Having secret powers have made her both a hero and a target.
From the moment Silke donned the mask of her alter-ego Karma, she’s faced difficult challenges. Now, even having full control of her powers cannot prepare her for the chaos that is coming.
Branded an enemy by the people she sought to protect, Silke goes on the run. With nowhere left to turn, it takes a surprise call from her greatest enemy to bring her back. Together, they’ll try to stop a massive threat to the city without tearing each other apart in the process.
In the hour of her greatest battle, Silke will face difficult choices she may never recover from. Can she clear her name and save the world, or does certain doom await? Pick up your copy of Khaos to find out!
The conclusion to Silke’s Strike Force is an action-packed, superhero showdown that you deserve.
It was a quiet morning inside the offices at Duke’s Defenders, and that made Silke Butters even more uneasy. The screams in her mind subsided for the moment, but the images still haunted her memory. The team started late the previous evening at the home of colleague Dash King. They tried hard to locate Silke’s sister Honey through a telepathic connection. But every time Silke attempted to reach out, all she could see were random images. Shouting and bedlam fell over the streets, resulting in full-fledged chaos. The shadow of a monster cast over the crowd below. No sign of Honey anywhere. Stonewalled and exhausted, they tabled their efforts until morning. At sunrise, Silke was the first one up and into the office. She let the others sleep in after such a rough night.
When she woke, Joe was curled up with his daughter Niki. The two of them looked so peaceful together she didn’t have the heart to rouse them. Instead, she bounced a light kiss off of their cheeks and headed out.
Dash had been nice enough to give up his bed for the three of them. Silke found him stretched out on the couch clutching a picture of his own daughter Cleo to his chest. Covering him up with a blanket, she slipped out quietly.
Silke felt for Dash. His daughter had been lured into working for the domestic terrorist group, The Sin Squad on the promise of power. They’d mutilated her mind and her powers until she no longer answered to anything but the alias they gave her: Avarice. She was dangerous and deceptive, but still Dash believed he could redeem his daughter.
Standing in the office by herself, the images of the previous night still plagued her mind. She buried her head in her hands hoping to drive them away, but the memory remained. Her chest felt heavy and her hands were shaky as she entered the clinic portion of the office. Silke envisioned so many great accomplishments when she initially proposed the expansion. She wanted to make Duke’s Defenders a safe space for other powered people. That included a clinic where they could gain a better understanding of their powers.
No two people exhibited the same power structure from taking the cell enhancer serum. Even though Silke’s powers came from birth, she knew she would’ve been lost without the guidance of Joe. She wanted to do the same for others like her.
With the combined efforts of the team, Silke hoped to help the Enhanced integrate back into society to live as normal of a life as they could. To say she’d faced setbacks with that vision was an understatement.
So far, they had only used the clinic for the strike force themselves. Dash helped Joe to rein in his powers when they raged out of control, and he would need to do the same for Silke now.
She wasn’t a Mentalist like her father. Until now Silke’s powers leaned more towards her mother’s physical attributes. So, the onslaught of images in her mind were causing her great distress.
It took hours of deep breathing and meditation to purge the chaos from Silke’s mind enough to let her get some sleep. Now they were back again, and worse than ever.
The pounding in her mind didn’t relax with aspirin or self-massage. Silke could barely even keep food down. Instead, she scoured the clinic looking for something that would make the pain subside.
Dash had done a magnificent job of building out the clinic. But Silke didn’t understand any of what she was looking at. Her knowledge lay in fashion and photography through an extensive career as a supermodel. That world seemed light years away now. She traded a makeup brush for her masked alter ego Karma and never looked back.
Eyes stinging from sleep deprivation, Silke let the corner of the exam table hold up her weight. Too exhausted to start a pot of coffee, she opted for a diet cola instead. Popping a tab off the soda, she gulped it down as though she were chugging a beer.
The voice in the room with her caught Silke off guard. She wound up spilling a portion of the soda over her blouse. Across the room, Dash stood getting a chuckle at her expense.
