Brynn sat on the top stair of the porch staring at nothing in particular. He was too lost in memories long forgotten to notice the sun moving across the sky, marking time passing since they last heard from Aden.
There was a lot that his family did not know about him and his time away. All they knew was someone by the name of Colin had kidnapped him at the age of fourteen and taken him off planet, but they did not know what had happened after that. That he had been forced into service as one of his soldiers, and in order to survive he had trained hard to become one of his best most trusted assassins. They knew that while he was away he had met Kara, who was from a different planet that was a lot like theirs and married her. They did not know that Kara and Brynn had lived on the run for two years, hiding from bounty hunters and various viscous warlords enticed by the large bounty on their heads before he and a very pregnant Kara returned to his home. They never knew the amount of blood and pain it took to get here, or the nightmares that plagued them for years afterwards. Of the instances where they had barely escaped with their lives. It was not until Colin had kidnapped Kara the second time that Brynn had told them of how dangerous Colin was, what he wanted Kara for.
Looking down at the blaster he held loosely in his hands, Brynn wondered what his life would have been like if he had not gone on that hunting trip. He guessed it did not matter now, and truth be told, he would not trade any of the horrors that followed because it brought him Kara and his children. Tightening his grip on the blaster, his eyes went back out to the garden and the beauty before him. Maybe today he would finally be able to exact his revenge on the bastard that had uprooted their lives more than once.
It had only taken a few shots for Brynn to remember how to use the blaster in his hands. Over the years, he had kept up his hand to hand combat skills, making sure his children knew how to defend themselves beyond their magical abilities, but nothing on this planet could match what was in his hands. What was coming today.
When they found out Kara was pregnant in some backwater dingy motel they were hiding in, they had made a pact that once the baby was born, if either one of them were captured the other would not come looking for them. That the safety of their child came first and foremost. When Kara’s horse had come back without her one morning and his world crashed down around him, Brynn realized how stupid that promise had been. Yet he had kept it and raised their son with the help of his family. That did not mean he had not looked for Kara by calling in every favor they had made over their years of running. What he found out had chilled him, and once the Emperor had her, he knew there was no way he could bring her home.
When she had returned to him six years later, and he held her in his arms, it was the first time he had taken a full breath in years. Now the bastards that had started their nightmare were back to claim what was not theirs. Brynn could not lose her. Not to them, not again. Today he would make sure they died a very slow and painful death.
A noise behind him brought Brynn out of his musings. Looking up, Tanis dropped next to him on the stairs, staring out into the garden his face pale.
“How is she?” Brynn asked putting the blaster in the holster at his thigh. When Tanis did not answer him, Brynn’s concern rose. He and Kara had been upstairs talking for the last, Brynn looked at his watch and hissed. It had been over an hour since Aden had left. Looking back out at the garden, his eyes searched for any sign of movement. Where the hell was he? He turned back to the man next to him who still had not answered his question. “Tanis. Kara?” he pushed.
“She’s sleeping,” Tanis sighed rubbing his face wearily.
“Then why are you so pale?”
“We just spend the last hour and a half going over the…finer details of what Malphas has done to her, and before him, Colin.” He took a shuddering breath. The easiest way for them to do that was for Kara to show Tanis what had happened. The upside was he would understand better what she had gone through. The downside was that he understood a little too well what she went through because with those images came what she felt at the time, emotionally and physically.
“Aden said he hadn’t told us everything,” Brynn said warily.
“No, he didn’t,” Tanis answered quietly looking down at his hands. “I knew Malphas was a monster. I just never thought …. And Colin,” Tanis did not finish his thought. Closing his eyes tightly, he tried to will the images out of his head. After a moment, he opened them again, staring out at the garden, trying to replace the ugliness in his head with its beauty. “Have you heard from Aden.”
“No,” Brynn growled.
“I’m not sure,” Brynn answered slowly as he scanned the area before him. “I can feel Colin is out there, but why hasn’t he shown himself. The better question is, why hasn’t Aden called us with an update?” He held up the communicator that had been sitting on the porch next to him. “It’s been over an hour.”
Tanis regarded Brynn for a moment, sizing him up. Along with the other information, Kara shared the time when she and Brynn where fighting to survive in a universe that was unfriendly at best, and downright hostile to what it considered lower life. Which was what Kara and Brynn had become in order to stay hidden. He also knew there was no love lost between Brynn and Aden, something Tanis understood all too well, but he also knew Aden. He would never put Kara in harm’s way if he could help it.
“As much as I hate to admit this, in this lifetime Aden knows Kara better than either of us,” Tanis said quietly.
“That is not entirely true,” Brynn growled. “She has been with me just as many years as she been with him. Some of those were when Colin had us imprisoned and the time after we escaped.”
