Category: Novel

Monday Fiction – Avalon Chapter 2

Erik

“It is a great view at night, isn’t it?” said the man as he stepped out onto the catwalk. Erik didn’t bother acknowledging the other man’s presence. He’d come up to the top catwalk of the Temerity Pylon to get away from everyone, and Erik was annoyed that his solitude was broken. The man put his hands on the railing and looked down at Lower City. From twelve hundred meters up, the neighborhoods of the lower level of Avalon City looked almost peaceful. Both men knew the reality of Lower City. 

“Your father wants to see you,” Colonel Michael Hastings said. Hastings, better known to the masses as Post Primam, was the senior officer of First Battalion of Whiteguard – the psychics and sorcerers that guarded the Emperor. As the Post Primam, Hastings was expected to be the finest example of the beyond-natural humans in the service of the Emperor. The Avalonian version of Captain America. 

Erik knew Hastings better when the two were roommates at the Preternatural Academy. Erik, Samantha, and Hastings had been better known as the Terrible Trio that had terrorized the faculty with various pranks and jokes. Sam had even dated Hastings briefly after graduation. Erik and Hastings kept in touch over the years, but that had changed in the last year and a half. Erik had been avoiding his old friend since nearly getting Hastings killed during the ending of the Commandante Affair. Many of Hastings’s friends were killed when Erik unwittingly sent them into an ambush. Much to Erik’s relief, he didn’t sense any resentment or hatred coming from his old friend. 

“My father’s dead, Michael,” Erik answered, flatly. He could feel Hastings’s frustration. Well, that was his own damn fault. Hasting knew Erik’s feelings on that subject. 

“Your step-father then,” Hasting said, “Erik, quit being an ass. Do you think I would have been sent to find you if this was just a routine errand?” Erik stepped back from the rail and looked at Hastings. Erik probed harder with his empathic senses. There was an undercurrent of fear and worry running through him. 

“What’s going on?” Erik asked.

“Not here,” Hastings answered, lowering his voice. “Your step-father’s office.” Erik looked out at Lower City. He could go down to the street and take the next lift up to the Upper City, but that would take at least a half-hour. Erik grinned maliciously at Hastings. 

“What is going through that head of yours?” Hastings asked as soon as he saw the smile. He knew Erik far too well. 

“Practiced your flying recently?” Erik asked, and Hastings blanched. In terms of raw power, Hastings’ telekinesis easily eclipsed Erik. That being said, Hastings never learned the fine control that Erik had with his telekinesis – and flying was all about control. Erik pushed off of the catwalk and felt the welcoming familiar sensation of falling. Telekinetic flying required creating “columns” of telekinetic force to push and pull against much heavier objects, such as buildings, pylons, and the ground. Most telekinetics strong enough to lift more than their own body weight were taught the basics of flight at the Academy. Of those, only about half ever became proficient. It just required too much concentration. Then, there were those like Erik who excelled at it. Erik luxuriated in the sensations as he soared out beyond the walls of Avalon City and up to Upper City. His powers were too weak on Earth to really fly. He missed it more than he realized.

In less than fifteen minutes, Erik landed gracefully in front of his stepfather’s mansion. Like all of the buildings in Upper City, the mansion looked more like a small fortress. Reinforced arms reached out from the gray stone building to four sentry buildings. From the air, it had a passing resemblance to a Maltese Cross. All of the Upper City buildings had the same drab severity on their exteriors due to the occasional windstorms that tore through the streets when the invisible wind shields periodically turned off. Like so much of Avalon City, no one knew why the shields went down, but when they did, the winds were strong enough to knock a lorry off the side of Upper City. The aristocracy and those wealthy enough to afford homes in Upper City had learned long ago to reserve their opulence behind the stout walls of their homes.

“You’re a jackass, Jaegar,” Hastings said as dropped to the cobblestones with a meaty thud. Erik wordlessly shrugged his shoulders. “Well, let’s not keep them waiting. They’re waiting for us in your stepfather’s office.”

They’re?” Erik asked as they walked through the visitors gate. Erik had been expecting a servant to be waiting for them. Instead, one of his stepfather’s armsmen was waiting at parade rest. The soldier/bodyguard motioned for Erik and Hastings to follow him. His stepfather kept his office in the main house, just inside from the visitors gate. It was efficient and pragmatic, unlike many others of the aristocracy who made a person tramp all over the house just so the visitor would see all the expensive knick-knacks in the house. 

Stephan Luugard, Duke of Amwell, High Counselor of the House of Lords, and Mayor of Avalon City sat behind his antique oak desk. He was a tall, thin man in his early fifties dressed in a conservative suit of navy blue. Erik’s mother must have picked out the green silk tie that set off the suit. Luugard’s dark eyes narrowed as Erik walked into the room. Absently, he began to stroke his thick gray-streaked beard with a long fingered hand. Erik could feel annoyance, loathing, and – relief? – coursing behind his stepfather’s impassive facade. In the time Erik had known his stepfather, the man had never once felt relief at seeing Erik. 

As surprising as his stepfather’s emotional mix was, Erik’s eyes were drawn to the small, bookish man sitting in front of Luugard’s desk and sipping on a glass of amber. Thinning black hair and an off-the-rack gray suit made the man look like a mid-level manager or a slightly senior bureaucrat. The man’s perpetual bored look enhanced the image. Erik knew better. Vincent Paul was the head of the Grayguard’s Office of Special Investigations. In the ten years Erik had worked for him in Blackguard, Paul had been known as the Saint.

“Stephan, what’s going on?” Erik asked his stepfather. 

“Much to my own annoyance, I’m just playing host for Mr. Paul,” Luugard answered. Erik turned to his former employer.

“What do you want Saint?” Erik asked. “What could be so important and secret that you had to appropriate the mayor’s personal office?” The Saint flicked his hazel eyes up at Erik. The Saint was one of the few people whose emotions Erik couldn’t feel. The small man was also a past master at controlling his body language. 

“I don’t need anything from you,” the Saint answered cryptically. “Princess Corrine, on the other hand, is in desperate need of your services.”

“What happened to Corry?” Erik asked before he could stop himself. He felt Luugard’s flash of anger at the familiar name, but Erik didn’t give a damn. Erik had been part of a small coterie of children that had been allowed to play with the emperor’s son and daughter. Corry had been, if not his best friend, then a very close one. 

“She was shot down doing a reconnaissance flight above Battle Island,” the Saint answered. “From our best reports, she’s been captured by the Dark Towers.” 

“There’s more,” Erik said. Getting Corry out of the Dark Towers’ prisoner camps on Battle Island would be a job for the Imperial Guard, but from the intense frustration emanating from Hastings, they hadn’t been given the mission. Erik doubted they wanted him to go rescue Corry because of his prior relationship with the princess or his experience on Battle Island. 

“We have reason to believe that she was shot down by someone working for one of the other aristocrats,” the Saint said. It could never be easy. 

Monday Fiction – Avalon Chapter 1

Anne

Anne fought down the urge to smooth her skirt again. The light gray suit dress was a gift from Lady Maritza, and it was exquisite. Granted, Anne hadn’t put up much of a fight when Lady Maritza presented it to her last week. Just thinking how much it cost, much less the tailoring, made Anne slightly worried that IA would take a closer look at her relationship with Lady Maritza. Still, as both the Lady Maritza and Kurt stressed, it wasn’t everyday that she got to meet a princess. 

