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Jack Jetstark’s Intergalactic FreakShow
Children of the Fifth Sun: Echelon
Location: Somewhere on the Southern Indian Ocean
No one saw the attack coming.
The first blast tore a hole in the hull at 1:37 in the morning. By 2:15 the aft portion of the supply vessel, Marion Dufresne II, was pointing to the starless sky, while its nose was dipped below the frigid black ocean. A cutting wind battered the exposed keel and the remaining crew who managed to hold on to the outer railings.
Freya Nilsson clung to the thick frame of the eighteen-ton oceanographic crane, though it too was already slipping beneath the waves. She cried out, but her voice was drowned by the howling Antarctic maelstrom and the ship’s three, huge, Wärtsilä diesel engines, now churning nothing but air. Freya shivered uncontrollably, her hair and clothes frozen to her skin. “KJ!” she cried out, again.
Her son didn’t answer.
Freya sobbed, tears freezing halfway down her cheeks. “KJ, where are you?”
A flash of lightning illuminated the angry ocean and a thick layer of clouds covering the heavens, but the attacking vessel was nowhere in sight. A deafening clap of thunder filled the air followed by a wave of needle-like raindrops that shattered across her face. The vessel reared up and the engines roared. A muffled explosion beneath the water cleaved the ship in two and the nose began to sink.
Have to jump, Freya thought. Can’t let them take KJ! She pushed off the crane and dropped into the icy ocean below.
Despite already being frozen, the shock of the glacial water stole the breath from her lungs. Before she could swim to the surface, Freya was sucked under. Tumbling down, down, down, she struggled to find her bearing. Her lungs burned, poisoned with carbon-dioxide. Instinctively, she kicked and fought and pulled until somehow, as if pushed upward, she eventually broke the surface.
Freya took a massive gulp of life-giving salty air, only to be pulled beneath again as a piece of the ship crashed into the ocean beside her. The falling debris dragged her farther and farther into the deep. She jerked and thrashed, but it only served to steal the energy from her stiffened limbs.
Blackness enveloped Freya’s mind, the cold claiming her will to fight. Yet, even as death stalked her, she couldn’t let go. KJ needed her. She couldn’t die. Refused to die. Freya summoned her last drop of power and kicked. Once. Twice. Three times. And then, she could breathe again. The wind whipped her jet-black hair about her face, and the rain stung her eyes. But she was alive.
The silhouette of the supply vessel bobbed in the distance, ass up, before gurgling down into its watery grave. Gone. Still the attackers were invisible. With only the lasting image of where the Marion Dufresne II had just sunk as a destination, Freya paddled forward. Fighting against the chop of the ocean, she inched along. The spray blinded her and the salt burned, but she had to find him.
“KJ where are you?” she called. “Answer me, baby. Please.”
Only the squall howled back.
Her legs tightened and Freya plunged below the surface again, choking on yet another mouthful of seawater before once again scrambling upward—to a light. A bright circle of light rippling on the surface.
A strong hand clasped her under the armpit and pulled. Freya was lifted from the water, her hip smacking into the hull of the lifeboat. She fell backward into the bow, panting and coughing. “KJ … have to find KJ.”
“Cover her. Someone cover her,” a familiar voice said from above.
“I got it. Are there any more?” a woman asked. “We’ve got to get the hell out of here.”
“I don’t think so. I only saw her,” the first voice answered.
Freya lay in the boat, covered in a thermal blanket, her eyes screwed shut. “I’m sorry, Kelly,” she whispered. “Our son. I’m sorry …”
Princess of Draga
Nadyah made her way through the city streets. She stopped and glanced over her shoulder,
pulling her hood up further. She quickened her step and kept close to the buildings. Each circle
of Stella di Draga eased into the next. The houses of the nobility, the upscale businesses, to the
merchant class houses, and then the markets all transitioned smoothly like a painting.
She loved the capitol but she did not enjoy having to cross it on foot.
It was the only way she could make the trip to the House unnoticed from the palace. No one
could know of this trip, not even Adelina. Nadyah crossed the street with her head down as a
hov-carriage passed. Only one more city circle and she would reach the edge of the House’s
property. Then she would have to make her way to the secret entrance all the spiderlings used.
