Sunday, September 1, 2013

Khet Chronicles: Sunset Over Bloodied Waters

So, lately I've been asked about the second installment of "The Khet Chronicles". I'm extremely grateful that my first book was received so well and that people enjoy it enough to want a second.

Although life keeps getting in the way of my writing, I have managed to get quite a bit of the book done and wanted to share a few ROUGH chapters with everyone.  Keep in mind, these are ROUGH and UNEDITED.  The chapters could wind up severely edited or even gone by the time the book is ready to go into print.

Let me know what you all think. 

Thank you so much for your continued support!

Best Wishes,



Sunset Over Bloodied Waters

Rough Sample Reading

Chapter 1

     It's been one whole year since I reclaimed the throne.
     It's been one whole year since my family and my followers destroyed The Ancient Nebu Khet Council and the Twymkowski Clan. least most of it.
     Kora and Luca Twymkowski are the only two remaining Nebu Khet from that line. I'd killed their brother, the real threat, on the night I rose to power and my mother had killed Michael and Shondra TwymkowskiKora and Luca's parents.
     Kora is what most would call stunning. She has sharp, slanted features that make her look slightly feline in appearance. Her hair hangs down in long ebony locks that reach past her waist. Due to her family's African and European heritage, she has a warm, golden, complexion that starlets try desperately to mimic by spending hundreds of dollars at tanning salons.
     Shockingly enough, Kora is actually a real sweetheart – regardless of who her relatives are ...and were. She'd been ridiculed by her siblings for her lack of spite towards the sapes, and forced to play a part in their cruel and unjust plans in order to maintain the powerful image of her two brothers. She was a victim of circumstance, living within the confines of a family that hated anyone that wasn't Nebu Khet.
     Now, she wasn't a victim. Now, she was an avid bookworm that helped out around the mansion and seemed to radiate happiness...she was like me in a senseshe'd finally found the life that she had been craving for so long.
     Now, her brother, Luca on the other hand – major prick. He'd followed gladly in his twin brother, Wayne's, footsteps. He was a tyrant, fortunately for him, he'd been pretty much neutered when I'd killed his brother. See, Wayne and Luca had operated in a very unique fashion. Wayne was the one who wielded the power and Luca was the catalyst that enabled him to have that power. Both Wayne and Luca had been identical as far their looks went. The only visible difference had been their hair color – Wayne's had been black, like Shane's is. Luca had brown hair. They'd both had the same shade of hazel eyes.
     Through Luca, Wayne had been able to generate huge amounts of energy that could be used during battle. Once Wayne had been killed, Luca had became a khet who didn't even register on a chicken's scary meter. He was practically a sape – he had almost no khet abilities without his twin. Krysia – the love of my life and witch warrior extraordinaire – thought I should have killed him along with his brother to be on the safe side, but I had a thing about killing people that couldn't fight back – it made me feel down right icky.
Kora, had basically become his watcher. She had no problem in the power department. She'd fry you on the spot if you got out of hand and she made no exceptions for her older brother. They hadn't exactly left off on the right foot.
     When I'd battled Wayne Twymkowski for the throne, Kora had fought with Luca, damaging Wayne's primary defense against me. She enabled me to get the advantage I needed to crush the Twymkowski reign.
Needless to say, there were more than a few conflicts that hadn't been worked out in that brother-sister relationship.
     Kora lived with us in the Royal Mansion, keeping a small bedroom to herself in the East Wing of the home. Her and Krysia actually got along very well, and together, they frequented the boutique shops down in Chevy Chase, Maryland. It was common to see them making their way up the front flagstone walkway carrying several large bags of merchandise – aka female happiness – in their clutches while laughing cheerily at some comment or other.
     Kora also worked with Krysia at her coffee shop – serving the normal sape patrons their morning crack-like brew.
     We kept Luca under watch and guard when Kora wasn't around to enforce his compliance. True, he couldn't really do any real damage, but I've learned one thing from last year's battling with the oldest members of the Nebu Khet race – never underestimate someone because you think them weaker than you. The ancient khet had made that mistake with me, and let's just say, I lit their asses on fire – quite literally.
My numb-skulled brother, Shane, was still his usual dense self. Don't get me wrong – I have nothing but love for the big dork, but he's not exactly what you'd call bright. He's a tad bit slow on the pick up, if you catch my drift.
     Then, there's Che. The original matriarch of Shane's maternal line. She's a blast. Up until last year, she'd been spending her days hunkered down in the hidden, underground catacombs of Abydos, Egypt.
The catacombs harbored the ancient remains of her and Saru's temple. Ages ago she had been known as the goddess, Atherath and Saru had been the only known embodiment of the Egyptian god, Osiris. I know, it's freaky, right? My and Shane's blood relatives were the last two ancients that we knew of. Saru and Che had sought out the other ancients that had survived the battle for the Twymkowski throne. Needless to say, payback was a bitch – a bitch that went by the name of death.
     To ensure no armies of resistance would be constructed over the next couple of years, Che and Saru had done what they thought was necessary for me to retain my new found grip on the North American throne. The destruction of The Ancient Nebu Khet Council had been a necessity. They truly were my guardians – and my family.
     Walking down the giant staircase to the main level of the mansion, I couldn't help but wonder at the one-eighty my life has taken. I've always had money, albeit not through honest, hard work – more like through frying the locks on ATM's and pulling their cash filled cassettes – but Che and Saru have amassed such large amounts of wealth over their long lives that they'd had no problem setting up several bank accounts for both Shane and myself. Yeah, we were living the life. I even got my Honda Prelude restored to all of her magnificent beauty. Krysia thinks I'm a nut for having so much passion for a car, but it's a gorgeous, 1984 masterpiece. Girls – what do they know.
