Project: Terminated



Sasha’s team didn’t have a name, not like in comic books. There was just good versus bad; United States versus… others. The roadside bomb was unforeseen, even for Tobin, but foresight wasn’t his gift. He couldn’t sense explosives. He sensed feelings, intent. He worked as a human lie detector for Sasha, but he healed people, too, and made people stronger.

The bomb was intended for him, since he was the only member of Sasha’s team without government-engineered super strength. Tobin was no soldier; he was an Emotive—an accidental participant in the “war on terror.” Sasha had been there the day he volunteered and said it was a bad idea.

Now, upside-down in a Humvee with Tobin’s blood on her leather gloves, Sasha felt vindicated. She always wore leather gloves around him, even while fumbling for his pulse. She said, loudly, “Don’t die on me.”

Outside, the rest of her team used automatic weapons against the enemy lying in wait. She heard the pop-pop of several guns, but her team would win. The enemy didn’t have their genetic advantage. They couldn’t take bullets and heal within days—hours with Tobin’s help.

Just more dead bodies in the Afghani desert, plus a bleeding Emotive who gasped when she smacked him. She held his head in her gloved fingers and said his name. He blinked up at her with big brown eyes, alive, then tumbled through the sound of gunfire to a state of healing hibernation. His wounds glowed blue, and she let him rest.


Back at the safe house, there were a few injuries, but nothing that required Tobin’s expert attention. He slept in the back room, furthest from the road. Sasha didn’t have a sixth sense, but she knew where he was, knew he was alive. Her muscles ached slightly—a reminder of their earlier accident. The pain would pass quickly, as usual.

“That was close today, Captain.” Paul looked up from where he sat, her loyal first lieutenant.

“Was it?” She pulled her long, brown hair free from its rubber band, then wound it again, higher, tighter on her head. One of her second lieutenants, Marco, was outside smoking and probably staring at the picture of his fiancée. He carried it with him everywhere.

“They’ll get him one of these times.”

“We can’t send him home,” she said. “He wouldn’t go anyway.”

Paul nodded and took off his boots. She was sure he didn’t know he had blood on his forehead; must have been nicked earlier, but of course, healed already. He was one of the poster boys for the top-secret government program that created soldiers like Sasha and her team. He was tall, broad-shouldered, with blue eyes and a snarky grin. Before they made him indestructible, he’d been shot and killed in Saudi Arabia, but the government brought him back and erased his scar when he went through the process. No need to be reminded of before, back when he had a family and friends.

“How bad was he hurt?” Paul asked.

“He shouldn’t even be here,” Sasha said.

“This is all pointless without him.”

“Then, make him a super soldier.”

Paul stood, a head taller than her, stronger, but he wasn’t as fast. “We don’t know what that would do to him. To his mind.”

Sasha scanned the room. “Where’s Violet?”

Paul lifted his square jaw toward the back of the house.


When Sasha opened the bedroom door, Violet didn’t move away from where Tobin slept, crashed out on an old futon. Violet was another second lieutenant—a pretty blonde who lost her leg and life in a roadside bomb, a lot like the one that day. The government gave her a leg back, along with super speed and a stop to the aging process.

Unlike Sasha, Violet didn’t wear gloves around Tobin. Where her hand touched his forehead, his skin burned blue and illuminated the room in Violet’s shadow.

Sasha stood a few feet back. “How’s he doing?”

Violet smiled over her shoulder. “He’ll be fine, Captain.” She moved her palm from his forehead and took his hand in hers. Where skin touched, the blue light grew. “He knows I’m here.”

It wasn’t a romance between Violet and Tobin—Sasha wouldn’t allow it—but there was a level of care and frightening trust. Due to his ability, Tobin could feel Violet’s every emotion in a single touch, and the second lieutenant shared this freely. Tobin had never touched Sasha’s bare skin before; she swore he never would.

“Were you injured today?” Sasha asked.

