The Bones of Valhalla (Purge of Babylon, Book 9)

The Bones of Valhalla
Book 9 in the Babylon Series
Sam Sisavath

The Bones of Valhalla

Copyright © 2016 by Sam Sisavath

All rights reserved.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Published by Road to Babylon Media LLC

www.roadtobabylon.com

Edited by Jennifer Jensen & Wendy Chan

Cover Art by Deranged Doctor Design

About The Bones of Valhalla

F
or every night
, there is a new dawn.

One night. That was all it took for the world to be forever changed. Creatures that once lived in the shadows rose, spreading like a plague across the globe, swallowing whole cities and collapsing unprepared governments.

Survivors call it The Purge.

In the months since, every night has been a struggle against the supernatural terrors that thrive in the darkness. The days are no better, with constant battles against human traitors that have chosen to serve the new overlords.

But an end to the nightmare is finally at hand.

Mercer’s army is in disarray, and Danny and Gaby have returned to the
Trident
with precious cargo. Meanwhile, Keo is a marked man behind enemy lines, and Lara once again finds herself tested as the answer she and the other survivors have been waiting for is finally revealed.

In the finale to
The Purge of Babylon
series, the future of mankind is at stake. Sacrifices will be made and heroes will be forged, and the road to Babylon will be paved with the deeds of the brave…and the Bones of the dead.

The Completed Purge of Babylon Series
(Recommended Reading Order)

T
he Purge of Babylon
: A Novel of Survival

The Gates of Byzantium

The Stones of Angkor

The Walls of Lemuria: The Keo Storyline

The Fires of Atlantis

The Ashes of Pompeii

The Isles of Elysium

The Spears of Laconia

The Horns of Avalon

The Bones of Valhalla

Acknowledgements

T
o everyone
who picked up a copy of
The Purge of Babylon,
despite the fact it was written by a nobody, then decided to keep reading all the way up to
The Bones of Valhalla
, you’re the reason I’m able to write for a living and I will never be able to fully thank you. But I’ll try anyway: Thank you, thank you,
THANK YOU
.

S
pecial thanks to George Bardmesser
, Davis G., L. Chow, Stephen Schumacher, Tim Kilner, Naomi F., and Elizabeth Stang for everything you guys do.

Book One
With Enemies Like These
1
Lara


I
s it him
?”

“Yeah, it’s him.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah.”

“Danny, are you
sure?

“I’ve spent enough time in a foxhole with the guy—then there were all the times we were in the Stan. Bottom line? Sure enough to stuff him into an ancient-ass-looking chest and drag him all the way out here across the ocean. That sure enough for ya?”

“But you have to be
absolutely sure
.”
Because I don’t want to go through this again. Not now, not after I’ve already accepted him being gone. I don’t think I can do it, Danny; I can’t go through it again. I
won’t.

She stared through the open door into the cabin where Gage used to reside
(before I shot him and we threw his body overboard)
. It was musty and smelled of abandonment, but maybe that had more to do with the window being sealed up and the lack of fresh air than anything else.

She couldn’t pry her eyes away from the sole object in the room. If she didn’t know it was there—all thirty-by-eighteen-by-twenty inches of it—she wouldn’t have been able to see it. They had deposited it—an old chest that looked like it might hold some unimaginable treasure—against the back corner. Even if they hadn’t blotted out the window, it would have been difficult to make out the object from the shadows. It was constructed of thick, heavy wood, but that wasn’t immediately obvious with all the duct tape mummifying it—Danny’s way of ensuring not even the smallest ray of sunlight could penetrate it.

And he was in there.

Will.

She hadn’t said his name out loud since the chest was brought onboard, and not when Danny led her down here while giving a rundown of what they (he and Gaby and Nate) had gone through last night in the small Texas town of Gallant. Maybe she was afraid of what would happen if she let his name slip out. It felt like another lifetime since she had last seen him, since she had held him and kissed him, before she finally surrendered to reality and forced herself to move on with the rest of her life.

And now here he was.

But he’s not really Will anymore, is he? He hasn’t been Will in a while. Out there, alone, while I gave him up for dead…

Next to her, Danny was picking at a speck of dirt clinging to his dirty blond hair. Danny, like Gaby and Nate, hadn’t escaped Texas unscathed. They were bruised and battered and wounded, but Danny had managed to come through it mostly, well, Danny. The fact that he was here standing next to her onboard the
Trident
when there were so many nights where she didn’t think she would ever see him again made all the difference in the world. It also greatly eased her mind, because if she’d lost him out there, it would have been her fault. After all, she was the one who had sent him back to Texas on a fool’s errand in the first place.

