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Authors: Vijaya Schartz

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

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BOOK: Archangel Crusader
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"Oh my God! Jennifer is there? Yes, yes of course. What do I tell her?" Tori’s precipitated speech betrayed traces of panic.

Michael handed the receiver to Jennifer. "Would you like to say something to your mother, Jen?"

Jen’s eyes opened wide. "So, it is my mother? What do I say?"

"Whatever you want, you always know what to say when you talk to your friends, same thing." He smiled at her confusion.

"Hello... Yeah, this is Jennifer." Michael observed a little tension around his daughter's mouth at first. Suddenly, the green eyes smiled, and the child's face filled with pleasure as she listened. When Jennifer turned to look at her father, her eyes said, "Incredible, I do have a mother."

Michael gently probed into his daughter's thoughts, like Amrah had been teaching him for the past few days. He could read happiness and gratitude. The quality of their psychic contacts had improved greatly. Michael now felt comfortable with the idea of parting from her since he could contact her mind and respond at the slightest threat. Soon, Amrah promised, Michael could even materialize anywhere, if needed, to help or protect her.

Jennifer, voluble as ever, gaily spoke of new clothes, hairstyles, and fun things to do with her newly found mother.

Before hanging up, Michael confirmed the flight number and arrival time with Tori who would meet Jennifer at the airport in Paris. He worried about the little girl traveling by herself, but it was for the best. Paris was a good place to hide someone.

 

*****

 

Philadelphia International Airport resembled any other, but Michael had never been there. He checked in Jennifer's bag, had her passport approved, then found the boarding gate to the Continental flight. It was crowded. European businessmen with dark suits and attaché-cases, nice-smelling ladies, and skinny young men in casual attire spoke a foreign language he assumed was French.

After father and daughter waited at the gate a short time, a blonde flight attendant met them and introduced herself. The young woman flashed a friendly smile accentuated by red lipstick, assuring Michael his daughter would be in good hands, cared for, watched over, and delivered safely into her mother's custody as soon as they arrived.

"Well, kid, this is it." Michael found it hard to speak. "You have a good time with your mother. And remember, anything goes wrong, anything at all, you can contact me the way we practiced, okay? You have my mobile phone number. You'll be fine." As he uttered the words, Michael realized it was himself he tried to reassure.

He picked Jennifer up in a hug. "I love you, Jen," he said softly.

"I love you too, Dad."

The child's eyes glistened as Michael lowered her to eye level. "Send me some postcards at Dave's address." He cleared his throat.

Jennifer nodded as he set her on her feet. "Bye, Dad." She gave him another hug and a kiss on the cheek.

"Say hi to your mother for me, will you? Bye, kid." Michael straightened up, gave the hand-carry to the blonde attendant and braced himself to watch his daughter leave.

Jennifer looked back once, attempted a smile and waved, then walked away chatting with the friendly flight attendant. Michael could tell from the bounce in his daughter’s step that she had already left, set on the adventure ahead. Would she miss him? Michael would miss her, but above all he wanted her safe and happy.

Glued to the glass, Michael watched the big plane taxi up to the runway. When the jet stopped at the far end, a black limousine escorted by a motorcade appeared on the field. A maintenance truck followed, with rolling stairs in tow. The cortege headed straight for the waiting plane. Someone boarded the aircraft at the last minute. Probably some diplomat, or a CIA big wig. Obviously someone with connections.

Michael shuddered. Some people held a frightening amount of power. Finally, he watched the takeoff, but after the plane disappeared in the sky, Michael felt uncomfortable. He already missed Jennifer as he walked slowly toward the exit, clearing his mind for the task ahead.

 

*****

 

Jennifer relished the window seat. After the pilot apologized for the delay, she observed the VIP boarding. All this fuss for one passenger? Finally, the plane took off over the roof of the terminal and the parking lot. The plane veered then flew over the Naval Base and the Delaware River. Soon, according to the map, they would cross the ocean. Not much to see there.

Jennifer had brought a book, The Abandoned, a story about a little boy who became a cat. She had read it before, but it was easier the second time. She also really enjoyed the story. Mostly, Jennifer cherished it as a gift from Veronica. She missed the lovely woman and felt a little lost without Shadow. The cat had been like a sibling to her. She felt utterly alone as she dutifully chewed on the piece of gum offered by the flight attendant before takeoff.

Jennifer had flown before with her dad, a long time ago, on a glider. She remembered only vaguely the sound of the wind in the light canvas. This was different. She could hardly hear the engine but felt the dull vibration.

This, she thought, was real flying. Comfort and luxury... She wished her school friends could see her now. The plane flew over sparse cotton clouds that cast shadows on the green landscape below. After the seat-belt sign went off, some passengers started to move around. The seat next to Jennifer remained empty. No one to talk to. This would make for a very long flight.

At the end of the aisle, the blond flight attendant smiled to a nice-looking fellow, pointing to the empty seat beside Jennifer. The man thanked her. Gracefully, he closed the distance, dark velvet eyes and irresistible smile on Jennifer all the time.

"Good morning, Miss," the stranger said in a most charming tone.

"I know who you are," Jennifer exclaimed in recognition. "I saw you getting on the plane at the last minute. Good thing we waited for you."

"You are absolutely right, Miss, and I apologize for the inconvenience." The smile broadened. "I understand that this seat is not taken. Do you mind very much if I keep you company for the duration? The man next to me snores and I do not care much for it. What do you say?"

Impressed by his good manners, Jennifer thought he would be fun to talk to. "You can sit here. I know what you mean... I think snoring is so disgraceful." The little girl whispered the last words in confidence, thrilled for the company. Besides, the stranger looked real cool, with a black ponytail, dressed in black leather. Wearing a gold chain and a small diamond in his ear, he resembled a character from a TV show.

