The Breaker's Promise (YA Urban Fantasy) (Fixed Points Book 2)

BOOK: The Breaker's Promise (YA Urban Fantasy) (Fixed Points Book 2)
3.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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The Breaker’s Promise

 

By Conner Kressley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author’s Note

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1
Bigger than a Wrecking Ball

 

 

Nine days before he died in my arms, I was almost happy. It’s strange, the way happiness can sneak up on you sometimes. Five months ago, when I lost Mom and Casper, I naturally assumed that my best days were behind me; that I’d have to make due with simply getting by. But here I was, rushing through the woods that lined Weathersby, with Owen and a boatload of other Breakers behind me, and I was actually enjoying myself.

“Three on your left!” Flora shouted. I spun and hit the ground seconds before darts of red energy would have spliced into my chest. They wouldn’t have hurt, unless of course, I believed they did. They were, as most things were where Breakers were concerned, figments of an evolutionarily gifted individual’s imagination; illusions that were only as real as the person who created them forced them to be. Still, they would have taken me out of the game. And I couldn’t have that; not when I was going for my third win in a row.

Two more darts sped over my head, but when the Breakers who created them saw me, they turned course and headed toward the ground, toward me. I deflected them with an illusion of my own; a blue shield, as that was my team color. Then, thinking it best for me to go on the offensive, I manufactured a bright blue carpet underfoot of my attackers and pulled. Hard.

Now, like myself, everyone playing this game knew none of the illusions were real. But you get into it and, in the heat of the moment, when your adrenaline is pumping and your heart is racing, it’s easy to believe what your eyes and ears are telling you is going on.  As such, my attackers went flying as the newly minted carpet flew from their feet. I caught sight of Owen on the way down. Even now, an instant away from falling flat on his ass, he was sort of cute. He had always had that effect on me. Since the first time I met him, walking the halls of DeSoto High; a miserable transfer like me, Owen could always take my breath away. And now, knowing that he felt the same way about me; well, it made the sensation that much stronger.

Owen hit the ground hard. I winced for half a second; hating to see him hurt, however slightly, before gathering myself and darting off deeper into the woods. “Nice move,” Flora said, appearing out of thin air beside me.

“Damnit!” I shuddered. “I hate it when you do that.” Flora had come to Weathersby a few weeks after the whole ‘Bloodmoon’ debacle. I was depressed, almost despondent. My mother’s death, having to send Casper away to keep him safe, and knowing that, after all that, I was
still
the Bloodmoon, that I had done it all for nothing, left me feeling like nothing could ever be good again. But then Flora flew in. She was light and airy. She was curious about the world, curious about me. I simply put up with her at first. Having never been one for the sort of incessant optimism that seemed to pour from her bubbly person at all times, I figured that, sooner or later, I’d have to smother her in her sleep and be done with it. But then the craziest thing happened. She started to rub off on me. She kept telling me things were okay and, somewhere along the line, I guess I started believing it.

“Sorry,” she giggled, and matched my steps. “I was casing the area when I saw them on your tail. Being visible wouldn’t have done me any favors.” Flora had this habit of going invisible; which struck me odd for two reasons. First off, being invisible for extended periods of time is extremely difficult. As someone who did my fair share of it while trying to find my mother, I should know. My run in with Dahlia at the 7-11 gave me a headache. I still have nightmares about. It didn’t seem to bother Flora though. She seemed at ease with it.

Secondly, if Flora would allow anyone to actually see her for thirty seconds in a row, they’d see that she was extraordinarily beautiful. With long red hair and skin that looked like unblemished cream, she was someone you’d expect to see marching down a runway, not trudging through the woods in the dead of night. Seriously, what was it with Breakers? It seemed like every one of them was stunningly attractive; well, all of them but me.