     This past winter had been pretty intense – we'd gotten a blizzard. I can't begin to explain how annoying it was digging my car out of that mess. That's what I get for not listening to Krysia and refusing to park it in the garage. I know, it's just male stubbornness – I've got to live up to expectations you know. It was even more of a dumb move not parking my shiny baby in the garage since it was a five car behemoth.
That winter we'd had to go everywhere in Krysia's Ford Expedition – I know, I girl has a bigger toy than I do. Now the jokes can commence.
     One cool aspect of the enormous amounts of snow was using my energies to pull four foot layers of it off of the roof and onto Shane when he went outside. That was great. Yes, he was mad – but hey, brotherly love and all that stuff.
     Three pooches greeted me at the bottom of the stair's landing. Their nails clicking noisily against the hard marble of the floor. Che had found them running around out back in the woods that surrounded the estate. They had been half-starved as well as flea and tick ridden. She'd brought them in, cleaned them up, and made them the brats of the residence.
     Chloe, is a large female pitbull with large dark brown spots that encircle each of her eyes, making them stand out with their light gray coloring – giving her the impression of always being surprised. The rest of her fur is a fawn color. She weighs a little over eighty pounds – all of it solid muscle, thanks to Che's care and attention – but she is the biggest love-bunny you'll ever meet. She'd be more liable to lick a serial killer breaking into the mansion than attack him.
     Bobo is a little terrier mix of some sort, standing no more than a foot at his shoulder. His fur hangs down in dark gray wisps, making him look more like an oversized, dirty cotton ball than a dog. He has bangs that cover his beady little eyes, and his tongue hangs out of his mouth every minute of the day, dripping drool in his wake.
     Lobo, well – looks like a a damn wolf. His eyes are yellow-green, and the only thing that would make you think twice about his heritage is his fur color. He's the warm, blondish color of a yellow lab. He's huge, standing three feet at the shoulder and weighing in at one hundred and ten pounds. I'm still up in the air concerning his lineage. I'm almost positive that he's a big, wild, snarly, beast of a wolf. His coloring is probably just a fluke. All I know is that as long as he doesn't eat me, I'm fine with him. He' extremely playful, and loves everybody in the house, but...sometimes I catch him staring at me – like he's thinking. Yeah, I'm gonna keep my eye on that one.
     The three mongrels – I say this with compassion – were jumping up on me, making it impossible to move ahead towards the front door. Let me tell ya', half the time I had to move around the house using the inhuman speed of my race, just to get from room to room. They were adamant about having your full attention when in your presence.
     “Shane!” Maybe he could take them outside or something. That would help them let loose some of their pent up energy. “Hey, bro! You around?” My voice echoed through the massive rooms of the mansion.
I'm here, what's up loud-mouth?” Shane spoke into my mind using telepathy, or as he called it – as well as everyone else now that he'd been pushing the term on people – brain-tapping.
     Rolling my eyes at his name calling, I told him out loud, “Come take the pooches out, mutt!” Shane was half sape and half khet. Some of the other khet called him Half-Breed, I called him dork, boob, bobblehead, and lately, Mutt. He knew I wasn't serious, we always call each other names – we have a snarky relationship.
     “Why can't you do it? I'm watching a cool show – some guy just got eaten by a shark and now his shipmates are tracking it through the ocean via the GPS on the dude's cell phone – Ooh...oh that's just wrong...Kalin you've gotta – ”
     “Shane!” God, he could be such a twit! Running my hand through my hair I shouted, “I'm leaving...take them out!” Before he could make an attempt at another mental rebuttal, I threw up my mental shields.
Che had been teaching me how to guard my thoughts. Living in a household full of telepaths and having other telepathic beings around who knew my energy signature – like the Sidhe and some of the witches – I had needed to learn how to deflect unwanted intrusions. One time Saru had reached out telepathically from New York and entered my mind while me and Krysia were...occupied. Needless to say, that was the equivalent of a parent walking in on you doing the bump unexpectedly. He was the one who requested that Che teach me how to block against intrusions. He was like an uncle to me and Shane and finding not-so PG thoughts flying at him like that must have been just as awkward as it had been for me. Krysia still blushes when I bring it up.
     Shutting the door quickly so that the dogs didn't push past me onto the walkway, I tossed my keys into the air, catching them as the gravity pulled them back down towards the earth. I was taking Kora to The Wind And Grind, Krysia's cafe. Krysia had a big order coming in today and Kora had volunteered to come by and help man the ship. I was glad that Krysia had finally found someone she could be open with in regards to who she was and what she was. Being the Head Warrior of the Maryland Witch Coven was a huge responsibility and having another supernatural – especially a female one, to talk with made things so much easier. It was hard keeping secrets. Yes, the public knew of the Nebu Khet, and the Sidhe, but they were still in the dark concerning witches, vampires, shifters, and the other supernatural races. I mean, there was speculation that Krysia was something other since she lived in the mansion with so many supernatural beings, but she hadn't confirmed or denied her lineage. The possibility of getting served coffee by a supernatural actually boosted her business. Everyone wanted to come into the cafe to get a glimpse of and interact with Krysia. When Kora was there, it was a feeding frenzy for both the customers and the paparazzi that stalked the walkways of the shopping center. Today was going to be intense – not only was Kora going to be in the cafe, but I was dropping her off. I'm like a celebrity in my own right. Some videos popped up on Youtube of me and the High Priestess of All Witches – Luna, destroying some ancient khet females. Google it, you'll be shocked at the number of hits those videos have. Instant celebrity status.
