Across London, the storm had not let up in the slightest. While Alex and Ryan moved closer to the holographic projector in the lobby to look with wide eyes at the sights of power spilling out of ancient spots throughout the world, Bryan forced himself to calmly attempt to pay for a pair of suites with an adjoining door.
The woman behind the desk glanced over the man with a frown, "Hotel policy says there must be an adult in each room."
"They will be right next door." Bryan argued.
"Sir, hotel policy…"
For the first time in his life Bryan felt a wave of self-confidence wash over him as the woman continued to try to stare him down. "I want to speak to your manager."
"Sir, I can assure you she will back me on this. No kids in rooms without an…"
Bryan's fist clenched, "Look ma'am, I already tried to explain to you I promised them they could have a room by themselves and I will pay whatever extra costs you deem necessary."
"I really don't care…"
Bryan's fist slammed down on the counter. "You best start caring. One more word out of you and you will need to find another job MA'AM. Now get me the hotel manager, now, or before the rain outside stops I will have the security of this hotel toss you out on your butt."
The woman's eyes went a bit wide, but she was having a bit of a bad day and no slightly overweight balding guy was going to talk to her in such a voice. "Sir, I suggest you leave this hotel before I have security escort you out."
Never before had Bryan used his wealth or influence to make a point, but something about the last couple of hours, plus the fact he was dead set on helping his son and Ryan through whatever was going on, pushed his normal fear of standing up to others aside. "Manager now!"
Alex, never having heard such a tone from his dad before, tore his eyes away from the holovid. The second he looked back, he could actually see a bit of dark green light swirling around his father. He quickly nudged Ryan, "Do you see what I do?"
Ryan glanced back wondering what his friend was talking about, but before he could respond he too saw the strange phenomenon. Even weirder no one else seemed to. At the same time the swirling around Alex's dad grew, the lights started to flicker around the front desk. "Wow, that looks a lot like what you did back at the airport."
"I really didn't know I did anything."
"Trust me you did. Now, so is your dad."
"Our dad, Ryan." Alex reminded his friend.
As the two boys watched, another woman came up rather defiantly towards Bryan with a security guard in tow.
Before either boy could react Bryan pulled out his wallet and slammed down a card on the counter, the force was enough to actually crack the thick wood. The impact also caused several heads to turn and stare.
Bryan didn't seem intimidated by all the attention being directed his way. His voice became dangerous and hard, yet not loud. "Before you try to bring in the goon squad," Brain growled, "you may want to check the balance on my travel card. One more word out of anyone working at this establishment about my kids not getting their own room or anything other than 'yes sir' and you will find me the new owner and MY two boys in as your bosses! Do I make myself perfectly clear?"
The woman with the guard stopped dead in her tracks and swallowed hard. It wasn't just the tone, or the words, for she had been threatened by more than a few very wealthy guests before. This time, however, she felt a burst of fear and it was equally clear the security guard did as well as his hand went down to his nightstick.
Alex and Ryan both reacted instantly as they moved between the guard and Bryan. Their feet spread and balanced their weight evenly as they both dropped into a fighting stance. Ryan cleared his throat, "Mister, you pull anything on my dad, you will wake up in a hospital."
The woman's eyes went very wide as she looked at the boys with long red hair, each in some sort of martial arts stance. Neither of the two looked scared in the slightest, instead all she saw was dangerous determination in their young eyes. Looking over, it was clear to her, the guard was equally taken aback by the two boys. She motioned for the guard to pull his hand back from his nightstick. She then pointed down to his radio, "Have the boss get down here, now."
The guard glanced at the two boys, then over at the man who now, somehow, looked almost as dangerous as the two kids in front of him, "Good idea."
Ryan paused as the next wave of invisible energy passed though him, giving him the picture of himself holding and fighting with staff in hand, taking on several slightly older kids. Before he could adjust to the image, another one flashed before his eyes of him using an axe, swinging it on a nasty looking beast of some kind. A few seconds later other images appeared of him holding and using a shield and sword.
Right next to him, Alex rocked back on his heels slightly as similar images rushed into him, but didn't totally leave. Instead, Alex suddenly realized he knew exactly how to fight with these weird archaic weapons. The scenes dancing though his mind with each invisible wave of energy were chaotic, and threw his balance off some. It took everything he had to keep his stance, and from what he could tell, Ryan was fighting a similar battle over that was real and what was vision. Just as Alex was wondering how much more he could take before getting sick to his stomach, the sensation abruptly ended, but left him with a great deal of knowledge and abilities.
Beside him Ryan blinked his eyes and cringed slightly. The sensation and mental pictures of someone who looked a lot like both him and Alex was almost imprinted in his brain. Even stranger, the knowledge of what all the weapons he had seen were, flowed into and through him. Before he fully understood what he had been seeing was really happening somewhere in the London area, he also realized he knew how to use all those weapons just like the other kid did. In fact he had always known how to use them, but the knowledge and skills had been locked up within him. With the unlocking of this understanding, Ryan also grasped the fact there was a great deal more hidden inside him somewhere. All he had to do was find the key to opening it.
Ryan took a second to glance over to Alex, "What just happened?"
"No idea, dude, but if I really have half the fighting capabilities I think I now do, no one better mess with my dad."
"Agreed." Ryan whispered back, "Were we watching a real fight or was it another dream, though?"
