The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 18

It was about 8 o’clock in the morning when Ryan Hayes left the hospital. He would let Nathan into Elisabeth’s penthouse in Sandy Grotto then grab some of his daughter’s things before heading back to the hospital. The doctor had said she was on the mend, but right now she needed her dad.

“I know it’s a bit much,” Hayes said as he opened the penthouse door, “but it’s my little girl’s first place of her own. I admit I spoil her, but what can I say? She’s all I have left.”

When Hayes turned on the lights, Nathan was stunned. The place was amazing, better than anything he could have imagined.

“Polished wood floors in the living room, carpet in the bedrooms, and marble tile in the kitchen and bathrooms,” Hayes announced. “At 3400 square feet, my girl’s got lots of room. If she had asked, I’d probably have bought two. The main bedroom is Elisabeth’s, but there are two spare bedrooms. Choose whichever one you want. I have groceries delivered, and a cleaning service comes in every two weeks.”

“Impressive,” Nathan complimented.

“Oh let me show you this,” Hayes beamed.

Hayes hurried over to a large set of double glass doors, unlocked them, and pulled them open. A massive balcony looked out over the lake.

“It cost me a little more than I had planned, but an unobstructed view of Sapphire Lake was a must.”

Hayes turned to Nathan and asked, “Did you know that the people who settled Crescent Bay came up with the name Sapphire Lake because the water is as blue as a sapphire?”

“I did not know that,” Nathan said. “It is blue, isn’t it!”

“It is! Anyway, I’m talking your ear off. I’m going to throw a few things in a suitcase and get back to Elisabeth. Do you have anything to unpack?” Hayes asked.

“No sir. I didn’t bring anything with me, other than what I’m wearing,” Nathan said.

“Well tomorrow, I’m taking you out to pick up some things, and when Elisabeth is well, we’ll take you shopping for a proper wardrobe,” Hayes replied.

“No, really, sir. That’s not necessary,” Nathan protested.

“I insist! It’s the least I can do. Mind you if you refuse, I’ll just have to guess your size,” Hayes laughed.

Nathan paused then said, “Thank you, sir.”

“You look exhausted, Nathan. Go get some rest. I’m just going to jump in the shower then get back to the hospital. I’ll lock up behind me,” Hayes smiled, patting Nathan’s shoulder.

“Thank you again, son. My little girl means the world to me.”

While Hayes headed off for Elisabeth’s room, Nathan chose one of the spare bedrooms and collapsed on the bed without bothering to take off his shoes. Glancing at the clock, he saw the blue digital numbers change to 9:00 a.m. He was out before 9:01.

* * *

When Nathan came to, he was lying on the hood of a car looking up. The clouds were a mix of black and deep blue. His head ached, his joints were sore, and he felt as though a great weight were pressing down on him. Slowly he sat up and saw that he was dressed in combat fatigues and a gas mask with a rifle at his side.

Dead bodies and stalled cars filled the streets, and the pavement was buckled and cracked. Some buildings lay in piles of rubble while others stood undamaged. Nathan slid off the car, bracing himself against the hood as he struggled to stand under the weight of the gear. When he walked around to the side of the car, he glanced at his reflection in the glass. Lifting the gas mask, he was shocked to discover that the face staring back at him was not his own.

“What are you doing?” someone yelled. Running up to Nathan, a man yanked the gas mask down over Nathan’s face.

“This air is poisoned! Do you want to die here in the street?”

Nathan looked up to see a soldier frowning at him from behind his own gas mask. His name tag said he was Sergeant Braden Gold.

“Come on! Get inside before somebody sees you!” Gold instructed.

Nathan followed him inside an old grocery store.

“What’s going on?” he asked Gold.

“Don’t be stupid, rookie! You know what’s going on. Captain wants to brief us before we move out, and I was sent to find your dumb butt,” Gold complained as he lead Nathan through the store’s aisles past armed soldiers standing guard in pairs.

“Why do I get stuck with the idiots?” Gold grumbled as he walked through a pair of swinging back doors into the storage area. Standing before a large map facing a platoon of soldiers was Captain Stanley Dukes.

“Thanks for joining us,” Dukes said sarcastically. “Gold, what was West up to that just couldn’t wait?”

Nathan glanced down to see the name tag on his shirt. David West.

“West was out front patrolling. Thought he saw movement. False alarm,” Gold lied then glanced back at Nathan with a scowl.

“Well next time, don’t go alone, rookie,” Dukes ordered.

“Yes, sir,” Nathan replied.

Gold pulled Nathan into a chair and whispered,

“Keep your trap shut and your head in the game. I can’t babysit you and fight at the same time.”

“Sorry,” Nathan said.

While Nathan tried to figure out where he was, what was going on, Dukes continued his briefing.

“At 0100 hours, a scout returned with intel on more food and supplies. I don’t have to tell you how important this is. The enemy is heavily guarding this location, so we’re going to split into teams. Team Alpha will make a direct assault while Team Beta and Charlie will hit the flank. Team Delta will move in from the back and engage any targets guarding the supplies. We need this win, men, so stay focused and don’t be a hero. Follow orders and we will win this day.”

As the men cheered, a side door opened and a large figure walked in wearing a gas mask and long coat.

“What’s wrong?” Dukes asked.

Suddenly gunfire erupted outside. As the soldiers readied their weapons, the masked figure drew two pistols from the coat.

Just then a group of enemy soldiers poured into the room.

In the middle of the gunfire, the figure in the coat fired off the pistols then holstered them and began tossing the enemy around like rag dolls.

A door opened behind Nathan, and he felt himself move involuntarily as another enemy soldier charged in firing his weapon. Nathan spun then ducked, dodging a spray of automatic gunfire. Without looking, he reached out and fired his rifle at the soldier, killing him and two more who ran in behind him.

Minutes later, every enemy soldier was down.

Dukes’ men all turned to look at Nathan.

“What?” Nathan asked worried.

“That was amazing,” Gold said, “the way you avoided the bullets. I haven’t seen anyone move like that since the Prophet.”

At that remark, the figure in the coat whipped around, looked at Nathan then lumbered over. Grabbing Nathan by the collar, the figure lifted him into the air and demanded,

“What’s the name of the universe?”

“What?” Nathan asked, thinking he recognized the muffled voice.

The figure pulled Nathan closer and demanded, “What’s the name of the universe?”

Nathan hesitated then said,

“Starfall.”

The figure paused a moment. Suddenly two bat wings exploded from under the long coat and the figure flew out the open door, taking Nathan along.

Up into the sky the figure flew then dropped down onto the roof of a greenhouse. When a door opened, Nathan was dragged in. After a hiss of air, a second door opened and the figure tossed Nathan inside.

“Who is this?” a man asked. Nathan noticed he was wearing a pair of old Converse high tops with the laces untied.

When the figure slipped out of the coat, Nathan saw that it was a woman. Tossing the coat aside, she reached up and removed the gas mask.

“Elisabeth! Nathan thought. “Older, but Elisabeth!

Her face was scarred, and she wore a patch over one eye.

She reached out and pulled off Nathan’s gas mask.

“It’s him,” she said.

The man took a good look at Nathan then said,

“Nah. That’s not him.”

“Yes! It is,” Elisabeth insisted. “Remember he said he would return through the eyes of another.”

“What’s going on?” Nathan asked.

“No time for questions, Nathan. I have a message from you. This is not a dream; this is real. The butterfly was released and we’re fighting for our lives against Dr. Gishlain and his army. You made a terrible mistake, and now it’s time to wake up and fix it. Do you hear me, Nathan?” Elisabeth asked.

“Nathan,” Elizabeth shouted, slapping him across the face, “it’s time to wake up!”

* * *

Nathan snapped awake in bed at Elisabeth’s penthouse where he had fallen asleep. He looked at the clock. It was 9:30 a.m.

“Nathan?” Hayes called as he walked into the room. “I heard you thrashing about in here. “Did you have a nightmare, son? Is everything all right?”

Nathan looked around and said, “No. I don’t think so.”

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 17

Nathan bent down to check Stafford’s pulse. He was dead.

“I’m so sorry, John,” he said with remorse. He had stopped Stafford from releasing the virus but couldn’t save his life. Without looking back, Charlene Reynolds walked out of the room, yelling at someone on her phone as she left. Nathan saw no point in stopping her. Besides, he was far too focused on Elisabeth, her injuries. He stood up and walked over to the ladder that would take him down to her. At the last step, he paused then slowly moved past Horton’s dead body and an unconscious Morton, slumped against the wall where Elisabeth had flung him.

