November 12, 2010
Artwork by Anna Marie Petroff Byers
etrayal comes in many forms. Defined in simplest terms it is a broken trust. The more trust, the greater the betrayal.
It was Two o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon and Anna was standing outside a small bookstore on Lindstrom Avenue when she got the call from Meline.
The call had come sooner than she had expected. She sent Ashe a text message with her current location then went into the bookstore. She bought a simple card with a picture of water lilies on the front. As soon as Ashe was there to confirm she wrote Argus a brief note, then paid the cashier a hundred dollars to mail the card.
Chapter 46 - Mortality
Forty-five minutes later she and Ashe arrived at the Airport. They were the last to arrive. Meline, Eden, Vaughn, Lewis Parker, Wendy Parker and her partner Taylor Dean, who was also the pilot, were already on the plane.
Ashe scowled at Eden as he moved past her to the back of the plane and took a seat next to Lewis. He'd made it quite clear he didn't want her having any part of what they were going to do, but as long as she was willing, Anna wasn't going to turn her down.
Anna nodded to Vaughn who took the seat next to Eden and casually slipped his hand into hers. They'd been training together for weeks and as Ashe had continually protested her participation Vaughn had been not only convenient, but a willing sympathizer and friend. Their mortality alone made them a better match for each other.
Anna pulled the door shut and latched it, taking the seat nearest the door. Meline came to sit next to her as they taxied to the runway.
"I think he would have come," Meline said.
"I know he would have," Anna said, her attention out the window. "He loves you very much."
"You are not unloved, Ann."
Anna offered a slight smile and a nod.
"Congratulations, by the way."
"I'm making a mistake, aren't I?" Anna said, just above a whisper.
Meline didn't answer. Instead, she took hold of her sister's hand and put her head on her shoulder.
Four days later, after hopscotching around the globe, they found themselves in a short caravan burning down a long dirt road, over and around lush green hillsides, accented with craggy spurts of rock and past hillside cities that seemed to grow out of the rocky bluffs.
Anna, Meline, Eden and Ashe were in the front Vehicle, followed by Lewis, Vaughn, Wendy and Taylor.
"We're lost aren't we?" Eden asked from the back seat.
"Probably," Meline replied.
"We're not lost." Anna said.
"We've been driving for hours," Eden countered. "Are you sure we're still in Greece?"
"Do you need to pee again?" Anna asked.
"Maybe." Eden said quietly.
"Alright," Anna sighed then nodded to Meline.
Meline pulled off the road and handed Eden a box of tissue.
The second vehicle pulled off and stopped behind them.
"Thank God!" Vaughn burst from the back seat unzipping his pants and relieved himself near the back tire.
Anna gave everyone a few minutes to stretch before they were back on their way.
It was just after one AM when they stopped again. This time it was as the road came to an end at the gates of a walled in city. Three well muscled and bronzed men stood in front of the massive gates. Two were armed with crossbows loaded with what had to be at least six-inch expandable broadhead bolts. Immortal killers.
"This is it," Anna said.
"Finally," Eden lifted her head from Ashe's shoulder. "Sorry," she said under her breath. "This doesn't look good", she said as her eyes focused on the scene before them. "Who are those guys?"
"Sentinels," Anna answered.
"Maybe you should let me do the talking," Meline offered.
Anna smiled. "Wait here," the two of them said in unison as they opened their doors and got out.
"Aftó eínai idiotikí periousía," said the man in the middle. "Ti sas férnei edó?"
"Miláte angliká?" Meline asked.
"This is private property," the man in the middle huffed. "What are you doing here?"
"We seek shelter," Meline said.
"You have shelter," he said, referring to their vehicles.
"My name is Anna Victoria. I seek an audience with your Sovereign," Anna said.
"Our Sovereign?" the man in the middle, apparently the spokesman of the group, feigned ignorance.
Anna scoffed at him while Meline rolled her eyes.
"Your mistress then," Anna offered.
"Mistress?" the spokesman gaffed. "Are you sure you would not wish to speak to our Master?"
Anna didn't respond.
"Under whose law are you bound?" he asked.
"We are true to the Immortal King Argus," Meline offered.
"We are not bound by the laws of Argus," he sneered.
Anna smiled. "But your Sovereign, Juno, is still an ally to my King, is she not?"
"How dare you speak that name?" The one closest to Anna shouted as he lunged toward her.
