AMT BOOK 1
After discovering she has elemental fire magic as a teenager, Kiarra Melini spends the next fifteen years inside a magical prison. While there, she undergoes a series of experiments that lead to a dangerous secret. If she lives, all magic will be destroyed. If she dies, magic has a chance to survive. Just as she makes her choice, a strange man breaks into cell, throws her over his shoulder, and carries her right out of the prison.
To rescue his brother, Jaxton Ward barters with his boss to rescue one other inmate–a woman he’s never met before. His job is to get in, nab her and his brother, and get out. However, once he returns to his safe house, his boss has other ideas. Jaxton is ordered to train the woman and help her become part of the anti-magical prison organization he belongs to.
18+ / HEA, no cliffhanger / Second Edition as of 4/6/2015
First-born Feiru children are dangerous. At the age of magical maturity they will permanently move into compounds established for both their and the public’s protection. These compounds will be known as the Asylums for Magical Threats (hereafter abbreviated as “AMT”).
—Addendum, Article III of the Feiru Five Laws, July 1953
Jaxton Ward kept his gaze focused on the nearing mountain ledge ahead of him. If he looked down at the chasm below his feet, he might feel sick, and since his current mission was quite possibly the most important one of his life, he needed to focus all of his energy on succeeding.
After all, if things went according to plan, Jaxton would finally see his brother again.
He and his team of three men were balanced on a sheet of rock five thousand feet in the air. To a human, it would look like they were flying. However, any Feiru would know they were traveling via elemental wind magic.
Darius, the elemental wind first-born on his team, guided them the final few feet to the mountain ledge. As soon as the sheet of rock touched solid ground, Jaxton and his team moved into position.
The mountain under their feet was actually one of the most secure AMT compounds in the world. Getting in was going to be difficult, but getting out was going to take a bloody miracle, especially since he’d had to barter with his boss for the location of his brother. In exchange, he had promised to rescue not just Garrett, but one other unknown first-born as well.
Taka, the elemental earth first-born of Jaxton’s team, signaled he was ready. He nodded for Taka to begin.
As Taka reached a hand to the north, the direction of elemental earth magic, the solid rock of the mountain moved. With each inch that cleared to form a tunnel, Jaxton’s heart rate kicked up. Jaxton was the reason his brother had been imprisoned inside the mountain for the last five years and he wasn’’t sure if his brother had ever forgiven him.
Even if they survived the insurmountable odds, located Garrett, and broke into his prison cell, his brother might not agree to go with them. Considering the rumors of hellish treatment inside the AMT compounds, his brother’s hatred would be justified.
Once the tunnel was big enough for them to enter, Jaxton pushed aside his doubts. No matter what his brother might think of him, Jaxton would rescue him, even it if took drugging Garrett unconscious to do so.
Taking out his Glock, he flicked off the safety. Jaxton was the only one on the team without elemental magic, but he could take care of himself.
He moved to the entrance of the tunnel, looked over his shoulder at his men, and nodded. After each man nodded, signaling they were ready, he took out his pocket flashlight, switched it on, and jogged down the smooth tunnel that would lead them to the inner corridors of the AMT compound.
If his information was correct, the AMT staff would be attending a site-wide meeting for the next hour. That gave Jaxton and his team a short window of opportunity to get in, nab the two inmates, and get back out again.
He only hoped everything went according to plan.
Kiarra Melini stared at the small homemade shiv in her hand and wondered for the thousandth time if she could go through with it.
She had spent the last few weeks racking her brain, trying to come up with an alternative plan to save the other prisoners of the AMT without having to harm anyone. Yet despite her best efforts, she’d come up empty-handed.
To protect the lives of the other first-borns inside the AMT, Kiarra would kill for the first and last time.
Not that she wanted to do it, given the choice. But after overhearing a conversation between two AMT researchers a few weeks ago, she knew the AMT would never again be safe for any of the first-borns while she remained alive.
The outside world might have chosen to forget about the existence of the first-born prisoners, but that didn’t make them any less important. Kiarra was the only one who cared, and she would go down fighting trying to protect them.
Even if it meant killing herself to do so.
She took a deep breath and gripped the handle of her blade tighter until the plastic of the old hairbrush dug into her skin. Just as she was about to raise her arm to strike, her body shook. Kiarra closed her eyes and breathed in and out until she calmed down enough to stop shaking. Ending her life, noble as her reasons may be, was a lot harder than she’d imagined.
