Title: Shield: Allie’s War, Book Two
Author: JC Andrijeski
Genre: New Adult / Urban Fantasy/ Romance
Publisher: White Sun Press
Cover Artist: White Sun Press
“And they say Death will live among them in the guise of a child....”
Grappling with her new identity as “Bridge,” a being meant to herald the end for all of humanity, isn’t even Allie’s biggest problem. She’s also coping with a whole new set of rules around her seer marriage, as well as the power-hungry Rook she helped put in the White House, who is currently doing his best to start a war with China.
Then the boy appears. A sociopath with all of the energetic markings of Syrimne, a highly dangerous telekinetic seer who killed thousands during World War I, he doesn’t appear to have aged in one hundred years.
Worse, he thinks Allie belongs to him.
The lock made a squealing sound as if it hadn’t been turned in months.
When the door swung wide, Terian had to fight to keep from gagging at the smell that flooded the hallway from the light-less hole. Bile rushed to his throat; he covered his mouth and nose with the hand holding the gun. He swore profusely, fighting the impulse to shoot the two people close enough to blame for this abomination.
“Not so pleasant is it?” the old man sneered. “Hiding the sins of the past? Not so neat and clean...”
Terian raised the gun, pointing it at him, then thought better of it and stepped around him instead, snatching one of the torches from an iron bracket and entering the small chamber, the sleeve of his forearm firmly over his nose and mouth. He swung the torch in a wide arc, taking in the small stone space. The ceiling rose higher than he would have expected, at least twice the height of the corridor outside, but the floor space stood only at about eight by eight feet.
Terian turned around twice in the small cell, then stopped, startled when he saw a gleam of eyes reflect light back from his torch. He’d missed the creature in his first turn around the room. Even now, it stood as still as a posed corpse.
Four lowered the torch, blinking as his eyes adjusted.
The boy stood with every muscle in his small frame relaxed. Yet his demeanor wasn’t one of subjugation or defeat, like the boys aboveground. On the contrary, his expression was calm, even politely interested. His shoulders sloped down below his neck, his arms below them, all the way to his hands, open at his sides, with delicate fingers. In appearance he was adolescent, perhaps fourteen or fifteen years old for a human, twenty to twenty-five for a seer.
He stood so motionless and his skin shone with such a dull gray sheen he appeared to be made of wax. His eyes followed Terian’s every movement as if gliding on smooth rails, not once jerking or showing a reaction.
After a few seconds, Terian realized he himself had tensed. He felt as though he were being hunted, watched the way a giant cat might watch the motions of an antlered buck.
Behind the boy, a palate of rags and what might have been an ancient mattress stood near one wall of the cell, all the same dark gray with black streaks. The smell concentrated from there, and moreso from a bucket that stood near enough to the “bed” that Terian wanted to shove it further away with the toe of his boot, if only to get the image of this creature sleeping next to its own excrement forever out of his mind.
“What is your name, boy?” Terian said. He found himself fascinated by the black eyes, the utter lack of expression. “Can you speak?”
The boy’s expression changed.
Terian saw a dense hatred concentrate in those pupils, so fathomless it actually caused him to flinch back. Hearing noise behind him, he turned. The woman stood in the doorway, as did the old man. The boy’s look of murder aimed precisely at the man with the hole shot through his hand.
“You did that?” The boy turned to Terian.
He spoke Prexci of such an ancient dialect that Terian had to concentrate to make out the words. He slid into the Barrier, tried to look at the boy from there. Once he had, he focused and refocused his sight, not believing what he saw.
Above the filthy creature’s head spiraled a collection of structures that nearly gave Terian an erection. A kind of fascinated awe fell over him as he stared at those spiraling shapes.
The boy said again. “You did that? You shot him?”
“Yes,” Terian told him, clicking out. “I did.”
For a long moment, the boy only looked at the wasted human. Finally, he turned to Four.
“Yes. I will go with you.”
Without fully turning his head, Terian spoke to the other two. “What the fuck is this precious bundle of joy?” He glanced over his shoulder.
The woman turned sheet white. “You said you knew. You said he entrusted you...”
The old man gave another of those sick, grating chuckles. “I told you. He likely killed your precious Teacher with his own hands...”
“You wouldn’t be far off with that, old man,” Terian said, raising the gun. “But you still haven’t answered my question...”
The woman raised her hands to Terian in a kind of pleading supplication, her eyes darting nervously between him and the boy on the cot. “You must understand. It was for his own protection...for all of our protection. We feed him well...”
