"Valjeanne can snap a plot twist on par with the best of the thriller writers. These books are a wonder and a pleasure..." Charles Saunders, author of the Imaro series
IMMORTAL II: THE TIME OF LEGEND (excerpt)
Now, in Fisherman’s Alley at the Salty Dog, Citizens sat in booths lining the walls or perched on bar stools. Among the laughing crowd were Mark and Layla, sharing a drink at the bar.
Mark was thin with short, unruly blond hair and green eyes. His companion Layla had skin the color of cocoa beans, with full lips. Her kinky, brown hair was twisted into two braids.
He smiled into her eyes. “How’s your Mum doing?”
“Alright…tired of working double shifts.”
“What time’s she going in tonight?”
“Want me to come over?”
Layla grinned over her beer. “Yeah.”
“I’ll be there about 12:30.”
Layla was a skin popper -- a placid addict. She shot up between her thighs, so that she didn’t have to wear long sleeve shirts. She thought Mark didn’t know.
Beside them sat Joan, a woman with burnt sienna skin and slanted, brown eyes, staring morosely into her glass of juice. Across the room her lover Toki grinned up at Keith, another activist, then cut her eyes over at Joan to see if her flirting was making Joan angry. It wasn’t.
Sitting in a booth behind them was José, slender and tan, with hazel colored eyes. Beside him was his mate Consuela, a buxom, sepia colored woman, with a heart shaped face and curly, shoulder length
hair. Petite Estella and her heavily muscled lover, Parco, shared their booth.
Two enforcers walked into the bar and the crowd tensed. Both were Fuchsia. The older officer had a reddish complexion, his ample stomach hanging over the waistband of his trousers. But his companion had the scrubbed, fresh face look of a rookie.
“Take the back,” the beefy officer said to his partner, “I’ll start up here.”
“Ok, searg.” The rookie approached Toki and Keith’s table. “Papers!” he ordered.
Keith and Toki reached into their pockets and handed him two black booklets.
These identity papers listed their personal history, including their legal right to live and work in
Topaz. Yet Keith’s ID had something that Toki’s didn’t. His draft status.
Every male citizen, sixteen and older, was required to carry a copy of their military record. This
record always listed a citizen as ready for service, ready but declined, because of mental or physical handicap or discharged.
If a man’s ID didn’t list one of these categories, he was, in the eyes of planet law: “a draft dodger.” A man hiding from his required duties as a soldier.
The peacekeeper glanced through the booklets and handed them back, moving to the female Citizen at the next table over.
His partner had already inspected The Salty Dog’s first booth, and was now standing before José and Consuela’s table. “Papers!” the enforcer barked. They hastily complied. “Papers!” he said again to Estella and Parco.
Estella handed the man her ID. But her burly man hesitated. “I don’t have mine with me.” Parco grinned, exposing a missing front tooth. “I -- I left ‘em at home.”
“Then you might as well come with me now!” The enforcer flashed a nasty grin. “It’s illegal not to
carry identity papers -- and you know it!”
Reluctantly, Parco handed over his ID. The officer flipped back to the service record section. It was blank.
“Just like I thought!“ he exclaimed. “Alright, let’s go!…I said, let’s go!” As Parco stood, the beefy man hit him in the mouth with his fist, drawing blood, “Stinkin’ draft dodger!” and Parco staggered back against the table.
“Parco!” Estelle cried. “You ain’t got to do that!”
“Shut up! Or I’ll take you in too! Come on Cecil!” he called to the younger officer.
They strutted out, their prisoner walking stiffly in front of them. “Try to run,” the older man said,
“and I’ll shoot you in the back!”
They left the grill and the crowd followed.
“Pigs!” Estelle spat. “You’re not takin’ my man!”
As they stepped out into the street, Keith called out: “That far enough!”
The enforcers whirled around to face the mob. “Who you talking to, boy?” The older one snarled.
“He’s talking to you!” a redheaded, Fuchsia man shouted.
“You should know better!”
“And you should know better than to come down here, and try to drag one of us outta here to send to that rich man’s war!”
“It’s a noble cause!” the younger enforcer yelled.
“And you’re a damn fool!” Keith shot back. “You’re not takin’ him!”
“I can have a van here in under a minute!” the older man bellowed, his face turning a deeper shade of red. “I can identify all of you!” But he was trembling.
Estelle stepped forward, pulling a metal box from her dress. At the touch of her thumb, a knife popped out. It was six inches long and very sharp. “Not if we cut your stinkin’ hearts out!”
Mark stood behind the crowd, his hand resting on the small of Layla’s back. This is about to get real ugly. They’re gonna kill ‘em, and there’s gonna to be hell to pay -- for all of us.
He glanced over at José and Consuela. They stood to his right, at the edge of the crowd…out of the enforcers’ line of vision. Mark locked eyes with José, then Consuela. The Bronze man nodded, and
they inched away from the group.
José blurred behind the older enforcer. There were gasps from the crowd as -- in one smooth motion -- he snatched the enforcer’s taser from his belt, and struck him between the neck and shoulder blades. The officer collapsed in a boneless heap.
At the same time, Consuela wrapped her arm about the younger man’s throat, and the other about his forehead, holding his head immobile.
They had to change to do this. It took superhuman control to let only a little of their power come forth
-- to stop hair from covering their bodies, their muscles from swelling.
Both were sweating from the effort. José kept his head down until his eyes were hazel again. Until he could speak without growling. Consuela ducked her head behind the enforcer’s. But not before she looked into Parco’s face. Not before his jaw dropped, when he gazed into her yellow eyes.
Estelle pushed through the crowd and wrapped her arms about her lover.
Parco stood frozen unable to believe what he’d just seen.
José inclined his head to the right. “Go!”
Hands clasped, they took off running up the street. By nightfall, the enforcers would be searching for Parco. The lovers would have to go into hiding now, melting into the homeless underground of draft dodgers, and homeless squatting in Topaz’s castoff buildings.
“I’m going to let you go,” Consuela whispered into the young officer’s ear. “Don’t turn around for fifteen minutes. If you do, I’ll kill you!” She released him…and released her gift.
José took her hand. They turned their backs to the crowd and raced away.
Behind them, their warriors whistled and applauded.
Karla felt herself traveling at a great speed, into a wide tunnel, bombarded with colors, textures,
images… She was seated upon a throne…Dancing in a lush jungle… Chased by fanged dogs through a snow covered wood…Girded for battle, axe in hand…Then, in a plume of smoke, the images faded…
They stood before a heavy oak door, exquisitely carved with the shapes of wolves, cats and other
beasts. Karla opened it and they stepped out.
Behind them, the doorway vanished.
The two gazed up at the black and gray buildings towering over them. In the distance, smoke escaped from the tops of rounded towers. Vehicles rode past them, belching fumes from their tailpipes.
To their right, an entire block had been flattened into debris. The air had a foul odor, and both recognized the stench of pollution that was illegal in their own time. They’d traveled 400 years into the past. To the most violent era Tundra had ever known.
The Time of Legend.
Copyright Valjeanne Jeffers, Valjeanne Jeffers-Thompson 2008, 2009, 2014 all rights reserved.