     I found Kora outside. She was sitting on the ground under a huge oak, playing with a small twig. I watched as she twisted it between her fingers and then slowly started to break it into tiny little pieces. Her gaze was focused on the ground in front of her, I don't think she even noticed my approach.
     “What's going on lady?” Her head shot up in surprise. Yup, I'd caught her off guard.
Her irises swirled with small red streaks from the beginnings of her phase. With a visible shake, she disbursed her energy, letting it leak off into the surrounding air and then smiled faintly at me. Her eyes were now their normal dark blue.
     “Oh, nothing.” Her tone said otherwise. There was a note of sadness beneath her words.
     “Kora...seriously, you know you're no good at lying. What's going on K.T.? You look like somebody just called you the meanest name in the book and then laughed at you.” K.T. Was my nickname for her. Kora Twymkowski...K.T., get it?
     I sat down next to her, leaning my back against the massive oak, noticing the huge shadow it cast on the grassy lawn in front of me. I bumped her shoulder lightly with my own, getting her attention. She looked at me and I noticed the beginnings of tears. Oh shit...what can of worms did I just open?
She sighed visibly and reached up, wiping them from her eyes before they could fall. “I was thinking about my family – about my mother, my brothers.” She glanced over at me from the corner of her eyes and then quickly back to the ground.
     “Why am I not like them?” She looked up at me with what looked like anger and confusion all rolled into one painful emotion. Oh yeah, I so should have let Krysia deal with this...dammit.
     “My childhood was filled with hate talk. My mother and father always ridiculed your mother, the sapes”, in a quiet voice she muttered, “Shane.”
     Unexpectedly, she reached up with both hands and ran them through her hair in an agitated gesture. “I should have been just like them, but I'm not! Why? Why am I okay with the fact that they are no longer around to hurt and torture those that I was brought up to despise?”
     She thunked her head backwards against the rough bark of the oak's trunk and I winced at the thud the impact made. “Kalin, I helped you defeat Wayne. I helped you kill my brother...who does that? Who assists in keeping their one living relative a virtual slave to the family responsible for their own family's demise? No one normal. The worst part is I don't feel bad about it – how can I not feel bad?” She was hurting inside and I'd been an insensitive fool for not seeing it sooner.
     Bringing her thumb and forefinger up to pinch the bridge of her nose, she squeezed her eyes closed, then she sucked in a huge breath of air and sighed. I placed my arm around her while still looking out across the expanse of the estate. I watched as a squirrel made a mad dash across the lawn to reach the security of the wooded perimeter. Poor little guys were getting harassed by the dogs on a regular basis – in the case of Lobo, eaten. Trust me you don't want the details on that situation.
     Turning my attention back to her I said, “I can't imagine what you're feeling. But...I can tell you what we all feel. Gratitude. You saved our butts last year. You did what you knew was right, even at the expense of your own family. That took more than courage – that took the heart of a true hero – that took guts.”
     She smiled, and then looking at me with watery eyes she said, “You are so overly dramatic sometimes Kalin Moshire.” She laughed a deep, throaty laugh and then sniffled away the last of her gloom. “Thank you for the pep talk Kalin, seriously. I really only get to talk to Krysia, and I hate bothering her with all of my problems.”
     “Hey, don't you worry about bothering any of us with your problems Kora. You're like family now – and regardless of what you're use to – family is always there for you, at least a real family is.”
     She smiled again, all traces of sorrow gone. Hey, I might be overly dramatic, but so what, I meant every word I'd said. We both stood up, dusting our clothes free of the small bits of grass that stuck to them, and almost immediately turned our attentions to the huge front door of the mansion. It swung open as three yelping, barking dogs barreled out of the confines of the home and out onto the lawn. Shane came bursting out of the home looking more than a little disheveled. He'd been in bed all morning watching God-knew-what on the television.
     “Hey! I said sit!” Glaring at the hounds, he balled up his fists and said, “Bad dogs!”
     He ran out onto the lawn wearing his pajama bottoms and a wrinkled white tank top, sprinting barefoot across the grass to catch the three beasts. He tailed Chloe, her massive body gliding effortlessly over the ground, and right as he went to reach out and grab her she swerved sharply to the right catching Shane off guard. What a boob. Here he was endowed with the ability of the Nebu Khet and he couldn't catch a dog who was no competition in the speed or reflex department. I just stood there shaking my head as he lost his footing while trying to pivot in the direction that Chloe took. The morning dew that coated the green blades of grass soaked into his pants and shirt as he landed with a hard thump on the ground.
     For a second he just sat there looking pissed. Kora let out a peal of laughter, covering her mouth with her hands as she took in the sight. I think Shane actually blushed once he realized he had an audience – I actually think he blushed because of Kora, if it were just me he'd give me the finger.
     Chloe stopped about ten feet from where Shane lay sprawled on the lawn and with a loud bark, she turned around and rocketed back towards Shane. Her tongue hanging out in pure doggy bliss. Lobo and Bobo, turned and barreled towards my poor brother, Bobo barking his excitement the entire time. Chloe got to Shane first and a second later Lobo and Bobo joined in on the fun. They growled and mock snapped at my brother as he wrestled with them on the dew slicked ground. He laughed as Chloe grabbed him by the ankle, pulling him across the wet ground effortlessly. This is what I'd fought for. This made all of the bad worthwhile. We were happy – my brother and I. Noticing the still laughing Kora, I thought, “We even saved someone else in our quest for acceptance.
     We stood their watching the spectacle of Shane getting his ass whipped by a couple of pooches, reveling in the joy of life. Enjoying the normalcy of it all. I was betting my money on the dogs.

