Uprising (Alternate Earth Series, Book 2)

By: S.J. West

CHAPTER ONE

Most of us go through life thinking we know what will happen next. From birth, our lives are set on a course similar to everyone else’s. We grow up, go to school, fall in love, get married, have children, and depart from the living world, hoping we made a difference somewhere in between; whether or not we actually do leave the world better off than when we entered it isn’t always evident while we’re still alive. The reverberations of our actions can be felt long after our passing. If we’re lucky, we get to leave behind a legacy that our children can be proud of. As I watch the end of the newscast showing us the effect of opening the fourth seal, I have to wonder if we will be able to leave alternate Earth better off than when we arrived, or if our presence will only be a ripple in the timeline of this strange reality. Can we truly save this world, or were we doomed to fail even before we arrived?

After the broadcast ends, worry and fear join those gathered in the room like physical entities. Seeing how upset people are becoming, Brand instantly takes command of the situation before it has a chance to bloom into all-out chaos.

As he stands in front of everyone, he raises his hands, urging the humans present to settle down.

“Please, everyone, there’s no reason for you to panic,” Brand says, his voice a much-needed calm in the face of growing hysteria. “We’ve been through a lot during the past few years. This is just one more thing that we’ll have to overcome. Allowing your fear to take control won’t do us any good.”

“What are we supposed to do, Brand?” a man in the crowd asks. “What’s going on?”

“I realize most of you are frightened, but you need to try to remain calm. Give us some time to come up with a plan to deal with the situation. For the time being, everyone needs to stay inside the castle until we can assess this new threat and find a way to deal with it. Don’t worry. You’re perfectly safe here.”

Brand sounds so sure, even I almost believe him.

“What exactly are we going to do?” I ask Mason in a low voice, not wanting those around us to overhear our conversation. “There has to be a way to stop what’s happening.”

“I’m not sure there’s much we can do, Jess” Mason admits, looking troubled by the new circumstances we find ourselves in.

“If we can’t stop the birds, maybe we can help the people they’re infecting,” I suggest. “Rafe might be able to heal them.”

“Even if he can,” Mason begins to reason, “we’re talking about thousands, if not millions, of people around the world who could become ill, especially if it ends up being easily transmittable. Rafe’s a miracle-worker, but I don’t think even he can heal that many people.”

“Then we’re missing something,” I say, feeling frustrated. “If it’s true that we can’t stop the princes from opening the seals, then there has to be something we can do to minimize the consequences. There’s a solution. We’re just not seeing it.”

“So,” Brand says as he joins Mason and me, “I’m kind of hoping the two of you have come up with a brilliant plan to deal with this new situation.”

“Not yet,” Mason says with a heavy sigh. “But let’s keep that between us for the time being. The people here need to believe we know the best way to keep them protected. Otherwise, they’ll just let their fear get the best of them.”

“Agreed,” Brand replies. “Right now, they need to feel safe. I’m going to make the rounds and check to see if everyone has what they need while we try to come up with a course of action.”

“When you finish, we need to talk about Ravan,” I tell Brand meaningfully.

Mason is the only one who knows what Ravan told me about her true identity. The sooner everyone else knows the better.

Was she telling me the truth? I have no reason to assume she was lying. Then again, she may have just said it to throw me off-guard, which she did. Yet, why would she lie about being the real Lilith? Other than distracting me during our fight, what advantage would that give her? If anything, you would think information so important would be more valuable kept as a secret.

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