Winter Soldier: Phantoms from the Past

Chapter 2:

Washington D.C., July 4th 2002; 5:30 am

The city was packed from one end to the other. There were a number of festivities and big celebrations planned for the nations birthday. Senators, governors, and a vast number of other prize statesmen had converged on the capital for a chance to press flesh with the wealthy and influential drawn to the country’s center for power. But the real prize was Congressman Wilmer Van Hansen of South Carolina. The Carolina’s being one of the most important territories the districts majority  was rumored to be courted by many wealthy organizations. Although quietly, there were rumors circulating that this family man of impeachable character was the current front runner for the Republican nominee. But sadly this information had not been kept quiet enough for him not to end up on HYDRA’s list for early retirement. Granted as a senior member of the Senate’s Regulation of Arms committee Van Hansen had been useful in securing some of HYDRA’s prive holdings. Ensuring they remained private over the years had not come cheap. And HYDRA wasn’t one to shy from pinching pennies when deemed necessary. Van Hansen had become a liability. An expensive one that had begun drawing too much unwanted attention. And with the whispers of a Presidential bid on the wind Van Hansen had signed his own death warrant.



There were reasons they were known as deadly sins. 

Van Hansen like many D.C. regulars held residence about fifteen miles from the capital. An old brick two story colonial that he had at great expense restored and updated to its current glory. It was in the Historic Homes Registry and several publications in and around D.C. had done write ups gushing over the homes old world charm. One or two included detailed walk throughs with photographs of each room and its ornate furnishings. One included a top to bottom blueprint of the historic home itself. 

That had taken a lot of smooth dealing and greasing some very particular palms to pull off. But between the two puff pieces Bucky had managed to plan his strategy quite easily. A clean sweep was ordered. 

No witnesses.

No survivors.

Mr. and Mrs. Van Hansen, as well as their nineteen year old son, Thomas; all together for the weekend. None of them even slightly aware that it would be their last. It would be the standard tactical incursion. A floor by floor sweep clearing each room as they went, being careful to stage the cover story scene as they followed the layout of the house until it had been completely sanitized. The tragic story of a faulty gas line would ensure that no evidence would be left behind….or at least none that led back to HYDRA. The house sat about two acres back from the main road leading off towards the highway ten blocks down so being noticed wouldn’t be an issue. But once the match was lit the resulting fireball would be seen for almost a mile. 

No witnesses.

No survivors. 

It was almost time now. The weight of the grenade launcher affixed under his M4 rifle in his hand brought a thrill to his blood as the anticipation built up to almost a frenzy point. The four man team settled in around him as they prepared to take up their positions. 

Almost time now. 

The timing had to be perfect. 

Murder was an art, every detail, every moment had to be perfect in its execution.

     “Go. Keep your movements tight and stand by for the Assets instructions. Retrieve all HYDRA files or intel possible. Destroy the rest.”

     “Roger that. Kill order confirmed. Asset has a green light to move on the target.”

Deep sigh. 

A look around at the small group of men that would cover his extraction. Time to go to work.


He hated waiting, but the team had their mission. And he had his. It was imperative that he completed it. There were no second chances with HYDRA. Forgiveness wasn’t in their vocabulary. 

Or his. 

Carefully they entered the back door leading through the showroom style kitchen just off the dining room which turning left brought you to the foyer and the grand staircase. The four men splintered off from Bucky each beginning their sweep of the lower level. The old black walnut staircase gave easy with each careful step, but reaching the first landing the tell tale signs of age announced themselves with a loud creak. 

He froze. 

No sound. 

A few more seconds slip past and nothing, so aware now he continued up the remaining steps. Two doors down past the library and the Congressman’s private office was the first of the bedrooms. One of the tact team members appeared at his six o’clock as he clears the stairs. Motioning to the left the shadow crosses towards the library. A second follows close behind heading into the office. The room Bucky wanted was the third on the left, Guest Bedroom One. 

Thomas’s room.

Mr. and Mrs. Van Hansen were threedown on the right hand side of the hallway. The shadows of the old Spanish Oak trees outside filtered in illuminating the hall sending pale moonlight in broken strands across the long soft carpet runner. It was partially cracked, propped open to create a cross breeze through the room where one of the two large windows had been left open. There surrounded by childhood snapshots and momentos of accomplishments past lay the four post mahogany bed and its sole occupant, one Thomas Van Hansen.

Mark Number One.

Allowing the rifle to fall quietly to the side Bucky made his entry careful not to stir up the ghosts attached to the bones of the old house. He didn’t know then the irony of what he was about to enact, but the house had during the Revolutionary War 1775 been used as a field hospital. And now after hundreds of years…there would be new blood seeping into the decrepit thirsty floorboards, and another innocent soul joining those already bound to its fate. Across from the bed anchored into the plaster wall hung a gigantic flatscreen. The soft glow flickered with the images of passing channels as Bucky crept closer. The handle of the knife slid smoothly in his palm as he turned its edge almost relishing the way it would cleanly sever the two major arteries. Death was an art…and HYDRA painted in only one color…RED. Stepping off to the side to avoid the inevitable artillery spray as the serrated blade did its work Bucky took hold of a handful of black hair wrenching the prone sleeping figure upright and into the proper position. The cold metal kissed the warm soft flesh and the muffled confused whisperings of the MARK changed into wet choking gurgles. 

It was quick.

The draw closed his eyes and left the head board weeping crimson tears. Dropping the corpse back into position on the bed the last stutterings and gurgles as the body struggled to expel the onslaught of life draining from its lips. It finally fell silent.

     “MARK 1 is down. Confirmed kill. ASSET moving to main objective.”

Wiping the knife on the pillowcase Bucky began toward the door. But before he could clear the room the tv flickers catching his attention. The body was laying on the remote causing the channels to flash by in a smearing of rapid blurs. 




The headline scrolling along the bottom of the screen catches his eye. 

The face….

A weathered and aged photograph pulled from some WWII military archives. 

A white star. 

Captain Steven G. Rogers.

Brooklyn, New York.

Patriotic music playing…voices singing…a piano…

Bombs exploding….screaming….

The smell of cordite in the cold snowy air. 

Bright white lights.


Captain America.

Then a voice comes over his shoulder.

     “Acknowledge?! Soldier? What is your mission? Acknowledge!”

