Author's Note: I am currently revising Apathy, the first book of the trilogy. I have planned Empathy and will start posting chapters for it soon. But until then, I thought I would give you all a preview of a scene I wrote a while ago that will be included. I hope you enjoy this and that it will satisfy all of you who are anxious to read Empathy for just a little while longer! Again, I want to thank everyone who read Apathy and if you haven't read it yet then make sure you do before reading this story!
"NOOOOOOOOOO!" I bellow, launching myself through the gap in the burned metal that I made. I don't have a moment to spare for astonishment at what I've done or can do now. Nothing matters right now, except for getting to Charlotte. She has to be okay. She just has to be.
The others try to come through the aperture behind me but I stop them.
"Liam, what are you—"
"Go!" I yell angrily, spit flying everywhere. "Get out of here! Now!"
"But, Liam," of course Sophia is the one who argues with me. "We can help you. We can—"
"No, you can't!" I don't allow her to finish. I'm fuming, my chest heaving. Every breath I take is agony but also fuel for the damage I'm about to create. "Sophia, take the others and get out of here. I can handle this myself."
"What about Charlotte?" Emma asks. She tries to stare past me but I shield the scene behind me from view. But I know she briefly glimpsed Charlotte because tears start welling up in her eyes. "What about—"
"For the last time, GO!" My words are nothing more than growls but they are enough for them all to take the hint. Sophia glares at me and Emma stares through teary eyes, before they both turn away.
"We'll find Abigail," Sophia tells me. "She hasn't returned yet."
And they depart. I watch their retreating backs for a moment and then I turn around.
The Harbinger circles around the room, dancing in and out of the shadows while eyeing me and waiting like a predator taunting its soon to be prey. I walk forward and my eyes flicker towards Charlotte. Her body lies limp, unmoving. I can still hear the crackle of electricity that tore through her as if it's still happening. Why didn't she fight back? She could have prolonged the attack a little longer until I was able to reach her.
But this is not Charlotte's fault and I will not blame her for this. It's the Harbinger's fault and I'm going to make the abomination pay if Charlotte's . . . .
No. She's not dead. I know she's not dead. She's still alive. She's just terribly injured. The Harbinger's powers are unlike any I have ever seen, more powerful and destructive than any other Empath I have come to know. Except, for perhaps me. I am powerful now and I am destructive. I can match the Harbinger and I can best him or her to save Charlotte.
My face is rigid, stiff with rage. I sweep over to Charlotte and look down at her. Her eyes are closed and she looks so peaceful, so beautiful. I hate that our last conversation ended the way that it did. I shouldn't have told her but I had to be honest with her. I care about her so much and she needed to know before our relationship blossomed into something more.
I kneel down next to her, silently willing her move, to give me an indication that she's still alive. But she remains as still as a corpse and it doesn't seem like she's breathing. Her clothes are smoking; the electricity from the Harbinger singed several holes into the cloth. I reach out a trembling hand to check for her pulse, afraid that she won't have one. "Wake up, Charlotte," I whisper.
"She won't wake up," the Harbinger speaks. I'm surprised by the voice because it's not what I expected. I anticipated a robotic voice or one heavily distorted like the voices of Amber Army soldiers, but the Harbinger's voice is . . . normal and oddly familiar.
I turn to face the Harbinger, who's behind a wall of darkness, my outstretched hand brushing across Charlotte's arm. Her flesh is cool to the touch, which is not a good sign. I try to ignore my discovery but it's difficult not to suspect the worse. She's okay, I tell myself. Charlotte's okay.
"Yes, she will," I say defiantly. I wanted to yell but my voice is so weak all of a sudden as I choke back tears. I don't believe the Harbinger. I have to check for myself. I have to be sure before I believe it. And if Charlotte dead, I believe that my world will end right here and now. The Harbinger will claim another victim if Charlotte's gone.
"No, she won't," the Harbinger insists, stepping out of a dark corner.
I glimpse the sleek black armored suit that provides whatever extra energy for the Harbinger's enhanced abilities and concentrated power supply. The armor gleams brilliantly, even in the dim lighting. I notice then that the Harbinger no longer wears a helmet. Unmasked, I learn that the Harbinger is not some kind of twisted creature of nightmares like I imagined. The Harbinger is human of course and the last person I expected to see right now, the first and only successful product under the Harbinger Initiative.
I recognize the Harbinger and the face staring back at me with malcontent devastates me with shock.
No, it can't be. No . . . .