Did a weekend of reading leave you wanting more?
Sneaking peeks of your newest novel from under
your desk at work?
For the eternal reader...here is your
Monday Morning Sneak Peek!
ILLUSION by Christa Yelich-Koth
Daith's father is dead. His death caused a rip in the galaxy's peace. The remains of his army are fighting to restore it.
But Daith knows nothing of this. Her memories have been stolen. She has been kidnapped. All she knows is that she has unparalleled abilities that could help end the devastation. Except without her past, how can she know if she's on the right side?
Time is running out and Daith must choose: to search for who she was or use her gifts to restore order.
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Jacin snorted a laugh. The sickly-looking man in the reflector unit snorted at the same time. He surveyed his own face and despised the bloodshot eyes staring back.
So much pain. So much work. All for nothing.
And no one would know. Everything he’d done, he’d done for them. All his power, his energy, his hope to establish a better existence, would be lost.
Jacin turned from his own haunted stare, shuffled out of the refresher unit, and into his quarters—the space reeked of mold, rotten food, soiled clothes. All around him, in the multitude of rooms aboard his command ship, the Enforcer, individuals hustled about their lives, happy and focused. They felt part of something good, something unique.
What a cruel joke.
Jacin descended onto his couch, the cushions already crusted into the shape of his worn-out body. Though only 43 standard years old, his slow movements and rickety joints easily added decades. Papery-thin skinned hands joined together on his lap as he thought about how no one would ever understand all he’d gone through, all he’d sacrificed.
A burnt ember glowed for a moment in his tired mind. There was one man who might still listen. Trey Xiven, the commander of his ship, had followed Jacin through all his struggles and believed in everything he did. But Xiven could easily head down the same destructive path. If there was a way to tell him, show him what he needed to know…
Jacin concentrated on the memories of his life, the good and the bad. He focused his energy, almost depleted now, and sent those memories to his second-in-command. Jacin felt the images lodge in the Commander’s mind, a permanent fixture, never to be removed.
Xiven would realize soon what he’d been given—and there would be only one reason Jacin would have sent his memories. In response, he’d come to Jacin’s quarters and try to stop him from what had to be done.
To save the Eomix galaxy.
To protect his daughters.
To free himself.
Jacin Jaxx, the most powerful being in the universe, a man who could change an individual’s thoughts, who had ended dozens of wars, who was as close to a god as one could come, gave up.
Concentrating the flow of heat inside him, Jacin directed his body’s energy away from himself and out into his surroundings. His skin glowed bluish-white, like cold flame. Electronic systems around him fizzled and popped. Plunged into interior darkness, his life bled away, trickling into the void. The stars outside his spaceship expanded for a moment like miniature flaring suns. They fed off his essence, ingesting his energy as their own.
Jacin’s eyesight faded to black.
His lungs deflated. His heart stopped.
The universe grieved.
Daith Tocc rolled her eyes. “Can’t we take a break until we get to the Lax Shack?”
“You’re the one who wanted to study, how did you put it, ‘every possible waking moment before exams.’”
Daith lifted her long, dark hair off her sweaty neck. She glanced up at the large, spherical timereader suspended above the library they’d left. Showing both their planet’s time and standard time, the orb was set against the biometric rhythms of the Tunlac sun—the center of the Eomix galaxy. “Did I say that?” she joked.
Her friend grinned, his teeth white against his caramel-colored skin. “You’re a mere twenty-four standard years of age. Don’t tell me you’re losing your memory.”
She pushed him playfully. “Fine, Torrak,” she said. “You win. Where were we?”
“I asked what year, both standard and local, did Puffair join the Eomix United Front?”
Daith wiped her moist forehead while she thought. Another ridiculously hot day at Fior Accelerated Academy, which was why she and Torrak had abandoned the overcrowded, stuffy rooms at the library. Being at an academy for gifted students sounded great, but all it meant was working harder, faster, and better than everyone else.
If she’d known how intense exam sectionals would be, Daith may have reconsidered applying.
No, there wasn’t anywhere else I could go.
A shadow blotted out the sun, interrupting her thoughts. She glanced up. A small, silver spaceship hovered above her, the whirr of its engine buzzing inside her skull.
“Torrak? What under the stars—”
The ship dropped, fast. Torrak grabbed Daith’s arm and pulled her out of the way. Hot air and dirt blasted them in the face, knocking them off their feet. The ship bounced a sloppy landing. The moment the silvery beast settled the hatch opened.
“You okay?” Torrak yelled over the engine roar.