Jerking himself awake Bucky wipes the beads of sweat off his face. Unknowingly smearing streaks of dark blood across his night vision goggles as he does so. 


His hand is shaking as he pulls the mask away. 

     “Mission. Eliminate Congressman Wilmer Van Hansen. Amelia Van Hansen. Thomas Van Hansen. No witnesses. No survivors. Confirmed target 1 eliminated. Moving onto main objectives….targets 2 & 3.”

Methodically, Bucky turns pushing past the team leader who hesitantly lowers his weapon and moves to cover his exit. 

The room is dark. 

The faint aromas of lilac perfume, heavy bourbon, and cheap cigars fills Bucky’s nose as he breaks the seal on the room. The first slight figure, Mrs. Van Hansen is laying on her left side facing the sleeping form of her husband. The second, Mr. Van Hansen, is laying on his back one arm above his head snoring broken wheezing breaths. The four members of the TACT team plus the team leader break off. The four go to search the remaining rooms while the team leader remains to cover the ASSET. Moving closer Bucky feels a weight pulling him down inside. His gear all has become so heavy. So much so he’s having difficulty holding his rifle upright. He approaches the left hand side of the bed first. His breathing is rushed and heavy, the air tastes foul as he pulls shallow breathes in trying to stay focused. The white light shining in breaking its beams across both sleeping bodies. As his shadow falls across her face she winces and shudders before pulling the quilt over her bare shoulder. Like a child would sensing the darkness creeping closer. Instinctively, she pulls closer to her husband believing the chill to only be a whisper of night air. And not the icy breath of death come to call. Lowering his rilfe Bucky reaches to his left hip pulling his M9 Barretta sidearm out of its holster. Cocking the slide and releasing the safety slowly trying to quiet the noise in the back of his mind. He steps closer taking in every detail of her face. He watches as she smiles as her hand finds a place to rest on her husbands chest. The bright gold bands on her hand catching the light glimmer like the stars overhead. 

He watches. 

He listens. 

Somewhere the image breaks on something. 

Or perhaps it was someone?

He’d forgotten which, but something was familiar to him in their seeming peace. Team leader at the door moves further into the room becoming disquieted by the behavior Bucky is beginning to display. Just as he reaches the foot of the bed Bucky raises the gun level again.


Somewhere nearby an explosion of colors break across the pitch black sky. The sound rocks Bucky back, the gun falls from his hand and he falls shaking into the shadows of the window sill. Rapid successions following with deafening retreats. His eyes go wild, it seems that the whole world is spinning, and he can only feel himself sink deeper into the floor. The first to stir was Amelia. Shaken awake by the thump of the pistol and Buckys weight hitting the wooden floor. Amelia’s scream barely crossed her lips when Wilmer jerked himself awake reaching for his wife. His hand never made it before the first shot fell silent. Amelia Van Hansen fell draped across the bed. Her brown eyes widened by their last moments of terror were frozen open. The moonlight caught in their reflection and the dark arterial blood oozing into a pool around the hollow of her collarbone. 

They never tell you how blood looks in the dark, but looking on Bucky wasn’t alarmed at the realization that he already knew. Slumped in the corner Bucky looks into those brown eyes and they look back at him. 

     “No! What? Amelia?! Ami…baby? Who are you?! What the hell do you want?! Do you have any idea who I am?!”

In a furious rage Wilmer Van Hansen, now the ripe old age of 58 was a bull of a man, and he was seeing red. As the shouting echoed throughout the house the other team members burst into the room. Team Leader pulled the cotton sleeve away from his mouth and began towards Bucky. He stopped short to retrieve the abandoned pistol then to take in the view of Amelia. 

     “Secure the ASSET. Shut him up and finish clearing this scene! I’ve got to contact base about this. Is everything secure?”

Two other members flew into action while a third came and knelt next to Bucky. There was a tornado of action as the two shooters knelt Van Hansen down and shot him point blank in the head. After setting the crime scene and staging the shocking narrative they returned to Thomas to stage further details. Fire was good and would make the story plausible. But the presence of ballistic evidence required further dialogue. Head office wouldn’t be pleased. But with some money put into the right hands and pressure in the right places the story would stick.

Always did. 


Turning back to Bucky the med officer on the team stepped aside as the team leader took charge once again. Bucky was miles away. Beads of sweat rolling down his neck and arms, collecting drops of blood along the way, and creating a trail as they disappeared beneath his cold hand as it reached to wipe them away.


The strong arm of the team leader swung fast and the solid metal butt of the Barretta brought blood with the first strike. 

     “He’s out of it, boss. Gone blackout….guess we kept him active too long this go around. Best to just shut it down and get back let the Colonel’s guys take over.”

Frustration rang in every syllable of team leaders tone. On the outside Bucky was all locked up, an animal backing into a cage he couldn’t escape, but on the inside he was only waiting for the right moment. Because as his handlers, who had become complacent and lazy in their dealings with him had forgotten…

A caged animal is the most dangerous right before you close the door on it. They’re unpredictable…and just when you think you’ve broken them and they have no will left to escape….that’s when they show you what they are really capable of. 

     “Alright, get up.”


Bucky could hear the footsteps of the other members returning upstairs. 

     “I said get up!”

This was going to hurt…a lot. 

Luckily, this time it wasn’t going to be him doing the bleeding though. Mistakes….we all make them, but fatal errors those are kind of “one of” type things. And unluckily for the team leader….he’d just made a bige one. The metal arm shot forward catching the bent wrist in midst of its swing wrenching it to the side Bucky’s free hand wrapped smoothly around the pistol grip. Digging his shoulder into the midsection of the man standing guard Bucky knocked him off balance firing two shots as the body fell to the ground. Swinging round he ducked in time to out maneuver the man as he fought to raise his own weapon. The other two TACT members were almost at the door. Bucky fired one shot barely clipping the first man through before he back peddled out of the line of fire. The anger rising inside him helped focus him to the new mission.

     “One at a time…just focus on one at a time.”

As he rose team leader advanced now brandishing a long jagged black kabar. Even with one hand Bucky knew he wasn’t going down easy. Squaring his body to make the target available smaller Bucky studied his adversary. Lunging forward kabar squelched as it tore through the black kevlar weave on Bucky’s combat jacket. He took this window and using his shield arm took the recoil landing an inside knee to the gut driving TACT leader back again. But this time he didn’t wait…closing the distance driving hit after hit with powerful over hand punches. TACT leader fell hard against the wall cracking and splintering the fragile plaster, and upending some of Amelia’s articles from the small bedside table. Finally the cold grip tightened around the neck of his opponent. 