“But not in the years after Colin and broken her, when he had used her mercilessly. And not when Malphas had sunk his claws into her.” Tanis answered quickly when Brynn opened his mouth to disagree. Slamming it shut, he glared at Tanis. “Those years she never told you what was done to her and what she had to do to survive.” Brynn looked away, but not before Tanis saw the haunted look in his eyes. It was the same look he saw every time he looked in the mirror. “Listen, I’m not exactly happy about it either, but if it wasn’t for Aden, Kara would have died a long time ago.” Hesitating as painful memories assailed him, he continued in a much softer tone. “After we found her in Malphas’s room, I couldn’t reach her. Only Aden could. Even after what we saw this afternoon I still don’t understand how or why, but I can no longer deny that they are closely connected. Whether we like it or not he is a part of this, and I know without a doubt he would risk his life for hers.”
“Then why did he allow Malphas do those things to her?” Brynn asked angrily, glaring at the demi-god.
“For the same reason I allowed it,” Tanis whispered.
Brynn’s look of utter shock turned into a glare as those words sunk in. “Allowed it?” he snarled.
“If we tried to stop him, or refused to do as he ordered, the punishment would have been far worse for all involved.” Tanis paused, trying to find the words to explain what he had come to realize. “I don’t think Colin finding Kara was chance.”
“What do you mean?” Brynn frowned.
“Since the beginning of time there has been a set course for the universe. A master plan, if you will. Kara, Caius and I have been a major part of that master plan, as have the mortals that bear our children, such as you and my wife.”
“And who decides this master plan?” Brynn asked. Something about the thought of some being deciding their fate, deciding that Kara go through the horrors she had rubbed him wrong.
Brynn’s words pulled at something in the back of Tanis’s mind. A thought or memory trapped by some force he did not quite understand that desperately wanted to escape. Frowning, Tanis asked, “What did you say?”
“Who decides the master plan? Who is so powerful that they can dictate what happens in the universe? Who dies and who lives? Why do they believe they are above the rest of us?”
“Because they have to learn,” Tanis whispered. It was all that would come forward. That there was a lesson that had yet to be learned. Pain exploded inside his head. A bright white light blinded him as he cried out, clutching his head. From the open window above them, Kara’s scream pierced the air.
Someone did not want them to remember.
“What’s wrong?” Brynn asked catching Tanis as he slumped over onto to him.
“Memories. Trying to…break free,” Tanis squeezed out just before another piercing pain shot through his head. It was as if someone were taking a knife and driving it into his brain. Unable to stop himself, he screamed along with Kara.
Looking from the man in his lap to the doorway into the house, Brynn did not know which to help first. From what he learned, whatever Tanis was trying to remember, if it was something Malphas did not want him to remember then he and Kara would be punished.
“Whatever those memories are, stop trying to remember them!” Brynn commanded.
“Too late,” Tanis hissed.
A scream pierced the air and Brynn was on his feet ready to take a step towards the door when a chilling voice froze him mid-step.
“Well, well, well,” a voice sneered with delight. “If it isn’t our little thief.”
Turning around, blaster drawn, Brynn sought out his target only to find that target was not alone. Ten men fanned out behind Colin with their weapons pointed at him and Tanis. Knowing no amount of training would win this fight, Brynn slowly put his hands up into the air, finger far away from the trigger.
“That’s a good little servant,” Colin praised wickedly as five of the men broke formation, guns still trained on Brynn, and quickly walked up to him.
“Come down the stairs and on your knees,” one of the males barked, his gun never wavering.
Brynn hesitated for a moment, glancing down on the now unconscious Tanis who lay on the porch, before very slowly walking down the three steps to the grass below. The men moved so two were beside him, one lowering his gun only long enough to yank the blaster from his hand, throw it across the yard and once again train his gun on him. The other shoved him forward so they could flank him. Completely surrounded, Brynn glared at their leader. A man he once called friend. He knew what Brynn was capable of and was taking no chances.
“On your knees, hands laced behind your head,” the leader snapped.
When Brynn refused, his only response a narrowing of his eyes, one of the males behind him kicked the back of his knees forcing him down.
“Lace your fingers behind your head,” the leader barked again.
Grimacing, Brynn slowly did as he was told, not wanting to make any sudden moves. Part of him was smug in the knowledge that they feared him enough to take this kind of precaution. The other part knew if Aden did not show soon, or Tanis did not regain consciousnesses, they were all screwed, and Kara would be back in the hands of the sadistic bastard that was sauntering between the guards to stand arrogantly before him.
“It is good to remember one’s place,” Colin sneered.
Now that he was closer, Brynn saw time had not been kind to the male. Making quick calculations, he figured Colin had to be in his seventies by now. The grey hair did not compliment the grey complexion. The clothes, as always, were expensive, but no amount of money can hide a decaying body. Unfortunately, an old body did not mean an old mind, nor did it mean Colin was any less dangerous.
“I was never your servant,” Brynn growled.
“And I suppose Kara was never my slave, but we all know a lie when we hear one,” Colin countered.
“This one is unconsciousness,” one of the guards reported.
Colin frowned at the man behind Brynn. “Do not take any chances with that one. He is more powerful than even he realizes,” he ordered before turning to the man who had been barking orders, his gun still trained on Brynn. “Find her.” With a nod the man motioned for three men to follow and they disappeared into the house.
