Revenant's Kiss (Chronicles of the Afterlife)

BOOK: Revenant's Kiss (Chronicles of the Afterlife)
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Chapter 1

   

 

            
Jennifer sat motionless in her seat in an unmarked van, trying to fight off a vague sense of
disorientation as they passed by street lamps. The cab of the vehicle sat in darkness until they hit a light
and for a fleeting moment if she chose she could witness a brief flash of clarity. A fleeting moment
where she could look around and see the people around her, but just as quickly the light would pass
and the cab would be cast back into darkness. Normally this would not have effected her equilibrium,
it was a normal occurrence when one drove down the street, street lamps were every day, as common
as the night itself, and she had more than a little experience driving through the dark. But today the brief
glimpse of light lacked the same sense of comfort that it brought her. Instead the light that illuminated
the darkness that swallowed the cab of the vehicle allowed her to see that the vehicle was more then
one body short its usual number. The light taunted her with her own failure, a failure that had almost
cost someone she cared about their life and killed a kid too green to know much of anything.

            
Jennifer bit her lip and closed her eyes as they passed beneath the next spot of light knowing
that each time the light arrived just to vanish was one more reminder that nothing was safe. It had been
a long time since she’d lost anyone, her team had suffered a few minor injuries, what could pass for
scrapes and bruises for them, but not one had been killed or nearly so in almost a year. And in that
year she had somehow managed to allow herself to pretend that they had just become too efficient to
get hurt, her illusion was worse then crumbling it had been obliterated. With her eyes closed she could
almost hear bones crushing beneath pressure, could see blood pouring from open wounds. How had
she ever let herself be so stupid, why hadn’t she been more vigilant? She had been told more then once
by her own team that she was not entirely to blame, they had all been there, they were all responsible
but in the end she had been the closest, she was the one who hadn’t been fast enough. So with her
eyes closed all she saw was his blood pulsing through open wounds, on her hands, his screaming in her
ears. For a moment she tried to force the image out of her mind but it wouldn’t budge so she was left
with little recourse but to open her eyes. Only she was greeted by a quick flash of light and the reality
of an empty seat, she couldn’t decide what she thought was worse eyes open or closed. Blinking
against the light she shifted in her seat doing her best not to grimace as pain exploded through her side.
She had not come away from last nights encounter unscathed but there was nothing to do for some
broken ribs, not unless she wanted to stop and she knew she couldn’t wait long enough to heal. It
would take too long and she couldn’t know what they’re window would be for tracking this one, they
tended to migrate when they weren’t attached to any specific coven and she was determined not to let
this one get away. She wanted it dead and she wanted to kill it herself, for almost taking the life of
someone she cared about but more so for killing the kid and she didn’t even know how many more
bodies this one had racked up.

            
Worse still was the fact that with the loses they’d suffered last night and the subsequent failure
to kill it there would be more death to follow in its wake tonight. There was no way that she could have
failed more completely then she had last night, she should have been prepared, she should have acted
faster, people were dead because she’d failed, people would die still, might be dying now. Jennifer
shifted in her seat again, a mistake as the seat belt put pressure on her side the same time she twisted in
just the wrong way. For a moment the pain seemed to make it feel as though every muscle in her body
locked up. She knew it wasn’t real, she knew it was just pain, she could breath past it she only had to
force herself but instead she held her breath and waited for the agony to pass, praying that nobody
noticed how broken she was. A glance to her side revealed that if Manson had noticed her moment of
weakness he was choosing to ignore it. She felt relief flood her, it would be unwise to hide any injury
from her partner but she was in no way inclined to share her current status if it would get her benched.
She was aware that Manson was observant, on most occasions she would even say twice as much so
as herself, so she held a vestige of hope that he recognized she was not one hundred percent and chose
on his own accord to keep his silence.

            
But just as she had began comforting herself with the notion that she wouldn’t be putting her
partner in too much unwitting danger she allowed her gaze to travel forward and caught green eyes
gazing back at her in the rear view mirror. It was a brief moment but she saw enough concern in those
seconds of contact to know that it was certain someone had laid witness to her injury, and he was
worried. Admittedly there was always worry there, Malcolm made a habit of worrying about her, not
without reason, but there was more then usual tonight. She repressed the urge to curse under her
breath knowing it would be better to try to ignore the fact that he knew then vocalize any form of
concern on her own part. It might seem illogical but she knew that if she acknowledged that he knew
she was injured and confirmed her injury he would make a point of trying to keep her out of the fight
she knew was to come. She glanced away but immediately came face to face with Clive’s empty seat
beside him. The sight of the empty seat made her flinch, which of course was a mistake, her side
instantly seized from the movement sending spikes throbbing along her ribs. She bit back a pained cry,
swallowed it before it could make it’s way out her mouth, the pain was so intense that she felt her right
arm go numb as a result. It was not a good end result, she was now wondering if she had some unseen
nerve damage causing the numb feeling, she flexed her fingers to test the hand, she couldn’t feel the
movement for a moment. Her fingers moved but she knew that her grip on the hand should she need it
would be loose, in turn making the hand useless, not good at all, she was a righty. She could hold a gun
with the left, could even shoot and sometimes hit what she was aiming at, but she was right handed, if
you put a gun in her right hand she wouldn’t just maybe hit her target, she would hit them dead center.
She had practiced with her left because it had been suggested for her in the past that using two guns at
once would be useful. She had practiced enough with her left hand that she could indeed hit something
when she aimed at it, she however had discovered quickly that having a gun in each hand was more
likely to be a waste of bullets in the end. She wasn’t any good at aiming in two different directions at
once, she had yet to meet anyone that could, well maybe one person. At this point she was even
wondering if she could count him as a person, was beginning to wonder if maybe said person wasn’t
just a government issued cyborg. Which was another issue all on its own, she would have to face him,
soon, the Kid had been his, on loan for light training. The Kid was dead, she was going to owe the
Cyborg for that, even if there wasn’t anything she could have done, the Kid had been under her charge,
died under her protection. The Cyborg would want reclamation of some kind or another and she
couldn’t guess at what it would be, didn’t even have the energy to try. Not when there was a dead Kid
to avenge and a broken Clive maybe dying in the hospital. The thought sent her eyes forward to the
front passenger seat, empty as it was, she forced herself not to react, forced herself to simply face the
reality that her friend, her boss might be dead soon. Clive Watson was the first person that she’d met
when she’d tossed herself into this impossible way of life, the first person to understand why it was she
wasn’t right in the head. He understood because he had the same problem, the same nightmares
chasing him at night when he went to sleep. He was the person who had brought her unto this team, let
her know that it was alright to survive, alright to be screwed up, and shown her that it was alright to
want to fight back.

