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from Apparent Power by Dacia Arnold

Copyright © 2021 Dacia Arnold

Chapter Eight

“Everyone find a seat and listen up.” The thick Southern accent came from somewhere in the pitch black of the room. She heard others shuffle around her and waited for her eyes to adjust before following the instruction.

“Curse it, does anyone have a light?” Jack asked after a thud came from the back of the room. Someone produced a lighter. The flame was enough light for her to find the edge of the bed to sit.

“There’s a candle on the far end of the dresser,” Valerie offered, despite the rude yank into the room. Judging by where she stood, Hyka was the one to pull her in. She was as strong as she looked—and as rough, too. Griff passed the round candle to Major, who held the lighter. Once lit, he placed the orb back on the dresser in front of the mirror to better light the room. Valerie could see everyone. Hyka stood between her father and the door. Jack moved to the beige accent chair, and Griff was sitting behind her on the bed. Duke stood in the bathroom doorway with his arms crossed over his chest, the same glare on his face. She felt a little better without Max there, but the way Duke treated her like a subordinate was beyond irritating.

“Alright, Duke. You have the floor,” Major announced. In the candlelight, she could see how Eric Earl’s nickname suited him. His short stature was disproportionate to his muscle mass, reminding her of a mean little dictator with a complex. He did not belong there. He was not going with them—the only conductor to stay behind. Any comfort she felt before had retreated with his presence. He was the goon watching over her while she slept. She shuddered.

“So, a few more pieces of this puzzle are coming together. I think Max has been in on this thing for longer than he is letting on. What side he’s playing for is the real question. Mike might have put too much trust in our old friend. I think the biggest curveball is we all suspected Kevin Burton to be the one sitting here,” he said with a breath of annoyance. “Anyway, this scientist you are talking with tomorrow, he’s told Max they have another DiaZem in a facility underneath the Denver airport, where they are holding the conductors.”

“What?” Jack interrupted. “You mean the conspiracy theory about there being a hidden city under the airport is true? You have got to be kidding me. Is this the New World Order mumbo jumbo? It’s real?”

“The whole thing goes way beyond a conspiracy, Jack. There are five thousand cities across the world being used for containment areas for conductors. We can assume one of two things could come of this segregation: they will eradicate us conductors or complete a mass genocide of the general population. Regardless, Mrs. Russell cannot be taken by the CDC. Not if we hold a moral bone in our bodies. We are dealing with the real Center for Disease Control. They have taken over all government assets, including all military branches of service, to follow through with this plan. The word is FEMA has even set up in places with high fatalities to mask the processes of collecting conductors. Shit’s bad out there. Really bad.”

“I’m sorry, but I still have no idea what is going on,” Valerie interjected. “Why am I being hunted by the CDC? How do they already know I am a DiaZem when I just found out a couple of hours ago? What do I have to do with genocide?” She felt far too out of touch with the situation. They all spoke like she knew everything there was to know about her new status.

“We think your dad might have had ties to the CDC,” Duke answered. “Likely going back before any of us knew him. He was so adamant about protecting you and your brother if this ever happened. It was news to us, but there is a possibility Mike did, in fact, arrange your meeting tomorrow. As far as your identity as a DiaZem, the episode causing Mike’s capture is what tipped them, and us, off.”

“So, are we leaving now?” Griff asked. He still looked tired, but anxious to move.

“No. We stick out the timeline,” Hyka spoke up. “We couldn’t leave even if we wanted to unless Max let us. I’ve done a recon on this entire house. The place is a glorified prison. He can hear everything we are saying right now. It’s disgusting. I mean, not much we can do in the ways of privacy. He might as well be standing in this room right now. I can’t imagine what his reasoning for surveillance was before we all got here.” Hyka was direct. Despite her expression of disgust, she still carried little inflection in her voice.

“Val, you’ll continue with this meeting you have tomorrow,” Major said.

“Ask questions and find out as much as you can from this geneticist,” Hyka added. “Even go as far as to comply with every request, even your firstborn child. Whatever you do, don’t give th...

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