13.89 Emily McKay The Vault (A Farm Novel)

ISBN 13: 9780425275887

The Vault (A Farm Novel)

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9780425275887: The Vault (A Farm Novel)

There is no rest for the damned in this thrilling follow-up to Emily McKay's The Lair and The Farm, in a series New York Times bestselling author Chloe Neill calls, "Equal parts Resident Evil and Hunger Games."

In a world where vampires rule and teenaged humans are quarantined as a food source, there is only one choice—resist or die. But fighting the vampires comes at a terrible cost to twin sisters Mel and Lily and their best friend Carter . . .

With Lily exposed to the vampire virus and lying in a coma, it’s up to Mel and Carter to search for the cure. Time is not on their side. With every passing heartbeat, Mel is becoming more and more purely vampire.

Desperate, Carter and Mel decide to split up. Carter will recruit human rebels from the Farm in San Angelo to infiltrate the guarded kingdom of the vampire Sabrina and steal the cure. Mel will go back to her mentor, her friend, her betrayer, Sebastian, who is the only one who can access an underground vault that may house the secret to the cure.

That is, if he’s still alive after she staked him to the ground. Now her worst enemy may be their best hope for curing Lily—and saving the human race.

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About the Author:

Emily McKay is the 2013  RITA © award winning author of The Farm and The Lair. She loves to read, shop, and geek out about movies. When she's not writing, she reads on-line gossip and bakes luscious deserts. She pretends that her weekly yoga practice balances out both of those things. She lives in central Texas with her family and her crazy pets.  She also cowrites young adult fiction as Ivy Adams.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

CHAPTER ONE

CARTER

Texas hadn’t fared well in the apocalypse.

Some parts of the country had fallen by inches. Places where the virus spread slowly and the human population held their own against the Ticks and against the fear for at least a little while. Those places lost their battles incrementally. Not Texas. In just a few short weeks, Texas went from being the second-most-populated state to being the least. Texas fell in a blaze of blood and gunfire.

It wasn’t just the genetically mutated monsters that did Texas in. It was the Texans. We turned on one another.

I’d told myself over and over again that I wouldn’t make the same mistake. That if it had been me, if I’d been the one with my finger on the trigger, staring down a friend or a relative, I would do things differently. I would have a little faith in humanity.

Turns out, I was wrong.

There in the basement of Genexome Corporation—the company that engineered EN371, the virus that created the Ticks—I finally got it. When the life of someone you love is on the line, trust is almost impossible. Under the right circumstances, anyone will crack. Yeah. I admit it. I cracked.

The deserted hallway with flickering lights and spooky cobwebs creeped me out. I got that hairs-up-on-the-back-of-the-neck sensation that I wasn’t alone. And, oh yeah, the pile of dead bodies that I’d had to haul out of the way to clear a path down the hall? Those didn’t help.

Which is why I pulled a gun on Mel when she crept up behind me. One second I was staring at the LCD panel for the storage facility’s security system. Tech stuff, wasn’t really my thing, but I was trying. That’s when I heard it, the faintest scuff of a shoe behind me. Too subtle to be an animal or a Tick. Too soft to be someone who wasn’t trying to sneak.

Somewhere down the hall, someone was coming up behind me and whoever it was didn’t want to be heard. I deliberately kept my breathing steady as I slipped my hand into the coat pocket where I kept my Glock. I wrapped my hand around the grip and pulled it out, spinning as I thumbed off the safety.

My finger was already on the trigger when I realized it wasn’t some unknown enemy sneaking up behind me. It was Mel.

My girlfriend’s twin sister. My friend.

I pulled the gun up, finger off the trigger, and held up my other hand. But she was faster than I was. My aggression provoked something in her. The instant she saw the gun, she dashed down the hall and rammed into me. The force of the impact knocked me off my feet. I tried to roll into the fall, but ended up just getting slammed to the floor with her on top of me. My hand hit the floor again and I instinctively let go of the gun. It skittered away from me. Agony flared out through my back and chest. Damn, she moved fast.