Chapter 2
     As expected, the paparazzi were waiting for us outside of the mansion's giant iron gates. I pressed the button on my sun visor that signaled the gates to open and putting my dark aviators on, I slowly crept out onto the street, trying to avoid running over the legs of the clambering men. Kora already had her big lensed, red, Dolce and Gabbana shades on, anticipating the bright flashes of the psychotic crowd. That's right, psychotic – what would you call them?
     They shouted questions through the glass of the car's windows like, “Are you going out to battle other Nebu Khet?” or “Korais it true that you are an ancient Grecian goddess? Do you have a lover, a consort?” I'm telling you, they're like a plague. Kora is only twenty six years old. Where the hell did these rumors start? Ancient Grecian goddess? Oh, please...seriously?
     Once I was sure we were safe from the onslaught of sape photogs, I lowered the windows and opened the sunroof, letting the air circulate through the car. I reveled in the smells and sights of summer. After a moment, Kora said while looking straight ahead and out of the windshield, “I honestly don't know if I'll ever get use to them.”
     Them? Oh, the paparazzi, “Yeah I know what you mean. I swear one day I'm going to run one over and claim it was an accident. Maybe then they'll stay away...who am I kidding? They'll never stay away, they're like sharks on a blood trail.” Glancing in my rear view mirror I noticed a dark SUV trailing us. I clenched my jaw, these bastards were worse than sharks – they were The Apex Predator.
     With a slight grin she said, “You see them trailing us don't you?” She laughed and then looking over at me said, “Your highness is a very important person.”
     I felt my eyebrow creep up high on my forehead as I looked at her saying, “Um, okay Grecian goddess.”
     She snorted with laughter as she said, “I'm not even Greek.” She sighed loudly before stating, “At least they can't follow me into the cafe.”
     I thought about that. It was true, there were laws dictating where they could venture but...I still felt apprehensive about trusting completely in the law. Laws were broken all of the time. All it took was for one jerk to overstep that boundary and someone could get hurt. We're not immune to death, hard to kill yes, but a direct hit to the heart or brain – and no more khet. Krysia was even more susceptible to injury. She was only a witch, she had no superhuman healing abilities. She was stronger than a normal person – three times as strong at least – and she had amazing supernatural abilities, but if she were attacked in the cafe, would she react in time? Would her guard be down while serving customers and running her business? I decided not to take that risk.
     “I'm sending over some bodyguards. Just two of them. I don't think it's safe for you and Krysia to be walking around without some sort of protection.”
     She looked over at me, both eyebrows arched high in surprise, “You think someone will try to hurt us?”
     “No...I'm hoping not. But you never know. Things are different now. We're out in the open, we're vulnerable because so many eyes are on us now. We no longer have the anonymity that we're so used to.” Sighing, I continued, “The last thing I want is for something to happen to either of you, especially if I could have prevented it.” I looked over at her and caught her smiling at me.
     “You are such a guy! Me and Krysia could kick someone's ass before they knew they'd wanted to kick ours'. But...if it helps you sleep at night, by all means, send out the watchdogs.” She patted my hand saying the last part of that statement.
     “I think Krysia's personality is rubbing off on you.” I laughed at her brazen, playful remarks.
     “No...I've always been this way, I'm just able to be myself now...thanks to you and Krysia.” She smiled widely as we turned in to the parking lot of the shopping center.
     I maneuvered my way through the busy lanes avoiding shoppers as they crossed through the street to get to their vehicles. I approached the cafe seeing several paparazzi already awaiting our arrival out front. I'm telling you, they're like gum in your hair – you just can't get rid of them. I didn't bother parking and just pulled up as close as the feeding frenzy of photographers and pedestrians would let me. Thankfully, I'd remembered to roll up my windows before pulling into the shopping center. Cameras were pressed up against the glass of the windows, flashing annoyingly into our faces. Even the glasses didn't protect our eyes from all of it. Behind us the SUV that had been tagging us pulled to a screeching stop and more paparazzi tumbled out of it to join the growing mass.
     “Do I really have to do this?” Kora asked, her expression grim as she took in the sea of wolves waiting for her to open the door. I couldn't help it, I laughed. She just looked so miserable at the thought of facing off with all of the picture snapping lunatics that it became funny to look at.
     My laughter did it for her. With a slight raise of her chin, and a tightening of her jaw, she commented, “I don't see you braving them to go in and say hi to Krysia.” With that she swung the door open, nearly knocking one man to the ground as she swung her legs out of the vehicle and stood up. Instantly she was swarmed by the mob, flashes going off inches from her face. Using one hand she flicked her waist length hair back over her shoulder and smiled like she was on a red carpet. Then she moved forward, a writhing mass of people moving with her as they shouted questions and snapped photos.
     Half of the crowd still hovered around my vehicle shouting questions at me through the windows as I thought about what Kora had said. Yup, I was s-o-o-o not as brave as her. Hell no I wasn't going to wade through that mess of humanity to say hello to Krysia. I'm sure she'd understand. I'm not too proud to admit when I'm scared. Those crazy, camera happy, jerks scared the crap outta me. I watched as Kora made it to the cafe's entrance, pulling the door open and disappearing into the dim interior. Okay, that was my cue to get moving. I slowly started to pull away from the curb, moving carefully until there was an opening that I could fit through. I sighed with relief once I made it back to the main road. I drove down 355, headed south towards DC.
     I had an important meeting today with some government officials. I had been granted ambassador status by the president himself. They figured that having me as an ambassador could smooth the public's transition into acceptance of the supernatural races. It also gave them a source to go to for advice on all that wasn't sape. I'd gotten a call last night, from the head of the CIA asking if I could meet him for a brief lunch. He'd said that he needed some advice on a situation that could potentially be linked to supernatural roots. Me – give advice to the CIA. Yeah, life was weird – but hey, it's better than life being full of death and fear. I could work with weird.
     I passed the state line leading into DC and took in the beauty of the day. Man, I hoped I could find a parking spot. I hated trying to park in DC.

