Author: J.C. Andrijeski
Heroine: Allie Taylor
Allie Taylor is strong in a way I don't see a lot of female heroines in media these days. Meaning, she doesn't carry a sword, or defeat fifteen opponents with preternatural kung-fu moves, or curse people out, or make a lot of sarcastic comments or belittle the men she's secretly attracted to, or kick and scream when she should probably be listening to the people who actually know what's going on in whatever dangerous situation she happens to find herself in...instead, Allie's smart, which means she knows when to argue and also when she should probably be silent and figure out what's going on, first, or even just run like hell if she's outmatched.
She also knows when she doesn't know something...which happens to her a lot in the first book of the Allie's War series, Rook: Allie's War, Book One, where she first meets Dehgoies Revik, and finds out she may not be human after all.
Allie lives in a version of modern-day Earth where a second race of seers was discovered during the early 1900s in Asia, and since then have been mostly enslaved by human beings. That second race, called Sarhaciennes, "Sarks," or seers, can read minds, push people to think or do things they wouldn't otherwise do, and spy on people from great distances. They operate in a nonphysical plane they call "The Barrier," and are kept under control by humans with sight-restraint collars, a very small population relative to humans, and a lot of laws limiting their movement and associations.
Allie gets thrust into this world, and the shadow world of seers that exists just behind the human world, with little or nothing to help her find her way. Yet she manages to not only adjust, but to take charge of her new role in this world, and to match her so-called teacher and guardian, Revik, almost from day one. He finds her sexy for that very reason, as well as the fact that she sees through who he pretends to be from the beginning...which simultaneously turns him on, intrigues him and scares the crap out of him as soon as they enter one another's lives.
Like most humans, Allie’s spent her life distancing herself from Seers, a race of human-like beings discovered on Earth in the early 1900s. After catching her boyfriend in the arms of a hot band groupie, however, that changes, and Allie goes from San Francisco artist slacker to the girl wearing the GPS anklet overnight. But that’s nothing compared to the shock of discovering who—and what—she really is.
Yanked out of her life by the mysterious Revik, Allie finds out that her blood may not be as indisputably human as she always thought. Through Revik she learns the truth: that Seers are nothing like she thought, that the world is nothing like it appears to be... and that she has far more in common with Seers than she ever wanted to believe.
Now on the run from a group of anti-human, terrorist Seers called Rooks, and her own human government, Allie must learn to navigate a secret shadow world behind her own, a world filled with superhuman Seers with their own battles, and their own agendas around the fate of humanity. When Allie’s family and friends get dragged into that war, things suddenly get a lot more personal, and Allie finds she may be the only one who can stop it.
Revik sprinted down the sidewalk, holding me against his chest. Unerringly rhythmic, his feet impacted the sidewalk as if he counted steps alongside well-regulated breaths. He held me close, and that felt calculated too, as if he’d practiced with potato sacks approximating my weight. When he reached the gravel-strewn hillside, he barely paused before vaulting up the steep bank, sliding in its shale folds at each step.
I felt sick, dazed, unsure on which side I lived. It becomes clearer as images around me flash in negative...then the Pyramid is everywhere; its silver threads shine like bright wires in rose-lit clouds. Tarnished silver entangles people on the sleepy Washington street. Red eyes surround me, bodies made of wire...
Laughter brings my eyes higher.
A face hovers below the Pyramid, and I recognize it as a ghostly version of the man from Golden Gate Park. His face morphs in Barrier wind; there is symmetry to the flickers of light, like film stuttering in a projector.
The Pyramid’s shifting cells split and reconfigure, moving on gliding rails like a carnival fun house.
I see you! Pretty bird! Do you know who carries you on such swift wings?
I feel my chest clench.
My mother calls me her bird.
I feel Revik again, his arms around me, the steady beating in his chest. No one has ever felt so much like me.
Terian’s laugh rises. I could tell you such stories about your new friend! Do you know what he used to like to do for fun?
