Title: Drowning in Danger
Series: Liquid Onyx, Book Three
Author: BL Jones
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 09/26/2023
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: Urban Fantasy, family-drama, urban fantasy, superheroes, magic/magic users, organised crime, tearjerker
Sixteen years ago, Alex Nova defied the impossible and shook the world to its core. He made children into superhumans and, in doing so, made a villain out of himself.
At age twenty, Rex Nova took the consequences of his father’s actions and used them to make himself into a superhero, so he could protect the world his father almost broke.
Unknown to him, however, are the secrets buried in his genetics. Hidden truths soaked in tainted blood.
Like his father before him, the choices Rex makes when his back is up against the wall will force him to confront things about who he really is, and what he’s willing to become to protect the people he loves.
This time, the consequences will be of his own wreaking, and the fallout will threaten everything he cares about.
Drowning in Danger
BK Jones © 2023
All Rights Reserved
If I was ever going to waver in my conviction, the sight before me now is a harsh reminder of why I must commit the necessary evils of my mission.
“How old is this one?” Ian Stone, head director of Obsidian Inc., asks me.
We stand, side by side, in front of a one-way mirror that spreads from one end of the wall to the other. In the room beyond this window is a girl, well, a woman I suppose. The young woman is currently strapped to a bed: metal straps, chains, and cuffs, all titanium to hold her in place. Anything less and she might just be able to escape.
They’re always stronger near the end.
Her name is Katya Markov. She was born in Russia but moved to Canada when she was three years old to live with her aunt and uncle, after her parents were killed in a car accident. Before she was injected with Liquid Onyx, she was a quiet girl who loved rabbits, the colour green, and vanilla cake icing.
After she was injected, Katya gained the ability to move objects with her mind. Obsidian Inc. taught her how to use that power to inflict pain, to commit murder on their behalf.
Katya Markov became Agent Katya, a weapon with human skin stapled around it.
Katya was a little girl who hated the figure skating lessons her aunt made her attend, who preferred the ice hockey club her uncle took her to. Katya, the girl, liked swimming in the ocean and wanted to be a “penguin vet” when she grew up.
Agent Katya is a killer, a woman without a moral compass, who was torn away from everything that could have made her something close to human.
But none of those things are what Stone asked me.
“She’s twenty-three,” I say, careful to keep my voice measured and dispassionate.
Even after all these years, I’m wary of showing any form of emotional instability in front of this man. Ian Stone will never care how long someone has been with Obsidian Inc. His idea of loyalty is eternal servitude without error or complaint. There is no end, no final goal, just a continuous struggle to prove oneself of use, or… Well. Not.
“It seems the younger they turn, the quicker they spiral,” Stone muses, his entire demeanour as aloof as it always is. I don’t think I’ve seen more than two expressions on his face. Impassive. And outright fury. There seems to be no middle ground. Either you’re dismissed as unimportant and replaceable, or you’re noticed for all the wrong reasons.
“Perhaps,” I say, non-committal, half sure his statement wasn’t meant to draw much of a response from me.
If I was allowed to speak freely, I might tell him it’s more than likely that the Liquid Onyx OI agents are becoming mentally unstable at a faster and faster rate because of the conditions they’re being kept in.
The Liquid Onyx survivors OI have raised and trained are little better than dogs used in backroom fights. Highly skilled, for sure, but still barely more than rabid underneath the surface. Scratch at that brittle exterior of apparent detachment, and you’re likely to get severely bitten.
A lot of the OI agents and guards believe the Liquid Onyx survivors under OI’s control are broken creatures. Monsters on a leash. Pets with chokers around their throats they can yank on at any time.
I’ve seen different. No one who met Katya before, and truly saw her for who and what she is, could think her an unfeeling creature.
I see what I see. Girl. Child. Dangerous. Woman. Adult. Even more dangerous.
They all see what they want to see. Agent. Killer. Animal.
Less of a who and more of a what.
It’s no wonder that Katya has been reduced to this. Writhing around on a bed, alone in a cold, metal room, strapped down with cold, metal restraints, imprisoned in a cold, metal OI facility. Everything about her life is cold and metal and wrong.
She never should have had a life so barren of warmth and light and hope. No one should be treated with this level of inhumanity. It makes me feel sick to see it, to see the result of what my actions have caused.
I did this to her. We did. We created Liquid Onyx, and in doing so, we destroyed the life of a little girl with straw-blonde hair and two crooked front teeth and dreams of healing penguins.
We did this, Alex and me. We are the source of all this pain.
I will never forgive either of us for it.
She starts screaming again. It sounds muffled through the window. Muffled, but no less chilling for that fact.
Katya’s hands start to spasm in their restraints and there’s the sound of metal straining. A moment later her screams become far more wretched, rising to a pitch I wouldn’t have thought attainable, then petering off into fractured cries. Similar to those of an injured animal. Pitiful and grinding.
I hate to hear that sound coming out of a human being’s mouth. I don’t need to guess at the change in tone to Katya’s shouts of distress.
All the restraints seem gratuitous to me. She already has a chip embedded at the top of her spine that can be activated, as it was just now, to send an electrical shock through her body, meant to paralyse.
I’ve seen it used for other purposes. Reprimands. Torture. Even execution, in extreme circumstances.
All the Liquid Onyx OI agents are fitted with chips. It tracks them, as well as making sure they never go too far. They know what will happen to them once they’re found, and they know they will always be found.
We, everyone who works for OI, knows that. There is nowhere to hide from Obsidian Inc., not for long, anyway.
It’s why I’ve never entertained the idea of running away from them. I couldn’t risk them getting hold of me and Andy, and selfishly, I couldn’t imagine a life without my daughter.
Katya’s face is creased in anguish and fear and rage. It should be impossible for someone to feel so many powerful things at once, but I can see all that in Katya’s pale eyes. I think I see the thin veins of black creeping across her whites like the roots of a tree spreading through the underground.
“Do you believe she could be salvageable for one last mission?” Stone asks me, this time clearly expecting an answer.
I wish I could hate him. Kick and spit on him in indignant rage over what he has done, over who and what he is.
But I can’t. I can’t do those things, think those things, feel those things, because the truth is, I’m a far worse monster than he is a man.
“No.” I glance at him, keeping my expression neutral. “I’ve examined her. She’s too far gone. You know once it gets to this stage, it’s just a matter of waiting for her body to shut down, one organ at a time.”
Stone makes a low humming sound, neither agreement nor refusal to accept the reality we are faced with.
“I was hoping to get another year out of her,” he ruminates after a significant pause. “The ones before didn’t start losing their tactical ability in the field until they were at least twenty-four.” His observation suggests disappointment, but his tone does not.
Ian Stone is a practical man who has practical thoughts and believes in practical solutions.
I know he will order Katya Markov’s termination today. If he cannot use her, then he will not drain resources and risk further problems by keeping her alive.
In truth, it doesn’t matter as much as it should.
None of the Liquid Onyx survivors have made it to twenty-five mentally intact.
None of the Liquid Onyx survivors have made it to twenty-six alive.
And, whether I succeed in my mission or not, none of them ever will. Of that, I am certain.
Meet the Author
BL Jones is a twentysomething British author who spends all her free time reading and writing and taming her three much younger brothers. She works as a BSL interpreter in Bristol and lives with a temperamental bunny named Pepsi. She’s been writing stories since she was five, rarely sharing them with anyone except her numerous stuffed animals. BL has had a difficult journey into discovering and accepting her own queerness, and therefore believes that positive, honest, and authentic stories about queer people are very important. She hopes to contribute her own stories for people to have fun with and enjoy.
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