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33. The Project

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33 - ch33

Assignment: Find the Timeless Martyrs Cycle.

Where? How?

Good questions. I’ll get back to you on that.

Slow down. Explain. What is the Timeless Martyrs Cycle?

The Timeless Martyrs Cycle is a collection of stories, five volumes to be specific. It spans three decades, generations upon generations of stories, fictions and delusion. The stories, all together, have about…just shy of two-dozen different authors. It spans the lives and deaths of about 70 individuals, give or take. It is the holy grail. It is all the legends put together, in comprehensible format. Now and forever. Always and never. It is everything.

The Timeless Martyrs Cycle is the greatest legend of all. The ongoing fairy tale. But there are pieces that don’t add up. There are selections missing. There are fragments that prove its existence. Mr. Draven Riddle for one. Pandora, for another. Vagrant…the list goes on and on. The elders – the ones who predate the circus. They were there. They knew. They were raised with

the truth. We, the rest, the new, the young – we were sheltered. After the ensuing madness, it was decided that the truth would die and be buried. Until now.

As the advice goes – you can’t kill something that doesn’t want to die, and you can kill a man but you can’t kill an idea. As long as there are people around to believe in it, it will live on. And with this, there was an entire generation. An entire clan, so to speak. And there always

would be. These were stories that had become so distorted in the telling and retelling that the only way to make amends was to start fresh.

I got to New Paltz in record time, my life on my back. I got off the bus haphazardly, squaring my shoulders to take the burden. There was a figure all in black, a long trench-coat hiding most of his frame, leaning against a side of the building. He was smoking idly – what was it with these people and the dramatics? He pushed away from the wall with his elbows and sauntered over to me. I had my guitar and a small bag of clothes, which he reached out and took from me without a word. I fell in step behind him blindly.

“I take it you’re Saint.”

“Mr. Crowe,” he muttered.

“What?”

“The name, it freaks most people out. You can call me Crowe if it makes you feel any better. I don’t really care either way. Come on, my car’s over here.”

“But I have a ticket? I have an appointment to catch.”

He turned around to face me, pulling the smoke from his mouth. “Yeah? You’ve caught it, kid. Or it caught you. However you want to see it.” And he kept walking.

“I don’t get it?”

“You wouldn’t. I’ll explain later. For right now, we need to get the hell out of here.”

And we walked on in silence. I threw my stuff in the trunk and slid in the passenger seat next to my cheery compatriot. We were on the road for an hour before he said anything at all to me. I was shaken from my world of daydreams when his voice sounded.

“The ticket was a cover. If anybody figured anything out, you were leaving from New Paltz to…wherever the ticket says. In case you were stopped. And you were visiting family up in that direction or you were sent on vacation – whatever cover story came to mind. It was a just in case. Okay? With me so far?”

“Yeah. You don’t have to be so short with me, you know. I’m not as ignorant as you’d like to think.”

He sighed. “I’m sorry. My name is Saint Crowe. And I’ve been out of this game for a while now. Being called out of retirement kind of…irks me.”

“How did they call you in?”

He looked at me while he was driving. “I was connected with Vagrant. I’m one of the lost living legends. Word of me traveled; Serkis asked me to look after you for now. You’re going to help me with my project while she works on hers.”

“What’s going on?”

He looked back over. “What did she tell you?”

“She told me about Requiem having a kid. About Vagrant being in the way. She told me that there would be a match…the two great families…I don’t understand?”

He heaved another sigh, fumbling to light another smoke as he drove. I helped him as best as I could. “Thanks,” he muttered. He drove on for a while in silence before speaking again.

“Saint, please, just tell me the truth?”

“You’re going to help me play babysitter. Okay? As a favor to another important friend. Grey will be coming up tomorrow and he’ll take care of you up here. I have my own business to attend. I’m sorry for being short, I’m just too…there’s too much going on to care or go through it, you know? Maybe someday, someone will enlighten you. But today’s not that day, and that someone sure as hell ain’t me, kid. Sorry.”

And we remained in silence. The ride carried on and we pulled up to a broken down house in the most desolate part of nowhere that I think they could find. He got out and waited for me to pack up and trudge in behind him. He gave me the general tour.

“Sorry it’s not much, but it’s all I’ve got right now.”

“It’s fine. Really, it is.” I walked around, dropping my stuff in what appeared to be the living room. It was desolate but had this definite air of a homey nature. I was almost content.

The rapid ring of footsteps echoed through the place. I wheeled around to see a small girl come bursting out of the shadows and spring herself upon Saint. He displayed the most warmth to that child than I’d ever seen in my life. I stood there watching, forgetting for a moment that I was there at all. I think they found me invisible for a moment too, until the child stopped moving

and gestured toward me. Saint led her over to me by a small hand, bending to her level and motioning for me to do the same.

