Christmas Eve Frenzy |

Christmas Eve Frenzy

The Great Keeper series

By Adelaide Walsh

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Chapter 1

“2040. That is a year that will live in infamy in our history. That year, Dr. Zack Temba and Biolance unleashed a scourge, a lethal virus, on all of us that eliminated millions of the Journeymen around the world, reducing the rest of us to mere subjects under his reign. Most of those killed were key figures of society and scientists whom he knew would stand in the way of his plans. Let me remind you, my fellow Keepers, that our raison d’être is the survival of the Journeymen -the human race that is helpless against science. That is why we exist.”

He halted in his tracks as he listened for her movements. He saw a telling branch waving rather vigorously and walked towards it. Confident, he continued speaking, “Amidst the conflict, rose a woman of courage and destiny, willing to risk her life to save humanity. Captain Dana Reeves. She has led rebellion after rebellion in a bid to restore unity and peace in our age. That, children, is the example you have before you. She is a lesson to you all. The symbol that you must carry with you as you train to liberate us all. She, children, is the reason why you must make the best use of the knowledge you gain now in 2049 so that good may conquer evil once and for all in the future. A being such as her and the hope she carries with her is why humanity must endure the tyrannical rule of Dr. Zack Temba.”

He paused for dramatic effect, then bowed theatrically. Not only had he come to the end of his speech- an address he would be making soon at a school assembly- but he had also located his target.

The target hid behind the moss-covered tree, arms pressed against her sides. Her back moved against the bark as she heard someone approaching. The rustling of leaves ushered the footsteps toward her. Slow. Cautious. She held her breath, sliding down to sit on a buttress root protruding from the earth. It occurred to her to invoke her powers, but she dismissed the thought.

“There you are!”

A deep male voice had come up behind her, making her leap onto her feet. He caught her in his arms, intent on making sure she wouldn’t escape. She wrestled with him for a few moments, realizing all along that she wouldn’t be able to free herself from his grip.

“Alright, John. You have me. Let me go now.” Dana tried to sound stern. But she was too happy to pull it off.

“I’d never dream of it,” he said, “I was sure you would cheat. You almost used your powers, didn’t you?”

“It never even crossed my mind.”

Captain Dana Reeves let a sly smile spread across her face as she contemplated the man standing before her. She had the affections of every man she came across, and she regularly chose one who suited her fancy. For now, that was John Howard. As he bent down to wrest his cloak from a cloth-eating flower, she admired the ease with which he convinced the flower to loosen its grip on the cloak. He had a way with creatures. She liked that about him. And now, as they walked alone in the Enchanted Forest - a richly vegetated patch of land filled with all sorts of creatures only Keepers could see, she felt particularly pleased with him. He seemed to anticipate her needs before she knew of them. And his skills, among the Great Keepers, were quite admirable.

“Your speech needs a revision or two,” she jested. “We can’t have you brainwashing the trainees like that. Making them think our future depends on them? Really? And while we’re waiting for them to grow up? What then? We sit around as Temba carries on unchecked?”

“I could go to that assembly and tell them all about our covert operations, if you like,” he replied.

They laughed easily. They both knew that couldn’t happen.

“We should head back to Espérer,” he was saying. “It will be dark soon.”

Dana nodded as he took her hand. They began to walk towards the town that had been her home, and his, for as long as she had lived. Dana reveled in her ability, as a Great Keeper, to manipulate the elements of nature: earth, water, wind and fire. She liked to be around John because he knew what that kind of power felt like.

“Blade seems convinced you’re in good hands,” John said, looking troubled. “He finally trusts me, then?”

Dana laughed, not wanting anything to weigh on her good mood, “He’s very protective of me, that’s all. We’ve known each other for a while now. He’s like a father to me.”

“Well, it’s good that you have him as a father figure. And he has to be careful who he allows into Savvy.”

Dana looked into John’s face. He seemed worried and she placed a pale hand across his darker cheek -the slight stubble stinging her palms as she did.

“Whatever Temba has in store for us, we’ll be ready for it this time.”

Her voice had grown low and gentle as she spoke to him. Moving closer to her, John took her palm into his hand, pressing it to his lips.

“You’re right, we will.”

As they stood at the edge of the forest, her cheek resting on his shoulder, she thought about the Journeymen’s uncertain future.

Chapter 2

“It’s about time,” Lieutenant Nick Blade said playfully as he stood leaning on one leg, his arms folded across his chest. “I was beginning to think you ran off with him.”

“I would have if I thought you could do without me,” Dana said as she walked through the door.

Lieutenant Blade, Dana’s decorated right hand man, lived in a castle-like structure that looked like it hadn’t been inhabited for years. He employed no servants, for fear that they might listen in whenever Savvy came over for meetings. Dana’s Savvy was charged with protecting the Journeymen from Biolance, a pack of mad scientists intent on destroying all humans. Thankfully, the Journeymen were oblivious to all this conflict. They carried on with their shopping, competing and wedding to their hearts’ content.

