JC Andrijeski's Fantasy Series Allie's War is one I've read and found fascinating. I highly
recommend this series to fantasy readers. Her great books are very action packed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR-
JC Andrijeski has published novels, novellas, serials, graphic novels and short stories, including new adult fantasy series, Allie’s War, the new adult science fiction series, The Slave Girl Chronicles, and the Gateshifter series, about a shape-shifting alien and a tough-girl PI from Seattle. She also writes nonfiction essays and articles, as well as some erotica. Her short works have been featured in anthologies, online literary, art and fiction magazines as well as print venues such as NY Press newspaper and holistic health magazines. JC travels extensively and has lived abroad in Europe, Australia and Asia, but
currently lives and works full time as a writer in Portland, OR.
To learn more about JC and her writing, please visit www.jcandrijeski.com.
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JC Andrijeski excerpt of Rook-
“Put it down!” A voice yelled. “On the ground! Right now!”
I blinked in confusion, staring at the bottle in my hand. The jagged end of broken glass looked like something out of a cartoon, or an old gangster movie.
Blood ran down the inside of my arm, not all of it mine. My muscles locked, bunched up with adrenaline.
Someone must have called the police. The young guy in front of me didn’t have his gun out, but his hand held the holster menacingly, and his uniform brought a flush of panic, starting somewhere in my lower belly.
The other fire that had burned there—irrationally bright only seconds before—abruptly sobered. Without taking so much as a breath, I dropped the broken bottle, holding up my hands in a gesture of surrender.
I’ve never been a tough chick. I’d never done anything remotely like this before...but I knew enough to know that my arms covered in tattoos and my punky, bleached-calico hair weren’t winning me any points with the men in blue. I looked around at the swath of cleared space around the bar.
“Hands up!” the cop yelled.
“They’re up!” I said.
He walked up, grabbing one of my wrists. He spun me around so I faced the bar. I felt cool metal hit my wrist as my chest thudded into the lacquered wood.
“You have any weapons?” the young policeman asked. He cuffed me, then patted me down. “Don’t fucking move!” he yelled, when I turned to look at him.
“No weapons!” I was shouting I realized, scared out of my wits.
All the while, my mind churned useless facts. People got shot doing stupid shit like this. More cops got shot in domestic disputes than during any other kind of call, which likely explained why the young cop’s hands shook as he cuffed me.
My eyes swept the oddly bright space until they lit on the person who had inspired all this drama, and that flame of irrational feeling ripped once more through my chest cavity, making it difficult to breathe, to think straight.
Jaden, my now ex-boyfriend, stood like a store mannequin, his eyes as wide as saucers in a pale face. He gripped the upper arm of his date, a voluptuous girl in a red vinyl dress, as if to steady himself. I looked at her, and the rage came back, intense enough to scare me. Breathing harder, I leaned against the wood, closing my eyes, trying to crush my own chest.
Feeling ripped through my center, animal-like—almost painful.
In my defense, I’d only heard about them that night, and the fact that their affair started three months earlier, while I’d been blissfully happy, thinking Jaden and I were mutually in love. According to his bass player, she’d started hanging out with them after shows, eventually winning him over with flattery, pouty lips and enormous tits.
She was babbling something to him and her friends now, half-hysterical, her arm bleeding profusely from where I’d slashed at her with the bottle, her red-painted lips another dark wound on her face.
I stared at them both, thinking, this can’t be real. It can’t be. This isn’t me.
But it was.
I stared out the dirty window of the bottle-green Plymouth, watching trees and coast slide by. We were still on Highway 1, nearing where it merged with 101, not far from the Oregon border.
I hadn’t been on that stretch of road since I was a kid. What took minutes on Highway 5, or even 101 from San Francisco to Eureka, took hours along Highway 1, making the twisting two-lane road hugging the rocky coastline feel endless. But Revik wanted us off the main highway, at least until we crossed state lines. Even within seaside towns, he took side streets, avoiding the main “strips,” if they could be called that in towns that maybe had four bars, a salt-eaten motel, a greasy spoon, a church, a head shop and one drive-through coffee stand.
Somewhere near Fort Bragg, he uncuffed me from the door. I suppose I should’ve been grateful for that, but as my hands and ankles remained bound, my gratitude was limited. I watched the sun slink into the Pacific as pelicans skimmed by, beating long wingspans.
I felt him looking at me. When he didn’t stop after a few minutes, I exhaled sharply, facing him.
He turned the wheel of the Plymouth, sliding behind the main street of another seaside village whose name I didn’t know. We passed a few bars and an auto shop. His pale eyes shone in the neon signs.
“We are low on gas. Can I trust you?”
“Dehgo...whatever your name is...”
“Right. Are you going to tell me? What that guy meant about me ending the world?”
He exhaled. “Terian was trying to unbalance you. But it is true that they...” He amended, “...We believe you to be someone important.”
“Allie, can I trust you, if I—”
“Revik, important how?”
Clicking to himself, he pulled into a nearby Arco station. Stopping in front of a pump, he turned off the ignition. When an attendant walked right up to the window, I realized with some surprise that we must be in Oregon. Revik rolled down the window, which stuck a few times. He gave me a last warning glance.
