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Authors: S.J. Pierce

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Marked for Vengeance

BOOK: Marked for Vengeance
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The Alyx Rayer
Chronicles:

MARKED FOR
VENGEANCE

Book One

By: S.J. Pierce

 

Cover Art by
Brittany Bowman

 

© SJ Pierce, 2012. All rights reserved. No portion of this book
may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or
by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher or author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Alyx Rayer
Chronicles

By: S.J. Pierce

 

 

Book One:

 

MARKED FOR
VENGEANCE

 

 

 

Book Two:

 

TETHERED BY FATE

 

 

 

Book Three:

 

DESTINED FOR
FIRE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This book is
dedicated to my friends and family, because of whose encouragement and
thoughtful praises this story saw the light of day.

 

~

 

Psalm (20:4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PREFACE
:

 

A
Note to My Readers

It’s
easy to feel insignificant sitting outside in the dark, gazing up at the stars.
Much like this story might feel as it drifts amongst a sea of novels. If you
truly let your mind wander -- to feebly grasp how vast and infinite the
universe is -- our planet will seem but a speck of dust, our bodies and lives
even smaller.

The
many times I’ve pondered this, it seems naive, or better yet,
conceited
to think that we are the only ones alive within it. My imagination runs wild
with possibilities. Who might the others out there be? Are their societies and
code of ethics structured the same? Do they share a similar creator or point of
origin?

And
on a more immediate level, are the people who walk among us on Earth really who
they say they are? Do some have a higher calling regardless of righteous or
evil intent? As the Bible suggests, we are not alone; "Do not neglect to
show hospitality to strangers, some have entertained angels without knowing
it." (Hebrews 13:2) These words have stayed with me throughout the years
and are the source from which my story was bred, coupled with, of course, my
ever growing intrigue as to what else might be out there.

While
I know these ponderings aren’t particularly earth shattering -- ok, they aren’t
-- m
y hope, dear readers, is that this story finds you intrigued, that
it might burn a little brighter than those around it.

With Love,

~S.J. Pierce

 

 

 

    

 

 

PROLOGUE
:

 

A
Tortuous Birth

 

She stood shoulder
to shoulder with her brethren, nobody able to move, or make a sound. Waiting to
be brought to life, their bodies felt more like prisons to their souls that
shuddered in response to the darkness around them.

Her mind reeled
with images, distant, agonizing memories of the last two times she had endured
this torture, and her frozen muscles itched for movement so she could flee. Because
even though her spirit had been assigned to a body before, what awaited her in
the moments to come never became any easier.

Without warning,
the delicate touch of their maker forced their heads backward and opened their
mouths. A breath of livened air rushed into their souls. It warmed from the
inside, beginning in her chest and rolled out to her limbs, burning and glowing
through her newly formed veins. Her eardrums fluttered as waves of sound
pounded into them again; the feet of others shifting beside her, the fragile
pop of their necks as they straightened into place.

Before anyone
could move from their carefully placed stances, a thunderous voice resonated
through them, bending them to its will. Their minds flashed with intricate
directives as it barked their commands, ones they could not deviate from, ones
that meant the difference between life and death. Their orders ceased, and the
burning traveled to their eyes that squinted as a light in the distance
flickered like the flame of a faraway candle, the blanket of darkness so thick
that even the dimmest glow burned with a blinding intensity. The light strengthened
as it moved steadily closer and divided into smaller orbs that hovered in front
of each of their faces, illuminating their anxious expressions. A rumble rolled
through the air, and they forced their way into the being’s mouths. Their lungs
heaved. Their hearts raced -- they were alive.

They studied one
another in wonder, each of them appearing the same; no hair, lean bodies, naked
breasts, haunting, black eyes. Their slender fingers brushed over their new,
youthful skin, which felt soft and warm, but tough like a full-plated suit of
armor.

As though a
switch had flipped, the darkness separated them, and their chilling moans pierced
the air as their bodies transformed into their own unique shapes -- undoubtedly
from the ones who went through it for the first time. Jaw clinched, she bore
the excruciating pain of her own transformation; bones and ligaments cracking,
skin stretching to accommodate the growing muscles, her face narrowing and lips
plumping. Her scalp tingled and silky, thick hair spilled over her back and
shoulders.

Now for the
worst part of all, the one she despised the most.

She clasped her
hands and locked her muscles, bracing for the familiar sharp, stinging pain
that seared into their left shoulder blades as they were branded. Their once
unblemished skin blistered into the symbol that represented everything they
were created for, reminding them every day what their purpose in this lifetime
was – to fulfill a purpose and one purpose only. But first, they had to find
their Marked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER
1:

 

Alyx

 

 

Alyx unclipped her
work badge from the lip of her purse and swiped it over the security pad at the
parking lot gate as she had done every weekday morning for the past three
years.
Here we go again,
she thought, and a smile swept across her face.
But at least it’s Friday.

 
She parked her
silver Civic in the same spot as always – first space in the front with a metal
sign that read; “Bachman and Yorkshire Law Firm: Employees Only.” Alyx worked
as the assistant to Mr. Frederick Bachman himself, a prominent litigation
lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia.