Nadyah had to be back at the palace in a few hours and she was already exhausted after
spending most of the day working with Adelina. They had run the length of the palace grounds
twice, and then did some ai-kuda sparring. Nadyah even taught her a few moves in the
courtesan’s fighting style. They still had a lot to cover, but she was convinced the princess could
handle herself well enough to keep an attacker at bay until help could arrive.
Nadyah skipped over a puddle that shone with the green of the moon Vekaza. Mala’s large
form hung to the west and was not yet full. The purple moon wouldn’t be full until the night of
Adelina’s party and the anniversary of her birth.
Earlier that night Nadyah sat at the royal table with Elara and ate with the royal family. The
honor they bestowed on her still dazzled. She had never anticipated such a rise in station even if
only by association. Prince Nash had been there as well, but she suspected it had more to do with
the king wanting to keep an eye on him than to embrace him with open arms into the family.
There was a definite spark between her princess and the lost prince. That Giselle would give
Adelina the assignment said a lot. There was so much to learn yet, and Nadyah knew she had to
tread a fine line between gathering information and betraying Adelina’s trust in her. The news of
Prince Nash was reason enough to report back to the Spider and Nadyah still hadn’t decided
what she would do with what she had found on the private shreve Princess Adelina kept locked
Adelina was a master at dissembling. The princess made herself into what she thought those
around her wanted or needed. Masks came and went until even Nadyah was unsure of who the
female truly was underneath them all. The skill required to confuse a courtesan astounded her.
Adelina was truly submissive, but she played with that nature so well she made herself invisible
to those around her, to those who only saw what they wanted to see.
Nadyah had seen the princess move through those masks like a fish through water, so
seamless the deception was beautiful in its simplicity.
She shook her head; Princess Adelina was a mystery she could not wait to solve.
Phantom Pact: The Bearer’s Burden
One more day, Cade Elegy thought as the hills before him screamed of battle. One more day to keep the dream of hope alive, or one more day until the dream vanished for good.
They assembled the last of their remaining army to bear upon Gigan’s Hill. Just beyond lay a great structure known as the Thread—the bastion in which the mysterious enemy known as the Wraiths had taken refuge.
Hulking soldiers of the Wraiths, humanoid yet possessing an exoskeleton like a great mantis, swarmed the battlefield. While they looked like giant insects, they also bore a striking resemblance to humans—walking on two feet, and articulating finger-like appendages on their hands. Within seconds, the enemy surrounded their entire legion. There were thousands more than reported. Their intelligence was wrong.
“What are you waiting around for? Move!” Commander Jord Black of the 12th Bearer Corps led the mission. Cade didn’t need to be told twice. The unit advanced, rushing toward the enemy line.
They were the tip of the spear for the assault. The mission was simple in order, but not in execution: kill the Wraith scouted in the area—a message to the world the Wraiths were mortal.
Cade fought, taking down one creature after another, as the rest of his dwindling unit fought alongside him. The smell of gunpowder and smoke hung thick in the air. The clash of weapons and the cries of agony bled together into a nightmarish cacophony. “Get down!” A voice pierced through the chaos. Jord’s voice. Cade felled another creature as he turned to find a Bearer-class grenade hurtling toward their position.
Time slowed to a crawl. Jord snatched the grenade with both hands and threw himself down on the ground.
Cade reached out—a futile attempt to halt the inevitable. A dark, metallic color spread across Jord’s body as the man attempted to harden his body against the blast. As the grenade detonated, the concussive force tore into Jord’s body. Cade looked away.
Selfless to the end, Cade thought. A wave of grief swelled within him, outmatched only by the rage following in its wake. There wasn’t time to mourn; he had to keep moving. He knew Jord, and Jord’s determination to finish the mission. “You will, my friend, you will.”
Cade afforded himself a moment to close his eyes, searching for the phantom Jord left behind in death. It was there, faint but recognizable to Cade amongst the discordant sounds of combat. Cade spoke the words, the ones sealing a pact with his former commander.
