The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 30

On the roof of the Pearson Plasma building, as Martin Armstrong held a gun on Elizabeth insisting that she fly him to safety, Nathan saw three possible outcomes to the events unfolding before him. He hoped he could guide Armstrong to the best one, which really wasn’t that good.

“I’m not helping you escape, Armstrong,” Elizabeth growled. “Now get that gun out of my face before I tear it from your hand!”

“Martin,” Nathan said, trying to sound calm.

His nerves growing more and more frayed, Armstrong’s eyes darted back and forth from Elizabeth to Nathan.

“You have kids don’t you?” Nathan asked.

Armstrong nodded.

“A boy and two little girls. Am I right?” Nathan asked.

At the mention of his children, Armstrong began to focus on Nathan more than he did Elizabeth.

“How long has it been since your wife passed?” Nathan asked.

Armstrong hesitated then said, “Three years.”

“Renee was only two at the time, wasn’t she?” Nathan asked.

Armstrong nodded, tears filling his eyes.

“She won’t remember her mother. Do you really want her to grow up without a father as well?” Nathan questioned.

Armstrong shook his head.

“What was your wife’s name?” Nathan continued.

Armstrong swiped at a tear running down his check and answered,

“Annabel.”

Nathan smiled and said, “Annabel. But she didn’t like that name, did she?”

Armstrong lowered his weapon just a hair as he replied,

“Said it made her sound like a fairytale princess. She preferred the name. . .”

Armstrong trailed off and Nathan finished his thought with,

“Bells.”

Armstrong nodded and smiled at the memory for a moment. Then he looked up at Nathan and said,

“I didn’t hurt anyone. I couldn’t hurt anyone. Jessica came onto me. It was during a field trip Hastings had arranged for his class. I didn’t take advantage of her I swear. She made the first move.”

Nathan nodded as he slowly moved closer.

“You’re being set up, Martin. I know that. But if you don’t turn yourself in, you’ll not only make it easier for whoever murdered Lincoln and Hastings to get away with it but you may also deny your kids their father,” Nathan said.

“What kind of a father could I be from prison?” Armstrong asked.

“You won’t be there for long, Martin. I promise. Whoever is doing this has targeted me as well. They’ve tried to take me out because they know I’m getting closer to finding out who the real murderer is,” Nathan said.

When Armstrong began to lower his weapon, Nathan’s instincts took over causing him to suddenly duck and turn out of the way just as a rifle fired somewhere behind him. The bullet sliced through the air striking Armstrong in the shoulder and throwing him backwards. As he fought to regain his balance, he fell over the side of the building. Elizabeth took three steps and dove after him.

Slowly Nathan got to his feet and looked around him. The shot could have come from only one direction. Nathan knew the sniper was long gone, so he ran toward the stairs and headed for the ground floor.

* * *

Elizabeth felt the wind rush past her as she quickly caught up with Armstrong and matched his speed. She grabbed his leg then moved to his side. Wrapping her arms around his waist, she spread her wings and slowed their descent.

The moment she touched down, she shouted,

“Need a medic here!”

Detectives Shields and French hurried over and saw that Armstrong was unconscious. Blood from the bullet hole in his shoulder soaked into his shirt.

“You shot him?” French snapped as he applied pressure to the wound.

“No!” Elizabeth defended. “If I had, he would need a priest not a medic.”

“Calm down,” Shields said. “What happened?”

“He—,” Elizabeth began.

“Move aside,” the EMTs interrupted.

“I’ll tell you what happened,” French barked, stepping out of the way. “She tried to kill our suspect!”

“If I had tried to kill him, he’d be dead. I don’t miss,” Elizabeth retorted.

“Everyone quiet now!” Shields ordered as the ground rumbled.

“I’ll ask again,” she said. What exactly happened?”

“Somebody shot him,” Nathan said jogging up to them, “but the bullet was meant for me.”

“What? Someone tried to shoot you?” French asked, his words dripping with sarcasm.

“Yes,” Nathan said, ignoring the insolent remark. “Apparently I’m a difficult target.”

“Thanks for bringing him down safely,” Shields said. “Armstrong has a lot to answer for.”

“I don’t think he’s guilty,” Nathan offered.

“Trust me,” Shields said, patting Nathan on the back, “he’s guilty.”

The moment Shields touched Nathan’s back, his vision went white.

* * *

When his vision cleared, Nathan was standing in the street across from Sapphire City Park. Frantic parents grabbed their kids as uniformed police hurried everyone to safety. Nathan stepped back when a vehicle roared past. Printed on the side in bold letters was CBPD Bomb Squad.

Nathan slipped through the crowd and headed into the park. No one seemed to notice him. A fallen banner announcing the Crescent Bay Founder’s Day Picnic lay across his path. Up ahead on a stone bridge a few feet near a monument dedicated to the sailors who founded Crescent Bay stood Jericho, a bomb strapped to his chest. Nathan saw that it was identical to the ones that had killed Lincoln and Hastings. Detective Cassandra Shields stood just in front of Jericho with the sun behind her.

“I need to get out of here,” Jericho said. “The bomb won’t hurt me, but it could kill hundreds.”

“No, Jericho. Don’t move,” Shields pleaded. “If you don’t stand still, the bomb may go off.”

“I can’t risk anyone getting hurt. If I jump high enough, the bomb should go off in midair,” Jericho explained.

“It’s too risky,” Shields said. “Let the bomb squad try and remove it first.”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t let anyone else get hurt,” Jericho said, bending his knees to jump.

“Jericho, wait!” Shields pleaded.

“Perhaps I can help,” a voice boomed from behind them.

Nathan turned around to see a figure floating in midair. The sun behind him obscured him from clear view, but Nathan could see that the sunlight reflected off his suit.

Before he could get a better look, Nathan’s vision went white again.

* * *

When Nathan came to, he saw Detective Shields staring at him with a look of concern.

“Are you okay?” she asked. “You kind of wandered off there for a moment.”

Nathan laughed it off and said,

“I’m fine.”

“Good, good,” Shields said. “Okay you need to spin by the station later to make a statement. I don’t know about you, but the chief will be glad to hear this is all over.”

As Shields walked away, Elizabeth stepped close to Nathan and asked,

“What did you see?”

Nathan paused still trying to take it all in.

“This is not over,” he sighed. “Not by a long shot.”

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The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 29

Martin Armstrong sat in his office nervously typing away on his keyboard, paying no attention to his fingers as they pounded the keys. He just needed something to keep his hands busy while he figured out what to do next. His relationship with Jessica Alexander had been a stupid mistake. Yeah, it was completely mutual. In fact, she had come onto him. But now she was talking to the cops saying he had taken advantage of her, claiming he was responsible for the deaths of Daniel Lincoln and River Hastings.

“That’s not possible!” Armstrong snapped as he suddenly struck his desk. “Lincoln was a little toad. Why waste my time killing him? And Hastings? Hasting was a dear friend of mine. No way would I kill him. Besides, I had far too much to gain from the position he was in. Killing him would only hurt me financially.”

Someone knocked on his door.

“Not now!” he yelled.

“I need to talk to my lawyer,” Armstrong told himself.

Turning the chair around, he snatched up his cell phone off the desk and punched in the number.

After three rings, voice mail picked up.

“Pierce, this is Martin Armstrong again. I need your help. Where in the world are you? Call me back as soon as you get this. I don’t pay you to sit on the beach and seduce interns.”

When Armstrong ended the call, he thought about how good it would feel to slam down a phone handset a couple of times.

