It's hard to believe that it's October, and that Halloween is almost here. We're already putting out Christmas items at the day job. Yikes!
On the plus side, that means only about six months until TEMPEST is released! Since that's pretty awesome, I thought I'd tease y'all with a snippet. This is Ethan "Tempest" Swift's story (as if the title didn't give that away), and the scene I chose is from Chapter Four. Ethan and Aaron Scott (remember him from CHANGELING?) are on a private jet, heading toward New York City, to help Simon Hewitt with a little job involving the folks still living in the Manhattan Island prison--and Ethan has a very personal reason for volunteering.
"We're going to be working together for at least the next three days, so at some point you're going to have to talk to me," Aaron said. He had an annoying ability to sound both condescending and completely reasonable in the exact same sentence.
Which, naturally, made me feel about five years old. I hadn't ignored him for the last three hours on purpose. I simply didn't have anything to say in the way of polite conversation. The questions I wanted to ask—What's it like for your brother sharing space with my kind-of-best friend? How can Marco learn to cope with having all that extra noise in his head and not go crazy?—would only start a fight. And us getting into it at thirty-thousand feet was a very bad idea.
I was also too busy keeping my own shit together to bother entertaining Aaron. Not just because of our destination, which was stress-inducing enough. I simply wasn't a fan of flying on man-made aircraft. Flying on my own, using the wind currents and my Meta powers to guide me, was something I had total control over. Sitting inside a giant metal tube going five hundred miles an hour was out of my control, and it meant keeping a tight lid on my emotions. The last thing I needed to do was get upset and cause unexpected turbulence.
The jet's main cabin had three rows of seats in front and a small lounge in the back. After takeoff, we'd silently moved to opposite ends of the lounge's long faux-leather sofa, and then proceeded to ignore each other. A few minutes ago, Aaron had discarded his tablet in favor of staring at me from his end of the couch. And then he spoke.
"Fine," I said. I put down the tablet I'd been reading—a pre-departure gift from Teresa, full of information on the ex-Banes already registered and in our database. "What do you want to talk about?"
If Aaron noticed the challenge in my tone, he didn't react to it. "Tell me about Manhattan. About the prison, I mean. I don't know a whole lot about it."
At least he'd chosen an easy topic—kind of. I'd never forgotten those horrifying hours I'd spent in Central Park as a thirteen year-old Ranger trainee, being chased along by a group of Banes intent on murdering us. Over the years, I'd devoured every additional scrap of information I could find on the man-made prison they'd created out of the skeleton of Manhattan Island, including security protocols and street maps. As a teenager, I'd entertained ideas of getting inside and taking out Jinx. Now all those years of studying should help us do our jobs that much faster.
Still…. "What have you been reading about this whole time?" I asked, pointing at the tablet next to Aaron's knee. We'd been given identical information, and everything he needed to know about the prison was on his tablet.
"Official documents and government reports, mostly. Suspected hiding locations for the people we're searching for, as well as a rundown of their powers."
"Did you get to the part with the map of the prison and all the specs?"
I resisted the urge pull a face. "So why are you asking me about it?"
"Because you've been there, and I never have."
Sweat prickled across my forehead. "I haven't been there in fifteen years."
Aaron tilted his head to the left, like a bird observing a potential worm in the grass—or a killer sizing up his next victim. Same difference.
Okay, so that wasn't a very generous description, but give me a break here. Maybe he could dispute that he wasn't a killer by the basic definition of the word, arguing that the consciousness of the host remained inside him in some vague capacity, but it didn't change the fact that bodies had been left behind. Or parts of bodies. Four people—Ronald Jarvis, Joel Stevenson, Arnold Stark, and Miguel Ortega—were no longer among the general population, mingling with their friends and loved ones, because of choices made by Test Subject 0982, aka King.
Now alias Aaron Scott. He insisted the peaceful amalgamation of King and Aaron was the person we interacted with, and he was the person he'd chosen to become. How that supposedly worked with four other consciousnesses floating around in his head was totally beyond me—and it was why I just didn't trust Aaron.
Working together this week was going to be an extra-special treat.
At least he was easy on the eyes. Not that I was ogling or anything, but Aaron's dirty blond hair and green eyes (a darker green than mine) were a definite win in the genetic lottery. In my more reckless youth, my type was usually defined by "available" and "male." This past year my type had been completely nonexistent, for a variety of reasons, but Aaron was—no way.
I was so not letting my brain go there.
"I read a little about that final battle you were in," Aaron said. "You were pretty brave for a bunch of kids."
I wanted to laugh, but didn't. Bravery hadn't factored much into it at the time. We were running from grownups who wanted to kill us. There's nothing vaguely heroic in trying to save your own ass.