            
He was the one who had put a gun in her hand, although in the end she knew one way or
another it would have happened, but he’d given her a purpose and shown her how. Now she had
nearly gotten him killed, the others could chant all they wanted at her that it wasn’t her fault, in the end
there was no one else. Jennifer gave a quick glance to Manson, maybe there was one other person but
that didn’t seem to ease her conscience. Nothing would, she believed in God, she believed in good and
evil, but couldn’t understand why one seemed so much stronger then the other. She couldn’t
understand why there was evil in the world, evil that was so much more powerful then good, it seemed
so unfair to pit people like her and Manson and Clive against monsters. The only weapons she came
equipped with were her wits and the gun in her hand, the monsters were given so much more. Most of
them were intelligent , how could they not be after decades of living, and given weapons with which she
could never hope to defeat alone. Which was why her kind, poor mortals that they were, were thrown
into teams, because it gave them a fighting chance.

            
Clive was the leader, the brains of the group, he held them together and kept them on the
straight and narrow. Then there was Malcolm an escape driver in his own right, and the best she’d
seen at it yet considering the junk he was driving. The thought had her giving another timid look in his
direction. There was a bit of turbulence between them at the moment, that was bound to happen with
an office romance. She had known when it happened it was a mistake, had chosen to ignore it because
for a moment he had brought her some form of happiness. A feeling that had quickly dissipated when
he’d tried to get her fired for her own safety. When he met her look in the rear view again she looked
away determined to ignore the fact that he’d noticed she was injured. Manson was her second, he’d
started as her first but being at point had taken its toll and he was reaching his sixty year marker next
year, so he’d willingly stepped down to watch her back. There was nothing about Manson that would
have indicated his age outside of some grey hairs, the guy was still built like a brick wall and as far as
Jennifer was concerned the best there was. And then of course there was Zip, the kid who stayed
behind the scenes and did their research, he was indispensable to say the least. Finally there was
Marcia, she was in charge of any negotiations that might need to take place, not at gun point, which
was almost never and Jennifer had been told the woman read emotions or minds or whatever it was
mediums did. The Kid had been on loan from the Cyborg, so he wasn’t a normal puzzle piece in their
group, that fact hadn’t made his loss any easier to deal with.

            
Jennifer didn’t know what to do anymore, she had convinced herself that they were a team,
better then a team, they were a well oiled machine. But it would seem they had developed some rust
and suddenly everything was falling apart. She knew that it was ridiculous to have ever entertained the
notion that they were safe, untouchable, just last year hadn’t she been nearly killed herself, before that
Manson had been injured and before that the medium before Marcia had been outright torn to shreds.
There were no perfect teams when your opponents could tear you limb from limb. No chance when
they could move faster then you could blink and your only hope was to pray you could find a way to hit
them before they could reach you. Because once they had their hands on you it was over, you were
dead, or sometimes worse then dead.

            
She hadn’t realized how far she’d gone into her own head until she felt the vehicle come to a
stop. She might not even have noticed that if the sudden lack of movement hadn’t caused her to slide
forward in her seat in effect causing the seat belt to cut into her ribs. She barely contained her gasp,
knew too late that she’d made more of a pained noise then she’d intended because as soon as the van
was thrown into park Malcolm was turning in his seat to open his mouth. Jennifer spared a glance
towards Manson, he gave a quick nod, acknowledging her condition but saying nothing, simply tilting
his head to face forward. That was the only confirmation she needed, if he thought she could still do
her job that was all that mattered, Malcolm could go to hell so far as she was concerned.

            
 "Why are we stopping," she spat out with more venom then necessary, praying he’d take the
hint and keep his mouth shut about the rest. As it was she was doing her best to keep her rage bottled,
she had done her very best to bury deep the feelings that his attempt to have her removed from her
position had created. Usually it wasn’t an issue, usually she could manage to be civil, today she could
not, she may be injured but she was still on her feet, and she was not his little woman. They had been
together, she had loved him, his response had been to try and take the one thing from her that made her
feel sane. Everything else in her world had been in chaos, everything until she’d found purpose, and he
had tried to take that from her. She couldn’t understand it, sure enough she understood what it was
that had motivated him, she just couldn’t understand why he didn’t understand what motivated her.
One way or another they were all here for the same reasons, and today for her that purpose was
renewed. She wasn’t in the mood to hear his concerns, wasn’t in the mood for him to try to make a
point out of her injuries or subsequent failure.

BOOK: Revenant's Kiss (Chronicles of the Afterlife)
13.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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