Read Archangel Crusader Online

Authors: Vijaya Schartz

Tags: #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Fantasy, #General, #Angels, #Human-Alien Encounters

Archangel Crusader (6 page)

BOOK: Archangel Crusader
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"What?" Obvious concern creased the alien face. "What name did you say?" Amrah seemed lost in a complex net of unpleasant thoughts. "Krastinios? Are you sure?" The hairless eyebrows knitted, as in worry.

"That's the name he imprinted on my mind. That's the name I heard in my dream. Why? You know him?"

"No." The blue gaze looked far away. “Just old stories about an extinct race."

"If the son of a bitch killed Veronica, and somehow I know he did, I'll smash his arrogant smile... I'll kill him, I swear." Michael wiped the sweat from his forehead.

"I'm afraid it will not be that easy. By the way, those are harsh words for an avatar." Humor danced in the wide, dark eyes.

"What's that?"

"An avatar? A great soul reincarnated to guide the world through critical times."

"Me, a great soul?" Michael burst out in laughter, but Amrah didn’t seem to share his mirth. “Come now, who'll believe that?"

"Everyone in my part of the Galaxy does, Son!"

"Like hell!" Michael wasn’t about to be seduced by flattery. “What do you know about Krastinios?"

The Blue Angel looked uncomfortable. "Only a long forgotten legend, and a dark prediction no one believes anymore... How did you learn about him?"

"A vivid's rather complicated."

"Then allow me, Son." The alien brought his delicate fingers to both of Michael's temples.

What are you doing?”

Reading the dream from your mind. May I?" Amrah stared past Michael, eyes deep and shiny, his face a mask of serenity.

Far from resisting, Michael enjoyed the warm touch of the long-fingered hands. The subtle contact, although foreign, caused no discomfort. The tender presence in his mind assured him that all would be right. A little shy at first, Michael finally surrendered to the pleasurable experience.

After a few seconds, the soothing voice resumed. "Do you feel all right, Son? That was not too bad, was it?" Amrah withdrew his probing mind from Michael's thoughts.

"How did you do that? Can you teach me? It felt great! Did you recognize that bastard?"

"Yes indeed, and I learned everything else about you, even a few suppressed memories."

"Damn you!" Prompted by the violation, Michael stood up, threatening. "I never gave you the right to all my memories, you goddamn freak! So, now you think you know me... But you don't!"

Michael felt cheated, buried in humiliation. This alien knew too much about him, now. All the slip-ups, mistakes, degrading bouts of alcoholism... Even the shameful abuse Michael had been subjected to as a child. Head down, he paced the perimeter of the ovoid chamber.

"Deep inside you wanted me to, Michael. You carry too much pain and hatred, but this is the fate of your race." Amrah's tone neither condemned nor judged.

Nothing Michael could do after the fact. Actually, he was glad someone knew, even a Blue Angel, whatever that was. He didn’t have to carry the burden alone anymore. Controlling his conflicting emotions, he changed the subject. “What can you tell me about Krastinios?”

"He did kill Veronica and now wants Jennifer. Just as I feared, he will do anything to hurt and weaken you. Ultimately, he seeks to destroy you, and his powers are far greater than yours at this point."

Michael pivoted to face Amrah squarely. "What powers? What exactly can he do? I need to know how dangerous he is, if I am to protect Jennifer."

The alien eyes looked straight through him. "I do not want to scare you, but to become his match, you would need the full might of a trained avatar."

"Trained?" Michael didn’t like the sound of that. “What kind of training?"

"Once your powers awaken, you need to learn how to use and control them. You also need the wisdom to apply them with discrimination."

Michael sat down again. This time he did not even look down, not caring whether he sat or fell. He slumped and sighed heavily. "If I want to avenge Veronica's death and get that bastard, I guess I don't have much of a choice, do I?"

"No," Amrah answered matter-of-fact. "You never had one. Your motives may change, but you cannot escape fate."

