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Ezekiel moves toward me.

“What do you mean?”

“It means I’m going to go kill the Devil, of course,” I say with a shrug before going phantom and focusing really hard on the underworld.

On Lamar.

On Manella.

On Lucifer himself.

“Shit,” Jude shouts, breaking up the silence.

I feel tingles pass through me from four directions just as my eyes open to see I most definitely just siphoned myself to hell.

Looking around at four angry glares, I realize I also brought along some stowaways. How is that possible? I can’t siphon them!

“You four can’t be here,” I hiss, shoving them away from me.

I flick my wrist, expecting them to go back home, but apparently the Devil’s daughter doesn’t know how to use all her power. Doesn’t matter. I know how to use the killing ones.

“You can’t be serious,” Gage growls as I stay in phantom form.

“Actually, I am. I just need to find a book that tells me how to navigate the illusions the hallways present to keep you walking in circles.”

I go whole, walking toward the massive bookcase filled with little details of hell, I’m sure. Seems I landed us in the last spot we left when we visited hell.

Two arms immediately grab me, but I go phantom and roll my eyes, walking on undeterred.

“You can’t kill the fucking Devil,” Jude growls, getting in front of me.

I pass through him and start looking for the appropriate book. One catches my eye, because the word PACA appears on the binding for a split second before disappearing.

“I think I can. After all, I apparently have the power to destroy the world. I’m sure the Devil made me for that reason because he couldn’t do it himself. By the way, if the Devil made me, you were wrong about him not being capable of such, back when we had this discussion before the trials.”

“Stop talking in circles. Damn it, Paca, Don’t fucking do this,” Kai snaps, trying to grab me as well.

“I’m phantom,” I remind them. “Will one of you be a dear and collect that for me? I think it’s mine.”

Gage grabs the book and holds it up like it’s leverage as he smirks. “If you want it, come and get it.”

I put my hands on my hips as I level him with an unimpressed glare.

“If I don’t kill him, he’ll come to kill us,” I point out.

“That makes no sense. He could have killed us in the trials if he wanted—”

“He’s waiting for me to appear so he can kill me too,” I say, interrupting Ezekiel. “Reasonably speaking, if he’s the only one who could kill us, then clearly he’s the one who did kill us. I’m not overly concerned with his motives. I just want to stop him before he succeeds twice and steals all these memories as well.”

Gage hesitates, like he’s considering opening the book for me instead of leveraging it against me.

“That’s insane. You don’t even fucking know if you can kill him,” Jude barks, refusing to let this lie. Figures. He’s always the last to come around, it seems.

Gage is immediately back on his side.

The more things change, the more they stay the same…

“Lamar stated I have the best reasoning even when it doesn’t make sense to anyone else,” I primly remind them, shoulders back and head held high.

Four incredulous glares meet me.

“So now we’re trusting Lamar because it’s convenient to your argument?” Kai asks me dryly.

“He’s not wrong. I’m undeniably reasonable about everything but the four of you. The heart gets a little too involved there,” I state absently, turning back around and looking for more of my books. “The Devil needs to die, and I’ll either kill him today or wait until you’re asleep to return and kill him later. Your interference only hinders me in this moment.”

“What the hell makes you think you can kill Lucifer?” Jude snaps.

“What makes you think The Apocalypse isn’t stronger than the Devil himself?” I volley.

I grin over my shoulder at them, and they all glare back at me.

“Worst case scenario, I still can’t kill him, despite my level-ups, and I scoot out of there before he kills me. He won’t come topside, and we’ll continue to thwart attacks,” I go on.

“I knew you were here.” Lamar’s voice cuts through the room like a shock to the system. “I assume she is too.”

We all turn to stare at him in the doorway as his face lights up like hell’s worst aren’t literally standing in his room. Alone. With him. After already being undecided on whether he dies or not.

He’s not a very smart fellow, is he?

His smile disappears. “Oh shit. You still don’t remember.”

“We’re here because you told her she was reasonable,” Gage tells him in accusation.

“It’s the one thing she knows for certain is true,” Jude goes on, quite dramatically sarcastic, if you ask me.

“Okay,” Lamar says, looking confused. “What is wrong with her being reasonable?”

“Because reasonably, it’s safe to assume the Devil killed us,” Ezekiel says, glaring at him.

Lamar pales. “Oh dear. That’s not at all—”

“Don’t bother backtracking,” I say, turning whole and cutting him off as I gesture toward the journal Gage is still holding. “Open it up and tell me how to find the Devil. Or do you already know?”

“I know how to find your father—”

“Don’t try to humanize him or me by calling him my father, when I’m without a conscience,” I point out, interrupting Lamar and reminding him of the knowledge I’ve gathered about my manufactured self.

“You’re not capable of guilt or conscience, so when you feel regret, it is true, unpersuaded, heart-wrenching regret,” he says seriously, causing me to hesitate for a split second. “And you’d certainly regret this.”

“You’re not strong enough to kill your father, but he is strong enough to kill all of us,” Gage says like he’s trying to reason with me. “Let’s think this through.”

“He can’t come topside. That much we know. The longer we delay, the longer he dangles us on his strings whilst he plays the mad puppeteer,” I say on a frustrated sigh. “I’m not opposed to killing, and it seems to be the most logical solution to our current problem. I just got you four. I’m not ready to die without at least a little fight.”

Lamar pinches the bridge of his nose.

“Just remember you convinced her that she’s reasonable,” Ezekiel growls, causing Lamar to groan.

“Well, the old Paca was very reasonable, but also very knowledgeable and not running on snippets of information,” he finally gripes, glaring at Ezekiel before looking back to me. “You need to read your journals.”

“Do they say I’m a daddy’s girl or something? We’re in hell. He’s the Devil. I expect manipulation and tricks. I won’t believe words just because they’re on a page in a book we got from hell.”

“I don’t know what the journals say, to be honest. You blessed them so that only your blood would reveal the words,” Lamar answers.

“You were going to read my journals?” I ask on an octave higher. “Those are private!”

“Someone else reason with her. I’ve forgotten how exhausting she can be,” he groans.

“If Lucifer didn’t want us dead because it would have made his child suffer, I highly doubt he’s responsible for our deaths,” Jude says, reciting the origins journal.

“That was from the beginning, and a lot of centuries have passed since I spiced the four of you up real nice. I was created to be a robotic weapon. What if I decided I never wanted to blow the world to bits and he killed me so he could replace me, because there has to be six, not seven children, even though there are already technically seven children, regardless of the weird loophole rule?”

Everyone flicks a gaze between them, almost as though that hadn’t crossed their minds.

“Oh for heaven’s sake—”

“Really, Lamar? Heaven’s sake? Is that entirely appropriate?” I ask seriously.

He groans and scrubs a hand down his face.

“What on earth are you wearing?” he asks as he shakes his head.

“My ass-kicking, badass attire. Blame Catwoman for making leather bodysuits so fashionable while whooping ass and taking names. Take me to see Lucifer, get me all my journals, and then we’ll be on our way.”

He just studies me, and I study him right back.

“How about a compromise?” Kai bites out, glaring at me. “You pretend you have your memories and just speak with Lucifer. It’ll be you manipulating him to find out the truth about what happened.”

“And what if he kills her on the fucking spot?” Ezekiel snaps, shoving at Kai’s chest.

“So you admit he’s likely the one who wants us dead,” I say to Ezekiel, patting his shoulder and ignoring all the sounds of exasperation.

“Lamar, send them home. I’d like to see my father now,” I tell him with a smirk.

“Lamar, don’t you fucking—”


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