“What’d you find?” I asked, ducking into a fold in the woods once I was comfortable that we were far enough away from Owen and his red team cronies. It felt strange being on a different team than Owen. We had been on the same side of things for so long. We were still on the same side of things. He was the only person in the world, save for my birth mother (wherever the hell she was) who knew the truth about me. He had helped me hide the fact that I was the Bloodmoon from everyone at Weathersby and, if need be, he would help me hide from the Council of Masons too; should the awful day that they call me to the Hourglass to discuss the events of last year ever come to pass.

But it made sense that he would be on the Dragon team, given that he was, after all, the dragon. I didn’t like thinking about that; the fact that some tattoo his parents gave him years ago to save his life made him the one person in the entire world that I should absolutely under no circumstances be in a relationship with. It was a bummer, but we both decided months ago that we were not going to listen to anything that those stupid prophecies had to say about us. So, I was destined to reduce the world to a giant ball of smoldering ash, so Owen, the boy I loved, was destined to kill me after I did it. No bigs.

“They have three people guarding their flag, which is surrounded by a moat of crackling fire. Oh, and there are a couple of three headed guard dogs,” Flora chirped. “Pretty standard really.”

I grimaced. These capture the flag games were more than just fun and games; even though they were the closest thing to actual fun that I could find within the walls of Weathersby. They were also serious endeavors. This was our ninth game this semester and, before the end of the school year, we were scheduled to have a dozen more; all of which worked toward our final grade in Dr. Static’s Ethics and Battle Tactics class. My team, the blue Bloodmoons, was on something of a hot streak, having won the last three matches pretty handedly. But I knew Owen well enough to know that he was going to do all he could to make sure the team opposing him wasn’t going to win a fourth, regardless of whether his girlfriend was on it or not.

“That’s the same defense they used last time. There’s more to it than that,” I shook my head. “They’re trying to draw us in, make us drop our guard. Are you sure there are only three of them? Maybe a couple of red team guys have picked up on your invisibility trick.”

Flora rolled her eyes, her stalwart smile still plastered across her face. “It’s not a trick, and it’s not so easy to pick up,” she assured me. “Besides, if there were any other Breakers along the periphery, I’d have sensed them. I’m not new at this, you know.”

What she left out, of course, was the fact that I
was
new at this. I was new at everything. Every one of my opponents, every one of my teammates, every one of my teachers; they had all trained for the life they were living since birth. They cut their teeth on stories of Breakers and the laws of the Hourglass. They had learned to see through basic illusions before I learned how to walk. And here I was, facing off against them. But I wasn’t some ordinary Breaker; they had all been quick to tell me that. The power I had, the ability to shape the energy signatures, or shade, of others was an exceedingly rare one which hadn’t been seen for at least a hundred years, or so Echo told me. And that, along with the fact that Owen was the red team’s tactical leader and that I knew him better than almost anyone on the planet, gave me a distinct advantage; one I was going to need.

“Fine,” I answered. “Then it’s something else. Owen wouldn’t run the same defense twice. He’s smarter than that.”

“Or he wants you to
think
he’s smarter than that,” Flora answered. “I say we gather the others and rush the red stronghold in a reverse V formation. It worked just fine last time.

I wanted to say,
Which is why it won’t work now
. But Flora had been a Breaker for a hell of a lot longer than me. If she thought a repeat of the reverse V was for the best, then maybe it was. One elaborate blue distress flair (which was only visible to the members of my team) later, and half of the blue Bloodmoons were formed at the red team’s stronghold, ready to take them down. I knew it was a mistake from the instant we charged out of the woods. The ground began to move under us. Soon, the world was spinning like a top. One by one, my team was taken down; harpooned with a glowing red spear, burned with a bright red flamethrower, mauled by the red three headed attack dogs. We were defenseless. The world was moving too fast. It was all we could do to stand up. Fighting back was an impossibility. The red team though, they had no problem working their way down our reverse V with malice and efficiency. It was on the inside of the V, which meant that I would be one of the last ones taken out. Luckily, it also meant that, by the time someone got to me, I’d be so dizzy that I’d probably blow chunks all over them.

“Sorry Cress,” I heard Flora say from beside me; heard but didn’t see, given that she had made herself invisible again. “I should have listened to you.”

