Redemption (The Alliance Series Book 1) (9 page)

BOOK: Redemption (The Alliance Series Book 1)
11.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

I took a shower and after drying off, I lay in bed. The bed was so comfortable it felt like I was on a cloud, sleep came rather quickly.          




Chapter 9






It was the same dream, the one I have had off and on for the past 25 years.

              I was in the house again. I was five.

              I don’t remember much about it, the place where I lived for the first five years of my life.

              What I do remember never changes though. One was the smell. There always seemed to be something cooking.

              Aromas of food that made me feel safe and warm permeated the house. The other was fear, not for me really, but for the woman who took care of me.

              I don’t know if she was my mother, I don’t know if I ever will. Some things I will never forget. Like her eyes. They will always be embedded in my soul. I remember looking in them many times, always seeing the same thing. Deep in their depths, there was sadness, but also kindness.

              She always seemed to be able to shield me from the worst. When the screaming got bad or the fights nasty she always seemed to be able to insulate me from it.

              I remember her eyes the most, sometimes surrounded with black and blue bruises, sometimes with cuts on the sides. The eyes themselves never changed for me though, they always held a sort of calm love. They could surround me and make me feel content.

              I also remember the night everything changed.

              It was cold and raining. There were occasional flashes of lightning from outside. I remember the way the light from the storm would throw weird shadows across the room. I could hear a man yelling about something, only bits and pieces.

              "It's too late; I’ve already made the phone call, I’m not having that freak stay one more night in my house." The man snarled.

              "What have you done?" The woman cried.

              "I’ve made sure he will be treated well, three square meals a day and discipline. That’s good for any boy." He answered.

              "He's only five! What boy of five needs discipline? He needs love and compassion." The woman pleaded.

              "Not that boy, did you see what he did to the fence? No, he needs a cage is what he needs, but this will have to do." He said.

              The rest was muffled by the woman’s crying.

              A little while later I saw the shadows change like they did when someone drives up to the house when it's dark outside.

              There was a knock at the door. I heard the door opening and voices in a hushed conversation. I couldn’t quite make out what was said.

              Then there was a face, a hard face with grey eyes and black short-cropped hair, graying on the sides above the ears. His eyes shone with sharp intelligence, always scanning always looking for something, seeming to take everything in at a glance.

              "It's going to be ok, son." He said in a calm voice. "We’re going to go for a little ride, maybe get some ice cream, would you like that?"



I was fifteen, standing in a room with three white walls. To my back was one of those one-way mirrored walls; there were men and women behind those mirrors, holding notepads and laptops.

              I was in a training room. There were dummies set up in front of me. Other objects spread out in random around the room. About twenty feet ahead of me was a shopping cart, a rubber tire hanging from a chain bolted to the ceiling and a two by four mounted to a clamp on a small table, in a vertical position.

              "Okay John, just like last time. Let’s see if you can spread it out a little, hit the two by, skip the dummy and see what you can do to the tire." I heard a disembodied voice coming from the speakers mounted on the rear corners of the room close to the ceiling.

              I began to gather my energy. It was hard to do. I had been practicing for a while now and was beginning to see real results.

              I brought it in and concentrated it to the palm of my right hand.

              It took a while.

              I was getting better, faster and stronger, but like anything else, if you want to be good at something it takes time, discipline and effort.

              Once I had what I could gather I pictured a lightning bolt leaping from my hand and dividing in the middle of the room like a river that parts into two separate, smaller streams.

              I released the energy and an amber bolt of electricity raced from my hand slamming into the dummy, melting it where it was impacted and then jumped from the dummies chest to either side of it hitting both the two-by-four and the rubber tire.              

The wood burst into flames and the smoking tire began filling the room with the awful smelling smoke of burning rubber.

              The light bulb in the middle of the ceiling started to flash red and a noisy siren began wailing.

              The door that was in the back of the room opened up and two men wearing white scrubs, white shoes and paper masks over their noses and mouths came in carrying fire extinguishers. They went over to the targets and opened up with the extinguishers, killing the flames.

              They operated in a precise routine, acting as though they had done this hundreds of times. In fact, they had. As I said, I had been practicing.

              On the front of the room behind the targets where the wall and ceiling met large vents opened up and you could feel the flow of air as the fans began drawing the smoke and other fumes out of the room, clearing it in seconds.

              A man walked in, tall, about six feet, wide shouldered and strong. Even though the hair on his head had gotten whiter, his eyes retained all the cunning and intelligence that I remember from the day he took me from home.

              I guess this is my home now, a military school of sorts. Like R.O.T.C. meets high school, meets wizardry school.

              It was odd really. There were very few of us with any magical talent here. Most were average kids. Going to what their parents thought was a prep school. I was on a slightly different education plan. We would spend mornings learning tactics, weapons, squad movements. I knew how to call in an airstrike and field dress a bullet wound.

              Afternoons were spent learning about history, math, English, your typical school curriculum.

              Evenings and nights were spent perfecting the craft.