     “Go ahead…do it…kill me! You think this makes you better than me? You are nothing. Just a pathetic bundle of broken pieces…we made you…that’s all you are! Ha, ha…there is no escaping that…anyone that you’ve known or loved will die…you know that, right? You run…and we’ll hunt you down….but not before we slowly, painfully take away everything you ever loved. So go on…take your revenge….we will never stop. There is no where you can go. You know….its sad really….pathetic that you believe you could still have a place among them. You will only bring them one thing in the end….”

Confused and anger welling up inside him, wincing back the words the team leader was hissing at him. It wasn’t until eye narrowing he leaned in close enough for Bucky to smell the acrid odor of his dry breath on his face. 

     “Death. That’s what you are…Dea…”


The body slides down the wall crumpling in on itself. Bucky stands his eyes staring down at his hands with the words of his former captor circling in his head, and then his eyes fall on the still form. 

The dead girl with the brown eyes. 

The crackling of the chorus of fireworks bursting overhead and the far away colors bleeding in across his face. And her laying there in his shadow. 

     “Stand down, soldier!”

Quietly the two other men had begun advancing on him while he was distracted trying to piece himself back together. Now the muzzle of TACT 3’s rifle was pressed into the back of his head. He could feel the fear in the trembling tone in his voice as he repeated the order. 

     “Stand down! You will comply.”

Taking in a long deep breath Bucky readied himself for what was to come next. 


Ducking around right Bucky dove through the thin pane glass window preparing for the unfriendly welcome the ground below would offer. The two men swung moving towards the window firing wildly…they didn’t even notice the soft rolling sound of the grenades as they shot missing Bucky by several feet. The shock of firm ground as he landed drove every inch of air out of him, but still he managed to recover quickly enough to make the distant break in the treeline. Stepping through and into the waiting SUV Bucky could feel the change in the wind as the concussive blast drew the warm air inward sweeping the blaze higher. 

For the first time since he could remember the breaths he took felt like they were full and the haze was starting to clear. Now with his will under his own control there was only one place he wanted to go. 


The sound of the engine as it accelerated pulling past the last by street onto the highway lead on lifted his spirits a little. And for the first time in about 60 years Bucky smiled. But he still couldn’t understand why after everything he still felt like he was forgetting something. 

Something important. 

Shrugging the thought off Bucky turned the car onto the Beltway amid the swarms of holiday traffic. The world was coming alive, waking up to a new day, and so was he. 


Winter Soldier: Phantoms from the Past


      “Doubt thou the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move, Doubt truth to be a liar, But never doubt I love.”

     —William Shakespeare.

     “There are a lot of different kinds of love in the world. Then there is the truest and most fierce love. A type of love that only comes around once in a lifetime. A kind of love that not even Shakespeare could put into words. It defies logic, exceeds time in its reach, and continues past the point where hope seems impossible. It’s victims are never the same as they are forever marked by it. It is more powerful than any bomb, cuts deeper than any blade, and hits you like the bullet you never saw coming. It never leaves you. It buries itself in your soul so deeply that your heart beat changes to match theirs. It’s something you feel in your bones….it calls to you….pulls you towards each other. It’s the kind of love that moves mountains, topples kingdoms,….moves heaven and earth with its will. So when I tell you that I love him, keep that in mind, and you will vaguely begin to comphrend just how far I would go to save him. Do you understand now, Captain?”

The room was so quiet all eyes still. Slowly Steve reaches up removing his cowl and sets it aside. 

       “Yes, Ma’am….I believe I do.”

Turning away from them her eyes go back to the glass sarcophagus where he sleeps. Gently, she raises her hand and lovingly caresses the frozen glass. As she does beneath the erratic strands of ice crystals that coat the lid his eyelids flutter and his pulse quickens.

Chapter 1:


The complex’s alarm system blared out echoing off the hard cement walls. Red warning lights and strobes crawled along the white grey titles as he raced down the northwest corridor. Lines of senteries hammered their heavy booted chorus as they formed up against the impending doom. But through it all Steve could only hear the voice in his head screaming in panic. 


It’d been a big change, coming from the secure familiarity of what had been home, to this strange place where peace and quiet seemed offset by heightened awareness. The complex was high in the mountains. The volumnious bank of heavy rain filled fog and mists that shrouded it lay on constant like a blanket. This only made the initial feeling of alienation and discomfort more tangible. Steve liked to see what was coming, but here even what you saw was never a certain thing. But he was grateful. T’Challa was a very accommodating ally and a man, Steve sensed, of honor. And for that reason he felt he could trust him

Skidding past the array of soldiers, T’Challa’s bodyguards, Steve could hear the loud manic scurrying of the attendants in Bucky’s room. It’d only been about six months ago that his best friend, brother, and only real tangible link to family had decided to spare the world….and though he hadn’t said so Steve also knew himself, anymore destruction. As he neared T’Challa came into view. His gaze was focused on the happenings inside the locked medical suite. But it didn’t seem worried or grave so Steve felt easy enough to slow his approach.

       “Good morning, Captain.”

      “Your Highness. So what’s going on? I heard the alarms….is everything alright in there?”

Inside the swarms of chemists, biologist, medical professionals, and genetic analysts scurried around checking O2 levels, blood toxicities, organ and brain functions, and body temp. All a delicate balancing act to keep both the patient’s body and mind in perfect harmony. 

     “His blood pressure spiked around six o’clock this morning. And then they detected slight changes in his brain functions and heart rate.”

Tensing up Steve moved closer watching the medical ballet taking place around his friend.

     “What does that mean? Is he….is he okay?”

     “Relax, Captain. If there were any cause for concern I would have notified you personally. What it means is that your friends body is beginning to acclimate to the drugs we are using to keep him in suspension. He’s trying to wake up…why or how we’re not sure of yet. But from what I understand….he’s begun dreaming which explains the increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and the brain activity.”

    “Dreaming? He’s been under the better part of six months now. What could have started triggering something like that? Could this have something to do with the conditioning? All the experiments HYDRA put him through?”

    “I’m not sure. We’re increasing the levels so he’ll stay under, but that will work for so long.” 

   “Are you saying he’s adapting to the treatments that fast?”

