First Chapter to Draco
I know I said I was going to hold off on writing Draco... but now I'm 12 chapters into the first draft. Whoops.
If you enjoyed reading Orion, and you've been looking forward to the sequel, then here's the first chapter to Draco. Keep in mind, this is the first draft. :)
Chapter 1 Michael
It didn’t rain at Zack’s funeral.
That seems to be the typical setting for most funerals, right? At least in the movies. Dark and rainy.But we live in Tuscon, Arizona, where it rains a dozen days out of a year.
Today was near the end of September, so it was an ordinary hot, dry Saturday. The burial took place at noon, so each of us made sure to bring sunglasses. Partially to block out the searing sunlight, and partially to hide our tears.
I will admit that there may have been a couple tears in my eyes.
He was my cousin. True, we weren’t ever super close, and in the end, he tried to kill me, but still… I felt responsible. If I had said a few different things, or had been a nicer cousin, then maybe… just maybe… he wouldn’t have turned on me.
I know, I know. I shouldn’t think like that.
It was a mystery how Zack died. He was in prison. In one of the strongest cells they had available. It needed to be strong because even though he didn’t have his star stone with him, he could still tap into his Starling powers for a brief moment before passing out, and he could break through metal bars easily. I heard he was in one of the prisons on an island in the middle of nowhere, so even if he managed to escape, he wouldn’t have enough energy to fly across the ocean. It seemed to be the perfect solution.
And yet, he’d only been in there for a little over a week when I heard the shocking news. Murdered in his own cell. Strangled. Who would do that to a teenager?
Although the investigation was still underway, the FBI believed the killer was not among the internal security and prisoners. Someone had broken into the prison, did the job, and escaped without a trace. This then led to what seemed to be the most important question.
I could see this question written on my aunt and uncles’ faces as they watched Zack’s coffin be lowered under the earth. This had been a whirlwind of a month for them, I’m sure. Besides this, they’d also discovered this month that Zack was a superhuman Starling, a member of the Scorpion gang, and a danger to society.
Those all shocked me, too. I believe I was the first to discover all that. And it was me who had to tell his parents. It was me who got him mad in the first place. It was me who pinned him down and threw his star stone a mile away; which, by the way, never was found. And it was me who set him up for prison. If only I hadn’t….
Somebody touched my hand.
I turned to see Angela by my side. She gave me a sympathetic look with her chocolatey brown eyes and squeezed her fingers around mine. She didn’t say anything, and neither did I. Grateful for her support, I took a deep breath, wiped my eyes under my sunglasses with my free hand, and squeezed her hand in return.
The sound of sirens caught my attention.
A procession of some sort, led by police cars and motorcycles, arrived at the cemetery. It was probably for another funeral.
“That’s odd,” Angela said. “They usually space out burials, so they don’t have two happening at the same time at the same cemetery.”
I shrugged. “Maybe whoever scheduled it fell asleep on the job?”
“You know what else is weird?” Angela and I turned to look at Sarah, my pony-tailed, 14-year-old little sister, who apparently overheard us talking. “There’s no hearse.”
Our entire group watched the procession curiously. She was right. None of those cars could fit a coffin in them. All became clear, however, when a limousine parked at the edge of the cemetery, and a man wearing a pressed suit and sunglasses stepped out.
Our jaws dropped.
As the man walked hastily through the cemetery and towards our group, nearly a dozen suited bodyguards spread through the cemetery before him, looking cautiously around headstones to make sure no would-be assassins popped out. The man was tall and skinny with pale skin, a pointed chin and gray hair. “Mr. and Mrs. Larson,” he said, extending his hand to shake. “My deepest condolences for your loss.”
My aunt and uncle shook his hand with stunned expressions. “Th—thanks, Mr. President,” my uncle said. “We appreciate it. But, uh… wha—what, may I ask, brings the President of the United States to our son’s funeral?”
President Gary Murdock nodded and smiled, flashing his white teeth, clearly ready for the question. “Well, as you know, your son had some very special abilities before his passing, and we at the White House have been monitoring people like him very carefully.” He glanced at me and Angela for a split second and my stomach lurched. “I came so I could speak with them personally and to express my condolences to you. What happened to your son was tragic and we fully intend to apprehend whoever did this.”
My aunt and uncle nodded without saying anything. They didn’t seem to know how to respond.
I could relate.
The President wanted to talk to me? My heart thumped against my rib cage and my hands began to sweat. Unconsciously, I tapped into my stone’s powers, feeling a thousand tiny needles sweep across my skin.
Angela noticed my eyes were glowing from behind my sunglasses. “Calm down, Michael, we’ll be fine.”
Her eyes were still brown. “How do you not get nervous?” I asked. “That’s the President!”
