“Allison, Ezekiel?”

“Yeah?”

“Hang on to something.”

The car leaped forward with a squeal, gaining speed, as we hurtled straight for the approaching swarm. Kanin didn’t slow down but flipped on the headlights just as we crashed full speed into the first wave, knocking them aside with wet thumps. Rabids flung themselves at the vehicle, smashed into the windshield, and were hurled away. They leaped onto the hood, clinging desperately as they screamed and clawed at the glass, soulless white eyes peering madly through the barrier.

One rabid’s skull hit the windshield as it leaped at us, and a spiderweb of cracks instantly spread across the glass.

The wall loomed in front of us, the space in front of it clear, though the massive iron gates were still closed. With a few rabids still clinging to the van, we sped unerringly toward the metal barrier, Kanin not slowing down. Zeke muttered something inaudible and grabbed the back of Jackal’s seat in a death grip. I followed his example with Kanin’s.

“Hang on,” Kanin muttered, and spun the wheel sharply to the left. The car gave an earsplitting squeal as it spun sideways, left the road, and smashed into the wall, crushing a few rabids between layers of metal. The impact threw me sideways, too, nearly wrenching my arms from their sockets as I clung desperately to the seat. There was a moment of chaos, of grinding metal, screaming rabids, and breaking glass, and the vehicle rocked to an abrupt halt.

“Let’s go.” Kanin jumped out and pulled open the side door, letting Zeke and I scramble free. The car lay in a crumpled, smoking ruin, the broken bodies of rabids lying beneath it or smashed into the wall. In front of us, farther down the road, the horde was coming back, screaming and bounding over the pavement.

“Get to the gates!” Kanin barked, and we ran for the entrance, which was still firmly closed. We crowded in front of the steel doors, drawing our weapons, as the frantic shrieks and wails drew closer. Zeke called up to the watchtower, banging his machete hilt against the metal, but there was no answer.

“This ass**le had better open the door,” Jackal growled, spinning his fire ax in a graceful arc as the horde came on.

“I didn’t come all the way to Eden to be eaten at the damn gates. Some might call it ironic, but that just pisses me off.”

The first rabid lunged at me, howling, fangs and claws going for my face. I brought my katana up and sliced through the spindly middle, cutting it in half in a spray of dark blood.

Another bounded in, and Zeke’s machete sliced down, hammering into it and tearing the head from its neck.

With a deafening groan, the gate shuddered and finally cracked open, just wide enough for a single person to pass through. I turned just as a soldier poked his head out and beckoned frantically to us all.

“Get inside! Hurry!”

“Go!” Kanin snapped, and we didn’t need encouragement.

Zeke ducked through first, with Jackal right behind him. As the horde descended upon us, screaming and wailing, I cut down one last monster and backed swiftly away with Kanin until we reached the door. We slipped through the opening, and Kanin joined Zeke and the soldier in pushing the heavy gate shut. A rabid hit the gate and started to squeeze through, hissing, but my katana flashed, and it fell as its head bounced to the road. For a moment, peering through the crack, I was staring at a sea of rabids rushing toward me. Then the gate shut with a hollow, clanging boom, a heavy bar dropping into place as wailing, scratches and frantic thumps sounded on the other side.

I slumped in relief, then turned…to face a squadron of suspicious, hard-eyed soldiers, their assault rifles already trained on us all.

Okay, this wasn’t starting off well.

The monster in me growled, urging me to attack, to take out the threat before it was too late and they shot us full of holes. I pushed down the bloodlust and lowered my sword, trying to appear nonthreatening. I hoped these weren’t the same soldiers I’d encountered the first time I’d come through the checkpoint—the ones who would recognize me as a vampire. They had to believe we were just a group of normal humans looking for Eden. But something was definitely wrong. The checkpoint was on high alert, and the soldiers seemed twitchy; it hadn’t been this way the first time we came through.

Sarren’s doing? I wondered . Or something else?

Jackal snorted.

“Nice reception,” he drawled, gazing at the squad of armed humans with a mix of amusement and disgust. “I feel so welcome here. Do all visitors get the red carpet treatment, or are we just special?” He shot a glance at Zeke, his smile dangerous. “Hey, puppy, I think your welcoming committee needs a few things explained.”

Zeke quickly stepped forward, facing the squad. “It’s all right,” he said, as the soldiers turned, their eyes wary and hard.

I watched him, hoping he was calm, that he had his monster under control, as well. Thankfully, he seemed composed as he continued, speaking to the soldier out front, the one who looked like he was in charge. “My name is Zeke Crosse. I’m a resident of Eden.” Some of the men straightened, definitely recognizing the name, as Zeke continued. “Dr. Richardson knows who I am. If you tell him I’ve come back, he’ll sort everything out.”

The soldiers murmured and relaxed a bit, and the lead soldier lowered his gun. “Zeke Crosse,” he repeated, his brow furrowed in thought. “You’re that kid who was working with the scientists. The one they let off the island a few months back.” Zeke nodded, and his gaze flicked to the rest of us.

“What about them?”

“They’re friends,” Zeke replied without hesitation. And Jackal, much to his credit, managed not to roll his eyes or snort. “They’re here to help.”

The man relaxed, and the rest of the soldiers lowered their weapons. “All right,” he said, and I breathed a small sigh of relief. “I’ve heard your name before, Mr. Crosse, though you picked a hell of a time to come back. Sorry for the welcome, but we can’t be too careful anymore.”

“What’s going on?” Zeke asked.

“Come with us.” The soldier jerked his head back down the road. “We’ll explain as we go.”

“Wait.” Another soldier pushed to the front. The commander frowned at him, but the human’s dark eyes were narrowed on me. “The girl,” he growled, his voice hard, and my heart sank. “I know you,” he stated. “I recognize you. You were with that group when they first came here, about five months ago. You’re the one Keller let walk away.” His jaw tightened, and he raised his gun as the other soldiers tensed.


Tags: Julie Kagawa Blood of Eden Book Series
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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