  “No. I’m saying we can only increase the levels so much before the risks become too great.”

  “We aren’t ready yet. We’ve just begun to scratch the surface of everything. We’re digging into decades of HYDRA files and there are very few detailing specifics on what was done to him. He won’t be able to control himself if he gets triggered again.”

Turning to face Steve squarely T’Challa places a hand on Steve’s shoulder.

  “Then you need to hurry.”

Turning back to the room they both focus in on the glass cryotank. Inside the body is still seemingly enveloped in a peaceful rest. 

   “With what little I’ve learned about your friend he seems a man of remarkable abilities. Not just in battle, but wise enough to know the honorable thing to do even at great personal cost. I can’t imagine his decision was an easy one.”

Steve sighs taking in the friendly words. 

   “I promised him I’d find a way to fix this. I’m not going to fail him again.”

   “I don’t think you’ve failed him, Steve. But I can’t imagine the horrors your friend witnessed in all those years. And now he can’t run from them…they’re locked inside him. The one place he can’t hide…”

   “Guess I better get to it then.”

As he walks away Steve reaches into his pants pocket pulling out a cellphone. 

   “Hey. It’s me…get them together and get here as fast as you can. We have work to do.”

Post Mission Statement: Pay Attention Please

Okay, I know it’s been a long…a really long time since I’ve posted anything on here. And like I’ve said before  I will finish Daughters of Avalon. Erin’s story isn’t over.

But I’ve become inspired and I’ve begun another lengthy project. Now this subject matter that is covered in this story maybe controversial to some…so please listen:

1. I am not writing this story under any contract. This is just my mind and the story that it spits out.

2. I mean no disrespect to anything that has come before. Or that may come after. This is just my perspective on what COULD BE, not what SHOULD BE. 

3. This story is meant to encourage others to look at their lives and see what they might connect with in the story.

4. IF you don’t agree with how I’ve gone about the storyline please don’t be upset. I’ve based these dates and the time line as a “possible” back story/progression/” for what is a very popular franchise and character base. Alot of these are based off real historical dates that I have used to track the comic storyline vs actual historic occurances; as well as moments we all know about in HISTORY. Being that most of our characters are based and are inspired by a particular time period please understand why something are included here. And why some may not. IF you have anything to add to this research please feel free to make a comment. 

5. YES. I know….it’s tough to swallow, but try….and just give the storyline a chance. That being said….I have sent this story off to some of the characters included in it. Meaning…yes, there are copies out there that I have submitted for consideration by MARVEL/DISNEY for either publication or for inclusion in the MARVEL universe. But I must admit….the motive is a little self serving….I like many of you would love to have a STAND ALONE film for some of the characters we think may have been overlooked….IE: Black Widow/Natasha Romanov, and OUR Favorite brainwashed mentally damaged hauntingly handsome WINTER SOLDIER. And while this is the first book….whatever….its just the one that I chose to put forward first…there will be a second and third….and they will bring a certain femme fatale and her dubious past to the forefront where she belongs. 

6. Yes, this story includes some of my own characters that I have melded into the group and storyline. It also goes into more detail on the HYDRA mythology by delving into the organizations levels of evil. Because during my research on certain societies and enterprises, I have come to learn and believe that there is NEVER just ONE level. And like the line says….CUT OFF ONE HEAD TWO MORE SHALL TAKE ITS PLACE. And then there are so many lines that need to be connected and so many ways that these could be connected. So there will be other AGENTS involved and another branch of HYDRA will come out of the dark to play.

7. Finally! This is written with honest intention and with no desire for anyone to become angry or feel that their favorite character was unjustly ignored or unfairly portrayed. But we all have our own voice and how I write things will inevitably differ from how someone else would or will. So please remain calm and just read on with an open mind. And see what the possibilities are. The characters speech is written with the actors actual voice taken into consideration. If they’ve been cocky or tough, guarded and shy, forceful and overbearing….the lines of dialogue will convey that actor/actresses attitude. As for my characters that I’ve invented they were concieved with particular people in mind. I didn’t include those names when I sent the concepts off last year around this time. So its been a huge frustration on whether I should mention them now, but finally I’ve decided it would provide you with the proper visual when you read their parts of this story.

Frank Warner: Clint Eastwood (I know. Not likely….but they did get Robert Redford….so why not Eastwood?!)

Lucas Thorne: MARK HAMILL (Just the perfect guy and I’d love to see him on screen in this role. And it would be so amazingly awesome to have him and Sebastian Stan in the same film. Might even get the big executives thinking…who knows. That’s who I saw.)

There are many others…but those are just the main two…however….I WOULD LOVE IT IF Trevor Noah would consider being apart of it. As his voice is what I used to develop the Security Commander for T’Challa’s guards. He has some funny lines and I just kept hearing Trevor’s voice….probably because I was watching alot of the Daily Show clips while writing it…but I think it works quite well. 

Anyways….I hope you enjoy it….and I hope you will let me know if I’ve overlooked, missed or if you’d like me to take another stab at something. Other than that….enjoy!

And Mr. STAN LEE if you or anyone affiliated with your company or MARVEL/DISNEY INC. should come across this…I did send you a copy sir. And repeating what I said in my letter….PLEASE DON’T SUE ME. 



Twenty Seven: Daughters of Avalon

I knew he couldn’t understand how I felt. Even now it’s hard to think of what he must have seen me as. But leading the Guardians had always been my lot. No one else could. The time was coming on faster. I was not conscious of its changes as I had slept through the years. But somehow I had always known I would be pulled back to this place. Stories like this…fates like mine…were never simple ones. Today had been further proof of that. I had paid my debts…with blood…with my life…the price of my many sins. But having Jack here…now…it seemed I was recollecting some small piece for myself. 


It was Merlin. He’d come looking for me, but kept silent. He had been taking the scene in watching Jack disappear into the crowded streets. That moment like many others felt like goodbye to me. 

       “Kalisto told me you were speaking to…a man? I thought…”

       “It wasn’t Victor.”

       “Oh…I knew that…my brother has indeed grown stronger since…well. Since the last time we met him, but I don’t think he possesses enough to pass through the veil yet. I didn’t realize…it was him.”

I sighed.

       “You care for him…don’t you, Erin? He makes you feel like you’re a part of that world.”

       “No. He makes me feel…”

I paused collecting my words.