Cade, bolstered by Jord’s phantom, fought with renewed vigor. They needed to cut straight through to the camp with their dwindling force. It would be suicide, but it was the only option left.
“Incoming!” a corporal wailed as the body of a soldier hurtled past him.
“Hells,” Cade spat.
A gigantic creature, one Cade had never seen, lumbered toward him and the remaining men. Exposed sinewy muscle and dark metallic plating covered its body in overlapping segments, like the scales of a reptilian beast.
He continued to fight—fight for Jord, fight for the phantoms he bore, fight to live to sing the songs of those who had passed.
His zeal got the best of him. As he struck at the massive creature, he felt the last of the power granted by his phantoms drain from him. The creature lunged at Cade. His vision went dark as excruciating pain enveloped him.
When he came to, Cade found himself hoisted on the shoulders of the soldiers from his unit. He felt his sidearm against him, hot as if discharged, though he had no recollection of firing it.
But it did not matter. They had won the battle. They had defeated the Wraiths.
They could go home.
Countless black motes swirled from Cade’s sight as the waking vision ended and he returned to reality. It’s over. It’s over, he thought again to calm himself, his heart still pounding. The war was over.
The drug the military issued to members of the Bearer Corps still brought him these unbidden visions. They called the side-effect “veiling”. Cade was glad he no longer needed the vile stuff.
Protector of the Realm, they now called him. Cade tried on the honorific as the vibrations from the railbus he rode rattled his tired mind. The title didn’t fit. He shut his eyes as he sat in the seat of the passenger car and tried to control his breathing.
He was almost home. His mind raced, still trying to process the end of the war. The king himself had heralded Cade a hero. And his prize, the only one that mattered, lay at the end of this track.
The old metal railbus slowed, and his heart beat faster. The car was near bursting with passengers eager to return home. He was thankful they left him be. The newfound celebrity he gained in Toltaire, the capital of Chalice, was unnerving. He preferred the quiet comfort of his simple home, and above all else the company of his wife and children.
The thought conjured up memories of them, waiting at the table for him. His youngest, Jessa, unable to sit still, bounding from the table and running circles around the kitchen, wooden spoon in hand. Etan, just shy of ten years old, leafing through an archaic tome from the library, one he had already read at least six times before. Cade smiled.
And his wife, Serafina. Her smooth brown hair falling just past her shoulders, her soft green eyes melting him with a simple glance, and her smile. He could see it with perfect clarity, the same smile she would give him when he saw her again. His heart skipped a beat. It still did, even after all these years. She would busy herself with some trivial chore, awaiting his arrival. When she was nervous, she had to keep herself occupied with some task, no matter how menial it might be. She would look out the window, trying to glimpse him walking up the worn red-brick path that led to the house.
The once boisterous passengers settled down as the railbus slowed. Soon, the entire car was silent. Something is wrong, Cade thought. His eyes snapped open, and he rubbed the sleeve of his worn duster jacket on the dirty window. He could just make out the village coming into view. There were many long, colorful banners pulled taut from building to building, congratulating the returning soldiers. But something felt off. He looked at the houses and storefronts surrounding the humble train station.
“Where is everybody?” an old man said, clutching his hat to his chest as if it might fly away from inside the car. Cade continued to scan the village, but not a single person was in sight. It was not a large village, but there were always people roaming the streets, and there should have been a crowd gathered to welcome them home.
The railbus was coming to a stop, and while most of the passengers stayed frozen in shock and confusion, Cade leapt from his seat—not bothering to grab his rucksack—and threw open the door to the still moving railbus. He jumped, tumbling across the gravel ditch running alongside the tracks. He stood up, ignoring the rising pain from his fall, and cut a path through the center of town.
His head whipped from side to side, trying to glimpse someone, anyone who might have answers as he sprinted down the brick road.
“Was the city evacuated?” he panted to himself as he stopped to catch his breath. The sun was at its highest point, and his heart raced as sweat beaded upon his forehead. It didn’t make sense. The war was over. They wouldn’t have evacuated, not anymore.
The pit that had formed in his stomach grew like a rooted weed. Stay focused, Cade, he told himself. Don’t panic. There must be an explanation for this.
