Still, in the end, Robert Gant had granted her a truer gift than his fatherhood: hope.

She didn’t know what to do with that gift.

Not yet.

But she would … with help.

Gray appeared at the back door, limned against the warmth of the kitchen lights. She liked spying on him when he didn’t know she was watching. She caught glimpses of the boy behind the man, the son of two parents who had loved Gray in very different ways.

Still, he was a killer—but not like her.

She was a machine; he was human.

She pictured the girl in the lobby of the Burj Abaadi, a girl broken into a monster. She pictured Petra, a woman molded into one.

Seichan was both of them.

What does he see in me worth holding on to?

Gray crossed the yard, stirring fireflies. Overhead, a falling star flashed across the dark night. He reached her, a shadow now.

She trembled.

He saw something in her—and she had to trust him.

He held out a hand.

Offering everything.

She took it.


It crouches on the rock, basking in the sun, charging its solar cells.

It listens for the sounds of danger, but all it hears is the crash of water over rock, the call of winged creatures. It watches for movement but sees only the shimmer of grass, the shake of leaves. It looks for heat but only finds hot rocks.

As the sunlight fills the hollow hunger inside it, making it stronger, it reviews and remembers.

Linked to the others, it had listened as their chorus shrank to nothing.

The silence deafened.

In that silence, it learned a new pattern.