Friday, February 26, 2016

Riders by Veronica Rossi

“Can you outrun destiny?”

Eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake cannot wait to finish high school and head to Fort Benning, Georgia. After finishing Basic Training, Advanced Infantry Training and Airborne School, Gideon ended up in RASP;  the gate way to becoming a US Army Ranger. He is determined to follow in his father's footsteps, even if it kills him. Turns out, it did.

Halfway through RASP, the class is taken for a parachute jump to keep their Airborne training fresh in their minds. Excited for his sixth jump and first without being weighed down by gear, Gideon experiences every jumpers worst nightmare. Neither his main or reserve chutes open, instead becoming tangled. Using his training, Gideon attempts to get his reserve chute to open. When he is finally successful, it is too late. His fall cannot be slowed down enough for a safe landing. Gideon’s mind flashes to the thought that he would die on the first anniversary of his father's death. Preparing to make his landing, the last thing Gideon hears is the bones in his left arm and leg breaking.

Gideon thinks he is dead but can hear the commotion going on around him as his friends try to save his life. He feels something clasp around his left wrist and life flows back into him. He wakes up a few days later in Walter Reed Medical Center and is discharged after only one week. Gideon is transferred home to Half Moon Bay, California to heal some more before the doctors decide what to do about his injuries. While at home things, begin to get weird for Gideon. Waking up one morning, Gideon is aware of how quiet the house is. After life in the noisy barracks, it is a little unsettling. He looks at his injuries and knows that beneath the clothes and air-casts, his body looks like a black and blue patchwork quilt. Gideon is angry that his recovery is expected to take up to a year. On strict orders to only move when necessary, his rage gets the best of him. Sitting up in bed, he waits for the pain to hit but it never does. Ditching his pain medication, he grabs a crutch to use with his unbroken arm. Gideon drags his injured body out of the house.

Once outside, Gideon sees his next door neighbor in her yard. Having treated him and his twin sister Anna like grandchildren, he knows the polite thing to do is speak. Calling him by name, Mrs. Collins drops the garden shears that she was holding. Attempting to apologize for scaring her, she begins to berate Gideon, calling him a liar and tells him to go on his way. Confused, he drags himself to the beach trail head. Gideon stops when he realizes there is no pain in neither his arm or leg. Thinking the doctors were way off on his recovery time, he sets himself a new target of six months to return to Benning. On the beach, Gideon spots the neighbor's dog, Jackson, who used to be his running partner. He calls the dog over but he stops ten feet from Gideon. With hackles raised and a low growl, it is as if the dog doesn’t recognize him. Jackson charges Gideon, who quickly loses his footing. Once he is back on the asphalt, Jackson stops and runs away when his owner calls.

Having had enough for one day, Gideon heads home. His mother reprimands him as soon as he comes through the door. Gideon finally gets her to quiet down when he agrees to go back to bed. He is puzzled over how much venom his mother’s words had. Laying in bed, Gideon realizes that he isn’t dragging his leg nor is he in any pain. He can wiggle his toes and realizes that he feels fine. His mom knocks on the door and apologizes. Seeing him up and moving around scared her. He is able to send her away before she can open the door. Gideon decides to look at his leg and takes his air-cast off. He is shocked to see only a few pale scars; no bruising or swelling. Gideon panics and unstraps the cast on his arm. It is completely healed, just like his leg. The only thing different is a two inch metal band around his wrist. Not recognizing the metal, it gives off a crimson glow when light hits it. Gideon doesn’t know what it is, how it got on him, or how he was even going to get it off. It is fastened tight.

Gideon wakes up the next morning to his  mother yelling on the phone. She comes to his room to tell him that she has been unexpectedly called into work. Anna will be there that evening to stay with him and Mrs. C can come over in the meantime. Gideon tries to refuse but is only successful in stopping Mrs. C from coming over. Anna has already made her plans. After his mother leaves, Gideon packs a bag and heads out to his Jeep. He drives to Cal Poly to stop his sister from coming home. When she doesn’t answer the door buzzer, he goes around back to see if he can climb into her dorm. Joy, Anna’s downstairs neighbor is on her balcony. Introducing themselves to each other, Joy immediately knows all about Anna’s Army brother. She invites him to a party at her place later that night and watches as Gideon climbs up to his sister’s room.