The knock at the door sounded again.

“I said not now!” Armstrong yelled.

“Jessica probably just wants money,” Armstrong said. “Well fine. When Pierce calls me back, I’ll just tell him to pay her off. This whole thing is ridiculous!”

When the knock came again, Armstrong stormed over to the door and jerked it open shouting,

“What’s your problem? I said not now!”

Standing just outside the door was a large man with short-cropped hair clutching a large manila envelope. He shoved the package into Armstrong’s arms and turned to leave.

When Armstrong stepped out of his office to watch where the man was headed, he saw his secretary Charlotte lying dead on the floor, a bullet hole in her chest. He froze in horror then looked up to see that the large man had stopped and turned toward Charlotte’s body. He seemed to be waiting for something.

“Waiting for what?” Armstrong wondered.

Inside the envelope, a phone began to ring. Armstrong tore open the package and jammed his hand inside. As his fingers fumbled for the cell phone, they brushed against something metal. Once he pulled the phone free, he held it up. The caller ID read Unknown.

Lifting the phone to his ear, Armstrong answered,

“Hello?”

“Martin Armstong.”

The voice on the other end was scrambled, making recognition impossible.

“Y-y-es?” Armstrong stammered, glancing down at Charlotte’s dead body, its blood soaking into the thick carpet.

“The police are on their way to arrest you, Martin,” the voice said.

“For what? I didn’t do anything wrong,” Armstrong defended.

“That doesn’t matter now, does it?” the voice said. “Daniel Lincoln is dead, River Hastings is dead, and soon Jessica Alexander will be dead, a victim of your terrible vengeance. All that’s left to complete our tale is the fall of the villain.”

“What villain?” Armstrong asked.

“You, Martin. Don’t you see? All this is for you,” the voice said.

“Are you insane? Why me?” Armstrong asked.

“In time, Martin, in time. Right now there are only two choices left for you. You can leave the building in handcuffs or a body bag. Choice is yours. I know what I would prefer, but if you choose handcuffs, you must understand that anything less than a full confession will result in a very uncomfortable time for you in jail. If you do survive the ordeal, I doubt you will choose to remain among the living afterwards,” the voice said.

“Who is this? You have nothing on me. I have a great lawyer, pal, and he will—”

“Sue me?” the voice interrupted. “Ruin my reputation? There is nothing he can do that you haven’t already done. And before you ask that inevitable, cliché question ‘why you’, I will tell you the answer. Because you are a bully. You hide behind the law and manipulate it for your own gain. But now you’re done, toppled. Okay so maybe I had to break a few rules to do it, but that was necessary.”

Armstrong could hear the man on the other end of the call stop to catch his breath. He seemed to be trying to calm himself.

“There is no one who can help you. In case you were stupid enough to reach into the envelope instead of looking inside or emptying it out first, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you. You have left your fingerprints all over the very pistol that shot your precious Charlotte and your favorite bloodsucker Pierce. There’s no one left for you, Martin. Do yourself and the rest of us a favor. Take yourself out of this world!”

Suddenly the line went dead. Armstrong felt clammy and nauseous. He slowly looked up and saw that the man who had been watching him had disappeared.

“What should I do? What should I do?” Armstrong cried out in his mind.

He fled down the hall toward the elevator, but when he turned the corner, he saw two men dressed in identical suits standing by the elevator door. He stopped himself and slowly backed down the hallway until he was out of sight.

Retreating to his office, Armstrong paused at Charlotte’s desk to think what to do next.

“I’m ten stories up, but taking the stairs down won’t be so bad. I can do that,” Armstrong assured himself.

He ran for the stairwell and breathed a sign of relief when he saw that the stairwell door was unguarded. But when he pulled it open, he froze. A guard was positioned by the stairs going down. As he closed the stairwell door and turned back toward his office, he saw two men standing in the hallway. The only escape now was the roof, just above the floor of his office. Aware that he was being herded, he pulled open the stairwell door and made his way up the stairs to the roof.

When he reached the door to the roof, he opened it and slowly stepped out, the wind whipping his hair.

Walking to the edge, he looked over and felt his legs go weak. Police cars filled the parking lot below. Armstrong reached into the envelope and pulled out the pistol. Five shots left.

 

*          *          *

 

Nathan pulled up outside Pearson Plasma’s office building. Police cars were out in full force. As he turned off the bike’s ignition key, Elizabeth touched down next to him.

“You think Martin Armstrong is being set up?” Elizabeth asked.

“Someone is going to a lot of trouble to make sure Armstrong and Jericho are killed, or at the very least ruined,” Nathan said.

Nathan walked past the cops as they cleared out employees and gawkers. When he reached Detective Shields, he saw that she was busy giving orders to a group of officers.

“Detective Shields,” Nathan called.

“In a minute,” she replied.

“It’s important,” Elizabeth pushed.

“She said not now,” Detective French snapped, moving them back out of the way. “Interrupt again and I’ll arrest you both for obstruction.”

As French walked away, Elizabeth returned,

“Try it.”

“That won’t do any good,” Nathan said.

“Who cares? He deserves it,” Elizabeth sneered.

Nathan closed his eyes, trying to focus on Martin Armstong. After a few seconds, he opened his eyes and said,

“We need to get to the roof.”

“All right, brace yourself,” Elizabeth advised.

“Wait!” Nathan protested. But before he could resist, Elizabeth had wrapped her arms around his waist, spread her wings and shot into the air so quickly that Nathan felt his stomach plunge.

In only a moment, Elizabeth had covered the distance to the roof and released Nathan.

Nathan looked at her and asked,

“Why is it I needed to save you from falling off the Crescent Bay Queen?”

“Because my wings were bound. Shut up,” Elizabeth said.

When Nathan and Elizabeth took a step toward Armstrong, he warned,

“D-d-don’t try to stop me!”

“Armstrong, look. I know you’re being set up,” Nathan said.

“Can you prove it?” Armstrong asked.

“Not yet, but I will. You’ve got to give me time,” Nathan pleaded.

“There’s no time left. He said either I leave here in cuffs or in a body bag. I can’t go to jail. I’ve seen TV. I know what happens to guys in prison. I won’t survive!”

“You don’t have to go through that,” Nathan said. “Give me time, and I’ll find the one responsible for this.”

“No, no. It’s too late. There’s no way out now,” Armstrong said.

Nathan saw two possible endings to this scenario. Neither were good. His only chance to stop this was to get through to Armstrong.

“Please, Armstrong, I need you to trust me.”

Armstrong looked at Elizabeth, and after a moment he realized something, something that gave him hope.

“You have wings. You could fly me out of here to safety.”

“I’ll fly you to the police department, but I won’t help you escape the police,” Elizabeth declared.

Suddenly Armstrong pointed the gun at Elizabeth and said,

“I’m sorry about this, but I’m desperate, and there’s no time to ask nicely.”

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 28

In a panel van parked a good distance away, Graham Prescott watched four monitors, each with a clear view of the courtyard outside Crescent Bay University’s Anderson Hill Dormitory. Each monitor was being fed video from a different drone circling the courtyard.

“Sir,” one of Prescott’s men said.

“What?” Prescott snapped imperiously.

“Why is such an elaborate plan necessary? Why not just walk up to him and kill him?” the man asked.

Prescott slowly turned to the man and glared, quickly looking at his nametag.

