Deep Red, Chapter Twenty-Four

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May 13, 1915: Our plans to close down Haven and end the Counsel have failed. Walker and my grandmother, Constance, are both dead, and I am in hiding. I put this to paper so that I may have something to send to my daughter and granddaughter some day. They must not believe that I abandoned my Otherworld brothers and sisters in order to save myself. I ran when I saw that our cause was futile, and I knew someone had to preserve the truth of what happened that night. When we arrived at Haven, Grandmother’s spirit was holding vigil for us. We followed the signals until we reached the cabin. As when we were children, Walker and I freed the creatures being held there. Some went to the forest, and others went to the ground. After accomplishing this task, we moved to the main house. Each of the children were prepared for departure by Constance, but one had betrayed us. Her house has sought favor with the Counsel since the Crossing, and she was–somehow–instructed by her family to alert the Counsel should anything threaten their power at Haven. The Counsel had long suspected Constance and had fail-safes in place to ambush those who might try to attack Haven, for any reason. When we arrived in the basement, Constance was already prepared on make-shift gallows when we arrived in the basement of the house. She was looking off to somewhere, muttering something. She glanced at me right before they dropped her. The sound of her cracking neck, which echoed off the walls, torments me. Walker changed into his bear shape and went after Constance’s executioners, but there were too many. Garrett was lost in the melee, and I only took out a dozen or so Haven guards before making my escape. After I departed with a few scattered children, I realized I was the only fighter who made it out. All the Residents and my lovers, the true fathers of my child and the revolution…gone. I recently received word that Garrett rejoined the Counsel, which means he is still alive. The plan was for any who were captured to recant and become spies within the fold. Unfortunately, the Residents had no such option. I am sure that they are either all dead or have become the newest addition to the laboratory. I do not know how to proceed from here. The children I took from Haven are with me in this place, but I feel anxious about my own children that Walker, Garrett and I left behind. I cannot leave my current location or send out word for fear of discovery. If you get this, my darling Dorothy, please continue to fight. Know that I would not have abandoned you, but for the knowledge that if I returned to you I would be sentencing you to death. I only hope that Grandmother burned her journals and my letters before her death….

 Message from Beth Cayce, 1915, discovered November 30, 1978, trans. Bobbi Cayce, 1978

Marlo Fighting Stance

Chapter Twenty-four

 Molding Nature

“You can go in now,” Rayne said to Alexis and Jack when she came out of the dojo. Jack looked inside before entering. Marlo was sitting alone on one of the planters. She looked as though a feather could knock her over. So, he thought, they’ve finally broken her down into the putty they can slide into their mold.

“She’d better survive this,” Jack said to Rayne.

“That’s the point, Jack,” Rayne said. “We all want to survive.”

Alexis had already pushed past Rayne and Jack. “Hey, Marlo,” Jack heard Alexis say, “Do you need a break before we go into the next phase?”

“Why on earth would I need a break?” Marlo asked. “My free will is gone. All I need is some blinders and a bit and I’ll be just fine.

Alexis laughed. “I’ll see if I can arrange that,” Alexis said.

Jack walked up behind Alexis. “So, shall we begin?”

“Begin what?” Marlo asked.

“Victoria has arranged for you to start your training today…” Jack said.

“Which is where I come in,” Alexis said.

“You’ll need experienced instructors to get through the next few years–” Jack began.

“Years?” Marlo asked.

“–yes, years. It will take only a few months to get through the fundamentals,” said Jack. “But longer for you to actually get to where the Counsel needs you to be.” Marlo’s eyes widened in panic. “I’ll help you put it all together,” Jack said. “But, for now, Alexis will teach you the basics of hand-to-hand.”

“Guess that makes sense,” Marlo said. “No use in a weapon if she can’t fight.”

“After you’re done here,” Jack said, “You’ll meet with Q and Isabelle. You’ll have also have daily appointments with Zoe, and then Steve will get you started in your studies.”

“Not a moment to spare for any sort of doubt…” Marlo said.

“No,” said Jack.

“Go ahead about your business, Jack,” Alexis said. “Marlo and I should get started.”

“I’m going to stay for the first session,” Jack said.

“Sure,” Alexis said. “Just, I guess, sit over there.” Alexis pointed to the far wall. “And I’d ask that you remain silent.”

“Absolutely.”

Marlo’s first training session was as Jack expected. Alexis taught her striking and stance. Marlo seemed to get the hang of it pretty well, which interested Jack since she had never been a part of any physical activity beyond yoga and high school track. The Cayces were also not known for their physical prowess. Magic came easily, as did their sharp minds and tongues, but he was never worried about getting into a fist fight with one of them. The only one who had ever tried to strike him was Beth Cayce, before she disappeared. He remembered having a crisis when he let her go after her attack on Haven, but–thankfully–that decision had not come back to haunt him.

After an hour, Alexis’s normal class came in. Marlo stuck around and learned footing. Alexis methodically moved all the children’s arms and legs into different positions, but she took the most time with Marlo. Marlo moved from half-speed to full speed in the course of the hour, moving farther away from the group as she grew more focused, and her movements became more forceful. Her intensity surprised him. That must have been some talk Rayne had with her, he thought. He wished she didn’t remind him of every Cayce woman he had ever known, both Counsel-loyal and rebellious.

Marlo would fight her own battle when the time came. Jack and the rest of the Counsel would just have to hope her intentions fell on their side. The longer she practiced, the more he could feel their connection waning. He wondered how long it would be before he would have no mental contact with her at all. You mean, you wonder how much longer she’ll need you, Jack told himself. He grimaced at the thought.

When the children filed out after their lesson, Jack and Marlo hung behind. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” Alexis said to Marlo. “And will I be seeing you too, Jack?”

“Maybe. Maybe not,” he replied.

He kept waiting for Alexis to make some kind of expression, but she didn’t. She seemed like a female version of Drew. Ever since his experience with Beth’s grandmother, Constance, he mistrusted people who kept their emotions hidden. I’ll have to keep my eye on this one, he thought.

Chapter Twenty-Five→