Anne contented herself with looking around the main room. Lady Maritza, as the senior diplomat for Avalon, was sitting in one of the leather chairs. Across an antique coffee table from her sat Helen Murras. Anne couldn’t remember the woman’s lengthy title, but she was the senior diplomat for the American side. Kurt and Samantha stood at Lady Maritza’s shoulder. Kurt was Lady Maritza’s security, while Samantha was acting as the older woman’s aide. Jason was in one corner of the room with Agent Privas. Jason had been assigned as the liaison between the American supernatural task force (which was always referred to as just “the task force”) and the Avalonians. The task force was providing the American portion of security, since it was unlikely the normal agencies such as DSS and Secret Service would know how to handle a supernatural attack. Two more agents Anne didn’t know were acting as security for Ms. Murras. The agents eyed Anne warily, like they weren’t sure what side she was on. Anne was assigned as the personal liaison for the princess. Anne still wasn’t sure exactly what she was supposed to be doing, but the princess had asked for her personally. 

“The advance team is here,” announced the agent stationed in the lobby of the Marcom Hotel. The Marcom was probably the finest hotel in the city and the building was considered a historic landmark. The Avalonian prince and princess had been given the presidential suite that took up the entire fifteenth floor. To be fair, the suite was designed not just for the designated occupants, but for their expected staffs as well. That was a good thing, because Anne had been told to expect to reside at the Marcom for the Avalonians’ stay. Her room at the Marcom was a closet compared to the rest of the suite, but at least she wouldn’t be stuck in traffic on the few off-hours she expected. It also helped that Lady Maritza helpfully made sure she was sharing the room with Kurt.

It also helped that during the Avalonians’ stay, Anne wasn’t being teamed up with her erstwhile partner. It was now an open secret in homicide that Jason was a federal agent being quietly “loaned” to the city. None of the rumors even touched that the real reason he’d been assigned was to help protect Anne from being captured by the Dark Towers and forcibly taken back to Avalon. Still, he’d been taking a lot of ribbing in the past six weeks from the other detectives. That, combined with a lot of animosity over what had happened during the Outsider Event (as it was being called by the task force), had made him bitchy and irritable. It was like working with someone constantly on her period. 

There was a sharp rap at the suite’s main entrance. Three men and an elf walked into the suite. All were dressed in suits and wore earpieces. The only thing that seemed to distinguish the three humans was hair color. After months of dealing with Erik, Anne didn’t expect Imperial Security to look so much like feds. Lady Maritza walked over and shook hands with all four of them before escorting them over to the assembled group. 

“Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce Agents Barston, Sturm, and Calhoun of the Imperial Guard and Free-Elf Veritas of the Office of Special Investigations,” Lady Maritza said. If Ms. Murras had any qualms about meeting an elf, she kept her diplomat’s face as she shook the proffered hands. Each of the humans accepted Anne’s hand with the cool professionalism she’d expected. Veritas, on the other hand, almost seemed to sneer at her when they shook hands. As the elf turned to the next person, something dawned on Anne. Lady Maritza said that Veritas was from the Office of Special Investigations. That was the same outfit that sent Samantha, Erik, and Veronica to recruit Anne. She wasn’t sure, but Anne had a sneaking suspicion that Veritas wasn’t here solely to guard the prince and princess. Anne caught Samantha’s eye and the psychic nodded at Anne’s unvoiced question. 

“The prince’s party is expected to arrive here in four hours,” Agent Barston said after introductions were completed, “Agent Sturm and myself would like to go over the arrival plan once more with Ms. Murras and Agent Privas. Agent Calhoun and Free-Elf Veritas will need to speak with the Avalonian contingent and Detective Hearst about some last minute details about the princess’s visit.” 

“Anything we should be concerned about?” Agent Privas asked.

“No, it’s more clarification than anything else,” Agent Barston answered. 

“Well, if you two gentlemen will follow me into the command center, we can show you what we have,” Agent Privas said, motioning for the two Imperial Guardsmen to follow her down the hall. Ms. Murras and the rest of the feds followed the trio. As soon as they were out of the room, Samantha fixed Agent Calhoun with a hard gaze.

“You fucking traitor, Billy,” Samantha said with a cold anger.

“Good to see you too, babe,” Agent Calhoun said, equally as chilly.

“Are you going to have problems with everyone during this visit, Ms. Hart?” Lady Maritza asked. 

“Probably, but I do apologize for letting my temper get the better of me, this time,” Samantha answered in a contrite tone. She still shot daggers with her eyes when she looked over at Agent Calhoun. He ignored her and focused on Anne.

“Detective Hearst, you’ve been assigned as the princess’s personal liaison,” Agent Calhoun said.

“Yes. What exactly am I supposed to be doing?” Anne asked.

“Mainly acting as a combination aide and bodyguard,” Agent Calhoun answered, “In your off-time, Free-Elf Veritas will be helping you with your magic.” The elf just frowned at her. 

“Thanks, but I’m doing pretty well on my own,” Anne said. She didn’t bother mentioning that she’d accidentally set fire to the meditation room at the clubhouse a few days earlier. Something about Veritas made her uneasy. Besides, it had only been a little fire. 

“It’s not a request Detective,” Agent Calhoun said, “We need you to be more proficient with your magic.”

“Why?” Anne asked.

“We have a credible intelligence that someone close to the prince and princess will try to assassinate them during this trip,” Agent Calhoun said. Anne swore under her breath. Erik was right. It could never be easy.

  

Monday Fiction – Avalon Chapter 17

Anne

Anne sipped at her tea as she tried to process everything that Lady Maritza had just told her. It had been a week since the fight in the forest, and this was the first time that Anne had been allowed out of her bed. Officially, it had been to recover from injuries from the fighting with the Servitors. In truth, though, Anne, with Samantha’s help, had spent most of the week dealing with the memories that had flooded her mind when Arem removed her block. Damn it, she’d been just an infant. Why did she have to have the memories of Arem and Meliandre (Anne was guessing it was Meliandre) murdering her twin sister for some ritual. Samantha’s best guess was that unless Anne locked away all of her power, the memories would remain. Much to her own surprise, Anne realized she wanted her powers – even at the cost of the memories. She just wished she could figure out a way of looking at her parents without feeling guilty.

“I can’t believe Veronica’s gone,” Anne said as she set down the china cup on the coffee table. “I thought it would be easier after Dale died, but it’s just as hard.” Dale Melon had been her partner in homicide and had been killed during a fight with werewolves and Arem. It was hard to believe that was less than a year ago.

“It never gets easier, when those closest to us are killed,” Samantha said from where she was ensconced in an overstuffed armchair. “Especially the way people in our profession tend to go.” There was an odd fatalism in Samantha’s voice that Anne had never heard before.

“Jaegar was kind enough to offer to visit her family,” Lady Maritza said, clearly annoyed with having to admit it.

“He was the team leader. It was his duty,” Samantha said. “I just wish I was going with him. Those visits are harder for him because of his powers.” Anne flinched as she thought of what it must be like being an empath surrounded by grieving families. Maybe that was part of why Erik always seemed so cold.

