Shattered Soul

scroll down for excerpt                 Book 18 in the Heart & Soul series



Dark Mysticism dragged the lost Reeka back from death. The Inner
Sanctum of the Outlaw Sector is her new home, the mysterious Fredrico
her guide, The Overlord her master, The Darknen her enemy. Demons
and wraiths abound here, dark power and malevolence burn inside her.
Life will never be the same again…


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Outlaw Sector, outskirts
Planet Ylan, The Desert

It was like a furnace in the desert. Even the carrion eaters wilted in the shade of a few scrawny trees that sprouted out of the hot sand.
The sleek, black ship was covered by a haze that wasn’t entirely natural. Shadows flitted where there was no one to cast them, and the searing blue sky held a darkish patch that wavered and moved.
Sitting on the ramp of his ship, Fredrico wasn’t interested in the sand, hazes or shadows. His gaze was focused on the cave mouth as Carto, his second-in-command, appeared and strode across the sand to the shelter of the ship.
“We’ve found her,” he said bluntly as he came to a stop in the shade.
“Still iced?”
“Frozen solid.”
“From what I can tell, nothing has changed since the snap freeze.”
“Good. Very good.” Standing up, Fredrico slipped the electronic book he wasn’t reading into his pocket and strode across the sand to the cave.
Sweat and dirt streaking their faces, his men stood aside waiting with that eerie stillness that was so much a part of them these last few years. That was a part of them all.
A monstrous shadow filled the mouth of the cave and slipped inside behind Fredrico. It slithered up the walls then disappeared ahead of him, streaking with assuredness down the long tunnel.
Fredrico climbed over the rubble that had still not been cleared properly. There was no point in clearing everything until he was absolutely sure, though Phemar had been certain that she would be found in perfect condition.
The tunnel went deep, the bones of long-dead bounty hunters pushed aside along with rubble, but finally the tunnel came to an end. He straightened up, Carto coming in behind him. And sure enough there she was, encased in ice.
The Reeka warrior knelt on one knee, her last movements caught in a split second, frozen for eternity. Red, almost black, hair hung over her face, obscuring her features from sight, and blood, as fresh as if it had been spilled seconds ago, coated her fingers and chest, smeared across the smooth skin above the laced vest. One arm was outstretched, her hand resting on the ground before her as she leaned forward. Her sword lay discarded where it had dropped at her booted feet. Bright blood – hunters’ blood – coated the blade.
Fredrico glanced at the woman who was partially turned to face her, seeing the horror on her beautiful face. Her blonde hair was almost white, her eyes deep violet. The sword in her hand was across her body, held at the ready, yet dipping as the realization of what had happened to her sister warrior must have diverted her attention from the fight.
One forever caught in horror.
The second caught in dying.
There was only one who had Fredrico’s attention, however, and he turned away from the standing woman and laid his hand just above the ice, near the kneeling warrior’s head. Closing his eyes, he breathed out deeply and waited several seconds.
Sure enough, the familiar, loathsome presence flowed through him as though Phemar himself were laying his body over Fredrico’s. The stench of rotting flesh filled the air and darkness filled the chamber.
With the familiar backlash of Phemar using his senses, he felt beneath his fingertips a spark of life. The warrior wasn’t dead, not yet. Frozen in time, she’d neither aged nor died. Her heart had stopped but her spirit hadn’t left her body. It clung as she knelt, dying but not dead. Trapped. Mystically trapped.
“Bring her.” The hissing words rolled through the cavern. “Bring her now.”
Fredrico opened his eyes as the presence left and he was only himself once more. Giving his hand a shake as he drew it back from the ice to remove the lingering sensation of stringy flesh clinging to him, he said simply, “Remove her.”
The work started again, the tunnel widening only enough for their needs. Progress was fast as the space pirates worked with things that they’d learned to exist with side by side.
Fredrico oversaw the cutting of the ice as it was sliced in a wide arc around the kneeling warrior. Within seconds she was separated from her companion and a shadow slipped around the figure trapped in the ice. It rose slowly and Carto ordered the floating trolley to be put beneath the cut out section of ice. It was a simple procedure to float the ice block with its frozen occupant down the cleared tunnel and out into the sunshine.
Almost immediately a trickle of water formed and the ice started to get slippery. The men worked faster, the trolley going up the ramp and into the holding bay. A huge freezer unit stood against the far wall, and Alonz, a hulking brute with a metal hand, slid open the door. Cold air spilled out. The ice block was transferred inside and he shut the door again, sealing the warrior inside the protective freezing depths. His robotic fingers whirred as he pressed the switch to lock the door.
Standing before the clear glass door, Fredrico gazed in at the white, chilly air that ebbed around the ice block. Quickly the white air coated the clear glass, obliterating the kneeling warrior from sight. Icy claw marks dragged down the inside of the glass and for a second he caught sight of orange eyes glinting up against the glass before it all disappeared. The glass sparkled with white ice.
Turning away, he started towards the stairs. “Let’s go.”
The sleek ship took off, slicing through the hot air and up, until, within seconds, the hot desert was left behind and then the planet. Deep in space the ship wheeled and headed for the Inner Sanctum of the Outlaw Sector.
Deep in the cave, the lone warrior continued to stare in frozen horror at the now empty space where her companion had knelt dying. Heat from outside started to seep down the tunnel and a tiny rivulet of moisture beaded at the raw edge of ice left by the laser burn. It slipped down the side of the ice block, another bead welling up…

copyright Angela Verdenius