"Real. No doubt in my mind. It was modern day and in the same rainstorm as what is going on outside. This is really starting to creep me out."
"Starting? I have been creeped since I woke from the first one, before I really knew it somehow involved me."
Alex's mouth twisted upward into a half grin. "Right there with you."
Less than another minute passed, but it gave both Ryan and Alex a chance to readjust to their newfound new abilities and knowledge, before a man in a nice business suit appeared. He glanced around, noted the large crack in the front desk, the dangerous stances of two boys, and a very angry looking balding guy. He adjusted his suit, put on a forced smile, and made his way over to Bryan.
"Is there some sort of problem I can help you with, sir."
Bryan looked the man over then nodded sharply, "If you wish to keep your job and continue to afford those fake, albeit well-done, Italian shoes, you will."
"I don't take well to threats sir." The man responded, while glancing down at his shoes with an aggravated frown wondering how anyone could spot the fact they were fakes. No one else ever had. In fact, many had openly commented on them, wondering how he could afford them.
Alex and Ryan both noted the green swirls around Bryan had turned a bit darker and grew in power, causing more lights close to him to flicker. This, more than anything, made both adjust their stances again. They looked around noting everyone was now watching not only Bryan, but the two of them as well. They were also keeping their distance.
Bryan once again picked up his travel card and tossed it over to the man. It flew so hard and fast it actually sliced the guy's fingers slightly. Both boys could make out the green waves of energy surrounding the card as it cut through the air toward the man.
More than a bit frightened, the guy sucked at the thin blood oozing stripes on his left hand while using his right hand to pass the card over a reader at the desk.
Bryan moved up, roughly pushing the guy out of the way as he used the retinal scanner to verify his identity. He then shoved the unit back into the man's hand, took his card and pointed at the unit.
A moment later the hotel's vice president of operations felt his eyes bulge as the card reader verified how much money was available to the man in front of him. He used his expensive suit sleeve to wipe a sudden cold sweat off his brow then gulped. He stared back at Bryan, saying nothing.
"As I was saying to your FORMER front desk clerk, I wanted a suite with an adjoining door to a second suite for my boys. I was willing to pay extra, but now I believe I have been inconvenienced enough to where you should find me another, more child-friendly hotel in the area with the rooms I require. In exchange, I will simply forget how I was treated and will not have my company blacklist this establishment and any other owned by whatever parent company is over this one."
Bryan glanced around for a moment before a sinister smile appeared. "Before you bother to ask what such an action would mean, I can point out at least three items my company makes, since I invented them all. Without parts or upgrades your parent company would have to spend millions to replace the systems I am looking at. Add in all the other things COSAM makes and you probably use, and I can assure you, a bankruptcy would be in your future."
The man started to respond only to have Bryan stick his hand up, "Oh, and since I can see the look in your eyes, let me put this on record for everyone in this establishment to hear. Don't you dare go threatening me with lawsuits. I'll spend billions fighting anything your parent company wants to file. Even if you all eventually win, it will be decades. I will not be broke, but your company coffers certainly will be empty from legal fees alone, and your equipment will still have to be replaced for you to stay in business. If you don't believe me, take one more look at the balance on my travel card and then look into the eyes of my boys, then over to your security goon."
The guard's face turned a bit red and his chest puffed out some.
Ryan didn't hesitate. He stepped forward boldly, walking right up to the security guard and looked up into the big man's eyes, "If you don't back off a bit further away from my dad you will find it difficult to do so on your own. For, in about thirty seconds, you will find very difficult to crawl, let alone walk with two broken legs."
Behind Ryan, Alex spoke as he saw the man start to reach for the nightstick again. "Mister, you really don't want to move your hand any closer to your weapon unless you want to have each of us use half of it on you."
"Half of it?" The man snorted in anger. "You mind explaining, you little punk?"
Ryan reacted with incredible speed yanking the nightstick off the guy's belt and tossing it to Alex. He then did a perfect back flip to get away from the man as the guy made a grab for him. He ended his maneuver about three meters back and in a perfect fighting stance, still positioned between the guard and Bryan.
To give himself a bit more protection he lashed out with his right foot, snapping off an anchored wooden post, which was normally used to hold part of a velvety rope to allow for a neat line to form going into a theater just off of the main lobby. Since it was not in use, the cord was absent allowing Ryan to easily grab it and change it into a makeshift staff. He spun it as if he had been born with it in his hands before it came to rest along his right arm and over his shoulder.
At the same time, Alex snatched the thick stick out of the air and stuck it between two decorative metal posts leading to the hotel's restaurant. To prevent the man from making another move toward Ryan, Alex called out, "This is what I mean!" His left hand shot forward, connecting with the wooden weapon with a great deal of force, snapping it in two and slightly bending the metal posts he had used to brace it with.
The wooden post and nightstick both snapped within moments of each other. More than one person close to the displays of fighting prowess could see the nightstick had held a thin metal rod in its center for extra strength, durability and weight, while others noted the post Ryan had snapped still had part of the metal bracket on the bottom, meaning the boy had snapped wood and metal with his foot. Both boys' devastating blows had even broken through as if the items had been made of balsa wood.
Still others noticed neither piece of the nightstick had hit the ground since Alex had managed to snag both chunks of the ruined weapon out of the air before they fell to the floor.
