The Enemies of Versailles
Release date: March 21, 2017
at Atria Books/Simon & Schuster
book reviews and good books for you to read
Release date: March 21, 2017
at Atria Books/Simon & Schuster
(history – nonfiction)
Release date: December 1, 2016
at Rowman & Littlefield
(SciFi/Fantasy – urban fantasy)
Release date: February 1, 2016
at Poyeen Publishing
is the author of two urban fantasy series
about superhumans called Weeia,
the Unelmoija Series in Miami
and the Marshals Series in Paris.
Growing up the only child of a monkey mother
and a rabbit father
she learned to keep herself entertained
and spend time reading.
Elle makes her home with her king cat husband in South Florida.
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Buy the book: on Amazon
“Marshal Metraeux, what a pleasure to see you,” Professor Hardley said with fake enthusiasm as I arrived out of breath by his side. “I trust our early morning appointment isn’t interfering with your busy social life. You have less than twenty minutes to complete the tasks.”
The arrogant disembodied voice of Professor Sonal sounded puny in the open space, “Why hurry on our account?”
I was glad she was there as an observer and it was Professor Hardley who was in charge of the exam. He wasn’t a fan of mine, but on the other hand, he didn’t appear to be biased against me either. If anyone would be fair it would be him. My enemy was time.
“Run,” Marla screamed at me, her face a mask of concern. “Go.”
I turned to Professor Hardley. He motioned with his hand toward the marker for Start. I ran as fast as I could, forgetting all about the anxiety about my uniform I had felt that morning.
The test required me to find the “rogue person,” and capture him or her with my marshals collar while avoiding the other Weeia in the field, one from each henki, whose job it would be to stop me from catching my quarry within the time limit, half of what I should have had if someone hadn’t pranked me. Weeia abilities were related to one of four henkis, Emotional, Material, Mental, and Temporal. Each player was supposed to rely on her ingenuity and particular ability.
In preparation for the final Marla and I had practiced every type of attack we could imagine. My friend Ernie, who worked at the academy, and a few first year marshals Marla had befriended helped set mock attacks of various kinds. We struggled the least with the “assailants” from our own henkis. Marla had trouble getting through the course. When she did it took her double the minutes allotted for the exam. From the beginning, I made it with time to spare so we dedicated a lot of energy to preparing her to speed up through the course. During the practice test there were many variables we couldn’t anticipate.
As I ran toward the first area of cover a feeling of dread and despair flooded my mind. It was a kind of whispering, filling me with a sense of failure, convincing me I wouldn’t pass the test, telling me it was too late. When I entered a small copse of trees, I saw a figure sending out the emotional henki blast I was feeling. I couldn’t afford to slow down so I launched myself at the figure, lashing out with a flying kick and follow up punch that knocked my opponent out cold. The moment the person dropped unmoving the debilitating emotions faded.
Regaining my clear head allowed me to think about next steps. The words of one of my instructors popped into my head unbidden, “Where there is one assailant you can expect others.” Of course I knew that, but I was in such a hurry I had forgotten for an instant. I didn’t have the luxury to dawdle. I would have to find a way to flush the attacker out in a hurry. I cast an illusion of myself collaring the suspect and leading him away. It prompted another one of my opponents to expose herself, thinking I had already completed my goal. I could tell from a quick glance at my badge I had flushed the temporal henki out from hiding.
As I ran along the path toward the far side of the grounds, the Weeia with temporal ability realized what had happened and threw a slow time field in front of me. I felt it forming and spun, focusing all my strength and hurling an energy burst at her. Perhaps she was not expecting it because it was an advanced technique I had mastered in my hours of extra training.
While other students were enjoying the distractions downtown Portland offered I had to save my pennies so I studied and practiced all I could. For most students moving up the ranks was a matter of pride and family tradition. For me it was more. I had to pass the exam. The job and salary raise would come in handy, not to mention the added self-esteem that came with the promotion. It was more than that. I had to prove to myself and to everyone else that I was a good marshal.
My reaction disrupted her grip on the time field, freeing me to keep moving. I ran as fast as my legs would carry me. I couldn’t keep her from using the same tactic again, but if I was out of range it wouldn’t matter.
That meant two henki attacks down and the possibility of two more to go. I wanted to look at my watch to see how much time was left, but that would only make me nervous. Keep your eye on the ball or in this case the field, I told myself.
The path in front of me split into three, straightforward and off to the left and right. Soon after I turned left I felt the expenditure of Weeia energy. Using my badge, I realized I had been fooled by a mental henki into going in the wrong direction. When I backtracked I spotted a small object on the ground emitting Weeia energy. It was the cause of my confusion. It took me less than two minutes to find a large rock and smash it. That suppressed it, ending my disorientation.
I knew I was nearing my target when a material henki made of a stone like substance appeared, blocking my way. Although I had heard there were Weeia capable of transforming themselves that way, I had never seen one. It was rare and required considerable energy, from what I knew. While I was interested in knowing more, the situation didn’t lend itself to introductions and social chitchat. The stone being was ready to engage. Hand-to-hand combat with such a creature was nearly impossible to win thanks to its large size and hard to hurt exterior.
I was wondering if I could get around the thing when it caught me in a bear hug. Its dry earth scent reached my nostrils at the same instant it squeezed me tight, making it hard to breathe. When I tried to break loose I felt its tough skin, rough against mine, with an unshakable strength. Thoughts of dread, losing the exam, and failure circled me, but I was too busy trying to escape to notice. It was as if time had stopped, all that mattered was the being and me, locked together. Our relationship at that moment was not of combatants so much as captive and captor.
In my desperate efforts for release somehow I found a tiny opening in its midriff. Poking my pinky through I discovered it was ticklish. It loosened a smidgen as I stroked it with the tip of my little finger. Realizing it would take more than a fraction of an inch of contact for the being to release its iron grip I focused my ability on tickling it. I threw an illusion of thousands of feathers making their way through the opening, brushing against the thing’s sensitive middle. I thought of the feel of them against its body, the urge to giggle, and in particular the intense desire to let go to make the tickling cease. Its hold loosened a tiny bit.
Once I had enough ease of movement, I pulled a small packet from my pocket and blew at one end of the tube, sending white powder into its face and causing it to sneeze. In the process of sneezing it transformed back to a rather surprised Weeia man. His nose was scrunched and his mouth open in preparation for the next spasm.
His grip loosened enough for me to make my move. Summoning all my might I kicked him between the legs, and pushed him down and away from me. His features expanded in a grimace as he howled, and bent forward to protect his genitals from further harm. I mouthed “sorry,” before running past him as fast as I could.
I relied on my training to find my exam target. Before I saw him, I knew he was near.
“There you are,” I blurted when I spotted my quarry.
I confirmed on my badge that he was my target. He looked startled as he stood steps away from me on the path. He must have been expecting a different outcome, confident I would lose. As a happy coincidence the fake quarry was in real life someone I disliked. He was a nasty piece of work who enjoyed belittling the staff whenever he thought nobody would notice. I felt no hesitation as I took him down with a bola and snapped the collar on, seconds before the final horns sounded the end of the exercise.
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