AfterShock Prologue

 

“Hey you,” his deep voice rumbled into her ear while he wrapped his arms around her. Her smile stretched from ear to ear while being pulled into a hug. She turned around and found her lips being immediately captured for a kiss. They got lost in the moment until one-year-old Caden began to pull on her nightgown. Laughing she gingerly sat back down and patted the space on the bed next to her.

Darrell lifted his son up with a spin before setting him down next to Lanie and turning to the plastic bassinet that now held his baby girl. He gazed in wonder at the tiny person bundled up in a hospital issued multicolored blanket, her eyes tight in slumber.

“Have you given any more thought to naming her after my mother?” he asked his voice in whisper.

Lanie let out a small sigh, “No, we are not naming her Eunice, do you have any idea the teasing she’ll get?” her face scrunched up in a grimace as she scooted herself into a more comfortable position. Giving birth the day before Caden’s first birthday was not her idea of a good time, but that little girl wasn’t going to wait any longer.

“How about Marie?” Lanie suggested, trying to keep her oldest from falling off the bed. Seeing his son trying to make a daring escape, he scooped him up and admonished him with a look.

“I like it, just not as a first name.”

“Okay, this is progress, we have a middle name!” Lanie’s blue-grey eyes gleamed making them stand out even more against her caramel brown skin. They went back and forth, arguing and shooting down each other’s ideas. Caden, losing interest in his parent’s debate, had curled up into a ball at the foot of the bed and decided falling asleep was much better idea. Exhausted and knowing that the baby would be waking up any minute wanting to be fed, Lanie held up her hands.

“Okay, okay… how about this? How about we don’t name her after anyone in the family on either side?” This brought Darrell up short.

“Well then who do we name her after?” he demanded.

“How about the next female person that walks through that door?” Darrell let out a snort, quickly covering his mouth and looking over at the kids, ensuring that the noise hadn’t woken them.

“The next female? Are you for real?” He threw a look at her. “What if her name is Ursula or Eunice?” Seeing the challenge in his blue-grey eyes, so much like hers and their  children’s, it reminded her why she fell in love with him in the first place. And made her forget, at least for the time being, the awful mess they were in.

“Yep, the very next female that enters this room,” a devilish grin spreading across her face.

“Alright, love, you have a deal.” He sat on one of the visitor’s chairs and glanced gleefully at the door. For the next few minutes, neither of them spoke as they waited for someone to walk in.

Lanie was beginning to second guess herself when the day nurse finally came in to check on her and the baby.

“How are we doing this morning, Mrs. Anthony?” The nurse chirped out in a sing song voice. Lanie held in a cringe, not wanting to appear rude.

How on Earth can anyone be this cheerful this early in the morning without coffee? She wondered.

Oh, I don’t know, babe. I find it kind of cute. Darrell winked at her, enjoying their silent conversation. She rolled her eyes and then returned her attention to the nurse.

“Where’s Nurse Brown? She was the one that was on duty last night,” Lanie asked for polite conversation, an uneasiness coming over her. “I wasn’t sure whether anyone else would be assisting us during our stay.”

“Oh no, dear, we trade off every twelve hours.” She gave her a warm smile, “My name is Alison and I’ll be taking care of you and your little one for now.” She walked over to the plastic bassinet and began to unswaddle the baby to begin her assessment.

Alison? He lifted an eyebrow in question.

Alison Marie Arnold, Lanie mulled the name over in her head, before letting out another smile.

I love it.

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

February 2013, Erie, PA

“Our world lies in shambles, we have this one chance to restore it and you…YOU let the two

humans who can ensure its demise escape?” Athavan roared.

Gemma kneeled before her leader, a subtle shiver going through her. She had failed the ultimate

assignment, the mission that she had fought so hard and killed so many to gain.

“I am sorry, my Lord,” she spoke in a quiet submissive tone. “I know that I have failed you,

but—“

“But? BUT!” he roared at her. “But, what? You were forced to kill your highest ranking soldier,

you allowed yourself to develop feelings for the human boy and you let them ESCAPE after you

swore to deliver them to me! You failed Iresha. Plus, I have had to come down, with my own men

to help you clean up your mess! What could you possibly say to defend yourself?”