“You had no choice, Nathan,” Elisabeth insisted. “You had to shoot Horton.”

“I know,” Nathan said walking over to where Elisabeth was sitting against a wall.

When he extended a hand, Elisabeth took it and pulled him down beside her.

“I was really hoping I could make it through this without anyone dying,” Nathan said.

“I’m afraid that was a bit unrealistic,” Elisabeth pointed out. “If you’re going to keep doing this, sometimes you’ll have to play by their rules to win.”

“I know,” he nodded his agreement.

Exhausted, Elisabeth let her headrest on Nathan’s shoulder.

“What’s Starfall?” she asked.

“What?” Nathan responded with surprise.

“Back there when I was talking you up to face Stafford, you said ‘before I came to Starfall.’ So what’s Starfall?” Elisabeth asked again.

Nathan took a deep breath and leaned against the wall.

 

“Where I come from, they have a name for this world, this universe.”

“It’s not Crescent Bay?” Elisabeth asked.

“Crescent Bay is the name of the city. Where I come from, the universe is called Starfall,” Nathan answered.

Elisabeth let this sink in then said,

“Well wherever you come from, your people are weird.”

“How’s that?”

“For one thing, we don’t name everything here.”

Nathan laughed and said,

“You’ve been injured. We need to get you some help.”

“Just five more minutes, Daddy,” Elisabeth wearily laughed.

“Come on, young lady,” Nathan insisted.

He stood, scooped up Elisabeth in his arms, and slowly carried her toward the building’s exit.

By the time he got her outside, she was unconscious.

When Jericho spotted them, he hurried over.

“She’s been shot,” Nathan said.

Jericho took Elisabeth from Nathan’s arms and ran over to the nearest waiting ambulance.

Just then 4 21 appeared and walked over to Nathan.

“Thank you for your help, Prophet,” he said.

4 21 watched as the police arrested Garrison and his goons, clearing the way for the EMT’s to move forward and tend to the injured.

“Stafford was the guilty party after all. Perhaps I was mistaken about Ms. Reynolds,” 4 21 added.

Suddenly Nathan’s vision blurred and in a flash of white, he was standing in Reynolds’ office the next morning. A knock sounded at the door, and without waiting for an invitation, someone walked in.

“I don’t wish to be disturbed,” Reynolds ordered, her back to the door.

“Your wishes are of no concern to me,” an older man with a German accent said.

Reynolds spun around and when she saw who it was, she immediately lowered her head in respect.

“Sir, I am sorry for what happened,” Reynolds apologized.

“Your repentance is as worthless as you. You would be dead if I had no further use for you,” Dr. Heinrich Ghislain sneered.

Ghislian’s tone and coldness gave Reynolds no hint as to what was next.

“I had to sacrifice a pawn to clean up your mess. It would have been easier to replace you!” Ghislain pointed out.

“I am so sorry, sir,” Reynolds repeated.

“If you fail me again, you will discover that the dead have no remorse,” Ghislain warned as he turned and left the office.

Once the door closed behind him, Reynolds fell to her knees and began to sob.

 

*          *          *

 

When Nathan’s vision cleared, 4 21’s remarks came back to him.

“Stafford was a lost man,” Nathan said. “Shame we didn’t get to him sooner.”

“Take care, Prophet,” 4 21 said as he lifted into the air.

Nathan watched 4 21 disappear into the clouds then he closed his eyes and shook his head clear.

He saw Jericho standing by one of the ambulances waving to him. Before he could respond, Ethan Evermore walked up behind him and said,

“You must be careful, Nathan.”

Nathan turned around to face him.

“How so?” he asked.

“The timeline seems to be secure after the changes you made, but death is a sore loser,” Ethan explained. “Elisabeth was supposed to die this night, but you saved her. Death is not pleased by your interference. He may seek to reclaim Elisabeth or whoever was near her at the appointed time of her death. Either you or Jericho may die.”

“Why us?” Nathan asked.

“Life here is about balance,” Ethan explained. “Saving a life may cause another life to be lost.”

“John Stafford and Joseph Horton died,” Nathan explained.

“Hopefully, their lives will be enough,” Ethan said. “But if death is dissatisfied, you must be on your guard. Your fight may not be over.”

“Well if it helps, I’ll probably be leaving soon,” Nathan announced.

“You’re going back?” Ethan asked.

“I think so,” Nathan said. “This all started when I was struck by lightning. I figure this is all just an elaborate dream. I’m probably lying in a hospital bed somewhere.”

“If that is true, then I wish you safe passage,” Ethan said.

“Thanks,” Nathan replied.

When he heard approaching footsteps, he turned to see Jericho running up to him.

By the time he reached Nathan, Ethan was gone.

“They’re taking Elisabeth to Evergreen Medical,” Jericho informed. “We need to take your motorcycle back to its owner and get over to the hospital.”

“It’s my bike,” Nathan said absently, his mind turning over and over what Ethan had said.

“I’m not sure how things work where you come from, but here you can’t just take something and claim it’s yours,” Jericho laughed.

“I know,” Nathan said, giving Jericho his full attention. “What I mean is, it really is mine. Whatever force brought me here apparently felt I needed transportation.”

Jericho considered Nathan for a moment then shrugged his shoulders and said,

“Okay. If you say so.”

 

*          *          *

 

In the waiting room of Evergreen Medical Hospital, the first rays of the sun were just peeking through the mini blinds of the frosted windows. Nathan had been up all night, drinking hospital coffee as he struggled to stay awake. He waited with Jericho and Elisabeth’s father Ryan Hayes for news of Elisabeth.

Finally, the doctor came out with an update.

“She’ll be fine,” he reassured.

“Thank you, doctor,” Mr. Hayes said.

“The bullet to her right wing went straight through. She’s already on the mend and should be able to use the wing again within a few days. Other than some minor bruising, she will be good as new in no time,” the surgeon said.

With a big smile, Mr. Hayes looked at Nathan and Jericho.

“She’s always been a fast healer.”

“Thanks again, doctor. May we see her now?” Mr. Hayes asked.

“Yes but better not to stay too long. She needs rest,” the surgeon said.

 

*          *          *

 

Still groggy from the anesthesia, Elisabeth weakly smiled when her father entered the room.

“Hi, Daddy,” she mumbled.

“Hey, Princess. How you feeling?” Mr. Hayes asked.

Nathan and Jericho stood back by the door while Elisabeth and her father talked.

“So where are you going to stay?” Jericho asked.

“I don’t know,” Nathan said. “I haven’t given it much thought.”

“I know some people who would be willing to put you up till you find your own place,” Jericho offered.

“That won’t be necessary. But thanks anyway,” Nathan said.

“You sure?” Jericho asked.

“You can sleep at my place,” Elisabeth broke in.

“Nah,” Nathan responded.

“I insist,” Mr. Hayes said, walking up and hugging Nathan.

“It’s the least I can do for the man who saved my little girl’s life.”

With his arm still around Nathan, Hayes turned back to Elisabeth and said,

“Since Elisabeth will be staying with me till she’s completely healed, you’ll have her apartment in Sandy Grotto all to yourself until you find your own place.”

Sandy Grotto was an island just off the coast of Crescent Bay. It was part of the crescent shaped coastline that gave Crescent Bay its name.

“Daddy, I’ll need to get my stuff,” Elisabeth said.

“Of course, dear,” Mr. Hayes said, releasing Nathan and moving closer to Elisabeth’s side.

“That’s fast work,” Jericho whispered. “Just got here and already you’re crashing at her place.”

“Shut it!” Nathan returned as Jericho stifled a laugh.

Mr. Hayes looked back at Nathan and said, “Let me finish up here, and I’ll show you how to get to my Lizzie’s apartment.”

“No need,” Jericho said.

“Why not?” Mr. Hayes asked in confusion.

“Because he already knows. After all,” Jericho smiled, “he is the Prophet.”

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 16

As Nathan inched his way toward John Stafford, his boots clicked on the metal walkway suspended above rows of large tanks containing hazardous waste marked for disposal. His back turned toward Nathan, Stafford and his hostage Charlene Reynolds were cornered at the other end of the walkway with nowhere to go. Nathan took a deep breath and slowly let it out as he cautiously drew closer.

With hands raised, Nathan called, “Stafford?”

“Stop struggling!” Stafford yelled at Reynolds. “I’m trying to find a way out and you’re not helping!”

“John?” Nathan tried again.