       “Yes…he makes you feel? What?”

       “That’s it. He makes me feel…like I’m alive.”

Merlin looked over the brim of his spectacles at me and smiled. 

       “You know how it was after Calen died. It was like the whole world had stopped. Living each day took a bit more of him away. Without him…I felt black…darker than anything I’ve ever met. But…Jack…his love is what made me realize…I don’t have to choose. I can have both with him. He saw the worst of me…and wasn’t afraid…he loved me when I was dead inside. And with him…I feel alive…free. Human…almost.”

       “I think it goes both ways around, my girl. Calen loved you very much, but don’t confuse love with the need to be loved. You don’t need anyone to make you feel human, Erin. Your heart is your own…you have always let it guide you. I think once you’ve gotten past needing to be loved…that’s when you find real love. Love that’s beyond mortal or immortal for that matter…a love that lasts beyond even time itself.”

       “I don’t need him to love me, Merlin. He just does.”

       “Then don’t be afraid to love him, Erin. Once you’ve found that kind of love it has a way of changing everything about you. There’s no telling what a love like that can make possible. Even for you…”

       “Ha, ha…Ha. Very funny.”

Being a fatherly figure was never hard for Merlin. He had a way about him, some called it magic, others simply good advice. He was able to make the cloudiest problems clear. We smiled as we walked along the white columned pathway leading toward the Council chamber. Things that never change can sometimes lose their sense of themselves. But those high stone walls were just the same as they had always been. The sounds of birds flying in the warm summer breeze and the smell of a thousand flowers brought to bloom by the late night rain. We headed down the long dimly lit path that led up to the raised dais. The fate of our world, the Guardians, and myself would be decided. And this would be where we would begin to gain lost ground.

There were shouts of outrage and annoyance echoing down the long corridor. There were six vague outlines huddling close to the door. 


Sharply they withdrew themselves and stood in rank. 

       “Thank you.”

Merlin placed his hand on the small of my back ushering me forward. 

       “Aren’t you coming in?”

       “Not just yet…you’re going to have to face them on your own sometime, and this is as good a time as any. Besides I have to meet Iliana at the far bank…she’s back. And although…I never got the chance to speak to you…”

       “No need.”

       “Thank you, Erin. Thank you for…taking care of my daughter…I owe you…”

       “No. You don’t. You don’t owe me anything…we’re family, Merlin. We do…no explanations…or thanks needed.”

       “Besides…I’m not that popular in there lately…well. You’ll be fine.”

I could hear them all now. The familiar voices of friends and some not…so friendly or familiar each striving to be heard above the other. Isaiah was among them, as well as the elven ambassadors, and five war chieftains that had been placed in charge of our army. Then there was Vivien…patient, calm, and understanding in the midst of it all. But today she bore a silent burden…one that I was soon to learn would decide the fates of more than our world. 

       “We must seek aide, Vivien! Already the line to the northwest is being tested. Victor continuously pecks away at our forces…even now we are dwindling. Alone…we simply cannot win this war…not this time.”

       “I disagree, my lord.”

The room fell quiet as each voice found its throat closed as I appeared. All eyes were on me as I climbed the stairs to take my place once more at Vivien’s side. Inside my head I could hear the sounds of all their voices, but in the back of my eyes all I could see was Jack. I kept my eyes focused on Vivien, ignoring the turning heads, as they whispered their ill-conceived notions. 

       “Forgive my lateness, Vivien. There was a pressing matter brought to my attention that needed to be…explored.”

I nodded and bowed as gracefully as I could on my two shaking limbs. Vivien glided to her chair touching my arm softly to reassure me. 

       “Esteemed Council members…I believe you all remember…Erin.”

There were shouts of outrage, gasps of disbelief, and surprisingly looks of joy. But from the far corner of the chamber was also a grim piercing stare…Isaiah.

       “What have you done, Vivien? You’ve broken the covenant…this girl…she should not be here!”



Chapter Twenty Six: Daughters of Avalon

“So it’s true? The Guardian’s…that’s why…Damn it, Erin! That’s why they brought you back!?”

I couldn’t look at him. I was so sure what I would find there.

“I have to go, Jack, they are waiting for me. I’m sorry…”

He gripped my hand tighter.

“Wait…Erin…please…don’t go back…don’t do this. You don’t have to do this…you don’t have to fight their battles any more…we can go. Just leave…leave with me…please.”

I blew the air I had been holding back out in exasperation. I didn’t know what to say. I knew what Jack saw and I cannot honestly say, I didn’t agree…or want the same things.

“I have to go, Jack. I can’t leave…even if I wanted to…I have to finish this. You know…I would leave with you in a heartbeat…if I could. But I can’t…you know that…you know why I can’t turn my back on this. This is who I am…Jack…”

“I’ve heard this before, but…why, Erin?! Why does it always have to be you?”

“It’s just the way things are, Jack. You can try to fight it…but it will only…I’ve seen what happens when you turn your back on fate. And I don’t want that…I can’t do that again. This is just the way it is.”

He was pacing as if he were trying to work my words through in his mind. I began to walk away.

“Stop…stop! Erin, I can’t lose you. Tell me what to do…please…talk to me!”



“Stay here…with me. Jack…I love you…but I can’t turn my back on these people. I can’t go…so I’m asking you…to stay with me?”

“What did you say?”

“I said…stay with me.”

“No…Before that…”

“I love you.”

There was nothing else I needed to say. We would face whatever was to come…our fate…the fate of the world around us. We would face it together. I pulled back my head resting against his, our eyes looking into each other’s, no more hiding. The bells in the Citadel began to ring, but all I heard was silence. But for our two hearts beating…and for that moment…we were one. That second of infinity…nothing existed outside of us and the reality we held together in each others embrace. There was no doubt. No words. No war. No pain or fear…just the awesome power of those three words and what we had become in that moment. Nothing could tear us apart. We were beyond that now. I belonged to him and he belonged to me. And nothing, not fate…his or mine…not destiny…not hate or even death would ever separate us again. That silent vow spoken between two souls would bind us together for eternity…and beyond.

“I have to go now. Okay?”

Stepping away, feeling the gulf widening between us, I managed to untangle myself from him.

“How will I find you again?”

I turned smiling taking in the sight of him standing in my home…my world. No more shadows…no more darkness…this was a new day…our new beginning.

“Don’t worry. I’ll find you. I’ll always find you.”

