Title: Timekeeper Rising
Author: Allyssa Painter
Series Status: The Timekeeper Duo #1
Publication Date: August 1st 2015
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Young Adult
Fifty years ago, the sky cried acid and the earth vomited poison, all due to human destruction. Desperate for a savior, the people called out to the Shunned, a group of Fallen angels on Earth, and allowed them to take over. Now the Shunned rule with unspeakable cruelty, manipulating and torturing the humans in every possible way. Marked for death, Iris Ankea will do anything to end their tyranny and rescue her brother and best friend from their clutches. When she learns that she is God’s chosen Timekeeper and has the power to defeat the Shunned, she sets out with the only man who can help her, the one she thinks just might kill her. With a prophecy about her drawing ever near, Iris must race against time to discover her powers before the world, and her life, end. Can Iris force herself to embrace her role and sacrifice herself to save everyone she loves, or will she lose it all?
“Can I help you?” she asked in a polite voice, staring the man down, pretending that she had not already embedded her dagger deep into his thigh and did not currently work through ways to gain the advantage. She took mental inventory as she stared the man down, watching for any move he may choose to make. She carried no weapons, while he carried many. He seemed built for sheer strength, while Iris possessed a thin, wiry body, though she had strengthened it. He possessed at least some sort of power since he could deflect her dagger somewhat. Iris had powers too, but they were undeveloped and mostly still a complete mystery to her. So, what could she do to protect herself? How could she win this battle?
The man sneered at her, looking down at her both literally and figuratively. “Yes, you can. If you’d like to just, oh, I don’t know, die at my feet, that’d be awesome. Thanks.” The man smiled scathingly, revealing two rows of decaying teeth.
Iris did not even wince, though inwardly she cringed at his disgusting mouth. “No, sorry, I just don’t think that’s going to happen today. Maybe try again tomorrow. Or you know, don’t.” She smiled sweetly as she suddenly spun, bringing a roundhouse kick to the man’s stomach. He stumbled backward a few steps and snarled. He stayed on his feet but he bent over for a long moment to catch his breath. Iris laughed. “What? You didn’t expect a little thing like me to pack a punch? Or rather, a kick? Oh, sorry. I do so hate to disappoint.”
The man once again stood tall and began to step toward Iris. She stepped away. He stepped to the side. She countered. Iris contradicted every move he made, the two circling each other. He yanked her dagger out of his thigh and allowed the blood to seep. “Apparently I will have the pleasure to kill you with your own dagger.”
In one movement, he stepped to the left, forcing Iris to counter even as he shoved the dagger toward her heart. She moved more quickly than he and thus earned a slice across her upper right ribcage. She grunted in pain but did not soften her blow. Instead, she shot forward, shoving her right palm to his nose and up. She tried not to wince at the crunching sound his nose made. She did not care for hurting others but she would defend herself and her family until her dying breath. No one would touch them. As the man recovered from the blow to his nose, Iris stepped forward once more and reached for her dagger. He waved his hand and sent her flying.
With a thump, Iris landed against a nearby tree. She fought to catch her breath as he grinned, those rotten teeth gleaming out at her. He stalked toward her, a glinting pistol in hand. She pushed herself into a standing position as she tentatively reached out with her mind. She caught snippets, just pieces about her position as the Timekeeper and her lack of weapons. She silently cursed herself for leaving the cabin without them. She knew better. Zander had taught her better.
As the stranger loomed toward her, she forced herself to forget about the pain in her body. She focused on the matter at hand and how she could fix it. But that was the problem. How could she fix it? Few options presented themselves and the few that did were unseemly. Iris gritted her teeth and faced the man attempting to murder her, a virtual stranger. She wondered what could possess someone to track down a stranger and murder them in cold blood without the stranger ever harming them or anyone, for that matter. She should ask Sage. On her own, she could not comprehend it. She could understand if she had killed someone the man loved or something. But she hadn’t. And he did not care.
The man once again began the dance of stepping ever closer, each step just a bit to the side. Iris mirrored his movements, once again circling. Her mind raced, trying to win this fight before it fully began. Stall, stall, stall, her mind told her. Give up, you’ll never win, her body replied. There is no victory without a battle, her heart countered. The words steadied her. “Tell me, why did you come? What have I, a teenager, done to someone like you, a man of your stature, to warrant this, this attempted murder? Why do you bother with me?”
The man laughed, a cruel, evil laugh. “Little Timekeeper, you know as well as I why I intend to murder you. And believe me, dear, this is no attempt. I shall succeed. I always do.”
Iris smiled. “I must disagree with you there, sir. Fate has already woven a far different tale. I shall not die this day. I do apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.” She grinned again, a scathing grin meant to match his own. He lunged at her, but she had been prepared for that. As he stepped forward she dropped to the ground, delivering her own low swinging kick, knocking his feet out from under him.
Iris watched the man topple with a satisfied sigh as she stood and moved to ready herself for another attack. She knew she mostly bought time. If she could keep him from pulling that trigger, eventually she could knock the weapon away from him or snag her own. Or, hopefully, Sage or Sara would come looking for her and bring a weapon. She could not really see Cassian coming to her aid, but hopefully one of the others would. She desperately needed help and she knew it.
As Iris backed away from the man, he rose to his feet. “You insolent girl, do you really hope to defeat me? You would need an army and I see no army. How do you intend to beat me?”
Iris wondered the same question as the man lumbered toward her once more. How did she intend to escape this situation?