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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

The Brotherhood #54

By Mark W. Meier

Part 54

Act V

Victory

Chapter Eleven


Baraqijal flew up into low Earth orbit and selected a bolt with a nearly appropriate vector. He nudged the titanium to fall from orbit, then punched a hole in the atmosphere to keep the metal from burning up.

Twenty minutes later, before those protecting Amy’s plane could notice, Baraqijal released his hold on the troposphere. In seconds the fastener turned incandescent. Trailing vaporized metal, the bolt slammed into the port engine of Amy’s plane.

Baraqijal scowled. He’d missed the passenger cabin, probably because an enemy agent had deflected the missile at the last second. Still, the turbine tore itself to pieces and the plane pitched down toward western Kentucky.

Flames poured out of the engine, streaming behind like a comet streaking toward the sun.

***

Mastema started out with a lie. “You liked her, didn’t you?” He smirked as Gavin threw a book, a lamp, and an empty beer bottle at him. Each passed through where the ghostly figure stood. “Give up trying to hurt me. I’m here to help.”

Another scream ripped from Gavin’s throat, and he dove for the other side table for more useless weapons.

Again Mastema muted the noise as it hit the walls of Gavin’s apartment, which was built using a floor plan identical to Amy’s now-condemned structure. “I want to teach you magick.”

Gavin stopped mid-throw, a stuffed aardvark clenched in his fist. “Magic? What if I don’t want to learn magic?” He stretched back to pitch the toy again.

Mastema didn’t want to get bogged down in the minutia of magic vs magick. “Then I’ll leave,” Mastema lied again. “But that girl was kind of attractive, wasn’t she?”

Gavin considered. He hadn’t thought so at the time, but thinking back he had to admit he now wanted her more than anything. He lowered the gift from his sister. “Yes. But there’s something I don’t like about her.”

“Learn magick.” Mastema leered. “You can make her the way you want her.”

Gavin’s expression mirrored the ghost’s.

***

Bathin sashayed into Governor Rawlin’s office suite in the Georgia Capitol building. The stone edifice would no doubt impress ephemerals, but Bathin had seen far more astounding construction in various empires across the centuries. Even the snug skirt and tighter top revealed more awe-inspiring structure.

The male secretary, Kenneth Grael, the initial gatekeeper for the office, looked at Bathin’s Sally Shoen persona and stopped everything. He glanced at Bathin’s ring finger to assess whether she was married. Not that it would make any difference to him.

“May I help you?”

Bathin lowered a briefcase to the floor to give the flunky a nice view. Then the Brother extended a hand toward the secretary. “Sally Shoen. I believe I spoke with you about getting a few minutes of the governor’s time.”

Grael nodded. His expression told Bathin that he’d have done more for Shoen if he’d only realized how attractive she was. With one eye reserved for her physique, he tapped on his computer keyboard. “Perhaps we could squeeze in a few minutes after lunch. I’ll have to check with his executive secretary first. We could meet at Capitol Commons at one o’clock to discuss what I find out.”

Bathin gave a slight smile he knew Grael would interpret as invitation. “In the solarium?”

“Solarium it is.” Grael nodded and opened a small address book. “I’ll make a call and meet you there.”

Bathin nodded, his smile growing. “One o’clock.”

***

The Phenom 300 spun out of control, waking Amy from her nap. Therese screamed from her seat behind the younger woman. Different blurred colors flashed past the window in the side of the plane – white, blue, green, and more arced through the view.

The smell of melting plastic and seared metal washed over Amy as a wave of thick, black smoke obscured everything beyond a couple of feet away. She turned toward the window as the jet shook like a horse shedding rainwater.

Amy’s eyes widened, but then the jet stabilized for a brief moment, pointing nearly straight toward the landscape below. The scenery out the front of the airplane, unobstructed by anything more than the busy arms of the pilot and copilot, showed a cityscape expanding far too quickly.

One of the two in the control cabin said something like “emergency landing,” but all Amy could think was “crash.”

Therese’s screams never let up, and Amy wondered if the woman even breathed.