Gemma cringed at the use of her formal name.

“My Lord, we have millions of humans under our control. More than enough to move forward

with restoring our world,” she paused, allowing her words to sink in. “We can still move forward

with what we came to do.” As he paced back and forth in front of her, she resumed her silence.

“Iresha, although you have disappointed me, I am giving you another chance.” She snapped

her head up at the quick decision. “You will oversee the loading of the first wave of humans to

Nibrui. Once they have been secured for transport, you and I will remain behind here in Erie and

set up a control center while the majority of the crew goes home.”

Gemma’s mouth dropped open, surprised by her father’s new involvement.

“I don’t believe that is necessary,” she told him meekly as she approached him.

I can do this. Let me prove to you that I can do this.

“I disagree with you, daughter. We will track down the Morgan’s and we will find them and

return them to our planet for testing. Alive.”

She didn’t miss the emphasis he placed on the last word.

“No more mistakes, Iresha.”

“No more mistakes, my Lord.”

He stood there, waiting for her to say the words.

“No more mistakes, Father.”

Lisa Arrington Copyright 2014 AfterShock

He gave her a short nod, and then stormed out of the command center, shouting orders at the

returning personnel to ready his personal quarters.

Only a few remained before her, avoiding eye contact or movement.

Feeling heat rising from her collar, she turned to face the remaining crew and to install a healthy

dose of fear. She knew that her meeting with her father would be the topic of the day when the

soldiers retreated to their quarters at the end of the day.

“As you all know, we have been given the great honor of have my father joining us for the

duration of this mission.” Directing her attention towards two of the soldiers, “Piero, Niver you two

will be in charge of loading the first of the humans for our planet’s repopulation. You will need to

load five thousand females and five thousand males into the transportation chamber. As they are

still under my control, there should be no problems with this mission. Understood?”

She waited for the two men to nod their confirmation before she continued. “Once the humans

have been loaded; Chapra, Osus, Lord Athavan and I will remain here on Earth, so we can hunt

down and recapture the Morgan’s,” her blue eyes frosting over.

“Nero, as we discussed earlier, you will round up the remaining humans and bring them here. It

will be your responsibility to load them and transport them to Nibrui. I will leave about fifty or so

guards to stay behind underneath your command.” Turning to face the interactive map, she typed in

the coordinates of the hospital.

“The Morgan’s and those that helped them couldn’t have gotten far and must have a base near

here.”

Lost within her thoughts for a few minutes, she retreated from the command center without

further word. She desperately needed the solitude of her quarters to gather her bearings and re-
center herself.

Locking the door behind her, she looked down at her shaking hands and took a deep breath.

Going to the ornamental cabinet across the room, she pulled out a crystal cut decanter containing a

dark blue liquid, strong with spirits.

Not bothering with a glass, she took two deep gulps then coughed as the liquid burned her

throat and chest, making her eyes water. She stared at the bottle before putting it back into the

cabinet; squaring her shoulders. Drinking wasn’t going to solve anything right now and she needed

her wits about her if she was going to retain her rightful place as Athavan’s most prized solider.

Daughter or not.

Lisa Arrington Copyright 2014 AfterShock

She didn’t understand why they were doing this in phases; it wasn’t as if Nibrui’s atmosphere

was different than Earth’s that was one of the main reasons it had been chosen.

The deciding factor should have been that we can transform ourselves in their image, she thought placing the

bottle back where it belonged, allowing her hand to linger over the bottle for longer than it should

have.

A flash of anger coursed through her body when the memory of the Morgan’s escape flew

through her mind. Everything had been going so smoothly, everyone was under her control.

At least she had thought everyone was. How had people escaped my mind control? How had their saviors known

where to find them?

The first blast had shocked her, sending her to the floor. “What the hell was that?” She

demanded covering her head as debris fell from the ceiling. The soldiers around her were just as

confused trying to find cover as gun fire began to sound.