She nodded as he helped her from the ground. Dirty sweat stung her vision. She stumbled in Torrak’s grip, clenching his hand tight. Coughing, Daith watched through clouds of dust as two men in blue jumpsuits exited the vehicle.
“It’s her!” one of them shouted.
Torrak pulled Daith behind him, protecting her. The two men closed the distance.
“No!” Torrak shoved at the first man, but he was solid like a wall. He grabbed Torrak and yanked him away, but Torrak’s grip held. Sharp pain shot through Daith’s shoulder, now dislocated. The first man wrestled with Torrak. She lost his hand. Fingers dug into her hair from behind by the second man and heaved her toward the ship. Pain seared her scalp like electricity.
“Torrak!” she screamed. Her hands found her attacker’s. She tugged at them. Her shoulder seared in agony. His grip did not give way. Dust irritated her teary eyes. “Torrak! Help!” A sharp sting flared in her tricep. She could see a hand emptying red liquid from a syringe into the back of her arm. The redness swirled beneath her pale skin like ink dribbled into a glass of water.
The ground below gave way to the metallic incline of the ship. A new terror overtook her at the thought of being dragged onboard.
“Let me go!” Daith reached back, higher up the man’s arm, and yanked. Her hands slid down his hairy skin. He heaved harder and her head snapped back, pulling her closer to him. His stench reached her—a combination of body odor and mechanical lubricant.
You will be trapped once they get you inside. Do something! A heat rose inside her, licking at her insides, straining to be released.
NO! she screamed inside her head.
The heat subsided, but her panic remained. Scrambling, she got her feet beneath her and pushed backwards off the ramp, closing the distance between the two of them. Her assailant loosened his grip on her hair. She spun and brought her knee into his gut.
The man doubled over, releasing her.
Daith whipped around to flee, but pain overwhelmed her as fingers dug into her injured shoulder. The second assailant had returned. His free fist came through the swirling dirt and struck her in the jaw. She spun, teetered for a moment at the top of the ramp, and fell face-first into the doorway of the ship. Her jaw shattered against the metal floor. In a swirl of pain and grit, blackness overtook her.
Commander Trey Xiven ran his fingertips over the smooth, rounded helmet of the Memory Machine. A relic from Eomix galaxy history. Instrumental now to what needed to be done.
He sometimes wished he could use the machine on himself to erase the memories of his past, his family, and Jacin Jaxx.
But his past fueled him forward, giving him drive.
The memories of his family kept him independent and strong.
And the knowledge of the last moments before Jacin’s suicide?
What an ironic joke. Eight standard years earlier, Trey had been standing on the bridge of the Enforcer, second-in-command of an army that had spent years reshaping and remolding governments on dozens of allied planets when Jacin had implanted the memory of his final moments before death in Trey’s mind.
And for what? The sequence carried no insight. No wisdom. Jacin hadn’t given Trey any of his abilities. No. He merely got to watch, like a broadcast on a viewscreen, unable to do anything but observe a powerful man give up on everyone he’d promised to help.
That memory couldn’t be erased. Embedded in Trey’s mind, the thought clung deep inside where only a full mind-wipe would clear it. Jacin staring into the mirror, settling onto his disgusting couch, sitting in despair—which was always the moment Trey would awake in a cold sweat.
Trey relived the memory over again, night after night. For eight years he watched the same dream.
Better than the old nightmare about his mother’s death. Substitute one terror for another.
Dr. Ludd had provided him a solution—pills to suppress the portion of the brain which allowed someone to remember their dreams. Though every once in a while, the dream found a way through the haze….
Trey pulled himself out of his thoughts. Now was the time to move into the future, not think about the past. He’d been informed Daith had been located and his soldiers were on their way back to his ship, the Horizon. They would dock within three hours.
Trey’s hands trembled in anticipation. His plan was finally happening. After all the hardships, he could now take the vital step to once again reestablish peace in the Eomix galaxy.
“Doctor Ludd,” Trey said, his words accented and clipped. “Is everything prepared?”
A pink, bulbous figure floated through the doorway, hovering on a mechanical device above the floor. “Yes, Commander Xiven.” The normally verbose doctor had been restrictive with his words all day. Trey didn’t mind. He could use a break from the usual incessant babbling.
“Good. Because of the injuries she sustained, you’ll have to do some regenerative work—replacing her lost hair, fixing her dislocated shoulder, resetting her shattered jaw. But even so, the whole process shouldn’t take more than four standard days. And no mistakes, Doctor.
“No more mistakes.”