“Yes, well, he’s proven to be quite capable of dealing with death,” Lady Maritza said and Samantha’s eyes narrowed.

“With Erik banished back to Avalon and Veronica’s death, who’s going to be filling out my security detail?” Anne asked. “Arem kept his word about not trying to get me back during the fight with the Servitors, but I know he’s going to try again.”

“Your security is no longer the responsibility of the Avalonian government,” Lady Maritza said, “Of so I’ve been told by the Americans. Their task force has decided to set up a permanent base here. Jason is not the head of your detail, and will keep his cover as your partner in homicide. Others will move into the apartments to take over as your detail.”

“What about Samantha and Kurt?” Anne asked.

“The Americans have asked us to stay on as ‘advisors’ on dealing with whatever the Dark Towers could send their way,” Samantha answered.

“Officially, they will both work for my husband’s security firm,” Lady Maritza said. “Which will make it easier on your relationship with Kurt, since the pair of you won’t have to go hiding about anymore.” Anne looked down at her cup and blushed. She thought they were doing a good job of keeping that from being discovered by Lady Maritza. Much to Anne’s surprise, Lady Maritza let out a peal of genuine laughter.

“Oh my, Anne, you are precious,” Lady Maritza said, “I’m not blind. I can see how the two of you look at each other.” The older woman’s eyes had a wistful look. “The pair of you remind me of how my husband and I used to act when we were your age. Younger, actually, now that I think about it. Someday, I will have to tell you that story.”

“Joseph’s also going to be joining us as soon as he completes his recovery,” Samantha said, barely containing her own happiness.

“As much tragedy as this incident has caused us, there have been a few bright spots,” Lady Maritza commented. The women fell silent in contemplation.

“So, what now?” Anne asked, after a few minutes.

“In another week, you’ll go back to work,” Lady Maritza, “Although, you’ll be taken off of active cases for at least the next two months or so.”

“What? Why?” Anne asked, almost sputtering into her cup. Strangely, Lady Maritza looked over apprehensively at Samantha. The psychic’s jaw dropped, and then her face scrunched in intense anger.

“What the hell is she doing coming here?” Samantha snarled.

“Escorting her husband, as is proper and expected,” Lady Maritza answered cooly.

“Lady Maritza, would you kindly explain to me what’s going on?” Anne asked.

“Of course, Anne dear. I apologize for inadvertently excluding you,” Lady Maritza said, “The Avalonian government is sending the Crown Prince Rupert here to discuss with the American government recent events and negotiate a better course of action. His wife Anya will be accompanying him, and has asked that you be detailed to serve as one of her personal guards and liaison.” Anne frowned as she thought about having to do diplomatic security. High level muckety-mucks tended to bring their own security, and the Secret Service and State Department tended to send even more. These details usually ended with her being sent for coffee because she happened to know what were the best places in the city. Then Anne’s mind caught the woman’s name.

“Wait, wasn’t Erik’s ex-girlfriend’s name Anya?” Anne asked. “The Avalonian prince is married to Erik’s ex-girlfriend?”

“From what I understand, it was probably closer to ex-fiancee,” Lady Maritza said after it was clear that Samantha wouldn’t say anything. Lady Maritza’s head snapped to Samantha.

“Yes, you will work with ‘that woman,'” Lady Maritza said, answering a telepathically sent question, “For some reason, Princess Anya considers you to be a friend, and has specifically asked for you and Anne to be assigned as part of her aides.” Anne didn’t think she’d ever seen Samantha so furious in all the time she’d known the Avalonian. Lady Maritza continued as if she didn’t notice Samantha’s expression. “The Crown Prince will be here in six weeks and is expected to stay for a fortnight. Perhaps longer if necessary. From now until then, we’ll be working with the Americans to make sure everything is prepared for their arrival.”

Monday Fiction – Avalon Chapter 16

Erik

Erik felt more than saw the Servitors’ shield come down from Anne’s magic strike. He could see the shock on the cultists’ faces as they scrambled to finish digging their summoning symbol. All except their leader. The High Servitor seemed more annoyed than anything else. Erik brought up his Galil ACE and fired a burst at the man. The High Servitor anticipated the attack and pulled one of his minions to shield himself from the gunfire. The cultist jerked as the three bullets hit her and then went still. The High Servitor dropped the body and smiled. He bent down and drew a circle on the ground. Erik had a sinking feeling he knew what was going to happen next.

“Kurt, open fire!” Erik shouted an instant before the clearing rocked with a horrific roaring. Something large and tentacled lifted itself out of the circle. Erik couldn’t tell much more because it hurt to look at the monster. Kurt yelled something in German until the rapid dud-dud-dud of the machine gun drowned him out. As they’d planned, Kurt didn’t fire at the monstrosity that was bearing down on them. Kurt was there to kill as many of the Servitors as he could. Half a dozen of the Servitors were cut down before one of the monster’s tentacles ripped the machine gun from Kurt’s hands. Erik aimed at the painfully blurry mass and fired his grenade launcher. The monster’s howl drowned out the pop-hiss of the willie-pete grenade. The next thing Erik knew he was airborne and his ACE was bent nearly in half. 

Erik knocked down several of the black-eyes as he landed on them. He tossed the useless carbine aside and drew his revolver. Erik didn’t bother wasting the precious rounds in the cylinder on the black-eyes. He sprinted back towards the monster. It was still screaming in pain as John and Nigel each pumped in more of the burning white-phosphorous grenades. The monster lashed out at the two operatives. The chemical fire made weakened it, but the monster’s tentacle slap was still strong enough to throw John a good five meters. Erik braced and fired all five rounds in his revolver. 

Erik wasn’t sure where Kurt got the “mostly-depleted” uranium he’d used in constructed Erik’s bullets, and he damn sure wasn’t going to ask. Especially not after seeing the effect they had on the Outsider monster. It’s screams took on a new high-pitch wail, and it slinked back to the portal. Erik popped open the cylinder of his revolver and dumped the brass. From what he saw, another five “special” rounds should be enough to finish the monster.

The human scream ripped Erik’s eyes away from the monster. He looked to where the High Servitor stabbed deeper into Veronica’s chest. Blood poured out of the small woman onto the grass. The High Servitor smiled triumphantly and chanted something in the Outsiders’ infernal tongue. A brilliant white tear appeared in the air behind the pair. It had to have been fifty meters high. The bastard had managed to open a gate for the Outsiders. That must have taken most of the High Servitor’s power, because suddenly Erik felt all of his powers flood back into him. He was nearly buried under the emotions and psi-scents that permeated the clearing. Erik focused on the satisfaction of the High Servitor and Veronica’s terror. 

Far’ling gleamed in the night as Erik pushed himself into the air. The High Servitor’s satisfaction dimmed as he watched Erik arc through the air. Shock and surprise blossomed in the man. The High Servitor dropped Veronica and tried to run. Erik made a small adjustment and then felt the High Servitor’s vertebrae crack and pop under his weight as he landed. 

“The Nameless God will see this world before the night is done,” the High Servitor croaked. Erik silently slashed down with Far’ling and neatly parted the man’s head and body. Decapitation was one of those wounds that made resurrection nearly impossible. Erik’s head snapped up as he heard Veronica’s whimpers of pain. Erik leapt over to Veronica. She was still bleeding profusely from the stab. Erik slapped on the single magic-infused patch he had on him. It couldn’t heal a wound that severe, but it would make sure that Veronica didn’t bleed out.

