Don’t I spoil you, guys?
If you haven’t read the first chapter then you totally should. You can catch it here. Lightning & Power is the third book in the Indigo Skies series. A supernatural adventure, it follows half necromancer half mage Violet Eonsen in a new case…
Chapter Two: Abeona Teleport
It was like an airport, but not quite. That’s the best way that I can describe it. Abeona Teleport was on the outskirts of the sprawling city. A fairly new building, the outer walls were strung about with unestablished plants, as decreed by the ecology projects that had been put in place in this strange future, a future that had once seemed so distant to me. The clash of green and urban was something that I was still getting used to. Truth be told, there was a lot that I was still getting used to.
The fact that I would never go home was one of these things. And the idea that I would never fit in here was another.
What made it harder was that I’d had the smallest chance to return home, but in doing so I would have been letting a werewolf kill Violet and, after she’d already saved my life, I had to repay her. Right? Not that she seemed to appreciate it much.
My gaze focused on the intriguing necromancer mark that barely peeked below the soft swish of her dark bob cut. She tried to keep it hidden, just like her feelings. Her shoulders were stiff, back straight and regal, as she cut through the crowd towards some kind of holding desk. I followed close behind, dragging two small suitcases with wheels.
The whole place was a hubbub of activity. People in business clothes mingled with teens popping gum and grannies with walking sticks. Looking at the strange mundanity of it all, I could have been back in my own time zone if it wasn’t for the occasional flash of supernatural power, reminding me that I didn’t belong here.
“Hey!” Violet called, cutting through my reverie and waving me towards the deeper recesses of the teleport. In her hand she had the tickets Maloney had reserved for us, presumably provided by the staff at the holding desk. I hadn’t really been paying much attention, there was far too much to look at here. The teleport was like a supernatural zoo.
I glanced back at a teen with yellow eyes and his friend absently sparking a flame on and off from the click of her fingers, and then followed Violet, suitcases clipping my heels. She glanced back at me as if I was a toddler she had to keep under watch.
Would she ever see me as anything more than a mute?
“So where do we go?” I asked, trying to make conversation.
She’d been in a bad mood since she’d woken and Logan’s antics only seemed to have made things worse. Normally, I would have disappeared, found a quiet place in the house and continued reading up on all the scientific advancements I’d missed, but this job meant I was stuck with her and her nasty temper until it cooled off or she found something else to focus on long enough to forget whatever it was she was so cross about.
“To the waiting area at the correct gate. You’ve been to a teleport before, right?”
My lips compressed, an annoying habit I’d picked up from the two siblings. “An airport,” I replied, eyes still scanning the crowds from beneath my spectacles. This was the first time that Maloney had given Violet a case and offered to pay for it. At least, the first time since I’d been around. It didn’t feel right. Maloney didn’t feel right. Something about him just rubbed me up the wrong way. “Looks pretty similar.”
Her nose had wrinkled slightly, but she was still facing forward, marching like a general towards the waiting area ahead. “You mean those old fashioned, metal birds of death? You actually went up in one of those things?”
“It was a lot safer than you think,” I grumbled. Everytime we talked about the time that I’d come from, Violet’s expression showed nothing but disdain. Hell, you would have thought the twenty-first century was full of Neanderthals. Then again, I suppose she could be forgiven for thinking that. Especially since that was when supernatural DNA had first started appearing and my twin brother had led a march to secure nazi-esque anti-werewolf laws…
Maybe she was right to look on my people as if we were mentally stunted.
“I find it hard to believe that teleporting is going to be much safer,” I continued, still trying not to think about how the whole process worked. I was all in for scientific advancements, but this one just a seemed a bit… unnecessary.
“Unless your teleporter is tired, it’s pretty hard to get spliced or dissolved. It’s a chance of one in eleven billion, I believe.”
My stomach turned, jolting as I sat down too heavily in one of the waiting area seats. Violet placed herself next to me, glancing around as if she hadn’t just said the most horrific thing ever.
I gulped. “Nice…”
Her critical gaze swept over me, voice softening unusually. “It’ll be okay.” Her hand gently touched the top of mine.
Heat prickled the back of my neck, trying to force its way around and up into my cheeks. The kindness in her gaze forced a lump into my throat that I had trouble clearing. She didn’t need to comfort me. I was fine. Just as tough as her cop friend. “So, what else did Maloney say about the case?”
The soft touch of her hand rapidly withdrew. Annoyance sparked in her irises. It always did when I mentioned his name, as if I was jabbing her with a red hot needle too. “Just what I told you before. Did you manage to find much online?”
