Winter Wars

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Katrina

If I was Marcy, I’d be laughing my ass off.

I don’t think anyone has ever looked so uncomfortable in my life. If possible he sits up even straighter and looks even angrier.

“Don’t worry loves,” Matrianna ruffles Ethan’s hair. “He’s never liked me. Thinks I’ve disgraced his legacy.”

“Indeed,” Ethan mutters glaring at Jayson. “A cowardly son does disgrace my legacy, but there must be more to your visit than to remind me of what is so painfully obvious. You are hard to find in times of peace and yet you show up much unwanted in times of war.”

“I’m not completely unwanted,” She sit on the desk and swings her legs back and forth. “Two very important girls need my advice and I, my dear Beta, am in need of their assistance.”

“What could these two possibly have for you?”

“That is for them to find out,” she slides off the desk. Marcy, instead of even having the faintest of smiles on her, has an analytical look about her. Her gaze shifts from Matrianna to Ethan.

“They will not speak with you alone; your payment is always more than what the recipient has bargained for.”

“Tut, tut,” Matrianna shakes her head. “You can’t go imposing your own decisions upon others. What you gave me to cure Zariah was payment enough—”

“You did not give me what I asked for,” Ethan growls.

“You asked me to cure her of infertility and grant you a strong son. And I do believe, if given the chance, he can and will prove himself. He’s already done it once, saving Marcy and risking his life to do so.”

“I think that given the right circumstances he—”

“Three years ago—”

“Ethan,” Marcy cuts in, in a soft voice. “I believe that if Matrianna has important business with us, she wouldn’t provoking you. Matrianna,” she says in a harder voice. “If you want to speak with us get it over with because we don’t have time to entertain you.”

“Just like your father,” she tuts. “Fine, if you’ve no time to play, I best be on my way loves. Expect to hear from me again. Next time, though, I’ll be all business.” With a wink, she fades out of sight.

A long and exasperated sigh escapes from Ethan. “Leave me.”

Jayson is the first to walk out.

“Is she always like that?” Marcy grumbles. “Because if she is, I’d rather go in blind.”

“I wouldn’t say that she might just take your word for it,” I caution. “And from what Ethan said, she’s always like that.”

“Why are you so unsettled?” Ryner wonders. “He has done the same thing to you.” Ryner spares his brother a worried look. Jayson falls into a window seat and stares out the window his hand clenching and unclenching.

“Yeah, but here’s the thing: I do not care. Yes, he can piss me off by saying certain things but it wears off after a bit because of things I know to be true.” She sits in front of Jayson and waves her hand in his face. “But whatever Ethan was on about, he has a constant reminder which is plain cruel.”

“And yet you call him cruel as well.”

Marcy lowers her hand after Jayson showed no sign of noticing. A worried look etches itself onto her face. “True, but he’s upfront about it. Matrianna is subtle and strings words together like weaving a twisted spider wed. People like that piss me off.”

I fidget looking at Jayson. He’s not moving even a little bit. I can just barely see him breathing. “Ryner, what’s wrong with Jayson?” I say addressing the elephant in the room. “It’s like he’s gone.”

“It happens sometimes,” he says softly. “Our father blames him for a rather traumatic moment that happened three years ago.”

I stand next to Jayson and say, “Whatever it is, I don’t think that’s a good enough reason for Ethan to hate him.” I go to put my hand on Jayson’s shoulder. Marcy, in all her brilliance, looks at me then Jayson then back to me as the connection hit.

It’s already too late by the time she says, “Don’t touch him.” Jayson’s memories flow through me and suddenly it’s like I’m there.

Before, when Marcy handed me the vial, everything was quick and precise like a fast-forwarded video and I don’t have any conscious awareness of my body. This time, I can feel Marcy’s hand on my arm, I can hear her voice calling my name and panic settling into her voice. But at the same time, I can hear yelling fighting, I can feel my body shaking, and see a scene, not like the one in front of me.

It’s so overwhelming that for a minute I’m frozen. When I speak, I don’t sound like myself. My voice is layered like many voices overlapping each other as though a hoard of bees learned to speak. Ryner calms down Marcy saying that I’m not in any danger, but it would be a great idea if I sat down.