Baraqijal, still unable to directly affect the jet, was permitted some access because of Therese. He mimicked the terror of the flight attendant, long after the woman’s heart gave out. Another two minutes and his part in Chamos’ design would be over.

One dead, three to go.

***

Gavin sneered. As it turned out, he was a natural.

In half an hour the man had learned how to cast his first spells, despite what his ghostly tutor had indicated. “Years of training – HA!”

He looked out his bedroom window and watched a teenager rolling down the sidewalk on a skateboard. With a flick of his wrist Gavin made the front wheels seize up, pitching the youth face first into the concrete.

The desk clerk wriggled his fingers and the skateboard, which had flipped into the air, came down on the back of the neck of the injured teen.

Gavin chuckled. Another spell as the kid climbed to his feet, dazed.

Mastema dampened the youth’s emotional reaction, correctly reading his “student’s” intent. Normally he’d make his client suffer through a thousand setbacks before giving him what he wanted, but Gavin needed to be brought along to the point where he had some idea of what to do.

If, that is, Amy survived the incident Pop had engineered. Mastema had very little confidence in that particular Brother.

***

Baraqijal exited the jet as it floundered over Bowling Green’s airport. The white painted “12” sped into the plane’s wake as it belly-flopped to the tarmac. Smoke and flames erupted, sparks flew, and vaporizing fuel combusted.

Inside the Phenom the surviving humans pitched against their restraints. The pilot’s experience had saved them from spiraling in, but he died when his face impacted the dashboard. The copilot, helping out with the control column, was impaled moments later.

Baraqijal ticked two more victories for himself. “Call me Pop, will you? How about Crash, now?”

Amy’s life force still pulsed in the smoldering fuselage, however.

Baraqijal wondered why the plane hadn’t become fully engulfed, then noticed the expanding fireball at the end of the runway. The wings had . . . popped . . . off. Not enough left to burn as the body of the craft slid to a stop three-quarters of the way down the pavement.

Pop muttered invectives to himself, knowing he hadn’t earned a new nickname yet.

***

Ruax watched Miss Sharpe move through her work day at the law firm in a haze. At noon she noticed a pile of boxes packed and ready to be loaded in her car, but couldn’t recall packing them.

After the Brother released his distraction, she pulled open her office door and called for her personal assistant. “Tracey! Has anyone been asking for me?” Across the ten feet which separated them Ruax could feel Droud’s aura of disapproval.

“Yes,” Tracey Droud hissed her irritation. “Mr. Kiel has been calling for hours, and even came in person.”

Ruax wanted to dance, but his job wasn’t complete. Celebration would be premature.

Miss Sharpe frowned, but before she could respond her assistant’s phone rang.

“Kiel, Austin, and Cromwell. Jessica Austin’s office.” Hissy listened for only a few seconds. “Yessir, Mr. Kiel. I’ll tell her.”

Still with a scowl on her face, Miss Sharpe asked, “What does he want?”

“You to stay put.” Hissy crossed her arms. “When he was here at eleven-thirty he used his passkey. You’d jammed the door with something so nobody could get it open.”

Ruax sensed Sharpe’s disbelief.

“I’ve been packing my office all morning and nobody knocked, the phone never rang, and nobody tried to get in.”

Hissy’s demeanor hardened. “Do you want me to stay here with Kiel? I don’t like being lied to, Ms. Austin.” The woman’s toe tapped the tan carpeting.

Ruax figured getting Miss Sharpe out of town wouldn’t be too difficult. He’d managed to blunt her perceptions for a whole morning, which had gone a long way to alienating her closest coworkers. There was no reason for her to stay even another hour.

Perfect.

***

Baraqijal was about to transport a few gallons of Jet-A into the passenger cabin’s interior when Amy regained consciousness.

“Help me, Lord!”

The words were no more than a delirious muttering, but were still effective.

The Brother vanished – with a pop – and reappeared outside the craft.


If you appreciate this story, please consider supporting the author's ability to write more stories by purchasing The Brotherhood, available in print and on Kindle. Please share on social media, and leave a review on the page linked above.



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