Somewhere in the Australian Outback, 2017...
The full moon hung over a backdrop of nothing but a sea of red sand. A coarse and cool gust of midnight air carried the dark, lonely call of the night to the remotest part of the Australian outback. Nestled just over the peak of a sand dune sat an isolated tin-roof cottage. The silence of the night was haunting – the quiet of the eerily calm desert unsettling. Occasionally, a snake would hiss or an insect with skitter, but the message was clear – this was the purest of isolations.
Then, as if to break up the silence, a man – Damien – raced through. He panted heavily as his feet dragged in the dense sand. It did not stop him from sprinting towards the cottage, his piercing brown eyes full of focus and sheer determination.
He raced up the verandah and threw the door open. He keeled over as he struggled to recover his breath. Then he kicked the door closed as he stood up and slowed his breathing.
The inside of the cottage was a lot smaller than it looked, with the place littered with clutter. Large books stacked to the ceiling nearly covering every inch of space. Detailed hand-drawn diagrams were posted on all visible walls and artifacts occupied most of the desk that stood before him. There was almost no place for the man to stand. He didn't seem to care, however. He was only there for one reason.
Damien slowly closed his eyes and extended his senses. He could hear the cool gentle wind outside, brushing up against the tin-roof. He could hear the granules of sand outside carefully washing over the dunes as they moved further north. Then he could feel it – feel the faint presence of energy all around him. The pressure between objects in the room. His eyes were closed, but even still, it was almost as if he could see everything.
His breathing slowed down to a cautious pace. He opened his eyes again and reached out his arms to his side.
Books and other objects slowly started to move out of their respective places and flew around in the air. Some occasionally passed by his eyeline and he skimmed them briefly before he moved onto the next book.
Just outside, four massive white Land Rovers sped through the night – their bodies full of dirt and crimson mud. The cars stumbled over the hilly dunes – still minutes away from Damien. The drivers skillfully navigated the rough terrain, no doubt professionals of some sort.
Inside, Damien didn't seem to be aware of his pursuers. His attention had stopped on a sheet of paper with hand-drawn diagrams of a spherical device. Beneath it, were the words 'the Ancient Ones'.
"There you are," he said to himself as he pocketed the paper. Around him, the floating objects and books fell to the floor in a heap, just as the headlights of the incoming land rovers beamed through the windows of the cottage.
"Reikan…" Damien whispered as he caught a quick glance of the vehicles through the window. He glanced down at his watch, five minutes before twelve. "You better not be late, Ghost."
Outside, a lean, tall man with a samurai haircut exited the vehicle. The sand floating in the breeze clung to his black hair as he tried to dust it off. His long black trenchcoat touched the sand at his feet as the wind lightly blew the flaps of the coat, as if it were a cape. He ran his black gloved hand through his hair as he sighed. Nine other soldiers, a mix of both men and women, exited the vehicle as he stood by the car, watching the cottage.
"Commander Reikan," one of the masked armed soldiers said, running up to the man. "The Seekers are deployed but they're not picking up anything."
"He's here," Reikan said.
"Surround the cottage – there's only one way out and we're going to keep it that way," Reikan continued. He approached the cottage with his hand resting lightly on the rifle that hung over his shoulder. He stopped several meters before the verandah and lodged the wired earpiece, that hung just below his neck, into his ear. He reached to his pocket and pulled out a stick of gum, before throwing it into his mouth to chew.
A moment of static echoed in his ear before it filtered out into a clear voice. "We've got the place surrounded."
"Thank you, Claire," Reikan broke out into a grin and spat the gum out to his side. He gripped the rifle and brought it in closer.
"Okay, Damien!" He readied his gun and aimed it at the door of the cottage. Slowing down his breath and heartbeat. "You can come out now."
Reikan's only reply was complete silence. There was no movement from within, it was almost as if Damien was no longer there. Reikan chuckled. "You are quite the Tracer, Damien."
"Okay team, light it up!"
"But sir, the orders weren't to kill him," Claire's voice crackled over the comms.
"I'm giving you a new order," Reikan said.
The soldiers hesitated. "The Council has given me full authority on this op," Reikan continued as he strode back toward the crowd of cars. "Anyone doesn't follow my orders and they will be sentenced to a wipe."
The soldiers shifted uncomfortably. They looked at each other desperately, but no one dared to speak. Not even Claire. Instead, they all raised their weapons and aimed it at the cottage.
"Good," Reikan said. "We are the last line against those who wish to interfere with the timeline. Damien is one such person. As such, he will be met with the penalty of death."
Reikan pointed his gun back at the cottage. "Ready your weapons." All weapons clicked as soldiers readied to fire upon the cottage.
"Goodbye, Damien…" Reikan whispered to himself with a smile on his face. He raised his voice one last time, "Light it up!"