“It’s not over yet,” I said, holding my hands out at my sides, trying and failing to gain some semblance of balance. I needed to gather myself, to somehow stop the world from spinning. I closed my eyes, hoping that if I couldn’t see the world darting around me at the speed of light, then maybe I wouldn’t be able to feel it quite so much

Steady Cresta. Steady.

I could hear the whiz of red tinted energy bolts knocking my teammates out of the game, working their way toward me. If I ran, made my way further into woods, then maybe I could hole up and take them by surprise. I might even be able to take a couple of them out before they got to me. There’d be some satisfaction in that, right?

But I couldn’t run, I realized with a sickening thud as the spinning world ratcheted up a notch, not until I steadied the ground beneath me. Opening my eyes, I took a deep breath and tried to see the world as I had before, as ribbons of shade and illusion; like I had when Wendy sent me the letter or when the stars led me to where my mother was. But I hadn’t been trying then. It had just come naturally; as though a piece of my mind that I had never known was there had suddenly turned on. So, I let the spinning world spin around me, let the red goons disqualify my sitting duck teammates, and tried very hard not to try.

A red wrecking ball swung at a defenseless, knocking her to the ground and out of the game. Looking toward her attacker, I saw that it was none other than Owen. A mix of frustration and vague pride bubbled up within me. Sure, he was systematically making sure that I didn’t beat him this time, but he was damn good at this, and I was proud of him for that.

“A wrecking ball?” I said, feeling like the roasted chicken enchiladas I had for lunch were about to come back up. “Don’t you think that’s sort of overkill?”

“What can I say,” he smirked, walking toward me. “I like to be thorough.”  Red energy crackled in his hands and, though the world still spun around me, I see that the energy was starting to take shape.

“Well,” I panted. “You better have something bigger than a wrecking ball in mind if plan on taking me out.”

Owen bit his lip, trying to avoid a full blown smile. As he walked closer, I heard his voice in my head.
Don’t worry Cresta, I know better than to underestimate you
.

So much of our conversations lately seemed to take place like this, in the privacy our minds, where even the most observant of eavesdroppers couldn’t hear us. It’s how we kept me being the Bloodmoon a secret. It’s how we kept he and I being us a secret.   It irked me at first, the thought of having to keep my relationship with Owen on the downlow. I mean, when you’re in love, you want to shout it from rooftops, not pretend that the person you’re in love with is about as important to you as a leftover ham sandwich. But’s that’s where we were. The Breakers didn’t care much about romantic relationships. They picked their mates based on genetic merits. Or, their mates were picked
for
them rather. Owen already had his perfect match; a blindingly beautiful girl named Merrin who; even though she had no idea that I was destined to destroy the world, pretty much hated me anyway. If anyone found out that Owen and I were together-Well, they’d probably separate us, and the thought of that was unbearable. The energy in his hand arranged and rearranged itself, all while the world continued its circling. It was round; a ball? No, not a ball. I realized as I noticed the ridged shape of it as well as what looked like a red energy pin at the top, that what Owen was about to disqualify me with was a grenade. If I didn’t find his competitive nature so damn sexy, that might have actually pissed me off.

I smirked a little, almost resigned to accept my defeat, until a darker notion settled over me. Is this what the future was going to hold for us? In ten years were we doomed to live out this fate; with Owen taking me out with a grenade, or a dagger, or a wrecking ball? Only it wouldn’t be a game then. It would be real. The real dragon killing the real Bloodmoon. And he wouldn’t be looking at me like this, with love in his eyes. He’d hate me by then. He’d have to, wouldn’t he?

I shook my head, trying to dislodge these thoughts from my brain, as Owen launched the energy bomb at me. I couldn’t let myself think like this.

It’s just a game Cresta. That’s all, just a game.

But all of the sudden, it didn’t feel like a game. It felt real, and I felt like I needed to defend myself. And in that moment, I stopped trying.

BOOK: The Breaker's Promise (YA Urban Fantasy) (Fixed Points Book 2)
3.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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