Around the hotel lobby jaws fell open and all chatter ceased. Men, women and children all took involuntary steps back not realizing they had even done so.
Ryan grinned as he saw Alex holding up two pieces of ruined nightstick.
Alex quickly flipped over the slightly larger piece to Ryan, which Ryan easily snagged while still keeping a careful eye on the guard. He then stood a bit straighter as he came out of his fighting stance, dropped the post and held up two fingers with his right hand while clutching the broken club in his left, "Yes, one half for me the other for him."
The guard stopped dead in his tracks clearly shocked by what he had just witnessed. He tensely glanced over at his boss, "Sir?"
The man glanced around noting two other guards had appeared, but neither looked terribly interested in taking on the two very determined looking youngsters protecting a balding guy, who had done serious damage to a very thick counter. He held up his hands and motioned for the two arriving guards to back off, "Now, I really do not think we need to escalate this. I think we can find Mr. Caldwell and his… um… boys a couple of rooms here or find them another place to stay without anyone getting hurt or any more damage being done to the lobby."
"Agreed." Bryan joined in looking around at the damage both he and his boys had done. "I'll even arrange to fix your poorly made furnishings. The stick, on the other hand, is your problem."
Bryan then glanced over at Ryan and Alex with a sideways smirk, realizing both kids were keeping a close eye on the now very nervous security detail and still were in a stance ready to fight if need be. "And you may want to dismiss your so called guards before my boys decide to humiliate them right here in your lobby."
The VP's voice cracked slightly as he bounced up and down like a bobble-head doll, "At once sir." He then turned to the desk clerk Bryan had first talked to, "Fired!" He then motioned for the two newly arrived guards to back off. Finally he turned to the guard who was now without his nightstick, "Get her and you out of my sight, unless you want to join her in picking up your last paycheck tomorrow!"
He then turned his attention back to Bryan, "I will make reservations at this hotel's expense at whatever…"
"No," Bryan cut him off, "I do not want or need free. I need decent friendly service and you should take note and train your staff better. No one should tell a possible paying customer they don't care. Besides, for an establishment advertising to be a great place for kids, your people should be a great deal more caring when kids come in. All I want right now is for you to find me a different kid friendly hotel with adjoining suites available. I don't want them contacted by you either. I want to see how they handle my request and my kids without advanced notice."
The man took a deep breath and nodded, "I will have the information to you momentarily."
Less than fifteen minutes later Bryan was back behind the controls of the rental hover car, clearly bewildered by the whole situation. He took a few moments to apologize to both Alex and Ryan for his unseemly outburst, but otherwise the drive through the downpour and almost deserted, somewhat flooded, streets of London was done in complete silence. Bryan spent the time trying to figure out what had just happened and why, while both boys were nervously wondering why everything seemed to be tied to them and their strange jewelry. At the same time, both boys could feel the unexplained powers were actually building and getting stronger, not just around them but everywhere. It was a very disconcerting, yet awesome, feeling.
As they neared the second hotel, the events of the past few hours and the deafening silence was just too much for Bryan. He pulled over, took a couple of deep breaths and glanced back, "I promise I will be calmer this time."
"You were fine, Mr. Caldwell." Ryan smiled warmly, "I was kind of worried you would be mad at me for talking to the security guard like I did."
"Normally you would be grounded, but he was going for a weapon and the whole situation made your reaction to him completely justified. My only problem was he was a great deal bigger than you."
"Dad," Alex looked over, "I'm pretty sure Ryan could have made the guy eat what was left of his nightstick. Whatever is going on has made both of us stronger and I know how to do some pretty weird stuff all the sudden."
Bryan cocked his head to the side, causing some popping sounds in his neck, "Like what?"
Ryan glanced over at Alex somewhat surprised to hear his friend verbalize something he had been feeling as well. "Well, I don't know how, but I am pretty sure I know how to use a sword, staff, and a spiked shield. It came to me while we were in the hotel."
Alex's head jerked thinking the exact same thing, "How about an axe?"
Ryan's eyes went wide, "Wow! I felt like one was in my hand for a few seconds just as the guard was reaching for his nightstick."
"Me too!" Alex stopped suddenly as an image came into his mind's eye.
At the same time Ryan also saw the same thing. "Mr. Caldwell, part of Zachery was in London while we were in the other hotel!"
"What do you mean, part of him?" Bryan asked cautiously, "Do you know how little sense you are making right now?"
"Dad, Ryan is right." Alex implored. "It was kind of like my dream where I helped the family…" Alex's eyes suddenly went wide in realization. "What if it wasn't a dream?"
A cold chill shot up Ryan's back. "I think you're right, Alex. I'm starting to understand mine wasn't a dream either. Somehow, while I was on the ramjet part of me was elsewhere, fighting to save a kid from a nasty devil thing!"
"Which means the help I got was not a dream either." Alex shuddered in excitement. "The power coming out of all those places is just the start!"
"Just the start of what?" Bryan looked back and forth between the two boys with some concern, not understanding even half of what they were talking about.
"I don't know Dad, but there is way more to this than burps of green stuff!"
Bryan paused and took a deep breath. "Boys, is this energy coming out of these places affecting you two or something?"
"Um, Mr. Caldwell," Ryan spoke softly as he nervously chewed on his lower lip, "it seems to be doing the same to you. It was your fist that cracked the desk back at the other hotel."