"What an elegant dress," The man remarked politely.

Jennifer could tell he knew about fashion.

"I love this red on you, it brings out your green eyes. Did you buy it in Paris?"

"No," Jennifer answered truthfully. "Veronica bought it for me at Northeast Mall, with her credit card. It was on sale."

"I see, very interesting. A good bargain I bet."

"I think so," the child replied seriously.

"I am awfully sorry. We have not been properly introduced. My name is so complicated, call me Mr. K, glad to meet you. And what might your name be?" Mr. K smiled again, and Jennifer thought he was sweet.

"I'm Jennifer. Nice to meet you, too. Do you play chess? I brought my set."

"I'd love to play a game with you. Are you good at it?" Mr. K inquired.

"Not as good as my dad, but I have to warn you, I won the school championship."

"Oh, I see... Then I better watch myself."

Mr. K laughed, and Jennifer grinned with delight. This would be a great adventure. She had already made a wonderful friend, someone she could trust like a father and love like a friend.

 

 

Chapter Seven

 

 

Michael sat comfortably in his favorite armchair and visualized the spaceship as he had seen it before, the blue reflective wall surfaces, vacant floor, soft light and serene atmosphere. Picturing himself standing in front of Amrah, he entered his own projection. A subtle change in the air, in the soft light, and Amrah greeted Michael cheerfully.

"You show unusual promise, my son. Even for an avatar you learn fast. It pleases me immensely." Warmth transformed the strange features.

Michael smiled. "I came to learn. Please teach me."

First, Michael had learned to tell time by trusting his inside clock, on any world, in any part of any galaxy. Next came telekinesis, the art of moving objects by the power of thought. The first attempts, however, proved disappointing.

"Do not force it," Amrah repeated for the tenth time.

"Damn!" came the frustrated reply.

The dark beads of blue oil had not moved in the pink liquid where they floated. Michael's strong will surpassed his willingness to conform to the teachings. Wrestling with stubbornness, it took him hours of concentration to let go of the strain, relax, and trust his natural ability. Only then did Michael get the dark blue beads to float easily in predetermined patterns. From then on, he made astonishing progress.

After Michael had mastered the art of moving heavier objects without strain or struggle, Amrah asked him, "How would you like to pilot this ship?"

"Me?"

"You have learned much since your first lesson. Just think for a moment. You now trust and respect wisdom. You gained self-discipline. You flow with the energy rather than struggle against it. I think you are ready for a little reward."

"No shit, it's about time. What do I do?" Michael exulted.

"The same thing you did with smaller objects. This craft is no different. Visualize it in its entirety."

Eyes closed, Michael visualized the ship, with which he had become familiar. From the outside, it looked like a dark orb with no color of its own, mimicking the surrounding shades like a chameleon. A permanent mental shield made it invisible for whomever did not specifically look for it.

"I've got it visualized... What do I do now?" Michael couldn't keep the excitement from his voice.

"Would you like to take it to Venus?" Amrah offered.

"Venus? Why not? Where's that?"

"It is the closest planet. Tap your universal memory and visualize the solar system."

"All right, I see it now. Venus... How long would it take?"

"Time is irrelevant. When would you like to get there?"

"I don't know... Tomorrow? Today? How about yesterday, can I get there yesterday?"

"You could, but you never know how your presence may affect the past. It could mean disaster for present and future, so we avoid it as much as possible."

"Whoa!" Michael almost let go of the ship, thrilled by the discovery. "I'm beginning to like this stuff." Amrah had never talked about moving through time before.

"You just have to be very specific. Be precise about the place and circumstances. Visualize..." Amrah suggested.

Michael pictured the exact place then mentally brought the vessel to the coordinates. A slight shimmer blurring the outlines was all he perceived in the mental picture.

When Michael opened his eyes again, everything on deck looked the same, except for the planet seen through the convex, transparent bulkhead. Instead of the dark craters of Earth's familiar moon, the crew now gazed upon the soft, blue and orange light of a celestial body covered with thick, sulfurous clouds.

"Just like that, I can really fly this thing?" He stared at Venus with wonder.

"You can do anything your mind can conceive, Son. If you do not restrict yourself, you can do anything at all."

"I understand I have different genes, but could anyone else do it?"

"They would have to work harder and may not achieve the same level, but yes, anyone on your planet has this potential. I included it in the genetic blueprint. Unfortunately, unused skills tend to wither over the millennia."

 

*****

 

On Amrah’s ship, time flowed at a different pace. Never needing sleep there, Michael studied for what seemed like days on end while, in his world, mere hours had passed. Often, he thought of Veronica. He missed her. She had filled his life in subtle ways, unobtrusive, efficient, omnipresent. With only the ever-roaming cat, the house felt empty. Sometimes he missed her companionship and sound advice, other times her wholesome cooking. Most of all, he ached for the womanly ways and the comfort of her slender body.

For the first time in his life, Michael had a deep sense of worthiness that enabled him to face the truth at any given time. Not that anyone would believe the story if he told it. Nevertheless, a newly discovered self-esteem along with new powers transformed his view on life. Michael trained for a job he scarcely believed he could do, never losing sight of his double goal to avenge Veronica's death and protect Jennifer.

The psychic part of his training easily completed, Michael could now effortlessly read simple, open minds, but still struggled with closed or hostile characters. He excelled at mind-speaking, however, and could hear or be heard almost without restriction, even across a great distance.

Michael had never liked philosophy or history, but Amrah’s version wasn’t taught in any public school.

BOOK: Archangel Crusader
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