Battle of Degalth
Locked away inside a military asylum, Kate Winters wants nothing more than to be normal. The war between men and a race of nearly invulnerable monsters matters very little to her, only the fact that society wants to eliminate her as part of a genetic cleansing. Hallucinations and panic attacks constantly push her to the edge of sanity, coupled with nightmarish visions of a dark, ominous creature. Year after year, the institution’s rigid requirements prove too stressful and she is kept from freedom and her family. She struggles harder than ever, despite worsening symptoms. This is her last year, her last chance to pass the tests and avoid permanent isolation. She fails.
Kraden Esson is graduating from the military academy, a front-runner for the last remaining spot in the elites. He wants nothing more than to personally eradicate the Degalthii, the giant, powerful creatures that can easily tear apart their strongest fortifications. He’s fought for this position for years, but not because of prestige. With military divisions rising, he needs a way to support his mother and younger brother, and this is his only shot at a meaningful future. He misses.
Figgs, a brilliant soldier in the scientific branch of the military is pushing for a breakthrough that would secure his spot in the elites, driven by revenge for the family he lost in Apocalypse -- a devastating Degalthii attack when he was a child. He succeeds, but at what cost?
Paths cross and unlikely friendships form, opening the possibility of second chances: Kate, in her quest for answers, Kraden in the fight for peace, Figgs in his search for redemption.
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Location: Galatin—Formation Park. Ten years, eight months, seventeen days after Apocalypse
The daze broke as though waking from a tormented sleep. Kate staggered to a halt, only now seeing her surroundings for the first time. Barren trees filled her view, most shedding their bark in large, rugged chunks. Fallen leaves littered the forest floor, turning it sickly shades of green and brown. Lamps burned here and there, but did little to expel the mounting darkness enveloping everything.
That confused her. Formation Hall had been brilliantly lit. Somehow, the city full of streets, cars, and lights, had transformed into a forest.
Where am I? She thought. Experimentally, she took a few steps, calling out once or twice to confirm to herself – she was utterly, and completely alone. A few memories of Formation came back to her—the dancing, wonderful food, and the nausea—each one filling her with a sicker dread.
Sharp stings on her arms and shoulders caught her attention. She gasped in disbelief at her dress’s condition. Mud, dirt, and sticks stained it wherever it hadn’t been torn.
Oh no…oh no! She caught a tree to steady herself, thinking she might fall. I’ve done it again. This time, she wouldn’t have a second chance—not even with Kraden. She noticed her breath had become rapid and shallow. She’d ruined everything…again. Maybe it was true that nothing could help her. Maybe it would be best for her to simply disappear forever.
I came so close. She shivered, feeling sick. The bitter irony brought tears to her eyes.
She shivered harder, her teeth beginning to rattle as though she were about to freeze to death. Before she could decide what to do, in an effort to, if possible, not make things worse, a sudden eerie tingle stopped her heart—the unsettling itch that she was being watched, accompanied by the sudden vaccum of sound. Closing her eyes, she bit her lip, telling herself it was just her imagination. Oh no, please no! Not here...not alone.
The tingle turned into a silent roar inside her chest. He was there! She could feel him watching her. So quiet, yet so obvious. She wished a boulder could strike her in the head, or maybe a knife—anything that could tear the hallucinations from her mind.
It’s not real. It’s never real. Kraden will come. Just wait. She clenched her hands, repeating it again and again. Whatever happened, outside of the protected area, she knew she must stay calm and maintain the control she felt slipping away.
Behind her, the menacing stair grew closer, burning downward.
“It’s not real,” she said aloud, eyes pinched tightly shut. “It’s not!”
In her mind, she felt it getting close to her. Closer. Closer. Close enough she could have felt its breath on her face. If it would have just growled or made some hint of sound, she would at least have known how soon until it would strike! Her whole body began shaking. Don’t open your eyes. It will pass!
She felt tears running down her face, desperation reaching the breaking point. “Oh please, something help me…”