“I’m going to get you to the medics,” Erik said, “This is going to hurt.” She pushed his hands away. “Veronica, we need to get you help, now.”

“Erik, stand me up,” Veronica wheezed. He felt the determination and fear running through the woman. Carefully, he used his power to help her stand. Veronica stared at the gate. Her determination and fear heightened even more.

“We need to close this gate. Right bloody now,” Veronica said, holding her hand to patch. “I can feel them coming through.”

“I can get Arem and Anne up here to help,” Erik said, but Veronica just shook her head. 

“No time, Erik,” Veronica said. “I can see the framework of the gate, but I need more power to close it.” She gave him a sad look. “I need Far’ling.” The request took Erik aback. He’d won the sword over a decade ago. The pleading look in Veronica’s eyes told him she understood how much the blade meant to him, and how desperately she needed it. Reluctantly, he handed the elven blade over to Veronica. She closed her eyes and murmured in elven. Then she collapsed to the ground and cried out in pain and frustration. 

“What?” Erik asked as he knelt next to Veronica. 

“It’s not enough,” she cried. She looked up at Erik and he felt the pure terror that ran through her. 

“I don’t want to die,” Veronica whispered. Erik didn’t understand why she said that, but he could feel her bracing herself. Veronica handed the sword back to him, and then gave him the most sorrowful expression he’d ever seen. 

“Erik, stab me through with that sword and toss me into the gate.”

Erik didn’t hesitate. The elven blade punched through Veronica’s chest like the woman’s body was made of silk. He felt her fear, pain, and last-second fight to cling to life. He used his power to hurtle the dying woman into the widening gate. The brilliant light was the last thing Erik remembered before everything went dark.    

Monday Fiction – Avalon Chapter 15

Erik

Erik went down to his knees as the wave of Outsider power flashed out from the cultists. It was like the battle in Hope Park. He could feel his psychic abilities being locked away from him as pain radiated from those parts of his brain. Sam grunted in pain as she came under similar assault. Erik was about to tell her to stay back, but he saw the determined look in her eyes. The nice thing about working with someone you’d known for over half your life was that you learned when not to waste your breath on an order they would just ignore. Sam considered herself not just Veronica’s teammate, but her friend as well. Sam couldn’t sit back and do nothing when her friend was in trouble. Erik motioned his team cautiously forward.

The Americans had rushed into the fight. They’d been unprepared for the pure psychic power of the black-eyes gestalt. Several of the American agents were on the grassy ground, curled up in a fetal position, holding their heads, and murmuring to themselves. Most of the agents were up and trying to take the black-eyes down without killing them. Erik shook his head in annoyance. Handcuffing a black-eye still kept them in the gestalt. As long as they were in the gestalt, they contributed their power to the cultists.

“Ignore the black-eyes as best as you can,” Erik ordered his team, “Kill any that get in your way.” As if to punctuate his point, Erik put a pair of bursts into two black-eyes that had focused on him. An American agent who’d been busy wrestling another to the ground to flex-cuff the struggling woman gave Erik a slack-jawed stare.

“Did you want me to cut us a path?” Kurt asked, motioning with his light machine gun.

“Save your ammo,” Erik answered. He pointed across the field to where the Servitors were busily digging a summoning symbol into the ground. An unconscious Veronica laid next to a tall Servitor that was busily directing the other robed Servitors in their digging. Erik pegged him as leader. He seemed much too calm considering that his people were under assault by American law enforcement. On a hunch, Erik took aim with his ACE and fired a single round. The 7.62mm x 39 bullet disintegrated as it struck an invisible shield.

“Anne, I need your group to take down that shield,” Erik called. He waited for a moment as his team waded through the mass of black-eyes. “Anne?”


Anne

“Anne?” Erik asked again over the radio, his voice tinged with concern. Anne didn’t notice. She was too busy trying to remain conscious with the pain flooding her mind. This was so much worse than the last time. Her entire body felt like it was being crushed under the psychic lashing from the gestalt. The worst part was she knew that she was only getting a slight wash of the gestalt’s power. If whoever was directing that energy realized that there was an elf and a pair of sorceresses against them, Anne was pretty sure that they’d use all of the gestalt’s power to destroy her mind.

Anne felt a hand on her shoulder and the pain eased enough for her to think. She looked over and saw Arem. His normal smile was replaced by a rictus one. He was stretching to place his other hand on Agent Privas. The federal sorceress was curled up and screaming in pain. Forcing her legs to move, Anne scooted closer to Arem. The elf nodded and moved closer to Agent Privas. Her screaming quieted the instant the elf managed to touch her cheek. Anne felt her own pain drop even further.

Good, now maybe we can figure out how to actually do something, Arem’s disembodied voice rang through Anne’s head. I’m pulling enough wild magic through the two of you to give us a little bubble of respite from the black-eyes. Anne felt all of the magic she could handle flow through her to Arem.

“Erik needs us to take down that shield,” Anne said. “Can you bring some orcs through to take out the black-eyes?” Agent Privas looked horrified at the idea, but didn’t say anything.

“Anne, dearest, it’s taking all of my attention to keep up the binding protecting us,” Arem said. The elf turned to Privas. “Perhaps your people could actually kill the black-eyes instead of coddling them?”

“We couldn’t! Those are just misguided people under the influence of the core group,” Agent Privas said. “Maybe I can take over the binding from you so that you can focus on taking down the shield or something else.” Anne felt a pang of sympathy for Agent Privas’s position. Arem just sneered and waved his hand. The binding flashed and Anne’s mouth dropped at the intricate weaves of the streams of wild magic. Even Veronica’s most delicate spell work never matched the spell’s intricate bindings. Privas also looked dumbstruck.

“We need more power and we need someone who can do a binding to unravel that shield,” Arem said, looking directly at Anne. Something in the elf’s eyes terrified Anne.

“I don’t have any more power to give!” Agent Privas said, “You’re pulling all that I can handle to fuel your binding.” Then, the federal agent realized to whom Arem was talking. She looked over at Anne with a shocked expression. “You can pull more?” Privas sounded incredulous. Anne understood. Arem was pulling more magic through her than Anne thought possible. Her head ached, but it wasn’t from the black-eyes. She was hitting her block.

“You can take the block away, can’t you?” Anne asked. The elf nodded grimly.

“It was put there to protect you,” Arem answered. “I can turn it off, but it may break you.”

“We need to save Veronica,” Anne said, “We need to stop them.” Arem nodded.

“Brace yourselves,” Arem said, “I’m going to have to redirect some of the power for a moment. Hold tight.” Pain flashed through Anne as Arem weakened the shielding. Cold tendrils slipped into her mind and slithered to that dark place where her block lay. Under the tendrils’ touch, Anne’s block unraveled.

Her mind was flooded with a tidal wave of images and sounds from fragmented memories. Part of her just wanted to fold up under the barrage. It was just too much at once. Then she felt it pulsing in her mind. The magic. The torrent of streams of pure wild magic coursed through her. Anne reached out and the streams bended to her will. Anne looked out at where the black-eyes fought with the feds. Anne could see the wrong streams of energy flowing out from the now visible sphere. Anne saw where the Outsider energies danced within the streams of wild magic. Almost instinctively, Anne understood what needed to be done. The binding required the binding of all the streams of wild magic around her. Anne’s fingers danced as she directed the intricate weaves. With a scream, she released the binding.

