Unbroken, p.1

Unbroken, page 1

 part  #4 of  Outcast Season Series

 

Unbroken
 



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Unbroken


  Praise for the Novels

  of Rachel Caine

  Unseen

  "Periodic dustups with FBI agents, passionate moments with Warden love interest Luis Rocha, and a surprising twist of events at Ibby's school, combined with Cassiel's insightful reflections on mortality and human nature, keep this fascinating fantasy saga moving briskly forward to its apocalypse-promising next installment."

  --Publishers Weekly

  "Action, suspense, and fantasy--all combined perfectly and shaken with a little romance to round out the flavor. It seems that you can't go wrong with picking up one of Ms. Caine's books."

  --Night Owl Reviews (top pick)

  "The latest Outcast Season thriller is...[a] Warden fantasy....The story line is fast-paced and filled with action."

  --Genre Go Round Reviews

  "Cassiel is a remarkable character, and her growth over the course of the series, from disgruntled Djinn to almost-human, is the stuff of great writing....I cannot wait to return to read more of Cassiel's story."

  --The Book Smugglers

  Unknown

  "A kick-ass heroine...ready to sacrifice anything.... Unknown is high-octane from the first page, weaving a tantalizing mix of mystery, romance, and paranormal power. Fans of Rachel Caine will not be disappointed."

  --Romance Reviews Today

  " 'Nail-biting' doesn't even begin to cover how intense these books are.... Unknown is a white-knuckle thrill ride from opening sentence to bittersweet end, and it's addictive as hell....As per Ms. Caine's usual, the characters are made of awesome."

  --The Book Smugglers

  "A light fantasy novel, with just a hint of smoldering romance; perfect for anyone who wants something new instead of the same old paranormal themes."

  --Night Owl Reviews

  "Full of passion, action, and memorable characters."

  --Whatchamacallit Reviews

  Undone

  "Fast-paced...plenty of excitement....A cliff-hanger ending will keep fans eager for the next installment."

  --Publishers Weekly

  "This is a good read, full of nail-biting action, some really creepy kids, and a final chilling revelation."

  --Locus

  "A lot of action and a fast-paced plot. The cliff-hanger ending will make you want to find out what happens next."

  --SFRevu

  "Ms. Caine takes readers on a fabulous new journey and introduces us to a powerful new heroine who's been forced into a reality she's not equipped to handle.... Undone well exceeded my expectations, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where the series will go from here."

  --Darque Reviews

  "A fantastic start to another auto-buy series. Whether a newbie to the world of the Wardens and Djinn or a veteran of the series, Undone will capture and thrill you."

  --The Book Smugglers

  "Superb."

  --Genre Go Round Reviews

  The Weather Warden Series

  "You'll never watch the Weather Channel the same way again....The forecast calls for...a fun read."

  --#1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher

  "[As] swift, sassy, and sexy as Laurell K. Hamilton...Rachel Caine takes the Weather Wardens to places the Weather Channel never imagined!"

  --Mary Jo Putney

  "A fast-paced thrill ride [that] brings new meaning to stormy weather."

  --Locus

  "An appealing heroine with a wry sense of humor that enlivens even the darkest encounters."

  --SF Site

  "Fans of Laurell K. Hamilton and the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher are going to love this fast-paced, action-packed romantic urban fantasy."

  --Midwest Book Review

  "A kick-butt heroine who will appeal strongly to fans of Tanya Huff, Kelley Armstrong, and Charlaine Harris."

  --Romantic Times

  "A neat, stylish, and very witty addition to the genre, all wrapped up in a narrative voice to die for. Hugely entertaining."

  --SF Crowsnest

  "Chaos has never been so intriguing as when Rachel Caine shapes it into the setting of a story. Each book in this series has built-in intensity and fascination. Secondary characters blossom as Joanne meets them anew, and twists are revealed that will leave you gasping."

  --Huntress Book Reviews

  "The Weather Warden series is fun reading...more engaging than most TV."

  --Booklist

  "If for some absurd reason you haven't tucked into this series, now's a good time. Get cracking."

  --Purple Pens

  "I dare you to put this book down."

  --University City Review (Philadelphia)

  "Overall, the fast pace, intense emotion, cool magics, and a sense of hurtling momentum toward some planet-sized conclusion to the overarching story are keeping me a fan of the Weather Warden series. I continue to enjoy Joanne's girly-girl yet kick-ass nature."

  --Romantic SF & Fantasy Novels

  Books by Rachel Caine

  WEATHER WARDEN

  Ill Wind

  Heat Stroke

  Chill Factor

  Windfall

  Firestorm

  Thin Air

  Gale Force

  Cape Storm

  Total Eclipse

  OUTCAST SEASON

  Undone

  Unknown

  Unseen

  Unbroken

  REVIVALIST

  Working Stiff

  THE MORGANVILLE VAMPIRES

  Glass Houses

  The Dead Girls' Dance

  Midnight Alley

  Feast of Fools

  Lord of Misrule

  Carpe Corpus

  Fade Out

  Kiss of Death

  Ghost Town

  Bite Club

  Last Breath

  Rachel Caine

  UNBROKEN

  OUTCAST SEASON, BOOK FOUR

  ROC

  Published by New American Library, a division of

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

  New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,

  Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2,

  Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124,

  Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

  Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,

  New Delhi -110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632,

  New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue,

  Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:

  80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  First published by Roc, an imprint of New American Library,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  First Printing, February 2012

  10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  Copyright (c) Roxanne Longstreet Conrad, 2012

  All rights reserved

  EISBN: 9781101575611

  REGISTERED TRADEMARK--MARCA REGISTRADA

  Printed in the United States of America

  Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher
of this book.

  PUBLISHER'S NOTE

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

  If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as "unsold and destroyed" to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this "stripped book."