With her sliding door unlocked, Gideon enters her dorm and hears Anna crying behind as door. She is shocked to see her brother standing there. Anna questions him about his injuries and he tells her that they aren’t as bad as she has been led to believe. He wants to know why she is crying and is furious to learn that her ex boyfriend wants to get back together. Anna and Wyatt dated in high school but decided to take a mutual break once college started. Anna warns him that Wyatt is on his way over and there is a knock on the door. Anna lets Wyatt in. He isn’t happy to see Gideon and vice versa. Soon , Anna begins to get angry with Wyatt, slaps him across the  face and tells him to not come back. Afterwards, Anna cannot believe what she just did and locks herself in her room. Gideon cannot get her to open the door. He hears the front door open and doesn’t want to  have another bizarre social situation and leaves by the balcony for a head clearing run.

Running clears Gideon’s head and he tries to figure out what is going on. He healed super fast, he has a strange bracelet and it seems that his ability to make people angry just got better. Cooling down, he notices that the bracelet has a buzzing sensation on his wrist. He takes a rock and strikes it only to fall over. There is a high pitched screaming in his ears and the sound of hoofbeats. Out for what seems a few minutes, Gideon heads back to Anna’s place. He works on getting his temper in check before seeing his sister again. Noticing her brother’s physique, she questions him if something else is going on and the accident is just a cover. He denies it. She heads off to Joy’s party and will see him there. By the way, mom went ballistic when she heard Gideon was at her place. Alone, he pulls out his discharge papers and calls his doctor back at Walter Reed. She asks how he is doing and then Gideon gets to the point of his call. He asks her if anyone put a bracelet on his arm and she tells him that he doesn’t need a medical alert id. No, he asks, a healing bracelet. It’s not in his papers but a magnetic bracelet won’t help him with the extent of his injuries. She will see him next week for a follow up. Finding no information on mysterious bracelets on the Internet except in reference to super heroes, Gideon heads down to the party.

At the party, the guys there flash hostile looks and mutter about “G.I. Joe” under their breaths. Hanging out with Anna and her roommate Taylor, it isn’t long before Anna goes over to talk with Wyatt and Taylor sees someone else. Joy comes over and the two begin chatting. Gideon looks out to the balcony and sees a girl staring back at him with a determined look on her face. Joy asks him if he knows that girl. Gideon replies that he might and excuses himself. The girl comes up to him, looking super confident and Gideon tries to put on an air of confidence himself. Her gaze flickers to the band on his wrist. She tells him that he needs to come with her, right now. Gideon thinks that it is a pick up line but she tells him that she isn’t joking. They need to leave before he gets hurt. Looking confused, she realizes that he doesn’t know what’s going on or found the others. Joking, he stops when she places her hand on his arm and calls him by name. She introduces herself as Daryn and turns him towards the door. He is questioning her behavior when he runs into her back. She has stopped suddenly and the front door open to two guys and a girl. Gideon realizes that something bad is about to happen. Daryn tells him to run but Gideon is ready for some action.

Two guys and a girl are at the door and all breaks loose. The girl takes after Daryn and Gideon takes on the bigger guy. Strange things occur and Gideon is left wondering what is going on. Bloody and weakened from the fight, Anna is able to get the guy off of her brother. When the girl comes back saying that she lost Daryn, the guy looks at Gideon and tells him that he won’t be able to do anything. They leave. Gideon’s right hand is bloody and probably broken. He grabs the bat and takes off after the monster of a guy. Outside, Gideon doesn’t find them but does find Daryn. She is standing in his Jeep. he gets in and watches as Daryn hot wires it and races down the road.

Stopping at a deserted beach, Daryn asks for something to drink but Gideon is ready for answers. When he puts his hand on her, Daryn demands that he takes it off. He does and she gets out of the Jeep. She has her hand to her hand like she has a migraine and Gideon wants to know why she kidnapped him. He came willingly and she is not scared of him the way he thinks. Gideon is just looking for answers and she seems to know them. Daryn wasn’t prepared for him not to know. She blurts out that he is War. Gideon responds by saying he has been to war yet. Daryn tells him that he is War, the second rider from the book of Revelations. He has been given some of the abilities to carry out a specific task along with Conquest, Famine and Death.Gideon asks if she is Peace. No and he refers to her as crazy. Daryn shouts that she isn’t crazy and runs off.

What happened to Gideon when his parachute didn’t open? Why has his body healed at an incredible rate? What is the bracelet on his wrist and what does it do? Who is Daryn? Who was the guy that Gideon fought at the party? Is Gideon really the embodiment of War? What specific task is he suppose to carry out? Who are the remaining three riders?

Book two, Seeker, will be out in 2017 and wraps up the story.

Visit Veronica Rossi’s website.

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