Inquest Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

Gift

Opening my eyes is something I never thought I would do again. The harsh light and throbbing pain in my arm very nearly makes me cry. Exhaustion and pain beg me to drift back into unconsciousness, but I refuse. As sweet as still being alive is, I have no illusion that this is a permanent state of being for me. Whatever Inquisitor Moore said after I passed out is only going to postpone the inevitable. Even the highest ranking man in Albuquerque, New Mexico, can’t save my life.

“Oh, thank goodness, you’re awake, Libby. I was beginning to worry,” says Inquisitor Moore as he sits down beside me. Jen is close on his heels. The Inquisitor’s bleary eyes are red and wide, while Jen’s cheeks are streaked with tears.

“What happened?” I ask. “Where’s everyone else?”

“Jennifer is the only one still here. The others have all left. You are safe…for now.” His last two words carry a subtle warning. It’s one I don’t need, though. Whatever made that Guardian stop, one of those blades will find me eventually. I’ll deal with that later.

“How did you do it?” I ask him.

“He didn’t,” a voice says.

My eyes dart around the room furiously, landing on not one, but two men. For a moment I stare at them with no recognition, but only for a few seconds. When I realize who I’m staring at panic lodges itself in my throat, choking me in an attempt to finish what Lance started. The men stalk forward. Power follows in their wake like a blanket of pure evil descending on the room.

“P-President Howe,” I stutter. I can’t believe the president of the entire world, the ruling Guardian is standing in front of me. Was this why I was saved? So he could kill me himself?

“If you know who I am you should also recognize the man standing behind me,” Howe says.

Ungluing my eyes from Howe takes considerable effort. I’m terrified that the moment I take my eyes off him his Guardian blade will slice through me like I was made of tissue paper. My gaze settles on the second man, still standing silently. “Vice President Lazaro,” I acknowledge. He doesn’t say anything. “What…why are you both here? How did you get here so fast?”

“I was warned that I might want to be in the area tonight,” he says cryptically, clearly not about to offer any other explanation. I swallow slowly.

“Are you going to kill me now?”

“That,” Howe says, “is still undecided.”

“Why? I know the laws. When the Destroyer is found, she will be killed by Guardian blade.” Word for word, that is the law. Why didn’t it happen?

Howe rubs his chin. I think he was meaning to look thoughtful, but the only impression I got was of a villain plotting his next atrocity. I know who this man is. I’ve heard of the horrible things he’s done. Killing me should be nothing to him.

“The problem is,” Howe says, “you aren’t actually the Destroyer yet. Your power was unlocked today, but only a portion of it. You won’t gain your full power until age eighteen. Until then you can’t be called into service by any class, either. You won’t truly be the Destroyer until your eighteenth birthday.”

“That was never how the law was supposed to be interpreted!” Lazaro fumes.

“I am the president. I can interpret the law however I want.” Howe’s voice never rises in pitch, but the deadly edge to his tone grows more frightening with each word.

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