The following is an excerpt from the upcoming novel “Universal Warrior: Atherean Defenders”.
In the previous Chapter “Red Morning”, four children are murdered while playing in Heaven’s largest body of water. Seven days later, their hometown of Jordan is still trying to come to terms with everything. Jayden Zeneca, the brother of the victims, has been staying with the St. Morias family after his own family’s dark history has finally come to light. The morning of the funeral, Uriel St. Morias, Jayden’s longtime friend, enters his room to ensure that Jayden is okay. But Jayden is far from okay, and needs to get something off of his chest…
Read the first Chapter “Red Morning” to catch up on what’s been going on as the first war between Heaven and Hell begins.
From Chapter 2: The Wounded “Jayden’s Confession”
“Jayden?” Uriel said softly after knocking yielded no answer. He cracked the door open marginally, peering inside to see Jayden standing by the window, straightening the shoulder wrap on his vestment.
“Jayden?” Uriel persisted, stepping halfway inside, “Can I come in?”
Jayden chuckled, closing his eyes. “No, Uriel, but please feel free to stand there and continue letting the draft in.”
Uriel smiled and stepped inside, closing the door behind him. “At least you got your sense of humor. Maybe one day, you’ll even find someone who thinks you’re funny.” Uriel commented.
“Maybe one day you’ll find the intelligence to keep up with me.” Jayden retorted, bracing himself on his elbow and smiling. “Why don’t you make yourself useful; help me straighten this damned thing…”
Still smiling, Uriel strode up to Jayden and took the long, smooth cloth that extended from the shoulder of the robe. It was cool to the touch, like new, slightly electric silk. He tossed one end of the wrap around Jayden’s shoulder, catching it with his free hand. He repeated the process twice more before neatly creasing the wrap in three places, and then stepping away.
Jayden looked down, admiring, and nodded his head. “Not bad. You should think about being a seamstress.”
Uriel scowled. “You should learn how to dress yourself.”
Jayden laughed, but it only lasted a moment. He took a seat on the bed, bracing himself on his palms, lowering his head. He was silent, but had begun shaking.
After a moment, Uriel sat down, putting his arm around his friend’s shoulder and gripping firmly. “I’m sorry for what happened, Jayden. I’m sorry we weren’t out there–”
“No.” Jayden snapped, removing Uriel’s arm and rising. He whirled, looking down at Uriel and pointing sharply, “No, Uriel. Don’t you dare wish for that. If you had been out there your mom and dad would be burying you right alongside Bethany. Don’t wish that on them.”
Uriel leaned back, shaking his head. “That’s not…I mean, that’s not what I meant…”
Jayden had all but sequestered himself in the spare room Reginald and Dayna had afforded him; Uriel hadn’t seen much of him, and his father had convinced him to let Jayden deal with things on his own. Seeing Jayden now, quivering, eyes bloodshot, the rage threatening to burst from him, Uriel was no longer certain that his father had been right.
Jayden must’ve realized the look he had been giving Uriel, because he slowly lowered his finger, placed his hands on his hips, and turned away. “I’m…I’m sorry, Uriel. It’s just that…your mom and dad? They’re very good Angels. Nothing bad should ever happen to good Angels. Nothing bad should ever happen to anyone good.”
Uriel said nothing.
“That’s why we’re still alive.” Jayden whispered, more to himself than Uriel.
Uriel leaned forward. “What? What did you say?”
After a second, Jayden shook his head. “Nothing. But listen.” He whirled on Uriel, the fierceness back in his eyes, but the rage gone. He sat down beside Uriel and looked him square in the eye. “Uriel, listen, can I trust you?”
Unsure of what else to do, frightened of what might happen if he answered wrong, Uriel quickly nodded. “Yeah, sure, Jayden, of course.”
Jayden shook his head. “I’m not going to let this go unpunished, Uriel.” He grit his teeth. “I swear to Amen, Uriel, I don’t care what happens to me. I’m not going to let this go without fighting back.”
Slowly, hesitantly, Uriel frowned. “…what do you mean? What’re you talking about…?”
“Those things killed my brothers, my sister…if Yang wants to sit high on his throne and pretend that nothing’s wrong, that’s fine, that’s his right. But my family died out there, not his! And if he won’t do anything about this, then I will!”