Bryan shook his head, "No, it was just…" He stopped as he saw the looks in both boys' eyes. "It wasn't just thin cheap wood, was it?"
Ryan shook his head emphatically. "No, Mr. Caldwell, it was nice wood and pretty thick."
"You must be mistaken."
"Dad, your hand busted wood like it was made of cardboard and you threw your card at the guy so hard it drew blood."
Bryan's eyes went wide as he visualized the scene in his mind and realized the card had indeed sliced into the guy's fingers. "Boys, what is going on?"
"I don't know Dad, but in my dream, when I helped the family, I got help. A woman mentioned something about a Re-…"
"…Emergence?" Ryan finished Alex's statement.
"Exactly the word she used." Alex verified.
Ryan eyes got big as he shouted, "I was told the same thing!"
"Re-Emergence?" Bryan frowned deeply, "Such a word implies something is returning, but what?"
Alex felt like ice was suddenly running though his body, "Dad, do you remember when I described my first weird dream?"
Bryan nodded slowly as he saw pure fear, yet a hint of excitement in his son's eyes. "Yes, the one with Lady Guinevere and the talk about Merlin, right?"
"Uh huh," Alex nodded, "but what if it wasn't a dream? What if it all really happened?"
"I don't get where you are going, Alex. If such a thing really happened, then…" Bryan's words faded and his jaw fell open as the pieces started to fit together like a giant puzzle.
"Then the magic they locked up has broken loose, just like the man told me… I mean the boy…"
Ryan, not having heard about the dream, but having had some of his own suddenly understood. "Merlin locked away magic didn't he?"
Alex gulped, "Yeah. And the elves helped to forge twelve keys…"
Ryan looked down at this ring, which was now glowing very brightly, "And put them in a place he could never imagine they could ever be found?"
Bryan held up his hands to stop the two boys' train of thought. "OK, let's all take a deep breath and examine what you are saying here. In order to do so, I am going to play along with this for a few minutes. But for this to work you have to listen to my side before you find an argument. Agreed?"
"Yes sir." Ryan quickly responded then looked over to Alex.
"Good." Bryan turned to fully face the boys in the back of the hover car. "I'm going to even concede a few things for now so you can see I am not totally dismissing what the two of you are saying."
Bryan waited until he was sure both boys were focused on him and listening. "Let's say, for the sake of argument, there really was a Guinevere and a Merlin and they had magical powers. Let's also say, again for the sake of argument, they locked it all away. As with any myth or legend, there are often times real people behind them, so I could buy in to this second point easily enough. Furthermore, I am even willing to say the dream Alex told me about was a piece of history like you both clearly think it was.
"So let's start there. These people, Merlin, Guinevere, and some guy with a crown, so a king, maybe even Arthur, then decided the only way to protect the keys was to sink a ship, which just happened to end up in one of the deepest trenches in the Atlantic. I could actually buy into such an idea as well. It would certainly look like a great place to prevent anyone from getting to them back in a time when going even twenty meters down was impossible.
"However, Alex, when you told me about the dream it was very detailed. You were told not all magic was locked away. Some would still exist. If this was truly the case, why has no sign of it ever been found?"
"Maybe no one was looking in the right places, Mr. Caldwell." Ryan countered.
Bryan gave a single nod and used his whole left hand to point at Ryan, "Alright, explain."
Ryan closed his eyes as he formulated his ideas in his mind before speaking, "I guess what I am wondering is if magic has always been right under our noses. The Aborigines of my land firmly believe in types of magic and follow rituals so old no one really knows where they started. The same holds true for your Native Americans. In my dream, I was called by some kind of medicine man. What if those rituals he was using were based on something from long ago, before magic was locked up?
"In addition, there are people who have amazing talents. Isn't it possible at least some of them are because there is… or was… just enough magic left to grant them enhanced skills?"
"I am hearing a whole lot of if, possible, and conjecture here." Bryan stated with a very scientific mind and approach, "However, I also must admit all the pieces do fit."
He held up his finger to make sure he had both boys' attention once again. "So why did you have to go help if these rituals were passed down?"
This time Alex held up his hand as if he was in a classroom.
"Go ahead Son." Bryan chuckled.
"It is kind of like the whisper game Dad. No matter how carefully we try to keep the meaning of what we are told going around a room of kids at school, it never gets back to us the same as we passed it on. There is no way after all these centuries what was being done now, was being done then. A few mistakes could be the difference between success and failure."
Bryan rubbed his chin, suddenly realizing he badly needed a shave. Pushing the rogue thought out of his mind for the moment he continued to focus on the point and counterpoint mini debate he had started. "Very good counter Alex, but you only answered half of my question. Why did Ryan have to go help? Why does he suddenly know what to do? Remember he was on a jet getting here. He had not even seen the ring yet."
"I have an idea, sir, but it is a real long shot." Ryan responded after almost a full minute of silence.
"Everything is a long shot here, Son. The very fact I am talking about magic at all puts us well past a point I ever thought I would have to debate. What's your thought?"
"If we are right about Zachery somehow helping someone in London, he hasn't seen the bracelet, but we know it belongs to him. He is directly tied to us somehow. The spell Alex described in his dream was to cause the kid it was cast on to keep powerful magic in his family line. Is it possible Alex and I and even Zachery are directly related by way of the kid?"