“I am nervous, just not as much as you. I’ve had more practice than you at not tapping into my powers. Like I said, we’ll be fine. He can’t hurt us.”
I readjusted my sunglasses and took a deep breath, releasing the power. “Of course, he can’t hurt us. It’s just….”
I didn’t answer. President Murdock finished speaking with Zack’s parents and walked directly toward Angela and me. I stiffened.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my mom and dad on the other side of the gathering, whispering quickly at each other, probably debating why they shouldn’t have voted for him. It was a marvel how they always found something to debate about, even at a funeral.
“It’s Michael Stone, isn’t it?” The President asked with a disarming smile.
After wiping the sweat off my hand, I shook his. “Yes, sir.”
“And Angela Johnson?”
“Pleasure to meet you, Mr. President.” She shook his hand.
“Please, call me Gary. And the pleasure is mine. I’ve been looking forward to meeting the two of you for some time.” I was surprised by how tall he was. Just a little taller than me, but definitely taller than he looked on screen. “Can the three of us go for a little walk?”
My parents nodded their consent from across the way. Angela’s dad wasn’t there, but she agreed. We meandered through the cemetery, careful to not step on any soft ground. A cool breeze blew through the cedar trees, making the heat bearable.
“I hope you understand how important it was that I meet with you two,” Gary said. “I had to reschedule a trip to Belgium to make it here today.” He glanced back at Zack’s coffin. “I wish it could be under better circumstances, but the circumstances are part of the reason why I’m here.”
“You see, we have reason to believe that Zack Larson was killed by a powerful Starling. One that got in and out of that prison without raising a single alarm. This has the government scrambling to know what we can do for our national security. Frankly, people across the world are afraid. They don’t know if they’re safe from people like…”
“Like us.” Angela finished for him. We shared a worried look.
“No, you two seem to have your heads screwed on tight. There are others across the nation, or even the world, who have touched those glowing star stones—as you call them—but we don’t know who they are. And none of them made an offer like yours.” He looked directly at me.
“My offer?” I asked.
“Yes. Remember? Just two weeks ago you were on national television, and you told the world who Starlings are and promised to personally stop any bad ones?”
“I remember.” That was one of the boldest moments of my life. But I didn’t think of it as an offer; it was more of a commitment.
“Well, I want to take you on in that offer.” The President readjusted his suit coat, looking hot in it. “I want to work with you directly. I want you to be exactly what you called it: the Starling Police.”
A burning excitement ignited in my chest. The President wants to work with me? Personally?
“While I know it is absolutely unusual for me to make such a big request of a sixteen-year-old, we honestly have no one better to turn to. We’ve seen how powerful you are. Bullets and missiles hardly affect you.”
I shrugged, smiling. “They sting a little.”
“And that’s why we need your help, Michael. And yours, Angela.”
“How would this be any different from what we already committed to do?” Angela asked.
Gary pulled a flip phone out of his pocket and handed it to me. “Like I said, you will work directly with me. This phone calls only one number, and that is to my personal phone. If you or I learn anything about that Starling who killed Zack, or about any other Starling who poses a danger to society, then we can be in constant communication to help each other stop them. It will make both our jobs easier. What do you say?”
“Sounds good to me.” Excitedly, I reached to take the phone, but Angela held my arm.
“Wait,” she said. “What about Ray Simmons? Do you consider him dangerous?”
The President frowned. “Don’t you? He caused a great deal of terror here in Tucson just a few weeks ago.”
“In the end he helped us stop Zack,” Angela said. “He hasn’t done any terrorizing since. We believe he’s turned over a new leaf.”
“Well, that’s good news. Though, it’s because of Starlings like him, we need to make a partnership with you.”
“So, as part of this partnership, can you take Ray off your hitlist? Assuming you have one.”
I raised an eyebrow at Angela. Was she bargaining with the President of the United States?
Gary placed his hands on his hips. “You sure you want to do that? Can he be trusted?”
“Not only trusted, but needed,” Angela said. “If we’re going to stop other Starlings, we’re going to need all the help we can get.”
The President was silent for a moment.
“She’s right,” I added grudgingly. “If it wasn’t for Ray’s help, this funeral would’ve been for us.”
“I suppose that makes sense…” Gary said. “But there will have to be some conditions in place. And not just for Ray… but for all of you.” He stopped walking. “I need to trust you. I need the assurance that you’ll abide by the laws and follow my orders, just like any normal solider or police officer would. Any Starling who doesn’t… is considered dangerous and an enemy of the state.”
Angela and I shared a look. I couldn’t read her expression. “You can trust in us, sir,” I said.
The President smiled. “Good. Then, here’s the phone.” He handed it over to me. “We will be in touch.”