Terian gave a harsh laugh. “Yes. This is practically the Ritz. But I’m not here to spank you for your housekeeping skills, Fraulein...” Even so, he realized in some surprise that he was angry. Beyond angry...he was furious. His hand shook as he pointed it at the two “monks.” That they would keep any seer in such a place, much less a seer like this, with structures like he had...it was inconceivable. That Galaith could have been part of such a travesty...
“Unchain him,” Terian said, motioning towards the boy with the gun. “Now.”
The woman’s face drained further of blood. “Sir?”
“You heard him. He’s coming with me. Now unchain him.”
“Sir! You don’t understand! His collar...the restraint wire on his sight is attached to his chain! It was a safeguard, so no one could ever leave with him...”
She trailed when Terian raised the gun to point at her face. Terian cocked his head, staring at her. The woman stared at the boy, then back at Terian.
“You can’t possibly understand what you are doing!” she cried. “He cannot be allowed to leave this place!”
“The boy won’t hurt me. Will you, lad?”
“No. I won’t hurt.” He paused. “...You.”
Terian smiled. “See? We’re going to be pals, me and this handsome devil...”
The old man with the bleeding hand laughed, stopping only when he broke into a paroxysm of thick coughs. He spat a gob of phlegm in the direction of the boy. Wiping his mouth on his dirt-encrusted robe, he spoke up.
“I’ll unchain him.” His voice had a note of finality to it. “I’ll do it...I’ll let the little bastard go. It’s mine to do...”
“Merenje, no!” the woman cried, but Terian swung the gun back on her, stopping her from going after him.
“Stay,” he said, smiling when she pulled up short. “That’s a good girl...”
The old man stumbled across the room, still holding his hand to his robes.
The boy stood perfectly still as Merenje reached him. He didn’t move as the old man fumbled with the metal collar around his neck. Terian hadn’t seen it until then, as it blended so perfectly with the color of the grimy neck.
Now that he saw it, however, Terian realized the thing was an antique. Instead of the light, thin organic hybrid metals used on the seers in the pens upstairs, the boy’s collar weighted his neck with several inches of what appeared to be iron. The organic skin on the outside looked like it came from some kind of reptile. The back end, instead of having a thumbnail release valve triggered with retinal or other scanner, consisted of an iron ring that connected to a thick chain bolted into the wall above the palate of rags where the boy slept. The chain didn’t even give him the range of the small cell. No wonder the bucket remained by the bed.
Feeling his anger return, Terian watched the old man grasp the chain, which was also coated in organic skin.
“Use the key,” the old man said. His pitted eyes stared at the boy’s. “Use the key now...I’ve triggered the lock!”
“No!” the woman screamed.
But Terian already understood. Chuckling, he entered the Barrier space, and found himself facing an elaborate structure that had Dehgoies’ and Galaith’s aleimic fingerprints all over it. A golden weaving of light, it configured in a kind of delicate beauty around the boy, strangling his aleimi through the organic components of the collar.
Recalling the symbol he’d found in Dehgoies Revik’s journal, the same one he’d used to fool the woman into thinking Galaith had sent him, Terian imprinted it on the Barrier structure. It fit perfectly into the missing piece woven into the restraint collar around the boy’s neck and its organic tissue.
As he withdrew from the Barrier space, Four heard an audible click.
His vision cleared, leaving him back in the pitch-black dungeon.
The boy met his gaze, and smiled.
About the Allie’s War Series:
An urban fantasy paranormal romance set in a unique, gritty version of Earth, populated by a second race of beings called seers, the Allie’s War series centers on the relationship of a strong female protagonist, Allie Taylor, and her antihero guide, Dehgoies Revik. Falling into the new adult genre of books, the Allie’s War series takes place in a modern version of Earth you’ve never seen, that spans centuries along with the lives of its main characters, the seers, and the wars they fight with themselves and their human allies and enemies, (steamy sex scenes in parts!).
Allie's War series
Shield: Allie’s War, Book Two
About the Author:
JC Andrijeski has published novels, novellas, serials, graphic novels and short stories, as well as nonfiction essays and articles, including the Allie’s War series, The Slave Girl Chronicles and bestselling novella, The Alien Club. Her short fiction runs from humorous to apocalyptic, and her nonfiction articles cover subjects from graffiti art, meditation, psychology, journalism, politics and history. JC has traveled extensively and lived abroad, but currently lives and works on the Oregon Coast.