How did you do it, Will? How did you manage so much with so little help from the rest of us for all those months?

“It’s him, Lara,” Danny was saying. “I made sure of it. He knows things only Willie boy would know.”

“I believe you, Danny,” she said quietly, and thought,
It’s him, but is it
really
him? How long has he stopped being
him?

She didn’t know what to do, what to say, or even what to feel at the moment. There was so much emotion roiling inside her, but she couldn’t be certain about a single one of them. That uncertainty, more than anything, dominated her senses, though somewhere in there was the desperate urge to turn around and
(run)
walk away.

Is that really you in there, Will? After all these months? Have you really come back to me?

Danny was sure. Really, really sure. And yet, the ghouls could play tricks with your mind, make you do and think, even believe things that weren’t true. But maybe the most painful part was that she wasn’t sure if she
wanted
this to be true.

Will. Her Will.

Back, after all these months. Except it wasn’t
really
him.

“You said he was hurt?” she asked, managing to keep her voice calm, even steady somehow. Her legs remained still, every inch of her fighting the intense need to flee up the hallway.

“Yeah, he took a real beating last night,” Danny said. “A hell of a mess. Honestly, I didn’t think he was even going to survive, but he pulled through. That’s Willie boy for ya; he doesn’t know the meaning of the words ‘No means no.’”

“That’s a phrase, Danny.”

“Same diff.”

“Okay,” Lara said, and took a step back.

Danny did likewise, and she closed the door but didn’t lock it. Since the mess with Gage, they had put a heavy deadbolt on the door with the intention of using it as a brig. She wished she could have said it was needless paranoia, but all she had to do was recall what they had gone through the last few nights, and she knew it wasn’t. With so many people on the yacht now, the chances were good she was going to need it soon—she just hadn’t counted on its first visitor to be someone she knew. Someone she had been waiting for. Even longed for all these months…

Will.

Is that really you in there?

She leaned against the hallway wall and wondered if he could still hear them out here through the thick door. The blue eyes were different from the black-eyed ones, according to everyone who had encountered them. They were faster, stronger, and hyperaware of their surroundings. Could they hear through walls, too? Could he hear the faltering beats of her heart right now? Or sense the doubt in every word she spoke, in her every movement?

You were dead, Will. And I accepted it and moved on.

Goddamn you, you’re supposed to be
dead.

“Who else knows?” she asked.

“I told the kids to keep it mum,” Danny said. “But Carly knows. The BBs know it, too.”

“BBs?”

“Blaine and Bonnie.”

“Oh.”

“Pretty much just the ones that came to get us when we showed up.”

“Did anyone see you bring it onboard?”

“Unfortunately, yeah. I guess I underestimated the amount of civvies crawling all over the place. Carly told me the ol’ tugboat’s gotten a lot more crowded since the last time, and I didn’t expect to get back onboard all ninja-like. Would have been better to wait until dark to bring it back, but…”

“Gaby and Nate needed Zoe’s help.”

“Yeah. Couldn’t wait too long. Both those kids were touch and go there for a while.”

“What about you?” she asked. She could still smell the gunpowder on his clothes, in his hair. He had brought her straight down here after returning to the
Trident.

“Scratches, bruises, a few tender bones. Nothing to get too excited about. Just more character for the ladies.”

“We need to keep it from Riley’s people. They don’t know him the way we do. We need to keep the circle tight—which means just us.”

Danny nodded. “Agreed. But like I said, people saw us bring it onboard. They’re liable to wonder about it. Curiosity killed the cat, and all that.”

“We’ll deal with it if it becomes a problem.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Danny said. Then, “What about you?”

“What about me?”

“It’s a lot to take in. It took me a few days to just open the figurative door into the possibility of accepting it was even him, and I never slept with the guy—long, lonely nights in foxholes in the Stan notwithstanding.”

I don’t know, Danny. I had convinced myself he was dead, that he wasn’t coming back and I had to move on.

And I did. I moved on, Danny.

God help me, I moved on…

“When did you know for sure?” she asked instead.

“Not until Gallant, but I had my suspicions before then,” Danny said. Like her, he hadn’t taken his eyes off the cabin door. “The first time was in the airfield outside Larkin. It wasn’t him, then. Not really.”

“Meaning?”

“It gets a little confusing, but bear with me.”

“Go on…”

“He had taken over one of the black eyes in Larkin.”

“They can do that?”

