“Very fast paced and exciting! The final book in
an outstanding series!”
Rayen was down to hours to save Callan’s life. He’d never see eighteen.
At this rate, she might not either.
Callan was trapped in a place far into the future known as the Sphere, an artificial planet, and she was trapped in a small, cramped room somewhere out in the desert an hour away from a place called Albuquerque. The time-travel computer portal for returning to the Sphere was in an Albuquerque boarding school in Tony’s backpack, which Gabby had. Tony had been locked up by security. Gabby hid in another student’s room.
She needed both of her friends to open the portal.
Minutes raced past.
Her heart beat a frantic speed.
“Come on,” she begged her power and gripped the doorknob. That stupid power had yet to show up since she’d been taken from the school and locked in this room. She’d drawn on it to kill a huge croggle monster in the Sphere, but she couldn’t open a locked door right now. Why?
Nothing she tried worked. She was hitting a new level of panic. Holding onto the doorknob, she slumped to her knees on the wood floor.
There had to be a way out of here. But how? The last time she’d used her power it was to save someone else.
She sat upright. That was it! Someone had been in immediate danger each time she’d drawn on her energy.
The danger to Callan wasn’t happening right this second, but it was real and deadly. Could she use that to wake up her power?
Clenching her fingers tighter around the doorknob, she dredged up an awful image of Callan’s enemy—the TecKnati—swinging a sword and lopping off his beautiful hands. Nausea crowded her throat and she flinched at the gruesome image.
A spark of energy warmed her chest, swirling, then the heat spread to her arms and hands. Yes!
The doorknob heated beneath her fingers. She closed her eyes to see if she could picture the lock parts the way she had when she and Tony had opened a door. A vision of metal parts blurred in her mind. The parts tumbled and clicked, banging into each other, faster and faster until she couldn’t tell what they were doing.
Metal jangled together in a loud crash.
She snatched her hand away and fell backward, expecting Takoda to burst inside any minute with another stun gun in hand.
She’d learned about that weapon the hard way.
What she’d learned since coming awake in the desert a couple days ago was terrifying.
She still had no memory, except for a few bits that had emerged to form a strange puzzle still missing too many parts to make sense. Takoda was a Navajo on some council who’d found her at the school. When he came to take her away last night, she’d tried to run. The guards had used that stun gun on her.
Silence outside her room taunted her.
The door should open.
What if he had someone guarding this building?
Takoda had said he’d be back in the morning, which might be hours away if midnight was as close as she estimated. But it could already be past. Her guess could be way off. Blood pounded in her ears, thudding with each heavy beat. If they caught her escaping, would they shackle her and lock her away somewhere her power would not work?
This was not the time for fear.
She had no idea how long it would take her to walk back to the school. To run back. Everything hinged on her returning before four in the morning.
She had to hurry and hope that Tony was still there, and no one had found Gabby’s hideout. So many things had to happen for her, Gabby, and Tony to return to the Sphere.
Callan and the other MystiK children who’d been captured were stuck there waiting for them to come back.
Returning too late meant Callan would first suffer torture at the hands of the TecKnati, then he’d die a horrible death.
The minute the red moon above the Sphere set and Callan turned eighteen, black wraiths would swarm him. He’d vanish into the ether just like Mathias had, but the other MystiKs in the Sphere didn’t know that.
Rayen stood up. She was the only one besides Callan aware of his horrible fate—the same fate of any MystiK who turned eighteen in the Sphere.
She couldn’t stop the moon from setting on the day he turned eighteen, but she might be able to do something to prevent his death.
I will not lose you, she vowed silently, repeating the words he’d said when he’d fought to protect her from a deadly plant in the Sphere.
But she couldn’t change anything if she didn’t get out of this room.
Caution from the awful memory of being shocked by the weapon had her hesitating to see if anyone had heard the internal lock parts clanging, but she couldn’t stay here any longer.
She put her ear against the door and listened.
No footsteps were coming this way. Takoda had driven through miles of desert on the way here last night. He said only a few locals lived in this small town, but he hadn’t told her if he was one of them.
She tested the doorknob again and ... it opened. Her power must have worked. This time.
Outside, the air was dry and cool where it had been hot as an oven during the day. The glow from a giant, not-quite-full moon washed over the stacked pueblo rooms built high into the night sky. Takoda had used the term pueblo, but it was unfamiliar to her. To be honest, with few memories returning so far, most of the things she’d encountered were unfamiliar to her.
Once she regained consciousness last night, Takoda had talked continually during the drive. He acted friendly and asked if she knew about Acoma Pueblo.
No, she didn’t, and they weren’t friends. Her friends had never electrocuted her with a weapon.
He’d explained what a stun gun was, then apologized.
Apology not accepted. She was still a captive.
Moving quietly, she kept picking her way through the quiet town, looking all around. The place had been built on a high plateau. In the distance, mountaintops dusted by moonlight rose against the dark skies. She had to get down from this sandstone mesa to the desert floor.
Had this place still been standing in the future when her people—C’raydonians—lived in the Sandia Mountains somewhere around Albuquerque? V’ru would know. She’d gained the only information she had on C’raydonians from V’ru, an all-knowing, eleven-year-old MystiK in the Sphere. Based on his records, it was believed that she had been born over eight decades into the future.
Her people would eventually live here.
And they would all die here, leaving no one.
Longing hit her with the swift strike of a sharp arrow for a family she couldn’t remember and a life beyond the reach of her mind.
She had nothing. No one.
In the brief, grueling days she’d been in this time, she’d formed a connection with Gabby and Tony back at the school, plus Callan and the MystiKs trapped in the Sphere.
And now someone wanted to take even that from her.
She continued sneaking through the town. No life stirred.
When she finally found the main road leading away from here, her feet picked up speed with each step toward the desert. Freedom was within her reach.
The road dropped off at a steep angle.
She embraced the adrenaline pushing her to go and started running faster through the moonlit night, using the broken white lines on the center of the road to navigate.
How long could she maintain this pace?
She didn’t know, but at least she had a trail to follow. Also, at this hour of night, no one would hear her sneakers slapping the hard surface.
Would this route lead her all the way to the school? She had been unconscious during the first part of the drive.
Breathing hard, she’d been on the desert level only a few minutes when she heard thunder.
She looked up. Not a cloud disturbed the vast sky.
The noise grew louder.
Not a storm, but the thunder of hooves pounding the ground.
Panicked, she looked over her shoulder. Four men on horses raced toward her.
“No!” She pushed her legs harder and spun her feet, searching all around. Where was a place to hide or a way to lose them? Nowhere. She stared at nothing beyond a vast ocean of sand interrupted by an occasional juniper tree.