will be completed in a series of installments)
following morning, the ramifications of the previous afternoon were
still bouncing crazily off the walls of Kyra's mind. Following their
return to the apartment, they had picked over the details of the
attack, but succeeded in merely unravelling things further.
Preston had brooded over Freimann's death before storming off to call
the Free Cleric to an emergency meeting. Kyra knew he would have to
reinstate some of the more unpopular regimens from their Tetragrammaton
training, but desperate times and all that…
In the end, neither she nor Preston had slept more than a few hours and
that sleep was born of exhaustion and gave no measurable respite. She
was frustrated by the reports from the Medical teams on the bedraggled
survivors of the Station massacre. Levels of 'Magic' in their
bloodstreams were astronomical, causing hallucinations and problems
with mental and physical co-ordination, not to mention the possibility
of major organ failure. Not one of them could give a coherent account.
An involuntary shudder passed through her body as Kyra accepted she
would have to use…other…methods to extract necessary information from
Getting dressed had taken all her concentration and now preparing a
simple breakfast was proving almost too much for her tired brain to
coordinate, especially with the added dimension of a drooling dog
snuffling around her legs.
Consequently, she paid scant attention as Robbie walked slowly into the
kitchen area and completely failed to notice his dark, vengeful eyes
following her every move. Her own eyes were still a little unfocused
and her head throbbed slightly. She pushed a metal canister across the
work surface and winced as it clanged against one of the bowls and
noisily scattered the spoons.
'Robbie, please would you put these on the table?'
Although she knew the boy wouldn't dare refuse, Kyra steeled herself
against the expected snide retort.
It never came.
'Of course, Kyra,' Robbie replied evenly. Far too evenly.
Kyra's eyes snapped into focus and her suspicion sat up.
What's he up to?
'Thank you, Robbie,' she said quietly.
Just then, John padded into the room trying to stifle a yawn and push
his hair into place at the same time. He succeeded in neither task and
so shrugged his shoulders and smiled hopefully at Kyra.
'Any tea? My mouth tastes like I've been chewing Beethoven's
Kyra chuckled and placed a steaming cup into his hands.
'Can't vouch for the quality, but it's fresh and hot.'
Robbie had finished setting the table when Lisa yelled from the
'Anyone seen my schoolbag?'
'No!' chorused Preston and Kyra.
'It's in here,' advised Robbie, an odd smile tugging at the corners of
Lisa scooted happily into the room.
Kyra froze in shock.
John's cup impacted with the floor and shattered into pieces.
Lisa stopped short in surprise.
Robbie's smile vanished.
'Lisa…where did you get that?' John asked hoarsely.
Lisa's right hand flew to the bright red ribbon, fashioned into a neat
little bow and pinned to her ponytail. Her face registered confusion
and panic whilst tearful eyes darted between her father and her
brother. Robbie swallowed hard and faced his father.
'Dad…don't blame Lisa…it's all my fault. I thought you'd be pleased. I
only meant to…'
Unfathomable eyes turned towards the boy.
'I'll ask you just once. Where…did you get it?'
Preston had retreated into full Cleric mode and his voice was low and
dangerous. Beethoven whimpered and hid under the table. Robbie
understood that he had made a very serious error – although he had no
comprehension of what that might be - and that the only recourse was to
tell the truth…well, as far as was necessary…
He swallowed again.
'I was looking for socks. I thought some of mine had got mixed up with
yours or… so I checked the drawers. The...the… ribbon was at the back
and I thought…well…wouldn't it be nice if Lisa wore it…something of
Mom's to remind her, you know. It was supposed to be a surprise. I'm
sorry…I didn't think you'd be angry…'
Robbie started to shake. His sister had run to Kyra and was sobbing
quietly in her arms. She had torn the ribbon from her hair. This wasn't
how it was supposed to have been. He really didn't understand.
When Preston spoke again, his voice was softer and there was no trace
of the Cleric.
'It's ok, Robbie. I understand. It was just…unexpected, that's all. And
it's complicated. Maybe later, we can…we can talk about it. Ok?'
'Ok, Dad…and I'm sorry.'
'I know. Now you and Lisa get yourselves ready for school and we'll say
no more about it.'