“No. Took off a few heads though.” She let go of Tobin and stood.

“Why do you do that?” She gestured to the sleeping man.

“Do what?”

“You always touch him when he’s asleep.”

Violet stood by her captain and glanced back at their Emotive. “Oh,” she said. “Well, his dreams are beautiful. He lets me watch.” She shrugged. “And he feels peaceful when he sleeps. Which of us can say the same?” She nodded to her captain and left the room.

Sasha sat on the table across from where Tobin slept. The blood from earlier had been from a cut on his forehead, stitched closed with Violet’s practiced precision. He’d been part of her team for just over two years, and the physical change in him was hard to ignore. His light hair was cut short, military style. His face was tan; lines surrounded his dark eyes—too much time squinting in the desert sun. He’d possibly doubled in muscle mass, thanks to Paul’s training routine. He wore collar shirts of army green or khaki. He wore dark jeans that gave away his civilian status and boots, big enough for running in all terrain but small enough to run fast.

He wasn’t always like this.

The first time they met, he was passed out on the couch in Sasha’s colonel’s office. She walked in, and Colonel White pointed at the gangly mass of wrinkled clothes, shaggy hair, and track marks and said, “We got you an Emotive.”

“Sir, he’s unconscious.”

White, the man in charge of building her team, nodded. “Tobin needs a lot of rest.” He stood: a big man with bulging muscles and hair that matched his name. “He’s the most advanced Emotive we’ve seen, but readings take a lot out of him.”

“Plus, he’s a drug addict,” she said.

“I’m clean,” muttered the wad of fabric, skin, and bones. Tobin sat up and revealed a headful of curly, blond hair and a gaunt, pale face. When he rubbed his eyes, his fingertips burnt blue.

“Shit,” Sasha said.

“We couldn’t leave him on the streets,” White said. “Not with him manifesting like that. Plus, he volunteered.”

She whispered, “I can’t have a homeless drug addict backing me up overseas. Colonel.”

“I’m not a drug addict anymore,” Tobin said. “And I’m not homeless.” He looked down at the couch. “Anymore.”

“Look. He only used drugs to subdue his powers.” White put his hand on her shoulder. “Now, we’ve got one of the Dallas bombers here—the one who survived. Tobin’s going to talk to him. Find out their next target.”

Sasha sighed. “How old are you?”

Tobin reached into the back pocket of his jeans and pulled out a smoke. He lit up and looked at her with weary eyes the color of mud. “I don’t see how that matters. Do you know how old your used parts are, patchwork girl?”

Sasha glared at her colonel but followed when White guided Tobin toward the interrogation room. Through double-sided glass, she saw their terrorist: a man with dark hair and bright eyes who’d helped blow up half Cowboys stadium and killed thousands, along with his buddies.

She was surprised when Tobin went in alone. White made no move to follow him, but he watched through the mirror, something akin to pride on his weathered face.

The terrorist smiled at Tobin’s entrance, his hands cuffed to the metal table. “What the hell are you supposed to be?” he asked in accented English.

Tobin sat across from the man and sighed. He exhaled smoke toward the ceiling. “What’s the next target?”

Sasha could only see the back of him, but the Emotive was relaxed. In fact, “couldn’t give a shit” came to mind.

The terrorist spit in Tobin’s face.

Tobin wiped at his cheek. “You were supposed to die in there, weren’t you? Why didn’t you? Did you run, like a coward?”

“I am no coward.”

“But you’re alive.” He stubbed out his cigarette on the table and picked at his fingernails. His fingers started glowing that shade of iridescent, underwater blue. “You really should be dead.”

Sasha noticed the terrorist’s face changed. He went from proud and cocky to concerned, worried even.

Then, Tobin’s hand reached out and closed around the back of the man’s wrist. The room glowed blue. “Where’s the next attack?”

“I don’t know.”

“Lie.”

“I’ll die before I tell you.”

