The men were still unconscious in the hallway, and we hit the elevator on the right. Once inside, Archer pressed the button for the ground level.

Daemon glanced down at my hand. “You sure you’re okay with that?”

I forced a smile. “This is all I have until I get out of this stupid building.”

He nodded. “Just don’t shoot yourself…or me.”

“Or me,” added Archer.

I rolled my eyes. “What faith you guys have in me.”

Daemon lowered his head toward mine. “Oh, I have faith in you. There’s other—”

“Don’t even think about saying something dirty or trying to kiss me while you’re still in Nancy’s body.” I put a hand on his chest, holding him back.

Daemon chuckled. “You’re no fun.”

“You two need to focus on the task at hand—”

A siren went off somewhere in the building. The elevator jerked to a stop on the third floor. Lights dimmed, and then a red light flicked on in the ceiling.


“Now it’s really going to get fun,” Archer said as the elevator door opened.

In the hall, soldiers and staff rushed about, calling out orders. Archer took out the first soldier who looked our way and shouted. Daemon did the same. A soldier pulled a gun, and I lifted mine, squeezing off a round. The kickback startled me. The bullet hit the guy in the leg.

Daemon lost his hold on Nancy’s form, slipping into his own. His eyes were wide as he stared at me.

“What?” I asked. “You didn’t think I’d do it?”

“Stairwell,” Archer shouted.

“Didn’t realize you shooting a gun would be so sexy.” Daemon took my free hand. “Let’s go.”

We raced down the hallway a few feet behind Archer. Overhead lights went out, replaced by flashing red and yellow domes. Archer and Daemon were throwing blasts of energy balls like it was going out of style, causing most of the soldiers to stay back. We passed a set of elevators. Two of them opened and a handful of origins stepped out. We kept going, but I had to look back—I had to see what they were going to do. I had to know.

They were the perfect diversion.

Everyone’s attention was on them. One of the little boys had stopped in the middle of the hallway. He bent and picked up a fallen handgun, and I saw that his wrist was bare of the bracelet. The gun smoked and then melted, re-forming into the shape of a small ball.

The little boy giggled.

And then he spun, throwing the twisted wreck of a gun right at a soldier creeping up on him. The gun went straight through the man’s stomach.

My step faltered. Holy crap.

Had we done the right thing letting them loose? What would happen if they got out—out into the real world? The kind of damage they could render was astronomical.

Daemon’s grip on my hand tightened, pulling me back to the task at hand. I’d have time to worry about them later. Hopefully.

We rounded the corner at full speed, and I was suddenly forehead-level with a pistol, so close that I could see the finger on the trigger, see the tiny spark of it firing. A scream got stuck in my throat. Daemon roared, the sound final as it bounced around my skull.

The bullet stopped, its tip singeing my forehead. It didn’t go any farther. Just stopped. Air leaked out of my lungs.

Daemon snatched the bullet away, then yanked me to his chest as we spun, and there was Micah several feet behind us, one hand raised.

“That wasn’t very nice,” he said in that monotone child voice. “I like them.”

The soldier blanched, and then he was on the floor face-first—not screaming or clutching his head—and blood pooled out from under him.

Another origin appeared behind Micah, and then another and another and another. The soldiers blocking the stairwell hit the floors. Thump. Thump. Thump. A path was cleared.

“Come on,” Archer urged.

Turning back to Micah, my gaze locked with the child’s. “Thank you.”

Micah nodded.

With one last look, I turned and darted around the bodies. The thin soles of my shoes slipped on the wet floors—floors slippery with blood. It was already seeping through the bottom of my shoes. I couldn’t think about that now.

Archer pushed open the stairwell door, and as it swung shut behind us, Daemon spun on me, his hands suddenly gripping my upper arms. He roughly pulled me against him and up on the tips of my toes.

“I almost lost you. Again.” His lips brushed over the hot spot on my forehead, and then he kissed me, a deep and forceful kiss that tasted of residual fear, desperation, and anger. The kiss was dizzying in its intensity, and when he pulled back I felt stripped bare.

“No time for swooning,” he said with a wink.

Then we were tearing up the stairs, hand in hand. Archer caught a soldier on the landing. With a brutal throw, he tossed him over the railing. A series of sickening cracks caused my stomach to lurch violently.

Soldiers spilled out onto the second-floor landing. In their hands weren’t normal pistols but what looked like stun guns.

Using the railing, Daemon let go of my hand and vaulted up a level. A soldier blew past me, landing two levels down on his side. Archer was right behind Daemon. He ripped a stun gun away and tossed it down to me. Switching the pistol to my left hand, I hurried up the rest of the stairs and squeezed on the first soldier I was near.

Like I suspected, it was some kind of Taser. Two wires shot out, smacking the soldier in the neck. The man started twitching like he was having a seizure and went down. The clip disengaged, allowing me to hit the one swinging on Archer.

Once the landing was clear, Daemon dragged two of the unconscious men to the door, stacking them atop each other.

“Come on,” Archer urged as he rounded the landing, shedding the long-sleeve camo top. He reached to his neck, tucking dog tags under his white shirt.