Mel bounced back up and landed in a crouch maybe five feet away, hands curled into claws, fangs bared and gleaming in the fluorescent lights.

I got my hands under me and tried to sit, but my whole body pulsed with pain and it was all I could do not to groan. My neck throbbed. When I brought my hand up to the spot, my fingers came away sticky and damp with blood.

Panicked adrenaline shot through me and I scampered back. Yeah. I know. Scampering isn’t exactly manly, but trust me, when your neck is bleeding and a hungry vampire is crouching five feet away from you, you do anything you can to get away. Even when it probably won’t make a difference.

Heart pounding, I pressed myself against a concrete support beam in the hallway. I didn’t have any weapons. My gun—even if it wasn’t closer to her than to me—would barely faze her. I didn’t have anything handy that would actually stop her. No stake. No blade.

Besides, it was Mel.

There was no way I was going to hurt her, let alone stake her and chop off her head. Which was a moot point, anyway, because if she wanted to kill me she would have done it already.

Pressing one hand to my neck to stanch the flow of blood, I held my other out in supplication. “Mel,” I said slowly, persuasively. “Calm down. It’s me. Carter.”

Jesus, I hoped this would work.

Theoretically, I was an abductura. Which meant I had the power to superimpose my own emotions over hers. Theoretically.

Problem was, I didn’t know jack about how to actually use my powers. At least not consciously. So either this would work, or I’d end up as a midnight snack.

God, I just love the apocalypse.

CHAPTER TWO

MEL

Blood lust—the uncontrollable need to consume the food before you—isn’t my favorite thing ever.

In the Before—when I was a human girl—I clung to my control. Even though I was autistic, even though I sometimes spiraled out of control, I somehow always held on to the thread of myself. I was always able to pull myself out.

My vampire’s blood lust is new to me. It’s not only about hunger, but about need. The need to dominate. To protect myself. To feed. Its embrace is violent and jagged and I’m not myself when I’m in its grasp.

But this blood is all wrong.

Its sweetness sours my stomach. I nearly retch. Instead, I spit it out, then wipe off my mouth with hands clenched in feral claws. A false peace floods over me, washing away my fear and need. I stand, blinking away the blood lust.

That’s when I see Carter crouched against the wall, like a scorpion backed into a corner. He’s fierce and deadly, even though I could squash him like a bug.

“Calm down, Mel. Just . . . calm down.”

The words seem to echo in my brain. Like he’s been saying them over and over again and I’m only now hearing them.

Only then do I see the way he’s holding his neck.

I run my tongue over the fronts of my teeth, my mind racing.

I was walking up behind him, hungry, yes, but in control. Then I felt this burst of fear. He whirled around. I saw the gun and then . . .

What?

My mind was blank. Blood lust. That’s what.

Carter must sense that his efforts to calm me are working. That I’m more myself, because he changes the script.

“Are you are okay, Mel?” he asks, his eyebrows slightly raised. “You good?”

“Yes,” I say shortly. “I’m fine.”

I turn away from him. My mind still racing, because I know I’m not fine.

Carter is Lily’s boyfriend. Her love. Her savior. They are meant to be together.

And I almost ate him.

I swish my spit around in my mouth, using my tongue to scrub the last of the blood off my incisors, and then I spit out the mixture of blood and saliva.

I exhale a deep breath and try to bring my mind back into focus. My vision clears a little. I blink again and make myself look at the hall around me.

This is it. What we’re here for: the underground vault of Genexome Corporation. The storage facility where we will find the cure to the Tick virus. The cure we need to save my sister’s life.

But I’m still struggling to make sense of what I see.

There’s a door. Thick steel set straight into the concrete. An LCD panel in the wall beside it bigger than most people’s computer screens. Somehow our presence in the hall has triggered it, because it’s alive with swirling colors. There’s a digital keypad on one side and a rectangle about the size of a handprint on the other. Then to the left of the whole panel, there’s a retinal scanner.