“You shamed your people,” Tobin said. “You should have died in that blast, but you didn’t. You lost your place in paradise.”

The terrorist winced then shouted in pain. The blue light turned bluer.

“You hate me so much,” Tobin said. “So much hate.” He paused, tilted his head as if listening. Then, over his shoulder, toward the glass, he said, “Chicago. Flight 560 to Phoenix.”

The terrorist shook his head as if willing the truth to not seep into Tobin’s blue light. Then, Tobin reached out the fingers of his right hand and pushed them into his enemy’s forehead. The blue light went white; the terrorist, eyes still wide, fell dead on the tabletop.

White said, “We’ve got to stop him from doing that.”

She opened her eyes back in the Afghani safe house.

Tobin, awake but still unmoving on the couch, looked at her. “Why do you wear those gloves all the time? What are you afraid I’ll see?” he asked.

“You have no right to anything in my head.”

“Your muscles are sore. I could help you heal.”

“No.” She stood. “I want to send you home.”

He moved, slightly. “I don’t have a home, Captain. None of us do.”

“You’re becoming a liability.”

“A liability who’s winning the war.” He stretched his arms above his head and yawned. “Everyone feels okay.”

She shook her head, not in disagreement. He was getting stronger. He didn’t need to touch people to know their injuries anymore—didn’t even have to be in the same room. One day, he would hear her thoughts, feel her emotions, without her permission. She would have him gone before that happened.


The nightmare was always the same, from before the surgery. Sasha was a captain already, leading troops into a well-guarded terrorist facility in the midnight desert. She was the point of the triangle. She went into the room first, but her night vision goggles revealed only hurried, panicked shapes of shaking women and children.

On to the room on her right…

There, they waited, the bastards. They used their innocents to lull the soldiers into a sense of safety, because soldiers didn’t kill women and children. Sasha knelt, took up shooting position, and returned fire. In the cacophony of noise and chaos, she realized too late she’d been shot. She died outside in the moonlight, coughing on blood that tasted like a rusty spoon.

But then she was alive, surrounded by light: shouting doctors—shrill voices of nurses—beeping machines.

Oh, God, her chest. Her chest ached.

She tried to tell them, but her voice… She shoved a doctor, and he flew back, knocked his skull against a wall ten feet away. She finally screamed, but something felt different; her heart was not her own, and she felt the foreign beat of a stranger’s passion and love try to invade her body. It never quite worked, but she lived, like Frankenstein’s bride.

She clawed and thrashed at innocent nurses in green scrubs until a strong hand caught hers and squeezed.

“Cap!”

Sasha’s eyes shot open in the safe house and settled on Marco, second lieutenant, dead two years ago in Iraq. Bullet to the head. Revived and rebuilt. Left behind a fiancée and a huge Hispanic family she knew he missed.

“Shit.” Sasha sat up. Her body ached. The stranger’s heart beat wildly in her chest.

Marco stood to give her space. “It’s all good. I get the nightmares, too, Cap.”

“What is it, Marco?”

“The freak is freaking out.”

“What?”

“The Emotive.” Marco never called Tobin by his name.

Sasha sighed and kicked off a wool blanket and followed the hulking figure of the best shot on her team. “What are you—” She stopped when she stepped into what once could have been a cozy living room.

Tobin paced from wall to window, blue sparks shooting from the fingertips not holding a smoking cigarette. She noticed the cut on his forehead from not an hour earlier was fully healed.

Marco stayed behind her. Paul stood by the front door, just staring. Violet stood near Tobin and kept telling him to calm down.

“Hey,” Sasha said in her best captain voice.

Violet gestured to Tobin. “He shouldn’t even be moving around yet.”

“Tobin, what’s going on?” Sasha asked.

“Something’s going to happen.” He paced right up to her and stopped. He gestured wildly to his head. “I can feel it. Something…” He squeezed his eyes shut. When he opened them again, for a single second, his eyes glowed blue, which made both Sasha and huge, hulking Marco take a step back. “A lot of people. Someone wants to kill a lot of people.”

