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Apparent Power: Book One of the DiaZem Series
by Dacia Arnold

A dormant gene awakens... And so does a rising world government. Valerie Russell is the key. Does she save her husband and son? Or humanity?

Chapter One

The electricity flew from her fingers to the shower door handle. Valerie Russell yanked her hand back. The shock had not hurt, but the burst of light caught her off guard. She reached again, slowly. This time, nothing happened, and she stepped into the shower. The water flowing over her face was satisfying in that it woke her senses far better than her alarm. Startled out of her thoughts by her husband clearing his throat, she took a breath to tell him what had just happened when he cut her off.


Chapter Two

The vehicle shook violently. A faint whistle, like a hot tea kettle on a stove, grew louder with each passing second. Valerie opened her eyes just as a plane glided low over the street and crashed into a field she knew was just out of sight. She felt the impact in her chest. One after another, more aircrafts went down. Some she could see, and others were mere ground shaking rumbles in the distance. With every explosion, she jumped a little but remained transfixed on the destruction outside her small comp...

Chapter Three

Valerie screamed so loud she thought her throat would bleed. She had no time to process what had happened, had no way of knowing if her husband and son were even alive, and no way to get back to them. She collapsed onto the asphalt and sat there. Mulling over multiple what-ifs. She was stuck. She finally considered going to her father for help.

“Dammit,” she said, unable to think of any other way around it.

Valerie’s childhood was one of extreme structure. Her father gave h...

Chapter Four

Judging by the distance traveled, Valerie had walked an hour. The weight she bore was awkward with the large rucksack on her back, and the smaller, yet substantial medical bag on her front. The AR-15 sat atop the larger bag, strapped down and secure.

She trekked along the railroad running parallel to the highway which was blocked by abandoned vehicles. Though the gravel was uneven, the tracks provided a straighter path. She kept a steady pace and despite the weight and Valerie felt confident she c...

Chapter Five

“You know, Mike brags about you more than your brother,” Jack sighed. “I’ve known your pops for a long time. We served together at a training center in Louisiana in the late nineties. He saved my butt a few times. I owe him one.”

Valerie still had a hard time believing him. He looked so young, younger than her. She remembered living in Louisiana in middle school but did not recall ever meeting him. He would have looked then how he appeared to her now.


Chapter Six

Valerie looked down the hallway past Max’s foyer at the light fixtures, searching for an indication of Max’s genetic standing. Though no lights were on, it was still midday and plenty of natural lighting shown through the many windows. She had at least met Jack once before, but this was the first she had ever heard of Max. She had always felt a general apprehension toward every new face she saw, but there was something about her surroundings, maybe the house itself, that felt like a threat to...

Chapter Seven

Valerie wanted answers. She cuffed the pants Hyka had provided, put her shoes on, and looked in the mirror to adjust her tank top, careful to maintain her modesty despite the lack of undergarments. She walked down the hall to Jack’s room. The door was open, but the space was empty except for his ruck next to the bed. His room was smaller than hers and did not have a bathroom. A picture hung on the wall. Men in combat uniforms sat on a concrete barrier. She recognized many of the faces from those ga...

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,...

Chapter Nine

Wringing her hands, Valerie sat in front of the large cherry wood desk across from Max. Certificates and plaques hung along the walls next to photos like the one in Jack’s room. She was not impressed with the display of coins, ribbons, and badges he had earned throughout his life. She knew he was a snake.

Max ignored her, typing and clicking demands into the computer. Looking far too pleased with himself. He glanced up and motioned her attention to the monitor. The computer screen displayed t...

Chapter Ten

The crisp evening air gave instant relief from the stuffy confines of Max’s fortress. Valerie kept silent pace with Major as she had been instructed to earlier in the day during battle drills. Hyka stayed a moderate distance behind them with Jack at a similar distance ahead. Griff had gone far ahead with a can of spray paint. Every thirty minutes, Valerie spotted a green mark on a tree or an abandoned vehicle notifying the group of safe passage. Twice Jack forgot to stay clear of the street lights ...

Chapter Eleven

The RV lurched forward. The rocking of the vehicle knocked Valerie into Jack. He caught himself and pulled her up to her feet, searching her eyes to make sure he had heard her correctly. He had.

“What do you mean?” Jack demanded, his grip tightened on her arms.

Valerie shrugged free of Jack's grip and balanced herself.

“I wanted the RV to run, and I wanted the man dead. I panicked and focused my energy on him. Well, some of the energy grounded through Hyka. I saw the...

Chapter Twelve

“I don’t play their high-techy games,” Staff Sergeant Stephenson said, waving the barrel of the black 9mm in Valerie’s face.