“No you fools, grab your weapons!” Gemma ordered reaching for her own. “Bring me the

Morgan’s.” Most of them obeyed, arming themselves with weapons and heading towards the battle.

The few that remained cowered underneath tables and desks, Gemma took care of them swiftly, and

she had no time for anything other than total obedience.

She had just reached the hallway when the second blast went off. Quickly assessing the

situation, she determined that if Ali and Caden were escaping they wouldn’t leave without Christine.

She raised the gun and shot the first thing she saw, alien or human, she didn’t care.

How could this happen? She ran to the holding cell they had created for Christine.

Christine had been placed under heavy sedation per the orders of the medical team; the team of

doctors observing her believed that she had experienced too much trauma and her mind needed to

rest. They wouldn’t…they couldn’t…she ran to the room with just enough time to see a man sprinting

away with Christine thrown over his shoulder.

Outraged, she aimed the gun and fired. A green light exploded from the tip and soared towards

them, Gemma let a cold smile spread across her face as the light was milliseconds away from hitting

its target. As it was about to hit the stranger’s head he ducked into the stairwell, letting the light hit

the wall, leaving a hole the size of melon in its wake.

The surprise attack had created just the perfect amount of chaos and confusion for them to

escape.

It was confirmed within minutes that Ali and Caden were gone.

Lisa Arrington Copyright 2014 AfterShock

Several heads had rolled that day… literally.

Gemma released her wrath on anyone that crossed her path. With no one able to give her the

answers she sought, she was in a foul mood when it became necessary to contact Athavan about the

escape.

And now she was stuck with dividing her team up, scrounging the Earth to ensure that all those

not infected where destroyed, well, all but two.

What in the hell is so special about those two?

Gemma realized that her father had been watching her for the past several days, or getting

others to do it for him, looking for a sign that she was about to break.

I’ll be damned if I give them one. Father chose me. I have to remember that.

Huddled into the corner, Iresha covered her ears as another bomb exploded nearby. Tears

streaked down her face as she risked a glance at her surroundings. Dirt and dust swirled around her,

speckling her gray skin as light peered through the broken wall. She had ducked into the building at

the sound of the Rebel’s footsteps. At least she thought it was the Rebels…being alone now, she

didn’t want to take any chances.

A week earlier, she and mother had been hiding in the outskirts of their village, in the

abandoned home of another Rebel soldier. Iresha had heard the hushed tones of her mother and

her superiors discussing the soldier’s death, how they would all need to be more careful or all would

pay the ultimate sacrifice. She may have been young, but she wasn’t stupid.

She had long lost hope that her father would return as he had promised months ago.

That night, she was crawling into the hiding space when they heard the banging on the door. In

a panic her mother had shut and latched the door behind her, trapping her inside. Pleading with

Iresha to be quiet before whispering a short prayer of forgiveness to her daughter, she stood her

ground as the Rebels broke down the door and dragged her away.

Making her way through the escape tunnel, Iresha heard her mother’s screams, calling Rebels

nasty names and swearing they would end her life before she would ever tell them any information

about where other Alliance members hid. Suddenly there was a shrill scream, making Iresha

shudder. The scream was broken by a popping sound then there was nothing but silence.

Iresha pretended that her mother had been dragged too far away to be heard anymore.

Now she was trapped in this space, willing the Rebels to leave without searching the residence.

She just wanted to curl up and go to sleep. Everyone that she had ever cared about was gone.

Lisa Arrington Copyright 2014 AfterShock

The footsteps came to a stop on the other side of the wall and she let out a sigh of defeat.

Hearing the Rebels work the latch she knew it was over.

She lay on the ground, eyes closed; not wanting to see what was coming for her. She wasn’t able

to control much in her life right now, but she would control her death. They couldn’t force her to

watch it.

“Open your eyes, young one.”

It was a male’s voice, non-threatening…pleasant. She opened her eyes at the request and stared

blankly at the man’s face.

“Who are you?” She asked.

