The night was clear, cloudless, the sky riddled with millions of shinning points of light. The quarter moon was just enough light to be a help and not a hindrance. A silver sliver hung in the sky, a brighter speck among the shimmering sea of light.
Phoenix was a summer storm that appeared out of nowhere, unpredictable, violent and yet breathtakingly beautiful all at the same time. She came and left just as quickly leaving devastation in her wake. Her hair was bright like the sunset, after a wildfire had consumed everything in its path without mercy. The red mass was neatly stuck under a stocking cap and her face was seared with camouflage makeup.
Lucas Kincaid watched her over the years become the best he had ever seen. At one time he had been the best but he had lost the desire to live in that world and eased his way out or that’s what he told himself. He stayed just involved enough to keep an eye on her. She was always a step or two ahead of whatever was coming at her. In a league all her own, maybe that was part of the problem, even he was in awe, but mostly he was afraid of her rejection. She was an unwitting pawn in this chess game and under no obligation to follow the script that was written for her before she was born but the time had come that she was aware that it existed. She had become an unhealthy addiction and he needed to end it.
Something rustled in the branches above him, he closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. It was a raccoon. He should have checked more carefully, their comings and goings could bring unwanted attention to him. Their nightly search for food, consisted of garbage or anything else that was unfortunate enough to get caught in those tiny, creepy hands of theirs. They sensed he was there and begrudgingly remained in the nest, unsure what type of predator he was.
Lucas didn’t know what would happen if he came face to face with Phoenix under these conditions. He doubted she would give him time enough to explain the situation. She was tenacious and even when she lost she still found a way to win by changing the rules. He couldn’t say with certainty that he could take her either.
She chose the best place for entry and Lucas chose the best place to watch her work. Lucas picked the second bet vantage point and waited. He had slipped in earlier when the rest of the facility had been emptied and killed the guards, leaving only the two walking the perimeter. He had assumed this was going to be an ambush but instead the facility had been cleared and no sign of their return. Something felt off, definitely wrong, that’s why he was here. He had swept the building for bombs with a dog. It was actually a wolf hybrid he had found. Like him, the breed didn’t belong in man’s world and no pack would have him; but he had a nose for explosives and a love of Lucas. He wasn’t a house dog so Lucas kept him fed as he roamed the woods of his property always seeming to search for a pack of his own.
He watched as she made an amazing dive off the tree. He wanted to close his eyes as she jumped; but the grace and skill of her landing made it worth it. He could only imagine her surprise when she found them all dead inside. Anxiety gnawed at the back of his gut like a buzz saw; as far as he knew the threat was neutralized and yet he still felt anxious like there as something more coming.
Lucas heard it long before it arrived. He wouldn’t have imagined a drone strike that would be overkill for anyone but her. Brian was talking no chances on her surviving this mission. She was a cat with nine lives, but he wasn’t sure how many she had left at this point. He closed his eyes and listened trying to pick up a direction and speed. This was going to be more challenging than he thought.
He spotted the drone in his scope and fired off several shots. It spun off course and the rocket launched into the woods. To his dismay there was a second drone, Lucas emptied the magazine. The second drone didn’t fire, instead it flew straight into the building and exploded. The tree shook and both he and the raccoons were pelted with debris from the building. He had no idea if Phoenix had managed to get out before the explosion.
Lucas ran to the wall, the field of wreckage was large and his time, short. He started digging through the rubble; but it was far too big a task. He closed his eyes and concentrated on her. He always knew where she was, there was a connection he didn’t understand and it was one she knew nothing about. The last two missions like tonight, she had known he was there in the darkness watching. He moved ten feet to the east and started digging. He found her under one of the doors, unconscious. He brushed of the dirt and checked for a pulse, there was none. He cleared away enough debris to lay her flat to do CPR, after a few minutes she started to respond. Unsure what type of injury she had, he had no choice but to move her to a safe house and hoped she survived. Phoenix was 130 pounds of dead weight and tightly packed muscles.
Arriving at the safe house just as the morning sky was coming to life and the nights stars were dying. Lucas closed the garage door behind him and carried her into the house. Phoenix was breathing, but unconscious. Lucas ran his hand over her body searching for breaks, but found nothing obvious. Afraid it was head trauma and a ruptured spleen and she was bleeding out internally. There was no way of knowing how her body would cope with something as severe as these injuries. Phoenix healed much faster than he did and there was no longer a magic serum to extend his life. He guessed he was a failed experiment. As much as he hated to, he had to call Petr and tell him what happened, Petr had connections and maybe there was a chance Petr could get her serum before it was too late. He picked up the phone and prepared to beg if necessary.
“Did you hear what happened?”
“Brian tried to kill her in an explosion. He succeeded. Do you have anything for her?”
“No, I have been cut off.”
“She’s in bad shape.”
“I know Lucas but there’s nothing I can do for you or her right now.”
“Petr, if she dies I’m coming for you and I’m not going to stop until one or both of us is dead.”
“I expect nothing less from you, Lucas. At some point you have to stop blaing me for your inaction all those years ago”
“She was a child, Petr. You took advantage.”
“Take care of our girl, Lucas.”
Phoenix had never been his girl, Petr had seen to that. He went to work on cleaning her up and treating any obvious wounds, like the burn to her leg. In all these years this was as close as he had ever been to her. She brought out the fear in him, fear of love, fear of loss, fear of rejection. Fear was an unknown aspect of his personality and it caused him to shy away from her instead of taking chances. His fear had caused this and he’d have to spend the rest of his life living with that thought. He carefully cut at the cloth of her pants. The burn was deep and it looked red and angry like a 3rd degree burn, there wasn’t much he could do but to clean it and hope for the best.
Lucas took a long shot and decided to give her a transfusion with his blood. Her pulse was erratic and she was obviously bleeding out internally. Their blood was compatible and there was nothing left to lose at this point except, Phoenix, and he wasn’t ready to let her go. Not now that he had come this far.
Her eyes fluttered opened. He took her hand and brushed back her hair. “You’re not alone.” He said. This wasn’t the first person he sat with while they died but this wasn’t how her or his life was supposed to play out. She looked confused, frightened and then the light left her beautiful eyes and he knew she was gone. He kissed her hand and blinked back tears. He had never cried, he had come so close to finally reaching out to her. That was the difference between the two of them. She was fearless in all things.
The Phoenix was part myth and part reality. He probably knew more about her than anyone other than Petr and even he wasn’t certain of her full potential. There was no pulse or respiration and from what he knew that wasn’t how resurrection worked with her, but then he had never witnessed it. There was so much damage to repair this time he wasn’t certain she could come back and Petr gave him the run around. He didn’t plan on giving up just yet.