Sasha tried to smile. “That could be any one of us.”

“No.” He turned away from her. She liked him better as the skinny addict, before he bulked up and became imposing. He dragged on the cigarette and exhaled through words. “Out there. It’s going to happen.”

“What do we do?” Paul asked.

“Drive. Drive me around. If I can sense them… maybe I can stop it.”

“Violet. Get him in body armor this time.”

“Yes, Captain.”


Marco drove the Humvee through town. No matter that one blew up earlier; they had dozens. Sasha sat gunshot; Tobin was in the back, wedged between Paul and Violet and their guns. He seemed perpetually out of breath. His fingers glowed blue where they rested on his knees.

“Wait. Stop.” He keeled over behind her.

Sasha turned in time to see his face, twisted in pain. Violet had one hand on the trigger, the other on the back of Tobin’s head. She whispered in his ear, but it was no use. The man looked like he was giving birth, which was when the explosion happened—not intended for them this time, but it shook the car. Rubble hit the hood, and when Sasha looked up, all she could see was smoke; all she could hear were screams.

“Fuck,” Marco said, slamming on the brakes.

“Oh, God,” Sasha muttered. Then, into action: “Boys, let’s go. Violet, stay with Tobin. Do not leave this car.”

“But—”

“Lieutenant!”

“Affirmative, Captain,” Violet said.

Outside, once she could see through the smoke, Sasha saw this was not an act of war but an act of terror. Someone had decided to blow up a residential city block. She raised her weapon but found nothing alive. She stepped over remnants of a bed. Scattered silverware clinked beneath her boots. Somewhere, someone moaned.

To her left, she heard Marco cuss. He’d tripped over… a leg. Just a leg. He spit into the dirt; she knew it was his way to avoid being physically ill.
Up ahead, blood everywhere. More bodies, half-buried in rubble. Then, a small voice calling, “Madar…”

Mother.

Sasha ran toward the voice. Over her shoulder: “Get Tobin!”

Roofing crushed the little boy’s body. Blood coated the top of his head. He waved a pencil-thin arm toward the sun. Sasha suspected he saw nothing. In her thick, leather gloves, she took hold of his hand anyway and tried making the comforting sounds Violet used on Tobin, but her heart wasn’t in it.
More screams ahead. She looked up as the haze began to clear, and there were survivors, albeit few, all injured and covered in dust. A young woman fell to her knees and embraced a corpse. She opened her mouth and shrieked.

“Captain.”

She jumped when she noticed her whole team was behind her. She let go of the boy. “Tobin.” She looked up at her Emotive, who seemed distracted. He kept opening and closing his dark eyes, but he moved past Sasha and knelt by the boy. She nodded at Tobin. “Is he okay?” she asked Violet.

“I don’t know.”

“He could barely get out of the car,” Paul said.

“Marco, Paul, spread out. Find me a terrorist.”

“Yes, Captain,” they said in unison.

Sasha watched Tobin. He had his hand on the little boy’s chest, glowing blue. The boy kept waving his free arm in the air until his hand settled on the side of Tobin’s face. Sasha saw it: just one moment when the boy did not feel pain. Then, Tobin’s hand stopped glowing. Too late; the little boy was dead. She watched Tobin reach out and close the child’s eyes. Then, he stood.

“Tobin,” Violet said.

“Captain!” Marco’s voice from up ahead.

Tobin followed.

“Hey,” Sasha shouted. “Back in the car.”

He didn’t stop moving.

“Tobin! I said back in the fucking car!”

He glanced at her, and Sasha felt like she’d been punched in the gut. She doubled over and gasped for air. Tobin kept moving. When she realized he’d done it—practically knocked her over with his mind—she started running after him, Violet close on her heels.

“We got one!” Marco said over the screams and the sound of a destroyed building coming to rest.