“Hey! Cool car, man! What can she do on the freeway...?”
The boy’s words trailed, just before his eyes filmed over.
Revik sat up to tug the clip from his back pocket, handing through a few bills of paper money. I noticed the attendant’s eyes didn’t look at me as he took the folded paper. They also didn’t glance at the rust-colored stains on Revik’s shirt, or the slash of the same on his pale neck.
Frowning, he glanced at me, then at the rearview mirror. I watched as he licked his fingers, rubbing at the dark stain on his neck. Then he leaned over my lap and pulled open the glove box. Taking out an oil rag, he poured some water in it from a plastic bottle and rubbed it over his neck, erasing the mark completely.
“Revik, I’m hungry. I’m thirsty, too.”
Instead of answering, he handed me the half-full bottle.
I tilted it over my mouth, drinking.
His tone remained neutral. “Like I told you...historical periods have beginnings, middles and ends,” he said. “At the end, the dominant species has an opportunity to evolve...in several possible directions. We seers call these opportunities Displacements.” In the mirrors, he watched the boy hook the pump to the tank. His fingers gripped the wheel, green in the florescent light.
“…In some human mythology, this is called ‘Apocalypse.’ Do you know this word?”
I rolled my eyes. “Yeah. I might have heard it on one or two heavy metal albums.” I watched the blond kid in the dingy overalls enter the convenience store. He walked to one of the coolers in the back, pulled out a large bottle of water.
“...So you understand,” Revik said. “This will, of necessity, affect all of the species, not just humans. The elders have seen signs of the human displacement approaching. Some of these signs relate to developments in the natural world. Others have to do with—”
“Okay,” I said, still watching the boy. “...So you’re paranoid. What does any of that have to do with me?” I watched the blond kid pull two plastic-sealed sandwiches out of a cooler, two apples, a bag of chips...
“Burrito,” I blurted. “Get me a frozen burrito...he can throw it in the microwave, right?”
A hint of revulsion grew visible in the set of Revik’s mouth, but when I looked back at the store, the blond kid was stuffing a plastic-covered burrito into a industrial microwave and twisting the grease-covered dial. When I glanced over, Revik was watching me again, his eyes narrow.
He said, “The Bridge ushers in the Displacement. They are the catalyst. They are also what we call an intermediary being...one of the first. Historically, they gather three friends—”
“Let me guess...the four of us, we all ride horses, right?” I propped my cuffed hands on the armrest. “I do read, you know.”
I leaned my head on the glass. Glancing in the side mirror, I winced. I looked like I’d escaped from a mental hospital, then got beaten up and thrown in a dumpster.
I saw him watching me, eyes narrow.
“Trust me to attract crazies even among the seers,” I said. “...Jon will love this.”
Revik rolled down his window, accepting the receipt from the blond in the dirty coveralls. The blue and white patch on his breast labeled him “Jerry.” Jerry handed a paper bag through the window that Revik placed on my lap, where its warmth soaked through my waitressing uniform skirt.
“The Bridge is the catalyst,” Revik repeated, like I hadn’t spoken. “They have their place, like any of the intermediary beings.” He turned the key, and the GTX’s engine rumbled to life. “You need to understand your importance. Not in terms of ego, but of role. It is a responsibility, Allie.”
I looked up from the bag. “So, just to be clear. You're saying I am going to end the world...at least as we know it. And that this is a job that I should take seriously...and do really, really well.” I tilted my head at him. “Did I get that right?”
I watched him think. “Yes,” he said. “That is right. Simplistic, but ultimately correct.” Before I could speak, or even laugh, I saw his eyes click back into focus. “You will meet Vash. Then you will understand.”
“Did you just read my mind?” I said.
“Is that absolutely fucking necessary?” I said.
He thought about this also, glancing at me.
“Yes,” he said.
We approached Seattle. I glimpsed a skyline to my left, then flashes of buildings through a maze of overpasses dripping with dark green plants.
I recognized landmarks from being here with Jon, but couldn’t read signs with how fast we were going. I’d stopped looking at the speedometer. Revik was doing something in that other place, so I couldn’t use his grid thing. I felt a few people point as we passed, and other vehicles pulled over, moving out of the way of the line of cop cars screaming behind us.
I felt it when the third cop car ceased to be a pull toy between Revik and whoever else. I felt Revik lose and let go just before the cop accelerated, coming up on us blaring light and sound. I glanced over in time to see the dark-skinned cop smile at Revik, making an odd flowing up and down gesture with one hand that had the flavor of a taunt.
Then whatever held the cop’s body let go, leaving the cop sweaty-faced, determined, and completely focused on the two of us. From his eyes, he fully believed we’d killed his whole family with baseball bats then lit his house on fire.
Revik turned to me, his pale eyes hard.
“Stop the car,” he growled.
I thought I’d heard him wrong. “What?”
Behind him, I saw the Seattle cop raise a shotgun. Before I could react, Revik grabbed the wheel, jerking it sideways to slam into the cruiser. The cop dropped the shotgun.
