Sequel to The Crystal Call
Kenna and Yuuki go on a mission to track down Moíra, the evil woman behind the mutations that now infect the former United States. They intend to make her pay for what she’s done, especially for torturing Dakota. Their trip on horseback is a long one, and they encounter many groups of people, some of who are definitely not friendly.
Meanwhile, Dakota and Terrell set up shop in their little fortress. But peace and quiet are interrupted by the reappearance of an enraged Odessa, who demands to know where Kenna can be found.
Will Kenna and Yuuki find Moíra, and can they handle a fight against her? Moreover, what will Odessa do if and when she locates Kenna?
She stood up and watched the tent tilt and sway. Soldiers began rushing out to face whatever caused the quake. Ken handed the notebook to Yuuki and motioned for her to come near. When she did, “It’s not a talisman,” she reminded her. “But it could be a creature.”
“We should get out of here.” Yuuki turned toward the exit.
She hesitated. “If it’s a monster, I should help. I’m the best equipped.”
“Ken, no! This isn’t our problem. Let’s just take off.” She started pulling Kenna toward the opening in the tent. “Please!”
Standing her ground, “We can’t run from this. I have the power to stop whatever’s out there. Maybe I can save some lives in the process. If you want, I can take you back to the barracks first, but I have to do this.”
“You said you wouldn’t leave me.”
“I won’t. I just thought it would be safer. You can certainly come with me.”
Yuuki wanted nothing to do with it. Her face showed fear even as the initial shaking stopped. She’d been through so much in her life, but it did very little to harden her. She was still soft -- beautifully so -- and raw. She knew they had a job to do, and maybe she was ready for it, but she hadn’t counted on all the possible problems along the way. Gangs. Dying people. And monsters. Poor sleep and diet only aggravated her nerves further.
Cupping her face in both hands, Ken kissed her. “It’ll be all right. Trust me. Let’s go check it out. If it’s something I can’t handle, we’ll turn tail, okay?”
Her eyes begged Kenna to change her mind, but when she showed no sign of it, Yuuki acquiesced with a nod. The two made their way outside. They slowly walked in the direction that the soldiers were running.
When they got to the source, it was a large figure near the east wall. The men were hunkered down, taking ineffective shots at the monster -- a three-story-high behemoth. As it turned out, the shaking soil was caused by the creature’s enormous hind legs, which looked engorged. Some of the flesh dragged on the ground as it moved.
It had almost no hair, its skin a whitish pink. Its face looked something like a dog or weasel, minus fur. But it had no visible ears and no tail. While the back legs looked almost human, the front ones were twisted into scythe-like nails or claws. One giant hook for each limb. The organic blades rested on the ground in front of it, and it seemed like the grotesque thing could actually walk on all fours.
The creature’s mouth opened, and it screeched. It seemed disoriented, pacing back and forth like a scared horse. Ken thought perhaps it wandered toward the base in search of food, or the noise attracted it. Now, it found itself wounded and unable to continue forward. It wasn’t attacking yet, but it could at any second.
Ken activated her lightning talisman Ke’rick. The dull purple lit up until it was almost white. She immediately felt electricity in the air. Some of Yuuki’s hair drifted upward from the static. Then, an arch of lightning appeared from somewhere between the buildings and landed near the animal’s feet. It shied away but remained unaffected. She tried to focus her mind, to point the lightning at the thing’s head and midsection.
But she couldn’t direct it. She couldn’t focus. The voices were particularly active, each saying something different. One wanted her to flee while two others had separate advice on how to win the battle. The Teacher was still working on passages from the notebook. The Martyr thanked her for putting her life on the line. And the Augur was entirely concerned with Yuuki’s safety.
There were five more lightning strikes that missed the target before one connected. A burn mark appeared on the creature’s side. It roared and fell over. But it wasn’t even close to being dead.
It lashed out with one of those claws and impaled or crushed three men.
As it tried to right itself, blood oozed in relatively small amounts from the wound. It kicked at the asphalt and scraped the stretched-out bare skin of its legs. Everywhere else, except for the face, seemed to be hardened, making bullet penetration low. The soldiers continued shooting and seemed to get in a few meaningful hits near the mouth. Its black eyes looked dead, and she wondered if it could even see.
But that wouldn’t make it any less dangerous. “Aim for the legs!” she shouted to the soldiers. At least they could immobilize it. “The hind legs!”