Authors: A.L. Bridges
An Imperceptible Ruse Indeed
Book 5 of The Gods’ Executioner Series
An Imperceptible Ruse Indeed
By A.L. Bridges
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This novel is a work of fiction. All likenesses of people, organizations, or events are purely coincidental. All characters, organizations, events, and places are used in a fictitious manner.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: And the answer is…
“Thanks for offering to watch her for the weekend.” Reyna says appreciatively.
“Yeah, thanks. Alice has been a bit of a handful since her fangs started coming in.” Jason agrees.
“Of course! How could I say no to watching my niece?” and the girl who is possibly my daughter.
Where is she?” I ask.
r room playing. ALICE!” Reyna calls out.
I hear bare feet slap against the obsidian flooring on the second floor of Jason and Reyna’s house. When they decided that they needed their own space, Hel built them a two story house… on the palace grounds so they wouldn’t be too far away.
“UNCLE COLE!” Alice squeals as she runs at me, stuffed white rabbit in hand. I pick her up and spin around as she squeals louder. I pull her in and give her a hug before simply supporting her up so Reyna can talk.
, Alice; Daddy and I are going to be gone for a day so I want you to be a good girl for Uncle Cole, okay?” Reyna asks. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice Jason wink at Alice and she gives an understanding nod in response.
“Okay lady!” Alice replies and a smile crosses my face.
“Don’t call me lady, Alice. I’m your mother.” Reyna says.
I love you, buh-bye!” Alice exclaims and I start laughing as Jason and Reyna grab their bags.
“You can pay me whenever.” Jason whispers as he passes by me.
And here I thought that he couldn’t do it. Jason snaps his fingers and disappears in a swirl of black mist with Reyna.
“So what do you want to do, Alice?” I ask
“Let’s watch TV.” Alice replies and squ
irms in my arms to be put down.
I set her on the ground and she runs off towards the living room
while carrying the fluffy stuffed white rabbit that I gave her on the day of her birth. I follow her and sit on the black leather couch before picking her up and setting her next to me after she tries and fails to climb onto it. After turning the TV on and changing the channel to cartoons, I settle in for some quality time with my goddaughter/ niece/ possibly actual daughter.
“Where’s Auntie Rei?” Alice asks about ten minutes later
“She had to work so it’ll just be you and me.” I tell her with a smile while looking into her piercing silver eyes.
Since Cheza graduated from Northern Arizona University last May, she’s been working as an operator for The Agency. Naturally, I didn’t approve.
“No, Cheza. I can’t let you do this.” I said after she informed me of her plans.
“Let me do this?”
Cheza repeated with an angry tone.
“Sorry, I meant I don’t want you to do this.”
“It’s not your choice to make, Cole; it’s mine and I want to be an operator. I can handle myself and nothing is going to happen when I have a bulletproof suit.”
“Yeah, but it doesn’t cover your head
!” I pointed out.
“Then I’ll wear a helmet!” Cheza replied.
“All helmets have vulnerabilities; one shot to the eyes and you’re dead.” I said.
“Except with your helmet.” Cheza said with a smug smile.
“Except with my helmet…” I saw where she was going with this.
se, Cole?” Cheza asked with the pouty look that she knows I can’t say no to.
“*Sigh* I guess we’re making a trip to Mount Kailash.” I
Cheza smiled at me and grabbed my
hand. I touched my triskele to port us to Mount Kailash from our apartment in Flagstaff, Arizona. Once we arrived, I snapped my fingers and ported us to my parents’ underwater house.
“Cole! Chezarei! What a nice surprise! Can I get you two anything to drin
k?” My mother, Parvati, asked when we appeared in the kitchen.
“Actually, I have a favor I need to ask of you.” I replied.
“What is it?” Parvati inquired.
“Cheza wants to be an operator so she will be getting involved in more fights and she doesn’t have anything that will protect her head.
Can you set her up with a helmet like mine?” I requested.
“I think I can manage that for my daughter-in-law.” My mother replied with a smile.
Parvati walked around behind Cheza and moved Cheza’s short hair, which she had kept in the same style since Parvati cut it a few years ago, to the side. Parvati touched the back of Cheza’s neck and closed her eyes. Cheza grimaced as a lotus pattern appeared to be burned into her skin. I felt the need to take her pain away, but there was a decent chance that it would mess with whatever Parvati was doing.
“All done!” Parvati announced about a minute later as
the lotus turned silver. “Try it out. Just think about the helmet coming out of your neck and enveloping your head.”
Cheza touched the back of her neck and closed her eyes, but nothing happened.
“It’s not working…” Cheza replied.
“Just keep trying; you’ll get the hang of it eventually.” Parvati responded.
I wondered if my memories of how my helmet works would help, so I sent them, but to no avail.
“Airi? A little help for Cheza, please?” I thought, but no answ
However, a few moments later, a
silver liquid flowed from the back of Cheza’s neck and enveloped her head. Her helmet resembled mine, except that it had what appeared to be a five point crown on top.
“Whoa… this is going to take some getting used to.” Cheza sa
id as the eye holes turned red.
I found it interesting that her voice was
n’t modulated like mine does when my helmet is engaged. Cheza touched the back of her neck and the helmet retracted, leaving a silver lotus on the back of her neck.
“So this settles it, right? Your fine with me becoming an operator now?” Cheza asked.