Chapter 3
     Parking was a real pain in the ass as expected. Pulling onto the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue, I saw a Cadillac pulling out of a prime piece of parking real estate and floored it. It's a good thing I did too, because a small sports car had decided to do the same thing. I beat him by a hair, swerving the front end of my Prelude into the spot, barely avoiding a collision with the now fuming driver. He yelled a couple choice words out of his open windows and flicked me off while speeding off to locate another vacant place to park.      In the words of one of my favorite bands, “Welcome To DC”.
     This really was a great spot, I only had a one block walk to my destination – a small Italian place between 6th and 7th streets. I was meeting with Agent Marlowe Walters. I'd met him once before when I'd first approached the government in regards to the existence of supernatural races. He was a large man, with a head of white hair so impeccably styled that you'd swear he super glued it in place. His girth was huge, I had wondered how he'd been able to sit in the tiny chairs of the White House meeting room when we'd last seen each other. That's right, White House – you should see who else I met...think Oval Office. I told you I was important.
     The short walk helped to relieve me of the anxiety the paparazzi had instilled in me earlier, leaving me relaxed and eager to see what my government friends were in need of.
     The small restaurant was swarming with people. I took my shades off as I let the door swing closed behind me. The sound of lunchtime conversations and the clatter of dishes hitting each other filled the small establishment. The smell of delicious Italian food wafted through the air causing my stomach to grumble as I scanned the tables, looking for Agent Walters. It took me about two seconds to find him, seated in the back, by a large window. He had a glass of water in front of him and kept blotting his forehead with a crumpled napkin. He looked up sensing my approach and his eyes looked haunted. Okay, so this wasn't going to be a light conversation after all.
     “Mr. Moshire, thank you so much for meeting with me today.” His voice sounded tired – like that of a man who has accepted defeat. Whatever I had just walked into made me second guess my agreeing to assist in the matter. If top government officials were this worried about something, then I was pretty sure it was not going to be an easy answer solution to the problem. Oh man, Krysia was not going to be happy about this. Thinking it too late now to turn around, I just extended my hand to the seated man, not expecting him to stand up – sitting in the small wooden chair had probably taken a great deal of caution, getting out of it would probably take even more. Like I said...big man, this one.
     We shook and I pulled out my own chair, taking a seat across from the obviously worried agent. “So – ”, I started, “Would you like to eat first or should we get right down to business?” Direct and blunt, I figured I couldn't go wrong with either.
     “I believe eating would be the best option for now – we have plenty of time to discuss the...issue.” He reached up, wiping the sweat from his brow with the now sopping wet napkin.
     We managed to flag down a waiter and gave him our orders. The meal went well. We chatted about my family, and I asked about his – you know, the typical questions and answers that go along with business and professional meetings. I got the feeling that he was avoiding the topic of our lunch meeting and decided to go for blunt and direct once again.
     “So, Agent Walters – tell me about this supernatural threat that has you wound up so tight.” His eyes pinched like he was in pain, and then he let out a loud sigh. Reaching for his glass of water and taking a sip, he set it back down and tentatively began.
     “The White House sent out several scientists and a fleet of Special Ops personnel to the Florida Keys two months ago – they were on a mission to investigate a seismic disturbance that occurred on April 13th , 2010 at fourteen hundred hours, Eastern Standard Time.” He took in a deep breath and then looked at me, his eyes small and red from what I could assume was lack of sleep.
     “This was not normal seismic activity, Mr. Moshire. This was...foreign seismic activity.”
     I felt my brow pinch together in confusion as I asked, “What is foreign seismic activity?”
     Straightening in his chair, he glanced around the small restaurant, making sure no one was eaves dropping on our conversation. Agent Walters leaned across the table, balancing his weight against its wooden surface.      “Foreign Seismic Activity or, Foresa, is the government’s term for inter-dimensional activity that stems from another plane of existence.” He was still leaning across the table staring at me expectantly, like I should have understood completely what he was talking about. I was staring at him trying to let my brain replay what the hell he'd just said. Inter-dimensional what that stemmed from another what of existence? I could feel the migraine coming on.
     “Are you seriously telling me that there is another plane of existence that the government knows about? And this plane of existence causes earth quakes here in our world?” I leaned back into my chair taking a deep breath, then looked at him skeptically. “Are you being serious? Is this like a presidential practical joke – some kind of initiation into being an ambassador?”
     “I can assure you that I am completely serious”, he cleared his throat and leaned back a little off of the table's surface. I was grateful – I wasn't too sure about how much pressure that poor table could take.
     “Okay, so what does that mean? I mean...if you all have a term for it, then it means that this has happened before – right? And, if it's happened before then you know what's going on...right?”
     Agent Walters reached for a new napkin and proceeded to wipe a new sheen of sweat from his face.           “Yes, we have seen this before.” He leaned in again and I mentally apologized to the table. “Before finding out about the Nebu Khet and Sidhe we thought that there was only one race of supernaturals present in this world.”
     Okay...didn't see that one coming. The government knew about supernaturals?
     “We call them Water Dragons. They are an amphibian race of hominid that come from another plane of existence – a parallel universe, if you will. They are more animal than human in behavior and break into our world via the Foresa. They appear human but they are anything but. Beneath their disguise is a creature that resembles some sort of reptilian.
     “They are covered in scales and armed with long sickle teeth and even longer claws. They also emit a type of electrical current. It covers their bodies when they are threatened and if you touch them – well, let's just say you want to avoid doing that at all costs.” With a grunt he said, “Besides...if they are close enough for you to touch, then you're already dead. They're you.”
     I sat, listening while wearing what I am sure was an expression of awe. He lowered his voice to barely a whisper and said, “Mr. Moshire...they come here for a reason.” His eyes held fear as he said, “They come hear to eat us.”
     Wow, glad I ate before this tidbit of information. I was more than a little freaked out. Our government had been keeping secrets from its citizens. Grisly, killer-lizard, secrets. Then again, what did I expect? Nobody could convince me that UFO's weren't a government cover-up. Mulder was right y'all.