Suddenly Stafford spun around, turning his pistol onto Nathan.

“Stay back!” he shouted.

“I just want to talk,” Nathan explained.

“Don’t come any closer or I’ll shoot,” Stafford threatened.

“John, listen to me,” Nathan said, keeping his hands raised. “I know you’re nervous. I know you’re scared.”

“You don’t know anything!” Stafford yelled.

“I know exactly what you’re going through. Graduated third in your class. When you were hired by Thymatec, the largest pharmaceutical company in Crescent Bay, you felt you had accomplished your dream. You had the job you wanted, and now you could go ahead and propose to your girlfriend. You finally had something to offer her, a solid future,” Nathan said.

Stafford’s hand dropped a little and his eyes took on a faraway look.

“Joanne was the prettiest girl you’d ever seen, wasn’t she? Athletic, charming. No wonder everyone loved her. Yet for some crazy reason, she only had eyes for you.”

Nathan smiled in sympathy.

“She said yes before you could even get the question out.”

Stafford laughed softly, a tear breaking free and rolling down his cheek.

“The wedding would have been the most amazing moment in your life, and a future full of possibilities lay ahead,” Nathan said.

After a pause, he continued.

“That was until she got sick. No one could have predicted how fast it would spread. Before Joanne could plan her perfect wedding, you had to plan her funeral. It was the worst time in your life. You were heartbroken, defeated, vulnerable. That’s when he approached you.”

Nathan waited to let the words sink in.

“The doctor,” Nathan said.

 

*          *          *

 

Elisabeth took several quick breaths then focused on slowing her breathing. When a bullet ricocheted off a railing and struck the tank just above her head, she moved out from her cover and fired two shots at Horton and Morton then she tumbled forward and rolled back to her feet to face them.

Morton lifted a forklift over his head and said,

“Catch this, little bird.”

Elisabeth quickly holstered her weapons and caught the forklift, her feet scraping against the concrete floor as she strained to hold on to it.

Bracing her knees, she threw it back. With his rifle aimed toward Elisabeth, Horton slid under the forklift.

Elisabeth dove at Horton and grabbed the riflescope. Then she twisted the weapon with enough strength to throw him into a wall, forcing him to drop the weapon.

As she turned toward Morton, she saw his enormous fist coming right at her.

 

*          *          *

 

Stafford’s gaze shot back to Nathan, and his arm stiffened as he raised the gun.

“He promised he could help. All you had to do was make some arrangements, see that a few people were hired. Nothing serious. Just one man trying to make a difference. You believed what he said, what he wanted. It wasn’t until you were in too deep that you realized you had sold your soul to a monster.”

Nathan kept slowly moving forward.

Stafford lifted a shaking hand to his forehead, wiping away the sweat. When Nathan took a step closer, Stafford fired a wild shot just missing Nathan.

“I. . .said. . .stay. . .back!” Stafford shouted, emphasizing each word.

Nathan took a quick step back, keeping his hands raised.

“Just because you think you know me doesn’t mean you understand!” Stafford yelled.

Nathan held his breath for a moment then said,

“I made the same mistake.”

“When my parents died, I was barely out of high school. Lost and drifting, I almost drove my life into the ditch. But then I met a man who saved me. He straightened me out, taught me how to cope with loss, and even got me my first real job. He was a surrogate father to me, my mentor. I looked up to him until the day I realized he was using me. The only reason he helped me get the job was so that he could steal a diamond exchange. I was so buried in trouble I couldn’t see a way out that wouldn’t land me in jail. Somehow I found the courage to turn against him and call the cops. The judge gave me probation while he was sent to prison.”

“That’s not the same thing!” Stafford yelled. “He made promises.”

“Joanne. I know. He promised he could bring her back. But, John, think about the clones that work for him. Anyone he brought back would be just as dedicated to him as they are. She would look like Joanne, but she wouldn’t be Joanne,” Nathan explained.

 

*          *          *

 

When Morton’s fist made contact, Elisabeth dropped the rifle. She felt one of her teeth crack as she slammed into the wall, sending pain racing up her back.

As he struggled to stand on shaky legs, Horton looked up and saw Nathan on the walkway with Stafford.

“It’s the prophet!” Horton yelled.

“Shoot him! I’ll finish off the little bird,” Morton yelled back.

Horton ran for his rifle as Elisabeth slowly stood up and pushed off the wall.

“Oh no you don’t!” Morton yelled, coming at her.

Elisabeth knew she couldn’t reach Horton in time to keep him from shooting Nathan, so she had to stop him some other way. But before she could pull out her pistol, Morton was on her. He grabbed her hands and squeezed until she cried out in pain.

“No more running, little bird,” Morton insisted.

As Morton held her, Horton lined up his rifle on the back of Nathan’s head.

“Some prophet,” he sneered. “You don’t know anything.”

 

*          *          *

 

Knowing that Elisabeth was fighting for her life beneath the walkway made it hard for Nathan to stay focused on Stafford. Appealing to him seemed to be working, but then suddenly everything clicked in Nathan’s mind and he saw what was coming. He had only seconds to act.

“John, I need you to trust me. I can promise you safe passage out of here if you will just lower your weapon and lie down on the floor right now,” Nathan said.

Stafford seemed to consider the idea for a moment but then scoffed,

“You can’t promise anything! You’re not the police! You’re not a hero!”

“Please, John,” Nathan pleaded.

“Back off!” Stafford yelled as he pushed Reynolds away.

Everything seemed to happen all at once.

Horton aimed at the back of Nathan’s head and fired a shot. . .Stafford raised his pistol to shoot Nathan. . .Nathan leaned back, pulled out The General, and fired off a round.

Horton’s bullet missed Nathan and struck Stafford in the head as the bullet from Nathan’s weapon sliced through the air, brighter than an evening firefly, and lodged in Horton’s chest.

As Horton fell dead to the loading area floor, the counter on Nathan’s colt clicked up to 2.

 

*          *          *

 

When Morton saw Horton fall, his face filled with surprise and fear.

“Joseph?” he called.

Turning back to Elisabeth, Morton snarled,

“He killed Joseph!”

As Morton’s grip tightened on Elisabeth, she pulled back her hands, forcing him to tumble off balance towards her. Pushing her head forward, she struck his jaw with her forehead and heard a satisfying crack. Morton quickly released her hands and held his broken jaw.

Grabbing his shirt, Elisabeth lifted Morton into the air and snapped,

“He’s the prophet!”

She twisted her hips, spinning Morton a full 360 degrees, then threw him into a concrete wall with enough force to crack it.

Looking up at Nathan, she saw that he was watching her. She sighed with relief and waved. Nathan smiled back and returned the gesture.

Published in: on April 18, 2017 at 3:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 15

Determined to get his hands on the butterfly, Kyran McAddams and his men laid siege to Thymatec Laboratories. While Jericho and 4 21 fought off McAddams and his men, Nathan and Elisabeth hurried down the hall to find John Stafford and his hostage Charlene Reynolds.

Moving farther and farther away from the action as they ran deeper into the building, Nathan and Elisabeth came to a split in the hallway.

“Which way?” Elisabeth asked.

Nathan hesitated then said,

“You have spatial awareness. So where is he?”

“It doesn’t work if the target is too far away. Besides, why are you asking me? Just tell me where he went.”

Nathan nervously looked from one hallway to the other, uncertain which one to take.

“What? You got stage fright now? Hurry up,” Elisabeth snapped.

“I don’t know which way. Okay?” Nathan blurted out.

Surprised by Nathan’s uncertainty, Elisabeth asked, “What do you mean you don’t know?” I thought you were the man who knew everything. How can you not know?”

“Where I come from, everything that’s been happening here is right out of a graphic novel. I’ve read that novel and its sequels so many times that I memorized it cover to cover. Problem is, what I know ends with the battle going on outside. I don’t know what happens in here where we are,” Nathan explained.

With an indignant tone, Elisabeth asked,

“So this entire time your confidence, your arrogance, your smug smile, were all because you knew what was going to happen because of some book?”

Nathan just nodded.

“Do you even have abilities?” Elisabeth demanded.

“Yes!” Nathan insisted. “I still can sense things just before they happen. I can still tell you anything about anyone I meet. And I still have visions. But my knowledge of what happens next isn’t as extensive as it was.”

When Elisabeth saw that Nathan was clearly upset, she felt guilty for coming on so strong.

Calming herself, she tried to reassure him.

“You’ll be fine. Trust your instincts. Okay? Now which way do you think?”