O’Connell came barreling out of the command tent. He gave a visible sigh of relief when he saw Valerie was still standing. He slowed his pace to a brisk walk.

“But I cannot get over the fact I found the precious DiaZem,” Stephenson said, touching his free hand to her cheek. “I’m sure the CDC has a medal for somethin...

Chapter Thirteen

Despite her elaborate show of power, Major lay lifeless under Valerie’s hands. She searched his eyes, hoping he would return. She needed him. She needed him to tell her what to do next. She needed him to be her father’s voice of reason in his absence. His energy had not faded, but he was not there. Out of desperation, she began chest compressions.

“Griff, call 911. Please!” Tears rolled down her face.

Major’s head jerked with every thrust. His eyes stared into n...

Chapter Fourteen

Valerie held Scott’s arm and rested her head on his shoulder in the back of the package truck. He stroked her hair with his free hand. She was almost complete. Having her husband by her side made the entire journey seem trivial. She was minutes from reuniting with her son and would have time to rest. With Scott, she could figure out how to take on the CDC and free the rest of her family.

With no windows in the back compartment, the only light came from strips at the seams of the door. Griff ...

Chapter Fifteen

They provided Valerie a chair next to the grave intended for her husband. She sat in silence in a black dress that Hyka had procured from one of the resort’s stores. She had also brought Valerie a pair of sunglasses, though the clouds overhead were still thick bringing daylight to an early end. The wind blew a cold breeze through her cotton dress. She shivered and folded her arms. Words from the other services that began before Scott’s carried on the wind, but she was too exhausted to do more...

Chapter Sixteen

The raw, empty hole of her husband’s passing ripped itself open and threatened to swallow her again. She felt stupid for not having put the pieces together herself. All the signs were there. She had brushed off her morning sickness and fainting as anxiety over her newly-awakened gene. Scott would never know their child was growing inside of her. Their son was only two years old. What memory he could hold of his father, she would have to fortify with stories of how much he loved them. Scott had live...

Chapter Seventeen

Valerie pulled the heavy blanket to her chin, savoring the comfort. Caleb rustled next to her, and she pulled him into her arms, nestling him against her. She smelled his hair and looked around the dark room. She had no idea where she was but accepted the illusion of safety. Silent tears soaked into her pillow. She did not want to wipe them away for fear she would wipe away the grief she felt for her husband and any semblance of who she used to be.

“Are you alright?” Kevin asked from th...

Chapter Eighteen

“I have to get back to Caleb.” Valerie pushed out of her tall chair and walked to the elevator. Lucas was far enough away she could get back to her room and give everyone a fair warning, maybe even tell them of her pregnancy before he did.

“He knows now, doesn’t he?” Hyka asked, frustrated.

“He was going to find out either way.”

“Who’s the dad?”

Valerie stopped in front of the elevator and looked at Hyka, ready to slap ...

Chapter Nineteen

Valerie remembered the control room from her surveillance search for August. She scanned the cameras for Caleb. He was still fast asleep, and Kevin sat in the chair with his eyes closed. She let out a sigh of relief. On another screen, Jack and her father boarded a train. No one in the control room seemed to worry about the men wandering around the facility in the wee hours of the morning. She focused her attention on August. Glancing at Lucas, who was having a conversation with one of the guards, she re...

Chapter Twenty

The train approached Terminal B, where Rob had told Hyka they could find women’s clothing. As they crested the top of the stairs, a lingerie store awaited them.

“Tell me this is not what he meant by ‘women’s clothing,’” Valerie demanded. “I hate him. I hate him so much.”

“They have makeup and stuff here, too.” Hyka slapped her badge on the wall. As the gate rose, she ducked under and helped herself to a shopping bag.

Valerie l...

Chapter Twenty-One

“Madam, is Your Majesty willing to take the Oath?” Lucas Jarrett asked, holding a large heavy book. He wore a simple but formal black suit and a black bow tie.

“I am willing,” Valerie answered.

Lucas handed the book to her before proceeding with the oath. “Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the peoples of your region with power, according to the New World Council and its rising laws and customs?”

“I solemnly promise to do so.”...

Chapter Twenty-Two


Valerie washed the blood from her arms and rid herself of the excessive makeup deemed necessary for the coronation ceremony. She had no tears left. No anger racked her nerves. Even her grief washed away, staining the white-tiled shower stall. For a long time, she let the water just run over her. The hate, the hurt, the damage had broken her. The time for grieving never came. Valerie’s journey had yet to end. She did not have the luxury of being broken. She had to keep going to lead and...

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