Shattered: Guardians of the Knight
by Toni Walker
by Toni Walker
Everything seemed to be a struggle. His legs didn’t work properly, his arms moved as if in slow motion. Something definitely was up. Phoenix wasn’t sure how long he was out, but judging by the lethargic nature of his actions, not to mention his thinking, it had been some time.
He placed a hand gingerly to his forehead, then his aching neck. He felt like he’d been put through the ringer -- backwards -- and twice.
Looking up didn’t seem to make his head feel any better. In fact, the lights seemed to glare down on him making his headache worse.
“For someone who’s not a real agent,” Phoenix Gray murmured to himself. “The once-over *and* the twice-over? This is a bit much, don’t you think?”
He wasn’t speaking to anyone in particular since he was the only person in the room. It merely felt better to talk out loud. It seemed to keep him awake longer. The days in this place weren’t the easiest to endure, but the memory loss seemed to make it easier. Every time he awoke, he couldn’t remember much of what had happened the day before.
He was sure they must be drugging him. Each day blurred into the next. He wasn’t certain how long he had been there. And this place, this prison, was the oddest thing of all.
He wasn’t locked into his room. The door opened easily. The room itself was a marvel of decorating finesse. Phoenix gave it two thumbs up for having that comfy-homespun feeling. It was easy to forget he was a prisoner, which, he was sure, was the purpose for the elaborate room. Or cell, depending on how you looked at it.
His back pressed into the comfortable mattress as lights began to dance in front of his eyes. “No, not yet. I’ve got to stay awake!”
He rotated off the bed and fell onto all fours. The hardwood floors slammed into his knees forcing him to immediately roll on his back. He spit out a muttered curse and rubbed the pain.
He arched his back off the freezing floor, but it jostled him enough that the blood began pumping faster through his body. His drooping eyes opened wider until he could get a good look into the hallway. All he could see was that one wall of his room was a large viewing window.
He was a rat in a cage!
Behind the window stood a woman with red hair raining down to her shoulders and a haggard man with wild, white hair. He kind of reminded Phoenix of Doc Brown from ‘Back To The Future’ except he was sure this man didn’t have his best interest at heart.
The woman whispered something to him that Phoenix couldn’t hear. He strained his eyes to get a better look at her. When he focused in on her, he was surprised by what was staring back at him.
Faith gasped and hauled her fist back. She wanted to slug him, she really did, but he had just saved her life.
“Marcus! Are you trying to give me a heart attack?”
“I know I deserve whatever hell you want to rain down on me, but why don’t we discuss it later -- when we’re not being chased by Black Council minions.”
She nodded and took his hand. They ran for what seemed like hours. The tunnels underneath Club Crave weren’t exactly the easiest to navigate. Faith Fairchild and Marcus Hunter stopped at yet another dead end.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Faith murmured. “I thought you knew where you were going.”
“Come on, Shiloh. You know me,” Marcus said with a chuckle. “I act first and seek directions later.”
“Shiloh? Who is Shiloh?” Faith leaned over at the waist trying to catch her breath.
“You’re kidding, right? It’s been your alias for the last three years. You took it after escaping from Bulgaria.” Marcus took a deep breath and looked down the darkened tunnel. His micro-flashlight was barely helping them in the pitch blackness of the area.
“What in the hell happened to me? I don’t remember you except for our past five years ago. And I have no memory of this Shiloh character.”
Shouts from the end of the corridor drew closer and heavy footsteps echoed down the tunnel.
“I would love to sit you down and tell you the whole story, but those Black Council idiots are closing in on us. It’s best if we find a safe house. Liz will meet us later.”
“What did they do to me, Marcus?”
He grabbed her hand and drug her behind him down the dim passageway. “Later, Shy. Later.”
She resisted. He knew she would. She was stubborn that way.
“I know they did something to me,” Faith yelled, scratching her chest. “I can feel it inside of me!”
Marcus knew he had only one option if either of them were to survive.
“Sorry about this, Shy.”
Her questioning glance lasted only seconds when he pushed a combination of pressure points on her neck. She crumpled and he threw her small body over his shoulder.
“I’ll pay for that tomorrow,” Marcus muttered. “But, at least, you’ll be alive.
The man with wild white hair thrust a paper in front of Phoenix.
Phoenix angled his head up to the stranger.
“You captured me so that I could *read* to you? Is this some new type of psycho-torture? Because frankly, as torture goes, this is pretty lame.”
He glanced to the window where his mother stood staring at him then shrugged a shoulder toward her.
“Why don’t you have *her* read to you? I’m sure she’s all up on bedtime stories.”
His grandfather, Chandelor Knight joined his mother at the window.
“Great--” Phoenix said slowly. “It’s a family reunion.”
Knight pressed an intercom switch before him and leaned toward the microphone.
“Read the note, son.”
Chandelor Knight *is* your grandfather by birthright. And your mother *is* alive and has been all these years. I‘m sorry for the deception. But at the time, it was the only solution. You must trust them in your time of need. If I’m not around, they will be your guardians.
Your Father, Graham Gray
It was an awfully convenient note as far as notes went. It didn’t say much and he didn’t believe a word of it. Knight may be his grandfather but gramps and his mother didn’t have his best interests in mind. In fact, his inner sense was screaming at him that his was all some sort of elaborate deception.
He knew he had to find a way out of the prison, and he had to find it soon before they drugged him into a stupor again.
“It’s my father’s handwriting,” Phoenix said. “At least, it *looks* like my father’s handwriting. I doubt he would have had time to write a note just to me and leave my sister, Scarlett, out of it. So, that makes me think that you’re trying to pull a fast one. The thing I don’t understand is -- why?”
