Namesake (Voiders #1) - Marie Harte

Cross Step, Kansas

2078—After the Voids

Victoria Fox deflected the blow aimed at her throat and returned a punch to her attacker’s solar plexus. The other woman sucked wind and went down on one knee. Not even pretending to play nice, Vicki kicked her in the face with a low-heeled boot and followed up with another kick to her gut.

The pounding techno beat in Rock Hall, Cross Step’s most popular nightclub, echoed Vicki’s racing pulse. Several people around her broke into applause, conceding her win, and exchanged money. An atmosphere of lawlessness pervaded the place, as evidenced by the other fights encouraged throughout the bar and the free-flowing booze and drugs. The place smelled like stale alcohol, sweat and nerves. She wanted to get the job done and leave. Period.

“Hurry the hell up, Vic.” A towering male loomed over her and snarled, “He’s in the back. We don’t have all night.”

Vicki glared at her cousin. “I’m not exactly partying here, Sean. This bitch attacked me.”

“Whatever. Come on. It’s only a matter of time before the cops show. We need their hassle even less than the new government wackos tagging Voiders.”

“Who cares about government wackos?” Vicki knelt and ran her hands over the groaning woman on the floor. She found a dagger hidden beneath the woman’s jacket and hid it between the cushions of a nearby booth. “We’re not Voiders.”

Sean snorted. “Like anyone’s going to take the time to check after one look at you.”

Vicki joined Sean as they threaded their way through the crowd who’d stopped to watch Vicki and one of Tommy Chen’s girls duke it out. “Oh? And you’re not my mirror image, but uglier?”

He flipped her off and shoved aside the congratulatory idiots angling for an introduction.

Admittedly, Sean had a point. Over the years since the Voids arrived, eye color in the Morely family had changed from anything resembling that of a Norm—a “normal” human. Starting with her great-grandmother, for whom she’d been named, each generation of Morelys looked more and more alien. Like Sean, Vicki possessed amber eyes so light they looked almost yellow. In the darkness, the damn things glowed. Not normal, not at all.

Then again, what the hell is normal in this freakish city? The nightclub had as many Voiders in it as Norms, much like the city. Cross Step, Kansas, now consisted of Voiders, Norms, and Conduits—people like her and Sean.

Conduits were humans affected by the Voids. Vicki often wondered if there wasn’t more to her family’s odd history than those gaping black portals, which had appeared out of nowhere over a hundred years ago. Two stories high and half as wide, the black portals were ringed with an eerie blue light. As far back as Great-Granny Victoria, the Morelys had possessed strange psychic abilities and a connection to the universal doorways, which didn’t make much sense, since no one—not even the Voiders—could step too near the Voids without getting violently shocked.

“He’s back there.” Sean pointed toward a locked door guarded by a gorilla of a man. Teddy, his nametag said. “Do your stuff.”

Vicki huffed with irritation and moved in for the kill. She stopped a few feet from the bouncer guarding Tommy Chen’s inner sanctum, who lost his look of boredom and focused on her with blatant interest.

“Teddy? Not Bear, Bruiser or Handsome?” Vicki asked with a flirtatious smile as they approached. She shrugged, which lifted her shirt and exposed more of her navel than her low riding jeans and belly-shirt allowed. Predictably, Teddy zeroed in on her bellybutton before shifting his gaze to her breasts showcased by the red, too-small top Sean had encouraged her to wear.

Told you, her cousin’s look seemed to say.

“You’re in.” Teddy nodded at her. “You’re not,” he said to Sean.

“No problem. Just walking my cousin to the door. You take care of her for me, okay?” Sean held out a hand.

Though suspicious, Teddy took it. Sucker.

Vicki watched with appreciation as Sean put Teddy down in one punch. “Not bad.”

“Better than you with trampzilla back there.” Laughter crinkled Sean’s eyes. “No doubt word’s reached Tommy that you trounced one of his chicks. Three to one says he picks you to fight next.”

“No way. We couldn’t be that lucky.”

They’d been after Tommy Chen for months. The sly Voider always managed to elude them. His illegal fights were the talk of the town and the place to be if a Voider wanted to network. Rumor had it more criminal associations started in places like these than in the alleyways and deserted warehouses