“I don’t know,” Nathan said, his voice faltering.

“Just relax and trust your gut,” Elisabeth suggested.

“I can’t do it. Can’t seem to think straight,” Nathan confessed. “Back home, I never took risks without a backup plan, an exit plan. Before I came to Starfall, the biggest risk I ever took was cheating on a Biology exam. I knew I was going to fail the test anyway, so getting caught cheating wasn’t much of a risk.”

Elisabeth sighed deeply then looked up at him.

“Okay, Nathan, let me ask you a question. When you saved me after I was thrown off the building, what was your exit plan?”

Nathan thought for a moment then shook his head, “I didn’t have one.”

“Right. You didn’t have one because you weren’t thinking. You acted on instinct,” she pointed out. “My father used to say that you can know everything about the wild and still be a lousy hunter. Sometimes life is moving too fast for us to think about it. We just have to react and trust our training.”

“I don’t have training,” Nathan replied.

“You have everything you need, Nathan,” she said. “I’ve seen it. You just need to trust your instincts. Let me prove my point.”

She turned to face Nathan and said,

“I’ll tell you exactly what I’m going to do, so there’ll be no surprises. You’re fast enough to react properly. Just trust your instincts and don’t think about it.”

She held up her hands palms out and said,

“I’m going to swing at you with my right hand, and then I’m going to throw you toward the wall and draw on you with your own gun. Ready?”

Nathan nodded nervously.

When Elisabeth swung her open palm at Nathan, he easily ducked it but then felt her right wing hook onto his jacket as her left hand grabbed his pistol. Then she twisted, extending her wing, threw Nathan across the floor, and pointed his pistol at him.

She walked over, helped him to his feet, and returned his weapon.

“See. You were thinking too much, and it cost you. This time, trust your instincts and you’ll be fine.”

“Now,” Elisabeth said turning to face the two hallways. “Which way?”

Nathan closed his eyes and concentrated.

“The left one,” he said.

Suddenly a gunshot rang out and Nathan pulled back his head just as a bullet whizzed past and punched into the wall.

Whipping around, Elisabeth saw Horton and Morton running right at them.

“Go!” Elisabeth snapped.

Nathan ran a few steps down the left hallway then stopped and turned back to Elisabeth.

“I’ll be fine. Just stop Stafford!” Elisabeth ordered.

“Wait!” Nathan yelled.

Before he could move toward her, Elisabeth punched the wall with all her strength, causing it to buckle and block the end of the hallway.

Now Nathan had no choice but to keep going forward, hunting for Stafford.

As he hurried down the hall, he kept considering what Elisabeth had told him, trying not to over think things. If Stafford were cornered, he would release the butterfly. Nathan knew he didn’t have much time, but he couldn’t stop worrying about Elisabeth.

 

*          *          *

 

Spreading her magnificent wings, Elisabeth shot down the hallway on the right, pausing just long enough to keep Horton and Morton following her.

“Bad little bird,” Morton said.

“Come and get me,” Elisabeth dared.

Horton raised his rifle and fired a shot through the scope. The moment he pulled the trigger, Elisabeth moved to the side, out of the way.

“You’re bad at this!” she yelled back.

She could easily take down both of them, but for now, she had to keep them busy long enough for Nathan to find Stafford.

She flew down the hallway until she came to the point where it opened up into a large room filled with loading equipment and tanks marked with hazardous material warnings. She could hear Stafford and Reynolds in a heated argument.

“What are they doing?” she wondered.

Suddenly a chunk of concrete struck her in the side. She turned just in time to see Morton pulling another chunk of concrete out of the floor. What she didn’t see was Horton raising his rifle.

He fired off a shot and the bullet split the air, tearing through one of her wings.

Elisabeth fell to the floor, pain surging through her injured wing. She knew she couldn’t fly until it healed.

Carefully pulling in her wings, she dove for cover behind one of the tanks just as Horton fired a second shot.

Closing her eyes, she concentrated.

She counted four people in the room: Horton, Morton, Stafford, and Reynolds. Suddenly  Nathan stepped from another hallway into the other side of the room near Stafford.

Elisabeth smiled and thought to herself,

“Go get him.”

She opened her eyes, withdrew her pistols, and readied herself for a fight.

“Come out, little bird,” Morton said in singsong, “so I can tear off your wings.”

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 14

“I asked you a question,” Jericho said. “Why did you shoot me?”

Realizing that he was up against something far greater than he, John Stafford quickly considered his options then with renewed vigor again pressed the pistol to Charlene Reynolds’ neck.

“Don’t come any closer or she dies,” Stafford demanded.

Then backing out of the hallway, he yelled, “Beschütze mich!”

Immediately, clones poured into the room and formed a line, keeping anyone from following Stafford.

“What now?” Elisabeth asked.

“They will not let us pass without a fight,” 4 21 said.

“That’s pretty obvious, but we’ve got to do something. As much as I don’t like that woman, we can’t just stay back and let him kill her,” Elisabeth pointed out.

Jericho cracked his knuckles and said,

“Okay. Listen. You two take off through the hole in the ceiling and head them off while I make a path through these goons.”

4 21 retrieved his guns and flew up and out while Elisabeth stayed behind.

“What about Nathan?” she asked.

“He’s out there somewhere,” Jericho said.

“You left him alone?” Elisabeth exclaimed.

“He didn’t give me much choice. Quit worrying about Nathan and go help Reynolds,” Jericho insisted.

When Elisabeth hesitated, he added, “Nathan will be fine.”

As Jericho lowered himself to the floor like a football lineman and charged the wall of clones, Elisabeth spread her wings and shot through the ceiling with a gust of wind.

High above the facility, she caught up with 4 21.

“It seems we have a second army laying siege to the front gate,” he said.

Elisabeth looked down and saw Kyran McAddams and his men tearing through the front gate.

“That’s Ian McAddams’ men. I bet he’s here for the virus,” she figured.

“We must not let a weapon of that magnitude fall into the hands of our enemy,” 4 21 insisted.

“Of course not,” Elisabeth agreed, “but shouldn’t we rescue Reynolds first?”

The idea of helping Reynolds made her feel sick, but she knew it was the right thing to do. She couldn’t ignore someone in trouble just because she despised them.

“You are correct,” 4 21 said. “Let us make our way to the front entrance.”

Looking back at the building, 4 21 said,

“I wonder how far Jericho has advanced.”

Elisabeth followed his gaze to the hole they had just flown through. After the two of them had watched for a few moments, Elisabeth was about to give up when one of the clones shot through the roof of the building and spiraled end over end before crashing into a car in the parking lot.

Almost instantly, the brute pulled himself free from the wreckage and stood up.

Elisabeth looked at 4 21 and said,

“I’m guessing about that far.”

 

*          *          *

 

As he headed for the main building, Nathan heard a loud crash and stopped just in time to see one of Dr. Gishlain’s clones crash into a parked car. He looked up and saw Elisabeth and 4 21 hovering just over the building.

Suddenly a hot flash tore through his temple and everything blurred as he saw a vision as clear as though it were in front of him.

Kyran McAddams had seen the clone crash into the parked car and figured he knew where Jericho was.

“He’s inside already,” he told his men. “Do what you want with the others, but he’s mine to deal with.”

A flash of light caught his eye and he looked up.

“Somebody’s up there,” he said. “Shoot them down.”

At the command, one of his men broke away from the group, positioned himself, and raised his rifle. Taking aim, he fired, shooting first Elisabeth and then 4 21 before either could react.

Both Elisabeth and 4 21 fell, dead before they hit the ground.

 

*          *          *

 

Nathan snapped out of the vision and quickly looked in the direction he had seen the sniper. The gunman was already moving into position. Nathan knew he had only seconds, not enough time to get to the man and stop him.

With a heavy sigh, Nathan grabbed his revolver.

“I guess this makes number one,” he said.

Taking aim at the sniper, he pulled the trigger sending a bullet tearing from the barrel, dragging with it a stream of fire. As the bullet cut through the air, it struck the gunman, throwing him to the ground just as the dial on the revolver clicked to one.

Nathan felt nauseous, but he knew he had no other choice. Holstering the weapon, he started up the bike and continued on his way to the front entrance of the building.

 

*          *          *

 

Pinned down by security forces, Kyran McAddams and his father’s men returned fire.

Suddenly an explosion loud enough to be heard over the gunfire caught his attention.

When he turned to see what it was, he saw Nathan Nichols headed toward the front entrance. Elisabeth and 4 21 stood waiting for him at the front doors.

