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James Boyle Writes
Award-winning finalist 2010 Independent Publishers Book Awards (IPPY) for fantasy/sci-fi fiction.
Police Chief Dan Connor and his partner return to continue the fight against ni'ilaquo begun in Ni'il: The Awakening. But now they also have someone as an equally powerful ally. Or is he?
Police Chief Dan Connor and Stephanie Amis return in this sequel to Ni’il: the Awakening to continue their battle with ni’ilaquo. This time the situation is different. They know exactly what kind of a monster they’re facing and it has learn how strong they can be.
As the people of Placerton clean up from what they believe was just a very bad storm, Dan and Stephanie prepare for ni’ilaquo’s next move. Then a new player shows up with powers like theirs, but someone they’ve never sensed before. He is a Catholic priest sent from the Vatican to Placerton to help them destroy ni’ilaquo. He belongs to a secret order that’s been fighting pagan gods for centuries and knows exactly how to win their battle.
It sounds like just what they need. Dan and Stephanie know they won the last time mainly through good luck. But something about the priest bothers Dan. He can’t say what exactly, but has to follow his instinct and declines the priest’s help. His instincts are quickly proven correct when Placerton is ripped apart by hatred and violence as citizen is pitted against citizen in the effort to rid the town of “evil.”. Soon even Dan’s friends are turned against him.
Dan and Stephanie must find a way to keep Placerton from tearing itself apart before they can even begin to fight their real enemy. Ni’ilaquo.
Again, the wind slammed into the side of the building, rattling windows and shooting cold drafts through the cracks around doors. The howling had increased steadily around the building as the meeting progressed.
Dan briefly wondered whether they should be worrying about the church’s roof. If the building should start to come down all these people would be sitting ducks. He quickly located the nearest door, just in case. It was in the wall, a dozen bodies in front of him. If nothing else, he would throw one of the chairs through the three big windows.
The other side of the room looked to be built into the hillside. No doors or windows. No escape there.
“So, what do we do?” Fr. Gregoire asked. “What do you and I, as God-fearing Christians, do to stop this evil? How do we defeat the evil one?”
“Pray,” someone answered.
“Witness to the Lord.”
“Good,” Fr. Gregoire nodded. “Good. All these are good and we should all be praying, doing good works and witnessing. That is part of what it means to be Christian. But these are extraordinary times, with extraordinary dangers...and they call for extraordinary measures.”
He paused for effect.
The entire gathering seemed to hold its breath.
“We are at war, my friends, whether we like it, or not. We are at war. This war is for our culture. This war is for our future as Christians. This war is for our very souls. We are at war against a clever and powerful enemy. We are at war for our beloved God.”
Stephanie’s grip tightened on Dan’s hand. The energy level in the room had begun to rise. A few of the listeners had begun to cry. Others swayed to the rhythm of the priest’s words—or his power.
“My brothers and sisters!” Fr.Gregoire had set aside the microphone now. “We are at war and we need to win. We are at war. There can be no defeat. Our children cannot afford a defeat.
“How do we win this war? There is only one way to win a war. That is by destroying the enemy. Wherever we meet the enemy, we destroy him. If we meet the enemy on the street, we destroy him. If we meet him in our office, we destroy him. At school, we destroy him. In our homes, we destroy him.”
“Dan,” Stephanie whispered. “Something’s going to happen.”
He nodded, aware of it too. He had the unsettling feeling he was watching the creation of a mob.
“Brothers and sisters, let us pray to our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Almost as one, the entire audience moved onto their knees. Only Dan and Stephanie remained on their feet.
“Lord,” Fr. Gregoire looked up toward the heavens. “Deliver the strength of your Holy Spirit upon your servants. Just as you gave your twelve apostles the gift of your strength so that they could spread your word across the world of the pagans, give us your strength now so we may defeat the evil ones. Bring your Holy Spirit down upon us gathered before you now and gird us for the war to come.”
“Dan, listen to me.” Stephanie all but shook him. “Ni’ilaquo is—“
The lights went out.
For a few seconds, there was silence in the shadowy gloom, then a slow murmur began. The only light was the weak glow from the windows along the west side. The other edges of the room were in near darkness.
“Everyone, please stay calm,” Mayor Eccles voice drifted out of the darkness. “The storm merely knocked the power out.”
“You think?” someone asked to Dan’s left.
Someone else laughed.
“It should come on again in a minute.”
Dan didn’t think it was the storm. He didn’t think the power would come on again in a minute. Ni’ilaquo was close by. Not in the room with them, but nearby. Very, very nearby. And it wasn’t here because it wanted to listen to Fr. Gregoire’s speech. It was here to kill.
These people needed to get out of here.
He pulled Stephanie along as he made his way past the bodies to the metal fire door and pushed on the panic bar. Nothing happened. It was locked.
“Shit.” Someone was going to pay for leaving the door locked. If nothing else, it was a fire hazard. It could make the building a death trap.
A commotion erupted in the back of the room. Dan turned that way and saw the source of the excitement. His heart sank. Tendrils of white smoke were making their way down the stairwell. A sound separated itself from the general noise of the storm and resolved into a growing roar.
“The building’s on fire,” he told Stephanie. “Ni’ilaquo’s set the building on fire.”
Dan turned to the people in the room. “Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention, please?”
The grumble of voices diminished somewhat.
“As some of you have figured out, the church upstairs is on fire.”
Cries of alarm filled the room. Half the people leaped to their feet.
“Please, we must remain calm. There is a door in the wall to my right. I need everyone to evacuate the building in a quick and orderly manner through the door
and off the property. We’ll do it just like we did in school; one row at a time.”
“The door is locked, remember?” a man said behind him.
Dan turned back toward the door and used his takin to push at it. With a metallic bang, the door shifted, then fell away onto the sidewalk outside, clattering on the pavement. “No, it’s not.”
The gusting wind eddied into the room, splashing rainwater onto the carpet.
“Wow . . .”
“Brothers and sisters,” Fr. Gregoire had the microphone again.. His power radiated through the room. “It is an attack by the evil one. He fears our strength. Remain calm and pray with me. Our Savior is also our Protector.”
He began to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Many in the crowd joined him.
Finally, people began moving toward the door, with reasonable order. But the room was rapidly filling with smoke and the evacuation was going far too slowly. There were about two hundred people and just the one door. People near the stairwell were coughing, beginning to panic.
Overhead, the roar was growing louder, drowning out the storm and the murmured words of prayer. Dan could see a reddish glow now at the top of the stairwell and sparks and cinders were beginning to drift down the stairs.
They were running out of time.
They needed another door.
A woman at the back of the evacuation line tripped and went down. The man behind her bent over to help her up, but was bumped by the people behind him. He went down on top of the woman. A third person was pushed onto the first two. A man behind them cursed, threw a chair aside, and ran around the pileup. Another followed suit.
It was panic and it was spreading.
Dan took a deep breath of the smoke-tainted air, visualized a large, double door, and placed it in the wall a few feet from the first. He felt the takin surge from his chest.
“Hey, there’s another door over here!” someone shouted.
The crowd surged toward the new doors. Dan ignored the shouts and movement around him, the bodies jostling him, and the growing heat and smoke. He concentrated instead on holding the illusion. Each time a person went through the door, it felt like someone rapped him on the forehead with his knuckles, yet he managed to keep the illusion in place.
“Dan!” Stephanie yelled sometime later. (we’ve got to get out of here)
He let the illusion go. His knees buckled and a raging headache settled behind his eyes.
“Come on!” Stephanie grabbed his arm and pulled him through the door just as something crashed down behind him.