“How do you drink that crap?” he asked, passing her napkin.
“I know, you don’t like processed foods.”
“No, I mean it’s a store-bought brand. That’s nasty!”
“What can I say, we’re on a fixed budget now that my modeling career is over.”
“Throw that crap out. I’ll put on a pot of coffee and we’ll get to work.”
Silke gave him a mock salute while blotting the spill from her blouse. The dark cola against white silk already formed a stain. She had to strip off the shirt and throw on one of Joe’s hoodies that he left in the office. His musky scent still permeated the soft cotton, and Silke welcomed it. She’d only left him a few hours ago, and she already missed him.
Even though they knew each other for many long years, their romantic relationship was still new. They were in the honeymoon phase and she couldn’t get enough of him. The aroma of the coffee brewing made Silke perk up. Something about that first cup in the morning always seemed to do the trick, even after the hardest of nights. Dash passed her a cup, and she welcomed the warmth on her hands.
“How are you this morning?”
She considered his question while taking a sip and then gave an honest response.
“I want to throw up.”
“Coffee that bad?”
“That’s not why.”
“Are you pregnant?”
“Sorry, had to ask considering how close you and Joe are these days.”
Silke blushed at his words. Dash was like an uncle to her. Talking about her romantic life with him felt awkward, especially considering how well he knew Joe. Sensing her discomfort Dash clapped his hands together and changed the subject.
“Shall we get started then?”
The instant she closed her eyes, Silke’s mind was flooded with horrible images once more. They were clear and shocking.
A girl cried out, blood stained the ground, a long blade in hand. It all seemed so real. Dash’s voice trailed just barely audible in the distance, reassuring Silke that what she saw wasn’t reality. But she knew he was wrong. This was a reality not yet realized.
“What’s there, Silke? What’s happening?”
Silke could barely speak. The image saturated her mind repeatedly. It never strayed from the one violent act.
“Silke, what do you see? Is Honey there?” Dash asked.
“What girl? Is it Honey?”
“She’s there, scared…someone is going to hurt her.”
“Who is going to hurt her? Is it you?”
The vision changed. Silke felt out of control and afraid. Large hands held her. Too strong, she couldn’t break free. Couldn’t make it stop. Blood, blood everywhere. The smell of it so strong she wanted to vomit. The blade now turned on her. Lethal hands full of power. The eyes of a serpent. Dragon’s breath.
The shock of the imagery pulled her to a sitting position. She screamed, her breathing labored. Every inch of her skin soaked with sweat. Dash put his hand on Silke’s shoulder to calm her.
“It’s alright, it’s only in your mind,” he said.
“You should know by now that my mind is dangerous!”
She pushed his hand from her shoulder and hopped from the table. As she exited the clinic space, she saw Joe entering the office. Without hesitation, she flung her arms around him and sobbed against his chest. He held her tight and stroked her hair.
He directed his question at Dash who had come after Silke himself.
“We tried again to locate Honey, but she just keeps seeing these visions of terror.”
Joe peeled her off his body and brushed the tears from her eyes. Silke felt a wreck. She didn’t know whether she wanted to cry again or vomit. Joe had a third option in mind.
“Silke, you’re exhausted. Go home and get some rest.”
“But what about the doomsday clock?”
They were just one day removed from Avarice’s ominous warning to Dash. She showed up at his home in the middle of the night to give her father one last chance to step aside before The Sin Squad enacted their ultimate plan.
“You let us worry about that. Go on home now.”
Dash gave Silke’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze. She gripped his hand and then looked back up at Joe who smiled at her.
“You look good in my hoodie.”
He gave her a quick kiss and another order to go home. Silke knew better than to argue. She also really needed some solid sleep. After locating Niki in the office and giving her a hug goodbye, Silke headed home where she hoped better dreams awaited her.
Silke’s Strike Force Book 4
Copyright © 2021 Cynthia Vespia