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"Legends" Feature #5-Excerpt


Today’s Feature is an excerpt from Legends: Episode I-Identity.

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Xavier Matthews stood in the middle of the walkway leading up to the new mansion.  It looked similar to the last one in Seattle.  It wasn’t a coincidence-Xavier’s dad always tried to have the builders model each new house after the last; they’d have the same floor plans and everything.  Xavier’s dad probably thought it would help his son adjust to the new places they moved to, but it didn’t matter.  Xavier was tired of moving around.

He’d actually thought for a while that they might finally settle down in Seattle but, like always, his dad had decided it was time to move again. Xavier sighed.  He had liked Seattle.

Two of the hired movers waddled up the walkway carrying a couch between them.  Xavier stepped out of there way and glanced back at his father who was conversing with one of his assistants.  A smile forced its way onto Xavier’s face as he watched his dad blink his eyes sleepily.  It was obvious he was trying his best to listen to all of the no-doubt important information the assistant was rapidly relaying.

Turning to look back at the mansion, Xavier decided to do his best not to let his dad know he didn’t really want to be here.  He knew his dad worked hard and had worked even harder the last few weeks to make sure the transition went smoothly for Xavier.  Knowing that Xavier wanted not to go to another private school, he had even made sure the house was positioned in the district of the best public school.

Besides maybe this new city-Riverwood-wouldn’t be so bad.  Maybe he could actually make some friends for once…

“You okay buddy?”

Xavier turned to see AJ standing next to him.  The man stood probably a half foot taller than Xavier.  With a burly, muscular frame to go along with his height, he more than likely looked like the Matthews’ bodyguard to the average observer.  In reality, AJ was his dad’s personal mechanic who had lived and traveled with them for the last four years.  People always found it strange when they learned about AJ living with them, but AJ was more than just an employee.  He was family.  And maybe Xavier’s only friend.

Xavier replied to AJ. “Yeah I’m fine.  Just thinking is all.”

“Riverwood won’t be so bad,” AJ said knowingly.  He always had a knack for knowing what the boy was thinking.  “I have a good feeling about this place.  I think we might actually stick around for a while this time.”

“Yeah I wish,” Xavier sighed.

AJ patted him on the shoulder.  “Things are going to be different this time.  Trust me.”

Xavier gave AJ a smile and began to make his way up the walkway to the house.  AJ turned to walk back the way he came.  He really did hope things would be different this time.  He’d watched Xavier grow up over the years and felt a strong attachment to him like he was his little brother.  He wanted him to be okay.

Now that Xavier was 16 and almost a man he needed to be able to settle down and find his own identity.  Even more important, he needed to make some friends, and with his long, curly brown hair and blue eyes it probably wouldn’t be long before he had a girlfriend.

AJ smiled at the thought while making his way toward Xavier’s father and his assistant.  James Matthews-Xavier’s dad and AJ’s boss-was just as important to AJ.  He’d given him the job of his dreams and treated him like part of the family.  While AJ appreciated and respected him he always did wonder why the man insisted on moving so much.  All the relocating couldn’t be easy on him either.

The assistant finished talking and walked away briskly.  James shook his head and sighed with exaggeration.  AJ laughed.

“Sometimes I forget what it is I even do for a living, AJ.”

“Before I met you, I always thought millionaire tycoons just sat in big window offices and counted their money.”

“Well there’s more to what I do than meets the eye.”  James fell silent and looked off into the distance.  He seemed to have immediately gotten lost in his thoughts.  AJ noticed that it was something he did quite a lot.

“Mr. Matthews?” AJ said politely.

“Hm?  Oh, sorry AJ.  I just have a lot on my mind.”

“I understand, sir.”

James continued to look off into the distance while twisting the ring that rested on his right ring finger.  It was a gold band with a large golden “L” overlaid on a dark blue sapphire stone.  AJ had asked about the ring before and James had said that it was from a fraternity he used to belong to.  AJ couldn’t imagine what fraternity used a single L as its insignia.

“Do you know why I chose Riverwood, AJ?” James asked abruptly.

“Uh, no actually.”

James kept staring into the distance.  “I got a call from an old friend recently.  She’s been living here for years and I didn’t even know.  I figured why not move to a place where I actually knew someone.  And she has a son.  Maybe he and Xavier could be friends.”  James trailed off.

“Well I think maybe this could be a great place to settle down for a little while,” AJ suggested.

James smiled and looked at AJ.  “I think so, too.”

AJ smiled back.  Maybe he was right.  Maybe things would be different.