“No.” Regret burned my undertones. Was it too much to ask for her to think of me as more than just a nuisance? “It’s barely shown up in the media, but I did notice a couple of similar low profile disappearances.”
“Our kind of thing?”
A glorified secretary. That’s all I was. Powerless and useless. The bitterness rolled down my throat and into my stomach. She brought the guns and I brought the paperwork. “Looks like it, but I can’t be sure.”
“Well, like I say, there’s barely any media coverage on the cases. I’d have thought abductions would be more pressing news.”
A furrow appeared in her brow. “Show me the cases you mean.”
Shifting in my seat, I reached for the thin glass tablet tucked in my inner jacket pocket. It was almost a copy of a twenty-first century design, but there were no visible electronics or edges to it. The whole thing was some kind of smart glass, extremely light weight and durable. It was another one of those things where I had no idea how it worked. Still, the tablet had become easier and easier to use the last few months. It turns out that humans in the future still liked similar design features to what they’d always liked, allowing me to become adept at trawling news sites and blogs in search of information on Violet’s latest cases.
She took the tablet, immediately swiping through the eclippings of reports that I’d found dotted throughout New York’s media. There wasn’t much to go on. I watched her chest rise and fall as she sighed, my gaze quickly switching to her face.
“All these victims have low level powers or they’re mutes. Society isn’t too concerned with weak supernaturals if they disappear.” Just like they wouldn’t be concerned if it was me. “As bad as it sounds, they’re no great loss.”
I turned my face away, pretending to scan the crowds again, but wondering whether she’d even look for me if I was abducted. Probably not. After all, I was just weighing her down.
I had no income and no money – the government had absorbed my bank accounts after I’d disappeared in the early twenty-first century. The fact that I’d reappeared centuries later unaged and unscathed meant that the current government was fighting a pay-out (plus interest) of my original, if meagre, wealth.
At first, they’d tried to argue that I wasn’t really me and now they were saying I was a vampire and had relinquished my assets willingly – like so many vampires apparently had when the human race had evolved. Either way, the process was long, lengthy, and costly. And the only person I could ask for money to fight them was Violet, seeing as all my family were dead. Sadly, helping her with her work was the only way I could return the favour and, having no powers to speak of, that meant I was little more than a research machine.
“That’s a pretty awful thing to say,” I finally muttered in response.
“It’s public perception, not my personal feelings,” she clarified without a trace of emotion in her voice. There were times when I could almost believe she was as cold and aloof as she tried to pretend.
“If that’s the case, then why did the media blow up about those killings of necromancers but not about these?”
A snort of hot air fled Violet’s nostrils. Our last job had involved trying to absolve Logan of the blame for murdering innocent young women. The guys really responsible had tried to kill me and Violet, but, as usual, she’d saved my life.
“You’re still so naïve about this world,” she chided. Clearly the bad mood was here to stay. I frowned at her choice of words. “Yeah, you’re right; necromancers are on the fringe of society. If they’d been abducted instead of murdered, nobody would have batted an eyelid. And even then, to be honest, they would have barely mentioned the murders if it hadn’t been a clear werewolf kill. Blood everywhere and rabid werewolves sells. And they can push the notion of more werewolf segregation if they build fear.”
“Why would they want to do that?”
“Politics?” I repeated.
“Everybody’s in somebody’s pocket.”
I turned to look at her, absorbing the sullen expression and the way she was staring off into middle distance as if the way the world worked was a personal affront to her. “What about you?” I joked.
Her gaze switched back to mine, eyes narrowed and angry. The frown on her face was a death wish expression. “Do you think, maybe, there’s a reason why I get angry with you?”
“Because you’re in Logan’s pocket and he’s paying you to?” The words came out as another poor attempt at humour, digging a deeper hole than I meant to. It didn’t alleviate the tension as I’d hoped it would.
“Shut up, Simon.”
A voice came on over the tannoy calling passengers with our ticket numbers and destination to head to Gate 10:9. Saved by the bell…
Briefly, I wondered how many gates there were as Violet grabbed the handle on her luggage and began wheeling it away. Anxious not to be left behind, I snatched my own bag and hurried after her.
At the gate there was a queue of people already ahead of us. Strangely, watching them all go through the security procedures ahead helped me to relax. It really seemed no different to an airport at all, except that there were only two or three big jumbo jets outside the huge windows and the rest were mostly leisure crafts.
