Authors: K. T. Hanna
Tags: #young adult, #Sci-Fi & Fantasy, #New Adult
“Wow! A fast-paced, science fiction delight with fabulous action, a seamless world, and the most unique characters I’ve read in a long time.”
Elana Johnson, Author of the
“Nikita-like post-apocalyptic novel with a heroine that would give Katniss a run for her money.”
Alina @ Unfazeable.com
“Psionics is wicked cool and I wish a meteor would give me some super-secret powers. The logistics of the abilities are many, and normally would have been a nightmare to follow. Hanna handles it with enough subtle description laced through the opening chapters that you’re able to grasp their powers naturally.”
Heather @ Aussie Owned and Read
“A seriously great sci-fi. Dark, edgy and complex. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s a gripping read because of the author’s tense voice; the characters are well defined, believable and likeable, despite all of their flaws; the story flows well; and the ending leaves you on edge to read more. If you like sci-fi, you will love this book.”
Kate Foster – Author of
Author: K.T. Hanna
Content Edits: Jami Nord
Copy Editor: Rebecca Weston
Cover Artist: S.P. McConnell
Layout & Formatting: Caitlin Greer
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2015 Katie Hanna
All rights reserved.
Also by KT Hanna:
Even though you’re small you inspire me.
Love you, always.
“Why is he different?”
He hears the sounds and tries to give them meaning. His eyes are heavy and unwieldy, but when he manages to open them, an array of colors assault his mind.
“Domino.” The word is so soft, almost reverent. He looks in the direction of the speaker and, after much concentration, defines a greying man with a kind smile. Not sure why it’s kind, but he knows it is.
“Domino.” He attempts to mimic the word, but the sound that escapes his own mouth is harsh and metallic and he cringes in response.
The man chuckles and moves forward, placing fingers gently against his throat. A slight hum of warmth enters his system, and he blinks and tries again.
“Much better.” The man claps his hands together, tears dripping from one eye. “I am Mathur.”
The domino cocks his head to the side, still trying to puzzle out his strange surroundings and his innate understanding of everything around him. “I am Domino?” The sound feels different in his mouth now he knows it relates to him.
Mathur nods. “You are my Dom. And I think, this time, you worked.”
A woman over at a desk chuckles, her tone melodic compared to the man’s. Silver weaves its way deftly through her hair, defined in a plait down her back. It makes her seem older than she seems. “We’ve been trying to make you for a long time.” Her tone is almost wistful, and Dom frowns.
Mathur blinks at him, and for a few moments, no one has an answer. “Because we believed we could.”
“Belief?” Dom closes his eyes for a few moments, running the concept over in his mind. A mind that, while his, feels both foreign and new, older and knowing. “Because you wanted to prove yourselves right?”
For a minute, Mathur just looks at him, a strange red hue momentarily shadowing his face. “Maybe because we could is not always the best reason, eh?” He smiles kindly, but there’s something else Dom doesn’t understand behind those eyes. Something distinctly sad.
Mathur turns and gestures to the woman. “This is Garr.”
Dom inclines his head and tries to move, but finds restraints in place. “Am I not supposed to move?”
“Ah, yes.” Mathur hurries to his side, the smile back in place, and unbuckles the thick straps. “I did not expect you to wake so soon.”
Dom thinks he likes Mathur’s smile. It seems to put people at ease, but his own face doesn’t seem to want to stretch in the right way and he knows, without looking, that his mimicry of it has failed.
“Am I alone?” he asks, unsure of where the question comes from.
“For now.” And he believes the man because, after all, why would he create only one domino and then leave it all alone?
Dom stands next to Bastian, trying to battle the strange tide of emotion in him. The tide he hadn’t even known he had.
“Can you walk now?” he asks, after his friend breathes easier.
Bastian shakes his head, and even that motion appears uncertain. The gangly teen breathes rapidly, his pupils dilated, and the confident smirk that usually underlies every word he speaks is gone. “No, not yet. Let me sit a while.” The words are gasped, and his face is pale. Awakening will do that.
“Did it work?” Dom asks.
“I think we’d have visitors if it hadn’t.” The human boy grins weakly. “Thanks again. I thought the Shine would work, but...”
“It dulls the powers, not the awakening moment.” Dom shrugs. “You needed a shield.”
Bastian watches him for a moment, so long that it makes Dom glare back at him.
“Mathur left you alone.”
Dom swallows his surprise and shrugs awkwardly. “Technically.”
Dom blinks at his surroundings, at Sai’s piercingly pale eyes caught in that one moment during the elevator’s suspension. Memories and thoughts come crashing back to him in a second, and he reacts, trying to pull her out in time. But he doesn’t make it, and the pain that floods her system is tangible to him.
Even with her healing ability trying to staunch the flow of blood and seal the wounds, trying to save her life is almost impossible. He has the energy, the power, but not the experience. This was his fault, but it was also their fault. All those people who thought they knew what it was Mathur and Garr had achieved. The people who’d screwed with his head. A cold sliver of anger weaves its way through his mind.