With all the onyx and diamond in the building, I was pretty useless without my gun and Taser. The muscles in my legs were starting to burn, but I ignored them and pushed on.

When we reached ground level, Archer looked over his shoulder at us. He didn’t speak out loud, and the message was directed at both of us. We don’t try to take any vehicles from the hangar. Once outside, we’ll be faster than anything they have. We head south toward Vegas, on Great Basin Highway. If we get separated, we meet at Ash Springs. That’s about eighty miles from here.

Eighty miles?

There’s a hotel called The Springs. It’s used to having weird people show up. While I wondered what kind of weird people, and realized that was a stupid thing to even be thinking about, Archer reached into his back pocket and pulled out a wallet. He shoved cash in Daemon’s hand. This should be enough.

Daemon nodded curtly, and then Archer looked at me. “Ready?”

“Yes,” I croaked, my fingers tightening around the guns.

With fear so thick I could taste its bitter tang, I took a deep breath and nodded again, mostly for my own benefit.

The door opened, and for the first time in what had to be months, I breathed in fresh air from the outside. Dry but clean air, not manufactured. Hope bubbled up, giving me the strength to power forward. I could see a slice of sky beyond the vehicles, the color of dusk, pale blue and orange-red. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. Freedom was right there.

But between us and freedom was a small army of soldiers. Not as many as I’d expected, but I assumed that a lot were still underground, dealing with the origins.

Daemon and Archer wasted no time engaging. Bursts of white light lit up the hangar, ricocheting off tan Humvees, tearing through canvas. Sparks flew. Punches were thrown in close combat. I did my part—Tasing anyone I could get close to.

As I darted around the fallen bodies, I spied an artillery load in the back of a flatbed truck. “Daemon!”

He twisted around and saw what I was pointing at. I took off, narrowly avoiding being tackled. I turned, squeezing off another round. Metal prongs dug into the back of the soldier. Bright white light tinged in red crackled over Daemon’s shoulders, wrapping around his right arm. Energy pulsed, arcing over the space between him and the truck.

Seeing what he was about to do, several soldiers ran, taking cover behind the large Humvees. I did the same, heading for a row of vehicles as Daemon hit the back of the truck, and it went up like the Fourth of July. The explosion rocked through the hangar, a powerful wave that shook my insides and knocked me flat on my butt. Thick gray smoke billowed through the enclosure. In an instant, I lost sight of Daemon and Archer. Over the popping explosions, I thought I heard Sergeant Dasher.

I was stunned into immobility for a second, blinking out the acrid stench of burning metal and gunpowder. A second was all it took.

Out of the heavy smoke, a soldier appeared. I sat up, whipping the stun gun around.

“Oh, no you don’t,” he said, catching my arm in both hands, above my elbow and below, and twisting.

Pain shot up my arm and burst along my shoulders. I held on, rolling my body so that I broke the brutal hold. The soldier was trained, and even with all the work Daedalus had put into training me, I was no match. He caught my arm again, the pain sharper and more intense. I dropped the stun gun, and the soldier landed a stinging blow across my cheek.

I don’t know what happened next. The other gun was in my left hand. My ears were ringing. Smoke burned my eyes. My brain had clicked into survival mode. I fired the gun. Warm liquid sprayed me across the face.

With the gun being in my left hand, my aim was slightly off. I hit him in the left side of his chest. I wasn’t even sure what part of him I was aiming at, but I hit him. There was a gurgling sound that I found so strange, because I could hear it over the yelling, over the screaming, and over the shells still going off. Nausea rolled up my stomach.

A hand landed on my shoulder.

Screaming, I whirled and came within two seconds of offing Daemon. My heart almost stopped. “Dammit. You scared the crap out of me.”

“You were supposed to stay with me, Kitten. That wasn’t staying with me.”

Sending him a look, I edged around the back of a Humvee. The encroaching night sky beckoned us like a siren. Archer was a few Humvees down. He caught sight of us, looked at the opening, and nodded.

“Wait,” Daemon said.

Dasher appeared out one of the doors, surrounded by guards. His usually neat hair was a mess. His uniform was wrinkled. He was scanning the strewn debris, issuing orders I couldn’t make sense of.

Daemon looked up, his gaze tracking the floodlights. A half grin appeared, and he caught my stare, winking. “Follow me.”

We backtracked, creeping along the side of the Humvee. Peering out around the scorched canvas, I saw the coast was clear. Hurrying down the row of vehicles, Daemon stopped in front of a metal pole that rose to the ceiling.

When he placed his hands on the beam, the Source flared from his fingertips. A wave of light rolled up the pole and spread out across the ceiling. Lightbulbs blew, one after another, stretching the length of the hangar, plunging the room into near darkness.

“Nice,” I uttered.

Daemon chuckled and grabbed my hand. We started running again, meeting up with Archer. Panicked voices rose, creating a diversion for the three of us to head toward the lower opening, in the opposite direction from Dasher’s crew. But the moment we stepped out from behind the row of Humvees, the dim glow from outside cast enough light.

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