Maybe I should have tried to speak again and tell them that I’m okay, but I focus instead on the voices I hear and Marcy and Ryner turn to background noise.

Jayson rushing through Westmoor property trying to avoid all of the fighting. A sword bounces at his side as her run full force. Trees blur and he comes to a sudden stop as Westmoor Clearing comes to view.

Seeking cover behind a tree, Jayson listens, closing his eyes, expanding his sense until he hears two voices.

“We’re outnumbered,” a raspy voice says. “We need to retreat.”

“We can’t,” a stronger voice says. “It would be an act of cowardice.”

“Alpha, I don’t care if we look cowardly,” the woman continues. “I care for the safety of our pack.”

“I don’t care,” the Alpha growls. “We need this victory. Send in the reinforcements.”

“But—”

“Do it; we can’t lose,”

“Yes, Alpha,” she sighs.

Jayson smiles a little and rushes back the way he came. He skirts around the danger until he reaches Westmoor. Slipping inside, he goes down several hallways to dad’s office. Dad frowns when he hears the news, but a woman with skin of freshly ground coffee walks to Jayson and kisses his cheek.

“I told he could do it,” she smiles. “He’s a natural at reconnaissance.”

“Yes, well,” Ethan says with a small smile on his face. “Good job, Jayson. This is vital information.” I almost fall over at Ethan. Even if it’s only three years, he looks decades younger and for a moment I can’t figure out why, but I know that grief and anger and add years to a person’s appearance. For the first time since I’ve known him, he smiles even if only a little and he even compliments Jayson instead of staring at him like he’s the cause of all his problems.

“Good,” dad nods. “From this we can assume that the backup is revamped and in better shape than us. I hate to say this, but we have to keep fighting. Push them back to the water’s edge at least.”

“Victor,” mom says. “No one is in any shape to fight.” She twists her hands together in thought as though thinking about something else.

“I know,” he sighs. “I know that very well, but what other choice do we have?” Instead of it sounding rhetorical like the question normally would, he looks to mom for an answer.

“The only thing I saw in the battle was us driving them back to the water’s edge. How we did it is unknown to me. I wish I could give you more but…”

Dad takes her hand. “What you’ve given us is plenty fine. It gives me hope that we can win.” He turns to Ethan, Zariah, and Jayson. “Because of the lack of overall strength, everyone, including myself, must fight. I’m tired of just sitting here giving orders. I need to be out there fighting with the rest.”

Zariah draws her eyebrows together. “Does that mean Jayson has to fight? He’s not really a fighter.”

“I’m sorry, Zariah, but everyone needs to fight if we are to win this even if it means a few of us are stepping outside of out comfort zones.

“But—”

“I can do it, mom,” Jayson smiles. “Me and Ryner share the same blood. If he can do it, so can I. Please, I just want to have a chance.” His voice is confident and smooth, he doesn’t fidget too much with his jeans or the sword at his side. I wonder what it would take to get him like this again.

“I suppose,” she relents. “But maybe you shouldn’t have that sword. You’ve always been better with knives.”

Jayson nods. “This sword is too bulky.”

Mom frowns. “Keep it on you just in case. If knives are what you need, take these.” She leans over and pulls two knives from their sheaths. “Careful you don’t hurt yourself. It’s silver.”

“Of course,” He bows his head respectfully. “Thank you, Luna. It’s an honor.”

Mom waves it away dismissively. “I’ve told you before about that. I have a name. It’s Clara.”

Jayson just smiles as though it’s a running gag.

“We must be on our way,” Ethan says. “The fight is getting louder. The backup must be here.”

“Right,” dad says. “Let’s go.”

Outside, a new battle has begun, but the enemy is losing this time. His confidence guiding, Jayson leaps into battle. If I were in this battle, I’d have been lost. Everyone was moving at top speed, using every ounce of strength in their bodies to push the enemy back. At some point he was fighting side by side with Ryner, in another Marcus was there and another he was next to his mother.

I can’t help but notice the difference between the Jayson I’ve come to know, this boy whose eyes I’m looking through. He’s confident and sure and positive. The Jayson I know is shy and nervous; someone who hates violence.

