Don’t fear the army of genetically engineered perfect killers. Fear the cripple who leads them.
An alpha empath, Danyael Sabre is powerful, rare, and coveted, even among the alpha mutants who dominate the Genetic Revolution. Betrayed by his friends and abandoned to a life sentence in a maximum-security prison, Danyael receives freedom and sanctuary from an unlikely quarter–the Mutant Assault Group, an elite mutant task force within the US military. Physically crippled and emotionally vulnerable, Danyael succumbs to the warmth of friendships and the promise of love he finds within their ranks.
Friendship and love, however, demand his loyalty, and Danyael rises to the challenge of training and leading the assault group’s genetically modified super soldier army. The super soldiers are faster and stronger than the military’s human soldiers; their animal instincts spur ferocity and fearlessness in battle. Who is the perfect weapon, though, the super soldiers or Danyael, the alpha empath, who can, with a touch, heal or kill?
Adversaries swarm like vultures around carrion; the pawn is once again in play. The threads of betrayal that sent Danyael to prison spin into a web, ensnaring him. When a terrorist group strikes Washington, D.C., how far will Danyael go to defend a government that sent him to prison to die?
Fifty-five, fifty-six, fifty-seven.
Talons of pain tore down Danyael Sabre’s spine. The man arched, convulsing, when shards of agony pierced his mind. He had missed the last count by three seconds. His chest heaved in jagged bursts as he inhaled through the aftershocks of pain. He started counting again. One. Two. Three.
Life was measured in sixty-second increments. He spent the hours of every day counting the seconds between each shock that surged from the electric collar around his neck. On a scale of one to ten, the last surge was a six. He needed at least a nine to overwhelm his exhausted body and mind and stun him into unconsciousness for several minutes or hours. The irony did not escape him. He had been reduced to desiring pain if only because it offered blessed oblivion, however brief, from his unending hell.
Seven, eight, nine.
The door of his cell opened. He raised his head from the cold floor, squinting against the glare of spotlights. Two guards, tall and brawny in their olive green uniforms, strode in. One he recognized as a frequent tormentor. The other was a new face.
Danyael clung to the wall for support and dragged himself to his feet. Vertigo spun his world, but willpower kept him upright.
“It’s time for your shots.” The first guard passed a small syringe-filled tray to his companion and rolled up his sleeves. “It looks like I missed the window of opportunity.” He looked at the new prison guard; his tone was conversational, a discussion between teacher and student. “If you time it right, he’ll still be woozy from the effects of the last dose, and you can shoot him up without worrying about his empathic powers.”
The second guard snorted. “Hah. He’s just an empath.”
“Tell that to Clark. He made the mistake of allowing Danyael to touch him.” The guard’s upper lip curled into a sneer. His glare raked over Danyael. “You didn’t manage to kill him, you bastard. He’s alive. He’s going to make it.”
The new guard stared down at the tray of syringes and frowned. “So how do we get these into him if we can’t touch him?”
“You can, just not when he’s conscious and aware enough to use his empathic powers. We soak him down.” The guard’s grin was malicious. “The water, combined with the shock from the electric collar, will knock him out for at least an hour, maybe even longer. The drugs we pump into him keep him docile for four to five hours.”
“And then we do this again?”
“And again and again. You don’t take any chances with class-five mutants.” The guard unwound the hose coiled in a corner of the cell. He placed a hand on the valve. His eyes narrowed on Danyael, and he bared his teeth in a macabre grin.
The blast of icy water drove Danyael to his knees and tore a scream from him. The sound, emitted by damaged throat muscles, sounded like a guttural croak. He shuddered, shivering as water sloughed dirt from him.
The guard spun the valve. The escalating volume and pressure of the water slammed Danyael to the floor.
The cell shook, walls and floor vibrating. The guards looked around, startled, and then panicked when the door blew in. Solid steel smashed into the two men, crushing their bodies against the far wall. Danyael looked up, too exhausted to summon bewilderment, as several people swarmed into the cell.
A young man knelt beside him. “Danyael Sabre?”
“Stay away,” he whispered. “Electric shock.” Fifty-three, fifty-four.
“We’re here to get you out. It’s going to be all right. You’re safe now.”
If only he could believe it. Danyael’s lips tugged into a bittersweet smile. Fifty-seven, fifty-eight, fifty-nine.
He had been right on the count. Danyael was soaking wet and in contact with the steel floor. When electricity surged from the collar, the current charged through the length of his body. Pain, white and brutal, ripped through him, shredded awareness from his mind, and plunged him into merciful darkness.