Bobbie Sullivan followed when the red haired woman in the goth outfit led him into a secret passageway behind the bar. He wasn’t certain of her loyalties but his first priority was to get away from the Black Council.
“You’ve got to move a lot faster,” the woman yelled. “They’ll catch us if you don’t get a move on.”
“Where are you taking me? And a better question is, ‘who the hell are you?’”
“Just know that I’m one of the good guys.”
Bobbie shook his head. He knew from experience that the bad guys always said they were the good guys to get the dumb, inexperienced operatives to follow their lead and then lead them into danger.
“I have a contact out in the plaza. He can help us.”
Bobbie didn’t have a good feeling about this contact. He ducked his head as they exited out onto the plaza three doors down from the club.
“There he is,” Liz pointed at the man sitting casually on the bench outside the café.
Bobbie stopped short. It was Cameron Cash.
“Cameron Cash is your contact? Are you insane? Not long ago he was the security advisor to Julian Black.” Bobbie began to run in the opposite direction.
“No, wait!” Liz yelled. “He’s on our side.”
She turned around to run after him but Cameron came up behind her.
“Let him run. We don’t need his intel anyway.” He led her to the bathroom to the other side of the café. “Clean up. Change your look and we’ll meet up with Marcus. He should be safely away by now with the package in hand.”
Liz Hunter nodded. “Right away, I’ll be just a minute.”
Three minutes later, Liz looked like a completely different person. She resembled the typical American college student with a backpack she’d swiped from someone in the restroom and her normal straight light brown hair.
She strolled with Cameron down the plaza easily in sight of the Black Council minions they’d been evading earlier.
“I told you he wouldn’t buy the deception.” Esta Cooper removed the necklace from around her neck which effectively turned off the holographic image that made the world believe she was Roanna Ambrose.
Miles Hayworth, one of the top Knights Foundation scientists, nodded in agreement with Esta.
“You can’t keep him here hoping he might not run into Marcus or Liz or stop your plan for Scarlett. He’s bull-headed. You know that better than anyone.”
Esta thrust her hip out and secured her hand there.
“Phoenix is compromising the Echelon Project. Liz and Marcus are both a great success and you can’t let him any closer to finding out the truth surrounding his birth. The truth about Scarlett’s birth. About either of your son’s births. The legacy you have created here is greater than any one person.”
“You’re both right. I know, but he can’t be reprogrammed. We’ve already tried that.” Chandelor paced in front of the viewing window. “You have to understand. I can’t kill the boy. He’s like another son to me.”
Esta laughed. It was a harsh and ugly sound.
“You are deluding yourself, Knight. You probably even believe the lies you hock on your brochure for the Knights Foundation. We have a responsibility to the governments of the world. You can’t forget your mission.”
Esta put the holographic necklace back on and stepped into the viewing window in sight of Phoenix who was still lying on the floor.
“You’re not my mother, are you?” Phoenix said.
Esta turned to Knight who was about to leave the room. “And you think we don’t need to deal with him? He’s more intuitive than you figured. Your dash of psychic goo in his DNA mix is becoming a problem.”
“Don’t kill him, Esta. I’m warning you. You will regret it if you defy me.” Knight turned and strode out of the room and his loafers clicked down the hallway until he was out of earshot.
Esta turned back to Phoenix. “You’re very good, Mr. Gray. What gave me away?”
Phoenix shrugged. “Bad vibes. You don’t emit the same energy patterns as my mother, which is why I didn’t stay to chat when we were first introduced in Cameron Cash’s hospital room.”
She nodded. “You’re a very gifted empath. We‘ve known about your abilities for a while. We knew it was only a matter of time before you discovered them for yourself.”
“I don’t know what you call it, but I pay attention to my gut feelings.”
Phoenix glanced at the molding around the window. There had to be a way out of there that didn’t involve him going out the door. He had a bad feeling about the door. He figured it had to be rigged somehow. Everything about this place made him feel like he was a rat in a very complex maze.
“So, why me? Why me and my sister? What did you think you could get from us? Intel? That’s a joke.”
“The location of your father, of course. Gray has been very hard to track down-- as has his brother, Mac.”
Phoenix laughed and then coughed spitting up blood. He wiped his mouth and glared up at her.
“You must not have read up much on me and my family because if you had, you’d know my father doesn’t have a lot of interest in us. And frankly, the feeling is mutual.”
“You must know something,” Esta said, eagerly.
The woman was reaching. Phoenix found it rather pathetic.
“All I know is where I thought he would be -- the American Embassy -- surprisingly, he wasn’t there. But I’m sure you already know that. He hasn’t been there for quite a while.”
Phoenix lunged at the window and slammed his fist on the glass. The blood from his mouth smeared on the window.
“All your hard work has been for nothing. Satisfied? Now-- I have a question for you. Where’s my sister?”
Bobbie ran until he came to the underground railway. From there it was easy to hop a train and get safely back into the old Legacy Headquarters. He knew he would be safe down there, at least for awhile. That location had been abandoned three years earlier after an explosion decimated the building.
He had left certain hidden objects in areas only he was aware of. He let himself into the security office and switched on the monitoring system. At least, he’d be able to tell if someone had followed him.
There was a red light blinking alerting him that someone had entered Phillip Lancaster’s office. The windows overlooking the Com area were blown out and the shades ripped. It was easy to zoom into the office to get a better look.
Nadia Kassoff was pacing back and forth with a pained expression on her face. What was she doing in here? She shouldn’t even be aware of the location of this office. This was before her time.
But Nadia wasn’t the only surprise guest of the night. A man entered the office and Nadia rushed to him wrapping her arms around him. It took Bobbie a minute to discover the identity of the man but when he zoomed in on the face and focused the camera he jumped backward.