Hi everyone!

I’m getting braver. I’ve taped myself reading a teaser of ISAN from chapter one, but you can also read chapter one below.

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(Sorry about the format)

Chapter 1

Mental Mission

I ran to live.

Bullets whizzed by my ears. Adrenaline pumped through my body like a high-speed train. I peeked around the corner to confirm no enemy remained, then charged down the hall faster than humanly possible. Justine and Brooke hot on my heels. I halted when I realized Justine had slowed.

“Crap. It nicked me.” Justine’s long blonde hair screened her face.

“How bad is it?” Metallic scent spiked my senses. I cringed and reached for her arm, but she jolted back and flashed daggered eyes at me.

Since she didn’t want my help, I checked my digital watch. Ten minutes left to reach the other side of the building before time ran out with my team. If we didn’t end up killing each other first.

“I’ll be fine. It’s not bad.” Justine pressed a hand over the wound and snarled.

Blood soaked her shirt and seeped between her fingers. Crimson beads dotted the floor. Hopefully her shirt would catch most of it.

My jaw tightened. “The hell it isn’t. Make sure you don’t leave a trail.”

Steady the anger, Ava. No time to argue.

Justine liked to test my leadership. I would not let her intimidate me. I knew when to bite back, and harder if I needed to. A charming trait I’d learned from being in juvenile detention.

“Shhh …” Brooke placed her finger to her lips. “They’ve stopped shooting at us.”

“That’s because they can’t see us. They went the other way, idiot.” Justine smirked, then wiped her bloodstained hand on her pants.

Brooke placed her fists on her hips and glared at Justine. “I was only making an observation. My hearing is awesome right now. Better than usual.”

“You’re not the only—”

“Shut the hell up. Stop arguing.” I sighed heavily. Both of them drove me nuts when they bickered—the possible reason we might fail our mental mission.

As I smeared sweat off my forehead, I listened for the clicking of guns and squeaks on the laminated floor. Then, at footsteps vibrating like thunder, I poised to run.

“We need to get moving.” Justine stiffened, her eyes darting every which way. “Where’s the freakin’ door, Ava?”

“This way. Follow me.” I swept the long hallway to my left, then to the right. When I didn’t spot the computerized soldiers, I took off toward the left, then halted when the hallway split again.

“Do you know where you’re going?” Brooke panted. “We’ve never been here before.”

“I do. Trust me,” I said, catching my breath.

Brooke knew I stored a blueprint of the structure in my mind. My mind projected a map in front of me like a hologram, visible to only me when HelixB77 serum had been injected in my system.

As the soldiers’ footsteps got louder, their precise location became harder to detect. The sound bounced from wall to wall, echoing.

“They’re coming from behind us, too.” Justine tapped her foot, rooting her eyes on my watch. “How much time do we have?”

“About four minutes.”

So little time. My heart pounded. I needed to go faster. I took deep breaths to keep from freaking out. The image faded as fear took over.

No, no, no. Not now. Focus. Focus. Focus.

Justine pointed at the air vent. “How about up there?”

“Are you nuts?” Brooke gave Justine the evil eye. “I’m not going up there. What are we going to do, crawl our way to the exit door? And what if they start shooting the ceiling? We’ll be trapped. We’ll be dead. Ava, hurry up. Which way?”

I closed my eyes and tuned out their squabbling voices. Breathe. Stay calm. I inhaled deep breaths, letting serenity wash over me. Then a few heartbeats later, I opened my eyes. There. The image came back.

“The exit is this way.” I dashed down another long hallway and stopped at a door bearing a sign for the stairs.

Brooke’s eyes beamed hopeful, but her muscles remained rigid. “It’s the exit, right, Ava?”

“Yes.” My hand trembling, I turned the knob.

It wouldn’t budge. What the hell? Yanking didn’t help, so I kicked the door in frustration. Pain shot through my leg like an electric shock. I lost precious seconds.

What next?

“Move out of my way.” Justine knocked the door open with one swift kick, the door now becoming one with the wall.

I bolted down the steps, the ping of dampened gunfire behind me. Faster. Go faster. Power and exhilaration surged in my muscles. As I descended, the footsteps pursuing me disappeared.

Twenty feet from the exit … eighteen … fifteen … so close … almost there. I could almost taste sweet victory, my heart leaping for joy. Then …

My watch beeped.

Damnit to hell.

The ground rumbled violently. I slammed against the wall. Justine barked a curse behind me as I braced for another impact.

The blast roared and tossed me in the air. Flames engulfed me, followed by another loud boom. The building groaned and shrieked as it collapsed. I died.


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