     “Okay, so...what do you do when they come here? I mean, if they've been coming here and consuming members of the population...what do you do?” I crossed my arms loosely across my chest, waiting for his answer.
     “We find the gate that they enter through and destroy it. Usually a couple of well placed bombs is enough to disrupt the energy that holds the Foresa gate open to their dimension. Every time we destroy a gate it generally buys us about six months before we have to deal with another one.” He took another sip of his water and I used the break in conversation to ask a question.
     “If you destroy the gate, then how do the Water Dragons get home? Wouldn't they be stuck here in our world – free to feed on people?”
     He clasped his hands together and laying them on the table, said, “Yes – they do end up stranded here. We figure that we keep more from entering our plane of existence by closing their gate. Once we are sure no more can come through, we hunt down the ones that remain here in our world.”
     The waiter came up next to our table and refilled our glasses with water. Damn, after all of this information I was feeling more like having a beer glass full of vodka. The agent's eyes followed the waiter as he moved away from our table, once he was sure no one could hear us he resumed.
     “They are intelligent – animal like – but intelligent. We call them Water Dragons because they always come into our world through an underwater gate. We've tried negotiating with them in the past and they just killed our men. They carry the dead bodies of their victims back through the gates, stocking their fucking refrigerators with our remains.” He turned pale as he spoke.
     “We hunt the stranded dragons down using infrared technology. They are about twenty degrees Fahrenheit lower in body temperature than the average human. When possible we take them out from a distance – like I said, get too close and you're liable to end up a main course on their dinner menu.”
With complete sincerity he said, “Mr. Moshire, the White House would never have let you in on this top secret information if we'd thought we could handle this ourselves. Something is different this time.
“The gate has appeared along an island. Normally the gate is about thirty feet wide.” He scrunched up his face in a frown filled with worry. “This gate is five miles in length...almost the entire length of the island – Elliot Key.”
     My eyes widened in shock. Jesus, this fucking thing was massive. Taking in my expression Agent Walters said, “Yeah, we all nearly pissed our pants at the news as well.” He picked up his glass and drained it. The ice clanked loudly against the sides of the glass as he set it back on the table.
     “We want to know if you can help us track down the dragons that have slipped into our world and find a way to destroy the gate. We can't set that much explosives off without creating a national, if not worldwide, panic.” He looked at me pleadingly and whispered, “You are more equipped to deal with this than we are. You have natural defenses that we don't.”
     I looked him in the eye, assessing everything he'd just told me and sighed. Of course I was going to help. A foreign hunter was running around in our world preying on people. I'd fought against the ancients of my own race to prevent the deaths of not only supernaturals but also sapes. I'd be damned if some beings who weren't even from this realm of existence were going to stalk this world's citizens.
     “I'll help...I'll do it.” He smiled, the folds of his pudgy face making him look more like a growling bull dog than a smiling person. “But – ”, his smile faltered at the edges, “I want to take a team of my people with me.” His smile shot back up to maximum beam.
     “Of course, of course...I'll send two agents over to your residence to take you to ground zero. They'll be your government aides the entire time of your mission.” Ooh, my mission. Yeah, I was going to have to bring Shane along for this adventure. He'd be more than a little pissed if I left him out of a real live, top secret, government mission.
     “So, when am I leaving?”
     “Can you leave tonight?” His eyes squinted as if expecting me to blow up. Damn, tonight was rather short notice. Krysia wouldn't be too thrilled but I was sure she'd understand.
     “Give me until eleven, I've got to talk this over with my other half. I'm sure she'll be fine with it but it's best not to make assumptions.”
     “Will do...eleven it is.” He seemed more energetic all of a sudden. His pasty complexion had taken on a rosy hue and he wasn't sweating bullets like he had been during the entire duration of our meeting. His thick hand stretched out and I took it in my own to shake noticing that it was still sticky with perspiration. Yuck, I was so going to go wash my hands before leaving.
     I got up to leave and started to pull my wallet out for some cash. Agent Walters objected while pulling out a credit card. “The White House will cover this. It's the least we can do.” I thanked him and then put my wallet away. Before I could move away from the table our waiter had come back and said, “Excuse me, Mr. Moshire.” He looked slightly nervous as he continued, “Would you mid if I got your autograph?” I blinked at him with a blank expression on my face. Autograph? What the hell?
     I asked, “Are you sure?”
     He looked slightly taken aback by my question and grinning nervously he said, “Yeah, of course. Man, you're like, the coolest person in the United States.” Okay, I now knew I was officially a celebrity. Kalin Moshire – Fire Imp, Royalty, Light Bringer, Soul Eater...Celebrity. Sheesh, how many titles could a person have? I took the pad of paper he held out to me and asked him for his name, then wrote a generic “Best Wishes” message and signed beneath it. Thinking I was free and feeling slightly sheepish about the experience I turned to go and found five other people standing around with pens and napkins outstretched, waiting for my John Hancock. I will admit, my mouth fell open slightly. Reaching for the pen and paper closest to me, I happened to glance out of the restaurant’s window and was instantly cowed by the sight of at least a dozen paparazzi standing on the sidewalk outside snapping photos through the glass.
     “Are you kidding me? How do they do that?” I asked to no one in particular.
     Agent Walters had stood and came up beside me. “I'll call in an escort for you. I think it safe to presume that you aren't parked directly outside and probably don't want to sprint down the street to escape their clutches.” He smiled at me, taking his cell phone from his pocket.
     Granted, I could run so fast that they'd lose sight of me in seconds but I was more than happy to take the agent's offer.
     Roughly ten minutes and thirty autographs later, I was escorted by the restaurant’s staff and Agent Walters to an awaiting government issued, black SUV. My glasses were protecting my eyes with their wide black lenses as flashes went off and questions were shouted at me. The crowd had swelled beyond the original size of its twelve paparazzi to nearly fifty people and more were being added to it every second. Dear God, now I knew what Kora was scared of earlier when I'd dropped her off at the Wind And Grind. I don't think I even took a breath until I was secured safely inside the vehicle.
     Talk about stress, something told me that I was going to need a prescription for Zanax – like asap.