Chapter Twenty Six: Daughters of Avalon

       “He’s here, Erin. And he’s not alone…twelve thousand soldiers came along with him. It seems that he’s made a deal…with Victor.”

       “Gather the girls…are there any people here that can fight?”

      “A few perhaps…the watchers from Glaskin…maybe a few dozen others.”

       “If we’re going to pull this off, Merlin, I’m going to need every resource at my disposal. Find them and meet me in the throne room.”

       “Where…are you going?! Erin, this is serious…we need to talk about this…Erin?”

I walked to the dormitories, the streets were bustling with people. Mothers talking, children playing, I had never seen so much activity within those halls before. The streets of the city were alive. The warmth of the sun amplified the light emanating from every smiling face or tender embrace. There was still hope…but…there was also fear. The rumor of doubt had begun to spread as I came closer. I saw the lines of wounded with their families surrounding them. What could I do? What could one person change? I had already there a while watching the young mothers guarding their babes from the passing strangers. I felt a slight tug on my hand all of a sudden. A small boy stood with welcoming eyes and a placid smile, his tiny thin finger curled around the stem of a wild flower. I took the flower from him and watched him run back to his mother.


These were my people…my family…and this was my home. Avalon and I were all that remained between them and the vast nothingness of the future. So many woeful thoughts came back to me…memories unable to find rest in the bright sun of the lively city. Memories of Calen…of the times before…when hope was an easier feeling to shoulder. I had always thought I could be strong. Truthfully, I had always been stronger with him beside me. But now I had to be strong on my own. My strength had to be enough…for these people, for the girls under my charge, and for myself. These thoughts rolled through my head as I watched the little boy playing in the garden. I watched until the sky darkened with heavy rain clouds blowing from the east. The years seemed to roll by revealing possibility of what the future it might have to offer for him…for us all. Then the shadows passed, but the world through my eyes remained dark. I could feel it…reaching out…almost a memory now dimmed by my mistakes. Dimmed, but not forgotten.


The word was only a breath, but enough to stop my heart for a beat. I turned to set myself back on the paths towards the Council Chamber. When I caught an outstretched hand from the corner of my eye…

       “Erin? Is…Is it really you?”

I felt my face grow warm with each wave of memory flooding over me. His eyes wandered over me unbelieving to what they were witnessing. Then still unsure of his eyes he reached out. I raised my hand to meet his reaching through the warm beams of sun as if through the past. Our fingers touched, I felt my heart leap and my hands moisten. It was only a moment…a life time passing between us…minutes passing by like the clouds above us. Walking closer letting him within reach I looked him over. His eyes seemed clearer, his breath was the same as it had been the last time I’d breathed it in, and his skin was warm on mine. I stood there missing every sensation…every part of him…wanting so badly for him to be real.

       “This…this can’t be real. I’m dreaming this, aren’t I? You! You were…dead.”

I lifted my hand and softly caressed his cheek. My fingers accidentally grazed the lids of his eyes feeling the brush of his lashes against them.

       “I’m real, Jack. I’m back. Merlin…he found me…I got lost for a while. But he helped me…he brought me back.”

Timidly he reached out his fingers shaking aching to touch my face. He let his hand trace every curve. My face, my lips, and then he pulled his hands through my hair. My mind became alive with each movement they made. Each touch as old memories…desires became fresh and new. But by then we found each other tangled in a welcoming embrace.

       “I thought…I would never see you again when they came for you. I wanted…Erin, I wanted to be here…but…”

       “I understand. It wouldn’t have made much difference. You wouldn’t have found the city. Jack…I’m sorry about Logan…I didn’t know he was there…that night. When I realized…what I had done…it was…I didn’t have a choice.”

       “You don’t have to explain. No one blamed you…for any of it…”

Taking a deep breath filling the space between our bodies growing smaller. Words pulling us closer…bringing us back to each other…back to where we were meant to be. His lips were soft and inviting, until finally there was no space, nothing between my lips and his. Happiness washed over me in that moment. And it frightened me.


I spun around to find Kalisto behind us staring at Jack holding me close…protectively. I turned separating myself from Jack. Kalisto eyed him…looking him over…like a dangerous insect that needed killing. Then at me with a confused expression.

       “Merlin…sent me to find you. We’re ready now. The Council has been convened.”

       “I’ll be there in a moment.”

I replied smiling trying to ease the tension surrounding us all.


I spun around my gaze intent. I could see her shrink as I pinned her down.

       “I’ll be there in a moment. Now…was that all, Kalisto?”

Her eyes opened wide in shock.

       “Yes…my lady.”


Bowing low Kalisto turned to leave not before directing one last glance in Jacks direction. It had been a meeting of worlds, mine and his, the past and the present. I could scarcely believe he was here…now…in the midst of all the madness. Such a jumble of thoughts and feelings took hold of me. I felt ashamed asking these girls to forget their lives. To trust that I would…that I could…lead them. I felt saddened, but never regretful at finding the one thing I cared for more than the rest. I could not…would not…leave him behind again.

       “Who was that?”

How to explain? The story was far too long and painful to look back on.

       “She’s one of my girls.”

His face said it all.


Chapter Twenty Six: Daughters of Avalon

       “I had a notion your old friend would help you to remember. Now I think you’re ready.”

       “Ready? For what?”

The two nurses that were waiting in the shrouded sun rays keeping watch at the door stepped forward. Then from the gardens in the wings three more appeared. With a nod from Merlin they reached up and began to lift their hoods. 

       “Erin…meet the Guardians of Avalon.”

It was the children…but not children no more. Kalisto and Salina…all of them. My eyes could hardly believe what I was seeing. 


I had been gone…who would there be to teach these girls…who appeared to be capable soldiers. Their bright silver armor gleaming in the sunlight. The white crest of Avalon beaming on their breast plates, and the soft delicate silk capes tied about their shoulders.


Another cloaked form stepped forward. 


Without thinking of the impropriety she rushed up. We clasped each other in a sisterly embrace. 

       “Nyssa, schooled the girls…and Gilliam, as well as myself took over for a time. It’s time for you to take your place leading them.”

I began to ask for Iliana, but was cut short by Nyssa.

       “She’s with Vivien…she’s just recently returned from completing her last trial. She’s a very promising Guardian.”