Alex slowly nodded, "So as the magic got started it came to us first and somehow gave us strange knowledge. In my dream I was able to cause things to happen even though no one showed me how. In fact the lady told me I had it in me."
"The same basic thing happened in my dream. The buffalo man said he couldn't help yet, but I could. He didn't show me what to do; it just came to me and I did whatever it was I did."
This actually forced Bryan to pause to find a different avenue of attack. As much as he wanted to find a way to dispute what he was hearing, he couldn't, at least not from his current line of attack. "If this is true, then we can get genetic engineers on the Cynthia to do some blood analysis. There is something we can actually check. Once again, I am hearing very good reasoning out of you two. I'll move on since I see no way to fight such a point until we do a genetic marker test."
Another idea came to Bryan, once which he was certain would not have an easy answer. "At the same time, there is one other large problem."
"What, Mr. Caldwell?"
Bryan looked straight into Ryan's eyes. "Even if all this is true, we only have four of the twelve keys and only two were used." He pointed to the ring and necklace, which he noted were both glowing brightly. "Right now, I'm pretty close to buying into all this and I am really going to go out on a limb here. I am even willing to say you may both be correct, especially since those darned stones have done nothing but glow brighter, almost like they are giving credence to what you are conjecturing. So, if this is all true, why are there so many spots spilling out this green stuff and not just two?"
Alex looked back at Ryan. Both shrugged in unison before turning back to Bryan. "Good question Dad, but if you buy me a sword, I'm betting I can prove to you I know how to use it properly."
"Same goes for a staff, Mr. Caldwell." Ryan added. "I bet we can both use both weapons and I know I have never picked one up before except to look at a katana owned by the guy who gave me Ninjutsu lessons.
Bryan took in a long breath and let it out. "I already saw you with a staff in your hand, Son. But I like what I am hearing; you are both willing to put your suppositions to the test. Tomorrow, we will. I will find a place and someone who knows how to fight with an assortment of weapons and let him, her, or them be the judge of your ability with such implements. Believe it or not boys, I actually believe you can, but I have no idea why. In the mean time, we have a great deal of work and experimentation to do as we try to figure this all out, but we will do so together. For now, I have a challenge for both of you, call it a first test."
"Sure, name it" Ryan spoke up quickly.
Bryan pointed at the bright glow coming from the stones, "As long as those stones are glowing, you two have spotlights on you. I want to see if you can change how brightly they glow."
Ryan nodded and put his other hand over the ring. He closed his eyes and whispered something a few times too softly for even Alex who was sitting right next to him to hear. As he did so, the griffin Bryan had thought had been accidently burned into the boy's hand started to glow and the wings even started to flap. Within moments the glow within the stone on the ring had tapered off to a mere twinkle.
Alex watched on in awe, "How did you make the griffin burn come to life?"
"Huh?" Ryan asked, holding up the ring showing his success.
Bryan whistled with bulging eyes. "Just tell Alex what you did and watch, Son."
"I just put my hand over the stone and told it to calm down."
"Alex, do it!" Bryan commanded, pulling out his palm phone and quickly set it to video recorder mode.
Alex didn't hesitate. He duplicated what Ryan had said to do. Within a couple of seconds the griffin burn on his own hand started to move, including the head. It turned, revealing a three dimensional creature for several seconds. It seemingly looked around, and even appeared to nod, then vanished back into Alex's hand."
"Wow!" Ryan shouted in stunned glee, "How awesome!"
Alex blinked and gazed at the stone in his necklace only to find it was putting out no more light than Ryan's ring. "Dad?"
Bryan pulled up the file he had just shot and played it once, then turned the small screen around for the boys to view. It was all there except for a burst of static just as the griffin appeared and another as it went back into Alex's hand, so there was no way to see exactly how it had manifested. Once the clip finished Bryan leaned back into the driver's seat. "OK, it's official."
"What is?" Ryan asked as Alex grabbed the palm phone and replayed the short clip again.
"You both win and we are in the twilight zone!"
Ryan gave an uneasy giggle, "So what now, Mr. Caldwell?"
"We find a place to set up shop for a couple of days while I do some serious research. I don't want either of you two to get out of each other's eyeshot until we are certain there are no ill effects from this… Good Lord, I never thought I would say this… You two have to make sure there are no ill effects from this magic."
Bryan clutched the sides of his head with balled fists for a few seconds before pulling back out into the street. He glanced down, ordering the autopilot to take over and glanced back only to see the two boys, his two boys, once again replaying the short video. He looked over both of them carefully, but saw nothing but two very excited youngsters playing with a palm phone.
Somewhat relieved, he turned back around, wishing he had spent a bit more time with English history, myth and fable. His scientific mind found it hard to face something as unscientific as magic, but there was no longer any question in his mind of its existence. The new questions were how to study the phenomenon, how to figure out a way to harness it, or figure out who could harness it. Most importantly, was to find out just how dangerous it was or could become.
His thoughts almost caused him to miss the extraordinarily strange sight as the hover car drove itself right by the anomaly, but his scientific brain took in something odd which forced him to glance back. "What the hell?" He shouted. "All stop!"
Instantly the hover car responded to his voice command and moved itself to the curb.
"Dad?" Alex looked up from the palm phone screen with a great deal of worry.
