Authors: Mike Cooley
Tags: #paranormal romance
“Time to go, Si.”
He struggled to sit up; his eyes looked at me but wouldn’t focus. I could barely see his face in the darkness. Faint light streamed in from above.
“Help me with the window. The door is jammed.” I lifted the tanks and bashed the passenger side window. It cracked but held.
Si held onto the back of the seat and kicked the window out with his foot. Water rushed in, filling the van. We hit a rock in the river and spun around as we sank deeper.
“Hold your breath and grab my legs.” I could only see his eyes. Cold water rushed over us. I put the regulator in my mouth and took a deep breath, then grabbed the edges of the passenger window and pulled myself out. Silas grabbed my feet.
I slung the tanks on my back and used my arms to swim toward the surface. Si was still halfway inside the van and losing his grip on me. I stood on the door, reached down, and pulled him out of the van; then I forced my lips against his and breathed air into his lungs. He shuddered and clutched me.
The van hit another large rock, and we were jolted off of it. The river carried us downstream. I wrapped my arms around Silas so I wouldn’t lose him and took another deep breath from the regulator while he exhaled slowly. I could barely see his face. I kicked with my feet, and we breached the surface. Above the moon lit the night sky, which was dotted with clouds.
I could see a gash across his forehead. Blood streamed out of it and was quickly washed away. I placed my lips on his and breathed more air into him. His hands found the small of my back beneath the tanks and he held on tight. Above and behind us, I could see flames on the ridge. The gunfire had stopped.
We drifted around a bend in the river, and I spun over on my back, holding Si in my arms and keeping his head above the water. “Are you okay, Si?”
His voice was hoarse and strained.
“Rest. I’ll take care of that cut when we are far enough away from them.”
“Mel? One more time with the lips?”
Vena gunned the chopper and swerved around the van carrying the empath and the wildcard. It was as Tala had predicted—they were together. Their eyes were wide with shock. The wildcard jerked the wheel, and the silver van shot by to her right, just missing her.
She could see the headlights of two jeeps racing toward her and the silhouettes of men standing up holding weapons. Her long blonde hair streamed behind her. The chopper’s throaty growl filled the air. Her smile grew wide. She leaned the bike back and forth, weaving as she approached. She took a deep, calm breath.
“What the hell!” Iverson yelled. He slammed on the brakes and waved at Gregor to stop. Ahead of them, the tail lights of the van they were chasing had vanished, and there was a single bright light heading toward them, weaving back and forth across the road.
“Hold position. Get ready, Mikel and Darin.” Iverson stood up and drew his Glock. Mikel was standing on the passenger seat, leaning against the roll bar of the black Wrangler. He had an AK in his hands and was sighting down the barrel.
“It’s a hostile,” said Darin from the other jeep.
Gregor stood up next to him. “A Siren?”
“Don’t know. Be ready,” said Iverson. With Drake badly injured by the witch, he was in charge.
“Where’s the van?” asked Gregor.
“Around a turn, or crashed,” Iverson replied. “Fire!”
The AKs erupted, and Iverson pulled the trigger on his Glock, aiming above the weaving light.
The motorcycle came within range of their headlights, and they could see the girl. She was grinning and reaching for something.
Vena zigzagged toward the two pairs of headlights. The jeeps had stopped and the Daelius agents were standing up.
As she neared them, they opened fire. Bullets whizzed by, ricocheting off the front of the bike and grazing her nano-polymer bodysuit. She grinned big, reached down to her left, and grabbed her sawed-off shotgun. Raising the gun, she eased off on the gas and fired a shot at each jeep’s windshield. There was a loud
as the shells hit, and then an undulating amethyst mist shrouded the men and the vehicles. More shots rang out from the AKs the agents were carrying. And then it was silent.
The mist clawed at the air like tendrils from an unseen beast. The cloud covered the jeeps and the men like a dome, and it was alive. Guns clattered to the ground, and then the screaming started.
