Now the the Love's Landscapes story is off for a final proofread before I turn it in, I'm able to turn my attention to Gremlin's Last Run, which is Book 2 of the Guardians of the Pattern series. I'm close to a third of the way through the rewrite, and on track to have this out in the fall of this year.
Alek McKinnon snapped his eyes open and found himself staring into the face of a dead man.
What the fuck…?
He closed his eyes, hoping—praying—that this was just another hallucination or maybe a nightmare.
It felt pretty fucking real for a nightmare.
The floor he lay on was hard and smooth where his cheek was pressed against it. He was cold and he hurt in places he shouldn’t even be able to feel. Not so much in his body, but in his center. The light at his core wasn’t the warm, steady golden glow he was used to sensing; it flickered like a guttering candle, swirling with dark, subdued colors.
The chaotic babble of hundreds of minds in close proximity poured into his head. It hurt, and he reached down into his center and tried to visualize the shielding pattern he relied on to protect his mind. The light slipped away from him when he tried to form the pattern.
Was he still drugged? He shuddered at the thought and tried again. This time he was able to shape the light, but the colors weren’t right. The pattern he formed felt warped and twisted in ways he didn’t understand. When he tried to push the pattern into place, it didn’t fit properly. It gave him some relief, but it didn’t cut out all of the mental static like it should have...
Not drugged then, but damaged, certainly.
Nightmare… please, be a nightmare…
The alternative didn’t bear thinking about.
Alek drew in a shuddering breath and opened his eyes again. The glassy blank stare hadn’t changed. He rolled away from the body, only to encounter another on his other side.
Steeling himself against the stabbing pain in his head and the sharp ache in his side, he forced himself to his knees, looked about wildly, then sank back to the floor.
They were dead.
The techs, the guards… all of them.
Nausea twisted through him and he lowered his gaze to the floor. He couldn’t bear to look at them. If this was real, then he was responsible…
It had to be.