He turned the corner from the main road, down the street to his house. He could see the house now. The faintest bit of smoke trickled from the cobblestone chimney. There, you see? he thought. They must be there. But he did not slow his pace. Cade ran up the steps, trying to peer into the front window. He expected to see his wife poking her head out and then calling to the children, but there was no sign of her. The door was already ajar, and he could see the brass hinges of the front door had been ripped from the frame. He popped the leather strap securing his caster, a rare handgun of ancient origin, and drew the firearm from its sheath.
“No. No, no,” he said as he threw the door aside. “Sera? Etan? Jess?” he called out, going from room to room. No reply. He entered the kitchen, where all he found was a single white plate shattered upon the floor in front of the sink.
Cade wheeled around, frantic, his heart pounding. His right arm, still clutching his weapon, fell to his side. He closed his eyes and tried to control his breathing.
He listened, not for signs of life, but for the absence. His body trembled, not prepared for the answer. As the heartbeat in his eardrums subsided, he heard the music he did not want to hear. It was like the song of a music box, its notes spilling out one by one as the cylinder turned. It was the song of a phantom; of one who had passed on but remained with one ethereal foot planted within the world of the living.
It was the song of his family—gone.
Cade’s knees gave out. He collapsed to the floor, fighting back tears. His family…taken from him—murdered. The entire town, taken. The war was over. Who, or what, could have done this? He pushed his grief down deep within himself, and his face grew hot with anger. He had fought to protect his family, and now he was alone.
No. Not alone. He was a Bearer. One who could ally with phantoms.
He spoke the words his father had taught him long ago. “Song that lingers unfinished,” he said, his voice a hoarse whisper. “The one whose sigh has escaped to the stars…” He could feel the energy of the phantom grow as he spoke. “Allow me to sing your final verse.”
The song—notes drifting from an unfathomable instrument played as if hidden behind a divine curtain—became clear, grew louder, and swallowed him whole. He held his breath as the notes played within him, becoming a part of his own song.
A maelstrom of memories and emotions that were not his own crashed and roiled inside him. He clutched his head with his hands as if to contain the deluge. His mind shifted and transformed as the phantom became part of him, already adapting to survive within the shared space. The storm retreated, and Cade lowered his hands, breathing heavily.
A faint voice echoed
within him. “Pact accepted.”
Sister of the Circuit
by Amanda Orneck
Publication date: July 3rd 2018
Genres: Adult, Cyberpunk, Science Fiction
“A female-led neo-cyberpunk novel? Sign me up! Sister of the Circuit passes both the Voight-Kampff and Bechdel tests.” – Tal Klein, author of The Punch Escrow.
Isidore RAM is a hexer, but she wants to be so much more.
In the nation of Apotheosis, the Church of Technology is both government and state religion, and the virtual world they call the Circuit is their god.
Those that travel the Circuit are hexers, and the Church’s elite police force charged with protecting the Circuit at all costs, are known as Sisters of the Circuit. On the day of her final exam to become a Sister, Isidore RAM runs into something that shouldn’t be: an AI that can change the sacred Code of the Circuit. Isidore is framed for this blasphemous alteration of their god, and is ousted from the training program and the religion in one fell swoop.
Ejected into the dystopic remains of Orange County, now known only as the Osee, Isidore is determined to clear her name and earn her way back into her beloved religion. To do that she must track down any information she can about this mysterious AI and bring proof of her innocence back to the Church. With the help of a pair of mech-riding scavengers, a former hexer with a mysterious secret, and a forger with a penchant for latin cooking, Isidore searches for the truth about what really happened to her that day on the Circuit.
Together they must answer the most important question of their lives: What is CRI-LUX?
About the Author:
Born in Fountain Valley, CA, raised in a small town called Montrose, CA, Amanda Orneck has never stayed in one place for long -- until now. She currently calls Huntsville, AL home, where she spends her days writing, gaming, and loving her family to pieces.
Amanda received her Creative Writing degree from the University of Southern California, learning her craft at the feet of David St. John, Aimee Bender and Carol Muske-Dukes. While at USC, she received the Middleton Creative Writing Fellowship for excellence in poetry.