Chapter 4
     It took me two hours to get home, the SUV that carried me was followed by a throng of paparazzi and civilians, all chasing after us in their vehicles. It was like I was the damned Pied-Piper or some crazy shit like that. When I spotted the gates to my property I almost whooped with joy...okay...I did whoop with joy.
The scraggly mutts were running back and forth along the gate, tongues lolling, yelps of excitement escaping their crooked, doggy-grin, mouths. I spotted Shane with Che, moving towards the gates. Their faces wore expressions of worry when they saw the winding trail of cars coming up behind the vehicle I was riding in.
     “What's the deal with the fanclub bro?” Shane's voice resounded in my skull.
     I could pick up on the fact that he was a little alarmed at the situation, but I projected at him in my mind, “Don't worry, I have a government escort. That reminds me...we need to talk. The White House has asked if we'd be interested in assisting in a Top Secret mission.” For a moment I wondered if he'd caught my message. I'm not a telepath, so I have to rely on Shane “feeling” for my messages. Whatever doubt I had quickly vanished as I watched him grab Che in a huge bear hug and lift her off the ground while shouting out in joy. The look on her face was priceless. It reminded me of a cross between a wet cat and a rabid dog. Her teeth were bared, as she glared at Shane stiffly from within his embrace. Once he caught a glance of her expression he set her down gently...and took a small step away from her, but not quickly enough to avoid a solid slap to the back of his head.
     The driver laughed out loud at the spectacle...I couldn't blame him. If I wasn't so damn jaded from my constant exposure to such acts of ridiculousness I would be laughing as well. As it was, I just gave a slight shake of my head and sighed out in relief at being home where I could get away from my apparent celebrity status.