Sai feels so light in his arms with most of her legs gone. Her pale face is clammy, and her dark hair sticks to her skin. Still, she looks up at him, vaguely aware, recognition in her eyes. No judgment. Not yet.
So he holds her and talks to her and exerts more of his power to make sure she survives.
Because if there’s one thing she’s taught him, it’s that he doesn’t want to be alone.
A faint beeping permeates her consciousness. Sai tries to ask it to stop because thinking is so difficult, but the words won’t form. Her heavy eyelids fight the desire to wake fully. Fog shrouds her mind and she knows instinctively that something is very wrong, but what it is escapes her.
She pushes against the murk shrouding her brain. One moment of clarity hits her before the pain takes over and she loses consciousness again.
When the haze begins to lift, Sai finds herself waking differently. The beeps, though still irritating, are easier to define as infirmary machinery, and she focuses instead on the whispered voices barely audible over the backdrop of sound.
“How are her vitals?” Mathur’s voice sounds weary.
“Steady.” The answer is curt and clipped, and though familiar to Sai, she can’t quite place it.
“Then the fusion worked?” Dom’s voice is clear in her memory, but beleaguered by an inflection uncharacteristic to him.
Sai breathes deeply, calming herself, trying to tone down the images dancing in her head. The fear of small places, crushed by too many people, plays in her mind over and over. Machines keep their staccato beat to the movie in her brain. They become more erratic, causing alerts to echo through the room, but she doesn’t pay them attention.
Sai finally succeeds in opening her eyes. The room is blindingly white, and she blinks several times to focus through the pain. Every part of her hurts, but her legs most of all. They’re like fire and ice clashing on her skin. As if she can feel every sinew, every nerve...
“Sai?” Dom leans over her, his smooth brow furrowed.
“Dom?” she croaks out, squinting just a little. “Dom, did I...” It’s more of an effort to speak than she realized. “Did I hurt people again?” she asks, surprised to feel a tear running down her cheek.
“No.” Dom swallows visibly and averts his eyes. “You saved people.”
“Then why...” She struggles to sit up and gasps in pain.
The audible snap as they waited for the doors to close. The split second decision to phase-push the others out. Dom suddenly there, apologizing. The look in his eyes.
And the pain. So much pain.
She averts her eyes, anger and bewilderment at war in her mind, and clenches her fists.
The beeping of the machines around her is the only sound in the room.
The pain in her legs makes sense now, and she’s loathe to peek and see they’re no longer there. Phantom pain—when a part of the body is gone but the brain still remembers it—is something she’s heard of, but never truly believed existed.
“Damn.” Her whisper is scratchy, her throat still too dry, but she pushes the words out anyway. “It was you, Dom?” Her voice cracks on his name and the tears flow.
“Sai, I...” Dom’s shoulders sag.
She turns her head away, tears streaming down her face to soak in the pillow. She can hear footsteps leave the room. How could he not deny it? How did he dare be there?
But didn’t he also save you?
a tiny voice whispers in the back of her mind. And she knows that’s right, too. Confusion doesn’t even begin to describe the pain in her chest and the thoughts in her head.
Her ability to help the Exiled is gone. There will be no redemption now. Her parents were right. She’s useless.
The door swooshes closed, and she mentally checks for privacy only to realize Dom is the only one who left.
Her chest constricts, and she opens her eyes to stare at the tented ceiling.
“Talk to us.” Mathur’s accent is as lulling as ever. Tempting, even.
But Sai just shakes her head, feeling for once like the child she never had the chance to be: vulnerable, alone, and scared.
Mason moves around to the other side, flanking her. “Sai, will you listen to what we have to say? There are things you need to understand.”
“I’ll keep it brief. Dom’s trigger was set incorrectly. In his haste, Bastian emphasized the trigger on your appearance and not your name. It was only when Dom saw you that his trigger unlocked. Although he was supposed to kill you, he truly did save you.”
“Saved me?” Sai almost spits the words out. “I’ll be useless for the rest of my life.” Her face crumbles, and the tears pour out despite her best efforts. “Just let me sleep.”
Mason sighs and shrugs. “You have to listen to Mathur first.”
She rolls her head back over and locates the old man. He feels like the father she never had. “What?” The word comes out sullenly instead of with the combative force she’d intended, but there’s no energy left to draw on.
Mathur smiles gently at her. “You will be okay, Sai.”
She blinks a few times, wondering if he’s finally gone senile. “I distinctly remember the pain. No legs is no mobility.”
“But Sai—” and he pulls up his trouser leg to reveal the iridescent metal of his prosthetic limb “—you have legs now.”
Sai blinks at him and tries to level herself up to look at her own body, but everything hurts and her arms give way.
“Careful. You have been out of it for a while. You are going to need to regain some of your strength before we work on anything else.” Mathur pushes her back down and pats her head. “Even if you lost everything, Sai, you would still be the same person. Nothing will ever change how much you have helped everyone.”
Tears threaten to take over again, but Sai gulps them back. “This will work?” she asks, suspicion warring with fear and hope.
Mathur chuckles. “If you get rest and do not let yourself get too worked up? Definitely. You will be capable of more than you imagine. But you must promise me this one thing.”