Ascension {Athena's Ascent - Book One}

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Valerie Matthews isn't who she says she is. She dwells in fear of her past. When her history is uncovered, she's forced to face her demons and the family - the brotherhood - she fled from long ago.

Romance / Action
Saia Hawke
Age Rating:

A Way Out

It was a during a harsh and brutal Siberian winter night that it happened. It was their first mission together, as a team, as brother and sister. It was her first mission. She had been training for a decade to be in the field, and she was ready, she knew she was ready. She just wasn’t ready for what was to come.

The mission was executed flawlessly, everything going according to plan. They did what they had come to do. He was proud of her - he shouldn’t be, for what she had done, but he was. He knew she would make a killer (was that a good word to use in this case?) - well, it didn’t matter. He was just proud of his little sister. That’s all that mattered. Right?


It was five minutes until midnight.

Five minutes until it was to happen.

Five minutes.

They were hiding out in a little shack on the outskirts of town, waiting for the storm to blow over. It would be easier to move out during the light of day, when the wind wasn’t so powerful. She was rambling on about the mission, about how she could have done better, about how she wouldn’t miss the first shot next time, about how she could do better. He couldn’t help but smile at her, knowing for a fact that on the outside she was confident and eager, but on the inside? On the inside she was shaking, she was in shock, and she didn’t want to be here. She wanted to be with her friends, she wanted to be in her room, in her bed, surrounded by her fluffy pillows and comfy blankets. She wanted to go home.

He just prayed that she wouldn’t hate him for what he was about to do.

“Hey, Pheebs?” He spoke up, cutting her off mid-sentence. She stared at him with her electric blue eyes - eyes that were identical to his - and waited for him to speak. Did she have to stare? With her staring at him with those innocent eyes, he almost didn’t have the guts to -

No. He had to go through with this. He was doing this for her.

He was doing this for her.

He knew time was up when a knock echoed on the beat-up wooden door. He saw her reach for something, but he stopped her. The people at the door weren’t a threat. At the moment.

“Bucky?” Her voice was small, barely a whisper. This wasn’t part of the mission, it told him, What do we do?

“It’s okay, Pheebs.” He tried to keep his voice calm, and he hoped that he still appeared like the brave older brother she held him to be.

He walked to the door, pausing before he opened it. Did he really want to do this? Not really, but it was the right thing to do.

He opened the door, recognizing the woman even if she was bundled up in a heavy winter jacket. He let her inside, neither of them saying a word. They didn’t need to. They both knew why she was here.

“Who’s she?” His sister asked, bringing her knees up to her chest. He recognized that stance - she was nervous, uncomfortable, afraid. He hated seeing her like this.

“She’s here to help, Pheebs.” He kneeled in front of her, gently placing his hands on her knees.

“Help with what?”

He took a deep breath, preparing himself for what he was about to say. “Pheebs, she’s here for you.”

He saw her eyes grow wide, and the color faded from her cheeks. “What? Why?”

“Pheebs, we never wanted this life, you especially. This woman, she works with the FBI. She’s here to help you have a better life.”

“What does that mean?” Her voice cracked, and he wasn’t sure if he could let her go. He reminded himself that she would be happier.

“It means that she’s your ticket out, Pheebs.”

He saw the flicker of hope in her eyes. “Out? Like, out out?” He nodded, and a smile spread on her lips. It faded, though, and her brows furrowed as she thought over his words. “What about you? You’re not coming?”

He shook his head, and he saw something in her eyes he hasn’t seen in ten years - genuine fear.

“No, no. No, you can’t leave me.” Her feet slid down to the floor, her hands flying to grip his shirt in an attempt to keep him near. “You can’t leave! You can’t leave like them!”

She was in tears now, and her comment hit him hard. It was one of the worst things she could have said to him. She could tell him she hated him, but comparing him to them? He would never forgive himself for this.

“Pheebs, Phoebe.” He placed his hands on her cheeks, forcing her to look at him. “I tried to make a deal for both of us, I did, but they could only do so much.”

“Barnes.” The woman spoke for the first time, her voice stern and impatient. “We need to leave.”

Her pleas became more insistent, her grip tightening on his shirt. He tried shushing her, and her pleas faded into silent sobs. He told her that this was for the best, and she continued to tell him not to leave her alone.

“Hey, hey,” He pulled her into him, wrapping his arms around her. Her arms were folded nice and tight around his neck, and he wondered if this was her way of not letting him go. “Make me a promise, Pheebs.” She made a small noise along the lines of a whimper and a response. “Promise me you’ll be happy, pursue your dreams. Be a musician, be a teacher, be whatever. Do what makes you happy.”

She nodded, and he reluctantly pulled away from her. Her eyes were bloodshot and red, and tears were threatening to overflow again. He wiped the wretched tears away. It was one of the last things he could do for her.

He lead her over to the FBI agent, hesitating only for a moment. He gave his sister an encouraging nudge, and she sluggishly followed the woman out into the Siberian cold. He watched as the agent lead her to a helicopter, only visible due to the safety lights. They disappeared into the chopper, and he wondered what would become of his little sister. Would she keep her promise and become a musician? Would she be a teacher? She would make a great teacher, maybe music? Theatre? She was quite the young actress. He only hoped that he was making the right decision here. He was making the right decision, right?


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