“I’d like you to meet a friend of mine. This is Miss Angyl Hunter. She’ll be staying here with us. She’s very important to me.”

The child hid her eyes from me, turning to hide her entire face in Saint’s shirt. She was young, maybe about…four or five? She could have been ten or twelve – I’m terrible with children’s ages. I always was. If I didn’t know for certain that I was 18, there might be a problem. Never can tell these days.

“The name’s…cute.”

Saint smiled. “Isn’t it? I’d love to take the credit for its irony, but that achievement belongs to her parents.”

“And they are…where?”

He kissed the girl on the cheek and sent her off to play, watching her go. He turned back to me as he started to stand and I rose with him. “Dead.”

“I’m sorry…”

“She’s in my care for right now. Since the investigation.”

“Investigation?”

He looked at me hard. “You really don’t know, do you?”

“Enlighten me.”

He heaved a sigh and motioned for me to sit down somewhere, which I did. He moved over and sat down with me. “Have you ever heard of the Timeless Martyrs Cycle?”

I looked at him. Was he truly serious? The Cycle was a legend, a story, a fairy tale. Nobody could prove its existence. They couldn’t disprove it either…I focused my attention.

“Yeah. But it’s only a story. There’s no proof of the past. Who’d be foolish enough to write down the history of these streets? Who would put to paper the pain? And how could something that important simply…disappear?”

“First off, they’d like you to think all that. And you have. So hence, they’re doing a good job. It does, in fact, exist. In its entirety. I know who possesses it. There’s a small circle of people who know what it is and where to find it. There have been fools along the way who’ve tried…but all resulted in failure. Until now.”

“Why now?”

“Your…great family desires it. And we’re going to let them have it this time. We’re going to let it out. Let it go free.”

“Why?”

“The two legendary families will merge, in time. Nobody understands why we must keep them apart, no matter the cost. Nobody knows what brought us to this point. They have to understand the cost, the price paid over the years. So that we may avoid collapse.”

“So why all this? Why the covert?”

“To make sure it falls into the right hands. Your dear family is divided. We want to make sure that Serkis gets it. If Requiem got hold of it first, she’d destroy it.”

I looked around, collecting my thoughts. “And the child here?”

“She’s part of it. She used to stay in the city, with the stories. But since Requiem’s recent homicidal tendencies, and the seat of power she now possesses, we’ll be keeping her here.”

“We?”

“Saint and myself.”

I wheeled around to find another man standing in the room. Older, but still bearing a youthful burning in his eyes. He was smoking too, looking around the place, making a careful inspection of myself. He took a few steps closer. “My name is Klyde. The pleasure’s yours, I’m sure.”

I stopped breathing for a moment. He smiled and walked away, off to check on the child. I watched him go. Saint smiled.

“Yeah, he does that to people sometimes.”

“He’s…that’s…a legend…”

Saint laughed. “Yeah, some of us are still standing. Who knew?” He lit up a fresh smoke, holding the pack out to me, which I took unconsciously. “You’ll stay here for awhile, Grey will come up tomorrow and update you. He’ll get information back and forth. When things cool down, you’ll go home.”

“And what about you?”

“I’ll stay here. Klyde will stay in the city – keep watch. He’ll make the actual drop of the story. He’s in charge of it.”

“I don’t understand…how is it that Serkis got in touch with him?”

He smiled. “She’s got influence and charisma like you wouldn’t believe.”

I laughed. “Yeah, she is rather convincing.”

“And besides, the truth must be told sooner or later.”

“And now’s a perfect time to set the record straight?”

Saint took a hard pull on the smoke and exhaled. “No. It’s just now…we have people who might actually…appreciate the record.”

I looked around. I was getting used to this house arrest crap. That’s kind of sad. But at least there was a kid. I didn’t have a particular hatred of kids – they kind of peaked my curiosity. And this specific kid was very, very special. Saint took a few more pulls on his smoke and got up to walk away.

“If you’ll excuse me, I have business to attend to. Make yourself at home, there’s a room set up for you in the back. I know you’re not thrilled with this, neither am I…but it keeps you out of the crossfire.” He moved to walk away.

“When are they due?”

“Excuse me?” He stopped moving.

“The girls. The kids. When are they due?”

He looked around, thought about it, crunching numbers in his head. Months had been passing and I didn’t even realize it. He thought about it. “Six months?”

“I have to stay here for six months?”

He laughed. “Come on, it’s not all bad. You get to spend time with Angyl and me. Sounds fun, right?” He laughed himself right out of the room.

Fun? Oh man. I looked around. Home sweet home, right? I’d learn to deal. This was for my own good, for my own protection – I understood that. But I missed my job. My life. I trudged

to the room I’d been assigned and wrote until I lost feeling in my hand. And when I lost feeling, I sat and played guitar. This would be interesting to say the least. And at the moment, the least was all that could be said.

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