AP Productions: Winghaven #3

The Nevada Desert.

A circle of Iconoclasts stood under the hot sun in deep meditation with a series of tents nearby. Walking along Ley Lines for short distances was a common ability among most Iconoclasts as they rarely entered motorized vehicles with a few exceptions. Traveling long distances was more difficult, often requiring a priestess or priest if not, a very powerful mystic. One such priestess stepped out of her tent with a large ornate bottle encrusted with a bird skull. She was Queen Faith and was one of the foremost priestesses in her sect. She was a tall, slender woman with a skull painted on her face and long braids dangling down to her shoulders. She approached the circle and drank the mixture in her bottle before handing it to closest the member at her side. He drank from it and passed it along the circle. Once the entire circle had its fill, they silently turned in unison with Queen Faith in front. She touched the tips of her thumbs to the tips of her forefingers, then brought her hands together with one facing the sky and the other facing the ground before stepping forward in a very specific direction. The crowd followed her lead and soon dissolved into the ether. As they trekked across the desert, invisible to the naked eye, they soon found themselves on the side of a highway in Utah with cars passing by. Physical boundaries and distances no longer mattered. They turned and marched into oncoming traffic with no danger. Then they began crossing a mountain top in Colorado, never feeling the cold. A wheat field in Kansas came after that. Eventually, they made their way to their destination and stopped in the woods near Winghaven.

Grace Smith was not a follower of Iseda but she had been Alysa’s best friend since kindergarten. After Alysa left Creed alone with Johns and his men, she made her way across town to Grace’s house. The sun was setting now, sending orange beams into Grace’s bedroom as Alysa cried and clutched a pillow. Grace sat next to her with a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

“Did you call the police or anything?,” Grace asked.

“Winghaven cops won’t do shit,” Alysa sniffed back tears, “`Sides that, the FBI is in on it. Or maybe it’s someone pretending to be FBI, I dunno. Either way, I can’t trust nobody right now.”

“What about other members of your church? Have you talked to them?”

“Someone came after my mom, Papa Torres,… the whole community center. Now they’re trying to kill me too. They’re tracking us down, starting with the leaders of the community. I think if I contact anyone or go to their house or something, they’ll just be in danger.”

“Can we, like, call Rex Robinson or the Cavalier or something?”

“How you gonna call them, Grace?,” Alysa’s voice rose in annoyance.

“I dunno, I guess… Nevermind. What’re you gonna do?”

“I’m gonna figure this out. Find out who did it,” Alysa sat up as she regained her resolve somewhat.

“You can stay here as long as you need. If you want something from your house, I can go get it. We’re in this together. You hear me?”

“Thanks, Gracie,” Alysa hugged her tightly.

In a farmhouse outside of town, an Iconoclast in a police uniform sweated profusely while blood trickled from his knee. “Gonna need you to stay awake a little bit longer,” Creed told him as he paced around, “I ran into some thugs down town. Friends of yours, I think, but they ain’t Iconoclasts. You people don’t normally use cars and guns, so I’m pretty sure they’re hitmen. My guess is that they were hired to take out Mama Saraki and her daughter. Maybe Torres and the others, too? All this sound about right?”

“You… will die along with them, Mr. Creed…,” the cult member groaned.

“You got beef with me, too? Why do you want me dead?”

“… for your past sins.”

“Did a lot of shit in my past, bud. Gonna have to be more specific.”

“You… and the priestess… killed one of our leaders.”

“Oh, that? Kiss my ass, that guy had it coming.”

The man gritted his teeth in anger, briefly overcoming his shock, “That man was a prophet!”

“Don’t give me that horseshit. I wanna know where Alysa Saraki is.”

“You’re the… private investigator… not me.”

“Yeah, I’m a PI. Damn good at it, too. Matter of fact, I got ya’ll pegged. See, your boys pretending to be FBI agents knew exactly who Alysa Sarakai was and where to find her. Makes me think you keep close tabs on her. I could track her down myself but that might take a minute and I know people will be gunning for her in the meantime. Clock’s tick’n and I ain’t got time for all that,” Creed slapped his hand down on the Iconoclast’s bloody knee, making him scream in pain. An old rag was once again placed in his mouth to silence him, “Let’s just be real for a second. You and me both know you’re dying tonight. I know I won’t get any solid information out of you but I do ask for an idea of where she might be. Who she might be with. Give me one name and I can make it fast.” He removed the rag.

“She… has a friend… Grace Smith… Her mother is Helen… I don’t know anything else.”

“It’s a start. Thanks.”

Creed reached out and twisted his neck with a sickening SNAP.

There was a knock at the front door of Grace’s house. Helen Smith answered and saw Johns on her porch with a bandage on his forehead. “Good evening, I’m Agent Johns with the FBI,” he began. Helen peered over his shoulder and saw two more men in suits standing next to a damaged car. Like Johns, they also had bandages on their faces. “We’re looking for Alysa Saraki,” Johns continued, “And we believe she may be in danger. We understand your daughter is a friend of hers.”

“Yeah, we heard about their community center getting bombed,” Helen said, “Do you have any… leads or…?”

“I’m afraid we can’t disclose any information at this time, ma’am. We do, however, believe Alysa might be a target and wish to speak to her. Has she visited your daughter this evening?”

“Actually, she came here this afternoon. She’s just -“

Grace rushed down the stairs, stopping at the front door, “Mom, Alysa ran away!”

“What?,” Helen confusingly looked back and forth between her daughter and Johns, “W-when? How?”