     By the time Krysia and Kora got home that evening, I had already explained the details of the mission to Che and Shane. I filled the girls in, over a hot meal and a mug of coffee...heavy on the cream. Krysia couldn't understand my constant desire to drink the dark brew, even with her owning a cafe. I couldn't explain it just made everything better. Period.
     Surprisingly, Krysia wasn't that upset over the lack of notice. She understood the circumstances as well as the threat. She even offered to contact the local witch covens in Miami, Florida to see if they could assist but we all decided that a measure like that could be a potential risk that could prematurely reveal the existence of witches to the sapes, and that was too big of a risk to take.
     I packed a duffel bag as did Shane. I said my goodbyes to Krysia and Che and waited for Shane to say his. Looking around for Kora, I said, “Where did K.T. go?”
     “She's out on the driveway waiting for you guys.” Che spoke up.
     I spun around to look at her, my duffel bag clipping me in the knee from the motion. I noticed that Shane also had turned to look at Che with a “are you serious?” look on his face.
     “What do you mean...waiting for us?” My voice actually seemed to sound funny – like its tone was too high pitched.
     Krysia spoke up, “As Che just stated...she's waiting for you.” She gave me a look that said I'd better let her finish so I shut my trap and continued giving her my what the fuck expression.
     “Look”, she started, “Kora is miserable here. All she has is a bad tempered brother and a bunch of dogs to keep her company. She comes to The Wind And Grind and gets harassed by the paparazzi constantly. Che is too busy to be a constant in her day to day life and Shane, Shane.”
     “Hey!” Shane's brow furrowed instantly as he started to object, but Krysia held up a hand commanding him to be silent.
     “What I'm saying is this – Kora needs to live. She needs to feel needed. She doesn't feel that way here. She's proven that she can handle herself in a fight, she's more powerful than most other khet, and she genuinely wants to help. So let her.” Her last words weren't worded as a plea, they were a command. Shit.
     “Okay, okay. I'll let her come...but if something happens remember that you two were the catalyst!” I said while indicating the two women standing in front of me with the hand holding my duffel bag.
     “Yeah!” Shane added in his usual, slightly village idiot, way.
     We all just looked at him, trying to understand the blob of mush that lived inside his skull that some – dare I say it – called a brain.
     Noticing us all staring at him with obvious questioning looks he said, “What?”
     “Abso-poso-tively nothing my dear brother. Let's go.” I turned back towards the door while shaking my head in disbelief.
     “What?!” Shane reiterated from behind me.
     I just kept walking until I was out the door and heading towards an obviously excited Kora. Her hair was braided in one long braid that lay across one of her shoulders. She had on a skin tight pair of black jeans and a black tank top that displayed her well toned abdominal muscles. Her naturally striking beauty was even more enhanced by the shades of gray and gold makeup that lined her eyes and the intense, deep, red lipstick that lined her lips.
     I could hear Shane stumble behind me when he caught sight of her. Then I heard his mental remarks echo through my skull, “Holy crap! Kalin, isn't there any way we can convince her to stay? Any way at all? What if I'm distracted? What if she tries to seduce me or something? What if –
      “Oh, shut up!” It took me a second to realize that what I had meant to say mentally, had in fact come out verbally. The look on Kora's face would have cued me in even if I hadn't figured it out. Her grin spread wide until the perfectly straight line of her white teeth showed in an all knowing smile. Interesting. Apparently she'd wanted Shane to have the reaction he did...the problem was that he was too dense to realize that the girl he liked also liked him back. Dork.
     “So boyz...are we all ready to go?” She was definitely in high spirits about going on this mission. Suddenly I felt like a real schmuck for being against her going. The girls were right, Kora needed this.
“All set, K.T. Let's get all of this stuff over to the side yard. Our chopper should be here fact I think I can hear it now.”
    The sound of rotor blades slicing the night air was brought to us on the small gusts of wind blowing across the estate.
     Sure enough, a dark object broke the tree line where the well manicured yard of the estate met the dense woods that surrounded it. The chopper was military grade and much larger than I had expected it to be.
Beside me, Shane and Kora looked like two little kids waiting for a treat. Their excitement was palpable as we each grabbed our bags and started walking towards the now lowering helicopter. I watched as the gusts of air that the chopper's blades stirred up pushed down on the lawn's grass, causing it to ripple like the waves of a lake.
     I felt a moment of anxiety as I thought about the unknown elements of this trip. This wasn't a vacation or a weekend getaway...this was real. Dangerous. We couldn't let our Nebu Khet heritage cause us to let down our guards. We were strong, fast, and hard to kill. That didn't mean that our targets weren't.
As the great, metal machine pulled us and our armed guards up into the night sky, I looked down on the lawn where Che, Krysia, and the three dogs watched us make our way towards Andrew's Airforce Base. That was where we would then be loaded onto a military plane.
     The anxiety I'd felt a moment before turned cold and sickly as I realized that we were going up against an enemy that the khet had never faced before. A tiny thought crept into the shadowed corners of my mind telling me that maybe...just maybe...this would be the time when being a khet couldn't save our asses.

****** END OF SAMPLE******

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