“Pretty easily, apparently. From what he tells me, the black eyes are like puppets moving on an almost base intelligence. Eat, sleep, stay out of the light. That kind of stuff.”

“So how did you know it was him? Will?”

“I didn’t, not back then. It’s hard to explain, but I thought there was something different about those black eyes. Then came Starch, when he actually made contact. I still wasn’t completely sure. At least, not until Gallant.”

“That’s when you talked to him…”

“Yup. We had a nice, long conversation. Hours and hours of gabbing. Well, mostly by me, but he eventually grew his lips back and contributed to the convo.”

“What did he tell you?” she asked.

Did he say why he waited so long to make contact? Why he let me think he was dead all this time?

“He’s been a real busy bee out there,” Danny said. “Making a real nuisance of himself. So much so that the bad guys laid a mousetrap for him.”

“At Gallant.”

“Right-o. And we were the cheese. A very attractive and not-at-all stinking cheese, I might add.”

“What else did he tell you?”

“A lot of things. You should talk to him, Lara. He can explain it a whole lot better than I can.”

“Explain what?”

“He says he’s found a way to win the war.”

“Win the war…?”

“Yeah. Win the war. Save the world. Give humanity a second chance. You know, all the good stuff we’ve been waiting for.”

“How?”

“The way he laid it out for me, it sounds doable. It won’t be easy—hell, it’s borderline impossible unless we get a lot more help—but when have overwhelming odds ever stopped us before? I call it Plan G.”

“What’s the
G
stand for?”

“Really? You have to ask?”

“Oh,” Lara said.

“I repeat: He can explain everything much better than I can. You know him; even his backup plans have backup plans. If I didn’t know what I know or seen what I’ve seen, I wouldn’t have believed a word of it.”

“But you do…”

“Absolutely.”

“How sure are you?”

“Pretty damn sure.”

“All right.”

“You want me to stay with while you talk to him?”

She shook her head. “Not yet.”

“Lara, it’s him. It’s Will.”

Maybe
, she thought, but said, “I’m not ready yet, Danny,” and turned and walked up the hallway, picking up her pace as she went, needing to get away—as far away—from the cabin as possible.

Behind her, Danny snapped the deadbolt into place over the door. Then a second later there was just her labored breathing dominating everything, even the roar of the engines grinding away around her.

* * *

S
he moved
through the main deck, maneuvering around people whose names she didn’t know and children whose faces she didn’t recognize. Riley’s people were everywhere, and eventually she would get used to it, but right now it didn’t seem as if there was a hallway or room or turn where there wasn’t a stranger waiting to almost bump into her.

Most of Riley’s people stuck to the lower and main decks, but it was hard to keep track of everyone with so many onboard at the same time. The upside was that everyone seemed to be cooperating with the rules she’d laid down, and even the kids stayed away from the bridge and upper deck as ordered. She could make out pockets of conversation as she walked through them, but her thoughts were too jumbled to pay any attention.

By the time she reached her destination, Lara had shaken off some of the cobwebs that had lingered during the seemingly endless walk. She knocked on the strip of tan gaffer’s tape someone had slapped on the door and scribbled
Dr. Zoe, M.D.
on it in permanent marker.

“It’s not locked,” a voice called from the other side.

Lara stepped inside. They had remodeled the place into something that actually looked like an infirmary, complete with cots and all the medical supplies and equipment they had been smart enough to stock up with before Song Island fell. The rest came from the
Ocean Star.

Zoe was across the room, tapping on a tablet when she looked up. “Visiting time’s not for another hour.”

“I’m going to have to insist,” Lara said.

“Hey, boss’s prerogative.”

Zoe nodded over at Gaby, who was lying on one of the beds with her shoulder wrapped. The teenager looked over and smiled, and Lara returned it.

They didn’t have hospital gowns, but Gaby was in the next best thing—pajamas and a long-sleeve cotton shirt. She’d been cleaned up, but her eyes were glassy from the medication. The bruising and cuts along her face would stay for a little while longer, but they would heal along with the hole in her left shoulder. Or, as Danny put it,
“A going away present from this thoroughly unpleasant little midget we ran across in Texas.”

“How’re you doing, kiddo?” Lara asked as she sat down on a stool next to Gaby’s bed.

“Annoyed,” Gaby said.

“Why annoyed?”

“Because I was shot and I’m lying in here, but Nate was shot too, and he’s already running around out there.”

“Your boyfriend didn’t need me to pull a bullet out of him like you did,” Zoe said. “And you’re due for another dose soon, by the way.”

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