What will follow is just the beginning of a long, long tale that
has been with me for years now, and one that I feel is finaaly ready
to be told. I't a story about heroes, villians, people who want to change
the world; it's a story of love, hate, action, intrique, and a lot of stuff
blowing up. But at it's heart, it's a story of redemption, and how
far one man will go to reach it.
So walk with me, if you will, through this world of mystery and shadows.
Hold tight to my hand, or you may get lost...
Prologue:One Year Ago...
Andrea March sat in one of the rows of seats by the jetway, her stomach
in knots. She tapped her foot rapidly as she wiped her sweaty palms on
the legs of her jeans for the upteenth time. The plane had just taxied to
the jetway, and the passengers and just started deboarding. She took
a swig of her iced tea, soaking her parched mouth. Then her heart skipped
a beat when she saw him walk out of the jetway.
He was dressed all in black, with the same leather trenchcoat
he'd worn everyday since he first got it. A stylish pair of sunglasses
hid his eyes, and his dark brown hair framed his hard, chiselled face.
Andrea smiled as she stood up. He looked much the same as he had
when he left Crusade; there was more of a purpose to the way he walked,
and the five years he'd aged since the last time she saw him looked more
like ten, but it was him. It was Alan Zachary.
Andrea started walking toward him, her gut still a weightless ball of
anxiety. It had been three days since he'd called her, asking her to pick
him up at the airport, and she still had no idea what she was going to
say to him. Five years since he just up and left the city for God knows
where, and now, just as suddenly, he was back in her life.
She didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Then he saw her. He didn't grin as she had when she saw him, but
Alan's face softened the slightest bit, agknowledging that he'd found her.
He turned on his heel and walked toward her, still not smiling, not even
trying to stifle one.
What is it, Al? Andrea thought. Something happened to you, didn't it?
While you were gone. Something's changed.
But Andrea pushed that thought away as she wrapped her arms around
her old friend and squeezed tight. Alan hugged her back, his embrace
strong and comforting, the kind of hug that let a person know they were
protected. It made Andrea long for the bygone days when that embrace
had been totally and soley hers.
"Been a long time, stranger," she said into his ear.
"Sure has," he said back. His voice was hard, gravelly. The voice
of a man far too old for his true age.
They pulld back and looked at each other, taking one another in.
Alan looked into Andrea's eyes, and they said it all: she'd thought
she'd never see him again, and was absolutely extatic that she was
wrong. And though he gave no sign of it, Alan felt the same thing for
The silence between the two ran on as they just gazed at each other, until
Andrea felt she should end the awkwardness. "So, um...how was your flight?"
Idiot! she scloded herself.
"Fine," Alan answered, gathering his composure. "I was in New
York for over a month before I came here. Nice place to visit, but
It was starting to get boring."
Andrea nodded. "Well, come on, my car's outside. Let's get you
reaquainted with your hometown, huh?"
They retrieved Alan's luggage, surprisingly little of it--three
suitcases and a briefcase--and brought it out to Andrea's car