“Marc, is it? Look, Marc, I would love nothing more than to walk right up to Nathan Nichols and nuke him till he looked like an overcooked burrito, but unfortunately I can’t. Our employer insists on secrecy, so we have to keep our distance and do things the hard way,” Prescott explained.

After a pause to consider, Marc asked,

“But why, sir?”

With a low growl, Prescott ran the fingers of his left hand over his cane that rested on the seat.

“Do you know what people have started calling Nathan Nichols?” he asked.

Seeing the growing anger in Prescott’s eyes, Marc decided to drop the subject.

“Never mind, sir,” Marc answered.

“No!” Prescott barked. “You started this, now let’s see where it goes. Answer the question!”

Marc hesitated for a moment then mumbled, “The prophet?”

“And do you know why?” Prescott asked.

Marc started to step back but Prescott snarled,

“Why?”

“Rumor has he knows things. That he can tell you anything about a person,” Marc replied.

“Just by being around them. Correct?” Prescott added.

Growing increasingly nervous, Marc merely shook his head.

“Which means?” Prescott continued.

Marc gulped, sweat beginning to form on his brow.

“He would know who hired you if you got too close?” Marc softly answered.

“That’s right!” Prescott said with mock glee.

Then with a sudden blast of blue energy from the cane, Prescott reduced Marc to a pile of ashes. Turning his attention back to the monitors, he grumbled,

“Idiot.”

“Nichols and the girl are exiting the building,” a voice said over the speaker.

“Good,” Prescott responded into a walkie. “Let them get to the parking lot. Too many obstructions in the courtyard.”

Prescott turned to the pile of ashes that was once Marc and sarcastically explained,

“Now by obstruction, I mean trees and fountains and people. Stuff they can hide behind.”

Just then the wind picked up, blowing the ashes away.

Prescott adjusted one of the drones to get a better view of Nathan and Elizabeth as they crossed the courtyard. Nathan led the way with Elizabeth a few steps behind.

“Wait till they get to the parking lot. Sniper 1, you ready?” Prescott asked.

“Check,” sniper 1 replied.

“Sniper 2 ready?” Prescott asked.

“Sniper 2, check,” the other sniper replied.

“Truck ready?” Prescott asked.

“Yeah, boss,” came a response.

“Bruiser ready?” Prescott asked.

“I have a name,” a voice returned.

Prescott rolled his eyes and corrected,

“Coil ready?”

“Ready,” the same voice replied.

As Prescott kept his eyes on the monitors, suddenly sniper 1 said,

“They’ve stopped.”

“You got a clear shot?” Prescott asked.

“It’s a go,” sniper 1 answered.

“Then take the shot,” Prescott ordered.

“Goodnight,” sniper 1 said.

Just as the rifle fired, Nathan moved to the side, sending the bullet into the concrete. He instantly pulled out his revolver and returned fire in the direction the bullet had traveled.

“Sniper 1, report,” Prescott ordered.

“Sniper 1 down, sir,” sniper 2 said.

“Sniper 2, fire,” Prescott barked.

“Yes, sir.”

As the rifle fired again, Nathan spun on his heel, once again dodging the bullet then returning fire.

“How is he dodging the bullets?” Prescott yelled.

“He’s not dodging the bullets, sir. He’s moving out of the way just as the bullet is fired,” a voice explained.

“Who said that?” Prescott snapped.

There was a pause before the man came back with,

“Addams, sir.”

“That wasn’t me, sir. It was Marley,” a second man said.

Prescott dropped the walkie and rested his head in his hands.

“Why do I surround myself with idiots,” he moaned.

Then looking through his fingers at Nathan, Prescott grabbed the walkie and ordered,

“Send in the truck.”

 

*          *          *

 

“What was that?” Elizabeth asked, scanning the area with both of her pistols out.

“An ambush,” Nathan replied. “Remember what I told you just before we stepped outside the dorm back there?”

“What?” Elizabeth asked.

Before Nathan could refresh her memory, Elizabeth spotted a large out-of-control truck barreling down on them. Quickly stepping in front of Nathan, Elizabeth firmly planted her feet and bent her knees.

When the truck jumped the curb, its front end lifted just enough for Elizabeth to catch it by the grill.

“Throw it!” Nathan shouted.

With all her strength, Elizabeth tossed the truck high into the air. It flipped over end-to-end then exploded, destroying two remote drones nearby.

Stepping back to Nathan’s side, she asked,

“Are you okay, Nathan?”

“I’m fine but hold on. This isn’t over yet,” Nathan warned. “Look at that.”

The ground began to rumble as a giant of a man ran toward them, roaring like a beast.

“I’ll get him,” Elizabeth said, popping her knuckles and neck. “I’ve been looking for a good brawl all day.”

Estimating that the running man was around 7 feet tall, Elizabeth calmly walked toward him.

Stopping to bend her knees, she settled her weight on her back foot and watched as the man raised his giant fists over his head. When he was close enough, Elizabeth struck him in the chest with her open palm.

The sound of the impact was so loud it echoed off the concrete. Doubling over with pain, the man clutched at his chest and gasped for air. Elizabeth grabbed him, lifting him as easily as she would a basketball, and threw him across the parking lot into a line of trees.

“Where are the rest of them?” Elizabeth asked, her blood pumping.

“Retreating,” Nathan said.

“Seriously? After one punch?” Elizabeth complained. “I think I may have to crack a few ribs before I can go home.”

“They aren’t retreating because of you,” Nathan said.

“What?” Elizabeth asked in confusion.

Nathan pointed toward the sky, and when Elizabeth looked up, she saw 4 21 hovering overhead. He floated down, landing next to them, and said,

“Ms. Hayes. Prophet.”

Nathan nodded his greeting and 4 21 said,

“When Jericho convinced me and the other heroes in Crescent Bay to give you opportunity to come into your own, I assumed he meant that you would be handling matters such as solving murders or preventing future disasters in your own way, dealing with problems I did not have time for. Every hero in Crescent Bay has a special skill, a strength to bring these problems to a solution, but I am afraid I must interfere when your solutions involve shooting into crowds or throwing lethal exploding devices into the air, especially this close to a college campus.”

“Those were not problem solvers,” Nathan corrected. “We were simply defending ourselves.”

“Explain,” 4 21 said.

Once Nathan had recounted Prescott’s attempted ambush, 4 21 said,

“I understand that you are new to this. You must be careful. A soldier does not fire on innocents nor does he act without regard to the safety of others.”

“Sorry,” Nathan said.

“It seems you had no choice,” 4 21 admitted. “Just be careful.”

Without another word, 4 21 lifted into the air and flew off.

“I don’t like being scolded,” Elizabeth said. “Not one little bit!”

Deciding to ignore her comment, Nathan proposed,

“Let’s go find Detective Shields and tell her about Jessica.”

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 27

Once again Nathan and Elizabeth found themselves on the campus of Crescent Bay University. As they crossed the brick courtyard encircled by live oak trees and headed for Anderson Hill, the dorm of Jessica Alexander, the sweet smell of freshly cut grass and flower blossoms created a happy, relaxing atmosphere. Near the stairs leading into the dorm, a stone fountain’s bubbling water welcomed them.

“Okay so tell me again. We came here instead of finding out why someone would try to kill Jericho because. . .?” Elizabeth asked.

“Two people are dead by the same type of bomb someone will use on Jericho, and those two people were connected to a blackmailing ring. Daniel Lincoln was blackmailing Martin Armstrong who is having an affair with Jessica Alexander. Somehow, River Hastings was involved. The cops think Armstrong’s the killer, so there’s a good chance Alexander either knows who did it or she’s the killer’s next target,” Nathan said.