“Revik, jesus! What are you—”
“Take that exit! Right now, Allie!”
He pointed and I veered, braking to slide across lanes.
I saw the truck driver, who was still, amazingly, behind us, begin the turn to follow, glimpsed faces as other, noninvolved drivers reacted, eyes widening in fear as they tried to get out of my way, instead coming even more dangerously close to hitting us. I slid behind the Washington cop, in front of a different trucker who honked madly.
Then we were past, wincing from the scrape of metal as the GTX grazed his grill.
Revik leaned out the window, firing at the Seattle cop from behind. He blew out a rear tire with the first shot, smashed the back window with his second. He chambered another round and aimed again, blocking my side view when he climbed up to sit on the passenger side window.
The Seattle cop cut across multiple lanes and again I felt the difference; it was no longer a human driving, but one of those things with lightning-fast reflexes and 360 degree vision. I was forced to brake, saw Revik clutch the window frame as he lost his balance. The Seattle cop swerved, just making it onto the exit off-ramp behind us. A sign flashed by.
I glimpsed white words spelling “Mercer Island.”
Revik slid back in through the window, landing on the seat. When I looked over, his shoulder was bleeding again, a dark spreading stain under his shirt.
“You are trained in basic firearms use?” he said.
“Right,” I said, loud over the wind and engine. “Dad taught me to shoot cans. I'm practically special forces.”
“Good.” He propped the gun up on the seat between us. “Use it if they get too close.” He added, “Or if I don’t come back.”
“What? Revik, that's not funny, I—”
His body slumped against the seat. I cursed, swerved into a guardrail, and the GTX threw up sparks. I gripped his arm in my stubby nails, hard enough to bruise his skin. I shook him, wondered if I should hit him, like he had me.
“Revik! You've got to be kidding me! REVIK!”
Something smashed into the back of the car.
I was merging into the main sprawl of traffic and the truck driver with the blue flannel shirt was in the next lane over. Pulling up alongside the GTX, he aimed the pump-action shotgun out his window. I hit the brakes and another cop car hit us from behind; it forced me along until I accelerated, and the guy was honking, waving at me to pull over.
A rush of panic made me wonder what would happen if I did. Even as I thought it, the first Seattle cop drew up next to me on my other side.
...and for an instant, I see him. A metal thread cage ensnares his light, and behind his eyes breathe the orbs of the Rook controlling him. They shine coal red, and he makes his thumb and index finger into the shape of a gun, pointing it at me as his lips stretch in a corpse’s smile.
Bang, bang, little girl.
I snapped out, still miraculously gripping the steering wheel...and feel them in me. They drag at me and I shriek, as if the sound of my own voice might keep my light in my body.
But I can feel myself separating out, losing control of my limbs.
Lowering my head, I bite down on my fingers. My teeth clamp on skin and bone and my light rushes in like a rubber band snapping back.
Pain came with the light. I un-clamped my jaw from the red crescent on my knuckles. Blood dripped over the steering wheel once I’d extracted my teeth.
Everything went dark.
We’d entered a tunnel. My foot mashed down on the accelerator.
Orange lights streaked by in irregular lines as cars cast shadows on tile walls. Surrender no longer felt like a good idea. The Seattle cop’s eyes flash red and I realize I am still inside, just enough that they are all around me...
I slam my head against the driver’s side window, hard enough to crack it, leaving an impact mark surrounded by spider web lines. I am losing it. I feel sick, anemic...like my blood leaches out as they pull at me.
I keep my foot jammed on the accelerator as I lean over and snatch at Revik’s seat belt, miss, grab for it again, hooking it in my fingers. A car slams the GTX from behind, and I lose the silver buckle, curse.
The third time, I dragged the nylon belt over his body and hooked it into the clasp at his side. His skin glistened with sweat.
I hit him with my fist, hard in the side of the head, trying to wake him, and lost control of the car, slamming into the guardrail, leaving paint and metal as sparks flew before I got it off again.
Sunlight washed into my eyes, slanting through the windshield as we flew out of the second tunnel. Before me stretched a long bridge with water on either side. The ramp aimed straight for the lake’s surface where the bridge floated on top of the water.
I glanced at Revik.
“Mortal peril,” I muttered. “Mortal peril...”
I didn’t think...but I saw every flash of metal and sunlight as I swung the wheel. Veering behind a green Jetta, I made a straight line for the right guardrail, beyond which lay Lake Washington. A thick, protective rail stood between us and the water...
...but my mind seems to clasp it somehow, fold it, or maybe not my mind, but suddenly I can see through it...
...and we are through. Exhilaration lifts me as the car soared.
Then gravity clutched the GTX at the top of the arc. Its nose tipped.
As water rushed to meet us, I could only hold the steering wheel, flashing to being on a runaway horse as a kid, where I’d clutched a mare’s black mane, screaming in fear and hysterical laughter. If a thought formed in my mind just then, it may have been about death...the transitoriness of all things.
Instead, there was a long, slow silence as the water rushed to meet.
Where to find this Author-