              Wizardry took practice.

              I learned about different styles of magic, creatures and all kinds of magic and mystical related things.

              I learned where the weak points were on a troll’s hide, and I studied the best methods to ensure a vampire stays undead. You know, the usual stuff any teenage boy needs to learn.

              "Sir." I said respectfully to Captain West.

              He came in the room looking at the targets with something like concern and understanding on his face.

              "Still having some trouble separating the bolts?" He asked.

              "Yes sir. I visualize what I want, gather the energy and release, but it always does the same thing." I complained.

              He looked at the targets I had destroyed. Then he looked at me. He didn't look down to me. He always treated me as if what I said was important.

              "I don’t think it's the visualization that’s giving you problems." The captain said.

              "I think your problem is discipline.” He added.

              "I don’t understand, sir. I do everything I am required to or asked, my grades are high and my aptitude and abilities are highest in the class. That all takes discipline." I argued.

              "That is all very true, but magic is different than remembering numbers or understanding the best way to attack an enemy position. Sometimes you have to use your imagination, then shape it with your will and make it what you want." He said.

              "Magic is more fluid than facts and figures, it's about the ebb and flow of energy, it's all around us and in everything we see. Most of the time you never realize it's even there. Atoms for example, they are everywhere, make up everything, yet through discipline and application we can take just one and create more destruction than man has ever dreamed of, power aircraft carriers and submarines for hundreds of years."

              "You have to reach beyond what you think you can do and tap into what you feel you can do. You have to truly believe it will happen then make it happen." He finished.

              I believed in him. No one had ever treated me like an equal. He did. Sure, there was a military style ranking system and we understood that he held a vastly higher position in the greater scheme of things, but he talked to me with respect, not the way the teachers and drill sergeants did.

              I guess I needed someone to fill the void left behind from an absent father. He did that.

              I looked at him for a few seconds and really thought about what he said; I didn't memorize it like I did with numbers, facts and tactics.

              No, I really considered his words and the meaning behind them.

              Coming from him it was like gospel. What can I say I was fifteen with abandonment issues?

              I walked back over to where I was standing earlier and slowly started to draw in energy from the surrounding environment. I gathered it on the palm of my right hand again, continuously visualizing the path I wanted it to take.

              Only this time not only did I imagine it's trajectory, I took some of the pride I felt when the captain nodded in approval, I tapped into the well of anger that I felt when the instructors used some of their "discipline" techniques.

              I channeled the energy along with intangible drive to make my magic behave like I wanted and I released it in a flash.

              Like before the bolt was amber, but this time instead of reaching the dummy and melting it even more, the bolt suddenly split into two separate streams and reignited the vertical two by four and began to melt the tire again.

              "WhoooHoooo!” I yelled as I jumped up in excitement.

              "Good job son. I knew you had it in you." The captain said.

              I looked up at him and saw pride on his face, he was proud of me.

              That realization brought another wave of emotions as I left the room and the cleanup crew came back in to put out the fires.



Seven years later.

I was standing outside of the Chesterfield Lumber Inc. sawmill. Having followed my target here, I was sure she was hiding within the facility.

I stood outside the back entrance. The main road crossed in front of the sawmill and I could hear the occasional car as it sped past, its passengers traveling towards their destinations, unknowing that a Celtic banshee was taking cover inside.

I could clearly see her footprints as they left their shape in the fresh snow. There was a coating of half an inch of frozen moisture on the ground and the weatherman reported a chance of four inches before the morning came.

The sky was grey, clouds heavy with moisture hung low to the earth. The first flakes had begun to fall, already leaving a light dusting, quickly coating the landscape with the pure whiteness of a new snowfall.

I stood outside with my back to the wall, on my right the door the banshee had used to enter, ignoring the cold. My extensive training has prepared me to be able to handle all types of environmental extremes. I guess that is one benefit to being raised in a military academy.

I held my compact .357 in my right hand, keeping it pointed at the ground. I wanted to keep my profile non-threatening to anyone who just might happen to spot me. I didn’t want any civilians to call the local police saying they saw a man at the sawmill carrying a gun. I had enough to deal with.

              My current problem was hiding like a mouse inside. She, like I mentioned earlier, was a banshee. Banshees could appear as an extremely beautiful woman, when they were pissed or threatened they could present themselves as an old hag. Banshees are usually thought of to be wailing over someone who is about to die, or spotted at places where death is coming. They do have the ability to sense when death is near, but their real talent lies in manipulation. Then they appear as a beautiful seductress, drawing men into their traps, befuddling men’s minds with the power of their song.

They are usually lieutenants or minions of more powerful creatures. Most of the reports I have encountered about banshees describes how they are the ones that help close deals or to persuade stubborn men to sign a contract or to release information. Sure, they are dangerous, but they aren’t really the type of targets I usually get. My targets have been more of the boss types. I get assigned to kill whatever is using the banshee.

BOOK: Redemption (The Alliance Series Book 1)
11.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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