Proper manners dictated that she not speak to an elder unless spoken to and only then if asked a

question, but she figured she was going to die, so why fall into precedent now?

The man’s shoulders shook in silent laughter while trying to maintain his stoic face.

“I am Athavan, leader of the Rebel force. And you are?”

Iresha couldn’t understand why this man was taking more than a cursory interest in her when

they both knew that her death was coming soon.

“Iresha.”

“Iresha,” he said her name as if it was some sort of prayer coming off his lips. “Iresha, do you

want to live?” Why would the Rebel leader be giving her a choice? He had to be playing with her.

The men behind him bristled when she let out a snort.

“I take that as a yes?”

Carefully taking him in with her huge black eyes, she discovered that the choice was hers.

“Yes, my Lord, I want to live.”

And with that simple exchange Athavan had taken her in, making her his daughter. He spent

the next several years training her into a skilled leader, a lethal opponent with dreams of her taking

over his command one day.

She owed him everything.

Changing her name to Gemma, she had hoped to escape the notoriety of being a traitor’s

daughter and leave the past behind her, but reminders were everywhere that she looked.

The war that erupted through the planet had nearly killed it, desecrating her new people, new

family, to a few thousand.

Lisa Arrington Copyright 2014 AfterShock

Thinking back on the long hard fought victory she wondered yet again why Athavan had let her

live. She never dared to question his decision, afraid that his love was superficial and he wouldn’t

hesitate to add her to list of others that he had killed over the years.

Standing just over six feet tall, Athavan had the lean, muscular build of a younger man. His voice

was rich and deep and could lure anyone into a sense of false security. And while he chose not to

wear a human disguise, she felt that the humans would only be able to find him…beautiful. There

was really no other word to describe him.

The only disconcerting feature on him were his eyes, they were a solid onyx black. When

someone looked into his face, they always felt that they were looking into a bottomless pool.

While most of the ship’s crew followed her decision to keep their human disguises, those under

her father’s reign dropped them the minute they could.

I wonder why they don’t keep the disguises. Gemma pondered. Oh yeah, all of the humans are under mind

control. They wouldn’t notice.

Damn!

Almost all of the humans, she needed to find Ali and Caden, and she needed to do that now.

She needed to be on the ground with a small group of trusted soldiers, not on this ship

supervising the loading!

A red blaze of irritation went through her body. She had completed the mission after DJ’s

betrayal. She had delivered them to the testing facility that Athavan had selected and secured.

How was she supposed to know that uninfected people had gotten inside the walls?

You’re slipping, girl.

Now feeling the walls closing in on her, she left her room and walked to the observation

window, watching as the humans marched in unison into the ship that would transport them to their

new home.

It had been planned that once there, Gemma would slowly relinquish her mind control and by

the time they were fully aware of their surroundings it would be too late. They would have either

been mated or put into suitable positions of servitude. Anyone that tried to cause a revolt would be

taken out quickly.

The thought of pairing made a small breathe escape her lips when she allowed herself an instant

to think back of her time with Caden. Hanging out at Freddy’s, laughing and joking around. Sitting

in front of the fire pit in the middle of nowhere, gazing at the stars, and the camping trip…sleeping

in his arms.

Lisa Arrington Copyright 2014 AfterShock

Gemma smiled at the foolish teenage notions before remembering that she wasn’t alone.

Standing on the observation deck surrounded by others was the last place that she should be

reminiscing. Especially others that would love to replace her, by death, if it came down to it.

“You seem distracted, Iresha,” Piero glided next to her to observe the team below. “Anything

you want to share?”

Speaking of one now, Gemma let out a snort.

“Not with you, douche.”

“Oh someone picked up some colorful language during her stay on Earth,” he spoke in a

smooth and silky baritone, very much like her father’s, his black eyes sparkling acknowledging his

enjoyment that he made her uncomfortable. “Or is someone missing their human? I’m sure we can

find you a new pet.”

“I thought that was you.” Gemma’s voice was even, she knew that he was looking for a fight. I

don’t have the energy or the desire to give him anything that he wants.