Michael snorted. He’d never believed in fate, but if the Blue Angel could help him beat Krastinios, there was nothing to lose. "Let's say I accept this job, hypothetically of course... What comes next?"

"I will start your education immediately."

"Hold your horses! How long does this take?"

"It depends mostly on your willingness and flexibility, but time is irrelevant. It can be warped.”

Really?" Michael paused, intrigued by the concept. "What about Jennifer?"

The big eyes veiled briefly. "She does not need to know yet.”

For some reason, Michael didn’t like hiding the danger from Jennifer. "You're very sure of yourself, aren't you? You can do things that I don't understand, but why should I trust you?"

"I would not harm my son or my granddaughter, Michael. You are both very dear to me."

Michael melted inside at the thought of family. The grief at the loss of his newborn son long ago and the joy at being a father again with Jennifer made him ache to believe. Could this alien father feel as much love for him as he felt for Jen? Sudden doubt made him hesitate. "What if I change my mind halfway through?"

"That is your privilege, of course. You are free to recant at any time, but I do not believe you will."

Now was the time to think straight. Michael wanted to crush Krastinios so bad he could taste it. There was no denying the compulsion. If it took becoming an avatar, taught and trained by this alien, that's what he would have to do. Besides, the wise blue goat might be good company for a while.

Painstakingly, Michael formulated the words, first in his mind, then aloud. "Well, I'm willing to give it a try." That was it. He’d said it. "Fair enough?" He immediately rose to depart.

"Your decision makes me glad, Michael. You will enjoy being an avatar, I promise you."

"We'll see about that. How do I get back home?" Michael detected a chuckle from his alleged father.

"Lesson number one: How to get back home, which is the same as how to get here, or anywhere for that matter." The voice took on a particular rhythm, a ring that made it unforgettable.

"Visualize the place where you want to be. Draw a perfect image of the place in your mind with all the minute details. Picture your body in the scene in a specific location and position. Relax... Then will your spirit into the picture of your body."

"Just like that? Sounds simple enough. You think I can do it?"

"I know you can."

Michael envisioned in every detail the familiar living room with its blue drapes and blue velvet couch, the coffee table, the cat, the end table with the glass of Jack Daniels, and pictured himself lying on the couch. Then, just as Amrah had suggested, Michael easily slid into his visualized body.

After a second or two of feeling confused, he shook his head and looked around. This was really his place with everything as he’d left it. Shadow the cat awoke when Michael moved. The Timex had stopped ticking. Michael set the useless watch on the coffee table and ambled to the kitchen. His stomach felt empty.

According to the clock on the stove, four hours had passed... Then again, Michael could have slept and dreamed. But no... He wanted to believe it was all true, for nothing made sense otherwise.




"So, you really want to see your mother?" Michael asked Jennifer two days later, picking up on her thoughts.

The excitement in the girl's eyes made Michael feel like a hero. She grinned. "Yes... I guess... If that's all right with you."

"Well, Tori lives in Paris, and I think it's okay for you to see her. She married a rich Frenchman and doesn't do drugs anymore." In truth, Dave had made the arrangements. Michael had refused to talk to Tori, still angry at her walking out on him and Jennifer ten years ago.

"Paris, France? That's far away, Dad!"

"Not as far as that, just on the other side of the ocean. Would you like to go there for a few months?"

Jennifer stared at Michael in shock. "That’s a long time. Are you coming with me?" she asked, hesitantly.

"As much as I'd love to, I can't. I have work to do here. But don't let that stop you, kid. It's your call."

"I don't know, Dad... Will you be okay by yourself?"

"Don't worry about me, kid. I'll be all right. Besides, I won't be by myself, I'll be helping Dave build his house."

"Oh yeah, I forgot about that... Still... Are you sure?" Timid hope shone in Jennifer's green eyes as the beginning of a smile dimpled the corners of her mouth.

"Yes, I'm sure. Is that a deal?" Michael forced some enthusiasm into his voice.

