Lawless Magic Sample

Chapter 1

He looked like hard liquor wrapped in a bottle of fine wine. Chaz had been in a cave fighting for his life the first time we’d met. He’d just destroyed one of the most powerful known universes and was recovering from his injuries.

I’d helped with that recovery. Chaz been a sight to behold at the time, broken and bloody. He didn’t remember me from then. He’d been out of it those first few days. Chaz had also had a boyfriend. Clink. That relationship hadn’t lasted, though. Clink had gone back to his ex-boyfriend Glone.

I’d helped take care of Chaz. Clink and their other friends had been too injured to move. At the time, I hadn’t known him well. Chaz was good friends with my cousin Rekia. She loved him, cared for him deeply. Which told me a lot about his character. Back in that cave, the first face he’d seen when he’d opened his eyes had been mine.

A spark had lit then. For me, anyway. I often thought about the time we’d spent in that cave because I hadn’t been able to get him out of my mind since.

Chaz was blunt, honest, raw, and fiercely loyal. All qualities I admired in a person. He lived by a code and he didn’t alter it for anyone.

He’d been in that cave for three weeks recovering from his injuries. I’d gone there every day until my cousin Rekia had finally regained consciousness. She’d been greatly hurt at the time, as well.

I leaned back in my chair. It’d been over a year since I’d met Chaz, but the fire for him still burned deeply in my gut.

I heard a tap at my office door. I looked at the screen on my wall, the one that showed me the space outside my office. My first in command stood in front of my door.

 I pushed the button to open the door for him and stood, looking around. My office was the size of a small living room with wine-colored carpet and mauve walls, a simple space.

I didn’t keep much in here, besides my desk, my computer, and a few shelves and filing cabinets. I only needed the basics to get me through the day.

Most who came into my office said it smelled like musk. They didn’t like it. They called it cold and unfriendly. I moved some papers around on my desk. They were entitled to their opinions, but it worked just fine for me.

I stood at attention while I waited for my first in command to enter, wondering if something urgent had happened. I was supposed to meet Chaz on his homeworld today. I hoped those plans wouldn’t be delayed. I was head Goblet in Julem’s military. On Rekia’s homeworld, that would make me a General.

If something of importance had come up, I’d have to postpone my trip. The safety of my homeworld Julem depended on me stopping all threats, real or imagined.

Jay came through the door with a stack of papers in his hand. I’d always admired Jay’s foresight and his ability to tear down every single situation to the barest details. He was a good person to have on staff.

While some could hide it, Jay had Julem military written all over him. His tall six-foot-three frame almost matched my six-foot-five one. His head, like mine, stayed completely bald.

Also, like me, his shoulders were broad, thick. Being a part of Julem’s military ensured we stayed in top shape. I looked at his dark black skin. Chaz’s ex-boyfriend, Clink, had skin the same color. Mine was more of a golden brown. Chaz, on the other hand, looked like he’d never seen the sun a day in his life. His skin was incredibly pale.

Jay stood in front of my desk. “Hey, Rusty. Just some papers for you to sign.”

“Leave them,” I said. “I’m on my way to Crimson. You know how to get in touch if you need me.”

Jay nodded and left the room. I adjusted my collar, then opened a portal to Crimson, Chaz’s homeworld. Even though I knew Chaz would be underground, I opened it up top.

I wouldn’t go to underground Crimson. From my cousin Rekia, I understood it to be a network of tunnels where Crimson’s criminal element or those who’d been rejected by society lived.

After committing too many crimes, mostly robbery, Chaz had lived underground for years. Chaz was scared to come up top. He’d been kicked off his homeworld Crimson after committing to many crimes. He’d been told to never come back again, but I’d already arranged it so no law enforcement would harm him.

He’d still insisted on meeting me in an alley around the corner from his parents’ house. I knew a lot of his siblings still lived at home, including his sister Rowan, whom Chaz was particularly fond of.

The alleyway was dusty and small. My nose wrinkled, trying to push unpleasant scents away. It smelled like a sewer had thrown up in this very spot.

I heard a squeak and looked down. Small, crimson-colored rats ran by my feet. I watched them go. I didn’t like rats, but I knew they couldn’t harm me.

I turned back around and adjusted my jacket. We were headed to a freezing world and I hoped Chaz had brought adequate attire.

This would be the first time in his adult life he’d had a job. Clink and Glone now had jobs too. They offered their services as re-creators. A re-create was when you reconstructed a scene that’d happened an hour ago or maybe ten thousand years ago.

If you wanted to know the truth about a situation, then a re-create was invaluable. Law enforcement agencies often called re-creators when they saw no other option. Re-creators often charged a few million for their services, so they were only used as a last resort.

But it was easy to tell who the murderer was when the scene unfolded right before your eyes. Big companies and corporations also benefited from having re-creators on the payroll.

They usually paid well, so it was a good way to earn a comfortable living. Chaz’s abilities worked differently. Chaz could tap into a person’s power and take it as his own. But if that person was missing at least twenty-five percent of their power, Chaz could read everything about their life.