“Shit,” Sasha whispered. “Tobin! Get back to the car. We’ll bring him to you.”

But Tobin was already there, standing between Marco and Paul, staring down at a young man who kept laughing, laughing, despite his pain. His leg was trapped beneath what had once been a wall, and he wouldn’t live long, but they could question him, thank goodness. Terrorists were much more use to Tobin alive than dead.

“Remember this fool?” Marco said to Sasha. “He tried to shoot me once.”

She remembered.

“Tobin. Question him.”

Tobin didn’t move.

“Hey.” She usually would have shoved at him, but Sasha didn’t think even her leather gloves could protect her anymore.

Tobin didn’t speak, but his hands were blue, clenched at his sides.

The dying terrorist must have noticed. In broken English, he said, “You won’t stop it. It’s already going to happen.”

“What’s going to happen?” Sasha said.

He laughed when Tobin moved closer. He yelled something in Farsi, then spit into the dirt. Tobin suddenly… yelled back. And just like that, the terrorist’s head exploded in a flash of white-blue.

“Jesus Christ!” Paul took stuttering steps back, red and black brain matter spattered on his chest.

“What the fuck?” Marco pulled his sidearm and aimed it right at Tobin’s head.

Tobin weaved and fell to his knees in the rubble.

Marco pressed the muzzle of his gun against Tobin’s neck. By then, Violet, too, had a sidearm pulled, and she pointed it at Marco, told him to drop it.

“You crazy? You drop it. This motherfucker is gonna kill us all.”

The shouting escalated between Marco and Violet. Arguments ensued while Tobin remained crumpled, a stack of shaking limbs, seemingly unaware—or uncaring—of the gun against his flesh. Paul, dependable Paul, brushed at the sticky shards of skull on his uniform and muttered to himself. Around them, men and women groaned over loss of life.

“Stop,” Sasha said. “Both of you. We need to get out of here.”

“But, Captain, he—”

“I know what he did,” she said. “Now, put your guns away.”

Violet only followed the command once Marco’s sidearm was holstered.

“Paul, carry Tobin.”


Violet took Tobin to the back room of the safe house. Meanwhile, Marco pointed his finger in Sasha’s face in the living room. “He should be put down!”

“It’s not the first time he’s killed someone, okay?”

Marco and Paul froze in equal measure.

“What?” Paul asked.

“I’ve seen him do it before.”

Marco looked like he was going to strangle her. “You knew he could kill people with his mind?”

“No.” She shook her head. “Not like today. I’ve never seen him do that before.”

Paul huffed out a breath of air. “The colonel knows about this?”

“I said, not like today.”

“He could kill any one of us.”

“And you could kill him, Marco.”

“Not by being angry,” Marco shouted, possibly to prove his point.

A small sound behind her: Sasha turned to find Violet with her arms crossed. “Tobin assumes you’d like a word, Captain. He thought it better if he didn’t come out here.”

Sasha pointed at Paul. “Keep an ear on the radios. Find out what the hell that monster was talking about earlier.” She glanced at Marco. “Stay away from Tobin.”

“Don’t gotta tell me twice. Captain.” He banged out the side door, already reaching for the picture of the fiancée who thought he was dead.

Violet walked quietly beside Sasha down the hall. Before they reached the door, she said, “He’s already recovered. He’s healing…” She paused. “He’s healing like one of us, Sasha.”

“Are you scared of him?”

She tilted her head. “I think he’s a very good man. I just don’t think he can do this much longer. It’s destroying him.”

“Destroying all of us,” Sasha whispered. She tilted her chin toward the living room. She didn’t want an audience with her Emotive, but Violet’s voice stopped her.

“Captain.”

Sasha paused.

“A heads-up. His eyes aren’t brown anymore.”

In the back room, Tobin stood near the window, smoking. Sasha kept her distance, but when he looked at her, she saw his muddy eyes were now the color of the Mediterranean at high noon. She took an involuntary step back.