“Or she’s the killer,” Elizabeth added.

Nathan hesitated then acknowledged, “That’s also possible.”

“So what room is Jessica’s?” Elizabeth asked.

“She’s not in her room right now,” Nathan said.

When he opened the door to the common area, cold air hit Elizabeth as she stepped into a large room filled with boisterous laughter and the clack of billiard balls.

“She’s in here somewhere,” Nathan said.

While Nathan scanned the room looking for Jessica, Elizabeth walked over to the nearest pool table and asked the two guys playing,

“Where is Jessica Alexander?”

Instead of answering her question, they responded by ogling her chest. Elizabeth grabbed the eight ball from the table and barked,

“Hey!”

When both students looked up, Elizabeth crushed the eight ball into a powder.

“I found her,” Nathan said, getting Elizabeth’s attention.

“Are you sure cause I think these two are ready to talk,” Elizabeth snarled.

Nathan glanced at the young men and saw that their faces were drained of color.

“You’re lucky they’re still conscious.”

Elizabeth followed Nathan across the crowded room to a leather couch filled with giggling coeds. The girl seated in the middle, clearly the alpha, had pink hair and was wearing too much eye shadow.

“Jessica Alexander?” Nathan asked.

The girls stopped laughing long enough for the one with the pink hair to say,

“Sorry. She’s not here right now.”

Nathan let out a sigh and under his breath asked, “Why must it always be this way?”

“Jessica Ellen Alexander. Bites her nails when she’s nervous, collects unicorns, and when she was twelve years old, she saw—”

“I’m Jessica!” the girl with the pink hair shouted as she sprang up off the couch.

“Are you certain?” Nathan whispered. “I have more. . .like how you passed your chemistry final.”

“No need,” Jessica assured him. “Let’s go over here where we can talk.”

Jessica led Nathan and Elizabeth to a quiet corner and asked,

“Okay what do you want?”

“We want to ask you about Martin Armstrong,” Nathan explained.

Jessica considered her words for a moment then said,

“Martin Armstrong is a horrible man. He forced Professor Hastings to fail me if I didn’t go out with him, and when Lincoln tried to help me, he killed him. Now Hastings is dead, and I’m scared I’m next.”

“How do you know Hastings is dead?” Elizabeth asked.

“It’s all over campus. They said there was an explosion at Pearson Plasma. They’ve already got a sub for his classes. Anybody can do the math,” Jessica said.

“I think Armstrong is being framed,” Nathan said.

“Framed?” Jessica said, rolling her eyes. “He did it. Everybody knows that. If I were you, I’d disappear before he gets you. I’m going to the cops.”

As she started to walk away, Nathan extended his hand and said,

“Thank you for your time.”

“Whatever,” Jessica said, taking Nathan’s hand and quickly shaking it.

In the few seconds that Nathan held her hand, he had a vision. Everything went white for a moment and when it cleared, he was in a girl’s dorm room.

He looked around for a clue as to whose room it was. Suddenly there was a knock on the door, and when he turned toward it, someone slid an envelope under the door. He heard the sound of the bathroom door opening and looked to see Jessica Alexander step out. She was dressed in a bathrobe with her hair tucked inside a towel. She turned off the bathroom light and crossed the room to the door to open it. When she saw no one was there, she was about to close the door when she spotted the envelope.

Bending over, she picked it up and tore it open to find a folded piece of paper stuffed inside.

Tucked in the fold were three photographs. One was of Daniel Lincoln with the bomb vest wrapped around him. The other was of River Hastings also wearing a bomb vest. But the third was of an empty bomb vest that had her name written on it. With trembling hands, she read the note.

“If anyone asks, Armstrong is responsible.”

Jessica stepped out into the hall and looked both ways before quickly retreating into her room and closing the door.

As she fought back tears, she quickly put the note away and disappeared into the bathroom.

Suddenly Nathan snapped out of his vision and saw Jessica staring at him with a look of confusion.

“You okay?” she asked.

Nathan took a second to clear his head then answered,

“Yea. Fine.”

While Jessica returned to her friends, Elizabeth spun Nathan around and demanded,

“What did you see?”

When Nathan hesitated, she warned,

“Tell me or I’ll pick you up by your underwear and fly you over the city!”

“No need,” Nathan said. “Whoever is doing this threatened Jessica that unless she names Armstrong as the killer, she’ll be the next victim.”

“Then let’s hide her someplace safe,” Elizabeth suggested.

“That won’t do any good,” Nathan said.

“Why not?” Elizabeth asked.

“Because she’s already gone,” Nathan replied.

Elizabeth looked past Nathan and saw that Jessica was nowhere in sight.

“Where’d she go?” Elizabeth asked.

“To the police station. Don’t worry. She’ll make it there safely,” Nathan said then added, “I think.”

“What do you mean you think?” Elizabeth asked.

“I mean the future is not certain yet, but there’s a good chance she’ll make it,” Nathan explained.

Growing angry, Elizabeth glared at him.

“That’s not good enough! I don’t know how things are where you come from, but here we take life and death seriously.”

“It’s the same where I come from, Elizabeth,” Nathan assured her. “It’s just that I’m still having difficulty adjusting to this place. Everything still feels like a dream.”

In frustration Elizabeth pushed past him and stormed towards the door.

The two boys Elizabeth had threatened still stood at the pool table gaping in awe.

When she reached for the door handle, Nathan suddenly grabbed her hand and said,

“Elizabeth, wait.”

“What?” Elizabeth asked irritated.

“I need to go first. And remember above all else, don’t just catch it. You have to throw it as high as you can,” Nathan said.

Elizabeth looked at Nathan confused,

“What are you talking about?”

“Please,” Nathan said, “just trust me.”

When she saw the pleading look in his eyes, she calmly answered,

“Okay.”

Removing her hand from the door handle, she stepped back as Nathan quietly thanked her, opened the door and stepped out in the courtyard.

Medical Delay

The updates will be here soon but due to a minor medical emergency there will be a delay. My most sincere apologies and thank you for you devotion and patience.

Published in: on March 15, 2018 at 6:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 26

Nathan and Elizabeth stayed out of the way as police questioned Martin Armstrong in the lobby of Pearson Plasma Technologies. Outside the building, officers and bomb squad swarmed across the parking lot working through the damage as medical personnel attended to the wounded.

“Any idea what happened?” Elizabeth asked.

“Another man was murdered by a bombing, same as Lincoln,” Nathan said.

“Who’s doing this?” Elizabeth asked.

“I’m not sure yet, but I have my suspicions,” Nathan answered.

“It was one of the people in Lincoln’s blackmail file, wasn’t it?” Elizabeth asked.

“That’s my theory,” Nathan replied.

“When are they going to question us? I’ve got things to do,” Elizabeth asked.

“Should be pretty soon,” Nathan said.

As they waited, Elizabeth let her eyes wander across the lobby until she saw a large glass display case. Inside was a red and black jumpsuit along with helmet, boots, gloves, and rocket pack, all in a matching color scheme. Elizabeth was at once enamored.

“I know that suit! It’s Knightlight!” she said excitedly.