Pointing toward Nathan, Kyran gave the order,

“While we get the virus, kill him and bring me his head. Do it right this time. Then kill the woman. I’ll deal with 4 21 and Jericho.”

“Sir,” Otis Morton said, “there’s no way through.”

Kyran McAddams became enraged. He was done playing nice.

Moving out from behind cover, he held out his arms, palms together. Suddenly his hands began to glow. When he separated his palms, a ball of energy formed, growing larger and larger until his hands were shoulder length apart. Then turning his hands outward towards the security blockade, he shot out a beam of energy the size of a tractor-trailer. It tore free with the sound of a hundred explosions and burned a path through the blockade and the men who didn’t get out of the way in time.

“Now go!” he barked.

 

*          *          *

 

Just inside the lobby, Nathan dove to the floor as a force of energy burned away part of the building, barely missing them.

“What was that?” Elisabeth asked.

“Garrison,” Nathan said.

Elisabeth went pale for a moment just before the door behind them exploded outwards and Jericho came charging through holding a clone in front of him like a shield.

“Hey, you found him,” he said, tossing the clone aside and shaking off the dust.

“Where’s Stafford?” Elisabeth asked.

“Afraid I lost track of him,” Jericho explained. “These things are tough and determined. Hard to get rid of. Kind of like trying to get gum out of your hair.”

When he saw the burned remains of the building, he asked,

“What happened?”

“Garrison,” Nathan answered.

“Wow! He really wants that virus,” Jericho said.

“So what are we doing about Stafford?” Elisabeth asked.

“I know where he went,” Nathan said.

“You two go get him. 4 21 and I will take care of this,” Jericho suggested.

“Come on, Elisabeth!” Nathan said, heading toward the hall.

As Elisabeth followed, no one seemed to notice Otis Morton and Joseph Horton slip past Jericho and 4 21 and race down the hall after Nathan and Elisabeth.

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 13

His eyes fixed on Elisabeth, the large brute stomped down the hall towards her.

“Now I understand you may be upset,” she said as he drew closer.

Growling in anger, the hulking man kept coming.

Elisabeth drew her pistols when she saw that he was beyond reasoning.

“No guns,” 4 21 cautioned. “They will draw attention we do not need.”

“And how am I supposed to stop him? Maybe if I say please,” Elisabeth snapped.

As she tried to holster her guns, the thug reached out and seized her by the jacket, lifting her into the air as though she were weightless. Then he turned and threw her toward the same wall she had thrown him. But Elisabeth twisted her body in midair and hit the wall feet first. Then bending her knees, she pushed off and came straight toward her attacker. Before he could brace himself, Elisabeth struck him with a left hook, breaking his jaw and sending him to the floor unconscious. She landed on her feet and slid then squealed with delight.

“Wow! That felt great. I’ve been holding myself back since we got here but, man, does it feel good to finally let go!”

“Now is not the time to celebrate,” 4 21 warned. “We need to hide this body before someone discovers it.”

Elisabeth sighed her disappointment then lifted the unconscious man, effortlessly slinging him over her shoulder.

“All right. Where do we stash Monstro here?” she asked.

“We will take him to the room where we found the dead bodies,” 4 21 said just as the door behind him opened.

Two guards followed by a technician stepped through the door then stopped when they saw 4 21 and Elisabeth.

“Freeze!” one guard ordered, reaching for his gun.

“Duck!” Elisabeth yelled.

4 21 quickly lowered his head just as Elisabeth hurled the brute’s body through the air, striking the two guards and knocking them to the floor.

The surprised technician ran to the nearest alarm and hit it.

“I took care of the guards. Why didn’t you shoot him?” Elisabeth asked, pointing to the technician as he fled down the hall.

“I could not kill him. He is an innocent,” 4 21 defended.

“I didn’t mean kill him,” Elisabeth corrected, “just—”

As the alarm sounded throughout the building, doors opened and security guards poured out into the halls.

“Shoot him,” she finished.

Grabbing the nearest guards, Elisabeth slammed their heads together then tossed them aside.

When 4 21 saw of the two guards aiming their weapons, he quickly moved forward, closing the distance between them. Grabbing both guns and twisting them toward the ceiling, he tore them from the guard’s hands then knocked both men unconscious.

 

*          *          *

 

After the technician sounded the alarm, he headed for a secluded part of Thymatec Labs.  Running past the posted guards, he burst through the doors and abruptly stopped in front of a large desk behind which sat a man watching a wall of camera monitors.

“Master,” the technician said breathlessly.

“I know,” the man replied with a thick German accent.

“Two metas have infiltrated the building, and earlier two more were spotted.”

“Yes, I know,” the German replied. “Jericho and an unknown.”

“What shall we do, sir?” the technician asked.

“Deal with the two you have, and prepare for the others who will soon be here,” the German ordered.

“Yes, Master,” the technician obeyed.

As the doors closed, the German reached across his desk and picked up the phone.

“We have been compromised. Take two thirds of the butterfly and relocate to location beta. I will join you there presently.”

The German hung up the phone then said,

“If you want a terrorist, I shall give you a terrorist.”

 

*          *          *

 

As 4 21 disarmed and knocked out the guards, Elisabeth fought alongside him, using the force of her wings to toss and disable her foe. With the last guard down, Elisabeth drew her pistols when another door opened and more men dressed in suits stormed into the hallway.

“Dr. Ghislain’s clones. Be careful. They do not break as easily,” 4 21 cautioned.

“Watch,” Elisabeth said. Firing her weapons, she shot the men one at a time.

Each bullet found its mark, and the clones fell to the floor. But a moment afterwards, they were back on their feet.

“Just as I said,” 4 21 reminded her.

“Oh that’s great,” Elisabeth replied sarcastically.

 

*          *          *

 

Nathan pulled into an empty section of the Thymatec Labs parking lot, hitting his brakes.  Right now, Elisabeth and 4 21 were battling the clones, and any moment John Stafford would draw his pistol to shoot. Nathan knew there wasn’t enough time to get to the hallway and save them. He had one choice, and he was going to have to break the rules.

Jericho was strong and almost invulnerable. He rode a motorcycle because he didn’t yet know he could jump almost 6 miles in one leap. He was about to discover this power before the chosen time because Nathan was desperate.

By now John Stafford had almost reached the hallway. Once he got to Elisabeth and 4 21, he would shoot them.

When Jericho pulled up beside Nathan, he shut off his bike and asked,

“Where are they?”

“I need you to trust me. No time to explain,” Nathan said.

“Okay,” Jericho agreed.

“I need you to face that way,” Nathan said, pointing. “Then bend your knees and jump in that direction.”

“Okay, but I’m not much of a jumper,” Jericho said.

“Trust me. Just bend your knees this much,” Nathan said, demonstrating, “and jump! Quickly! We’re running out of time.”

“Okay,” Jericho said in confusion. “I feel sort of silly, but I’ll do it.”

Bending his knees as Nathan had shown him, Jericho jumped. His super strength threw him high into the air. Nathan sighed with relief when he heard Jericho yell in surprise and joy.

 

*          *          *

 

John Stafford reached the hallway, dragging with him a terrified Charlene Reynolds. As he pressed a gun into Reynolds’ neck, Elisabeth trained her pistols on Stafford’s head.

“I won’t miss,” she warned.

“Nor shall I,” Stafford sneered.

Elisabeth held her gaze, her hands steady, until she heard 4 21 say,

“Drop your weapons.”

Keeping her weapons trained on Stafford, she looked over at 4 21 and saw that his guns were on the floor and his hands raised.

Elisabeth hesitated then unwillingly holstered her guns.

“Fine,” she spat.

“As I expected,” Stafford said, turning his pistol to Elisabeth.

Just as Stafford pulled the trigger, something crashed through the ceiling. When the dust cleared, Elisabeth saw Jericho standing in the rubble, his hands clenched and his eyes wide.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

Jericho turned to look at her but said nothing. His breathing was rapid.

When Elisabeth tapped her right temple, Jericho slowly reached up to touch his. As his fingertips rubbed the skin, a flattened bullet fell to the floor.

Jericho turned to Stafford who wore a look of horror and fear.

“You shot me,” Jericho protested.

Unable to speak, Stafford just stared with a vacant look in his eyes.

“Why did you shoot me?” Jericho demanded.

 

*          *          *

 

Nathan breathed a sigh of relief. Elisabeth and 4 21 were safe. He turned and looked at the gate entrance of Thymatec Laboratories.