Images start to coalesce, movies that start once I focus directly on them. They draw me in, until I want to see. I feel Revik there...a part of my fascination comes from him. He and Terian stand before a young girl with blond hair and a beautiful face and Revik’s eyes are hard, calculating. The predator is there, but he lives in silver light—
A jarring contact met my head and back. I gasped.
Pain brought the physical world into focus. Staring down at me is Revik’s sweaty face. His eyes are still glass shards, but the silver light is gone. Fear lives in them, faint but visible. He’d laid me roughly on the hood of the GTX. My back hit the protruding air vent on top, hard enough that I wondered if he’d done it on purpose.
Either way, the impact snapped me away from Terian’s mind.
I struggled to sit up as he walked to the rear of the car, opening the trunk with the keys and pulling out a black gym bag filled with something heavy. He reached inside the driver’s side window to unlock the door.
“Allie!” he said, jerking it open. “Now!”
I rolled over the hood to the passenger side while he leaned over and opened my door from the inside. By the time I got in, he was already ripping open the black nylon bag, and it struck me that the line of cars behind us had resumed honking. I watched Revik jam the key into the ignition, holding a gun against the steering wheel.
“Put on your seat belt!” he said.
I fumbled with the strap as the GTX’s engine rumbled to life. He put the car in gear. Then a voice emerged above the sound of the car’s motor. It took me a second to realize it was real...that it wasn’t his.
“What in the name of Mary’s tits...”
I crouched down, looking past Revik through the driver’s side window. Two cops stood there. Behind them, a black and white slanted down the bank beside the fisherman’s truck. The one who’d spoken stared at the gun in Revik’s hand.
“You got balls, buddy,” the second cop said, unholstering his sidearm. He raised the gun, aiming at Revik’s face. “Now toss it out the window. Real slow...”
“Sleep,” Revik said. “Now.”
Both cops collapsed on the onramp without emitting a sound.
I sucked in a breath, shocked at the clean indifference of the act. The one holding the gun wasn’t much older than me. In the rearview mirror, I saw movement in the space by the fisherman’s truck. I turned my head as another policeman emerged.
My voice burst out of me.
“Revik!” I yelled.
The third cop pulled his sidearm. I saw the brown eyes flash silver as he raised the gun.
“Seer!” I yelled.
“I know,” Revik growled.
His hand clamped the back of my neck, forcing me down past the bottom of the seat. He took his foot off the brake and the car lurched forward as the cop squeezed off his first round.
The sound of the shot seemed to come late, after the soft plink as the bullet went through the rear driver’s side window. I turned my head, staring at the hole in the upholstery until Revik shoved me down further on the seat.
I crouched on the mat when I heard the GTX’s engine roar back to life. I slid out from under the seat belt as he threw the car into reverse, slamming into the truck behind us. By then he had aimed the handgun and fired at Cop #3. He hit him in the chest on the second shot, knocking him backwards into the police car so that the man’s arm and shoulder broke the passenger side window.
The cop’s partner emerged, firing wildly.
Screams erupted on the street. I watched people run and duck in fear, eyes wide, and for a moment, I see them through Revik’s eyes, a flock of birds scattering...then Revik swiveled the gun towards the fourth cop, narrowly missing the man’s head.
He stepped on the gas...
But his foot slipped. The engine’s rev faded. I looked up, saw Revik slumped in the seat as the car continued to roll. I froze, seeing his eyes glaze as the car veered towards the edge of the road. I threw myself up and into his lap, hauling the wheel to the left with my cuffed hands, trying to get my foot down to his, to keep the car from stalling...
...when just as suddenly, he was back. I felt it just before he raised his head, jerking into life. The gun rested on his lap, pointed at his feet from where he’d slumped in the cloth seat. He stared at my handcuffs as if he didn’t know what they were. His eyes narrowed on mine.
“Revik!” I screamed. “Snap out of it!”
His eyes clicked abruptly into focus.
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