“I’d be lying if I said I was fine with it, but I do feel better about it…” I replied.
“So what do you want for dinner?” I ask Alice.
“Mac and cheese!” Alice exclaims.
“Alright, I’ll go make some mac and cheese then.” I reply and head to the kitchen.
After boiling some noodles, I pull Velveeta out of the fridge and mix it all together.
“Alice! Dinner’s ready!” I call out.
Alice runs into the kitchen as I set her bowl
of mac and cheese on the table.
“Where’s White Rabbit?” I ask as
I lift her up and place her in her pink booster seat.
“He’s late… like always.” Alice replies while I’m
sliding the booster seat tray in and placing her dinner on it.
“Can you handle this yourself or do I need to feed you?” I ask her.
“I can do it!” Alice replies and digs into her bowl with her Disney Princess spoon.
Unwanted memories start
to resurface before I ruthlessly beat them back down. It’s been nearly four years and I’ve accepted that she’s not coming back.
f you help me take that bitch down… I can bring the girl back.”
Loki’s voice echoes through my mind.
“Alice, I need to run to the bathroom; will you be alright?” I ask while fighting through my nausea. Alice nods and I head to the bathroom.
I cup my hands under the running water in the sink and splash water in my face to calm myself down. The bathroom lights flicker as I bring my head up and look at my reflection in the mirror.
“Have you given any thought as to my proposal?” Loki
inquires while wearing an all-black suit and maroon tie as he stands behind me in the mirror. I quickly spin around, only to find that no one is there; however, when I turn back towards the mirror, Loki stands behind me in my reflection.
“Did you think I’d be foolish enough to handle this in person? So tell me, what is your answer
?” Loki asks.
It’s the same as it was four years ago: I’m going to kill you and send you back to the Void.” I reply and Loki smiles in the mirror.
“I was hoping you’d say that! This will make things so much more interesting! In the coming weeks, you will experience levels of anguish that you’ve never known before.” Loki informs me wi
th a smile that drips malevolence.
“We’ll see about that; I haven’t just been sitting on my ass for the last three years
.” I tell him.
“I can see that! Your aura is almost as black as the Void itself… I’m excited to find out what will happen once it devours you!
” Loki exclaims.
The events aren’t quite prepared yet, but I have scheduled something to tide you over. I’ll give you a hint: it has something to do with Alice.” Loki says.
“Loki, I swear to the Void
, if you hurt her—” I start.
“Please, I would never dream of hurting my sweet great granddaughter! But then again, is
she actually related to me at all?” Loki replies with a mischievous grin as I hear a window break in the kitchen.
I race out
the bathroom and down the hall as Alice starts screaming and is quickly cut off. After rounding the corner into the kitchen, I see a slender woman that is about five and a half feet tall, clad in a black leather suit and a black street bike helmet that encompasses her head. I notice that her gloved hand is holding a knife to Alice’s throat while she covers Alice’s mouth with her free hand.
“Let her go.”
I demand as my arm flushes black with the Void.
The woman removes the knife from
Alice’s throat. It’s around now that I notice that she has a silver outline and her inner aura looks completely black…
“Omnus-say.” The woman whispers
as her silver outer aura flares and Alice falls asleep, but the woman keeps Alice positioned between us.
“Thank you. Who are you? What do you want?” I question
with a stern tone.
“I’m simply following my orders to come here a
nd say hello to you. As for who I am? You can call me Sydney.” The woman replies with a modulated voice; the modulation sounds electronic, unlike my helmet’s modulation.
“So breaking and entering, followed by holding a knife to a three year old girl’s throat is how you say hello?” I ask.
“A bit unorthodox, I admit, but I had to get your attention. After all, we will be seeing a lot more of each other in the near future.” Sydney says as I hear some of Hel’s security forces approaching.
“Looks like my time is up. It was nice to see you again.
Tell the Night Ice Queen that I said hi and that I’ll be seeing her again soon as well.” Sydney calls out as she jumps back out the window.
runs across the palace grounds at a speed that would be difficult for even me to follow. I hear the bark of the hellhounds in the distance as they give pursuit; Garmr, Hel’s constantly bloodstained watchdog and Norse equivalent of a one-headed Cerberus, might even be with them, but they won’t catch Sydney.
Feros! Is Princess Alice alright!?” The security force calls out as they pound on the front door. I pick up the sleeping Alice and walk over to answer the door.
“We’re fine. The intruder used a spell to put Alice to sleep, but we are both unharmed. I’m going to put Alice to bed now and stay with her through the night.” I tell the three heavily armed men.
“Alright. I’ll post a security detail around the house.” The head guard replies.
“There is no need for that; I can
protect Alice in the event that anyone comes back. The only reason she got hit with a sleeping spell to begin with is because the intruder broke in while I was in the bathroom. Instead of the security detail, you should focus on discovering how the intruder managed to infiltrate the palace undetected.” I tell them.
Feros. I’ll have a report by morning. Goodnight.” The head guard says and the three leave.
grab Alice’s rabbit from the living room before carrying them both upstairs to the guest bedroom. Upon seeing that she is wearing relatively comfortable clothing and with no way to cram an unconscious three year old into her footy pajamas, I tuck her into bed before stripping down to my usual sleeping attire and sliding in next to her. It takes a few hours for my mind to settle down with all the questions about Loki and Sydney, but I’m finally able to fall asleep.