For seven years she honed her writing craft as a video game journalist, writing for GamePro, WoW Insider, GameGeex, and handful of other outlets. In 2014 Amanda left the world of blogging behind to focus on her first love, fiction. Shadow of the Owl is her first novel, and she is currently working on a sequel.
Title: Taming the Alien Warriors
Series: Intergalactic Lurve Book 3
Author: Rie Warren
Genre: Sci-Fi Alien Warriors M/M/F Romance
Release Date: April 9, 2018
Dex and Jedrek are famed Zenithian warriors of the Valkrane class. Close friends and comrades for decades, the two males tough it out on the training grounds, share living quarters, and even take the same females to bed. But now, newfound lust for Dex has consumed Jedrek for months, and he’s about to make the male his latest conquest.
Enter Laurel. Sweet, human, female, but far from oblivious. For years, the massive pair of warriors have maintained careful distance while making sure no others take advantage of her maiden charms. And Laurel’s about fed up with them cock-blocking her.
When new danger descends on Zenithia, Jedrek, Dex, and Laurel are thrown into close quarters, which only ignites their three-way lust to boiling point. Just as ultimate intergalactic love seems within their reach, the plot against humans on Zenithia reaches its deadliest endgame.
Rie is the badass, sassafras author of Sugar Daddy and the Don’t Tell series–a breakthrough trilogy that crosses traditional publishing boundaries beginning with In His Command. Her latest endeavors include the Carolina Bad Boys, a fun, hot, and southern-sexy series.
A Yankee transplant who has traveled the world, Rie started out a writer—causing her college professor to blush over her erotic poetry without one ounce of shame. Not much has changed. She swapped pen for paintbrushes and followed her other love during her twenties. From art school to marriage to children and many a wild and wonderful journey in between, Rie has come home to her calling. Her work has been called edgy, daring, and some of the sexiest smut around. You can connect with Rie via the social media hangouts listed on her website. She is represented by Saritza Hernandez, Corvisiero Literary Agency.
by John Kaniecki
Genre: SciFi, Dystopian
A collection if three stories by John Kaniecki.
Religion and truth battle for control.
In a future society on planet Earth a young man named Zacchaeus is raised the post apocalyptic society which is underground. Zacchaeus becomes a zealous believer in the church of Ratata. Zach’s father tries to protect him by transporting the young man to a different continent. Isolated from his religious family. Zach manages to find his way back home. However Zach’s eyes become opened to the truth to find the sacred text of Ratata to be a lie. Thus Zacchaeus is condemned as a heretic as he chooses to abandon the lie of religion.
JOHNNY CAN’T RUN
In a world of evil everyday is a wicked race.
In the not so far off future a group of Nazis have been exiled to a distant planet. In their wicked society they simmer in their misery, dreaming of returning to planet Earth as conquerors. Johnny is a perfect Aryan in every way excelling in the ways of Nazism. But with superiority comes arrogance. What happens when the best is your worst?
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF LADY JANE PERKINS
Michael Thorpe, an engineering student, is swept away in love by one Lady Jane Perkins, but what does the young man see in this homeless psychiatric patient?
Michael Thorpe is an engineering student at David’s Institute. He dreams of the day when he will be wealthy and thus happy. In fulfilling the requirements of a psychology course Michael visits a psychiatric hospital to visit one Lady Jane Perkins. Once meeting the woman Michael can’t seem to get her out of his mind, literally. So Michael begins a quest traveling to the disheveled side of Technocity to find his true love. But what nefarious powers are manipulating Michael Thorpe and why?
**Only .99 cents!**
John Kaniecki was born in Brooklyn, New York. Though having no memories of life there, John is proud to be called a Native New Yorker. John was raised in Pequanock Township, New Jersey. At age twenty John was baptized and became a member of the Church of Christ. Presently John resides in Montclair, NJ and lives with his wife of over twelve years Sylvia. The happy couple attend the Church of Christ at Chancellor Avenue in Newark, NJ. John is very active in outreach and teaching as part of the leadership of the congregation.