As Nathan followed Elizabeth over to the display case, he said,

“This is the suit once worn by Milford Pearson when he was fighting crime as Knightlight. The boots and jetpack provide both propulsion and balance. The gloves can fire super-heated plasma from the plasma engine in the jet pack, and the helmet links everything together with a voice activation system that allows control of various functions of the suit simply by voice command. The jumpsuit is both waterproof and flame retardant and on hot days can bring the wearer dangerously close to dehydration. Pearson wore this suit for twenty years until his retirement when he opened Pearson Plasma Technologies and retired the suit, leaving the city’s safety to the police department, emergency services and the rising crop of new heroes.”

“Thanks,” Elizabeth said. “Actually, I knew some of that.”

“Pearson updated and maintained the suit well into his retirement, and upon his death he requested that the suit be kept up and maintained should the city ever need Knightlight again,” Nathan continued.

“Like I said, you sound like a tour guide,” Elizabeth teased. “I do have a question though.”

“Did Pearson have any help in creating the engine or was it entirely his brainchild?”

“Actually Pearson never took full credit for the plasma engine. He worked on its initial designs with inventor Foreman Frost who was a friend and mentor. Frost was going to join him in his own suit of armor using the name Professor Phantastic, but he just disappeared leaving Pearson to continue work on the plasma engine without him. Until his death, Pearson never stopped looking for Frost. Kind of sad,” Nathan said.

“Is this the original suit?” Elizabeth asked.

“No. This is just a model for display. They keep the real Knightlight suit safely locked away.”

Elizabeth seemed disappointed.

“I wanted to see the real one, not a duplicate,” she said.

“They have to keep the real one locked up. Can’t risk someone breaking in here and stealing it, can they?” Nathan asked.

“I guess not,” Elizabeth said.

Just then, Detective Cassandra Shields called out, “Nathan.”

Nathan turned toward her voice and saw her motion for him and Elizabeth to come over.

“Sorry for keeping you inside,” Shields apologized as she led them to a back corner of the parking lot. “EMT’s have been tending to injuries, and Dr. Makaw insisted Crime Scene have a look at the damage before you interrupt,” Shields said. “His words not mine.”

“This is where it went off,” Shields said as she pointed to a burning crater in the concrete.

“Any deaths?” Elizabeth asked.

“None other than our victim. Techs found parts of a body, including a finger,” Shields explained.

Just then Makaw, wearing a confident smile, marched up to them and said,

“That’s far enough, Prophet. So tell me what happened here.”

“Victim is River Hastings, an engineering professor at Crescent Bay University. Jessica Alexander is one of his students. He was in the back of a car here,” Nathan said glancing at the scene, “with the bomb strapped to him. The detonator was a cell phone triggered by someone nearby.”

Makaw cursed then said,

“Fascinating. I don’t suppose you can tell me what type of vehicle it was.”

Nathan closed his eyes and after a moment said,

“A 1986 van, blue with tan interior.”

“How could you possibly know that?” Detective French snapped.

“Jericho vouched for him. Don’t forget he works for us,” Shields said.

French threw up his hands and turned away, mumbling under his breath.

“Anything else, Doc?” Shields asked.

“He pretty much summed it up. River Hastings was the victim. He was tied up in the back of a van, and the bomb was triggered by a cell phone signal,” Makaw summarized.

Looking at Nathan, Shields asked, “Any idea who could have done this?”

“Nope,” Nathan lied, “although I do believe Graham Prescott and his men are involved somehow. Don’t have all the answers yet.”

Shields nodded and said,

“Well keep me informed. We’ll finish up here.”

As Nathan and Elizabeth walked away, she whispered,

“You told her you didn’t know who did it.”

“Right,” Nathan replied.

“But what about Armstrong? He was on the phone with his lawyer and you suddenly leapt at him. Why would you do that if you didn’t think he was involved?” Elizabeth asked.

Nathan told Elizabeth what he saw just before the bomb went off.

“Well then Armstrong is obviously the guy. He saw we were onto him, so he’s getting rid of loose ends,” Elizabeth said.

“Normally I would agree with you, but a few things don’t add up,” Nathan explained.

“If Armstrong is the killer, why kill anyone other than Lincoln? We had no clue what was going on until we found the blackmail.”

“And that’s why he had to cover up his affair. Because we found the blackmail. Someone at the bar must have told him,” Elizabeth suggested.

“That’s possible, but when the bomb went off, he was trying to reach his lawyer. When the phone wouldn’t pick up, he seemed genuinely confused,” Nathan reminded her.

“Well he’s just a good actor,” Elizabeth proposed.

“No, no. Something doesn’t feel right,” Nathan said.

“So you think he’s innocent?” Elizabeth asked exasperated.

“No he’s guilty of something. Just not murder. Besides, if this is about blackmail, there’s one more piece that doesn’t fit,” Nathan said.

“What’s that?” Elizabeth asked.

Nathan started to answer but suddenly stopped himself.

“What is it?” Elizabeth insisted.

When he didn’t answer, Elizabeth stepped in front of him and threatened,

“Tell me or I’ll fly up over the city and drop you.”

Nathan hesitated but finally said, “All right. All right. I had a vision before this started of Jericho in the park. He had a bomb strapped to his chest, a bomb just like the others. If this is all about blackmail, why try to kill him?”

“Why try at all?” Elizabeth asked. “Jericho is all but impervious to damage. A bomb like that would kill everyone else before it left a scratch on him.”

“That’s why I think this may be a setup, but for what reason?” Nathan wondered.

“Then we’d better find out,” Elizabeth asserted. “Before it’s too late!”

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 25

In a blur of motion, Elizabeth spread her wings and withdrew her weapons. Closing her eyes to block visual distractions, she used her natural radar to move with grace and precision.

Four of Prescott’s men, their rifles raised, surrounded Elizabeth but just seconds before they fired, she dove for the two who were closest. Hooking one with her wing, she spun and hurled him across the bar and through a front window. Then tossing the other into the air, she raised her pistol and shot him before he hit the floor.

“The King?” Nathan asked as he circled Prescott.

“Stay out of my head!” Prescott ordered.

“Why? What are you afraid I’ll find?” Nathan asked.

When Prescott swung out, Nathan ducked and rolled. Then jumping to his feet, he asked,

“Who are you protecting?”

“Stay out of my head!” Prescott snapped.

As Prescott started to move forward, Nathan advised,

“I wouldn’t do that.”

Prescott sneered and just as he took a step closer, one of his men came flying across the room, crashing into Prescott and knocking him over the bar. When Nathan glanced over to check on Elizabeth, he saw she was lifting one of the men in the air by his throat.

“Don’t kill him,” Nathan said.

Elizabeth growled and dropped the man to the floor.

Prescott saw his chance and ran for the exit.

“No!” Elizabeth roared, running after him.

“Wait!” Nathan yelled as he followed her.

When Prescott reached the parking lot, he stopped behind one of his SUVs and struck the fender with his cane. A burst of blue energy flashed, and the SUV went flipping through the air towards Elizabeth.

Just before the vehicle crashed through the front wall of Eight Balls, Nathan grabbed Elizabeth and pulled them both to safety.

When they hurried outside through the gaping hole left by the SUV, they saw that Prescott had fled.

Police cruisers tore into the parking lot and Crescent Bay’s finest jumping out, weapons drawn.

“Freeze!” one officer yelled at Elizabeth. “Drop your weapons!”

Elizabeth, her adrenaline still pumping, tightened her grip on her weapon.

“Wait, Elizabeth,” Nathan said, placing his hand over hers.

“Get down on your knees and place your hands on your head!” Detective French demanded.

“They’re innocent,” Jericho said, stepping in front of Nathan and Elizabeth.

“Jericho, move out of the way,” French ordered.

