the camp, that she’d attained vital intel on their enemies. To lose Sofie now, with that crucial intel on the line …

She hissed at the captain, “I want—”

A human sailor barreled out the glass-enclosed bridge door, skin eerily pale in the moonlight. He faced the captain, then Pippa, uncertain whom to report to. “The Bodegraven’s got four Omegas on her tail, closing in fast. Agent Silverbow is down—gorsian bullet to the shoulder.”

Pippa’s blood chilled. Silverbow wouldn’t be any help with a gorsian bullet in him. “They’re going to sink that ship, rather than let those children go.”

She had not yet become so numb to the horrors of this world that it didn’t roil her stomach. Captain Richmond swore softly.

Pippa ordered, “Prepare the gunners.” Even if the odds were slim that they would survive an assault by the Omegas, they could provide a distraction. The captain grunted his agreement. But the sailor who’d come rushing out of the bridge gasped and pointed.

On the horizon, each and every light in Servast was winking out. The wave of darkness swept inland.

“What in Hel—”

“Not Hel,” Pippa murmured as the blackout spread.

Sofie. Or … Her eyes narrowed on the Bodegraven.

Pippa ran for the bridge’s better view. She arrived, panting, Richmond beside her, in time to see the Bodegraven racing for them—the submerged lights of the four Omega-boats flickering behind, closing in.

But as they did, a mighty white light soared beneath the surface. It wrapped its long arms around the nearest Omega.

The white light leapt away a moment later, flying for the next boat. No submersible lights glowed in its wake. On the radar before her, the Omega-boat vanished.

“Holy gods,” Richmond said.

Something like that, Pippa wanted to say. It was Sofie’s strange gift: not only electricity, but firstlight power, too. Energy of any type was hers to command, to suck into herself. Her kind had been hunted to extinction by the Asteri centuries ago because of that mighty, unconquerable gift—or so it had seemed.

But now there were two of them.

Sofie said her brother’s powers dwarfed her own. Powers Pippa now witnessed as the light leapt from the second boat—another blackout—and raced for the third.

She could make out no sign of Emile on the Bodegraven’s deck, but he had to be there.

“What can bring down an Omega with no torpedoes?” murmured one of the sailors. Closer now, the light swept beneath the surface for the third boat, and even with the distance, Pippa could see the core of long, bright white tendrils streaming from it—like wings.

“An angel?” someone whispered. Pippa scoffed privately. There were no angels among the few Vanir in Ophion. If Pippa had her way, there’d be no Vanir among them at all … save for ones like this. Vanir powers, but a human soul and body.

Emile was a great prize for the rebellion—Command would be pleased indeed.

The third Omega submersible went black, vanishing into the inky deep. Pippa’s blood sang at the terrible glory of it. Only one Omega left.

“Come on,” Pippa breathed. “Come on …” Too much rested on that boat. The balance of this war might hang on it.

“Two brimstone torpedoes fired from the remaining Omega,” a sailor shouted.

But the white light slammed into the Omega, miles’ worth of firstlight sending the final ship spiraling into a watery abyss.

And then a leap outward, a whip of light illuminating the waves above it to turquoise. A stretching hand.

A sailor reported hoarsely, awe and anticipation in every word, “Brimstone torpedoes are gone from the radar. Vanished.”

Only the lights of the Bodegraven remained, like dim stars in a sea of darkness.

“Commander Spetsos?” Richmond asked.

But Pippa ignored Richmond, and stalked into the warmth of the bridge’s interior, yanking a pair of long-range binoculars from a hook just inside the door. Within seconds, she was out on the wind-whipped deck again, binoculars focused on the Bodegraven.

Emile stood there, aged but definitely the same child from Sofie’s photos, no more than a lean figure alone at the prow. Staring toward the watery graveyard as they passed over it. Then to the land beyond. He slowly sank to his knees.

Smiling to herself, Pippa shifted the view on the binoculars and gazed toward the thorough blackness of Pangera.

Lying on her side, the lap of waves against the quay and the drip of her blood on the surface beneath the wooden slats the only sounds she could hear, Sofie waited to die.

Her arm dangled off the end of the dock as the Bodegraven sailed toward those savior lights on the sea. Toward Pippa. Pippa had brought battleships to guide the Bodegraven to safety. Likely to ensure Sofie was on it, along with Emile, but … Pippa had still come. Ophion had come.

Tears slid along her cheeks, onto the wood slats. Everything hurt.

She’d known this would happen, if she pushed too far, demanded too much power, as she had tonight. The firstlight always hurt so much worse than electricity. Charred her insides even as it left her craving more of its potent power. It was why she avoided it as much as possible. Why the idea of Emile had been so enticing to Command, to Pippa and her Lightfall squadron.

There was nothing left inside her now. Not one spark of power. And no one was coming to save her.

Footsteps thudded on the dock, rattling her body. Sofie bit her lip against the flashing pain.

Polished black boots stopped inches from her nose. Sofie shifted her good eye upward. The Hind’s pale face peered down.

“Naughty girl,” the Hind said in that fair voice. “Electrocuting my dreadwolves.” She ran an amber eye over Sofie. “What a remarkable power you have. And what a remarkable power your brother has, downing my Omega-boats. It seems all the legends about your kind are true.”

Sofie said nothing.

The spy-breaker smiled slightly. “Tell me who you passed the intel to, and I will walk off this dock and let you live. I’ll let you see your darling little brother.”

Sofie said through stiff lips, “No one.”

The Hind merely said, “Let’s go for a ride, Sofie Renast.”

The dreadwolves bundled Sofie into a nondescript boat. No one spoke as it sailed out to sea. As an hour passed, and the sky lightened. Only when they were so far from the shore that it was no longer a darker shadow against the night sky did the Hind lift a hand. The engines cut off, and the boat bobbed in the waves.

Again, those polished, knee-high boots approached Sofie. She’d been bound, gorsian shackles around her wrists to stifle her power. Her leg had gone numb with agony.

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