Having not long ago been transported through time by a crazy woman, I was willing to accept that teleporting was a thing in this strange future, but I wasn’t sure exactly what it meant for the passengers and that was the bit that unsettled me.
Did we get shoved inside a big machine or was it more delicate than that? Was it painful? And what had Violet been talking about tiredness and splicing for? I tried desperately not to wring my hands together. What the hell was splicing?
I swallowed and watched her hand our tickets and passports to a security guy whilst his assistant loaded our luggage through a scanner. Both of them were frowning, concentrating on their tasks and completely ignoring the travellers. It was like a prison induction line. I unloaded my house keys and watch into the little dish for metallic items, readying myself to head through the full body scanner.
Then Violet was waving paperwork in the passport guy’s face. Something about the weapon secured neatly in her hidden holster. Apparently she had an international permit for the thing.
“Loaded?” the solemn guy asked, uninterested.
She shook her head, but words came spilling out of my mouth before I could stop them, signalling the bloke’s attention over to me. “What happens if it is?”
“Possible explosion mid teleport,” he responded with a deadened expression.
I swallowed and followed Violet through the full body scanner, my pulse still skittering even though the beep only sounded for her. The assistant handed us back our luggage as Violet shot me a look of disbelief. The passport guy was looking, too, like he thought I was an annoying toddler trapped in a man’s body. Had it really been such a dumb question to ask? I shrugged the notion off and trailed Violet to the next part of the procedure.
“So what happens now?” Anxiety traced my voice.
A set of curtains drew back to admit us, pulled shut again by a bloke in a loose fluorescent vest. Violet passed his partner our tickets to recheck before she answered. “These guys are going to get us to New York.”
I looked at them. One had a sort of dark, curly mop on his head and the other could have accidentally chewed on a wasp judging by his puffy, pug-like face. It was hard not to wrinkle my nose. Wasp face guy had a serious body odour problem according to the stench and the nasty stains on the armpits of his fluorescent vest.
And then it clicked. Teleporting was not done by some big, fancy machine. A teleport was clearly one of the new human types.
These guys were going to get us to New York. They were the teleports.
An expression of abject horror must have passed my face because curly spoke up. “Never travelled teleport before, mate?”
I tried not to squint to see if those smudges below his eyes were tiredness or bad lighting. “Nope…”
“You’ll be fine,” Violet insisted.
Wasp face grinned, or at least I think he did. “We promise we won’t splice you.” Somehow, his words, despite their supposed cockney charm, still didn’t fill me with confidence. My fingers itched to start wringing together, but, instead, I just forced my knuckles to whiten in their grip on my suitcase handle.
I swallowed, hoping that I was wrong about these oafs being teleports. “So is there a machine or something?”
The two men began laughing as the colour drained from my face. The last dregs of hope dropped into the pit of my stomach and dissolved. A glance in Violet’s direction revealed a pained expression that she badly tried to conceal. Her lips were thin when she spoke. “No machine. These guys will teleport us and our luggage.”
“You really haven’t travelled this way before, have you, mate?” the curly one asked, wiping tears of laughter from his crinkled eyes. He was barely out of his teens. How the hell could I expect him to relocate me in such a complicated way?
“I’ll go first,” Violet volunteered, probably ashamed by my naivety again. She moved up to the curly kid’s side, handing her luggage to old odour armpits. “Then they’ll come back for you.”
“Not at the same time?” I asked.
She quirked a sarcastic eyebrow at me a millisecond before the curly lad took her hand and they both vanished. The luggage guy disappeared, too. My guts did another somersault, skin prickling from the angry crackles of static in the air. Energy seemed to spit and fizzle out where their three figures had been. I’d never seen anything like it. And what if they’d taken Violet to the wrong place? Or what if something had happened to them like splicing or dissolving? How would I ever know?
The air snapped and spit again, two bodies reappearing without a flicker in their staunch expressions. My feet took a step back before I could stop them. Every inch of my body wanted to run in the opposite direction, but the knowledge that Violet would kill me for being so cowardly held me in place.
“Alright, fella,” cockney, wasp face said, prying my white grip from my suitcase. “Your turn now.”
I barely had enough time to gulp before the curly kid slammed me into a full body hug. The contact wasn’t pleasant, but the nasty surprise came half a second later when electrical spasms rocked through my body along with a strange feeling of tightness and pressure pushing down on every piece of skin. My eyes closed almost involuntarily, realising that this was the process of teleporting and that I didn’t want to see anything that could make me panic and break free of the teleporter’s grip.