“Are you okay, Jericho?” Nathan asked.

“My head’s going to be ringing for a while, but I’ll live,” Jericho said.

Just then, Detective Cassandra Shields arrived on the scene.

When she jumped out of the cruiser, she ordered the officers,

“Stand down! He’s with us.”

Shields walked over to Jericho and looked past him to Nathan.

“What happened?” she asked.

“They started it,” Nathan said with a sheepish smile.

 

*          *          *

 

After being questioned most of the night about the scene at Eight Balls, Nathan was finally sent home.

He spent the next eight hours trying to catch some z’s, but when dawn’s light peeked through the draperies of Elizabeth’s condo, Nathan gave up and hopped into the shower.

As he quickly dressed, he made a plan then left the building, hopped on his bike, and headed for Pearson Plasma Technologies.

Pearson Plasma stood tall and bright, its panels glistening in the morning sun. The long public pool that ran from the parking lot to the stairs leading up to the front door was filled with kids playing and splashing, their innocent laughter lifting Nathan’s spirits.

Nathan left his bike in the parking lot and headed for the front entrance. When he passed a placard posted near the pool, he stopped to read.

Pearson Plasma Technologies’ public pool and playground are dedicated to all the children of Crescent Bay. These facilities were built by Milford Pearson, Crescent Bay’s beloved hero known as Knightlight. Mr. Pearson loved children and said their laughter always gave him strength.

Nathan looked across the street at the playground, swarming with happy children, and breathed deeply, taking it all.

“So what is this place?” Elizabeth asked.

Nathan turned to face Elizabeth.

“Are you following me?”

“Yep,” Elizabeth replied. “Don’t trust you on your own.”

Nathan shook his head in mild exasperation.

“So tell me what this place is,” Elizabeth repeated.

“Started by one of Crescent Bay’s earliest superheroes, Milford Pearson, also known as Knightlight, Pearson Plasma Technologies uses an engine invented by Pearson that could generate super-heated plasma for use in weapons and engines. When he retired, Pearson put his engine designs to use in ridding Crescent Bay of its dependency on fossil fuels. His empire invests in hospitals, aeronautics, and shipping. Plus, over the years, it has secured a lot of government contracts. Today, Pearson’s company is worth $10 billion. When he died, sixty per cent of the company stock went to investors he had handpicked with the other forty per cent going to his son Brian Pearson.”

Elizabeth watched Nathan as he shared the information,

When he finished, she said,

“You know, you should be a tour guide.”

Ignoring her comment, Nathan added,

“This is where Martin Armstrong works. He’s chairman of the board of directors.”

“What about Brian Pearson?” Elizabeth asked.

“Retired a few years ago. His grandson Brian hasn’t fully assumed control. Right now he still answers to the board of directors,” Nathan explained.

Elizabeth followed Nathan past the pool and through the front doors. The inside of Pearson Plasma was clinical white with neutral tone back accents. Monitors throughout the main floor played videos advertising the company’s goals and current projects. As soon as Nathan and Elizabeth stepped forward, a young man approached with a smile of welcome.

“Hello. I’m Jeff. How may Pearson Plasma help you today?” Jeff asked.

“We’re here to see Mr. Armstrong,” Nathan answered.

“Do you have an appointment?” Jeff asked.

“No, we do not. Just tell Mr. Armstrong it’s regarding Daniel Lincoln,” Nathan said.

“One moment please,” Jeff responded.

Jeff moved away a few steps as he spoke into an earpiece. A minute later, he returned and said,

“I’m afraid Mr. Armstrong will not be able to speak with you at this time. But if you would like to make an appointment, I can help you with that.”

Nathan glanced at the large clock on the wall. It was almost 9:30 a.m. He looked back at Jeff and said,

“I’d like to make an appointment for 9:30.”

“I’m afraid that time is already filled,” Jeff apologized, after checking a tablet he held in his hand.

“That appointment is about to cancel,” Nathan informed.

“Really?” Jeff said in surprise. Then checking his tablet again, he said,

“I don’t see. . .,” Jeff began. After a pause, he said, “It would appear that Mr. Armstrong’s 9:30 just canceled. Let me fit you in.”

Jeff punched in something on the tablet before saying,

“All set. Mr. Armstrong will see you now.”

“Thanks,” Nathan said with a smile.

As Nathan and Elizabeth rode the elevator up to Mr. Armstrong’s office, Elizabeth said,

“I remember my dad telling me about Knightlight, but I never really knew much about him until now.”

“Milford Pearson was ahead of his time with the invention of his plasma engine. He named the hero he created Knightlight because a nightlight is used to comfort children. By using the word knight, he hoped to create a sense of bravery and chivalry that kids could aspire to. Pearson really loved kids. That’s why he had that pool and playground built in front of Pearson Plasma.”

When the elevator doors opened, Elizabeth followed Nathan through a series of busy hallways and crowded offices until they came to a large door. Just as they reached out for the handle, the door swung open and a man stormed out.

“I don’t care what you think! We’re doing it my way!” he shouted.

As the young man headed down the hall, Elizabeth asked,

“Who on earth was that?”

“Brian Pearson, grandson of Milford Pearson and heir to the family fortune.”

“He seems pretty angry,” Elizabeth said.

“Frustrated for sure. He’s not old enough yet to take control of the company, and right now the board is fighting his every decision,” Nathan explained.

When they stepped inside the office, Nathan and Elizabeth heard Martin Armstrong instruct his secretary,

“Nancy, cancel my 9:30. I’m going to be on the phone for a while.”

“That would be me, Mr. Armstrong,” Nathan called out.

Armstrong looked up and when he saw Nathan and Elizabeth, he said,

“No supers. I have nothing to say about the bombing. Talk to my attorney.”

“It’s about Daniel Lincoln,” Nathan explained. “I have just a few questions.”

“As I said, talk to my attorney,” Armstrong instructed.

“In fact,” Armstrong said, pulling out his cell phone and hitting the speed dial, “You can talk to him yourself.”

Nathan was close enough to hear ringing, but no one answered.

“Why isn’t he picking up?” Armstrong wondered.

Suddenly, Nathan got a flash of a man wearing a cardigan sweater jammed over a bomb vest. He was sweating profusely, and panic filled his eyes as the phone strapped to the bomb began to ring. Nathan snapped out of his vision and leapt at Armstrong’s phone.

“Wait!” Nathan yelled.

Surprised by the aggression, Armstrong pulled back the cell phone.

“What’s wrong with you?” Armstrong asked.

Before Nathan could answer the question, an explosion went off nearby, shaking the building and blowing out the windows.

Update delay:

I’m sorry but due to severe health issues there will be a delay in the update. My most sincere apologies.

Published in: on January 16, 2018 at 3:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 24

Not sure what to do, the bartender at Eight Ball’s looked nervously from Nathan to Elizabeth.

“Look, Jacob,” Nathan said. “May I call you Jacob?”

“My name’s Bam Bam,” the bartender growled.

“Jacob, I don’t want any trouble. I j—.”

Nathan suddenly stopped and asked,

“Bam Bam? Really?”

The bartender responded with a scowl, keeping his eyes fixed on Elizabeth as she picked up a knife off the bar, slowly bent the blade into a circle, dropped it then checked her nails.

“Look, Jacob, what I need is a package left here by Daniel Lincoln. I know he frequented this place,” Nathan insisted.