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The Barnes Bros. have started a Kickstarter project to fund their new e-book series Legends. To pledge and support their venture click HERE.

Notes

"Legends" Feature #3-Excerpt


Today’s Feature is an excerpt from Legends: Episode I-Identity.

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Trey unconsciously bobbed his head lightly to the rap music Eddie blasted from his car stereo.  With his arm resting on the open passenger side windowsill, Trey reclined in his seat.  On a normal day Eddie would play his music this loudly, but tonight the two of them were purposely trying to draw attention to themselves.

It was working.  Slowly, Japanese teenagers were starting to melt out of the shadows.  They appeared in alleyways and stood in the entrances of old, condemned buildings.  Trey tried to count all of the Shinobi he could see, but he quickly lost count.

Eddie continued to steer his Firebird slowly down the street while quietly rapping along with the lyrics of the song.  Trey noticed that while one of his partner’s hands was on the steering wheel, the other was resting lightly against his side.  He knew it was where Eddie kept his handgun.  Trey turned his attention back to the gathering Shinobi.  He knew his friend would use the gun if it came to it.  Trey was going to make sure it didn’t.

Suddenly, a group of five Shinobi appeared in the middle of the street blocking the passage of the Firebird.  Eddie brought the car to a stop and cut off the music.

“Here we go,” Eddie muttered under his breath.  The two of them exited the car casually and sat down on the hood with their arms crossed.  Trey took time to examine the Shinobi closer.  They all were dressed in identical purple linen uniforms.  They were form fitting, as if designed with combat in mind.  The defining feature was a stylized snake decorating the backs of their shirts.

“That’s a nice car,” a Shinobi with short black hair spoke up.  He stood out in front of the rest; Trey guessed he must have been the leader.  “I think I’ll take it.”

“My baby?” Eddie asked incredulously.  “Oh, you’ve already messed up.”

Instantly, the Shinobi flicked his hand.  All Trey saw was a glint of metal as something flew through the air.  With a loud clink a sharp object embedded itself in the hood of Eddie’s car, inches from his thigh.  It looked to Trey like a kunai.  

“Like I said,” the Shinobi stated smugly.  “I think I’ll take it.”

Immediately, Eddie leapt up from the hood of the Firebird and drew his gun.  He aimed it directly at the Shinobi.  “I’d like to see you try.”

Trey cursed inwardly.  He’d been worried something like this might happen.  Eddie was a great fighter, but he couldn’t control his temper.  Out of the corner of his eye, Trey noticed more Shinobi gathering and surrounding them.  They were outnumbered.

Tension hung thickly in the air.  The original plan Trey and Eddie had agreed upon was to attempt to intimidate the Shinobi and avoid an unnecessary altercation.  Trey knew that was impossible now, but maybe he could still take back control of the situation.

“We represent Jackpot,” Trey raised his voice for all of the Shinobi to hear.  “Do you know that name?  Jackpot is the world’s biggest crime lord.  You don’t want to be on his hit list.”

“You are Jackpot’s Enforcers,” the head Shinobi said unfazed by the gun in his face.  He fixed his eyes on Trey.  “I have heard of you.  But I didn’t know one of you was Japanese.”

Trey knew it wasn’t hard for people to tell he was only half-Black, but he wondered why this Shinobi was commenting on it now.  The way he’d said it…it was almost like he knew something about Trey.  Eddie noticed it too; he cut his eyes over to Trey and gave him a quizzical look.  That was his mistake.

With striking speed, the head Shinobi leapt forward and smacked Eddie’s hand to the side.  The gun fired harmlessly into the ground.  The Shinobi followed up immediately with a punch that hit Eddie squarely in the face.  Eddie dropped the gun and it slid across the ground out of his reach.

The other Shinobi quickly closed in and joined the fight.  Immediately, Trey knew there was no way they could win.  There were at least 15 Shinobi for each of them, and, if their combat skills matched their confidence, this would be a short fight.

Trey combatted defensively.  He didn’t risk initiating any maneuvers; he only parried the attacks that came his way.  His only hope was to try to tire them down and wait for one of them to make a mistake.  Maybe then he could turn things around long enough to get back to the car and get he and Eddie out of there.

Trey risked a look at Eddie.  He was getting the worst of it.  He’d never been able to recover from the initial blindsiding by the Shinobi leader and their opponents were taking advantage of that.  A cut on his brow was leaking blood into his eyes.  Trey knew that pretty soon Eddie wouldn’t be able to see.