“Oh, I could be your pet, mistress,” he leaned in close, purring in a lower octave. “Then I could

get inside that pretty little mind of yours.”

Gemma stiffened at the thought.

“My Father, Lord Athavan himself could order me to mate with you and I would rather launch

myself into space! There is no way I will ever lie with you and give you that kind of excess to my

mind, that kind of power over me.”

While they had the power to control other species, he knew the Nibruian’s could not control

each other unless they mated; allowing the other being access to their deepest and, most times,

darkest secrets.

Most unions were made out of necessity, not love on Nibrui.

“I’m only here to help you, mistress. Just think of what we could accomplish together?”

This is why the promiscuity of humans both fascinates and repulses me. Ugh, and for him to suggest such an act

of audacity to a higher ranking officer!

“Piero,” squaring her shoulders and ensuring she had his full attention. “I may have lost favor

with Athavan for the moment but don’t, and I mean do not, think that I will not take you out if

necessary. Do you understand me?”

For several seconds he just stood there, mouth agape. When his wits returned, he gave her a

curt nod and turned away.

“Oh and just one more thing Piero?”

Lisa Arrington Copyright 2014 AfterShock

He stopped without turning to face her, “Yes, mistress?”

“If you call me ‘Iresha’ again removing you will become necessary.”

“Yes, mistress, shall there be anything else?” A small smile crossed his lips.

“Yes, tell the guards to hurry with the loading,” she took a minute to tuck her short, blond hair

behind her ear. She still couldn’t explain why she found it comforting. “I’m bored and want to join

father for our next assignment.”

Piero gave her a quick nod, still facing away from her. He didn’t want her to see the crimson

color that had crept on his face, the reaction of embarrassment. He hurried down the walk way.

He had found it strange that Lord Athavan hadn’t killed the little brat when they first found her,

but over the years as Athavan had become captivated by the child, making her the next in line for

the throne. He strode to his room and slammed the door shut behind him.

His massive fist came down on his bureau, barely making a mark. A small sting ran up his arm,

making his indignation rise. It should be him sitting to Athavan’s right, him leading the ground

soldiers in pursuit of the Morgan’s, not on this bullshit babysitting assignment.

But, no, instead of focusing on how to overthrow her and take my rightful place, here I am acting like a love sick

pup that hasn’t had his first indulgence. I must ready myself and regain my focus, one way or another, Gemma will be

mine.

The telecommunicater began to buzz and snapped him out of his reverie. Pushing the

connection button, he was surprised to see Athavan on the line.

“My Lord, what a pleasant and unexpected honor,” Piero bowed.

“Shut up and listen Piero, this isn’t a social call.” Athavan’s voice was hard and cold, “I’ve heard

that Gemma has ordered you to return to Nibrui, but you are to stay here and assist us with finding

the Morgan’s. Understood?”

Piero bowed his head, to convey his understanding, keeping his head low to hide the smile

creeping on his face.

Thank you, Nabu, God of wisdom; for smiling down on me.

“Yes, my Lord.”

“And you will ensure that the Morgan’s are returned to me alive. We need to find out why they

weren’t infected and what they possess. I need to be assured that they will be tested before they are

eliminated.”

“My grace, with all due respect, I still feel that killing them straight away would be our best

option.”

Lisa Arrington Copyright 2014 AfterShock

They are teenagers for Nibrui’s sake, how can they be the ones to destroy us?

“No. We need to study them and find out who helped them in escaping, to see if there are

others like them. Once we have found these answers, you may do whatever you wish with the

insurgents.”

Piero’s eyes shined brightly like spilled ink as he thought about torturing and mutilating the

siblings and the great pleasure it would bring Gemma.

“Thank you, Lord Athavan, I will do as you wish and support Iresha.”

With that, Athavan disconnected on his end and Piero stared at his reflection on the black

screen.

Studying his appearance, he watched as he made himself a new human disguise, one that would

surely get Gemma’s attention.

He may not be in charge but now he saw a guaranteed way to gain Gemma’s respect and

possibly more.