KNIGHT (Book #5)
"I thought the two of you were scary individually..."
Plagued by prescient-seeming nightmares and with hostile seers hot on their trail, Allie sets up camp in New York, along with Revik and the remnants of their seer alliance.
Not long after they arrive, a human-killing virus strikes San Francisco and Allie’s loved ones start to disappear. Fielding off attacks by the Lao Hu and the mysterious Shadow, Allie and Revik are forced to make impossible choices as they learn how to work together again.
Meanwhile, Allie’s brother, Jon, is going through big changes of his own as he and the ex-rebel, Wreg, work to find humans on a list marking them as key players in the apocalypse––an apocalypse which already seems to be underway.
*Warning: this book contains graphic language, sex, and violence. Mature readers only. Not intended for young readers.*
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SHE WALKED UP to the night shift guard and flashed her badge, gripping the handle of the leather briefcase she carried. The human glanced up from his portable monitor long enough to give her legs a good, hard stare, but not much longer.
Giving her photo ID a perfunctory glance, he grunted, hitting the large red button on the console beside his chair to let her through, using the edge of one meaty hand. Even then, he noticed more about the way her cream-colored sweater hugged her upper body than he did the miraged piece of plastic she showed him.
The door buzzed, unlocking with a click.
She started to put her hand on the blood prick for the DNA scan, but he waved her off.
“Go on through, doc.” His eyes returned to the portable monitor. “Thing’s on the fritz.”
Sometimes these worms made it too easy.
With a toss of her dyed blonde hair and another small smile, she walked through the open gate. Long, organic, blast-proof but transparent sliding doors opened in the main building ahead of her, letting in two EMTs with a gurney, one of whom paused to speak with an ER doc who came out to meet an ambulance.
It was four o’clock in the morning.
For most of the hospital, it was the witching hour, eerie in its silence.
Wards had only one or two nurses on duty, possibly a tech working several floors at once. Only the ED, ICU and obstetrics had patients and visitors likely to be waiting through the night, most of the latter dozing uncomfortably on wooden-frame chairs or sprawled on the floor, covered in their own jackets.
The woman in the cream-colored sweater entered through the basement.
The lab lived down there, as did storage, x-rays, durable medical equipment and physical therapy. Comprised of the odds and ends of maintenance and administration, its mostly daytime staff had emptied a good ten hours before. She passed doors, ticking off areas of the map from her seer’s photographic memory: storage, server room for the hospital’s networked system, generators, janitorial supplies, groundskeeping.
The floor wasn’t totally deserted. She raised her badge to several desk clerks as she passed through the dimly-lit corridors.
Most barely glanced at it.
She wore an organic knife on her inner arm under the lab coat, in case she had to get through by force, but she never came close to needing it.
The seer slid her badge through a sensor lock to the right of one of the heavier maintenance doors, well past the last security desk. She kept her thoughts light, a feather touch, leaving only the mechanics of her feet moving as she entered through the gray-painted door.
A turn of her head, the brushing back of her long hair, the concentrated putting on of surgical gloves after she removed them carefully from her pockets, blowing on each opening at the wrists––every movement remained discrete, mindless, unattached to her purpose.
Despite the protection the construct afforded her, she couldn’t afford to get sloppy.
Once the panic started, infiltrators from Seer Containment, or SCARB, would scour every millisecond of the Barrier records before and after the event. Her patrón did not wish to offer any information that might aid them in understanding the motives or means behind the event.
He certainly did not wish to offer any clues regarding the identity of those behind it––especially since he intended to lay the blame elsewhere.
Unlocking the vent covering leading to the primary ventilation shaft, she set her briefcase at her feet. It took only a few seconds more to remove the cover itself.
Three identical-looking shafts stood at the other three corners of the room.
Two led to the air conditioning system, the other two, to the heater housed in the same sub-basement. She didn’t let herself think consciously about this––nor about the water distribution system, which took up most of the center of the room, looking oddly anachronistic with its turn-wheel hubs and blue and white painted pipes.
Once she had the vent cover propped against the wall, she squatted smoothly, setting the locked, leather briefcase on the cement floor, the handle facing towards her. The flow of air through the ventilation shaft grew louder without the cover to mute the sound, but given the white-static hums, clicks and gurgles from air ducts and water distribution, the additional noise barely registered in the overall noise of the room.
Using both a Barrier key and a physical one, she unlocked the leather briefcase.
Inside sat four vials of midnight blue liquid and what looked like a small bottle of hairspray. Each fit neatly inside a cut-foam indentation matching its exact size and shape. She took out the hairspray-looking bottle and broke the plastic seal.
Instinctively, she held her breath, although she knew her DNA rendered her immune to the deadly agent.
Aiming the nozzle into the ventilation shaft, she squeezed off four healthy sprays.
Replacing the canister inside its foam cut-out, she re-attached the ventilation cover and moved on to the next.
It was brilliant, really, initiating contamination before the air reached the scrubbers on the higher floors. They would assume contamination occurred elsewhere, if they made a connection with the mechanics of the hospital at all, and didn’t attempt to trace it back to a specific patient or ward. By the time they figured out the scrubbers were useless against the engineered contaminant, it would be too late.
She moved from corner to corner, working silently.
In the foreground of her mind, a clutch of song lyrics got caught in a loop. She let them remain, filling her dead-thought space.
By the time she spun the handle on the first wheel to open the connecting point to three of the main water pipes, the seer hummed along with that recollected tune.
By the time she closed the valve, placing the first of the empty vials carefully in a plastic bag and locking it back inside the foam indentation at the bottom of the case, she sang aloud, albeit softly and under her breath.
"Never fire and back to earth…
We taste it, feel it, pretend we don’t.
The time has come, and their end, too.
It comes hard, not soft,
And She does, too.
But the wheel has turned, and so’ve I.
And now we’ll bring the End of Times…”
“My heart was broken long ago…
Too far back, the elders know.
The books are dust, the prophets dead.
Our time won’t come before the end…”