Anna stood her ground. As he raised his bow the doors on the second vehicle sprung open and small laser points dotted the skin of the man in front of Anna.
"Guns?" the spokesman snickered.
Anna took a breath and stepped closer to the man with the crossbow pointed at her. As if instinctively he took a step back. "You would do best to mind your tone and your manners," she said. "You know not to whom you speak."
"On the contrary, we know exactly who you are. You are two that come as one," said the spokesman as he waved his hand between her and Meline, "An illusion in the mind whose blood carries the plague of the world."
"Then perhaps you ought not to spill it," Meline said.
The spokesman chuckled as the guard closest to Meline raised his weapon to her. Two of the red dots found him.
"Hit me with your best shot," the second guard sneered.
"Enough," Anna said. "We came in search of an ally. Unfortunately we found you instead. Clearly the mistake is ours. We will leave now."
"I'm afraid we can't allow that," the spokesman said.
"That is a very bad idea," Meline shook her head.
"On whose authority?" Anna said.
"On my authority," the spokesman said. "As I am the Sovereign here." He smirked.
"No," Anna shook her head.
Four gunshots beat the air hitting the two guards in the shoulders. They both fired their weapons. Anna ducked and rolled as a wide blade whizzed past her. Meline ducked behind the door, where the second shot hit. The team behind fired a second round and a third as they ran forward, disabling the guards even as they took cover in front of the first vehicle.
Anna pulled her own gun from the holster on her thigh and fired it at the spokesman as he backed quickly toward the gate. The shot hit him in the shoulder. She stood and paced toward him as she fired twice more, once in each leg. She kicked him hard in the chest and he fell on his back in the dirt, moaning. She shot him once more, in his other shoulder.
"Filthy rogues!" He screamed in agony.
"Do you know what the plague of the world is?" she said as she leaned over him. "It's mortality. And it's my gift to you. If you live, I hope you use it wisely."
"If I live?" he tried to laugh, but it came out as a pained cough. "You have attacked a Sovereign! You sign your death warrant with our blood," he grimaced. "You won't live to see the dawn!"
"You see, the problem here," Anna leaned in close to him, "Is that I am a Sovereign."
"Impossible," he gasped. "Impossible."
One by one, men and women armed with crossbows began to appear along the top edge of the wall. The gate opened and a woman in modern dress with long ginger curls stepped out. Anna stood and stepped back.
"I am unarmed," the woman said.
Anna smirked. "A woman surrounded by a hundred guards with their weapons at the ready is hardly unarmed."
"And you have won your freedom," she said. "We only wish to collect our wounded and resolve this misunderstanding peaceably."
Anna scoffed. "There is no resolve to be found in this matter. I've mistaken the Sovereign Juno as an ally to my King," she sighed. "He'll be very disappointed to learn that he has lost her favor." Anna holstered her gun, turned and started for the SUV.
"Please," the redhead called after her. "My Lady is still an ally to Argus. But my Lady is not here."
Anna shook her head. She knew she was making another bad decision. "Lewis," she called. "I'm going to need that number."
Lewis handed her his card and she in turn handed it to the redhead. "We're leaving," Anna said. "If we are still in the country by the time she returns and she wishes to grant us sanctuary, she can reach us there."
"Please," the redhead called after her again. "If there is a way, if you know, please tell me what we can do to help them."
"I can take care of it," Lewis said to Anna.
He holstered his weapon and retrieved a medical bag from the back of the SUV. He gave the three of them in turn injections of morphine as well as an antibiotic using a jet injector. "Clean the wounds, wrap them, and do your best to keep them warm and dry and clean," Lewis instructed the redhead then handed her a large bottle of Tylenol. "No more than four, every four hours for the pain," he said.
"This will cure them?" the redhead asked.
"Uh..." Lewis glanced at Anna. "Probably not in the sense you're thinking. Salve will help," he continued, "but don't give them any blood. If their wounds don't look any better after a week-"
"A week?" the redhead gasped.
"Or if they become inflamed or look infected, any signs of a fever," Lewis continued, "take them to a human hospital."
"A human hospital?" Panic traced across the redhead's face. "You've made them... mortal?" she stammered.
"Plague of the world," Anna said.
To My Love,
I'm sorry I couldn't tell you in person but I wanted you to know as soon as I knew. You are too good for the hell I put you through. Please forgive me, and please know that I would do the same for you.
(c) copyright 2010-2016 Lauren T. Hart