Vena kicked the stand down, shifted to neutral, and got off her bike, leaving it running. The air smelled like lavender and burning leaves. She walked forward as the mist began to dissipate and observed the reactions of the men closely, remembering every facial expression and sound. Their faces contorted with emotion and pain, and their mouths hung open. They all screamed the same scream, in harmony—which didn’t seem right.
They stopped screaming after a full minute. Vena timed it. The expressions of agony on their faces were replaced by peaceful calm. The men got out of the jeeps and started walking down the road toward the dam. One of them stopped to pick flowers on the way.
Vena doused one of the jeeps with gas from a spare tank fastened to the back and then set it on fire. She turned off the key on her chopper and put it in her pocket, then she got in the other jeep and put it in gear. She glanced in the rearview, and the men were still walking slowly away, as if the battle had never happened. She hit the gas, went around the chopper, and headed down the ridge, heading in the direction the van had been going when it disappeared.
Mel was exhausted, and I figured we had floated far enough downstream to be safe. I held onto her around the waist and kicked toward shore. A highway overpass was coming up, and there was a park to our left. I pulled Mel toward shore until my feet touched the bottom, then I picked her up and carried her the rest of the way. The wooden sign said we were in Hood Park. I found a stand of trees and lowered her to the grass, out of sight of the parking lot. Blood was still streaming down into my eyes and mouth from the cut on my head, but I ignored it.
“Melanie? You okay?” I got down on my knees and knelt over her. Her eyes fluttered open.
“Si. You’re bleeding.” She reached up and touched my head. A warming glow spread over my face from her healing energy.
“You’re too weak, Mel. It can wait.”
“Just have to. Have to stop. The bleeding.”
“That’s enough, Mel. I’m fine.” The steady flow of crimson slowed and congealed.
I pulled her up to a sitting position and let her lean back on a tree. Then I sat next to her. It was still dark, but there was a glimmer of dawn to the east.
“I’m just tired, Silas. Very tired.”
“We can rest here for a little bit. I don’t know who that girl on the motorcycle was, but she appears to have slowed them down. I heard gunfire.”
“Maybe they think we’re dead.”
“I hope so.”
“Tell me a story, Si. While I gather my strength. Tell me about Suzi.”
I pulled the granite chip out of my pocket and turned it over and over with my fingers. The shape was reassuring.
“Is that from her…grave?” Mel’s eyes focused with difficulty on my hand.
“Yes. I chipped it off before we left. It helps me.”
“You really loved her, didn’t you?”
I didn’t answer. I didn’t need to. Mel could see it in my eyes. In the tension of my shoulders.
“How did she go, Si? If it’s not too painful.”
“It’s okay, Mel. I can talk about it. Just let me organize my thoughts.”
I rubbed the stone chip against the skin on my arm, tracing along one of the many scars. Mel sat quietly, her blue eyes searching my face. Her right hand reached out for me and rested on my leg reassuringly. It seemed like a long time before I began speaking, but I knew only seconds had passed.
“She didn’t want to die in the hospital. At the end. She wanted to see the ocean. So I took her there.”
“You got her released?”
“No. I went to the hospital in Seattle and took her. Then I drove her to Lincoln City, in Oregon. It was one of her favorite places. Beautiful beaches, rocky outcroppings, starfish, and shells.”
“That was nice of you, Si.”
“Her body was giving out. Without the machines to help, it got worse.”
“I’m sorry.” Mel’s eyes teared up.
I dug the stone into my skin and dragged it. It wasn’t as sharp as my knife, but it would do. “So I parked on the beach and held her in my arms. We shared a moment then. A moment of forever. Then I walked out into the ocean with her.”
“What did she say?”
“She told me she loved me. She raised her hand and touched my lips with her frail fingers. And she promised not to struggle.”
Mel took my right hand and squeezed it. Hers was trembling.
“I kissed her. Told her how much she meant to me. And then I walked out deeper and let the waves wash over us. She drowned in my arms.”
“You’re an honorable man, Silas. That must have been so hard for you.”
