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       End of an Age, p.1

           Mark Tufo
 
End of an Age


  Lycan Fallout 3: End Of An Age

  A Michael Talbot Adventure

  Mark Tufo

  Contents

  Copyright

  Dedication

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  24. EPILOGUE 1

  25. EPILOGUE 2

  26. EPILOGUE THREE

  27. TALBOT-SODE 1

  28. EPILOGUE FOUR

  29. MIKE JOURNAL ENTRY

  About the Author

  Also by Mark Tufo

  Also From DevilDog Press

  Thank You

  Copyright © 2016 by Mark Tufo

  Lycan Fallout 3: End Of An Age

  * * *

  All rights reserved.

  * * *

  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  * * *

  Editor: Sheila Shedd

  Cover art: Dane at ebooklaunch.com

  Created with Vellum

  To my wife whose endless patience I truly appreciate as she listens to me ramble on about various possibilities in these fictitious realms!

  * * *

  To my beta readers, Vix Kirkpatrick, Kimberly Sansone, Susan DiMuzio and Jeff Shoemaker; I’m always amazed at your insight, suggestions and attention to detail!

  * * *

  To all those that are, have ever been or support those in the Armed Forces you have my sincerest thank you for your service to our great nation.

  * * *

  To my editor Sheila Shedd who at times has taken my tangled web of words and spun it into something far better than I could have woven on my own.

  * * *

  And finally to you my dear reader without whom all of this would be impossible. THANK YOU!

  Prologue

  What decides the fate of a man’s soul? Is it our thoughts or our actions? Catholic philosophy and teachings would lead one to believe it is determined by both. It is for me, then, to reconcile my bitter regrets and hopeless search for redemption with the soulless monster I have become. It doesn’t matter. Like a falling leaf blown aimlessly in the midst of a tempest, my soul, such as it is, drifts along with the wind. Control is an illusion; goodness and redemption are but rumors. Bitter metaphor? I don’t know, and I don’t care.

  Chapter 1

  Mike Journal Entry 1

  WE’D MADE IT to the outskirts of Denarth in four days, even with the injured. We watched helplessly as five more people died from their wounds while all of Denarth sat in their fucking ivory tower and decided our fate. Can I blame them? It’s not for me to say. I’m not sure what the hell I’d do if the circumstances were reversed. Two months after we kicked their ass and sent them packing, the tattered remnants of our victorious army were at their doorsteps begging for help. Is that a full circle karmic event? Perhaps. I think they agreed to help if for no other reason than that they could throw it back in our face. They’re saying, “Oh look at them...not so conquering now, are you?” And they scoff. For some reason, I hear their taunts in a crappy, mocking, French accent, increasing the impact of insult to injury. Lana, the ninja, and Azile, the Red Witch spent most of their days inside, playing the political game. They wisely left me outside; you really only want me present when you need shit destroyed or there’s something inside that’s really bad and you need someone to get rid of it fast. I’m a horrible fucking houseguest. Probably piss on the furniture if you turned your back. Yeah, I was feeling pretty salty.

  I had Oggie, which made my world a much better place. I had Mathieu, whom I considered a great friend and ally. And, of course, I had Azile...umm...not sure what I should call her. “Girlfriend” doesn’t cover it, but at the same time it makes it seem too official, and as such, an affront to my one true love. Although, I’m pretty sure if I called Azile a dalliance she’d turn me into something with a tail. I wonder if I’d get better? (Some of you will get that.) Bailey and I were much improved; she still kept her distance, but at least her knuckles didn’t turn white with whatever she was clutching as if she meant to repurpose it into a weapon. I had connections again and I wavered between hating them and loathing them. Relationships meant responsibility, they required giving a shit, something I hadn’t done for almost a century and a half. It was so much easier going through my so-called life that way: free. Not caring, I mean.

  “What the fuck are they doing in there?” I wasn’t talking to anyone in particular, I was just staring at the fortifications some three hundred yards ahead.

  “I’m thinking they are thinking of polite ways to tell you to get fucked.” It was Mathieu.

  “Hey Mathieu.” I turned away from the large, wooden poled structure. “Yeah, I was figuring the same thing, I just wish they’d come to that conclusion already.”

  “And what are you going to do if that’s their decision?”

  “I’m going to force them to reconsider.”

  “You ever stop to wonder why they may be taking so long?” he asked with a wry smile on his face.

  “Son of a bitch. I really hadn’t. They don’t have to like me, but they have to be able to see the bigger picture. Don’t they?”

  “It is quite possible, Michael, that they choose not to. Talboton, a settlement that soundly defeated them, has now in turn been soundly defeated. You represent the danger that they have been forced to acknowledge.”

  “Me? How did I become the face of this war? I’m not trying to take over the world.”

  “It’s just that wherever you are, Michael, is where the war is happening.”

  “I can assure you that has not been my intention.”

  “Maybe not, but it’s a fact all the same. Fate has destined your presence on the field of battle.”