The forest rocked with sound as the binding slammed into the Outsider energy and forced it back. Anne slumped to the ground exhausted as the shield fell and the black-eyes collapsed to the ground. She tried hard to keep the images of Arem and an elven woman murdering her infant sister from her mind just before she passed out.

Monday Fiction – Avalon Chapter 14

Anne

The Polk National Forest at night had scared a six-year-old Anne when her father brought her up for an overnight camping trip. Anne had thought she left that fear behind her as she grew up. Creeping about the forest hunting for the Servitors of the Nameless God brought back all of that fear. If anything, the nightvision goggles she was wearing enhanced her anxiety. The forest left too many dark shadows in the green-scale field. Her anxiety wasn’t helped by the fact that she was being escorted by Agent Privas, the feds’ chief sorceress, and Arem. Her normal partner, Jason, rounded out their quartet. 

The federal task force spread out its forty tactical agents in four-person fireteams. The Avalonian contingent of Erik, Kurt, Samantha, and Lady Maritza’s two main gunslingers, John and Nigel were slightly behind the agents. The feds weren’t too happy with having Anne and the Avalonians (wouldn’t that make an interesting band name) on scene, but Lady Maritza quietly pointed out that the Americans were going to need the extra firepower based on what had happened in Hope Park. Unless, of course, the U.S. government was willing to have an “accident” with one of their big bunker-buster bombs. Anne had thought the Avalonians were being overly bloodthirsty. Then she was briefed in on exactly who she had kidnapped Veronica. 

Once the Americans, the Avalonians, and Arem had combined their intelligence, the group had learned a few things. The cult, the Servitors of the Nameless God, was far bigger than any of them had suspected. Instead of being a small core group that went from city to city, the Servitors were an international organization hidden behind one of the innumerable non-government organizations, or NGOs. A lot of that information had been handed over to the State Department, DOJ, and the IRS. If they succeeded tonight, it was hoped the federal government could break the public face of the Servitors. They needed to succeed tonight, because if they didn’t the Servitors were going to summon their nameless god. From the descriptions from Arem and Samantha, those humans who weren’t killed or driven insane would be enslaved by the Outsider god.

“What the hell was that?” Agent Privas said as Anne felt a strong pull on the streams of wild magic. The streams around Anne fell to a bare trickle of what they’d been just a few seconds ago. “Did the Servitors do the ritual?”

“No,” Arem answered. “The fools are completing the preparations for their ritual.” The elf paused for a moment and cocked his head. “They might be drawing enough to prevent me from bringing reinforcements.” 

“What did they do?” Privas demanded in a low whisper.

“They bound the wild magic into some sort of framework,” Anne answered, surprising even herself. Anne didn’t know how she knew what had happened, but it was like she could “see” down the streams of wild magic to where the Servitors had bound them. A flash of pain burst through Anne’s head. At first, she thought it was something from the Servitors, but then Anne realized she’d slammed into her mental block again. From what Veronica and Samantha had deduced, the block had been put into her mind when she was a baby. They suspected the block was designed to keep Anne from killing herself by handling too much wild magic at once. Bundled in there were some memories hidden under that block. Anne’d had a glimpse a few months ago when they were fighting the vampires. Those memories had been enough for Anne to suspect that Arem, or his mistress Meliandre, was somehow responsible for the block, which brought up all sorts of questions that Anne didn’t want to poke at while she was sneaking up on a cult trying to summon their alien god. 

Arem gave her an appraising stare, which was even more disturbing in the odd green view of the nightvision. Elven eyes didn’t sparkle in nightvision like human eyes, which made Arem look a little bit like those gray aliens that pop up on any UFO-hunter program. Anne quickly turned away and focused on the barely broken trail their quartet was following into the forest. 

————–

Erik

Much to the Americans’ unease, Erik had made sure to pack grenades this time. More to the point, Kurt installed the “surplus” FN 40mm on Erik’s Galil ACE. If Erik had to go up against monsters like last time he’d fought the Servitors, he wanted lots of firepower. Especially if the bastards managed to cut him off from his power again. Kurt was wrangling a cut-down light machine gun. Both men carried lots of ammunition and additional weapons. Far’ling was sheathed at Erik’s side, but the magic sword was a last-resort weapon. It may end up being a very last resort weapon if things went downhill fast. Erik understood the Americans’ reluctance to use nuclear weapons on their own soil. Even the Avalonians rarely used the devices, as Erik knew only far too well. Still, they had those humongous bombs that were so large only the Americans’ cargo planes could lift them. What were they called? MOABs? Erik’s thoughts were cut off as one of the American agents reported.

“Eyes on target,” one of the scouts said, “Didn’t Park Service say they cleared out the forest?” There was consternation in the man’s voice.

“Yes. Why?” asked SAC Belushi. Much to Erik’s surprise the man in charge of the American agents was also creeping around the forest in body armor and carrying one of their little popguns. Granted, he was supposed to be towards the rear of their little group, but he was still out with his agents.  

“There’s got to be four or five hundred people on scene,” the scout answered. “Most of them look like civilians just camping out.” Swearing broke out on the radio net as the Americans contemplated how to get the extra people out of the way. Erik waited for a lull to explain, but he didn’t need to. 

“Those aren’t civilians!” Anne growled over the radio net. “Those are the black-eyes we told you about.”

“Hearst, these people look nothing like what you described,” the scout replied, “They look just like people enjoying the weekend.”

“As soon as you show yourselves, they will look exactly like what Anne described,” Erik said. “Give us a minute to properly set up the machine gun, and we’ll clear them out.” The radio net went dead silent. Erik waited for the tirade against his comment to commence. Before any of the Americans said anything, a new voice echoed through the radio.

“I’m afraid it’s too late for that,” the male voice said. 

“Who was that?” Belushi demanded. As if in answer to the SAC’s question, a wave of Outsider magic pounded the group. Much to the Americans credit, they didn’t hesitate. They charged into the clearing. Erik and his team followed slightly behind, both because they were a bit more heavily loaded and because they didn’t feel like running into an Outsider ambush. Their caution was rewarded by the throaty screams. 

Monday Fiction – Avalon Chapter 13

Anne

“You’d think they were upset to see me,” Arem said as he looked down the barrels of nearly a dozen pistols in the hands of federal agents. Arem kept his hands outstretched and away from the sword belted at his side. The Dark Towers elf looked at the screaming agents as if slightly amused by their antics.

“Considering how many of them you injured the last time we were here, I’m surprised they didn’t just shoot you on sight,” Erik said. Jason, who was standing between the federal agents and their group, looked back and leveled an evil glare at Erik.

“Fortunately for me, they’re much more restrained by their government than you are,” Arem replied to Erik.

“Can the two of you just shut the hell up until this is all finished and we have Veronica back?” Anne said. Arem and Erik both gave looks of contrition, but Anne severely doubted their sincerity. Anne was also severely doubting the wisdom of their current plan. Arem had escorted Anne back to the apartments under an extension of the earlier truce and explained what had happened to the group. Much to everyone’s surprise, it was Jason who proposed going to the feds. She’d expected Arem and Erik to dismiss the idea out of hand. Instead, they’d agreed on the condition that Jason intervene on excusing their earlier “transgression,” which the undercover federal agent reluctantly agreed. Erik had dragged Samantha from Joseph’s bedside to be a part of the meeting. Of course, the meeting was currently a stand-off between the feds and the Avalonians and Arem.