“She said some guys were after her and, I dunno, she just ran out the back door.”

“Do you have any idea where she might be?,” Johns asked, his voice conveying only a slight inflection signaling alarm.

“Yeah, I do,” Grace told him, “She said she was gonna hide out in the park next to our school. Mason High.”

Johns said nothing further, made an about-face, then raced out to his car, his two men quickly climbing inside and starting the engine. From an upstairs bedroom window, Alysa watched as the car backed out of the driveway and sped off. Grace entered the room a few minutes later with a backpack.

“I convinced them you were at the park,” Grace told her.

“Thank you,” she gave Grace another hug, “But you know I can’t stay here, right? They’ll come back looking for me at some point.”

“Are you sure?”

“If it ain’t them, it’s gonna be someone else. It’s too dangerous for you and your mom.”

“Take the bag I packed for you at least,” Grace handed her the backpack, “I put it together downstairs real quick. There’s some clothes and some snacks.”

“I gotta wear your clothes?,” Alysa laughed, “Oh, shit. I’ll look like a nerd.”

“Girl, you know I’m straight fire.”

“Whatever,” her smile faded quickly, “I gotta go before those assholes get back here.”

“If they do, what do you want me to tell them?”

“Tell them the truth,” Alysa flung the backpack over her shoulder, “You don’t know where I am.”

Alysa opened the window and leapt out. As she dropped to the front lawn outside, she opened her palms which glowed slightly, slowing her descent so that she could land safely. Without looking back, she turned and started down the street. She didn’t make it far when she heard an approaching motorcycle. “Hell, no,” she said to herself and turned around. As expected, she saw Farrell Creed slowing down to a stop on his bike.

“I get it, you don’t like me. Most people don’t,” he began, “But I know who’s after you and why. They’re after me too, turns out. I can take you someplace safe and we can figure this out then after that, you can go on with your life and never see my ugly face again.”

“You basically tried to kidnap me,” she shouted.

“Can you stop yelling like that? We both kinda need a low profile right now.”

“How do I know you ain’t one of them?”

“Because you would’ve been dead already.”

Alysa’s eyebrows raised and she put her hands to her hips.

“Look, that’s not what I…,” he stammered before finding better words, “Sorry, gonna start over… You know me and your mom go way back. You know she trusted me and that’s gotta count for something. I would take care of this myself but I got no doubt you won’t be alive much longer if you don’t come with me right now.”

“You grabbed me! You tried to stop me from calling for help!”

“I’m sorry, all right? I’m sorry I grabbed you and yelled and everything. I’m not easy to look at and even worse get along with and you won’t be the first to tell me that, either. I’m not good at this sort of thing. I know I ain’t got the right words to say to convince you. There are some things I am good at though and those skills are gonna keep you alive.”

“Well, aren’t you a badass? You ain’t as smart as you think.”

Creed sighed to himself, “Lemme guess what’s been going on since you left. You went to your friend Grace’s house, thinking no one would find you. Then some guys showed up. Maybe the same guys who almost killed us this afternoon down town? You figured you can’t stay with your friend so you left but you got no idea what the hell to do next. Am I close? If I’m wrong, I’ll take my ass down the road and good luck to you. If I’m right, the least you can do is let me take you someplace safe.”

Alysa thought for a moment, “… Who do you think is coming after us?”

“Iconoclasts. Your mom ever tell ya about the time me and her took out one of their priests? Guy by the name of King Josiah?”

She nodded.


She thought for a bit longer and then, “… Where do you wanna hide out at? Your office?”

“Nah, they got that place staked out. We’re going to Stagger Lee’s.”

“Isn’t that a bar? I’m only 18.”

“I know the owner. `Sides, you’re not there to drink.”

“Sounds like you go there too much. Won’t they look for you there, too?”

“Eventually. Like I said… I know the owner. She’ll take care of it.”

“I’ll go but at the first sign of anything sus, I’m going on my own and you best not follow me.”

“Got it.”

She got on his bike, once again making sure to hold on to the back of the seat instead of him and they drove off.

It was night now. In the dilapidated house outside the town, Queen Faith entered the cellar with a lantern in her hand. The members of the cult had already removed the three dead teens but there were still blood stains on the floor boards. One of her followers stood silent as she surveyed the room.

“The private investigator was here?,” she asked.

“It seems so,” the follower responded, “We found one of our guards dead out in the field. The scholar was here on the ground. Looked like he stabbed himself.”

“What about the parents of these teens?”

“Those lose ends have been tied up… although one of our brothers hasn’t returned. As I said before, we think it was the PI.”

Queen Faith knelt down, running her hand across the muddy blood stains on the floor. The constellations were gone but she knew what had previously been written, “Was the ritual complete?”

“From all indications, yeah.”

“And what about the Reformers… the hitmen did their job?”

“Mama Saraki and the others are dead, but her daughter was unfortunately not in the building. They are currently tracking them down.”

They need to be found and they need to suffer.”

“Yes, my queen.”

“Now,… what about the remains of the community center?”

In Winghaven, a police officer stood, staring into the shadows of the night. He would be under the hypnotic trance until morning with no recollection. Behind him, Iconoclasts dug through the remains of the community center with shovels, police tape billowing uselessly in the wind around them. Several men lifted a large wood pillar and carefully moved it out of the way. As they continued to plow their shovels through ash and brick, a member heard a metallic sound. “I found it,” he called out and the others quickly joined him. They began digging, eventually exposing the metal roof of a reinforced basement. Moments later, they found the hatch leading outside.

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