When the bartender didn’t budge, Nathan sighed,

“C’mon, Jacob. His name is scribbled by the dartboard on the list of scores to beat, and the initials DL are carved into this bar right there,” Nathan said pointing. “Besides, you have his picture on the wall behind you with ‘Pay first. No credit’ written across it.”

Then he leaned over and whispered,

“Listen, Jacob. Daniel’s dead. Somebody blew him up, and the package you’re hiding for him might give me a clue as to who killed him.”

“Lincoln’s dead?” Jacob asked.

Nathan held up both fists then expanded his fingers while mouthing the word boom.

“Hey!” someone yelled from across the bar.

Nathan slowly turned to see a giant of a man standing well over six feet, his arms like tree branches as he flexed his thick muscles. Shoving aside the bar patrons in his path, he slowly made his way through the crowd and stopped just short of the bar.

“Meta or not, no one comes into my bar and throws my boys around,” he barked.

“And who are you?” Elizabeth asked.

“Let me introduce you to Hank,” Nathan explained, “or as his friends call him, Jackal. He owns this place.”

“That’s right, pal, and no two-bit supers are going to come in here and threaten me or my boys. We don’t bend to The Shadows, and we won’t bend to you,” Hank asserted.

“Now this should be fun,” Elizabeth smiled. “I skipped the gym this morning, so I’ve been looking for something to balance that out.”

“You may be tough, lady, but you ain’t bulletproof!” Hank sneered.

“Let’s go,” Elizabeth challenged, taking a step forward.

“Wait,” Nathan said, reaching out to stop Elizabeth.

“What?” Elizabeth asked.

“Our buddy Hank is right. You’re not bulletproof,” Nathan pointed out.

“What?” Elizabeth asked in surprise.

Just then front doors swung open and Jericho stepped in.

“But he is,” Nathan smiled.

Suddenly the bar went quiet and Hank took a step back as Jericho walked through the crowd to Nathan and Elizabeth.

“What are you doing here?” Elizabeth asked him.

“He’s been tracking us,” Nathan said.

Outraged, Elizabeth snapped, “What?”

“Now don’t be upset, Elizabeth. I know Nathan can be a bad influence on you,” Jericho teased.

Then he turned to face Hank. Although Hank stood a full three inches taller than Jericho, he slowly backed down.

“They attacked two of my patrons,” Hank said, his voice a bit softer.

“Well I’m sure they didn’t want to, and I’m certain they’re sorry,” Jericho said.

Turning to Nathan and Elizabeth, Jericho asked, “Aren’t you?”

Elizabeth rolled her eyes, paused then nodded reluctantly.

“See? No problem,” Jericho said.

Nathan turned back around to Jacob and asked,

“Now, Jacob, what about that package?”

Without a word, Jacob left the bar and disappeared into a back room.

“It’s a good thing my meeting with the mayor ended early. What are you two doing here in Sandy Grotto anyway?” asked Jericho.

“The victim Daniel Lincoln lived just up the street from here,” Nathan said.

“And you’re investigating his murder alongside the police?” Jericho asked.

“Sure we are,” Nathan answered, turning away from Jericho.

“Nathan, what’s going on? I don’t mind helping out, but I don’t like getting involved with a murder investigation outside police jurisdiction.”

“Oh we’re not,” Elizabeth assured him. “Detective Shields knows we’re involved.”

Jericho’s eyes grew wide as he asked,

“Cassandra’s involved in this?”

Then he paused and relaxed.

“Well if she knows, I guess you’re okay.”

Jericho turned away trying to hide the blush that crept up his cheeks.

Before Nathan could make any snide remarks, the door behind the bar opened and Jacob came out carrying a thick envelope.

When he dropped it on the bar, he said,

“Daniel told me to hold onto this in case anything happened to him. Look, he was a good guy and we all want whoever killed him to pay.”

Inside the envelope, Nathan found photos of an older man with a younger woman. Pulling some of the pictures free, he spread them out onto the bar.

“Any idea who these people are?” Elizabeth asked.

“Nope,” Jericho said.

Nathan studied the pictures for a moment then said,

“The man is Martin Armstrong, chairman of the board for Pearson Plasma Technologies. The girl is Jessica Alexander, an engineering student at Crescent Bay University.”

The photos seemed innocent enough until Nathan emptied out the rest of the envelope’s contents and saw shots of Armstrong and Alexander in a nightclub, embracing at their table, kissing on the dance floor.

“Armstrong is married but not to Alexander,” Nathan explained.

“You think Lincoln was blackmailing Armstrong and got killed for it?” Elizabeth suggested.

“Good chance,” Jericho replied.

Stuffing the photos back into the envelope, Nathan said,

“We’ll have to question Armstrong and find out.”

“No you won’t,” a voice behind them said.

Turning toward the doorway, Nathan saw Graham Prescott followed by four men. He wore the same dark blue suit from earlier in the day.

“Did I not tell you to stay out of this?” Prescott asked.

“Technically, you threatened me,” Nathan replied.

“You say potato; I say tomato. Point is, you’re still involved. Now I’ve got to rectify that,” Prescott said as he unbuttoned his jacket.

“None of you are cops, so get out, every one of you,” Hank demanded. “I’m not having any metas throwing down in here, messing up my bar. Get out!”

Suddenly a shot rang out and Hank fell backwards dead. Prescott returned the pistol to one of his men then retrieved his cane.

“I wasn’t asking his opinion. Does anyone else here wish to share their thoughts?”

“You’re going to pay for that,” Jericho said, stomping forward.

Slowly, Prescott turned sideways, flipped his cane upside down, and held it like a golf club. When Jericho drew closer, Prescott swung the cane up. As it made contact with Jericho, a flash of blue energy shot out, sending Jericho flying backwards, crashing through the back wall.

Then with a flip of his wrist, Prescott turned the cane right side up and suggested to the crowd,

“Unless you want to die, I’d leave if I were you.”

As bikers stumbled over each other scrambling for the exit, Prescott’s men poured into Eight Ball’s.

“Do what you want with the girl,” Prescott told his men. “Makes no difference to me.”

Then looking towards Nathan he said,

“Since the king’s off limits, I guess I’ll have to settle for the Prophet.”

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 23

Daniel Lincoln had leased an apartment on the fourth floor of Medallion Heights, a rundown building in the low rent part of Sandy Grotto.  Nathan maneuvered his bike around the potholes and pulled to a stop. Trash piled up in the alleys outside the long neglected and overlooked buildings. It was a place of gray despair. Nathan let his eyes wander over the boarded up broken windows, graffiti, and filth of Medallion Heights. This was what Lincoln had called home.

Sandy Grotto was an island just off the coast of Crescent Bay. The poor part of town, it was a thorn in the side of Crescent Bay’s city fathers, one they would like to remove, especially the wealthy who lived in Blackstone, the jewel in the city’s crown. To that end, the small, humble housing for low-income residents was gradually being converted to upscale lofts for young professionals, housing far beyond the reach of the poor.

Nathan heard the sound of children and turned to see three kids playing ball in the grass of an empty lot while another child played alone, chasing a plastic bag that danced through the air just out of her reach. Watching Nathan were three men sitting on the steps leading into Medallion Heights. They wore matching colors, the uniform of The Shadows, and Nathan had dropped himself right into their territory. One of them stood, the leader Nathan figured, and started walking toward the bike, followed by the other two men. His head was cocked to one side, and he wore an arrogant smile.

“Marco Collazo,” Nathan thought. “Overcompensates for his lack of esteem. Afraid of the dark and snakes.”

“Nice bike. You lost?” Collazo asked.