“Everyone lower your weapons!” cracked the authoritative voice of Special Agent in Charge Belushi. The leader of the federal task force strode between his agents to stand in front of Jason. Agent Privas, the task force’s chief spell slinger, stood next to her boss. Anne could feel the streams of wild magic bending around her as she prepared to counter anything Arem might throw at the feds. Anne breathed out in relief as the feds lowered their weapons. At least now if one of them ND’d, the round would go into the carpet into one of her friends. Or Arem.

“Would you care to explain, Agent MacMurtry?” SAC Belushi asked, staring at his wayward liaison/mole.

“The Servitors are still active in the city, and they’ve kidnapped the Avalonian sorceress,” Jason answered, “From what the Avalonians and Arem have told me, the Servitors can use the sorceress to power an even stronger summoning. Perhaps even strong enough to finally summon him.” Belushi’s dark eyes went wide, but Privas’s eyes narrowed.

“How?” she asked simply, focusing her gaze on Arem.

“She’s an Avalonian sorceress,” Arem answered, “The leader of these fools can use her blood to open a gate and pull in the stronger magic of Avalon. Plenty of power there to not only summon an Outsider god, but kill anyone who attempts to stop them.”

“You’re exaggerating,” Privas said, although her tone was shaky. “Opening a gate on this side is impossible.” Arem drew some wild magic and used his finger to open a slit in the middle of the air.

“You were saying?” Arem asked, flatly. Privas stared at the floating, four-foot tall gate.

“Agent Privas, Veronica explained the difference between the wild magic here and that on Avalon as comparing the water coming out of a hose and Niagara Falls,” Anne said.

“An apt metaphor,” Arem agreed. Anne shot him a poisonous look.

“If Arem is capable of opening a gate here, don’t you think these Outsiders could teach their Servitors how to do it?” Anne asked.

“So why are you here?” Belushi asked, in a biting tone, “You already have all of the data you stole from your last incursion.” Erik took a step up next to Jason.

“Our primary data analyst was badly injured in the battle at Hope Park,” Erik answered flatly, “Time is critical. You have superior analysts, and you also have more shooters than we do at the present. We’ve brought what intelligence we have on these Servitors as well as historical data.”

“So, what, you expect us to team up with you like this was a comic book or some movie?” SAC Belushi asked. “That elf put several of my agents out of action and you were complicit in espionage against the American government. By all rights, I should be arresting you.”

“Special Agent Belushi, we can stand around and argue, or we can get to work and find where those cultists have taken my sorceress,” Erik answered. “Time is of the essence, and this is your best chance to deal the Servitors a mortal blow.” Erik’s face softened. “I am willing to face whatever consequences the American government sees fit to impose – after we’ve defeated the Servitors.”

“What about him?” Belushi asked, pointing at Arem.

“I promise not to make fools out of your agents again,” Arem said. Belushi’s face went a dangerous shade of puce. “My mistress would not allow me to make the same bargain that Jaegar is offering you. Be glad that she is willing to put the full force of her armies at my disposal if need be to stop these fools.”

“That’s not good enough,” Belushi said.

“Special Agent Belushi, Arem’s given his word under flag of truce,” Erik said, “That’s the best you’re going to get with a Dark Towers minion.” Arem gave Erik an affronted look, but didn’t say anything else. Belushi stared hard at Arem as his mouth tightened until it was a narrow line on his face. Then, his eyes went wide in surprise.

“Fine,” Belushi said simply. “Give your intelligence to Agent Davies. He can go through what we have and what you have with your people.” Belushi motioned to a blond agent that looked more like a football player than an analyst. “Paul, bring in who you need. Tap what resources you need. Don’t waste time with niceties. I’ll make nice later.”

What just happened? Anne asked over the group’s telepathic link.

I explained to Special Agent Belushi that we would ensure Arem played nice, Samantha answered.

How? Anne asked, glancing at the smiling elf.

Knowing Erik, probably something explosive, Samantha said.

Monday Fiction – Avalon Chapter 12

Anne

Anne and Veronica enjoyed the evening air as they walked back to the apartments. Veronica dragged a small wire basket filled with supplies from the small grocery a few blocks from the apartments. It had been a couple weeks since the battle in the park, and the two were planning a special dinner for the group.

“Jason is going to be there tonight?” Veronica asked for the third time. Anne sighed. To say her relationship with her erstwhile partner was strained was an understatement worthy of the Brits. Worse, the task force was still in town. They had swooped down on Hope Park even before Lady Maritza’s agents had a chance to clean up. From the few words Anne and Jason had spoken, the task force knew the Avalonians were involved in the attack on them and were out for blood.

“He said he was going to try and show up,” Anne answered. “At least as long as Lady Maritza was going to be there.”

“Good, it’s going to be odd enough without Samantha there,” Veronica said. The group’s telepath had been at the hospital almost constantly since the battle. Something had happened between Samantha and Joseph when the three women fought to save his life. They managed to stabilize him, but the mixing of Samantha’s psychic powers and the magic binding Veronica and Anne used awakened and focused the latent attraction between Samantha and Joseph.

“We’ll have enough to take over to her later,” Anne said. “I want to make sure that Joseph’s still expected to come back to the apartments in a couple of weeks.” Anne stopped as her instincts flared. Her hand dropped to the butt of her Glock as she searched the streets around her. At first, Anne thought she was just overreacting, but then she felt as Veronica drew in wild magic. Another side effect of the battle was the two of them had a permanent magical link.

“What was that?” Veronica asked, suspiciously. Anne couldn’t see anything suspicious, but her body felt the echo of something. It was as if someone had splashed cold water right on her brain.

“I don’t know, but let’s get back to the apartments. Fast,” Anne answered. The two women strode down the sidewalk. Anne pulled out her phone. She was pretty sure that Veronica and her could handle anything for the next couple of blocks, but it never hurt to have backup.

The phone blinked once and died. A cold electricity filled the air around Anne and Veronica. The two traded worried looks. Then mist suddenly appeared, obscuring anything beyond a block away. Veronica parked the wire basket so they could run. Nothing wrong with running. Heavy steps filled the street. Lots of heavy steps, and they were coming from all around them. Anne forcibly slowed her breathing as she drew her pistol.

Figures emerged out of the mist. Most of them looked like the kids from the park. They all had that same punk/emo dress with the blank, expectant looks on their faces. First a few, then a dozen, then two dozen staggered out around them. Anne gripped her pistol tighter. She felt the heat of magic being gathered in Veronica’s hands.

“Can you put a blast over there that will knock them down?” Anne asked Veronica.

“I can immolate them from here just fine,” the smaller woman snarled. “Didn’t the park teach you not to be gentle with these people?” Before Anne could respond, a psychic blast lanced through the street and drove the two women to the sidewalk in pain.