“McAddams and his men will be here soon. I need to get into the main building, find Elisabeth, and move her to a safe location. What’s about to happen shouldn’t involve either of us.”

Nathan hopped on his motorcycle, revved the engine then headed toward the facility just as he heard the sound of approaching cars.

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 12

Silence hung in the air as Jericho and Kyran stopped fighting and stared at the gun pointed at Kyran’s head. Holding the Colt 45 with a steady hand, Nathan stood rigid and unyielding, his eyes locked onto Ian McAddams.

“Did you say stop?” Nathan asked, feeling a little smug.

“Enough!” Ian barked. “Everyone sit down.”

Nathan lowered the hammer on the weapon and holstered it.

As Jericho and Kyran slowly walked back to the table, each watching the other like guard dogs eager to pounce, Ian said,

“I am certain we can handle this. . .,” he said, struggling with the last word, “peacefully.”

“I didn’t know you could pronounce that word,” Jericho joked.

Kyran started to rise but Ian pressed a hand on his shoulder to keep him seated.

For a moment, Ian closed his eyes to calm his nerves. Then slowly he opened them and settled a glare on Nathan.

“What is it that you wish to know?” he asked.

“Why were your men trying to rip off the truck leaving from Thymatec labs?” Nathan asked.

“Braden Cole was a simple technician in charge of waste disposal at Thymatec. A low-level nobody who could leak information back to me. The research team had been working on a chemical weapon called the butterfly, and I saw an opportunity to get some for myself, a slice of the pie. I know parties engaged in civil wars, wars on foreign soil, and a chemical weapon like that would prove useful to them. But because of this weapon’s limited shelf life, I had a guarantee it would never be used on Americans. I’m a business man, not an animal.”

Nathan could see that Ian was fighting with himself to remain calm.

“Everything was going according to plan until a woman, some local meta, started following Cole. He got nervous and sent two associates, the men you ran into downstairs, to have her killed. I had no part in that.”

Nathan knew he was lying but decided to keep quiet for now. The timeline depended on Ian McAddams confessing his involvement in the theft, not Elisabeth’s death.

“Do you know who’s behind the production of the Butterfly?” Jericho asked.

“No,” Ian lied.

Nathan let that pass as well. Suddenly his head began to spin.

“I heard that Braden Cole might be dead. I haven’t confirmed that yet, but given his mistake in involving you two, it would be in his best interest to disappear,” Ian said.

“He’s dead,” Nathan said as he felt a flash of pain in his temple.

Jericho looked from Ian to Nathan.

“When?” he asked.

“Recently,” Nathan replied, rubbing his temple.

Just as a sharp pain tore its way up his spine, his vision blurred and went dark.

* * *

When his eyes opened, Nathan was standing in one of the long hallways of Thymatec Laboratories.

He watched as a group of men, all dressed in crisp business suits, attacked Elisabeth and 4 21. Elisabeth tossed her assailants aside like an angry child with her toys while 4 21 moved with blinding speed, dodging, striking, and firing his pistol when needed. Nathan saw that most of the men were clones of Dr. Ghislain.

The scene seemed to shift to slow motion as Nathan watched Elisabeth in fascination. Although she was brutal with the clones, throwing them against the walls, slamming them to the floor, she moved like a dancer, balanced and fluid. Nathan couldn’t help but admire her grace.

“Enough!” a man called from a nearby doorway, snapping Nathan out of his reverie.

When Nathan turned toward the voice, he saw John Stafford the attorney with his arm wrapped around Charlene Reynolds. He held her in a tight grip with a gun pressed to her neck.

Elisabeth whipped out her pistols and pointed them at Stafford’s head.

“I won’t miss,” she warned.

“Nor shall I,” Stafford sneered.

Elisabeth held her gaze, her hands steady, until she heard 4 21 say,

“Drop your weapons.”

Keeping her weapons trained on Stafford, she looked over at 4 21 and saw that his guns were on the floor and his hands raised.

Elisabeth hesitated then unwillingly holstered her guns.

“Fine,” she spat.

“As I expected,” Stafford said turning his pistol to Elisabeth.

Just as he pulled the trigger, Nathan snapped awake.

He was back at the restaurant of the Emerald Garden club.

“Are you okay?” Jericho asked. “You said Cole had died recently then you spaced out for a second.”

Nathan looked at Jericho and said,

“We need to get to Thymatec now! They’re in trouble!”

Somewhat confused by Nathan’s behavior, Jericho watched as Nathan turned to leave, but a moment later, he quickly followed him down the stairs.

When the door swung shut behind them, Ian McAddams stared daggers at the door.

Kyran fiddled with a napkin then cautiously asked his father,

“What do we do now?”

Rubbing his hands together, Ian McAddams seethed with anger.

When Ian gave no answer, Otis Morton and Joseph Horton slowly approached the table.

Horton softly asked, “Sir?”

“What?” Ian snapped.

Recoiling at the quick response, Horton asked,

“What do you want us to do?”

Ian thought for a moment then slowly a smile worked its way across his face.

“Kyran,” he said.

“Yes, sir?” Kyran answered, straightening up.

“Take your men. Take my men. Take everybody. If they’re too stupid to handle a gun, give them a knife or a bat. I will not sit back and let some arrogant punk make a fool of me,” Ian snarled.

When Kyran and the men stood awaiting further instructions, Ian leapt to his feet and shouted,

“NOW!”

“Where are we going, sir?” Kyran asked.

“Thymatec Laboratories. Burn the place to the ground if you have to, but bring me the Butterfly.”

“Yes, sir,” they answered in unison.

“Kill that girl, the one you failed to kill the first time. Then kill that so-called prophet and bring me his head,” Ian said.

“Sir?” Morton asked confused.

“You heard me! Bring me his literal head!” Ian snapped. “Now get out of here! Kyran, hold back a minute.”

Ian waited until the men had left before he turned to his son.

“No playing around! I want you to bury Jericho so deep in the ground his friends will have to travel to Asia to find his body! Now go!” Ian ordered.

“Yes, sir,” Kyran said.

As Kyran turned to leave, Ian added,

“And, boy?”

Kyran turned to face his father.

“No witnesses,” Ian growled.

Kyran nodded and hurried to leave.

“That should teach them to cross me,” Ian smiled, settling down in his chair.

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 11

The energy blast from Kyran McAddams left a hole in the side of the Emerald Garden club big enough to drive a midsize sedan through. Kyran ran towards the opening then jumped out of the way just as Jericho leapt back inside from the street. Jericho popped his knuckles, turned his neck to stretch his muscles and said,

“Fine. We’ll do things your way.”

When Jericho started running towards him, Kyran raised his hands to fire off a second concussion beam, but Jericho dropped to his knees and slid across the floor, ducking under the blast of energy. Quickly Jericho got to his feet and struck Kyran with an uppercut that sent him flying into the ceiling.

Nathan looked back at Ian McAddams as Kyran and Jericho kept fighting, leaving behind holes in the walls and overhead lights hanging by their wires.

“Really?” Nathan asked. “I thought you were a man of logic not emotion.”

“I don’t like you,” Ian sneered.

“You don’t have to. All I want from you is what you know about Thymatec Labs and why your men were there,” Nathan said.

“I had nothing to do with that,” Ian lied.

“Seriously?” Nathan said. “What are you scared of?”

The remark wounded his pride, leaving him enraged, and Ian motioned to his men to take out this pesky “prophet.” Nathan knew who was moving toward him and exactly how long it would take them to make each move.

Following their boss’ orders, four guards positioned themselves, two on either side of Nathan.

The guard closest to Nathan’s right withdrew his pistol just as the guard to Nathan’s left attempted a surprise right cross. Nathan caught his fist and threw him into the other guard, sending both men tumbling over the chairs.

Quickly the second guard on Nathan’s right raised his weapon to fire but before he could squeeze the trigger, Nathan reached out, grabbed the slide, and removed it from the pistol. As the fourth guard reached into his shoulder holster for his Glock, Nathan grabbed the steak knife from Ian’s table and met the pistol in midair, sliding the knife through the trigger guard and pinning it to the table.

Ian looked with disgust at his four useless guards then he met Nathan’s eyes.

“And I wasn’t even trying,” Nathan said.

Nathan pulled out the Colt 45 Ethan Evermore had given him and pointed it at Kyran McAddams. Without even looking, he asked,

“Want to see what it looks like when I try?”