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Taming The Alien King: Sci-Fi Alien Royalty Romance (Intergalactic Lurve Book 1) by Rie Warren ~ Release Day Blitz
Title: Taming The Alien King: Sci-Fi Alien Royalty Romance
Series: Intergalactic Lurve Book 1
Author: Rie Warren
Genre: Sci-Fi Alien Royalty Romance
Release Date: March 12, 2018
Meet the King of Zenithia, Xyib*eepthxnin. If you think his name is difficult to pronounce, his thick alien staff is even harder to choke down. X’s search for a docile breedmate leads him to California because he knows Earth Girls Are Easy. Then he meets Prairie. Docile and easy? Doubtful.
Prairie . . . don’t let the innocent name fool you. This street girl knows a scam when she sees one, and she’s pretty sure X is either a serial killer or an escapee from the psych ward. The thing is, she’s running from trouble of her own and he’s so smoking hot she figures why not?
Praire’s just along for the galactic ride until she figures out X isn’t alien-spoofing her. After her introduction to smoldering cross-species sex and the king’s sweeter side, Prairie has a choice to make. Should she stay or should she go?
The decision is taken out of her hands when one particular challenge for X’s love ends with her life in peril.
Buy Links: Introductory price of $0.99, regular price $4.99
AMAZON CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B079W1LGVY
AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B079W1LGVY
AMAZON AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B079W1LGVY
“You were jealous, Prairie.” X’s voice rumbled deliciously from the widest chest I’d ever seen.
“What?” I huffed. “Not.”
Smug sexy alien stud.
A grin tipped up one corner of his mouth.
Without another word, he began to undress, and I was once again treated to the insane sight of his incredibly muscled body. He stopped with the lacings of his pants coming undone, revealing the root of his impressively thick cock.
He ducked his head, licking across my lips before delving inside. I trembled with awareness of him, my hands roaming to the ropey sinews of his shoulders. Before I even knew it, he’d completely disrobed me, leaving me in only the humungo necklace and nipples so tight I thought I’d come if he so much as touched them.
He set my hands on the lacings of his leathers, watching with a hungry smile as my fingers pulled them open one by one.
My heart pounded harder. My pussy got wetter and wetter. The peaks of my breasts rubbed against the heated glossy skin of his chest.
Tugging the pants down, down, down, my breath caught in my throat at the feast of flesh presented in front of me.
Our skin still gleamed from the earlier oil treatment, and I stood quivering in front of him.
“Now we fuck.” His voice came out like sexual thunder, sending a bolt of dirty desire zinging desperately through me.
My belly clenched, but when he picked me up and tossed me onto the bed, I held up my hands.
“Holy horse cock, alien boy!” I stared at the lewd length kicking up from his groin, veins pulsing all over, the big domed head pushing out one drop of liquid after another. “Seriously though, is that thing really for real? Or is it just another hologram?”
“You touched my cock earlier. Did it feel real?” He wrapped a massive fist around the base jutting from his body and stroked all the long way up to the tip.
Involuntarily, my thighs spread, and I felt myself dripping all over the bedding.
His eyes—gleaming nearly fluorescent green—latched onto the sight of my pussy, and his lips curled off his teeth, nostrils flaring.
I writhed at the primal sight of him as he crawled up between my legs, pushing them wider and wider apart with his sheer size.
As soon as his cockhead touched my labia, sizzling heat rippled through my body, but my hands rose again to push at his chest.
“Uh unh. On second thought you can’t fuck me with that thing. No way will it fit.”
“Then tonight I will stretch you.”
In The Series:
Taming the Alien Prince(Intergalactic Lurve Book 2) - Releasing March 26th
Taming the Alien Warriors (Intergalactic Lurve Book 3) - Releasing April 9th
Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2tzHSFo
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2Di6ou0
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2tuopG8
Author Pic: attached
Rie is the badass, sassafras author of Sugar Daddy and the Don’t Tell series–a breakthrough trilogy that crosses traditional publishing boundaries beginning with In His Command. Her latest endeavors include the Carolina Bad Boys, a fun, hot, and southern-sexy series.