“Yeah.” He sighed out smoke. “Violet said it was kind of jarring.”

“No, it… it suits you.”

“How scared are they?”

“Pretty scared,” she said.

“Even Violet wouldn’t touch me.”

Sasha clasped her gloved hands. “What happened out there, Tobin?”

“I wanted him dead.” He inhaled smoke.

“We all did.”

He laughed a cloud. “Yeah, well, you didn’t make his head explode.”

“Can you control it?”

He scratched his forehead, where, hours before, he’d had stitches—now completely healed. “I don’t know.”

“Do you want to go home?”

“There’s no place in the normal world for us. We’re the walking dead.”

“You’re not.”

He looked at her, and the change was… odd. Sasha was accustomed to her Emotive glowing blue, but now that his dark eyes were so light, he looked like his soul had been stolen.

“You’ve always hated that stranger’s heart in your chest,” he said.

“How do you know that?”

“You hate having a heart at all, Sasha.”

The door opened behind her. She turned, ready to fight, but it was Paul, who jumped back at the sight of his captain’s attack stance. “Sorry, Cap. Violet…” He looked at the Emotive. “She wants Tobin to try something.”

In the living room, Tobin stared at the small radio on the tabletop. “You want me to try to read people through a radio?”

Violet still didn’t touch him, but she stood close. “Think about all that’s changed in the last twenty-four hours.” She pushed blond hairs behind her ears, loose from her usual ponytail. “Think of how strong you are right now.”

Tobin glanced back at Marco, who stood ominously in the corner, watching.

“Hey.” Violet grabbed onto both Tobin’s upper arms. “What am I feeling right now?”

“You’re worried about me.”

“Yes, but what else?” She smiled.

Tobin closed his eyes and leaned his forehead down against Violet’s. Together, their skin burnt blue. “Why do you have so much faith in me?”

Sasha looked away.

She heard Violet: “You can do this. Just listen.”

Tobin sat down at the table with the radio. Paul turned up the volume so the room could hear. Then, they waited, shifting through channels. Different languages and voices poured forth. From where she stood, Sasha felt the voices form a puddle around Tobin, and his blue-tinted fingers combed through the muck. He chewed at his bottom lip until Violet brought him another cigarette, and they continued to wait.

Then, Tobin choked and gasped. He bent forward, his forehead against the radio, blanketing the room in blue as one voice—a strong, sharp-edged male voice—shouted a command. No one moved, although Sasha noticed Marco’s massive muscles tensed in the sapphire shade.

Tobin sat up. His eyes found Sasha. “He mentioned me.”

“What?”

“Not by name. They mentioned a blue light.”

“What else?” Sasha said.

“Five blocks away. Hostages. Women and children. They’re waiting.”

“For you,” Paul said. He sounded tired.

“What kind of building?” Sasha asked.

“I’ll know when we’re closer.” Tobin stood.

“The freak is not coming with us,” Marco spat.

Violet spun on him. “What do you want to do, Marco? Walk around town asking for directions to the hostage crisis?”

“Just because you’re sweet on that monster—”

Violet stood her ground. “We need him. You fucking idiot.”

“All right, stop,” Paul said. “We take two cars. Captain, Violet, and… Tobin in front. Marco and I in the rear.” He waited for Sasha’s approval.
She nodded, not taking her eyes off Tobin.


Five blocks felt like forever, but once they parked outside the building Tobin indicated, they waited. He sat in the back seat, glowing fingers to his glowing head. “I feel fear.”

Sasha knew he wasn’t talking about himself. She’d never seen him scared before, never.

“The children are afraid.” He tilted his head. “The women aren’t. Only a few men. They’re angry.” He paused, like rewinding a tape in his head. “The women,” he said. “Why aren’t the women afraid?” He looked up at Sasha.

She remembered her nightmare. The night she died—a set up. The women and children in the front room: decoys.

“Decoys,” Tobin said.