"Boys!" Bryan barked, "Look out the back right window and tell me I am not seeing things!"
Alex was the first to glance over his shoulder. It took him a moment for the scene to register.
A moment later Ryan spotted what Bryan saw. Without thinking, he pushed the side door open and stepped out into the downpour. As he did so, the boy across the street stopped dead in his tracks and stared with wide eyes. At the same time, the boy's dog eagerly jumped up and down while barking loudly.
Suddenly the whole picture became clear to Alex as he too pushed open the door and stepped out. The moment he felt the rain pelting him he glanced over to the boy and his dog staying dry under some kind of invisible umbrella and glanced over at Ryan. "Hey, I know how to do that!"
Ryan glanced over, "Really?"
"Yeah! Watch this!" Words came to Alex and he twirled his fingers, "A-noth-lar-rockus!" and a bluish light flashed out of his hands and spiraled upwards about five meters, parting the rain like someone would part a curtain. It took only seconds for Ryan, Alex and the whole hover car to be protected from the rain.
Words came to Ryan as well. A sly grin spread over his face. "Cul-zar-jay-kar'da!" He raised his arms, which produced golden blue waves of heat drying off both him and Alex, not to mention the hover car, and even dried the street around them, including under the vehicle.
Across the street, the boy's eyes went wide as he waved and smiled not believing his luck. He quickly ran over to them as Bryan stepped out of the driver's side and looked around in disbelief.
Bryan had seen both Alex and Ryan do something, but being out in it was truly stunning. All around them sheets of heavy rain battered everything. Yet in a small bubble, the rain didn't hit anything; instead, it rolled off some strange dome. Even weirder, the dome went all the way to the street, so the ground he was on was not even wet. The air was also warm and everything within the dome was bone dry, as if no rain had fallen. Looking out of the dome, he could see the water parting as it ran at curb depth all the way round the dome, but none got through; it was almost like Alex had created an airtight bubble of some sort out of nothing.
"Alex, Ryan, are you two OK?"
Alex turned, still looking down at his hands with astonishment, "I used some kind of energy, but not very much. I have no idea where it came from. It was exactly the same way as the dream where I helped the family!"
"The same here, sir. The last time, when I was in my dream, I was way more tired. I think we only can do so much before we have to rest or something. The real problem is trying to figure out what we can do and how much it takes out of us. The heat wave drying thing took almost nothing compared to healing the kid in the dream though." Ryan responded as he kept his eyes glued on the boy who had the exact same thing covering him as what Alex had just made.
Alex nodded, "Dad, whatever is happening, the same thing applies to both of us. I agree with everything Ryan just said!"
The boy running toward them wobbled slightly as the dome covering him impacted with the one Alex had just created. The one surrounding the other boy then blew apart in a dazzling display of golden sparks, but gave him and his pet enough time to get under the protection of Alex's dome before its effects totally faded. "I can't believe I found you!"
Bryan looked down at the boy, "You were looking for us?"
The boy pointed to Alex and Ryan. "I was told by the thing who fixed my dog's leg, made the bubble, and dried me off to find you. It said you could help me find out how to use the power like this." He pointed up at the dome. "It said I have the power of some Re-emerg or something."
"Re-Emergence." Ryan and Alex spoke as one, then glanced back at each other with uneasy smiles.
Bryan looked around nervously, "Boys, it's a really good thing the storm is so bad or we would really be sticking out right now. We need to get out of here fast though, because London has anti-crime cameras everywhere. Someone is probably already wondering what we are doing and what is happening with all this rain."
"Only if they can see us." Ryan stated as a new ability came to him. He pushed his arms outwards and rolled his hands in opposite directions. "Orna-Thor-gom-rapa Kor'in-Odin-rakal!" Waves of electrical energy arced between his hands for a few seconds before blasting outward at a slight upward angle barely going over the heads of Alex and Evan. An instant later, streetlights shattered and popped as they overloaded as did over half a dozen cameras in the area. Sparks danced down the power lines, shorting out cameras even further away.
Ryan shook his head and wobbled slightly, "That was more like what left me when I healed the kid."
"Impressive." Alex whispered in awe, "Are you sure you are OK?"
"Fine, but I can't do too many of those really big ones. I think I sent out enough to fry the data storage so they won't be able to pull us up from their hard drives later."
"You probably just did several million dollars of damage, Ryan." Bryan managed to stammer out, "You have to be very careful and really think before you do something like this again, if you can even do so."
"Oh, I can." Ryan shook his head to clear it. "It seems every time I do something new, the knowledge of how to do it again stays with me."
"Same here, Dad." Alex stated, "Because even though I didn't know I did something at the airport, Ryan says I did, and I was about to do it again."
"Do what, exactly." Bryan asked as he continued to look up at the sparking streetlights.
"Make us invisible."
"Invisible?" Bryan asked, then waved his hands wildly as Alex started to make a weird hand motion. "No, I believe you! Show me later!"
Evan's eyes were huge as he stood staring at Ryan, Alex and Bryan, "So you really are the ones who can help me, just like I was told!"
"Young man," Bryan spoke tearing his attention away from Alex and Ryan, "Who, exactly, told you my boys could help you?"
"It was a weird looking thing. It had a head kind of like a bull, but it was white and the body of a man, only with…"
"White fur!" Ryan blurted out. "Did it have a leather-like vest with many colorful beads and a weird-looking knife with a bone handle on its right hip?"