For a final
check before beginning her day, she pulled the sun visor down and studied her masterpiece
in the mirror. Long, raven hair framed her face in smooth, wavy curls, smoky shadow
rimmed her dark brown eyes, and her porcelain skin appeared as flawless as her
full, round lips.
Which need lipstick,
she determined. She slid a black
MAC tube from inside her purse and lightly dusted on her favorite shade to give
them a hint of sparkle.

Greeted by the
moist, morning air, she stepped onto the asphalt and tucked in her favorite red
blouse, which always came untucked on her ride to work, to her knee length
pencil skirt that hugged her long legs flatteringly.

“Morning!
Beautiful October day, isn’t it?” the man from the fifteenth floor said as he
strode by.

“Indeed it is,”
she replied and made her way to the passenger-side door.

While balancing
on her stilettos, she opened the door and leaned inside to grab a coffee holder
with four lattes, purse, briefcase, and gym bag, and shut the door with her
backside.
They should call me the bag lady,
she mused.

A maze of
obstacles lay ahead; early morning workers bustling down the sidewalk, cars
whizzing by in every direction, and sewer grates waiting to snag the tip of her
heels, but three years of baggage-juggling allowed her to make it through
without a hitch. At the end of her conquest stood a high-rise building with
tinted windows and heavy double doors that the security guard propped open for
her arrival.“Thank you, Claude,” she said, to which he gave a terse nod in
response.

Once inside, she
followed the slick, marble flooring to the cluster of elevators in the back of
the building, and a familiar voice echoed through the lobby from behind. “I’m
going to nominate you for an award for balancing all of that with those four
inch heels on!”

She grinned from
ear to ear and whipped her head around to see her dear friend Cindra clomping
toward her with her ashy blond hair pulled into a messy bun, as usual, oversized
hoop earrings that swung back and forth as she walked, her pretty, but slightly
wrinkled clothes, and her typical bright smile tainted with red lipstick
smudged across her front teeth. Morning!” Alyx chimed. “You’re on time today I
see!”

Cindra sighed and
blew a wispy piece of bang that had fallen into her face. “I know. Write this
day down in history.” 

As they continued
toward the elevators, she peered down at Alyx’s shoes in astonishment. “So what
do those heels make you, seven feet tall?”

“I bought them
last night. I
had
to get them.”

Even though Alyx
stood at a considerably tall height of five foot ten, she was still partial to
wearing at least four inch heels to work and sometimes on the weekends.

Cindra offered
an extended hand to grab one of the bags. “Here… let me help you.”

“Thanks, but I
have it. I’m afraid if I shift anything around it will all tumble down.” 

 “I’ll cover the
elevator, then.”

Alyx and Cindra
Jacobs became friends last summer when Frederick hired Cindra on as a
Paralegal. They hit it off instantly after they met at a breakfast
meet-and-greet the office held for her arrival. They had a few traits in common
-- although not entirely obvious from first glance if you went by looks alone
-- but were single girls at the time in a big city, both friendly and warm. Alyx
had never experienced such a close bond with a friend in such a short amount of
time, almost as if it were designed by the gods.

Ding! The
elevator doors opened on the eighteenth floor, and they headed for their desks.
The whir of a busy office saturated the air; phones ringing, printer’s
clicking, and the clacks of heels as people walked back and forth in their
dresses and business suits to get the day started.     

“I can’t wait
for tomorrow,” Cindra beamed. “We’re going to have so much fun!”

 “I’m looking
forward to it too,” Alyx
said
as she placed
the first latte on the receptionist’s desk with gold letters that read;
“Bachman and Yorkshire”. “Morning, Deborah!” she said to the red-haired lady
who sat behind it with a headset on.

“Thank you,
dear,” she replied.

“I need a girls’
day so bad it’s not funny,” Cindra continued as she pulled a mirror from her
purse and wiped her front teeth while trailing behind Alyx through the rows of
cubicles. “I’ve already scouted the perfect place for lunch. It’s called The
Grape and they have all these different types of wines. I know how you like
your wines…”

I hope this
girl’s day doesn’t go TOO long
, Alyx thought as Cindra chattered on.

Their next stop
was Stacey Yorkshire’s office. Alyx peered in, and Stacey’s ever-perfect French
twist stared back at her as she sat in her leather swivel chair, facing her whitewashed
oak bookshelf while prattling away with a client. Alyx resolved to sneak in and
leave the latte on her desk, when halfway into her well-decorated office, Stacey
whirled around to take it from her, followed by a wave and a silent “thank you”.

Alyx worked
mainly for Frederick, but Mona, Stacey’s assistant, wasn’t the type of person
to go out of her way to do anything nice for anyone – like pick up lattes for
her boss or bring in a cake for her birthday. She proved her worth when it came
to booking meetings or travel arrangements, but if any errands needed to be run
or lunch to be ordered it was simply “not her place” as she would whine in her
nasally voice. After all, why would she worry with such trivial errands if she
knew Alyx would take care of them? Alyx never understood why Stacey kept her
around. Surely there were other qualified people in need of a job that had a
better attitude than
Mona
.