Sasha knew it then. Her leather gloves didn’t protect her. Tobin could hear her thoughts, which meant he could feel her emotions. She stared at him, long and hard, before picking up the radio and calling to the other car. They would have to change their plan, go in through the back, the element of surprise.

The four super soldiers knew the drill. Tobin, this time, would have to wait alone in the car, while they went to battle. Sasha watched as Violet ruffled Tobin’s short hair before readying herself to kill. She was good at killing.

Before Sasha could roll out, Tobin grabbed her wrist and held tight. He considered the details of her face with his new eyes and looked like he wanted to say something, but she pulled away before he could.

The night was sticky, warm. She smelled gasoline and sweat. Her boots made not a sound as she crept with her team to the secondary entrance. The rest of her soldiers carried big guns; she carried several smaller weapons, each equipped with a silencer, which she used as they turned a corner on an unsuspecting gun-toting man having a smoke. He fell to the ground.

They whistled and pointed to communicate. She knew it would be easy to kill the few men who waited inside. That was until the building exploded.

Sasha felt her body fly backwards, far from the scene. As she fell, she realized: not decoys. Sacrifices. Sacrifices to get to Tobin.

Beneath the rubble, she vaguely wondered if the bomb had been big enough to take out the cars, if Tobin finally was dead. But then she felt weight being lifted—someone digging down to her body. She used her super strength to push back until she saw black sky and stars through the haze.

With Tobin’s help, she stood. His light hair was covered in dust. He had a cut beneath his light eyes. He was out of breath.

Without thinking, Sasha pulled the leather glove from her hand and cupped Tobin’s cheek in her palm. His skin glowed deep blue, and a sigh escaped his parted lips.

She couldn’t know what he saw, what he felt—what emotions passed through her to him. She didn’t even know if the main emotion, the one she always hid, would be recognizable. She didn’t know if her new heart, that stranger’s heart, worked the way hers had before her first death.

Apparently, he recognized something. He leaned his forehead against hers.

Sasha gasped at the images rushing into her mind…

She was in a white, summer dress in a green, flowering field. Tobin’s head was in her lap, coated in sun. She ran her fingers through the shaggy hair he had when they first met. He took her hand, kissed it.

They walked down a nighttime street, hand in hand. She laughed at something he said, and he smiled. He scooped her into an embrace and swung her in a circle while they kissed beneath an orange-colored autumn tree.

They were in a quiet, dark room. Candles. Skin. He kissed her bare collarbone. She whispered his name. She arched into his touch and buried her face in his shoulder…

Sasha almost fell when he moved his forehead back and the fantasy ended: pictures of a life they both wanted but could never have. She awakened to the cold, dead world around her, and he brushed one quick kiss to her lips.

He said, “You still have a good heart, so kill me. Please.”

She stared up at the man she’d loved for two years—her dark and destroyed kindred spirit.

“Kill me, Sasha, before I can’t remember anything good.”

“Captain!” Violet approached, already healed from whatever wounds she might have sustained. Paul and Marco were close behind.

Tobin turned Sasha back toward him. “Please.”

The captain made her decision. She stepped in front of Tobin, took his trembling hand, and faced her team.


CONFIDENTIAL REFERENDUM

RE: PROJECT SUPER SOLDIER

THE SPECIALIZED TEAM KNOWN HEREIN AS “SUPER SOLDIERS” HAS VANISHED FOLLOWING A SERIES OF TERRORIST ATTACKS INTENDED TO KILL THE EMOTIVE KNOWN AS “PATIENT T.” AFTER MUCH DEDICATED SEARCHING, WE HAVE NO IDEA OF THE TEAM’S WHEREABOUTS OR INTENTIONS, ALTHOUGH I CAN ATTEST FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE I BELIEVE NONE OF THEM TO BE A THREAT TO THE GENERAL POPULATION.

THIS PROJECT IS HEREBY TERMINATED.

YOUR FELLOW IN ARMS,

COLONEL MC WHITE