Dana sat down opposite the hearth. The fire in the grate danced happily as if welcoming her. Above the fire, tiny sculptures of Santa Claus lined the mantel piece - the only Christmas decorations Lieutenant Blade owned.

“The Great Keepers are doing particularly well this year. They are taking to the training. Some ambitious ones, we have.”

“They’re turning out to be as good as the training they get,” Dana smiled. “All the credit belongs to you. The changes you made to the training program are paying off.”

Pulling on his beard and frowning in deep concentration, Lieutenant Blade voiced a concern that had been bothering him for a while.

“But can we trust them?”

“Of course we can. We are only as strong as the trust we have for each other. And we’ve never had reason to doubt anyone, have we?”

Lieutenant Blade was wearing a distant gaze on his face, eyes half shut, “No. But ambition pollutes. Something tells me there is something different about this cohort of Great Keepers.”

“Maybe they’ll be the ones to end this wretched war.”

“Wouldn’t that be lovely? But I have a foreboding feeling about them.”

“It’s a good thing some of your feelings come to naught,” Dana answered.

She got up and began walking towards the door.

“When you’re done entertaining your far-fetched theories, Robert, summon Savvy. We have work to do. I’ll be back shortly.”

With that, Captain Dana Reeves yanked the door open and let herself out of Lieutenant Blade’s dreary castle. She was too happy to have noticed a figure slinking into the shadows.

Chapter 3

The clock struck midnight. Three more days to Christmas. Gathered in a semi-circle around the fireplace, Savvy sat silently fearing the worst.

“Maybe this is the end of us,” an impish young man suggested.

“Speak for yourself, dimwit,” an abrupt, impatient-looking colleague replied. She was sitting furthest away from the fire and her lips shivered when she spoke. But ‘the imp’ had said what they were all thinking.

The castle seemed to grow colder as the gravity of the situation finally dawned on the group of ten Great Keepers sworn to protect and serve not only the Journeymen but also Espérer and its leader, Captain Dana Reeves. But they had retreated into the castle as it became clear they were losing yet another battle with Biolance. And, amidst the chaos, Dana was nowhere to be found. Had they failed?

Taking one more sip of his cold coffee then setting the cup back down on the table, Lieutenant Blade stood and faced the group of Savvy.

“You two, go out into the forest and summon the creatures,” he said, pointing at the imp and his impatient-looking friend. “Remind them of their promise to stand with us if ever we needed them. Tell them that time has come.”

“You three, fortify the town,” he said pointing to a small group of heavy-set Great Keepers. Their task was to organize the inhabitants of Espérer in case of emergency, mobilizing them into a formidable army -four regiments, each according to its element.

“But we’ve already done that.”

“Do it again. This time, to boost morale. The rest of you, get what you need and come with me.”

Lieutenant Blade and the remaining Savvy members left the castle and walked into the night, wondering if they would survive to see Christmas.

The days seemed to have disintegrated into minutes as Dana stood in the middle of a patch of Metz, scorched black during battle. She was desperately trying to make sense of the last two days in what was the next battle with Biolance. Zack Temba attacking once again, then disappearing into the night -no doubt to plan his next and final offensive. The Journeymen helplessly caught in the middle.

She had gone in search of John, who had been delivering some food to an orphanage in Metz, and found him in the middle of the scorched piece of earth. As if pulled by an invisible force, John had looked up and saw her there. Behind her, the smoke from the heated battle in Espérer curled up into the sky. John pointed speechlessly above Dana’s head and she turned to witness the smoke herself. How had they not seen this coming?

Now, they silently walked through the city, side by side. Dana turned to face him.

She was quiet for seconds before she said, “We should have been more vigilant. I always thought if anything like this happened, I would see it coming,” she was saying. “Temba has been one step ahead of us the whole time.”

John was pensive as he spoke, “Yes, he has. We will have to track him down and bring him to justice for all this destruction.”

“Even if he resurfaced, it wouldn’t be easy capturing him.”

They walked for a while, contemplating the future. It seemed bleak now, after the latest battle with Biolance. Dana realized that it was John who provided her the solace she needed in these uncertain times. They turned and made their way back to Espérer. Lieutenant Blade met them at the outskirts of the town.

“Will they be alright?” Lieutenant Blade was worried about the orphans John had been looking after.

“They weren’t harmed during the battle. I’ve sent someone to keep an eye on them,” Dana replied, pushing her black hair away from her face. She felt dirty and completely exhausted.

“So what happens now?” John asked. “We have to find Temba and make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Dana sighed and wondered if she could.

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About Adelaide Walsh

Adelaide Walsh is an author, translator, and editor, interested in various sci-fi and fantasy books.She has devoured them since early childhood (has read The Hobbit in the age of 5), and at some point the amount of books read and knowledge received in life started creating their own worlds...Worlds that, we hope, you will enjoy.Adelaide writes dystopian and urban fantasy novelettes - short books that can be easily read during one evening... Because we live in a very busy time!

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