BRING ME THE AVALONIAN WITCH! a voice boomed in their minds. Anne looked up. Solid black eyes stared back at her from the crowd. Anne shot a quick look back at Veronica. The woman was lying on the sidewalk moaning in pain. Anne tried to get Veronica to her feet, but she just curled up into a ball, holding her head. The black eyes closed on the two women.

Anne stood up and fell into her firing stance. She placed the front sight on the closest black-eye and tried very hard not to notice it was a girl who looked no more than fifteen years old. Outnumbered twenty to two, this might be ruled a good shoot.

EVERYONE BACK AWAY! IF YOU CONTINUE, I WILL BE FORCED TO USE LETHAL FORCE!” Anne shouted at the crowd, more to assuage her own guilt for what she was about to do than because she expected them to stop. The girl was less than fifteen feet away.

“We’re not here for you policewoman. Stand aside, or we will be forced to deal with you.” The words came from the girl, but the voice was male, cold, and evil. Anne lowered her aim and fired. The girl screamed in pain as the .40 caliber bullet tore through her pelvis.

Anne switched targets and fired twice into the man’s chest. He fell forward to the asphalt. A third black-eye soaked up five rounds before he fell. Anne took a step back as the group continued to bear down on Veronica and her. Anne aimed at the biggest of the black-eyes. The man had the build of an MMA fighter. Anne fired the remaining rounds in her mag, but the man just kept on coming.

Anne mechanically dropped the spent magazine and grabbed a fresh one from her belt. There was a bare twinkle out of the corner of her eye before something hard and heavy crashed into the side of her head. Stars obscured her vision before Anne realized she was on the ground. Warm wetness was trickling down the side of her face. Her Glock wasn’t in her hands. As the stars cleared, she saw two black-eyes standing over her as another picked up the moaning Veronica.

Without any conscious thought, Anne reached out to the streams of wild magic. She could feel them, but the streams wouldn’t bend to her touch. It was like there was a pane of glass between Anne and the streams. She pushed harder, but her block slammed down.

“So, you have some power of your own,” one of the black-eyes above her said in that same evil voice. “That’s a surprise. Is that why the Avalonians are with you?” Anne didn’t answer. A quick scan told her the group with Veronica were almost a block down the street. Her Glock was ten feet away.

“Still some fight in you, I see,” said the black-eye puppet. Agony lanced through Anne’s mind. She curled up on the sidewalk. The other black-eye kicked Anne in her side. Gritting her teeth, Anne yanked the little Ruger LCP out of its ankle holster and leveled it at the puppet. The tiny pistol barked three times. The puppet stumbled back into the street. Anne rolled to shoot the other black-eye just in time to be sprayed with blood. Standing over the now-decapitated body, Arem wiped down his sword with a silver cloth. Except for the scabbard at his side, the elf looked like he was on his way to a casual business meeting. Satisfied, the elf sheathed his sword and surveyed the street.

“Four dead. Not a bad night’s work, Anne,” Arem said, with an appreciative smile on his face.

“They took Veronica,” Anne managed as she tried to stand while still keeping the pistol pointed at Arem.

“What?” Arem asked, his head whipping back to her. His large brown eyes were shocked. “They have your sorceress?” Anne managed a small nod. Pain still made her head swim. Much to Anne’s surprise, Arem pulled out a cell phone. She didn’t think Arem even knew how to use a cell phone.

“Erik, they have your sorceress,” Arem said, “If we don’t cooperate, those fools will kill this world and ours.”

Avalon – Chapter 11

Anne

Anne looked up at Arem as the elf pointed at one of the robed cultists. In the shining armor, Arem truly looked like something out of Lord of the Rings. Except the whole being aligned with the forces of evil. The biggest of the ten orcs nodded at Arem’s unspoken command and grunted. The eight-foot tall creature pulled drew a spear and hurtled it at the cultist. The man stumbled out of the way as the heavy spear thunked into the earth next to him. Anne cursed, but then she noticed that the pressure on her mind was gone. She could feel the streams of wild magic dancing around her. Anne looked over to the black-eyes and saw that they were all looking around dumbfounded. Even better, Sam and Jason were standing back up.

Anne felt her resevoir of power and tugged at it hard to force the streams of earth, air, heat, and dark into the binding she’d seen Veronica draw once during their lessons. It wasn’t delicate, but Anne drew even more power to brute force the binding. Satisfied, she slung the spell at the black-eyes. The dust particles in the air around the black-eyes were suddenly bound together into small pea-sized pellets that glowed with intense heat before raining down on the black-eyes. They screamed in pain as the super-heated pellets punched through them. Whatever had been holding them together broke. Maybe half of them ran into the woods screaming in pain. The rest were laying on the grass, dead or badly injured. Anne fell to her knees gasping for breath. She felt Veronica’s hand on her arm.

“Should have warned you that the link between us was two-way,” Veronica said weakly. The small woman looked like she had just ran a full marathon. Anne started to apologize, but Veronica just shook her head. “Give me a minute, and I’ll be functional. Especially without those bastards in my head.”

“That was a very interesting binding,” Arem said, standing over them. “I didn’t think anyone could do that on this side of the gate.” Arem looked like he wanted to say more, but Jason appeared out of nowhere and fired a burst into the elf. Arem grunted as the bullets tore through his armor, but he didn’t go down. Instead, he moved with an unbearably fluid grace and slapped Jason’s head with the flat of his blade. The agent went down in a heap.

“You’d best see to your menfolk,” Arem said, through gritted teeth. “One of them is badly injured, and I’m not talking about this one.” He pointed his sword at Jason’s unconscious form. Arem whipped his hand up and a gate appeared. The orcs quickly bundled through the gate before Arem strode through. Anne blinked away as the gate shut.

“Help me,” Samantha said to Anne, lifting up Veronica. The sorceress looked annoyed she needed the assistance. “I can’t hear Joseph’s thoughts. We need to go find him.” As the three women started hobbling over, the darkness was broken by the shining light from Erik’s sword. Samantha swore and pushed the trio faster.


Erik

The sudden appearance of the orcs gave Erik and Kurt a chance to pull their injured comrade away from the monstrosity trying to kill Joseph. Erik had seen enough combat to know Joseph’s injuries were far beyond his meager skills. Maybe if Veronica were here, she could sling a spell that might save the young man’s life.

Erik rocked another magazine into his ACE. If Arem’s orcs could keep those monsters busy, then Erik could finish the cultists. Those people were why Erik was in this park. He motioned for Kurt to stay with Joseph before creeping forward. Ten to one odds weren’t that great, especially considering whatever the cultists were throwing around was still screwing up his telekinetic abilities. It helped that most of them were looking at one of their number that now sprouted an orc spear out of his chest. Erik chose one of the cultists that still gripped a small machine-pistol in her hand. He brought up his rifle and placed the floating reticle on the woman’s head.

Something snapped. That was the best word Erik had to describe the feeling as psychic energies whipsawed through the air. He could hear screams from where Sam and the others had been. They must have done something. All Erik knew was that he could suddenly feel again. His empathic and telepathic senses roared back into him. Erik stood up and let his assault rifle fall on its sling. His hand fell on the hilt of Far’ling. The darkness retreated as the elven sword glowed with ferocious blue-white light. The cultists all spun at the sudden light. Most of them recoiled in horror as they saw Erik walking towards them with the sword. A few stared back defiantly and started to cast their own spells. He gave them a predatory smile. It had been quite a while since he’d truly let loose.

