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Black Dawn

The Eurynome Code



Genetic engineering. Conspiracy. An unstoppable attack.

Karin Makos lives a lie. Genetically engineered from birth and raised in a scientific compound to gain unnatural powers, she has since escaped and built another life, hidden from those who created her. For her, the chance to pilot a small-time scrounging vessel to remote corners of space is the dream. After years on the run with her sister and enduring the constant paranoia of living planet-side, going off-radar gives her exactly what she wants: freedom.

That dream is shattered.

A system-wide attack decimates humanity and leaves the survivors scraping for clues. And Karin might know where to look.

But digging into her past comes with a whole new set of secrets and consequences, none of which she wants to face. Plagued by strange dreams of her sister and a sense of growing danger, Karin and the crew of the Nemina must race desperately across space to find their loved ones—and answers.

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An Excerpt from Chapter 3:

Karin awoke with a jerk.

Darkness smothered her sight. For the first few, confused moments, remnants of the dream fought with her recent memories―the smell of summer grass, the hard-packed earth against her feet, the familiarity of the bed, the red, analog-styled numbers of the cycle-clock on the side table next to her bunk. Clammy sweat cooled on her skin and made the bedding stick to her like a trap, its pungent scent rising from the sheets, sour with panic. Her ankle throbbed, the sensation coming in dull waves. As she struggled to release herself, she noticed that her forearm hurt, too―in the exact same place that dream-Nomiki had cut her.

Must have hit it in my sleep, she thought. Then my brain tried to explain it logically in my dream. That’s why Nomiki attacked.

She slumped back on the bed as the logical part of her mind activated, the memories of the dream washing over her.

Not like she hadn’t had nightmares before. Gods knew there’d been plenty of those. Bad dreams were her brain’s rather inadequate way of dealing with all the trauma she’d been through. Today’s work must have hit some trigger-point or the like―maybe something she’d seen down below, or the disruption of her normal schedule. Perhaps even the chat she and Marc had, as innocuous as it had been.

The brain was a random-thought-generator, creativity its domain.

Nomiki wasn’t usually involved, though.

She shifted, rubbing the ache on her arm, then froze as her fingers touched something warm and wet. An electric zing ran through her skin.

“The hell?”

Karin jerked her head down, frowning into her quilt. As she detangled the sweat-coated sheets, light appeared, splattered across her arm like liquid star-shine.

Her eyes widened, taking it in.

At the same time, a form on the other side of the room moved.

She sucked in a breath, snapped her head up, and froze.

It was a person―or, at the very least, a very lifelike, person-shaped shadow. Tall, with edges that blended into the room’s already significant darkness, it stood against the wall with no depth or definition to its figure, only darkness. She couldn’t see any features, not eyes or the rumples where clothes might be, or―heck, were those arms?

The seconds ticked by as she stared, eyes locked on the form, body frozen in fear. Her heart thudded hard against her ribs, speeding up.

Gods, it mustbe a trick of her mind, a piece of clothing hung against the wall in an unfortunate way, personified by the part of her brain that looked for reasons to be afraid of the dark. Or sleep paralysis with the accompanying demon―everything she’d read indicated the hallucinations often took on this shadow type of form. Except, she’d already moved around, which negated the whole paralysispart of that condition.

Hells, was she still dreaming?

For several long seconds, she watched it, wondering exactly that.

Then it moved again.

Karin yelled out, jerking from her bed. The bedding lumped around her calves and she kicked it loose, throwing the top part of it at the thing when it lunged. Light flooded the room from her arm as she pulled herself out of bed. She half-crawled, half-flung herself over the side table and searched for a weapon, or anything, to defend herself with.

Her fingers bumped against the hard edge of her suit’s helmet. She reared back and swung it blindly behind her. It connected with something solid.

Then it jerked out of her hand… to land in the corner and roll against the wall.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the sheets she’d thrown earlier fall to the floor. The thing straightened, dwarfing the room as it came to his full height. As she got her first good look at it in the mercurial glow that still shone from her arm, her heart stopped.

It was black, head to toe―and not just dark-skinned like Marc, either―but black. As if someone had taken a piece of the darkest parts of space, put it into a person-shape, and left it in her room. It had no clothes, no features, not even a defined edge. In fact, the edges where hard to look at, as if someone had placed a blur filter on them.

Maybe it was a trick of her eyes, or a twinge from her subconscious, but she definitely got the sense of femaleness from it.

And familiarity. As if some part of her knew what the thing was, or had seen it before.

A flash of memory pulsed through her mind, heavy as static. In her mind’s eye, she saw the ruins again, and Nomiki, the knife in her hand glowing with Karin’s light.

Project Eos.

The thought floated into her head like a half-remembered voice. She shivered, feeling a length of cold coil through her bones. The smell of stomach acid rose to the back of her throat. Her shoulders began to shake.

Her jaw clenched and she shoved the feeling aside. Adrenaline replaced it, heart pounding in her head rapid-fire.

It seemed to regard her for a moment, turning its head her way and pausing. She took a step back, bumping her heel into the corner of her storage crate. Blood roared in her ears as she groped her hand along the wall, looking for something else to fight with.

But this time, when the Shadow lunged, she had nothing. Not even the sheets.

She stumbled backwards, knees buckling as she smacked into the crate again. A strangled yell left her throat as she fell back, and she clawed at the air as the Shadow loomed above and overtook her. She slammed hard against the metal top. The air jumped from her lungs in a solid whumph.

Her yell turned into a whimper.

The Shadow loomed above her. Its hands pricked her body, an uneasy sensation neither cold nor hot. It felt like they were going inside her throat, the same way radiation or anesthesia might, trespassing her skin, pushing through her tendons and muscles, touching her blood. Blackness smothered her sight―its head, followed quickly by its body, blocking out the room’s light.

She struggled, tried to kick out, but an amorphous weight pinned her down.

A sob crumpled from her lungs. She gritted her teeth and kicked again and again, attempting to chamber and snap as her sister had taught her long ago, but it was useless―she might as well be kicking a pillow. Tears pricked her eyes as the thing’s hand moved up through her jaw, its long fingers pushing through her bone and toward her brain, touching the marrow on their way past. Its head hovered directly above hers, the place where its eyes should be boring a hole into her awareness. Fingers smothered her mouth and nose.

Then, in her struggle, something shifted.

Light pricked through the blackness. The white droplets on her arm still shone, dimmer than before, but persistent.

She brought her hand up. Muscles shaking, she pushed energy into the light. It shivered at her touch like water under a full moon, waxing, growing. The thing’s hand moved into her eyes. A fingertip brushed through her skull like the touch of a feather. She cringed, pulled away. Then she pushed back.

Light exploded from her skin.

The black thing shrieked.

Suddenly, it was gone, off of her. Her sight returned.

She could breathe again.

She coughed, scrambled to her feet, squinting as her eyes adjusted. It seemed like she’d lit a tiny sun in the room. Light flooded every surface and corner, pure white and blinding. Most of it came from her arm―the cut on her wrist that dream-Nomiki had inflicted―but some of it had spread. Drops of it splattered across the walls. Others hung in the air, shivering, like motes of glowing dust.

The Shadow stood against the far wall, its humanoid form horribly delineated between light and dark, the edges of it still inexplicably blurred. As the glow ebbed, fading back toward the mercurial dimness it had when she’d awoken, the thing seemed to regard her again, its attention more serious this time.

Then the door hissed open. In shock, she watched as it slipped out and fled down the corridor. It made no sound, but it cast a shadow that shifted across the floor and up the walls.

The door stayed open for a few seconds, then shut again.

She was alone.

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