SHADOW (Book #4)
"All what he has done, he has done for the greater good..."
Following the disappearance of the infamous “Sword” and leader of the anti-human rebellion, Allie finds herself despised by every free seer in the western world...and most in the East. Hiding in an underground cell to stay alive, Allie also struggles with yet another visage of Revik, who turns into a feral animal once free of the Dreng.
She only has one shot at saving him, and it means learning more about his past than she ever wanted to know. It also means re-earning his trust, a near-impossible task given what she had to do to get him free.
Meanwhile, a mysterious force rises, known only as "Shadow,” boasting an army of powerful and ancient seers...seers with a darker agenda than even the Rooks.
*Warning: this book contains graphic language, sex, and violence. Mature readers only. Not intended for young readers.*
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THE CROWD SURGED, shouting in more than one language beneath liquid, virtual reality marquees lining the buildings of downtown Hong Kong.
Images swam down the screens like colorful water, flickering snapshots of the current scene down the street interspersed with talking heads and images of a burning skyscraper in São Paulo. On the ground, three dimensional holographic projections tried and talk to individuals in the rapidly growing crowd, to convince them to buy gold or go to a spa or win a free vacation by staying in this or that hotel.
Most people walked right through them as if they weren’t there.
Their eyes remained trained upwards, staring at the feed streams displayed on the marquee screens above. From their eyes and light, their headsets were tuned to the same news channels running on the rotating screens overhead.
The crowd formed a funnel shape in front of the tallest of the downtown office buildings, covering the street leading to the bottom of the skyscraper steps. Local police barricaded the crowd from reaching anything beyond that, standing behind metal fences flashing with rotating lights, wearing riot gear and holding pitch black shields.
Above the police stood a row of tall, silent-seeming figures wearing all black and carrying automatic weapons. Wearing organic armor, they stared out over the crowd with no expressions in their brightly-colored eyes, or their angular, high-cheekboned faces.
Balidor stood just above that, behind the line of SCARB and Lao Hu infiltrators.
Around him and below him stood probably fifty other seers and humans in total, most of them wearing uniforms, all of them armed.
Glancing at Cass, he fought the impulse to order her back inside, on the other side of those bulletproof glass doors.
Virtual signs and even some physical ones taped to metal and plastic piping waved above the heads of the seers and humans making up the still-growing crowd on the other side of the Hong Kong police. Balidor saw T-shirts programmed to display many of the same words as the signs. Characters danced in flashing letters across chests, flashing in off-kilter pulses with the signs, even as the chanting from the crowd itself grew louder.
“BRING HER OUT! BRING HER OUT! BRING HER OUT!”
Flyers whizzed by, some merely documenting the scene while others projected still more signs and images. Others, owned by the Hong Kong police, issued warnings for the crowd to stay calm and not breach the barricades or risk arrest.
Yells grew louder when more uniformed seers appeared at the front of the glass doors. Like Balidor himself, they didn’t wear SCARB uniforms, but wore the black uniforms and gold insignia of the seer military, the Adhipan.
Looking up at them, Balidor caught the eye of Chinja and frowned.
He considered ordering them back inside the building, then decided it wouldn’t make any difference. The crowd already knew she was inside.
“Where is the bitch!” a woman yelled, screaming in the face of the Hong Kong guard. “Bring her out! Bring her out here!”
The Hong Kong guard’s face didn’t move.
Looking at the pale pink eyes of the woman shouting, Balidor flinched. Clearly, she was seer. Humans stood next to her, most of them wearing Third Myth shirts and holding similar signs as the seers.
“Bring her out!” the woman screamed again. “Bring that whore out here!”
“Traitors!” another seer, a green-eyed male that time, shouted up at Balidor and the other Adhipan, spitting in disgust. “Blood traitors! Slaver whores!”
“Where is he?” another male shrieked. “Did she kill him? What has she done with him?”
“Where is the vow-breaking bitch?” the pink-eyed female screamed from the other side. “Is she torturing him right now?”
The seers and humans near him picked up their words.
In seconds, the chanting changed.
“WHERE IS THE SWORD? WHERE IS THE SWORD? WHERE IS THE SWORD?”
Pieces of cement and gravel started flying through the air.
The Hong Kong police knocked back some of it with batons and shields, but some chunks reached the upper steps. Bottles came next, along with handfuls of light-colored dirt they threw on the human soldiers, a not-subtle insult calling them “worms.”
Balidor ducked a piece of cement without taking his eyes off the crowd, noting the number of flyers now aiming cameras at them. Some of those must be using facial recognition software.
As if she heard his thoughts, Cass grabbed his arm.
“You shouldn’t be out here,” she said, her voice half a shout to be heard over the crowd. “‘Dori… you need to go back inside. They’ll ID you soon.”
He turned slightly to look at her. “It won’t matter, Cass,” he said, also half-shouting. “We’re all traitors now.”
She frowned, her brow furrowing. “I’ve seen feeds talking about you,” she said. “They were calling you Allie’s lover, ‘the adulterer.’ There were pictures.” Pausing, she added, “And there’s a good chance the Rebels have people here. If any of them see you, they’ll overrun the barricade, ‘Dor, whether they know she’s inside or not. You have to know the Rebels blame you.”
Slightly annoyed when he realized she was right, he nodded, wincing as a sharp chunk of rock glanced off his shoulder. He pulled her further behind him, his eyes scanning back over the flashing signs and clothing.
Most displayed some variation of “Traitor,” “Worm-fucker,” “Race Traitor,” “Whore,” “Vow-Breaker.” Balidor saw a few that simply read, “Bitch.” One said, “The Royal Bridge is a Royal Cunt” in giant, flashing orange letters.
He stared around at the growing numbers, feeling his trepidation worsen.
With it, his anger returned, too.
“This is madness!” he shouted to Cass over the raised voices. “Suicide, at the very least! Why in the name of the gods did she want to come here?”
Cass clutched his arm tighter, sliding behind him when a thrown bottle headed their way.
Grateful at her fast reflexes, which were almost seer-like, he held up an arm to shield her as the crowd surged again. The sheer number of them was starting to put too much pressure on the barricade. Soon, the police would be forced to either retreat or open fire.
Balidor relished neither option.
“We cannot let her come downstairs,” he said. “There will be a full-blown firefight on the streets.” He gave Cass another look. “We cannot even confirm she is here. The building will be overrun if we release any statement at all, even on the feeds.”
He felt her agree.
He knew she didn’t like him reading her without permission, but, standing this close, it was almost impossible not to feel her thoughts.
Therefore, he felt her irritation at Allie, at the danger she’d put them all in, seemingly without any thought to the consequences. Cass resented how, even now, Revik, a.k.a., Allie’s husband, a.k.a., Syrimne d’Gaos, a.k.a., “The Sword,” always seemed to factor first in Allie’s mind, regardless of any other consideration.
Hearing Cass’s thoughts, Balidor found himself agreeing with her.
He bit back a surge of fury at the thought.
Of course, the logical side of his mind couldn’t dismiss Allie’s concerns entirely.
If the Sword got loose now, it would be an unmitigated disaster. Given her husband’s notoriety, getting him completely off the grid without anyone knowing where he was, or even what condition he was in, had to take precedence.
Right now, Dehgoies Revik was, quite literally, the most dangerous man alive.