And there, on the floor in a pile on either side of the door, are dead bodies. I do a quick head count—literally counting heads because the arms and legs and torsos are so jumbled I can’t count the bodies any other way. There are sixteen people. They all look similar, so I focus on one. He’s got the bulky look of hired muscle. He hasn’t been dead that long and it’s cool enough, here underground, that his body hasn’t started to rot, but my nose and stomach are more sensitive to that kind of thing than they used to be and their stench makes my stomach churn. It’s all I can do to focus my attention away from him.

Whatever’s beyond this door is what we came for. Of course, whatever’s beyond that door is being protected by a security system strong enough to kill the sixteen people who got here before us.

“This is it,” I say softly. Sebastian—the vampire that made me and mentored Carter—told us that the cure to the Tick virus was here, at Genexome Corporation, in the company’s underground storage facility.

“You think these are Sabrina’s people?” Carter asks.

The corpse is dressed in full SWAT gear, but they aren’t police or even military. I point to the emblem stitched on the front of the jacket. “That looks like the Smart Com logo to me.”

“I don’t suppose when Sebastian told you about the cure, he mentioned how to get past all this security.”

“No, he didn’t.” Of course, I’d just staked him through the heart in a fit of vampire rage, so neither one of us was feeling super communicative at the time.

Carter walks up behind me. Slowly and loudly. Like he’s waiting for me to freak again.

He studies the setup, shaking his head, his hand still pressed to his neck.

“This is a dead end.”

That’s when I see the seam in the wall about three feet back from the doorway. I run my fingers along the seam on one side and then the other. On the ceiling, the seam bulges out slightly. On the other three sides, the seam is indented. Guide tracks for a door. But it’s the vents in the ceiling above the LCD display that make me nervous.

Carter clearly sees everything I do. Maybe more, since he knows a lot about this kind of thing. “I’m guessing if you trigger the security system, a door drops down, trapping you in.” He points to the pair of vents. “And then you get gassed.”

“I could probably live through it,” I point out. There’s not much that can kill me.

“You don’t know that. Sabrina threw a lot of people at this and none of them made it.”

“None of them were vampires.” I glance at him, looking pointedly at his neck. “How bad is it?”

“Not bad.” He pulls his hand away and glances at it. There’s a smear of blood on his fingers, but it’s already clotting and the smell of it is repulsive to me. He wipes his fingers on the sleeve of his coat and then presses the back of his other sleeve to his neck to wipe off the last of the blood there. Then, as if he hasn’t just been cleaning up the wound I gave him, he says, “The point is, we need a plan B.”

“No. Sebastian must have thought we could get in. He wouldn’t have sent us here otherwise.” I look at Carter’s neck again. “I’m, um . . . sorry. About that, I mean.”

“Don’t worry about it.” He shrugs, still studying the security system. He holds out his palm, maybe five inches from the LCD screen, like he’s sizing it up. “What do you think? That look about the size of my palm?” Then he shakes his head, muttering a curse. “We need Sebastian.”

My heart gives a strange little thud. “He could be dead by now.”

Carter shoots me an odd look that I have no trouble interpreting.

Carter and I talked about this. When we left Sebastian with a stake through his heart, pinned to the ground on the green in the middle of El Corazon, we hadn’t really killed him. The only way to be sure a vampire is dead is to chop off his head. No, Sebastian is most likely still alive. Either he is clinging to life or he’s already freed himself. Somehow I know this. Sebastian is stronger than death.

He is the vampire who made me, who trained me, who manipulated and lied to me. He lied to everyone.

Suddenly a horrible thought occurs to me. “What if there is no cure?”

Carter doesn’t even look at me this time, but I know he heard me because his entire body goes tense. “There is a cure.”

“He lied about everything,” I say. “What if he lied about this, too? What if—”

Carter whirls to face me. “There is a cure.”