  “I’ve got a finger for fate.”

  “You speak of that hand gesture you have shown me?”

  “Yeah, it’s all about that middle finger. But don’t tell anyone, it’s much more fun flipping people off when they have no clue, and easier to deny it when necessary.” And just for effect, I turned back to the fort, two full eagles flying. I’m sure the guard could see what I was doing though he would have no idea as to what I was suggesting, and that was just fine. “Every day they delay gives Xavier the opportunity to increase his power. I’m already convinced this war is tactically finished and we’re just waiting to die.”

  “I thought we were friends?” Mathieu asked.

  “We are. Why would you question that?” I looked at him, clearly confused.

  “Why would you lie to me?”

  “Mathieu, what are you talking about?”

  “Shall we keep answering each other’s questions with questions?”

  “Hey man, that last one is on you,” I told him, pointing at his chest.

  “If you truly believed this war to be over, you would have left this place.”

  “No I wouldn’t.” Now it was Mathieu’s turn to look confused. “I’m not that smart.”

  He laughed; so did I. Oggie took that opportunity to come over and stick his massive head under my hand where I dutifully scratc
hed behind his ears.

  “I love you, mutt,” I told him as I squished his melon. “I do believe this war is over, Mathieu.” This time I was serious. “I stay because Azile stays. I stay because Bailey and her people have nowhere else to go. I stay because of Lana. Even though she’s a pain in the ass and does everything in her power to make me uncomfortable, this is her home and it is next on Xavier’s checklist. And a big part of it, my friend...well, I stay because if I left I could not stand the look of disappointment that you would level upon me.”

  “Speaking of.”

  “What?” I spun, to look to where he was pointing. “Damn ninja.”

  Lana tapped my other shoulder. “I’ve missed you,” she said, lightly stroking her finger up the side of my neck. Damn near jumped out of my boots from the contact.

  “Isn’t there somebody inside those walls you can harass?” I asked as I stepped back, making sure she could not reach out and touch me again.

  “How many times in my life, Michael Talbot, will I have the opportunity to make a two-hundred-year-old vampire squirm?” She had a devilish grin on her face. I felt sorry for the poor bastard that would finally end up with her. She was going to make their life hellish. Interesting, sure, but hellish all the same.

  “You appear to have been bitten, Michael.”

  I spun again. It was Azile. “Yeah, tell me you two don’t work this shit out ahead of time.” I saw Lana advance out of the corner of my eye. “You come any closer and I’m going to throw you over my knee! Scratch that—I’ve got a feeling that’s exactly what you’d like. Can we maybe move on to the business at hand?”

  “Denarth has agreed to allow our infirm inside for aid,” Azile said.

  “Well how fucking magnanimous of them. Wait until the really sick and injured die and then take in the milder cases.” I was hot.

  “It is a start, Michael.” Azile reached out and grabbed my arm and then my hand. Unlike Lana’s, this touch was comforting, and while it did have a strong electrical undercurrent to it, it was soothing; it didn’t make me want to jump out of my skin.

  “You of all people should know, Azile, we don’t have time for this baby-steps shit. We should be finding a way to strike back and end this. Sitting here hoping the walls hold is not a viable defense. I think that’s already been proved.”

  “Michael, even if they do finally admit the survivors from Talboton, I cannot imagine that their next order of business will be to send out a war party in what they will completely believe to be a doomed expedition.”

  “Doomed maybe, but striking first is our only chance. You know that, right?”

  “The wounds are still fresh from their last war. They still mourn the loss of their brothers, fathers, and sons. They will not be quick to risk so much again so soon.”

  “What about the Cajunites then? They seem all too willing to pick a fight. Kind of like a drunken Irishman.”

  Azile sighed. Nobody else understood the reference.

  “Jangrut will run for the hills if he sees you coming. He is convinced you are a creature hell kicked out in order to clean the place up.” She smiled at a private image she had created for herself.

  “You feel better now? How long you been waiting to say that?”

  “Oh, a while now.” She squeezed my hand.

  “There must be some allies we can talk to. The Landians, Robert’s Land inhabitants?”

  “We will first have to meet with Inuktuk, the Landian queen. She will not be eager. Robert’s Land as of yet has been unaffected. They may have heard rumors from merchants, but they will not act on what they believe to be tall tales of armies far away.”

  “Then we convince them,” I said, looking to Mathieu.

  “Me? You want to parade me around as some kind of diplomat?”

  “Well, not you specifically. They’d probably kill you first and then start asking questions. We need a different werewolf. Something intimidating that they can see with their own eyes. Of course, having to wait for a full moon is problematic.”

  “I might be able to do something about that.”

  “You’ll use a spell?” I asked.

  “No, I’ll just close my eyes and wish it,” she said sarcastically.

  I glared at her for half a heartbeat; she didn’t care. “Is it something the townspeople will see you conjure up? Because then they might think the whole thing is a trick.”