He could also tell what type of powers a person had by just being around them for a second. He could tell if they were lying, being honest, or what their true intent really was. He could lock onto a person’s power and bring them to him.

Chaz had a job on Mayre. He’d be working for a company that dealt with stocks and bonds. There was some insider trading going on. By this point, all of the employees were missing at least twenty-five percent of their powers. Mostly from waring themselves down, trying to prove their innocence. Chaz would go in, read their powers, and point out who the real culprit was.

 This was his first day. Mayre was a gritty world. A bit lawless at times, but nothing Chaz couldn’t handle. Still, I wanted to be there with him in case the guilty party attacked, and the situation got out of control.

“Rusty. Been waiting long?” Chaz's voice was rough, raw. Something I really liked about him.

“Not at all.” I turned around to see him standing behind me. He had a coat gripped tightly in his hand and his red hair was combed back, away from his face. A red sun shone down on Crimson and since everything here was varying shades of red, Chaz’s pale skin stood out a lot.

Chaz was a few inches shorter than me, his head coming to my shoulders. Standing in that alleyway, his eyes darted around suspiciously, almost like he was waiting to be attacked.

“Everything alright?” I asked, hoping to ease some of his tension.

He’d never had a job before. He and most of his siblings usually stole whatever they wanted. Chaz said it was how their parents had raised them. That’s why he and his brother Kirk were now subjected to living underground.

He gripped his coat tighter. “Let’s just get this over with.”

The company he worked for would’ve gladly sent a portal opener to pick him up, then bring him back when his work was done. Portal opening wasn’t a skill most could do.

Portal openers were highly sought after. On my homeworld Julem, everyone could open portals. It wasn’t unheard of for portal openers to get kidnapped and be forced to work against their will. That’s why we Julems kept the location and name of our world a secret.

People often got confused. Opening a portal to an alternate universe wasn’t the same as opening a portal to another planet. We weren’t planet-hopping. We didn’t go up in space. We simply stepped into an alternate reality. The number of worlds were infinite and each one offered something unique and different.

Chaz rubbed his hands on his jeans, a determined look on his face. I reached out, hoping to set his mind at ease. The scent of hazelnut mixed with soil hit my nose.

I moved closer, fighting the urge to sniff around his neck. Hazelnut and soil were Chaz’s natural scent. I inhaled deeply. The deliciousness of the smell had me closing my eyes. It was truly intoxicating.

After a couple of seconds, I opened my eyes and continued forward. It wasn’t proper for me to become so utterly enthralled in the middle of an alleyway. I had better control than that. Well, I used to until Chaz had come into my life. What a wonderment the other man was.

He watched me approach him and I could see the fire burning in his eyes.

I also saw trepidation. We’d been tap dancing around the bedroom for the last six months, but I understood Chaz’s need to go slow. I also respected it. He needed time. Jumping from one relationship into another was never a good idea.

I let him set the pace for our relationship and that was alright with me. I was in no hurry. Chaz’s comfort level mattered more than anything else.

In my thirty-three years of life, Chaz would be my third relationship. The first had lasted three years, the other two months. Both relationships had been okay in the beginning, but then I’d gotten bored, tired.

Toward the end of those relationships, whenever I was with my partner, I’d felt a great need to get away, to be free. Finally, I’d had to end things before we both became too miserable to part as friends.

I’d always felt that a small piece was missing in those relationships. I’d felt that something else was out there for me. With Chaz I felt complete, whole, like that missing piece had finally clicked into place.

 I ran my fingers over the fabric of his coat. It was hard, rough, just like him. “We’ve still got a couple of hours before you’re due at work,” I said. “How about we grab something to eat?”

Chaz shrugged. “I got butterflies dancing with lions in my stomach and you want me to eat.”

“Maybe a glass of wine will relax you,” I said.

He snorted. “Probably a beer would.”

I laughed and figured he was likely right. “Come on. I’ll take you to my home on Buge.” I had houses on multiple worlds. Most of my family did.

If we went to a world we enjoyed, we oftentimes just bought a house there. It was quicker and easier to come back for repeated trips that way. You could say it was a hobby of ours.

Chaz nodded his approval. “Buge. That’s the world where people live on the water and dragons fly through the sky, right?”

I shook my head and laughed. Even though most saw him as wild and raw, there was an innocence about Chaz that most never took the time to see. His society had written him off as a no-good crook. His parents were raging alcoholics and most of his siblings had learn to steal if they wanted a full belly for the night.

I gave him a long stare. He was so much more than that. I’d seen the undeniable intelligence in his eyes the first time he’d opened them and looked at me. Chaz was amazing and I pitied anyone who’d let him slip through their fingers.

I raised my hand and opened a portal. Blue and orange twirling light danced before our eyes. “Buge is not quite all that,” I said before we stepped through. “Well, maybe a little.”   

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