A nervous Ian quickly shifted his eyes from Nathan to his son, still in combat with Jericho.

“You’re a hero. You wouldn’t,” Ian said.

“Is that a challenge?” Nathan asked, raising an eyebrow.

When Ian didn’t answer, Nathan pulled back the hammer on the Colt.

“STOP!” Ian yelled.

* * *

Just as 4 21 finished stuffing the unconscious guard in a storage closet, he and Elisabeth heard the loud click of approaching footsteps on the polished floor.

“Whoever killed these people must be returning to dispose of the bodies,” 4 21 said. “We cannot be caught here.”

Quickly reaching out for the closet door handle, Elisabeth pulled it open, shoved the unconscious guard to the back of the closet then tucked in her wings, stepped inside and grabbed 4 21, dragging him in behind her. When she closed the door, she was careful to leave a slender crack.

“There is not sufficient space for three people in this enclosure,” 4 21 complained as the footsteps drew closer then stopped.

“Be quiet! Just wait a minute,” Elisabeth whispered.

Elisabeth could sense that there were at least three people in the group. She had a kind of radar her father had called spatial awareness, but unlike most metas with this power, fog or sound presented no interference. And her hearing, though not superhuman, was far above average. Turning her ear toward the voices, she listened intently.

“Clean up this mess before Ms. Reynolds gets wind of it,” a stern voice ordered.

“Yes, sir,” the other men answered.

After a few minutes, Elisabeth heard the men head down the hall. Reaching past 4 21, she pushed the closet door open. When she stepped out into the room, she closed her eyes and concentrated. She could sense that the man who had given the cleanup order was close by.

“This way,” she said, keeping her voice low.

With her eyes shut, she walked down the hall for a few moments then abruptly stopped, pulling 4 21 into a recess in the wall. Two guards walked by as she waited. When the men were out of sight, Elisabeth and 4 21 moved back out into the hallway.

A few yards up, Elisabeth signaled for them to stop at the beginning of a long passage. When she opened her eyes, 4 21 commented,

“You have radar.”

“Kind of,” she replied.

“That guy back there giving the cleanup order, either he works for Reynolds or he’s the boss,” Elisabeth said pointing to a man dressed in an expensive Italian suit.

When he turned to bark orders to one of the guards, Elisabeth gasped when she saw his face.

“That’s John Stafford!” she exclaimed.

“Who is John Stafford?” 4 21 asked.

“He’s a spineless little attorney who works for Charlene Reynolds. I knew it!” Elisabeth boasted.

“Knew what?” 4 21 asked.

“Charlene Reynolds. I knew she was involved in this. That little weasel is just delivering orders for that. . . ,” Elisabeth began.

“For Ms. Reynolds,” Elisabeth said.

“Are you certain of this?” 4 21 asked.

“Of course. You should have seen that woman. Talk about smug,” Elisabeth sneered.

“Arrogance does not prove guilt. It is possible he is working against orders,” 4 21 suggested.

“You’re defending her?” Elisabeth snapped.

“Keep your voice down!” 4 21 warned.

Realizing she was getting loud, Elisabeth lowered her voice,

“Fine.”
“I am simply saying we need more intel before such a decision can be reached. Let us follow him and see where he goes.”

“Fine,” Elisabeth repeated.

Elisabeth waited until Stafford was well down the hall then she followed with 4 21 beside her. Just before the hall curved to the right, he stopped at a door and disappeared inside.

“Come on!” Elisabeth said, hurrying to the door.

When she tried the knob, she found the door locked.

“I will have to break in,” 4 21 said, moving in front of Elisabeth.

“Wait a minute. I can force it open.” Elisabeth offered.

“I can do the same, but let us see if we can open it without setting off alarms,” 4 21 suggested.

Before Elisabeth could respond, a voice behind her asked,

“What are you doing?”

Elisabeth and 4 21 turned to see a tall hulking man watching them with a bone-chilling stare. Dressed in a cheap suit, his bulk straining the seams, he stood over six feet with a severe haircut that resembled the bristles of a brush.

“Uh oh. Have I done something wrong?” Elisabeth pouted, playing innocent.

Suddenly the brute reached out and seized her wrist. Elisabeth twisted loose but the struggle tore the bracelet free, bringing her wings into view.

“Metas!” the man spat as he reached for his walkie.

Quickly Elisabeth punched him across the jaw with her left then grabbed him with her wing and threw him down the hall. The force slammed his face into the wall, cracking the tile and plaster.

“You cannot continue with that,” 4 21 pointed out.

“Why not? It works,” Elisabeth answered.

Suddenly the man reached up, planted both hands on the wall, and pushed himself free. When he turned around, Elisabeth saw that his face was not even scratched.

“Maybe not,” she replied.

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 10

4 21 and Elisabeth moved through the stark white halls of Thymatec Laboratories at a casual pace trying to blend in. When someone approached, 4 21 found a reason to look away.

“On second thought,” Elisabeth said, “maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. Eventually someone is going to notice those glowing eyes of yours.”

“It has been my experience that most humans do not make direct eye contact. They seem to struggle with fear of interaction or guilt over a past sin. As long as I keep my face turned away or just close my eyes, no one will notice.”

“Maybe I should unzip my suit a little and put an extra swish in my hips,” Elisabeth joked. “This place is probably loaded with nerds who have never seen a woman other than on a computer screen.”

“No. You must not unzip the suit. Only when they have reached decontamination would legitimate technicians unzip the suit,” 4 21 protested.

“I was joking, you dimp,” Elisabeth said.

4 21 cocked his head and gave Elisabeth a questioning look.

Up ahead a thin little man came around the corner carrying a clipboard. When he saw Elisabeth and 4 21, he stopped walking, checked a paper on the clipboard then hurried toward them.

“Bogey at 1 o’clock,” Elisabeth warned.

Before 4 21 could respond, the man had reached them. His eyes were sunk deep into their sockets, and his pallid skin said he hadn’t seen the sun in quite a while.

“You’re not supposed to be in this hallway,” he said in a harsh nasal voice as he tapped the sheet on his clipboard. “Only authorized personnel are allowed in these halls. Identify yourself, please.”

Elisabeth’s first instinct was to knock the little man unconscious, but she remembered that 4 21 wanted discretion. A quick look at 4 21 and she saw that he was looking down and forming a ball with his fist.

Quickly she unsnapped her mask and removed it, letting her golden hair swing free. Almost at once, the man seemed to come alive as his eyes lit up like a cat staring at a Christmas tree.

“I am so sorry,” Elisabeth said with a coquettish smile and breathy voice. “I’ve been in this hot suit all day, and all I want to do is get to the lockers so I can shower, go home and rest.”

She tried her best to mimic the girls in high school who had always tricked guys into carrying their gear or doing their work.

“I’m afraid I’ve got myself all turned around. Where are the showers so I can wash off and change?” Elisabeth asked as she slid her hands over her hips.

The bumbling security guard fiddled with his tie, dropped his clipboard then kicked it as he scrambled to pick it up.

“I’d ask this guy,” Elisabeth said, pointing to 4 21 with her limp hand, “but his hay fever’s acting up,” she added with a hint of disgust in her voice.

“Uh sure,” the security guard said.

Turning to point the way, he said,

“Go down that hall and turn right. Follow the signs and you can’t miss it.”

“Thanks, love,” she purred, grabbing 4 21’s arm.

As they turned the corner, leaving the dumbfounded guard behind, 4 21 looked at Elisabeth and said,

“You are fortunate that worked.”

“I know. Right?” Elisabeth said with a smile. As 4 21 picked up the pace, she shook her head and softly laughed,

“Men can be really stupid sometimes.”

When she followed 4 21 into a room, she saw the floor covered with dead bodies. Seven she counted. Six looked as though they had been shot once, but the seventh had two bullet holes.

“This is a problem,” 4 21 said.

“I’ll say,” Elisabeth replied.

“Dr. Heinrich Ghislain knows something is wrong, and he is cleaning up. We must find where the virus was made before it is too late,” 4 21 urged.

“How has no one else seen this?” Elisabeth asked.

“It must have just happened,” 4 21 replied.

“Hey!” a voice behind them yelled.

Elisabeth turned to face another security guard.

As he approached, he stopped short when he saw the dead bodies and 4 21’s glowing green eyes.

“Who are you?” he demanded reaching for his sidearm.

“Sorry,” Elisabeth said as she quickly stepped toward him.

Suddenly the guard flew across the room and slammed into a wall, sliding to the floor unconscious.