  “I fear if we bring in a Lycan in all his form, they will believe it subterfuge of some sort. The people of today are just as distrustful as those from yesteryear.” Lana said.

  “There’s got to be some sort of trusted emissary right? Someone they would tend to give credence to?” I asked.

  “They will only believe the truth of an attack,” Azile said.

  “By then, it’s too late. This is insane. In all the movies, people would put aside their differences in the face of a greater enemy.”

  “Those were just movies. In real life, nations are only concerned for their own.”

  “Yeah, real life, except with witches, vampires, werewolves, Lycan, and zombies. Sounds just like a normal day in the neighborhood. I expect an alien or two to show up at some point, just to round things off.”

  “Tempt the fates, Michael. That always seems to work in your favor.” Azile looked to the heavens and uttered a few words from a spell under her breath. My guess? It was designed to intercept my words and silence them before they found the ear of some pissed off demigod. “I know this is completely against your nature, and I doubt you will listen to me, but you must show restraint. Tap into that well of patience that I just know you have hidden somewhere deep, deep inside of you.”

  Mathieu snorted, actually outright fucking snorted before walking away. “Sorry,” he mumbled insincerely. “I believe something flew up my arse...I mean...I mean down my throat.” Then he went to check on his patients.

  “Well, I believe even if you don’t fully understand what I’m asking, you get the point,” Azile finished off.

  “I’m not going to promise anything. Diplomacy has never been my strong suit.”

  “Or any suit at all, I would imagine,” Lana threw in for good measure.

  “You too?” I asked her. She shrugged in return. “Lana, can’t you talk to your father? Speed this process up a little bit?”

  She looked at me like I was an idiot. “What do you think I have been doing all this time?”

  Chapter 2

  MIKE JOURNAL ENTRY 2 MIKE JOURNAL ENTRY 2 Mike Journal Entry 2

  SO WE SAT, thumbs firmly entrenched up our asses, well, not literally. That would make waiting very uncomfortable. It was dark; there was a half moon and a full complement of stars, the light of which felt as cold and distant as it was. I was sitting on a small log, and like most nights, I was alone. I could see a dozen fires; most folks were finding comfort with those they still had left. Mathieu spent most of his time tending to the injured and Bailey moved from encampment to encampment checking on her people, asking if there was anything she could do for them. Sometimes Azile came back and kept me company, most times I was here with my thoughts, never a good place to leave me for long. My mood and countenance were much darker than the surroundings. I was a black hole; no wonder no one wanted to come near. Who the hell wants to get sucked into that thing?

  I was poking the fire with a stick, I had a lopsided grin as I thought about how this could be an allegory for my entire life. Poking dangerous things, I mean. The only good that could come from it was the emergence of more flame, so yup, it really did mimic real life. That fire looked inviting, like a lake to a man dying of thirst. I was just asking to be consumed.

  “Baptism by fire.” I leaned in closer, near enough I could smell the hair on my face beginning to curl and melt. “I wonder how much it would hurt? Be over soon enough. Melt the old noggin and then… then quiet.” I think I would have, too, there was just that pesky problem of wandering Purgatory forever. That kind of shit always seems to get in the way.

 
“Are you cold tonight, Michael?” It was Mathieu.

  I pulled back quickly. The only people that could be cold enough to sit that close to a roaring fire were the dead. So it fit.“Dropped my phone,” was the first thing I could think to say. About as believable as the night I told my mother I hadn’t stolen her vodka from the liquor cabinet and then proceeded to leave a thick layer of vomit all over the bathroom floor. Besides the overwhelming smell of bile there was a thick undercurrent of alcohol. I spent two prime weeks of my teenage years behind closed doors for that infraction. Well, not really. I just snuck out my window anyway, but it added a whole new layer to “degree of difficulty.”

  “We are not alone.”

  His tone made me acutely aware that this was not a friend he referred to. I stood up quickly, all earlier thoughts of immolation went up in smoke. My entire life was comprised of action not contemplation, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Had it got me into more trouble than I care to even think about? It sure had. Had it kept me alive against all odds? Again, that answer was a resounding yes. I grabbed my weapon and readied myself to head off in whatever direction he dictated—yet he did not move.

  “I fear that rifle will be of no use.”

  I won’t swear on it, but I’m convinced I saw him sampling the air with his nose.

  “You’ve got my attention. You maybe want to give me a heads up about what is going on?”

  “There is something... surrounding us...by the tree line.” His words were thoughtful, his speech halting as he sought the correct terminology to articulate what he sensed.

  Not going to lie, it was infuriating. Thought about shaking it out of him, then figured I’d have to apologize, then we’d have to start over, thus, even further delaying his explanation. Let it be known on this night, that it is possible for me to reason things out. It was as if I’d received a needed adjustment from one of Tracy’s patented smacks upside my head, when I needed to back the adrenaline down. “It’s not something or someone physical is it?”

 
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