As Robbie turned to go back to his room, he glanced across at Kyra, who
was still hugging Lisa. Their eyes met and in that instant he realised
that she knew exactly what he had planned, how he had intended to use
Viviana's ribbon to drive a wedge between her and his father, by
resurrecting the ghost of his mother. Yet he also saw that Kyra
understood much more…the true reason behind his father's reaction…and
that it was something he would probably never know.
Totally unaware of her brother's ulterior motive, Lisa finally
extricated herself from Kyra's embrace, still too upset to speak. Head
lowered, she walked slowly towards John and bravely placed the
tear-stained ribbon in his hand. She started to move away, but found
her own hand held firmly. Hardly daring to breathe, she looked up at
her father, who very gently reached down to brush away a few errant
tears which had trickled down her cheek. He smiled and softly kissed
the top of her head. Lisa shuddered, then hugged him tightly.
'I love you, Dad,' she whispered and ran back to her room.
Kyra stood motionless in the kitchen. Bitterly, she acknowledged that
regardless of his understanding of the situation, Robbie had probably
accomplished exactly what he had set out to do…and more thoroughly than
he could ever have imagined. She had clearly seen the way John's
fingers had almost convulsively gripped the treacherous satin. Her
throat closed, her skin felt cold and she thought she could still
detect the cloying fragrance sprayed on the ribbon.
Sometimes, nestled against him in the warmth of their bed, she had
wondered if John still dreamed of crimson and flames.
Now she was sure of it.
Whilst the children had readied themselves for school, Preston
methodically checked, stripped and cleaned both his and Kyra's
sidearms. He examined his sleeve holsters, replaced the polycarbonate
release clips and tested the retractable grip. Kyra unplugged the
notebooks from their charge stands and fastened them securely in their
Neither of them met the other's eyes.
Robbie and Lisa left with their security detail and shortly after,
Preston and Kyra did the same. Kyra tried to initiate a dialogue, but
John simply raised his hands in a blocking motion that brooked any
Their journey to FLS HQ passed in silence.
Kyra fought to bring some semblance of order to her mind, which was
skittering about like gnats in warm weather.
Robbie's explanation of missing socks wouldn't stand up to much
scrutiny, since Kyra knew exactly in which drawer the ribbon had been
secreted and it certainly wasn't one that John would have opened.
No…she knew exactly what had happened and how Robbie had taken
Kyra cursed her decision to rescue the thing from the floor of DuPont's
office, in some obviously misguided belief that eventually the shadow
of Mary O'Brien would be chased away permanently. She had kept it in
her apartment after everything hit the fan, waiting for the right time
to give it back to John.
Then things got really complicated really fast. Weeks passed, that
'right time' never came and Kyra eventually forgot all about the little
box she had found, covered in dust, jammed between the wall and the
clothes cupboard in the bedroom.
The irony of placing Mary's ribbon in a box that had obviously belonged
to Viviana was not lost on Kyra, but she never considered that Lisa
might go mooching amongst her things.
Not the brightest decision you ever made, was it?
Well, the damage was done and at least Kyra knew where she stood, her
tentative dreams and plans shattered like the pieces of John's cup she
had tossed in the recycling. She turned her head and looked out of the
car window as it cruised past the masses of Free Librian citizens.
For his part, Preston had simply shut down. The seismic shock to his
system of seeing the scrap of fabric and inhaling the scent was so huge
that he could not and would not process it. He had considered it all in
the past; that he would never again have to experience such lack of
control, such utter helplessness. Not so. He recognised that he hadn't
really dealt at all with his emotional response to those five days
after the death of Partridge…
There you go again, placing a level of detachment between yourself and
…after he had killed Partridge.
…after he had killed his friend.
Kyra had been like a rock, anchoring him to the new reality of life
without the rule of the Tetragrammaton. She had asked no searching
questions, although he had learned from Jurgen that she had tried to
The name refused to form.
And so they had fallen back into their old ways for a short while, the
Cleric and his Administrator, until the shift in their relationship
became both impossible to ignore and necessary for them to act upon.
Very soon after, stretched security resources and frustration with a
lack of privacy dictated the most logical course of action and Kyra
transferred to his quarters, much to Lisa's, though unfortunately not
And now this.
His mind whirled with questions without any hope of answers, because
they could not be asked.
I can't and won't deal with this now. It isn't the right time.
Preston turned his head and looked out of the other window.
Chapter 8 - Coming Soon