Dublin, you had me at “Hello”
Imagine a world that doesn’t know its own rules. No cell phones. No Internet. No stock market. No money. No legal system. A third of the world’s population wiped out in a single night and the count rising by millions every day. The human race is an endangered species.
A long time ago the Fae destroyed their world and decided to take ours. History says they moved in on us between 10,000 and 6,000 B. C. , but historians get a lot wrong. Jericho Barrons says they’ve been here since the dawn of time. He should know, because I’m pretty sure he has, too.
For a long time there was a wall between our worlds. With the exception of a few cracks, it was a solid barricade, especially the prison that held the Unseelie.
That barricade is gone now and the prison walls are dust.
All of the Fae are free: the deadly Dark Court and the imperious Light Court, who are every bit as deadly, just prettier. A Fae is a Fae. Never trust one. We’re being hunted by voracious monsters that are nearly impossible to kill. Their favorite food? People.
As if that’s not bad enough, there are fragments of Faery reality drifting around that swallow up anything in their path. They’re tricky to spot; you can drive right into one, if you’re not careful. The night the walls fell, Faery itself was fractured. Some say even the inimical Hall of All Days was changed, and opened new portals onto our world. The drifting is the part that really gets me. You can go to sleep in your own bed and wake up in a completely different reality. If you’re lucky, the climate won’t kill you instantly and the inhabitants won’t eat you. If you’re really really lucky, you’ll find your way home. Eventually. If you’re superlucky, time will pass at a normal rate while you’re gone. Nobody’s that lucky. Folks vanish all the time. They just disappear and are never seen again.
Then there are the amorphous Shades that lurk in the dark and consume every living thing in their path, right down to the nutrients in the soil. When they’re done, all that’s left is dirt that an earthworm couldn’t live in—not that they leave those either. It’s a minefield outside that door. Walk lightly. Your parents’ rules don’t apply. Do be afraid of the dark. And if you’re thinking there might be a monster under your bed or in your closet, there probably is. Get up and check.
Welcome to Planet Earth.
This is our world now—one that doesn’t know its own rules. And when you’ve got a world that doesn’t know its own rules, everything dark and nasty that was once held in check comes slithering out of the cracks to try to take a shot at whatever it wants. It’s a free-for-all. We’re back to being cavemen. Might is right. Possession is nine-tenths of the law. The bigger and badder you are, the better your odds of surviving. Get a gun or learn to run. Fast. Preferably both.
Welcome to Dublin, AWC—After the Wall Crash—where we’re all fighting for possession of what’s left of the planet.
The Fae have no king, no queen, no one in charge. Two psychotic, immortal Unseelie princes battle for dominion over both races. Humans have no government. Even if we did, I doubt we’d listen to them. It’s complete chaos.
I’m Dani “Mega” O’Malley.
The year was just officially declared 1 AWC, and the streets of Dublin are my home. It’s a war zone out there. No two days are alike.
And there’s no place else I’d rather be.
“Ding-dong! The witch is dead”: subtitled Rowena who?
“I say we take Mac’s suggestion and pump the room full of concrete,” Val says.
I wince. Just hearing her name makes my stomach hurt. Me and Mac used to be two peas in the Mega pod, close as sisters. She’d kill me in a heartbeat now.
Well, she’d try.
“Exactly how do you expect us to get concrete trucks down into the catacombs beneath the abbey?” Kat demands. “To say nothing of how much it would take to seal that chamber. It’s three times the size of Inspector Jayne’s training green, with a ceiling as high as any cathedral!”
I shift position, tucking my knees up, careful to be real quiet. My legs are cramped from sitting with them crossed beneath me. I’m in the cafeteria at the abbey, high up on a beam in the ceiling rafters where nobody can see me, munching a Snickers bar and eavesdropping. It’s one of my favorite perches for scoping out the details. I’m a good climber, fast and agile. Since I’m still just a kid in most people’s opinions, folks rarely let me in on the scoop. No worries there. I became a pro at letting myself in years ago. Page 2
“What are you suggesting we do, then, Kat?” Margery says. “Leave the most powerful Unseelie prince ever created frozen in a little ice cube beneath our home? That’s crazy!” The cafeteria is full of sidhe-seers. Most of them murmur agreement but they’re like that. Whoever’s talking loudest at the moment is the person they agree with. Sheep. Half the time I’m spying, it’s all I can do not to jump down there, waggle my ass and say Baaaa, see if any of them catch my drift.
I’ve been at the abbey most of the night, waiting for people to wake up and wander in for breakfast, impatient for those who’ve been up all night like me to tell everyone else the news and start discussing it. I don’t need as much sleep as other people, but when I do finally crash, I’m as good as dead. It’s dangerous to lose consciousness as hard as I do, so I’m always careful about where I sleep—behind a lot of locked doors, with booby traps in place. I know how to take care of myself. I’ve been on my own since I was eight.
“It’s hardly an ice cube,” Kat says. “The Unseelie king himself imprisoned Cruce. You saw the bars shoot up from the floor around him. ”
I’ve got no family. When my mom was killed, Ro made me move into the abbey with the other sidhe-seers—those of us who can see the Fae, and could even before the walls fell. Some of us have unique gifts, too. We used to think of ourselves in terms of us and them, humans and Fae, until we learned that the Unseelie King tampered with us way back, mixing his blood with the bloodlines of six ancient Irish houses. Some say we’re tainted, that we have the enemy within. I say anything that makes you stronger, duh, makes you stronger.
“The alarm’s not set,” Margery counters. “And none of us can figure out how to arm the grid that keeps people from getting in. Worse, we can’t even get the door closed. Mac tried for hours. ”
I don’t puke the bite of chocolate and peanuts I’m trying to swallow but it’s close. I got to get over my reaction to her name. Every time I hear it, I see the look on her face when she learned the truth about me.
Feck that! I knew what would happen if she found out I killed her sister. Got no business being mopey about it. If you know what’s coming and don’t do anything to stop it, you got no right to act all surprised and pissy when the crap hits the fan. Rule #1 in the Universe: the crap always hits the fan. It’s the nature of crap. It’s a fan magnet.
“She said it won’t respond to her,” Margery says. “She thinks the king did something to it. Barrons and his men tried to muscle it closed, but no luck. It’s stuck open. ”
“Just anyone can wander in,” says Colleen. “We found the Meehan twins standing down there this morning, hands around the bars, staring up at him like he was some kind of angel!”
“And what were you doing down there this morning?” Kat says to Colleen. Colleen looks away.
Tainted blood or not, I’ve got no complaints about being a sidhe-seer. I got the best gifts of all. None of the other sidhe-seers know how to deal with me. I’m superfast, superstrong, have superhearing, supersmell, and wicked sharp eyesight. I don’t know if I taste better or not. Since I can’t taste with anyone else’s tongue, I gu