“How did you do that without using your hands?” 4 21 asked.

“My wings. Remember?” Elisabeth said. “They’re invisible but I can still use them. Plus they have hooks on top that let me grab and throw things. . .or people.”

“We must move the sentry to safety. Should Ghislain’s clones return, they will kill him,” 4 21 said.

As 4 21 lifted the guard’s body, Elisabeth spotted something on the floor near where he had landed.

“Are those his teeth?” she asked recoiling.

Looking back as 4 21 stashed the guard behind a screen, she said,

“Sorry, man.”

* * *

When Nathan was led upstairs, Kyran McAddams took a position to his right while Jericho stood to his left. The three men faced Ian McAddams seated at a table, his unfinished meal before him.

“Who are you?” Ian McAddams demanded.

“He didn’t tell you?” Nathan asked, motioning toward Jericho.

“I want a name! Now!” Ian snapped.

“Well,” Nathan began, “I married at an early age to a lovely young Irish girl. Father would have been proud. Then I started a club with a plan to use my skills and take over more and more of the city. And when my first child, a boy, was born with powers, I knew that was my chance.”

Ian grabbed a fork from the table and hurled it at Nathan, but Nathan easily sidestepped it.

“Stop telling me about my life! I want to know who you are and why you know so much about me,” Ian spat.

“I’m Nathan Nichols.”

“The Prophet,” Jericho added.

“I just know things,” Nathan said.

“You just know things?” Ian asked skeptically.

“Yes,” Nathan replied. “Like for example, the guy who brings your food is lifting silverware. But you’re going to decide not to kill him even though he also works nights for Pinstripe, your biggest competitor. “

Ian turned and glared at the terrified waiter who dropped a decanter of wine and turned to run. But before he could escape, McAddams’ men grabbed him.

“What’d I tell you,” Nathan said.

Kyran McAddams took a few steps to the left then turned to face Nathan.

“I’ve had enough of this,” Ian barked.

Looking over at Jericho, Nathan quickly warned, “Brace yourself.”

Just then Kyran McAddams sent a torrent of energy exploding from his hands. Nathan stepped back letting the energy pass him and strike Jericho. The force threw Jericho across the restaurant, through the wall and outside to the street.

Nathan knew Jericho would not be harmed by the blast. He could take far more powerful hits than that one. Drawing closer to Ian, Nathan slammed his knuckles down on the table, and leaned close to Ian’s head until they were almost eyeball to eyeball.

“Braden Cole is dead,” Nathan said.

Ian McAddams’ eyes grew wide.

“You know who killed him, and you know what he wants. Now we can talk like men or we can play games until he unleashes the virus. And you know what will happen when he does,” Nathan said.

Ian McAddams stiffened and sat up straighter, trying to hide his fear.

“You’re right to be afraid.”

The Prophet of Starfall: Episode 9

Jericho parked his bike around back at the Emerald Garden club and headed for the stairwell leading to the second floor.

“Braden Cole. Braden Cole,” he thought repeatedly as he climbed the steps. He had to get the name right or his bluff would fail.

When he reached the door, a lanky man held up his hand and asked in a whinny nasal voice,

“Got a reservation?”

Jericho, in a rush and far too busy to be polite, pushed the slender man out of the way and opened the door. As soon as he stepped inside, two men dove at him, grabbing his arms, but Jericho kept moving, dragging them along behind him like a child with his blanket. When he spotted Ian McAddams’ personal table across the room, he shook the two men free and walked over.

“McAddams,” Jericho called out.

Without looking up, McAddams pressed the blade of his knife into a filet mignon and cut off a slice.

“Jericho, there’s no need to force your way in here. You know the city’s protector is always welcome,” McAddams said as he chewed the tender meat.

“I need to talk to you about the butterfly,” Jericho said.

“Butterfly? I didn’t know you were one of those ento. . .ento. . .”

“Entomologists,” Jericho interrupted.

“Yea. That’s it,” McAddams said, taking another bite of steak.

“Braden. . . ,” Jericho paused for effect, “. . .Cole.”

McAddams stopped chewing the meat and carefully placed his knife and fork in the “resting position.” He slowly lifted the napkin to his mouth, blotted his lips, then took a sip of merlot.

Placing a hand on each side of his plate, McAddams looked up at Jericho and suggested,

“Before you explain yourself, perhaps you should explain your friend.”

At the snap of McAddams’ fingers, a monitor on the wall turned on. As Jericho watched, he saw Nathan downstairs in the club, standing in the middle of the floor with a giant of a man on either side and dance music bouncing off the walls.

“Sound,” Ian McAddams ordered.

Suddenly the music below stopped and Jericho could hear one of the men threaten Nathan.

* * *

“I’m going to beat you unconscious then throw you off that building myself,” Joseph Horton growled.

“Sorry about your face,” Nathan said as Horton reached up to pat his bandaged forehead where the ashtray had struck.

“Time to die little fox,” Morton said.

“Wait,” Nathan said, holding up his hand. “I want to make a deal.”

“No deal,” Horton sneered.

“A deal, huh? I’m a little curious,” Morton said. “What’s the deal?”

“I’ll tell you every detail of your life up to now, and if I’m correct, you let me go. But if I’m wrong, I’ll go quietly,” Nathan said.

“Go ahead,” Morton snorted. “No one knows anything about me, not even my real name.”

“It’s Gerald,” Nathan began then quickly started talking.

“Your grandfather was born in St. Andrews, Scotland. He moved his wife and two boys here to Crescent Bay to escape old debts and make a new beginning. Eventually, he was able to start up a fishing business. He ran it for years until he retired and signed it over to his oldest son, your dad. He took over and built up the business, expanding into new markets. He was about to go global when he died just after your tenth birthday.”

Morton slowly shook his head and started laughing as Nathan continued.

“You were given over to your uncle to raise. He was a drunk, not a mean drunk, but a drunk nonetheless. Actually, he was nicer when he was drunk. Mean as a snake when sober. He’d stumble home drunk, tear the place up, then pass out. Next morning when he woke and saw the mess he’d made, he’d whip you until his arms were tired. You lived with this treatment until you were old enough to come aboard his fishing trawler as one of the crew. As long as he stayed sober, he was clearheaded, trusting no one. One night on his way home, you got him drunk.”

* * *

Jericho watched the monitor as Nathan told all about Morton’s life. Some of the details didn’t seem to fit a bruiser like Otis Morton, but Jericho trusted Nathan.

Ian McAddams’ son Kyran, known by most people as Garrison, heard his father stir in his chair and looked over at him. His father grew pale as he stared at the television.

“Dad, you okay?”

“What’s wrong?” Jericho asked Ian McAddams.

“That’s not Otis Morton’s history,” McAddams said, looking up at his son. “It’s mine.”

Ian McAddams glowered at Jericho and demanded,

“Who is he!”

Without bothering to hide his smile, Jericho answered,

“He’s the prophet.”

“Bring him to me now!” McAddams snapped at his son.

* * *

“Not only was your uncle a sweetheart when he was drunk, but he was also a bit clumsy,” Nathan continued.

Morton threw his head back in amusement.

“This is going to be fun. You’re wrong on every count. I’ve never even been to Scotland.”

Nathan met Morton’s eyes and said,

“I wasn’t actually talking to you.”

For a moment, Morton looked confused but when a door upstairs opened and Kyran McAddams stepped out, he turned in surprise.

“You!” McAddams said, pointing to Nathan.

“It’s about time,” Nathan said impatiently.

* * *

After tearing two small rips in the suit big enough to fit her wings through, Elisabeth turned one way then another.

“How does it fit?”

“It works, but your wings will give you away. There’s no way to hide them. You’d better wait here, ” 4 21 suggested.

“Wait one second,” Elisabeth said.

Reaching into a pocket under the suit, she pulled out the leather band Lavinia that Ethan Evermore had given to her. He had said,

“This is Lavinia, the sightless flower. It has a special enchantment. When the band is on your wrist, your wings will become invisible to the human eye.”

She slipped the band around her wrist and secured it. A few seconds later, she felt a tingling sensation run down her back. Spreading her wings as far as she could, she looked from every angle but could no longer see them.

“How about now?” she asked.

4 21 slowly studied her back.

“Yes. That will do, but now there are two large tears in your suit. We will need to prepare a story should someone ask questions.”

“No worries,” Elisabeth smiled.

“We are moving behind enemy lines. We have much to worry about,” 4 21 corrected.

“It’s just an expression,” she said. “It means. . . Never mind.”