“Kara is not yours,” Brynn growled, glaring at Colin.
Colin turned his eyes to Brynn, his smile dimming. “Oh, I do believe she is,” he corrected his tone as if he were talking to a child. “I am the one who found her, broke her, there for she is mine. Just as you once were,” he reminded.
Brynn bristled. “Leave, before you regret stepping foot on this planet.”
“And who is supposed to chase me away? You?” Colin scoffed. “You are good, but you are not that good. As for that one,” he waved his hand at where Tanis lay, “right now he is useless to you, and Kara knows better than to disobey me. As for your so called dark sorcerer.”
From one of the many paths that disappeared into garden, Anthony walked into view. When Brynn saw who followed and what they were carrying he ground his teeth in frustration. Their situation had just gone from dangerous to deadly.
Once he was even with his father, Anthony motioned the two men who carried Aden’s bound and unconscious body to drop him at his feet. Once they did they moved back with the others, their weapons drawn, adding ten more men to the others.
Oh goodie, a party, Brynn grimaced. And the main attractions are out cold.
“This one must not be as powerful as everyone claims if mere mortals and a low class wizard can bring him down,” Anthony spat in disgust. He looked around him. “Where is Kara? I want to make sure she is alright. God only knows what the Emperor has done to her.”
The Emperor? What about what Anthony had done to her. Brynn was on his feet before he or anyone else realized what he was doing, a wicked looking knife that had been hidden in his hand. This was the bastard who had taken advantage of Kara when she was at her weakest. Pretended to be a friend, to help her, when all he was doing was using her. Killing him was too merciful, but under the circumstances it would have to do.
“He is mine,” a voice hissed through the air.
The men and their guns that had been yelling for Brynn to go back to his knees turned those guns to something behind him. Just as quickly they dropped to the ground.
Colin and Anthony’s eyes grew wide as they staggered backwards in terror. Brynn had a feeling he knew who was behind him, but he was not ready for what he saw when he turned around.
Hovering just above the stairs with huge white wings spread out behind him was Tanis. Yet at the same time it wasn’t. Brynn could not quite put a finger on it, but there was something very different about the male, aside from the enormous white wings.
Shots from above brought both their attention to the bedroom window.
“Go,” Tanis said when his and Brynn’s eyes locked. There was no hesitation. Reaching down to grab a blaster as he raced by the dead men, Brynn leaped the three stairs and disappeared through the door; the screen slamming shut behind him.
Tanis, no. Not Tanis. Gideon, one of protectors of the heart of the universe, fierce warrior and thoroughly pissed off angel turned his attention to the two males still breathing before him. An issue he was about to remedy. The worry that the spells the demon had wrapped tightly around them, that he still felt lingering within him, made him hesitate.
Do not worry, I will protect her, a female voice breathed through his mind.
And I am supposed to believe you after all you have done? Gideon scoffed. You’ve gone to far this time, Godiva.
The sigh from the female was long and weary. You have a right to be angry, Gideon, but please believe me when I say we did not plan for this to happen. None of you were to be a part of this universe. That was His doing.
We will figure out who is to blame later, Gideon snapped. First I must take care of a few loose ends. Then we will deal with your…mistakes.
As you wish, the female responded humbly.
Humble. That was new. Maybe this time they had learned something. Returning his attention back to the two cowering mortals before him, the wind began to whip around the small garden as Gideon floated down the stairs. Anthony and Colin stumbled backwards, not wanting to be anywhere near the avenging angel.
“It’s not possible,” Colin whispered. “Angels don’t exist. You’re not real.”
“Oh, I can assure you, I am very real,” Gideon smiled. It was not a pleasant smile. “And you have much to atone for. Lucky you, I have an opening in my schedule.”
With a blinding flash, the twenty dead men lying on the ground vanished. The male Anthony thought to be Aden began to groan, his hands suddenly free. Colin and Anthony did not even take notice when he pushed himself groggily to his knees holding his head in pain. Their eyes were glued on Gideon as he glared down at them with eyes filled with fire and black as coal. He was now hovering seven feet above the ground, the ones below him having difficulty holding their feet in the hurricane force winds.
Damien regained his senses enough to dodge a small tree flying through the air, hitting Anthony and knocking him to the ground, pinning him. Staring at Anthony while he groaned in pain then at Gideon in the air, murder in his expression as he glared at Colin, it only took Damien a second to realize he was in the wrong place. Pushing himself to his feet, he staggered towards the angel.
“Where is Sapphira?” he demanded.
That one name and Gideon knew who he was talking to. “In the house,” he answered, his eyes never wavering from his prey. “Brynn and Godiva are with her.”
“Good,” Damien snarled heading for the house. “I could use some stress relief. Beating that female within an inch of her existence would help immensely.”
“Save some for me,” Gideon called as Damien disappeared into the house. His eyes narrowing on Colin, the grin on his face turning Colin’s blood cold. “Now, where were we?”
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes