Excerpt from Ghost Agents: Revelations
“I know those men,” Aaron said from behind Claire as they entered the room. His voice was barely above a whisper. “They’re the Syndicate operatives I’ve been working with the last few weeks. The big one is named Draper and the other one is Galvan.” He frowned at Claire. “They’re bad news.”
Claire studied the two men. There wasn’t anything particularly menacing about them or their demeanor. If it wasn’t for the oily feel of the projection energy surrounding them, Claire wouldn’t have known there was anything unusual about them at all.
“Miss Abelard,” the man named Draper said. “We were hoping you’d find your way here tonight.”
Claire kept her distance. “You’ve been waiting for us?”
The other man nodded. “Well, we’ve been waiting for you.” He smiled at Aaron. “Thank you for bringing her to us.”
Claire whirled around to face Aaron. “You ass!” she hissed.
Aaron threw his hands up in a defensive gesture. “I swear, I didn’t set you up. I had no idea they were going to be here.” He motioned to the Syndicate operatives. “Draper, tell her!”
The two men looked at each other. “As much as I hate to let this little weasel off the hook,” Draper said, “it’s true. He didn’t know anything about our plans tonight.”
Galvan smirked. “And that wasn’t by accident.” He looked at Aaron. “We knew once you had made contact with her, it would only be a matter of time before you led her to us.”
“Beyond that,” Draper added, “you’re really of no use to us whatsoever.”
Aaron glared at him. “I told you everything I know about the Bureau.”
Draper laughed. “You don’t even know enough to know how much you don’t know about the Bureau.”
Aaron looked confused, but he didn’t have long to figure out what the man meant. Claire watched in horror as Galvan removed a handgun from a shoulder holster and shot Aaron in the stomach.
Claire gasped. Drew took a step toward the two men but stopped short when a half dozen translucent forms floated into the room. It was Jean Lafitte and his pirate crew. Their energy carried that oily feel Claire was becoming accustomed to, and their vacant expressions confirmed they were clearly under the influence of Beguiling Acuity.
“Well, we wanted to find Jean Lafitte,” Jeff said unenthusiastically.
“Their energy is gray,” Drew said as he took a step back so he was standing directly next to Claire.
“And you must be Drew,” Draper said, his eyebrows raised. “We’ve heard about you as well. Not as gifted as Miss Abelard, I think, but potentially still useful in your own way.” The man turned his attention to Jeff. “This one, however, is of no use to us.”
Without any warning, Jean Lafitte floated across the room, closing the distance before any of them could react. He wrapped his hands around Jeff’s neck and began to squeeze. Jeff had no way to defend himself against the attack.
“Jean,” Claire yelled, hoping her years of friendship with the pirate would somehow get through to him.
Jean didn’t loosen his grip. He didn’t even respond to Claire’s voice.
She tried to use Beguiling Acuity, but quickly realized it was no use. Whatever they had done to him, she couldn’t reach him.
She turned her attention back to the two Syndicate operatives. “Stop it!”
The two men simply smiled at her, clearly enjoying themselves.
She took a step toward Jean but stopped short when the remaining pirates began moving in her direction. They slowly encircled her and Drew but didn’t attack. Without needing to speak, she and Drew instinctively stood back-to-back, the best way to keep their eyes on all the pirates.
“I’m going to try to manipulate Jean’s energy,” Drew whispered over his shoulder.
Claire nodded. He had been able to free Bettie from Vogel’s control at Ashton Villa. She prayed it would work now.
Drew extended his hand slightly in Jean Lafitte’s direction. Claire could sense the moment he made the connection and for a brief instant she felt hope that they could get Jean back. Her hopes were quickly dashed, though, when Drew doubled over in pain.
“Drew!” She bent down next to him, careful to keep her attention on the pirates slowly closing in around them. “What is it?”
“There’s something wrong with their energy,” he told her through gritted teeth.
She reached out to touch him but pulled her hand away quickly once she did. The malevolent chill that went down her spine told her all she needed to know. “You can’t manipulate it.”
Drew shook his head. “Not without it affecting me, too.”
Claire didn’t ask him to elaborate. He didn’t need to.
She glared at the two Syndicate agents. They seemed almost amused by the scene playing out in front of them.
She looked across the room to where Aaron was lying against the wall, a dark crimson pool forming on the wooden floor beneath him.
A wave of anger began building inside her.
She looked at Jeff, slowly having the life choked out of him by Jean Lafitte.
She looked at Drew, who was now on one knee, doing his best to fight against whatever effects the strange energy was having on him.
Finally, she looked back at the two Syndicate agents with their smug expressions.
A familiar sensation began to stir inside her. This time, she was prepared for it. Remembering the advice Vogel had given her only days before, she closed her eyes and allowed the emotions and adrenaline to flow through her.
A warm glow began in the middle of her chest and grew.
Claire embraced it. She allowed all of her fear and frustration to well up inside of her until finally it forced its way out through every cell in her body…
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