Mostly because she was afraid to die.
But her window of opportunity was closing fast; the AMT-wide meeting would end in less than an hour. After that, she would have to wait a whole other month before she could try again, and who knew how many more first-borns would suffer because of her cowardice.
Maybe, if she recalled the conversation between the two researchers, the one which forebode the future harsh realities of the other AMT prisoners, she’d muster enough nerve to do what needed to be done.
It was worth a shot, so Kiarra closed her eyes and recalled the conversation that had changed the course of her life forever.
Strapped to a cold metal examination table, Kiarra kept her eyes closed and forced herself to stay preternaturally still. The slightest movement would alert the researchers in the room that she was conscious again. She couldn’t let that happen, not if she wanted to find out the reason why the researchers had increased her examination visits and blood draws over the past two weeks.
Most AMT prisoners wouldn’t think twice about it, since they’d been conditioned not to ask questions, but Kiarra had gone through something similar before. The last time her visits had increased with the same frequency, the AMT researchers had stolen her elemental magic.
Since then, no matter how many times she reached to the south—the direction of elemental fire—she felt nothing. No tingling warmth, no comforting flame. She was no different from a non-first-born, yet she was still a prisoner, unable to see the sky or feel a breeze, and forced to live in constant fear of what the guards or researchers might do to her.
Of how they might punish her.
Dark memories invaded her mind. However, when the female researcher in the room spoke again, it snapped Kiarra back to the present. The woman’s words might tell her more about her future, provided she had one after her treatment.
She listened with every cell in her body and steeled herself not to react.
“Interesting,” the female researcher said. “Out of the ten teenagers, nine of them still can’t use their elemental magic, just like F-839. Dr. Adams was right—her blood was the key to getting the Null Formula to work.”
It took all of Kiarra’s control not to draw in a breath. Her serial number was F-839, and all of the extra blood draws finally made sense—the AMT was using her blood to try and eradicate elemental magic.
The male researcher spoke up. “They’re going to start a new, larger test group in a few weeks and see if they can stop the first-borns from going insane and/or committing suicide. If we don’’t get the insanity rate below ten percent, then we’ll never be able to implement this planet-wide.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll get there. We have a few million first-borns to burn through to get it right.”
Kiarra opened her eyes and embraced the guilt she felt every time she thought about what had happened to those poor first-born teenagers.
Because of her blood, not only had five teenagers already gone insane, but their insanity was driving an untold number of them to suicide.
And the researchers wanted to repeat the process with a larger group.
She couldn’t let that happen.
They needed her blood, drawn and injected within hours, as a type of catalyst for the Null Formula to work. If they didn’t have access to her blood, they wouldn’t be able to conduct any more tests.
There was a chance the researchers might find another catalyst within a few weeks or months, but it was a risk she was willing to take. Stopping the tests, even for a few months, would prevent more people from going insane or committing suicide.
Kiarra needed to die.
I can do this. Think of the others. Taking a deep breath, she tightened her grip around the shiv’s handle and whispered, “Please let this work,”” before raising the blade with a steady hand and plunging it into the top half of her forearm.
Kiarra sucked in a breath as a searing pain shot up her arm. To prevent herself from making any more noise, she bit her lip. Despite the AMT-wide staff meeting, a guard would come to investigate her cell if she screamed.
You can do this, Kiarra. Finish it. With her next inhalation, she pulled the blade a fraction more down toward her wrist. This time she bit her lip hard enough she could taste iron on her tongue.
While her brain screamed for her to stop, she ignored it and gripped the handle of the blade until it bit into her palm. Only when her heart stopped beating would the other first-borns be safe—at least from her.
An image of a little girl crying, reaching out her arms and screaming Kiarra’s name, came unbidden into her mind, but she forced it aside. Her sister had abandoned her, just like the rest of her family. Her death wouldn’t cause anyone sadness or pain. Rather, through death, she would finally have a purpose.
This was it. On the next inhalation, she moved the blade a fraction. But before she could finish the job, the door of her cell slid open.
Kiarra looked up and saw a tall man, dressed head to toe in black, standing in her doorway and pointing a gun straight at her.
Shit. She’d been discovered.