"You do know him!"
Ryan tuned back to Alex and Bryan. "It was the buffalo headed guy who helped me heal the kid in the hut! He really does exist!"
Bryan held up his had to kill the chatter. "How did you know where to find us?"
"The guy," the boy pointed to Ryan, "told me to follow my powers and pointed to the center of London. I don't know from there. I just got off the train and started to wander for a bit, but I felt something weird so I turned this way, then you stopped."
"Where are your parents?"
"Mum is probably still at work, and Dad is still in hospital. He got mugged and cut up a couple of months ago and the same gang tried to do the same to me today, since he testified and identified a couple of them from the hospital bed by way of camera."
He glanced back and forth between Alex and Ryan, "Which one of you came to protect me?"
Alex glanced back at his dad with a raised eyebrow. At the same time Ryan responded, "Neither of us. We are pretty sure it was Zachery Dustin Norris, though."
"How many are there of you?" The shocked boy asked.
Bryan shrugged, "Maybe as many as twelve. We don't really know. What is your name?"
"Evan, sir. Evan Davidson." He then turned back to Ryan, "The other strange guy with tattoos all over his face, and what I think was a wolf at his side, spoke in some kind of foreign language, but I am sure he called the boy who came out of the water Zachery."
"Came out of the water?" Bryan asked, almost dreading the answer. The stranger things got, the more he felt his steadfast belief in science slipping. Of course the occasional sparking from light poles and business signs in the area didn't help much either.
"Uh, huh. Him and his dog, Renegade, appeared out of the water running down the street as I was calling for help. Even though he was kind of see-through, he was there and he looked exactly like the two of you, only now I realize he was quite a bit thinner. It was really crazy too, cause even though he was made out of muddy water I could see he had red hair and his eyes matched the two of you as well!"
"So you were sent to find us." Ryan glanced at Bryan, "Um, can he come to the hotel with us at least?"
Bryan let out a long breath, "I see little choice." He then turned his attention back to Evan, "Unless you don't want to come?"
Evan glanced around, every bit of his teachings about never to go anywhere with strangers had to be fought off as he moved to the open door of the car and motioned for his dog to jump in. "I want to, need to go with you. If it hadn't been for their brother…"
"Friend, maybe distant cousin or something." Alex corrected Evan. "Do you know where he lives?"
"No." Evan shook his head, "But he was really thin and his hair was even longer than yours. It was really kind of bizarre, but I could make out some details even though he was made of water. His clothing didn't fit right and kind of looked ripped up and patchwork. He was also wearing a coat that kind of looked like something a girl should wear."
"Sounds like wherever he is, he needs help Dad."
Bryan gave a slight nod, "It sure does. I'll put a priority on finding him the second I can get a secure link to Cynthia and talk to Uncle Stan." He paused, "You know, even if there are no cameras on us, we are really sticking out here. Is there any way you can get rid of this anti-rain thing?"
Alex paused and gave it some thought, "Actually, I think I can, but I don't know how I know. Let's get in and I'll cancel it."
Ryan jumped in and motioned for Evan to follow, "So what's your dog's name."
Evan paused at the door to the car once again, forcing himself to go against everything he had been told his whole life. Finally he climbed in and motioned for his dog to jump up next to him. "You'll never believe me."
Bryan climbed back behind the controls and slammed the driver's side door, "After the last few hours, son, nothing will surprise any of us."
Evan managed a grin, "His name is Mystic."
The palm of Bryan's hand crashed into his forehead, making a rather loud slapping sound.
At the same time Ryan lowered his head and shook it, giggling.
Moments later, Alex jumped in laughing. "Awesome name, dude! So can it do something like this?" With a snap of his fingers the water rolling off the dome outside the hover car turned blue for a moment, then shattered in a display of spark-like glitter. Before the car could even wrap the seatbelt around Alex, the rain was once again pelting the vehicle.
Evan shrugged, "I have no idea what Mystic or I can do. To be honest, I don't think I can do anything like you just did."
"If the buffalo guy says you can and sent you to find us, then you can." Ryan stated with certainty. "The power is still building, so it may not be strong enough for you to do so yet."
"In the meantime," Bryan spoke up, "I'll need to talk to your mother and see if she will let you stay with us for a while."
Evan looked down at the floor, "I'm sure she will, if I tell her your boys are my friends and invited me to stay for a while."
Ryan reached over and touched Evan's shoulder, "Is there something wrong at home?"
"Not as long as we have one." Evan admitted with tears in his eyes. "With Dad being in hospital, Mum isn't making enough to pay all the bills. She doesn't think I know, but I have heard her on the phone with collectors and she cries at night when she is going over all the bills. I don't think we'll make it until Dad gets back to work."
"Autopilot resume course." Bryan ordered the rental car then turned. "You are off school for the summer?"
Evan glanced up and wiped tears from his eyes. "Yes sir, why?"
"How would you like a job?"
"I'm too young to do anything other than babysit by law…"
"Officially, yes, but I can pull some strings to get you a special juvenile work permit. How well do you know London and other parts of UB?"
"I know London really well, and I have taken several tours with my scout troop, so I have seen lots of other things throughout the country. Why do you ask?"