Cindra stepped
out of the way to allow Alyx enough room to exit Stacey’s office. “After that I
thought we’d check out that new movie that came out. What is it called? Love
Comes Quickly? Or is it
Swiftly
… either way, I think we’ll have a great
time.”

“I agree,” she
replied, hoping she didn’t sound too indifferent, but juggling the latte’s
without spilling them down her neatly pressed blouse required most of her
attention.
Almost there.

Frederick’s
office shared the same wall as Stacey’s and was her last stop before dumping
her bags, which now weighed a hundred pounds, beside her desk. Alyx stopped
short.
That’s odd,
she thought. His fluorescent office lights didn’t buzz
through the glass pane on his door. Usually by the time she arrived he had
already been through his emails and had left a teetering stack of papers atop
her desk for filing.

She spun around
to her desk and placed the last two lattes on the corner, dumping her bags on the
floor in synchronization.

 “Where’s ‘Casanova’?”
Cindra asked while pointing at Fredrick’s door.

Cindra dubbed
Frederick with the pet name ‘Cassanova’ shortly after her hiring. He had
rightfully earned that name, as he was a true charmer and had no qualms using
it to his advantage whether he needed an employee to go above and beyond or a
client to put their full trust in him. “But not in a tacky car salesman way,” Cindra
would protest. “And it doesn’t hurt that he’s a lawyer, making good money
either.” Alyx swore that if he weren’t married, her friend might consider
making a move.

“He should be
here already. Let me check my-”

Before she could
finish her sentence, Frederick rushed around the corner. “Casanova is in the
building!”

Cindra’s hazel
eyes widened, and her cheeks flushed a bright pink -- he had heard her say his
pet name. “I’ll catch you later!” she squeaked and darted off, tripping over
her feet as she ran.

“Let’s do lunch!”
Alyx shouted after her and chuckled.
I’ll hear about that later.

As her boss
approached his office, she tapped her watch while propping her right hip on the
edge of her desk. “This is unlike you, sir. Thirty minutes later than usual.”

Frederick shook
his head in disgust. “Traffic was a beast. Interstate was jammed from some
moron who decided to forget how to drive today. But of course you wouldn’t know
anything about that, would you?”

She huffed
dramatically, flinging her wrist across her forehead. “My ten minute drive was
just
awful
. I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Real funny, Ms.
Rayer,” he said with a grunt, to which she flashed a cheesy, wide smile in
return. “I know, I know, I’m jealous of your commute. So what’s on the agenda
today?” he asked while unlocking his office door.

She rested in
the chair behind her desk and flipped her hair over her shoulder. “You have a
client briefing in thirty minutes, and a meeting with some of the associates
after that. What do you need from me?”

“Just that latte,”
he replied with a wink.

Alyx groaned
internally as she focused on starting up her computer for the day. Frederick often
came across as condescending, but despite her mild repulsion to his often
demeaning tone, Alyx knew that he only meant it in a charming way. His tricks had
never worked with her in the least, which could have been why she had been his
only assistant to last more than a year. Her focus remained on her work and not
his looks or smothering charisma. She couldn’t deny that he had a certain magnetizing
appeal with his salt and pepper well-groomed hair, incredible posture, and
chiseled body that his expensive Armani suits fit like a glove, but unlike
Cindra, his smarmy ways always seemed cheesy to Alyx, like a prince from a
kid’s fairytale movie.

Frederick retrieved
his drink from her desk and headed into his office. “Can you confirm those lunch
reservations for me and Mr… what’s his name?”

“Whitman, and
that’s already been done. Twelve thirty at the Atlantic.”

“That’s why I
keep you around,” he said and shut the door behind him.

“Don’t you ever
forget it!”

Alyx’s fingers
swept across her keyboard to unlock the computer screen when Mona’s
distinctive, nasally voice from around the corner announced her arrival,
complaining about the traffic and insisting it was the cause of her tardiness
to all who would hear. Although, to Alyx, when she appeared it looked as though
she had just rolled out of bed. Her frizzy auburn curls had been pulled into a
sloppy ponytail with the ends springing out in every direction, and red lines
from the creases of her pillowcase streaked across her cheek.
Nice. “
Morning,
Mona,” she said.

Mona plopped
into her chair. “If that’s what you want to call it,” she grumbled. “I need a
vacation. Not like the three day stay-cation I had at home last weekend, like a
real
vacation… to the Bahamas.”

Alyx shot up
from her desk while clinging to a manila file folder she kept handy for
occasions such as this, pretending she needed to make copies in an effort to
escape. “I feel you on that one.”

“Oh, I’m sure
your rich boyfriend would take you next week if you asked him,” she said under
her breath.

As Alyx passed
her desk to evade the painful morning chit chat, she fought to keep her top lip
from drawing into a sneer.
Off to a good start already. How much longer
until lunch?

* * *

After her
pretend copies and two meetings later, lunchtime snuck into place. Alyx typed
away on an email to an associate when she overheard Mona informing Stacey that
she would be gone for a longer than usual lunch.
Does she even have to
announce that?
she wondered, giggling to herself,
that’s an everyday
occurrence
.

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