Just then Elizabeth landed behind Nathan with a thud. When she kept her wings extended, the men hesitated and stepped back.

“Is there a problem?” Elizabeth asked.

“Not anymore, chica,” Collazo said. “You know who I am?”

“Should I?” Elizabeth returned.

“Mr. Collazo, I need your help,” Nathan interrupted. “I want to take a look inside the apartment of one of the tenants, Daniel Lincoln.”

“Why would I help you?” Collazo asked. “What’s in it for me?”

“I know who keeps breaking into your mom’s house,” Nathan said.

Collazo went white with rage and took a step toward Nathan.

“You?” Collazo demanded.

“No, not me. But I can give you the name of the guy. And if that isn’t enough, I can always inform Shadow Leader why your crew came up short two weeks ago,” Nathan explained.

“You threatening me?” Collazo barked.

“Nope. I don’t threaten. . .,” Nathan paused to point to Elizabeth.

“She does.”

Taking Nathan’s cue, Elizabeth walked over and picked up a discarded water pipe then bent it into a circle. She held it up for a moment, bent it back to its original shape then tossed it aside.

Collazo’s eyes grew wide with amazement.

 

Nathan slipped his hand into his pocket and removed a small notepad. He scribbled something then tore the sheet free.

“I need for you to run interference for me while I check out Lincoln’s apartment. Here is the name of the individual who has broken into your mother’s place twice. He’s caused people a lot of pain, and in two days he’s going to murder someone. Don’t be gentle.”

Nathan handed the paper to Collazo then stepped around him.

As he watched Elizabeth walk away with Nathan, one of Collazo’s associates said,

“Esa chica está bien, pero ella es peligrosa.”

The other man smiled, “Estoy enamorado”

As they stepped inside the shabby lobby of Medallion Heights, closing the door behind them, Elizabeth asked,

“They’re with The Shadows?”

“Yep,” Nathan replied. Sensing her next question, he added, “The Shadows don’t discriminate based on race, nationality, gender or even living status. Anyone can join.”

“Oh,” Elizabeth said. “Wait! What?”

“Julian Sharpe, or Shadow Leader, is a meta with the ability to summon and control the dead. He formed the gang and because he can manipulate shadows, his gang took the name The Shadows and he became known as Shadow Leader.”

Nathan and Elizabeth walked up four flights to Lincoln’s apartment. Trying the door, he found it was locked.

“The manager has a spare key. Let me go find him. I’ll be right back.”

“You certain it’s locked?” Elizabeth asked, hitting the door with her open palm. Under the force, the lock splintered and the door swung open.

“Oh look,” Elizabeth said coyly. “It’s unlocked.”

“That’s against the rules,” Nathan chided.

“What rules? I didn’t sign any special employment contract. I can do whatever I want,” Elizabeth said, sashaying into the apartment.

Lincoln’s place had a musty smell. In several spots, the wallpaper was peeling, exposing patches of mildew from leaky pipes in the walls. The carpet, once a plush rich tan, was now flattened by years of footsteps and covered with brown and black stains. Opposite the door sat an old couch, its bright, vibrant colors faded into dull weary reminders scattered across the torn fabric and misshapen cushions.

The moment he walked through the door, Nathan was flooded with the apartment’s secrets down through the years.

Lincoln’s sister had slept on the couch during a bad snowstorm that kept her from flying home after her visit. It was the same couch where Lincoln suffered a bad reaction to drugs bought from money he’d stolen from his sister’s purse. At his feet, Nathan could feel the memory of the wet carpet from the many times Lincoln had walked home in a rainstorm drunk and crashed to sleep off hangovers. One large window to the right of the couch was stained brown from the mud and paint that had been thrown at it during a riot that took place years ago.

Nathan closed his eyes and concentrated on blocking out the flood of foul memories.

“Are you okay?” Elizabeth asked.

“I will be,” Nathan responded.

“This place is absolutely filthy!” Elizabeth said, curling her lip in disgust.

“You have no idea how filthy,” Nathan said as another memory made him gag.

“Any idea where Lincoln would keep his blackmail file?” Elizabeth asked.

“None. If I open my mind, I’ll be inundated with every revolting thing that happened here, so let’s try doing this the old fashioned way,” Nathan insisted.

“Okay. We can start by looking around,” Elizabeth suggested.

“Right. Just be careful not to touch anything. The cops haven’t searched this place yet,” Nathan advised.

“Of course,” Elizabeth replied.

After searching for five minutes, Elizabeth called out from the bedroom,

“You find anything?”

“No blackmail file but a lot more than I wanted to know,” Nathan frowned.

Joining Nathan in the living room, she saw him looking intently at something out the window.

“What are you looking at?” she asked, coming alongside him.

“That bar across the street with graffiti and bars on the windows. Coltrane’s. Looks like it might be the watering hole for the locals.”

“Can we go now? I don’t think Lincoln ever cleaned up! This place is littered with trash and matchbooks from some bar called Eight Ball’s.”

Nathan turned away from the window and looked at Elizabeth.

“What was the name of the bar?” he asked.

“Eight Ball’s,” Elizabeth repeated. “Why? Is that important?”

Nathan took a second look at Coltrane’s and said,

“Let’s go find this bar Eight Ball’s. See what it has to offer in the way of information. What’s the address?”

 

 

*          *          *

 

Eight Ball’s turned out to be a biker bar less than five miles down the street from Lincoln’s apartment. Out front, motorcycles were lined up like horses outside a saloon. Nathan got a few side-glances while Elizabeth was welcomed by a chorus of catcalls.

The wood porch thumped under the weight of Nathan’s boots. When they stepped inside the bar, they were hit with thick smoke, suspicious glares, and excessively loud music.

Elizabeth followed Nathan as he headed over to the bar. The bartender, a short man sporting a Mohawk, stopped wiping a glass long enough to ask,

“What’ll it be?”

“I’m looking for information a friend of mine may have left here. His name’s Daniel Lincoln.”

“I might be able to help you,” a man’s voice said behind them.

He walked straight to Elizabeth, winked at her, and said,

“Name’s Gordon, little lady. What’s your name?”

“Just tell me what you know,” Elizabeth ordered.

“Not here,” Gordon said. “Follow me.”

“I wouldn’t do that,” Nathan advised.

“I’ll be fine,” Elizabeth assured him.

As they walked away, Nathan said,

“I was talking to him.”

“What’s keeping me from having you thrown out?” the bartender asked.

“Wait a minute and you’ll see,” Nathan said.

A few moments after Elizabeth disappeared into a back room with Gordon, there was a loud thump and the door splintered as Gordon crashed through it, flew across the bar and smashed through a window. Elizabeth stepped out of the room, brushing herself off. The bar patrons quickly backed up as she walked over to Nathan.

“That’s why,” Nathan told the bartender.

Turning to Elizabeth, he asked, “Did he know anything?”

Elizabeth carefully smoothed her hair, returning loose strands to their place, then said,

“No, except where not to put his hands.”

“That was my boy!” one of the bikers growled as he stormed up to Elizabeth.

With one of her wings, she grabbed the man by his shirt, slammed his head into the bar and threw him backwards across the room.

When he crashed into the jukebox, the bar went silent.

“Sorry about your jukebox,” Nathan said nonchalantly. “Now what can you tell me about Daniel Lincoln?”

When the bartender hesitated, Elizabeth glared at him and Nathan asked,

“Please?”

Published in: on November 17, 2017 at 6:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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