The Guardians of Avalon. They looked fierce, battle ready,  but I still could not help seeing the small faces from long ago. They chose their own paths and now they looked prepared to follow it. The road was going to be a long hard one. I wondered if they were ready. 

       “The Guard is assembled, Erin. It only lacks a leader.”

I glanced down at the sword as my hand lay on it. 

       “We’re ready, Erin. Wherever you lead…we will follow.”

Slowly, I gathered myself and stood forward to face them. I raised the sword to the sky lowering the cool metal to my temple. 

       “Sisters, friends…Avalon survives only because we defend it. Our strength…our will…it is to us to protect her. Believe in each other and stand by each other…if we fail…our world will die. I cannot command you…this is your choice…yours and no others.”

Each of them pulled their swords and held them out to me. Smiling I nodded handing mine off to Merlin.

       “So be it. Guardians you are.”

So with Nyssa’s assistance I pulled my clothes on…all the blood was gone. My skin was fresh and all that remained was the scar a parting gift from Torrec.

       “We didn’t think…you would come back…when you left us before.”

       “Neither did I.”

       “So why…Erin…why did you come back?”

I didn’t know. So I just walked to the door leaving the question to hang in the air. We reached the courtyard where the Guard was assembled. It amazed me to see them. Strong…alive and how they unflinchingly stood ready to take life on themselves. A life…a road I had already walked…already lived. And died.

       “There is…someone else that wants to welcome you home, Erin.”

The group parted and there she stood. 


I fell to my knees. She rushed and wrapped her arms around me. I breathed her in…the smell of her warming me inside. 

       “Forgive me…I was wrong…”

It was all that I could think to say. She raised my face till our eyes met. 


I feared I had lost my chance to be whole. 

       “Never be sorry…you have given…you have restored a piece of me that I thought was dead a long time ago. You’ve walked a long road to reach this moment, Erin. Never have I been so proud of you. You…never disappointed me…you have always followed your heart…and that is why it is you that I trusted to protect my city…just as you protected my daughter.”

Without realizing it she had taken my hand and slipped something on it. I could hardly breathe for believing…Calen’s ring. My ring.

       “Good to have you home.”

Another embrace came more rich than the last. Home it was a place I had been searching my entire life and now at last I’d found it. The rest of the day I listened to the girls and Merlin. They told me all about everything that had happened. They asked all about what I’d done before I died. The memories were like old parchment turned yellow and musty. But after everything was done and told, Merlin took me aside to explain what was to be the next step in my journey, and it would involve leaving Avalon…again.

       “Erin, things have gotten worse since the last…”

Here he broke off not sure how to continue.

       “Since you’ve been gone…the world has changed a great deal. Rome now occupies all of Britain. The people are being forced into the north beyond the wall. For their own protection…lies…not even good lies at that!”


       “Oh…yes. The Romans force them over the walls into Victor’s territory. He already controls most of the southern villages, which are now destroyed. And in return Victor sends Rome…servants…there are dozens being shipped from the fort daily.”

I sat quietly taking all the horrible news in with stride. The total domination and control of most of the islands had fallen with the forces of Avalon powerless to stop it. Avalon had become an island in the sea of tears that was to drown its people. A sense of failure and doubt had settled on us all.

       “How many villagers have crossed the lake?”

       “Two hundred, at least. The hospital and dormitories are full. We’re running out of time, Erin. Something has to happen…or we are going to lose. Victor isn’t playing games anymore.”

       “Petweran and Anion are the nearest cities…but there’s no possible way to make them defensible in time. Not before he begins his march on Avalon itself. Lynaness has been taken over by Marek, General of the Red Guard…your father.”



Chapter Twenty Six: Daughters of Avalon

Death, it seems, is a very different experience. First your senses numb and everything goes quiet. Then as your eyes cloud towards the end…as your chest fills with air…you begin to feel tired. Each new breath takes more effort to make the air rise to the surface. You realize it’s over…and you feel unsure. You fight harder, not for yourself, but for those you’re leaving behind. Their faces seem like small photo’s arranged in sequences that arrange your life in its story. It all seems so important in the end…in death. The smallest mistakes seem to carry immediate weight as their faces grow long and their heads bow. You watch as they lower you into the tomb sealing you into the darkness. Closing the story of your life forever. That’s what death is…the ending…the name of it signals the utter finality of it. You’re dead. But for some death is more…its a beginning. A clean slate…an open book…a new chapter where you’re story changes. And then life really begins. Death wasn’t the end…not yet. Not for me. My body was empty, but my piece of the story had not been written yet. Death can stop a lot of things, but not everything. There is only one thing stronger than death…


The words, prayers of the Sacrament of the Dead, echo into the stone laying over my tomb. A knock…knock! The sound echoes in my ears breaking the marble set in my veins. The blockades break down and fresh liquor flows through me. The stench of deaths cold hard grip of mortality loosens on my heart. 




Sweet breath returns to my body. My eyes begin to lift and take in the small hollow space of my tomb. It’s been a long sleep…my body still feels dead. 


I raised my hands and pressed my palms against the hard cold stone. The cap slides back and the light blinds me. So I shield my eyes. Then I see him…young and beautiful. Then as my eyes adjusted to their new life. I see, Merlin, was standing over my open coffin.

       “Welcome back, Erin.”

I was back?! 

It had been nearly a year since I had found the rest that I had so desperately wanted. Sleeping in the forgetful slumber of death. Remembering all that had been and contemplating all that might have. Dwelling on all of the past mistakes and missteps. Waiting…for the moment when I might be welcomed into the next world with my loved ones. I dreamed of them…of who they would be now…what they might say. Would they recognize me? Would they welcome me into their arms? My father smelling of lemon grass and horse hair from the long days in the fields. 


Would he be there now? Or would he still be trapped? Then as they came into my thoughts so as did those I had no recollection of. My mother…sister…my brother…I wondered what they would look like. I wondered if they would know me for who I was now or who I had been. But now…here I was…and I would have to wait a little longer. I would have to wait to see them. It would be a long road to travel to find them again.

        “Why?! Why?”

I could barely talk, but finally I managed to get the word out. Merlin reached into the coffin and lifted the flags off me. Tucking his arm under me he pulled me up into the light so I could recline in the coffin while my limbs unfrozen. Carefully, he used his sleeve to dab away the salt mired in my eyes and caked on my face. 