With a boost of power, Erik was five meters in the air. Far’ling whistled through the air before scything down two casters. The blade was already arching back to meet Erik as the Avalonian slammed down boot-first on his original target. The woman’s bones crunched satisfactorily under Erik’s mass. Erik sent his sword at a fourth cultist who was trying to gather Outsider magic. Two small mundane knives lanced out at two more trying to bring up their machine pistols with the force of crossbow bolts. Erik rolled and threw up a slanted telekinetic shield as the seventh cultist fired his machine pistol. Erik was probably one of the strongest telekinetics in the Emprire, but his shields couldn’t stop bullets. They could redirect them. The woman he’d landed on stopped groaning as a half-dozen bullets laced her back. Far’ling was barely in his hand again before Erik launched the elven blade at the shooter. Two more cultists were sprinting towards the trees. Two more knives shot out and felled both of them.

Erik caught Far’ling as the sword sailed back into his hands. He reached out with his empathic senses. Where was the tenth one? Nothing. There was no living emotions anywhere around him. Just the ghosts of the dead. Erik looked down at the design the cultists were carving into the ground and barely kept himself from vomiting. He drew up all of his remaining power and blasted the ground around him. Bodies flew and dirt and blood covered Erik as he found himself in the middle of a three meter hole. Satisfied, Erik fished the burner cell phone from one of his pouches and hit the speed dial.

“Good evening Lady Maritza,” Erik said, “I’m afraid we’re going to need a clean-up at Hope Park.”

Monday Fiction – Avalon Chapter 10

Anne

Anne picked herself up off the ground as echoes of psychic pain throbbed through her mind. Anne didn’t know what or who had just ordered her death, but it had more psychic juice than anything she’d encountered since the Avalonians popped into her life. Her hand tightened on the grip of her carbine. She looked up as the group of forty teenagers walked robotically towards her group. Their eyes were completely – disturbingly – black.

Anne reached out to the streams of wild magic. She could feel their presence, but her mind couldn’t focus enough to touch them. There was some – distortion? – in her mind that prevented her from touching the streams. With a great deal of effort, she pushed through the distortion and ran headlong into her mental block.

PUT YOUR WEAPONS DOWN. echoed in Anne’s mind. This voice was different. It wasn’t painful like the earlier one, but it struck something primal in her mind. The voice was alien and human all at the same time. Fear spiked through Anne. Every teenager in front of her smiled identically.

DO NOT FIGHT. DO NOT RUN. the voice said in her mind. Her analytical mind told her that there was something wrong with the voice. Anne’s eyes went wide as she realized it wasn’t one voice. It was many voices forced into one. Fear turned to rage. The teenagers stopped and all cocked their heads quizzically. She raised her carbine. She should have listened to Erik. Well, she could rectify that error. Anne lined the holographic dot on the boy that stood at the center of the line. He looked at her with a confused expression. He was still wearing it when Anne put the bullet through his right eye.


Erik

Erik rose to a shaky crouch. He was still dealing with the double hammers of Outsider summoning magic and whatever psychic blast the cultists had managed. The psychic energy must have been focused on the other group, but just getting glanced with it was enough to make it impossible for Erik to use his own telekinesis. Even his empathic senses were screwed up.

“You didn’t happen to bring a Javelin tonight?” Joseph asked Kurt, looking as the two abominations lumbered towards them. One was a headless, eight foot tall muscle-bound humanoid, except its pectoral muscles were plate-sized eyes. It roared from a mouth that opened where the abs should have been. The other monster was only seven feet tall, and had its arms coming out of its waist and tentacles coming off of its shoulders. Where the face should have been was only smooth, pale white skin.

Nein,” Kurt answered, crisply. Kurt must be truly disturbed to slip back into his native tongue. Kurt brought his shotgun up and fired at the headless monster. It bellowed as the slug slammed between it’s huge eyes. Viscous silver fluid oozed out of the hole. The monster barely missed a step as it bore down on the three men.

Joseph crab-stepped a few paces to the side and opened fire on the cultists behind the abominations. One screamed as Joseph’s burst tore through his torso.

“I assume there was a reason for that,” Erik said. He took a breath and pushed back down the pain before squeezing the trigger on his ACE. Brilliant orange fluid splurted from half-a-dozen holes in the shorter monster’s head.

“I was hoping that killing the robes sent those things back,” Joseph answered. He took down a second cultist. “I don’t know what’s more terrifying. The roar from the big one or the ultimate silence from the small one.”

Schweigen,” Kurt answered, emptying his shotgun at the headless monster. Slugs and buckshot laced the monster’s torso. Dozens of holes, including several in the large eyes, leaked the silver fluid, but the monster kept coming. Erik turned his ACE on the large monster.

“Concentrate on the big one and try to take it down!” Erik ordered. He stitched the creature with the remainder of his magazine. As Kurt and Erik reloaded, Joseph fired a long burst into the monster. It’s roar sent shivers of fear down Erik’s spine. There was something fundamentally wrong with the sound emanating from that abomination.

Erik yanked the charging handle on his ACE and put three long bursts into the monster. He squeezed the trigger again, but the magazine was empty. Erik let the ACE drop on its sling and he drew the custom revolver from its shoulder holster. The first shot rocked Erik back. He was too used to using his telekinetic powers helping to dampen the recoil of the mammoth revolver. He braced and emptied the cylinder into the monster as both Kurt and Joseph emptied their own weapons into the monster. With a roar, the monster went down to one knee.

The second monster appeared out of thin air behind Joseph. Erik tried to shout, but the monster moved with blinding speed. One tentacle ripped the M4 out of Joseph’s hands while the second tentacle slammed Joseph across the back. Joseph fell to the ground. Erik and Kurt watched with horror as the monster leapt into the air and landed on Joseph’s back with a sickening crack.


Anne

The two groups stared at each other for a second as the smoke wafted from the barrel of Anne’s carbine. The roar of the abomination from across the grassy field galvanized both sides. The black-eyes – Anne couldn’t think of them as teenagers anymore if she wanted to survive – stared at the group and Anne felt terror rise under their psychic lashing.

Jason and Samantha writhed on the ground, both unable to overcome the black-eyes assault. Veronica, on the other hand, smiled and held out her hand. A ball of blue flame danced above her hand. With a whispered word, the ball streaked to one of the black-eyes. The girl didn’t even have time to scream. She just vanished. Veronica collapsed to one knee. Anne fired two bursts from her carbine and knelt next to Veronica.

“That took a lot more out of me than it should have,” Veronica said. The black-eyes stopped and fell into what looked like a fighting stance. The next thing Anne knew, she was on the cool grass as waves of vertigo and nausea swept through her. She looked over at Veronica. The sorceress was on the ground as well with her eyes closed. She was swearing in what sounded like Hindi.

“Oh that was a nasty one, wasn’t it?” a familiar voice said from above. Anne looked up and saw Arem’s smiling visage standing over her.

“I told Erik he was going to need my help tonight,” Arem said. Anne rolled over and saw a gate between them and the black-eyes. Ten orcs wearing heavy metal plates and gripping long spears walked out of the gate. Half of them turned to face the black-eyes as the rest surrounded Arem.

“As the humans say, let’s finish this,” Arem said, and all ten orcs screamed.