Suddenly, a sharp pain flashed through Trey’s ribs.  He cried out and his knees buckled.  One of the Shinobi had gotten in a good blow while he had been distracted.  His comrades didn’t hesitate to swoop in and take Trey down.  A second later, he was on his back with a Shinobi digging his knee into his chest.  Trey was pinned.

“Watch how you handle him,” one of the other Shinobi commented.

“I know,” Trey’s assailant responded.

What are they talking about? Trey thought to himself.  He knew if he asked they wouldn’t answer.  Worse, they might knock him unconscious if he struggled.  Better to let them think he’d surrender until he could think of a way to get out of this.

Craning his neck, Trey looked back at Eddie.  He was pinned now, too, by the Shinobi leader.

“Looks like you’re all talk,” the Shinobi smirked.

Eddie spit blood into the Shinobi’s face with contempt.  The Shinobi’s smile disappeared.  He quickly revealed another kunai.

“We don’t need this one alive.”

Time seemed to slow for Trey as the Shinobi held the small knife to Eddie’s neck.  He could almost see what was about to happen next.  The quick slice, blood spilling from Eddie’s neck as he gasped for breath that would never come….

Unspeakable rage filled Trey’s body.  He could literally feel it in his veins.  His vision suddenly lost all color and he could…see things…no, not things.

Everything.

He could see the exact distance between himself and Eddie.  It was exactly 8.3 meters.  The weight of the Shinobi on top of him was 165 pounds, but he was only pressing 102 of them onto his chest.  He even knew the temperature of the air.  62 degrees Celsius with the wind blowing from the south at 5 mph.  Trey knew all of this as if he’d spent time measuring it all.  But he hadn’t, he just knew it.  Even the exact measurements didn’t register in his head as numbers, he just knew how everything related to each other.  It was as if a switch had flipped in his head allowing him to see how everything worked.

All of this registered in Trey’s mind over the course of a second.  His perception of time still seemed decelerated as he pushed the Shinobi off of his chest.  While the other Shinobi began to react, Trey reached into his stunned attacker’s belt and retrieved a kunai.  A moment before, Trey wouldn’t have been able to remember where the Shinobi kept their kunai. However, right when he needed it, his mind presented him with an image from several minutes earlier of the head Shinobi grabbing his kunai from his belt and throwing it into the hood of Eddie’s car.  Trey hadn’t even noticed the details before, but apparently his eyes had witnessed it and that’d been enough.

The other Shinobi tried to stop Trey, but he easily dodged and dispatched them.  Now he could see their movements in greater detail.  Every muscle twitch, every shift of their feet.  Even the way they moved their eyes telegraphed to Trey how they would attack. 

As soon as Trey had a clear shot he launched the kunai at the head Shinobi.  The metal glinted as it cut through the air and buried itself in the Shinobi’s shoulder just as he had intended.

The head Shinobi screeched in pain and Eddie took the opportunity to plant both feet into his chest and kick him backward.  Trey readied himself for the next onslaught of attackers, but it never came.  Slowly, Trey realized that the Shinobi were recoiling from him in shock and fear.  Even Eddie was staring at Trey with wide eyes.

“What?” Trey asked aloud.

“Kato!” One of the Shinobi shouted and ran over to his kneeling leader.  Trey realized that that must have been name.  Kato held his hand around the handle of the kunai in his shoulder trying to stem the flow of blood.  He frowned at Trey.

“You have the eyes of a demon,” Kato said.  “Rambaldi spoke the truth about you.”

Trey was sure now these people knew something about him-he just didn’t know what.  And what did he mean the “eyes of a demon?”  And who in the world was Rambaldi?

Kato continued.  “The next time we meet I’ll be prepared.”  Kato gave a signal with his hand and all of the Shinobi retreated back into the shadows.  The Shinobi that had gone to assist Kato helped him to his feet and they departed.

“Okay then…” Trey said as he felt his muscles relax.  He realized that the color had returned to his vision at some point, and he couldn’t perceive his surroundings with the same detail as before.  It seemed that he was back to normal.

“What was that?” Eddie asked wiping blood from his face.

“I know, right?  I don’t-”

“No!  I meant you!  Your eyes!”

“What are you talking about, Eddie?”

“Your eyes were white!  Like, straight white!  Your pupils were gone!”

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Follow The Barnes Bros. on YouTube and Twitter.

The Barnes Bros. have started a Kickstarter project to fund their new e-book series Legends. To pledge and support their venture click HERE.

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