“You don’t know—”

“Yes, I do know. You know how I know? Because if there is no cure, then that means Lily is lost. Maybe forever. I’m not willing to believe that.”

“But what—”

“We just need a new plan. That’s all.” He takes in a breath and I sense him struggling with his own doubts and fears. “Here’s what we’re going to do. We’ll split up. You go back to El Corazon and find Sebastian. If the cure is still here, he’s the one who can get us in.”

The idea of going back there sends panic skittering along my nerves. But I will do it. I have no choice, because it’s like Carter said, the alternative is to give up hope. “What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to Sabrina’s. If the cure isn’t here, then she has it.”

“We don’t know that for sure,” I tell him.

“What did you see in the rest of the lab? Did you see any sign of a cure? Any sign Sabrina got there first, too?”

“Yes.”

Sebastian had brought me to meet her, just before he’d sent me to El Corazon. But vampires are territorial and it had been a risky move on his part. She could have killed us both. Instead, he’d bought our freedom with information about the location of the cure.

The same information he’d given Carter and me after the battle at El Corazon.

When we’d first arrived at Genexome, Carter and I had split up. He’d gone to search for the underground storage. I’d searched the rest of the industrial compound. I was faster than Carter and could cover more ground in less time, so it had made sense.

“I found the labs. It looked like someone or something came through there recently just like here.” I reach into the pocket of my jeans and pull out a glass vial. I hold it out to him carefully. “I did find this.”

He takes it and rolls it over to read the white label imprinted with the code EN371.

“Jesus, this is the virus?”

“Just like he said it would be,” I say. “But that only proves they created it here. It doesn’t mean—”

“What is it you want me to do? Just give up?” That’s when Carter turns to face me head-on. No longer cocky. Just determined. “Humans are losing this fight against the Ticks. If this cure doesn’t work, then Lily will finish her transformation. Maybe you’re right. Maybe the chance is slim that Sebastian is telling the truth. Maybe there is no cure. But the alternative is to just accept that Lily is going to be a Tick. Are you really ready to do that? Because I’m not.”

With Carter here, pinning me with his glare, coaxing me with his resolve, I realize that no, I’m not ready to give up.

But I still have doubts. Can Sebastian be trusted? Can Sabrina? Can any vampire be trusted? Even me?

I want to believe that there might be good in Sebastian. That maybe there is a reason he created the Tick virus. Something I don’t yet understand. Something beyond his seething need to exact revenge on Roberto. I want to believe there is goodness in him and that that goodness drove him to create a cure. Because if he might be redeemed, then there is hope for me, too.

I want to believe, but it’s hard.

“Any chance you have a plan C?”

He ignores my sarcasm. “Yeah. You and I go to the Farm, where your father took her. We bring her out of the medically induced coma and you bite her.”

“What?”

“Just like Sebastian did for you when you were dying, after ...

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Book Description Berkley Books, United States, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. There is no rest for the damned in this thrilling follow-up to Emily McKay s The Lair and The Farm, in a series New York Times bestselling author Chloe Neill calls, Equal parts Resident Evil and Hunger Games. In a world where vampires rule and teenaged humans are quarantined as a food source, there is only one choice resist or die. But fighting the vampires comes at a terrible cost to twin sisters Mel and Lily and their best friend Carter . . . With Lily exposed to the vampire virus and lying in a coma, it s up to Mel and Carter to search for the cure. Time is not on their side. With every passing heartbeat, Mel is becoming more and more purely vampire. Desperate, Carter and Mel decide to split up. Carter will recruit human rebels from the Farm in San Angelo to infiltrate the guarded kingdom of the vampire Sabrina and steal the cure. Mel will go back to her mentor, her friend, her betrayer, Sebastian, who is the only one who can access an underground vault that may house the secret to the cure. That is, if he s still alive after she staked him to the ground. Now her worst enemy may be their best hope for curing Lily and saving the human race. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780425275887

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