Home > Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)(9)

Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)(9)
Author: Richelle Mead

"Lissa needs to stay innocent. She can't be linked to any part of the escape or explosion,' replied Dimitri, eyes fixed ahead on his goal. His tone was firm. He still regarded her as his savior. "She has to keep herself visible with the other royals. So does Christian.' He almost smiled. Almost. "Those two would certainly be my first suspects if something exploded.'

"But the guardians won't suspect them once they realize the blast wasn't caused by magic,' I mused. Mikhail's earlier words returned to me. "And hey, where did you guys get a hold of C4? Military grade explosives are kind of extreme, even for you.'

No one answered me because three guardians suddenly leapt out into our path. Apparently, they weren't all out at the church. Dimitri and I surged ahead of our group, moving as one, just as we always had in battle together. Adrian had said the illusion he'd stretched over our group wouldn't hold if anyone was facing us directly. I wanted to make sure Dimitri and I were the first line of contact with these guardians, in the hopes they wouldn't recognize the others behind us. I threw myself into the fight without hesitation, defensive instincts kicking in. But in those milliseconds, the reality of what I was doing truly sank in.

I'd fought guardians before and always felt guilty about it. I'd taken on the ones at Tarasov Prison, as well as the queen's guard during my arrest. I hadn't really known any of them, though. Just realizing they were my colleagues had been bad enough ... but now? Now I was facing one of the most difficult challenges in my life, as small as it seemed. After all, three guardians were an easy match for me and Dimitri. The problem was--I knew these guardians. Two of them I'd run into quite a bit after graduation. They worked at Court and had always been kind to me.

The third guardian wasn't just someone I knew--she was a friend. Meredith, one of the few girls in my class at St. Vladimir's. I saw the flash of uneasiness in her eyes, a sentiment mirroring my own. This felt wrong to her too. But, she was a guardian now, and like me, she had had duty drilled into her throughout her life. She believed I was a criminal. She could see I was free and in attack mode. Procedure dictated she take me down, and honestly, I wouldn't have expected anything less. It's what I would have done had our roles been reversed. This was life and death.

Dimitri was on the other two guys, as fast and badass as ever. Meredith and I went for each other. At first, she tried to knock me down by virtue of her weight, probably in the hopes of pinning me down until backup could help grab me. Only, I was stronger. She should have known that. How many times had we sparred in the school's gym? I'd almost always won. And this was no game, no practice drill. I pushed back at her attack, punching her on the side of her jaw and desperately praying I didn't break anything. She kept moving through the pain, but--again--I was superior. I caught a hold of her shoulders and threw her down. Her head hit hard, but she remained conscious. I didn't know whether to be grateful or not. Maintaining my grip, I put her in a chokehold, waiting until her eyes closed. I released as soon as I was sure she was out, my heart twisting in my chest.

Glancing over, I saw Dimitri had also taken down his opponents. Our group kept moving as though nothing had happened, but I glanced at Eddie, knowing there was grief on my face. He looked pained too but sought to reassure me as we hurried along.

"You did what you had to,' he said. "She'll be okay. Banged up, but okay.'

"I hit her hard.'

"The medics can deal with concussions. Hell, how many did we get in practice?'

I hoped he was right. The lines between right and wrong were getting confusing. The one good thing, I supposed, was that Meredith had been so occupied by the sight of me that she probably hadn't noticed Eddie and the others. They'd held back from the fight, hopefully keeping on Adrian's veil of spirit while Dimitri and I took the attention.

We finally reached the garages, which were indeed more crowded than usual. Some Moroi had already driven off. One royal was hysterical because her driver had her car's keys, and she didn't know where he was. She was shouting to passers-by to see if anyone could hotwire the car for her.

Dimitri led us purposefully forward, never wavering. He knew exactly where we were going. There had been a lot of planning, I realized. Most of which had probably happened yesterday. Why had Lissa obscured it from me? Wouldn't it have been better for me to have a heads-up on the plan?

We scurried through the people, heading toward the garage on the very farthest side. There, sitting just outside of it and seemingly ready to go, was a drab gray Honda Civic. A man stood near it, arms crossed as he examined the windshield. Hearing our approach, he turned around.

"Abe!' I exclaimed.

My illustrious father turned and gave me one of those charming smiles that could lure the unwary to their doom.

"What are you doing here?' demanded Dimitri. "You'll be on the list of suspects too! You were supposed to stay back with the others.'

Abe shrugged. He looked remarkably unconcerned at Dimitri's angry expression. I wouldn't have wanted that fury directed at me. "Vasilisa will make sure a few people at the palace swear they saw me there during suspicious times.' He turned his dark eyes toward me. "Besides, I couldn't leave without telling you goodbye, could I?'

I shook my head in exasperation. "Was this all part of your plan as my lawyer? I don't recall explosive escapes being part of legal training.'

"Well, I'm sure it wasn't part of Damon Tarus's legal training.' Abe's smile never wavered. "I told you, Rose. You will never face execution--or even a trial, if I can help it.' He paused. "Which, of course, I can.'

I hesitated, glancing toward the car. Dimitri stood by it with a set of keys, looking impatient. Adrian's words echoed in my memory.

"If I run, it's just going to make me seem that much more guilty.' "They already think you're guilty,' said Abe. "You wasting away in that cell won't change that. This just ensures we now have more time to do what we need to without your execution looming over us.'

"And what are you going to do exactly?'

"Prove you're innocent,' said Adrian. "Or, well, that you didn't kill my aunt. I've known for a while you aren't all that innocent.'

"What, are you guys going to destroy the evidence?' I asked, ignoring the dig.

"No,' said Eddie. "We have to find who really did kill her.'

"You guys shouldn't be involved with that, now that I'm free. It's my problem. Isn't that why you got me out?'

"It's a problem you can't solve while you're at Court,' said Abe. "We need you gone and safe.'

"Yeah, but I--'

"We're wasting time arguing,' said Dimitri. His gaze fell on the other garages. The crowds were still chaotic, too busy with their own fears to notice us yet. That didn't affect Dimitri's concern. He handed me a silver stake, and I didn't question the reasons. It was a weapon, something I couldn't turn down. "I know everything looks disorganized, but you'll be amazed at how quickly the guardians will restore order. And when they do, they're going to lock this place down.'

"They don't need to,' I said slowly, my mind spinning. "We're already going to have trouble going out of Court. We'll be stopped--if we can even get to the gate. There are going to be cars lined up for miles!'

"Ah, well,' said Abe, idly studying his fingertips. "I have it on good authority there's going to be a new "gate' opening up soon over on the south side of the wall.'

The truth dawned on me. "Oh lord. You're the one who's been doling out C4.'

"You make it sound so easy,' he said with a frown. "That stuff's hard to get a hold of.'

Dimitri's patience was at an end. "All of you: Rose needs to leave now. She's in danger. I'll drag her out if I have to.'

"You don't have to go with me,' I shot back, kind of offended at the presumption. Memories of our recent arguments emerged, of Dimitri saying he couldn't love me and didn't even want to be friends. "I'll take care of myself. No one else needs to get in trouble. Give me the keys.'

     Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)
     Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)
     Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)
     Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4)
     Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5)
     Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)
     The Meeting (Vampire Academy 0.9)      Homecoming (Vampire Academy #6.5)