Everything is going well—as well as it can be when most of the fighters are trying their hardest not to pass out. Jayson is almost out of people fight as all those who were left turned tail and ran.

When the voice of the Alpha comes within earshot, Jayson starts to turn. He’s going to tell dad who he is, but before he can make any progress, the Alpha appears in front of him. Confidence drives him, but reason is still a main component in his thinking. Jayson knows he can’t defeat someone like this.

“It’s you, boy,” The Alpha says. “It was you notified them of this attack. You will pay.” With nowhere else to go, Jayson grips his knives and tries his best to block the attacks. Faster than anyone I’ve ever seen, the Alpha pushes Jayson to his limit and eventually knocks his knives out of his hand.

Pulling out his sword, Jayson knows that he can’t hope to defeat this man. His heart beats fast with every pulse as he faces what he is sure is his death. Just as the Alpha strikes, a blur of purple and the flash of a sword are the only things he can see before his mother’s body falls to the ground her head staying on by a small piece of flesh.

The sword slips out of Jayson’s hand as he stares at his mother’s. Her blood soaks into the ground and soon Jayson falls to his knees, tears falling freely from his eyes, the he blacks out.

His blacking out if different from him fainting; I can feel that he’s still conscious, just not in control. He moves with incredible speed, strength, and precision, but nothing consciously registers in his brain.

When his vision comes back into view, Ethan is yelling at him, blaming him for Zariah’s death. Ethan is crying, but he doesn’t seem to take notice. Ryner is trying to separate the two of them but to no avail. When Ethan raises his hand to Jayson, he doesn’t fight back. He’s completely given up.

It’s at this time that the past relinquishes its control of my sense and I’m brought back to the present. I lay in a bed in a small room. The lights are off and I can the sun dipping below the trees. Just how long was I out?

I sit and wipe my eyes, but tears keep gliding down my cheeks despite my efforts. Despite the severity of the vision, this explains a lot of things. Why Ryner is so much like Ethan, why Jayson’s always so nervous, why Ethan never seems to have a genuine smile. His only reason to smile died three years ago. But all the same, it wasn’t Jayson’s fault. He was prepared to die, but Zariah was his mother. Her instinct is to protect her children even at the expense of her own life. After three years, can it still be so hard to see?

I swing my legs over the side and open my door. I have no idea where in the house I am. As I listen for any familiar voices, I try to dry my eyes. Although I can’t be sure, I don’t want offend Jayson. While I know I’m crying for the loss of Zariah, he might think I pity him or something, although with Jayson he’ll more than likely understand. Even though I had never known her, but after losing my own mother, I feel for anyone who goes through the same thing.

“…wake up?” I snap to attention as I hear Jayson’s voice.

“She is fine.” Ryner assures him. “Her breathing is normal, her vitals are fine.”

“I just don’t want anything to happen to her because of me.”

“It was not your fault. We only failed to warn her.”

They round the corner and I throw myself onto Jayson. “You’re normal again.”

“As normal as I can be,” he breathes.

I hold him at arm’s length. “Please, please, please, never do that again if you can. You scared the hell out of me.”

“It’s funny you say that, because Marcy said the same thing. She also squeezed the life out of me. Besides,” He looks at me skeptically. “The same could be said for you. Marcy didn’t explain it to us.”

“Your mother never did have a gift like that,” Ryner says herding us in the direction they came. “What happened?”

“I don’t really know what happened,” I shrug. “If I had to guess, I’d say it was like touching an object with a strong memory attached. The memories were overwhelming Jayson and when I touched him, it had the same effect.”

Ryner frowns. “That would explain why Marcy would be careful to control her thoughts.”

“Yeah, well, Marcy has a lot of secrets she doesn’t want anyone to know about.” I cross my arms and pouts.

“Trina, I-I have a request,” Jayson says stopping me. “When Marcy asks what you saw, could you not tell her? I don’t want her to know.”

The light bulb in my head goes off as we start walking again. “Of course, I have no right to say anything anyway.” Maybe he wasn’t thinking the same thing I was, but Marcy would probably want to kill anyone who even thought of hurting any of us. But then again, Zariah had died and Marcy must understand that type of heartbreak even if only a little.