Uriel didn’t know what to think or say. He had never seen this side of Jayden before.
Jayden looked away, visibly shaking.
“I’ve seen these things, Uriel.” Jayden whispered, his voice cracking.
Uriel raised his eyebrows. “You what?”
Jayden seemed to shrink into a ball, tucking his mouth to his fist.
“I’ve seen these things, Uriel.” He repeated surreptitiously. “I know what they look like.”
He closed his eyes, shaking his head, losing a desperate battle to keep the tears at bay. “But I thought they’d be gone by now. It was years ago.”
Uriel realized that he had stopped breathing, and inhaled hard. If what Jayden was saying was true…
“I tried to say something.” Jayden continued, his voice rising, quivering, his mind no longer able to hold back the emotion, “but dad didn’t listen. He thought I was making things up and trying to get out of my chores.”
A cold darkness overtook Jayden as he looked straight ahead. “Things got bad that night.”
Uriel finally found his voice. “When did this happen?”
“Four years ago.” Jayden replied immediately.
He turned quickly, looking at Uriel with hope so desperate it bordered on madness.
“But Uriel, I’m gonna make them pay. Someone taught me how to–”
He was suddenly interrupted by the door opening; Dayna partially entered the room.
“Oh, didn’t realize you two were talking…” She stepped all the way inside. “Uriel, hurry up and get dressed. We have to be at the church soon.”
Uriel quickly nodded his head, bouncing from the bed. He seemed happy for the excuse to get away. “Okay, mom.” He sprinted from the room, flying past his mother, who was pleasantly surprised; Uriel usually balked at the idea of dressing up.
Dayna turned to Jayden. “Are you alright?”
Jayden nodded, forcing a smile. “Yes, I’m fine.”
Dayna cocked her head, smiling wryly. “Are you sure?”
Exhaling, Jayden rose. “I’m alright, Dayna, I promise. Alright as I can be, anyway.”
Dayna’s smile became genuine, and she nodded. “You know that Uriel, Reginald, and I will be there for you all today, right?” She chuckled. “I don’t know if you saw it, but it looks like half of Heaven is supporting you right now.”
Jayden smiled, and Dayna was pleased to see that he wasn’t feigning. “I know, Dayna. I’ll be okay.”
Dayna observed him for a moment more; he looked stronger now than he had all week. She then turned and headed for the door.
“Dayna?” Jayden called after her.
She turned, looking back at him from the door.
“I never did thank you and Reginald for letting me stay here…after everything. I really do appreciate it.”
Dayna grinned, re-entering the room. She strode up to Jayden and wrapped her arms around him, holding him as a mother protecting her child. After a second, Jayden reached up, holding her laying his head down on her shoulders. She wondered when anyone had shown Jayden any affection.
“You,” She began, her voice unshakably strong, “are always welcome in our home.”
Still keeping his head on her shoulder, Jayden quickly nodded. Dayna slowly pulled away; Jayden was too overcome by emotion to speak, keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the floor.
“Come on,” She whispered, “We should get to church.”
“Okay.” Jayden replied.
With that, Dayna turned and exited the room.
Jayden collapsed to his knees, clutching his forearm. He struggled, fighting to control his breathing, regulate the heated oxygen that stretched and compressed his lungs. His heart beat like rapid drumming; it felt as though it would explode out of his throat.
He glowered at his right forearm, his fingers rebelling against him as he forced his fist open. He could feel it; raw power, like millions of flickering flames, coursing through his arm. They were already manifesting; he could hear the bandages that concealed his arm hissing as they burned, his power coming to life against his will.
He closed his eyes tightly, gritting his teeth, remembering what he had been taught….
He had nearly lost his temper, not at Uriel, but the idea that no formal action had been taken against those who’d slaughtered his family…
No. Why he was losing his temper didn’t matter; all that mattered was that he couldn’t. This power was intended for one very specific purpose, and if left unchecked, the destruction would only begin with the St. Morias home. They did not deserve that.
As though he was pulling his hand from cool water, the prickling sensation in his arm receded. Daring to breathe again, Jayden opened his eyes. His fingers loosened, blood began to flow freely again.
He rose. Yes, this power was intended for one very specific purpose, and very soon, those that deserved it would be visited upon. For now, it was time to say goodbye.
(c) Avery K. Tingle for Akting Out LLC
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