Home > Rise of a Phoenix (Nix #3)

Rise of a Phoenix (Nix #3)
Author: Shannon Mayer


Acknowledgments

 

 

To my laser eye surgeon. Thanks for telling me my eyes would only take ten days to heal when it ended up taking a solid two months. My readers could have had this book a month earlier.

Get ready to be mobbed by irate readers. ;)

 

 

1

 

 

Phoenix

 

 

The helicopter blades whooshed over our heads as we flew away from the banks of the Cumberland River, away from Nashville, away from the place where the Ikimono myst had been created and nearly brought to fruition, only moments from being released on the world. A myst that took a creature, human or abnormal, and made them into a monster that could be controlled—a veritable army ready to be unleashed on unsuspecting humans.

More than that, though, we flew away from where I’d lost my son, Bear, again. I clutched at the small diary in my one hand, the leather warm against my skin, the edges of the book rough against my fingers. The diary belonged to my dead sister and held secrets that could help me bring Luca Romano to his knees so I could put a bullet between his ears and in doing so protect both my son and myself. And it had been laid in my hand by the man sitting across from me.

In my other hand, I held my left gun, Eleanor, pointing her at Mancini. She trembled, anger vibrating from her into me. “Let me kill him,” she said, her words more felt than heard. The swoosh of the helicopter’s rotor blades swept them away.

“Not yet. He’s going to answer some questions,” I replied and she calmed somewhat, her shaking slowing.

Mancini sat across from me, an abnormal, the head of the Collective. I’d never met anyone else in the group that held the most powerful abnormals in the world. Powerhouses who were supposed to be the checks and balances between humans and abnormals. I hoped I never did meet any of them. As far as I was concerned they were all pussies, unable to keep chaos in the abnormal world from spreading, which meant they were useless to me.

Mancini, though, was the one man who hated my father almost as much as I did. Powerful and deadly, no one truly knew what he was—or what he could do. An abnormal, yes, but what kind, or with what skill set? He’d offered to help me bring my father down. But his help had come with a price I’d not known when I’d accepted working with him, a price I would have never had agreed to if I had known. Mancini had his man Simon kill my mentor Zee, which had then forced me to kill Simon. Someone I’d begun to trust as a friend, someone I thought was going to help me find my son.

I would not make that mistake again. I would not trust those around me fully.

“Start talking, or I’ll just kill you now and throw your body into the river.” I yelled the words to be heard over the rotors. I stood in the helicopter, my body swaying with the movement as our pilot swept us away from the chaos below. A massive eruption blew behind us, the flames reaching high into the sky as the last of the detonators we’d set went off within the prison-turned-laboratory that had held the Ikimono myst. At least that venue was gone and the world was safe for a little longer.

Mancini smiled at me, the irises of his strange eyes dancing and jigging as if to a tune only they heard. I stared him down, his fucked-up pupils not bothering me in the slightest. There was no false threat in my words and he knew it. In that, we understood one another. There was no bluff in either of us.

We were both killers, through and through, and a threat was more of a promise when we spoke words of death.

He slowly held up a pair of headphones and slipped them on. Killian stood beside me on my left; my older brother Tommy sat on my right. Killian held another headset up and slid them over my head so I didn’t have to lower Eleanor.

I wanted to ask Eleanor what she thought about all this, but I would have to wait on that question. She shivered in my hand as if she had something to say too. I’d talk to both her and Dinah as soon as I could. They might look like guns, but the truth was they were souls trapped inside the weapons. Weapons that could fire indefinitely, and that helped my already dead-on aim be perfect. At one time in my life, I’d thought they were neutral in their chaos, that they would work for anyone who held them. But more and more, I realized they were my guns even though they’d belonged to my sister Bianca first. They wanted only to be used by me and didn’t like anyone else touching them.

Which begged the question, whose souls were trapped within them?

The headset settled on my ears and Mancini’s voice clicked through.

“What do you want to know first?” he asked as calmly as if asking what I took in my coffee.

If I thought for one second that he would truly come clean completely, I’d be stupid and would deserve whatever death took me. But I would take what he gave for now and know that it was likely only a partial truth. Partial or not, it could help me get Bear back.

“You said my mother named me Phoenix for a reason. Spill what you know about what exactly I am.” I braced my body as the helicopter tipped to the left.

Mancini nodded. “Your mother was like you, Phoenix. She was a survivor. An Ascendant. A name so unheard that it means nothing to the majority of abnormals. But she never fully realized her strength, which is why she died.” He paused and his eyes narrowed slightly. “Your ability is twofold. The first is the survival aspect. From a young age, you have been placed in impossible situations. Your family being the first hurdle, your rape when you were but a child,” beside me I felt Killian stiffen, “your inducement into the world of assassination, your survival against other abnormals—”

“I’m an abnormal, I get it,” I said. Something I’d only just learned and admittedly was still figuring out how to handle. As a hunter of abnormals for years, I had very little respect for them. But that was changing, albeit slowly.

Mancini nodded. “Agreed, but your abilities were in a sense hidden by your natural talent to kill. The reality is it was always there, always pushing you toward certain decisions. I’d lay a bet that you saw it as gut instinct to make certain choices when others thought you were crazy.”

I didn’t so much as blink my agreement, but he went on as if I had. I’d already heard some of this from a Magelore named Vivian. This bit of info was not new to me, although I had to admit I more readily believed Mancini over that bitch Vivian.

“So, that is the first part. Surviving. We’ll call that your defensive abilities. Most abnormals only have one or the other, defensive or offensive. Only the strongest have both. Your offensive abilities are unique. Not only can you produce your own type of myst, but there is another part to it as well.” He lifted an eyebrow, and I nodded again but didn’t tell him about the blue and purple flames I’d only just discovered were a part of me.

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