Before anyone could let out a shot the cottage door broke off from its hinges and flew through the air, its trajectory heading straight for Reikan. He rolled to the side, the door narrowly missing him as it buried itself upright in the sand.
"I'd say hold your fire but I doubt you'd even listen," Damien said as he casually exited the hut. Damien took off the hood as he stepped down the verandah steps and onto the sand. He had a young, lean face, he couldn't be more than twenty-four. A small scar ran down his cheek and his dark brown eyes glistened as they shifted to a low tone blue. Static electricity crackled around him and the sand at his feet turned into glass.
Reikan managed to gather his composure and stepped around the door to stand opposite Damien who acknowledged him with a smile. "Old man," he greeted.
"Damien…" Reikan responded with a shaky smile, "you've travelled quite a long way from home."
"Always wanted to come to Australia," Damien looked at his surroundings, "a pity about the circumstances though."
"You know why we're here," Reikan nodded at the soldiers "and we know why you're here."
"I'm bringing her back," Damien clenched his fists and gave Reikan a deathly stare.
"I'm afraid we can't let you do that," Reikan pointed his gun and levelled it at Damien's head.
"You do realize how annoyingly cliché that sounded, right?" Damien said with a smile. He showed no signs of backing down. Rather he stood tall and confident. Eyes determined and fists ready for a fight. The soldiers were unsettled, they looked unsure of what to do.
Damien took a quick glance around before he sighed. "I don't have time to deal with this, Reikan. You know as well as I do that ghosts don't like to be left waiting."
Reikan stepped back. "No…" Reikan scanned the area desperately. A gust of a cold, heavy wind swept over the air creating a sandstorm that, however brief, clouded the tactical team's vision. Reikan attempted to peer through the sand cloud. A figure appeared before him, its voice a haunting, icy cold whisper, "Reaper".
The soldiers' despairing cries echoed eerily throughout the desert. Reikan desperately tried to regain contact on his comms, but there was a pull of static. "Retreat!" he called out over the air.
Claire retreated out of the sand cloud, gasping for air. She dropped meters from Reikan's side. Blood crept out of her mouth as she looked at Reikan for help. "Please, Commander…"
Reikan raced towards her. He grabbed her arm and tried to pull her up. A skeletal hand reached out from the cloud and grabbed Claire's ankle. She screamed out as she clung to Reikan's hand, inching her nails into his skin.
"Reikan!" she yelled as tears ran down her cheeks.
Reikan grunted as he tried pulling her back. Another whisper clouded the air, "Reaper…"
Claire screamed a murderous cry as she slowly turned into ash. Starting from her ankle onwards. She twisted and groaned as she looked deep into Reikan's eyes, who was powerless to help her.
"Save m—" Before she could complete her plead for help, the rest of her body turned into ash and was swept up in the cloud of sand.
Reikan fell to his knees as the Grim Reaper stepped out of the shadows and stood above him. Its deathly black cloak billowed in the wind as it raised its scythe above its head and brought it down towards Reikan's.
"Enough!" Damien called.
The blade of the scythe stopped just short of Reikan's head. The cloud of sand ceased and Damien joined the Reaper's side.
"It is not his time yet," Damien told the Grim Reaper.
"Time is irrelevant," the haunting voice of the Reaper hung in the air. It was almost like it was a legion of voices, rather than just one.
"Not yet," Damien insisted as he touched the Reaper's shoulder.
"We will meet again soon, Reikan," the Reaper said as it disintegrated into ash and disappeared with the night breeze.
Reikan sat on his knees panting. His wide-eyed expression fixed to the emptiness around him. There was not one soul around aside from Damien and himself.
"You killed them all," Reikan said, his voice barely a whisper.
"That's not entirely accurate," Damien said.
"So this is what you've come to?" Reikan could barely move. He didn't have the will to. "Selling your soul to demons?"
"They're not demons, Reikan," Damien replied. "You of all people know that better than others. You created some of them."
"We'll defeat them, Damien," Reikan said "and you."
Damien smiled but didn't answer. "Take the call, Reikan."
In that moment, Reikan's phone began to ring. He looked down at his phone for a slight second, before turning back to Damien. But Damien, was no longer there. He had vanished.
Reikan cleared his throat and stood up, composing himself once more. He answered the phone but said nothing.
"Did you get him?" an older woman's voice said on the other end of the line.
Reikan hesitated before responding. "He's allied himself to the Reapers. The only one who can stop him now is the one with the blood of a Royal."
"Then we're in luck," the woman said "because we found one."
"Found one?" Reikan perked up, almost as if he had been re-energized "they were all wiped up."
"Not all of them," she said. "We found the son of Carson Daniels. He's alive and it's up to us to show him who he truly is."
This is originally a novel I had self-published that I've been wanting to revisit. I have since taken the original novel off and I plan to continue the series here, starting from the beginning with a total rewrite beginning with the next chapter.
Hope you enjoy the series, hopefully there'll be a lot more to come!
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