“Trina,” Ryner says as I’m stopped again. “We… have business to attend to, so go without us. The stairs just to your left.”

I look to both of them. What kind of business they would have to take care of is beyond me, but if I want to know, all I really have to do is ask Marcy. She’s better at reading people than I am.

“’Kay,” I smile heading downstairs.

The kitchen is where I find Marcy. She’s showing off here innate ability to balance thing on the end of her nose to Tyler. Forks, spoons, pencils, knives.

“Hi, Trina. Nice of you to join the living again,” she says. She bends her knees and pops back up sending the knife flying into the air and landing handle up on the cutting board.

Tyler claps as she says, “That was so cool. I can’t do anything other than tie knots. And that’s not even on purpose.”

“It just takes practice,” she turns to me. “I got a question for you.”

“If you wanna know what I saw I can’t tell you. Past insight psychics and their unintentional recipients have a confidentiality I can’t break.”

“Translation,” Tyler says. “Jayson asked her not to.” Tyler hops off the island and skips to the fridge.

Marcy frowns. “Fine, but I have something I need to tell you anyway. Ryner and Jayson went to get you, but you didn’t come back together so I’m gonna guess they sent you ahead.” I nod. “Right, well, while you were living in the past for a few hours, I thought a lot about the Alpha thing and I told them that I want Ryner as my Beta and Jayson as my third in command. I’d personally enjoy it if Jayson was my Beta, but I have to appease Ethan somehow, right?”

“Yeah, I can see why you would do that. Besides, I don’t think Jayson would want to be Beta. But there’s also the issue about the Luna.”

“Right and I want you to be my Luna.”

“But… aren’t the Alpha and Luna supposed to be…?”

“Yeah, but that’s with a typical Alpha and Luna, but as you can see,” she gestures to herself. “I’m not the typical Alpha. We aren’t typical in any sense of the word so who cares.”

“Ethan because he doesn’t like you,” Tyler supplies. “Other Alphas. They’re gonna think we’re weak and everything ’cause you’re a girl.” She sets and an array of fruits and vegetables and dips onto the island. “You missed dinner and this is basically what we had.”

“Thanks, Tyler,” I take a few carrots and the ranch. “But why would they think we’re weak? The other Alphas don’t even know Marcy.”

“That’s true, but a lot of them are old fashioned like Ethan, but unlike our Beta, they think all women are weak. Ethan respects power so it doesn’t matter what your sex is.”

“Didn’t think there were any good qualities in Ethan but I’m glad he isn’t sexist,” Marcy smiles. “Just wish he showed more emotion other than annoyance and anger.”

I bite my lip before I can say anything. Once upon a time Ethan did smile and give compliments, I want to say, but as Jayson requested, I can’t say anything.

“Are you gonna tell Ethan?” Tyler asks.

“Eventually, but I have no solid proof that I’m a good enough person to actually lead everyone.”

“You saved Ryner and Jayson from being speared with arrows,” Tyler waved her celery stick around as she talks. “Isn’t that good enough?”

Marcy winces. “All of us know that that was an act of stupidity. While everything was happening fast, I could have done things differently that didn’t result in me getting hurt. What good is an Alpha when she’s down?”

“At least you recognize your mistakes,” I point out. “Better than what some people would do which is ignore it and pretend it never happened.”

“Yeah, I own up to my stupidity; makes life more interesting. It’s not just that I don’t think before I act, I don’t know anything. Every time I ask I just get shut down because I’m not supposed to know for some reason.”

“If it makes you feel any better, I don’t know anything either.” Tyler says. “None of us kids really know what’s going on. At home, me and my siblings always get put out of the house when mom watches the news and dad’s always in a bad mood because of it. We know there’s a war that started, but why and how and by who is unknown to us. We’re just kids, I know, but that doesn’t mean we can’t understand what’s going on, right?”

I shake my head. “I don’t understand that. While toddlers are less likely to understand what’s going on, anyone in fourth grade and up should know what’s going on and how serious it is. Even if their abilities are limited, there are small things that they can do to help.”

“We’ll find a way,” Marcy assures Tyler. “I’m sure there’s someone around here who’s willing to share. In the meantime, I need to find that bandanna. My head feels weird without it.”

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