"Well, this could work out really well. It sounds like you need to be around my boys and we are here on vacation. If you agree, you could earn a large chunk if you agree to be our tour guide."
Evan's eyes lit up as he hugged Mystic, "Would it be enough to help my mum?"
"I could make sure your first check would be more than enough to pull your family out of debt, young man."
"I don't think you understand, sir, Dad has been out of work for months and…"
Alex snickered and pulled out his palm phone. "Have you ever heard of COSAM?"
Evan kind of rolled his eyes, "Everyone has heard of COSAM. Most of UB power comes from ocean wave generation technology created by them. I am pretty sure they also built the Integrated Education Link Computer so all UB schools can share resources and we have basically instant access to all sorts of texts and library books. It is also rumored the anti-missile defenses were upgraded to COSAM lasers, but no one in the government has officially said so. Why?"
"Then I guess I'm not allowed to say either." Alex snickered as he glanced over at Ryan and held up his phone, "We'll get you one of these as soon as we get settled."
"I have a phone, one of the Special Forces guys bought me one not long ago."
Bryan tried hard to not laugh, but failed, "It's nothing like we have, Son."
Alex grinned as he touched a key spot on his phone. Instantly a holographic projection shot up out of a small crystal mounted on the top of it. "Web search, COSAM, Owner. Visual pictures." Alex stated slowly and clearly.
The display changed and displayed a whole host of information, listing Bryan Caldwell as sole owner and Alex Caldwell and Ryan Caldwell-Yarris as direct inheritors. It failed to bring up any pictures saying web content blocked by security fields. "Oh, crud, I forgot you pulled images for safety reasons, Dad."
Bryan shrugged, "I can hide some but not everything." He glanced over to Evan who was clearly too astonished by the holographic phone display to realize what was being talked about. Ryan, who was right next to him was equally shocked, if not more so, since he was seeing for the first time he had been added as inheritor to one of the world's largest and most successful companies.
Bryan paused for a second and cleared his throat, "Web search, Unified North America Youth Rifle Championships, Alaska. Male winner under-12 age group."
Once again the crystal switched images, this time bringing up a three dimensional picture of Alex jumping up and down holding up a huge trophy. Captions in the picture clearly said Alex's full name and the fact his father was Bryan Caldwell, owner of COSAM. Bryan glanced over at Ryan, allowing Evan to digest all the information and put one and one together at his own speed. "We are still working on good voice recognition for the web search. The nano-chips I developed do great on most things, but it just isn't as good at voice as the microchip ones. I have a few people back on Cynthia working on where I went wrong. So when we do get you one, you'll have to speak slowly and very clear or you may end up with something a kid your age should not be allowed to view."
"What else does it do?" Ryan managed to ask as he giggled at Bryan's joke. He then shook his head before Bryan could answer, "You didn't have to add me to…"
"I talked this over with Alex, Ryan. He fully supported making you equal to him in every way. He even offered to split his saving account, but I couldn't let him do it, so you have two with the exact same amounts as he does. One you cannot touch until you graduate a college, the other you can do whatever you want with. It's in the paperwork you got…"
Suddenly all the pieces came together as Evan wildly looked around and gazed back at the holographic image of Alex on the rifle range pegging target after target with a rifle, then back at Alex. He gasped out, "Oh my God! You are the Caldwell's, owners of COSAM!"
Ryan shrugged and lightly kicked Alex, "And he is UNA's rifle champion. How come you never told me?"
"I was going to, but when I went to send you a message, I couldn't find you. It took Uncle Stan to help put all the pieces together."
Ryan took a deep breath and blinked out tears, "I really need to thank him." He quickly changed topics to force out memories of his parents and the orphanage. "Nice shooting, by the way."
"Thanks. Next year, I bet you give me a run for the under-13 trophy."
"No, I know I am better than you with a rifle. You will have to settle for second place!"
"We shall see." Alex grinned.
Bryan shook his head somewhat amazed Alex and Ryan had all but resumed their relationship without a hint of them ever having been apart. He turned away from his boys and focused all his attention back on Evan, "So, as I was saying, if you agree to be our tour guide, your first check, which will be a signing bonus, will get your family out of any and all debt. After we take care of your family, then we can put you on a reasonable salary, of say 150 credits a week plus I'll handle room, board, park entry fees and some souvenir allowances?"
Evan's eyes burst out into a river of tears as he nodded, "Thank you!"
"You are welcome, but I will leave it up to you and my two boys to figure out how you explain how you got to know each other, because I am a terrible liar and an even worse story fabricator."
Ryan reached over and gave Evan a hug in an effort to calm him down. "Do we need to deal with the rest of the gang who hurt your dad and tired to hurt you?"
Evan nodded and spoke between sobs, "They will really be mad at us now. Especially now, since three of them were left busted up in the street."
"I'll take care of it." Bryan snarled, "All we have to do is get to the hotel…"
"And not tear the place up before we even check in." Ryan gave a wicked grin as he interrupted Bryan.
Bryan burst out laughing, "Yes. And now I have three boys and a dog! If you think the last place was unhappy…"
"Just be nice and don't crack the front desk, Dad." Alex snickered.
"If some snotty desk clerk tells me she doesn't care again, I really will buy the place." Bryan steadfastly declared. "But since I really don't want to be in the hotel business, I'll try to be a bit more diplomatic this time."