        “It wasn’t your time…Erin…we need you here…now. Things are bad…Victor has struck a bargain with Marek, General of the Red Guard…your father, Erin. They are coming…this time…for us all.”


It was all I could muster. The sorrow of leaving the quiet sleep of death for more long days of blood and death. I had tried to hide in my quiet tomb, but the call of battle still found me. The call of my people came knocking at my door. And my heart though broken could not willingly ignore its sound. Merlin motioned to the corner and two figures clothed in the dark shale colors of the Order stepped forward. They cradled my weak body as they carried me away, leaving Merlin in the cathedral by the empty tomb. It would be months of rest before I would be well enough…strong enough to stand on my own. Meanwhile Victor had been making his own plans as well as his presence known. Avalon was a swarm…a sea filling up to the brink with people from village’s miles around our borders. People that would not live as slaves under Rome or those afraid of what the night would call forth from the shadows. The war had come…no one was innocent anymore…not even Avalon.

I spoke very little to anyone that first day after death gave me up. I felt little, but regret those days following my expulsion. To have come back only to remember what I had been once. Voices and faces of the people I had killed haunted my in my sleep. Everyday Merlin would visit, but next to him I received no other visitors. My two nurses would come sweeping in each morning seeing to my every need. No word of Iliana had even reached me…or Jack. The enduring beauty of Avalon did little to improve my condition. All around me nothing but ghosts of the past did I see? After a week my nurses began to walk me around the room trying to regenerate my muscles. And to some degree with their help my weak body seemed to grow stronger. But as strong as my body was getting my spirit seemed not itself still. I felt like I might float away at any moment. I feared that I wouldn’t have what it took this time. That all my deeds had already festered turning them into new scars. I couldn’t out run my demons…not even in death. 

       “Erin? What is wrong with you?”

       “I can’t…I don’t know how to say it, Merlin. I fell like this…it’s…not me. Not anymore. You brought me back, but this…”

I said patting my body letting my hands come to rest on my heart.

       “This isn’t me. I’m gone…I’ve tried to find myself, but I can’t seem to find me.”

       “Erin, you’re looking in all the wrong places. You’ve always lived here.”

He took a bundle from under the folds of his cloak, and laid it on the covers next to me. I leaned forward slowly pulling the cold metal from its wrappings. The old sword looked new as if its metal gleamed in the sunlight. I wrapped my fingers around the dragon head its ruby eye had the same fire since I’d last held it. I took a deep breath as I felt strength surge through me. When I opened my eyes to exhale I saw Merlin smiling. I couldn’t help but smile back. 



Chapter Twenty Five: Daughters of Avalon

       “Erin…tell my dad…”

      “I will…I will…”

And with that said…that last promise made…I ended ten years of life with one stroke. He was quiet now laying there with his hand still clutching deeper in the wound. 

       “Now we end this!” 

       “Ready when you are…Guardian!”

I heard the words pass into the night air between us for the first time I realized their truth. He was saying my name. This was who I would be for the rest of my life. I began circling my prey. It was time to finish what I had started. Time to become who I was born to be. Time to go home. The roads I had traveled all the things I had done it had come down to that moment. He was strong and he knew me better than I knew him. All my years of studying with Merlin…and the short time with Calen…had never detailed this level of darkness. The past still haunted me that same way it did these people. But it was my past and now they saw their chance to reclaim me. These ghosts I had been running from so long. I watched the sinews and musculature of his body erect and alert. I studied him searching for anything that might lend me some advantage.

His eyes were sharp it, but when he came close to the edge of the fire I saw a shudder run cross his body. It caused him to pull back into the shadows bringing the tendrils of hair upon their ends. He was watching me too. I had to get closer to have a chance. Tucking my arms and shifting my grip on the sword I moved in. We danced keeping just out of the others range. He always moved with his back to the light. It was a chance…a good one, but if my plan failed it would be over quickly. The city would fall. We neared the pass around the fire again. This time I batted towards him. The sharp edge felt like a knife running through butter as it sliced through the tough hide of his chest. I spun round, pushing the dragon’s eye, and my blade split into two. I grasped the pommel sending the twin blades singing. He was wounded, but it wasn’t enough. It would take more. We circled again. I slashed throwing the blades in a circle around me. They hissed as one plunged into his rib the other grazed his stomach. The ground moaned as the  falling drops of blood hit the ground. 

For the last time, both wounded and bleeding, we circled. But as I came round this time Torrec spun bringing our bodies face to face. He fell at my feet, the blade of my dirk buried to the hilt in his chest. The hot black liquid drained over my fingertips. Stumbling I managed to lift my sword…his eyes following my every move. Cleaving his head I sent it rolling into to the dark corner of the field. The howls and deathlike cries of his creations could be heard flooding the air. Fumbling I leaned on the twin blades of my sword. I locked the blades together the eye now whole once more. Then went to find found Logan. I took his hand and kissed it. Then I looked down my wound…the warmth was leaving me fast. There was no chance, I knew that, it was over…finally. When the morning came, Aeron led the men out to search for survivors, and the dead. Jack found me…following the smell of my blood…crouched next to Logan. He bent down looking at me with a questioning gaze. The sun felt warm on my skin, but everything was still so cold. 

       “It’s over now…you’re safe now. Iliana…is safe.”

       “Erin…I need to get you to a physician…this…doesn’t look good.”

He placed his hand over the stain on my stomach. The flow of the blood had stopped hours ago. My body felt numb and limp whether from exhaustion or the onset of death, I couldn’t say for sure. Those eyes…those warm earthly eyes…filled with tears was all that I would remember.

       “Don’t forget…make sure Iliana gets to Avalon. Victor will still be after his prize…he won’t stop. She’ll need their protection now more so than before.”

       “No…No…Erin? You have to get up! Try…just try…everything will be okay.”

       “Tell Marcus…that I’m sorry…for Logan. I didn’t know…I didn’t know it was him.”

I motioned to the still form next to me. 

       “Come on! Up! Get up! I’m not going to let you die here…get up…please. Don’t go…not now.”

       “You know…I didn’t want to come here. I didn’t know it would lead me to you.”

He kept trying to pull me back, his strong arms pulling me up, his eyes on mine. I let his tears drown the pain of my last thoughts away. I let death take me. His face the last thing I saw, his name the last thing on my lips, and the smell of his breath would be cherished memories. He held me so tight while his icy tears washed the blood and the remains of my broken promise away.


Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