The ground seemed to rush up to meet my feet. The motion left me reeling, only steadied by the teleporter’s arms circling me. Noise exploded around us, leaving my ears ringing as I struggled to disentangle the invasive scents of bagels and petrichor that had burst in over the citrusy aroma of curly’s aftershave.
My eyes opened slowly, loosening from their tight grimace. I could see Violet standing a little way back over the teleporter’s shoulder, her arms crossed over her chest and an expression of quiet amusement took up residence on her face. I took a step away from the curly haired guy, but not fast enough to avoid the too enthusiastic clap of his hand on my shoulder.
“See you on the way back, mate!” he grinned.
I nodded awkwardly, stumbling to my luggage and dragging it towards Violet. Dizziness tweaked at my brain. My face was pale and clammy, causing me to wonder if I could just get a plane ride back, but one glance at Violet assured me that wouldn’t be the case.
The teleporters vanished again, more static filling the air where they’d both been. There was a smile on Violet’s lips. “I think you made an impression on him,” she muttered.
“What?” My frown was met with a flicker of her gaze towards my hand. It was the first time that I’d noticed the piece of paper clutched in my grasp. Figures were squiggled on it in an unfamiliar script. It fluttered to the floor with my jolt of surprise. “Oh god!”
My companion rolled her eyes. “I forgot you were from unenlightened times.” She led me across to the rental desk, ignoring the scowl emblazoned across my face. I was still fighting for a response when she leaned against the counter of the desk. The bespectacled rental agent greeted her, sales patter tripping off her tongue. Violet just ignored everything she’d said and went straight for her target. “Hi, I have a car in the name of Eonsen?”
The girl nodded, ponytail swishing, and disappeared for the keys and forms.
“Where now?” I asked, trying to keep her attention diverted from the teleporter’s attempted pick up.
“Straight to the vic’s house, I think. We need to talk to his mother whilst her memory’s fresh.”
I nodded, slowly, choosing my next words carefully. It was something I’d been thinking hard about on the car ride over to the teleport. She wasn’t going to like it. “Speaking of not letting a trail go cold, it wouldn’t hurt to let Logan do some research on Jenna’s case.”
Before I’d even finished my sentence, she was scowling. I held my hands up, trying to stop them from wringing together and letting her know that I was scared of that deadly glare.
“I’m just saying, he has nothing to do. A bit of research would keep him out of trouble. Just research, of course.” I paused, sensing that the scowl had ever so slightly receded. “You’d make him feel like he was helping instead of just a burden.”
“Who said he was a burden?”
“No one!” I backtracked. This was a minefield. “It’s just…” I gulped, spying the rental employee hovering at a safe distance from the fracas where she was trying to decipher the best moment to intervene. “The way you talk to him sometimes is like you’re talking to a kid.”
Violet snatched the form from the employee who’d dared to come closer in the last few seconds before realising her mistake. The poor girl scurried back as my companion slapped the smart glass down on the desk. She hovered in the doorway to the back room, fear paling her expression. “He is a kid,” Violet growled, focusing on the form in a way bound to melt the thin sheet of glass.
“He’s a grown man,” I argued.
“Then he should act like one.” The snarl was directed at me, but it was the girl behind the counter that cowered as Violet thrust the completed form at her.
“He won’t until you start treating him like one. Give him a little bit of responsibility.”
“Stop telling me how to look after my brother. I’ve been doing the job long enough. I don’t need any advice from you.” She snatched the keys from the bewildered agent’s hand, stuffing the paper copy of the rental agreement into her back pocket, and stalking away without a backwards glance.
I gave the girl behind the counter an apologetic smile and then raced after the angry detective.
“That’s my point, Violet!” I called, finally catching up to her in the parking lot, my wheeled suitcase painfully clipping my heels. “You still think you have to look after him.”
“I do!” she snapped, something akin to a blaze of maternal instinct flickering in her eyes. “I can’t risk him getting hurt again.”
My fingers rubbed against my forehead. “This is just like that fish film.”
The nearest car bleeped and unlocked. Violet already had the door open, ignoring everything I said. She crushed into the driver’s seat without a second glance at me. “Get in the damn car!”
I opened the passenger door and leaned in to talk to her. “If you don’t let him do things he’ll start to hate you for not letting him have a life. You’re suffocating him, Violet.”
“Get in the damn car and don’t say another word to me about this!”
“Fine,” I muttered tight lipped, sliding in and buckling my seatbelt. “Anyone ever tell you how stupidly stubborn you are?”
Check out chapter three: A Family Affair. Tomorrow. Right here.
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