"Oh, Dad! I'm going to see my mother?" Jennifer's voice reflected the eagerness in her face. She grinned, blushing with barely contained excitement. When she jumped onto his lap and held him in a bear hug, Michael thought nothing in the world was more precious than the love of his beautiful little girl.



Chapter Six



The phone rang, echoing eerily in the house. Michael stared at it then picked it up. "Yo!" Silence settled over the line, and the sound of the ocean.

"Hello! Is this Michael Tanner's residence?" A pretty feminine voice flowed over the expanse.

"Yes, this is he." Memories of his boisterous youth flooded back... Savage motorcycle rides, beautiful girls, wild addictions... It was such a long time ago. "Who is this?" he asked, although he already knew.

"Hi, Michael. This is Tori. It's been such a long time. Dave gave me your number. How've you been?" The voice sounded eager and bubbly, just as he remembered.

"Fine." Cold silence. "Thanks for buying Jennifer's ticket." Tori had insisted on it.

"Don't mention it. It's the least I can do." Short pause. "My God, it's been ten years. It feels like yesterday. I can't believe I have a daughter that old, but I'm sure glad you're letting her come see me. I've thought of her often these past years. Not knowing where she was, that was the hardest thing... I wondered if she knew about me. What is she like? What does she look like? This is so exciting. I can't wait to meet her. Do you think she'll like me?"

Repressed feelings rushed to the surface so fast, Michael couldn't think of what to say next. Vent his anger? Forgive? Make peace?

As he kept silent, she went on, "Will you ever forgive me? Can we be friends again?"

"I don't know." The words stuck in his throat. “After what you did, it's hard. I know you wanted an abortion, but walking out of the hospital, leaving a baby like that between life and death? Letting Jennifer grow-up without a mother, at the hands of other women..."

Tori didn’t talk right away. "Dave told me about Veronica's accident... I'm very sorry."

Hard to imagine this was the same woman. She sounded soft and caring. Michael did not know what to say anymore.

"I want to apologize for what happened ten years ago," Tori went on. "I was young, scared, not myself. I hurt many good people then. I will never forgive myself for abandoning my baby. You called her Jennifer? That's a pretty name. I wanted to call her Sativa after the marijuana plant, but I knew you didn't approve... I didn't understand then. I do now."

"Well... She's definitely your daughter. You'll understand when you see her."

"Thank you. You know, I'm a different person now... After rehab, I decided to settle down. I went back to school, got married." She sounded mature.

"Yes, I heard." Michael cursed the intense emotions that prevented him from finding the right words.

"I don't ride motorcycles anymore." He could see her smile in his mind. “But I still think about it once in a while. I'm not nearly as wild as I used to be."

Hearing the sincerity in her voice, Michael warmed up. "Neither am I, although I'd like to believe it sometimes... I still have the Harley, though. I ride it once in a while.”

"My irresponsible ways caused so much loneliness and despair... Finally, I found real love, and Jean Marc has been great. So supportive... I feel lucky to have escaped with my life and my mind. Now I feel clean, happy. I've been given another chance."

"I'm glad. You sound great!" The words came unbidden, and to his surprise, Michael realized that he still cared about her.

"And here you offer me my long lost daughter. She's very important to me now. Knowing her will make me feel whole again. It's kind of you, giving me a second chance after what I did."

It took Michael a few seconds to sort through the erratic flow of mixed emotions. "I was waiting on the sidelines, waiting for you to straighten up, and for Jennifer to be old enough to understand," he explained. "She's a tough little lady. I think you'll like her. I love her very much... She's been an anchor in my life for the past ten years. I've known some hard times, too... You know my problem. I've been pretty good recently, though."

Suddenly, Michael felt Jennifer's presence. How long had she been standing there? The girl had guessed who was calling and she could hardly contain her exhilaration. She looked ready to burst. It made Michael grin. "There's someone here who's dying to talk to you, Tori. Are you ready for this?"

BOOK: Archangel Crusader
3.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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