So it’s not so much an AU (alternate universe) and more just…I have no idea if this could possibly ever happen in the course of the novel. Part of that is because I haven’t finished it. Part is because I have no idea where the book is going. So I just sat down and started babbling about these characters for a while. Short summary: Chelsea Holbrook got a new phone, got weird messages, and promptly got dragged into an underground war between two factions hell-bent against one another, because the bad guys thought she was someone else. The Defenders/Havadar are the good guys. Rani is the main bad guy. I think that’s good enough. XD

The room was dark, the kind of dark that feels like a wet blanket over you, like there’s no possible way the light will be able to shine through. I coughed, and my voice vanished into the murky black. This was awful. Out of everywhere I’d been since I joined the Havadar, this was the most unpleasant. This was the most soul-crushing.

Because I knew someone else was with me in here. And I didn’t know who it was, or where they were. If they were here yet.

It likely wasn’t Mischa or Brittany, just from what I knew of where they were at the moment. Anyone from my own life like Danny was possible, but unlikely. What would be the point? So more likely…it was Rani, or someone in his group, and I only had a one in four chance of it being anyone I was even remotely willing to deal with…and I was pretty sure he was dead.

God, Mika… My heart gave a small twinge. For all the bullshit he’d put us through, Mika had been as close to being on our side by the end as was possible. He’d taken shortcuts where he could, never passed on all the information he had…had found a way to torture me that didn’t end the way everyone expected it to. And he’d let us go, knowing that there was little to no way he’d make it out of that situation alive. I’m so sorry it came to this. I wish I could have had a real chance to thank you. To figure out who you really were, and why you made the choices you did. I wish I could do that for everyone in this stupid war.

But I was trapped in the dark, literally, with no good idea of where I was or how–or if–I was going to get out.

I saw a flicker of light from a far wall, and then the sounds of someone getting thrown to the floor with a sharp cry of pain. If the other person at the door said anything, the murk ate it before the sound could get to me. The light vanished, and with it any sense of where I was. But whoever was supposed to be in here with me was back, and I wanted to figure out who it was, friend or foe. It didn’t really matter at this point. I was pretty sure I was going to die, one way or another.

Slowly, I worked my way toward where I was pretty sure the person had gotten thrown. As I got closer, I could hear whoever it was–a male was my guess–breathing heavily, seemingly in pain. I winced. No matter who it was, that sounded nasty.

They must have heard my footsteps or breathing or something, because suddenly the person gasped, and I could feel them try to shift away from me. “No, no no it’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you.” I think. No, there was no reason to hurt them, at least not at the moment. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to, hearing how much pain they were already in. “It’s okay.”

There was a long pause, and then a strangled voice eked out, “Chelsea?”

I blinked, trying to place the voice. “I…yes?”

There was a soft string of what had to be curse words in a language I didn’t speak. Not that it narrowed it down any; I didn’t speak any of the languages Rani’s crew spoke. After a beat, the voice spoke again. “How fitting that it is you here. At least give me the privilege of a quick death. You’re the only one of the Havadar I might get it from.”

My eyes widened and I took a step back. “Rani.” That didn’t make any sense. How had they possibly caught Rani? What was he doing here, injured, asking for death? Something’s gone terribly wrong, and as much as I should feel happy about that, I can’t help but wonder how bad it has to be that Rani himself is down here, calling it the end of the fight.


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