“I saw the light in her eyes go out. She didn’t struggle. She was at peace.”
Blood oozed out of the jagged gouge on my right arm, but I didn’t let Mel see it. I didn’t want her to heal it. I didn’t want the pain to stop.
Mel was looking at me and crying. My eyes were dry, but my heart was full of tears—tears enough to drown the world.
“I’m sorry about Suzi, Silas. And I’m sorry I told you not to come for me.”
“It’s okay, Mel. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
I leaned against the tree next to her and let her hold me, while I tried not to feel anything.
“Ice Harbor compromised. Your men reduced to puppies. Would you care to explain, Drake?” asked Tridian.
Drake looked up at the gaunt figure. Tridian was the head of all Daelius operations in North America. He was seven feet tall, had white hair, and eyes so black they looked like pits. He had six fingers on his left hand and the usual amount on his right. He looked like a mutant. It was well known that you did not fuck with Tridian.
“I’m not interested in excuses.”
“She met someone after she escaped. Somehow, he changed her. He has a dark power. He used it to kill my men.”
“What kind of dark power? Where did he come from?” Tridian glared down at Drake.
“He can create black pools, and they eat things. Anything that goes in…never comes out. We don’t know where’s he’s from. He just showed up.”
“And your injuries?” Tridian pointed at Drake’s charred shoulder, then lower. “I thought the girl was a healer.”
a healer. Before she met Silas. Now she can do more. Now she can cause pain.” Drake looked around the bunker. They had blindfolded him on the way in, but he knew they were near Vegas. Tridian’s base was under the desert near Red Rock Canyon. The ceiling was high, and the whole room looked like reinforced concrete painted gray. There were armed guards stationed around the room and near the exits. The air hummed with the sound of ventilation units and machinery. There was a large silver machine he had never seen before against the wall behind Tridian.
“And what about your men?”
“A Siren showed up and used a chemical weapon on them. We think it’s connected to their plan.”
“We need to stop the empath. And this—this freak that makes killing pools. And—as if we didn’t have enough trouble—we need to find out where the Sirens are and kill them all!” Tridian’s face was red with rage, and his hands were clenched.
“Yes, sir.” Drake tilted his head down and looked at the ground. “But I’m not much good to you in this condition…”
“That’s why I had them bring you
, Drake.” Tridian started to smile. And it was a smile that could freeze blood. “Do you know what this is?” He gestured at the huge stainless steel machine behind him. It took up the rear half of the underground chamber. It was shaped like a metal spider, with twisted steel legs bolted to the ground.
“I’m sorry, Tridian, but I’ve never seen anything like it.” Drake met Tridian’s dark eyes and tried to read his expression.
“It’s an Augmentor. You step in and it will fix you up. And not just like you were. It will
“What kind of
are you talking about?” Drake shuffled his feet nervously. He looked at the faces of the guards to see if they betrayed any emotion. The guards stood motionless and expressionless.
“The witch burned into your shoulder and damn near burned your dick off. Don’t you want revenge?” Tridian waved his hand, and a technician flipped some switches, powering up the Augmentor. It came to life with a groan that shook the floor. The air smelled of lightning and seawater. A green fluid began circulating through transparent coolant pipes wrapped around the top of the metal spider.
“Of course I do. I’d like to do things to her!” Drake’s voice rumbled with anger. “I would make her pay for what she did to me. Then I would rip her to pieces.”
Tridian smiled. “The Augmentor will make you stronger and faster. And then you can exact your revenge. I’ll send you out after the empath and the Sirens. If her boyfriend gets in your way—kill him.”
“What about repair? Will it fix my…body?” Drake looked at the machine. It was glowing blue and making a whirring noise. Bolts of light shot down, lighting the interior.
“You will be
than new,” Tridian promised. “Step right in.”
Drake hesitated, looking at the faces of the other Daelius agents in the room for any sign of warning. They continued looking straight ahead. Then he searched Tridian’s face for deceit. Nothing was revealed. Tridian stepped to one side.