A Yankee transplant who has traveled the world, Rie started out a writer—causing her college professor to blush over her erotic poetry without one ounce of shame. Not much has changed. She swapped pen for paintbrushes and followed her other love during her twenties. From art school to marriage to children and many a wild and wonderful journey in between, Rie has come home to her calling. Her work has been called edgy, daring, and some of the sexiest smut around.
Social Media Links:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/RieWarrenRomance
Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/#!/RieWarren
by Eric L. Harry
Genre: Science Fiction – pandemic
Pub Date: 1/23/2018
They call it Pandoravirus. It attacks the brain. Anyone infected may explode in uncontrollable rage. Blind to pain, empty of emotion, the infected hunt and are hunted. They attack without warning and without mercy. Their numbers spread unchecked. There is no known cure.
Emma Miller studies diseases for a living—until she catches the virus. Now she’s the one being studied by the U.S. government and by her twin sister, neuroscientist Isabel Miller. Rival factions debate whether to treat the infected like rabid animals to be put down, or victims deserving compassion. As Isabel fights for her sister's life, the infected are massing for an epic battle of survival. And it looks like Emma is leading the way . . .
Raised in a small town in Mississippi, Eric L. Harry graduated from the Marine Military Academy in Texas and studied Russian and Economics at Vanderbilt University, where he also got a J.D. and M.B.A. In addition, he studied in Moscow and Leningrad in the USSR, and at the University of Virginia Law School. He began his legal career in private practice in Houston, negotiated complex multinational mergers and acquisitions around the world, and rose to be general counsel of a Fortune 500 company. He left to raise a private equity fund and co-found a successful oil company. His previous thrillers include Arc Light, Society of the Mind, Protect and Defend and Invasion. His books have been published in eight countries. He and his wife have three children and divide their time between Houston and San Diego.
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Swallowing the bile rising in the back of my throat, I close my human eye again and zoom in through the scope. I move the rifle until the crosshairs rest over Drummond’s forehead.
“I’m taking the shot.”
“Wait,” Dax says. “Maybe you shouldn’t.”
Disbelief drops my jaw, but I don’t take my eyes off the president. “What? Why the hell not?”
“Listen to me, B,” he says, his voice sounding closer. I feel him crouching beside me. “If we kill him now, they’ll just say we did it to silence him. Don’t you understand? If we kill him now, he’ll look like a martyr.”
My palms break out in a sweat, and Drummond’s voice fades to an unintelligible warble as my blood begins to rush so fast I can hear it roaring in my ears. Dax is right … but Drummond is in my sights. The man who destroyed our lives and killed my family. The man who murdered Yasmine and threatened to come for the rest of us.
“I have to,” I whisper, curling my finger around the trigger once more, shaking my head to clear it. “We came all this way.”
“Undetected,” Dax argues. “We can leave the same way. It’s not too late.”
“Yes, it is,” I argue. “It’s too late to go back! I won’t get another shot like this.”
“We’ll find another way,” he insists, his hand now on my shoulder. “A way that doesn’t make us look like the terrorists he’s making us out to be.”
I jerk away from his hold and refocus through the scope. “You can only treat someone like shit for so long before they snap. You can’t keep backing people into a corner without expecting them to eventually come out swinging. Drummond wants me to be a terrorist? Fine … I’ll earn my fucking spot on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. I’m taking the goddamn shot.”
Dax whispers a string of curses under his breath, but he doesn’t physically try to stop me. He doesn’t touch me again. I think it’s because, deep down, he wants to see this fucker pay for what he did to Yasmine. He wants to see Drummond fall, even though he knows the consequences we’ll face for it.
I zoom in a little closer … so close it feels like I’m staring directly into his cold, dead eyes. Spittle gathers in the corners of his mouth as he gets really riled up, waving his hands and pointing as he raises his voice to rally the crowd to his side. All around the world, people are buying into this … believing every poisonous word that comes from his mouth.
It’s time to silence him once and for all.
Taking another deep breath, I hold it as I prepare for my moment of truth. I see my father falling to the ground with a bullet in his skull … my mother sobbing hysterically as Skyye’s insides paint our front lawn red. And the hot rage in my veins goes cold like ice, freezing there as the entire world around me goes still.
As I exhale, my finger squeezes the trigger.
We are a group of authors,