  The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.

  To the amazing professionals who risk their lives every

  day to bring those devastated by angry nature to a safe

  place and helping hands...

  To volunteers who sacrifice their time, their money,

  their energy, and their safety to pull survivors from the

  rubble, serve up food, hand out clothes, deliver comfort,

  and do a thousand other things that we take for

  granted in our normal lives...

  To all those who donate to rescue organizations and

  give so constantly and generously to improve the lives

  of those stricken...

  You are my heroes.

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  The last book of the Outcast Season was an emotional and exhausting one, and I want to thank all of those who have loved and supported me during this amazing eight-year ride with the Weather Wardens. May your skies always be fair, my friends.

  Special thanks to my husband, Cat, who bore all my hours locked in solitude with cheer, delivered caffeine at regular intervals, and never made me feel as if I was neglecting him, even when it was true. Love you, sweetie.

  I also have to thank Claire, Griffin, and Nicola in New Zealand, and Felicity in Australia, all of whom made my journey down under so amazingly fun. THANK YOU!

  Table of Contents

  What Has Gone Before

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  WHAT HAS GONE BEFORE

  MY NAME IS CASSIEL, and I was once a Djin--a being as old as the Earth herself, rooted in her power. I cared little for the scurrying human creatures who busied themselves with their small lives.

  Things have changed. Now I am a scurrying human creature. Thanks to a disagreement with Ashan, the leader of the True Djinn, I can sustain my life only through the charity of the Wardens--humans who control aspects of the powers that surround us, such as wind and fire. The Warden I'm partnered with, Luis Rocha, commands the powers of the living Earth.

  I find myself caring too much about Luis, and his niece, Isabel, and others who never would have mattered before. The leader of the Old Djinn tells me that I must destroy humanity to save the Djinn, and all other life on Earth. I do not believe that. I cannot.

  I have become too... human.

  Before, that would have seemed like a curse.

  Now I believe it may be a blessing.

  But it will take all I have, all I have ever had, to stop what is to come, because the Earth has awoken, and in her madness she may kill us all.

  Chapter 1

  ON THE MORNING of the end of the world, I woke up curled beneath the cover of fallen leaves. It was extraordinarily quiet that morning, a hush like nothing I'd ever heard before... the calm that falls before the storm, but this storm, when it came, would never pass.

  Not for us.

  For most of a million years, the planet beneath me, the pulsing, living Earth herself, had been silent--not dead, but dormant, like a long-sleeping volcano. The past few years had seen warning signs... explosions of violence, as if she had been restless in her dreams. But just yesterday, something wondrous and terrible happened: She awoke in pain.

  The quiet around me now was not peace. It was the indrawn breath before the scream.

  I lay still for a few moments, savoring the silence. A bird's wings flapped somewhere in the distance, and condensation tapped on leaves as it slipped from tree branches overhead. The sun was rising, tinting the lowlying mist a soft orange.

  I was cold, wet, and afraid, but I felt a precious moment of peace. I could almost believe it was the beginning of the world, the beginning of hope, the beginning of everything....

  Except that I knew, as we all did, that it was the end.

  Next to me, buried in the leaves and sharing my warmth, Luis Rocha stirred, groaned, and opened his eyes. His heavy sigh said everything about how he felt about the dawning of the day, and no wonder--of the two of us, Luis had taken the most abuse in the battle of the night before. "Chica," he said, "if you tell me there's no coffee, I'm going to die. I mean that. It's not a metaphor or anything."

  I turned my head in his direction and smiled. It was not a nice smile. "There's no coffee," I said. "Nor is there likely to be any for some time."

  "You are one cold bitch. It's a good thing I love you." He sounded miserable, but at least he was talking. Breathing. Living.

  I brushed the mess of leaf litter away from my leather jacket and jeans, and stood up to stretch my arms high, toward heaven. My muscles were cold and tight and bruised, and I winced with the hot red twinges that the movements woke. My hair was damp and tangled. I looked, I thought, like some strange madwoman, like an ancient Greek maenad who'd spent the night running the hills with the beasts... only perhaps a great deal more frightening. I'd seen it in the stares of others, how odd I could seem--tall, pale, sharply angled, with the unnaturally green eyes of a Djinn.

  Luis tried to sit up, failed, and flopped back onto the leaves. He closed his eyes, and his dark caramel skin seemed to pale almost to gold. "Okay, that was a freaking bad idea. A little help, Cassiel?"

  I silently extended a hand, and when he took it, hauled him up to his feet and held him there while he swayed. He was still favoring his leg--injured, inexpertly patched--and I was concerned about the continued pallor of his skin. His breathing came in short, pained gasps, then slowly evened out.

  I was worried about him, but I didn't dare say it. Luis wouldn't thank me for it, and there was little help I could offer now. I could draw power out of the earth around us and speed the healing process, but drawing attention to myself today with the use of my gifts was dangerous. Wardens were going to die today, many of them. Too many, most likely.

  I did not want us to be among those unfortunates.

  "How's your leg?" I asked, knowing he'd lie. As he did.

  "Fine," Luis said, and put his weight on it. I felt the wave of pain that cascaded through him in a hot red ripple, but apart from the tightening of his lips, he didn't show any sign of it on the outside. I was never sure whether he knew how much I felt through our link; my Earth power was channeled by and rooted through his, and it gave me access to emotions and physical sensations I knew he'd sometimes rather keep private. "Where's Ibby?"

  Stupid of me not to have immediately thought of her, and I cursed my own lack of maternal instinct, of human connection. Ibby was a child, and she ought to have been foremost in my mind from the moment of waking. That she wasn't would be unforgivable to Luis.

  I turned toward the spot where I'd left her safely tucked in a few feet away. "Isabel?" My breath steamed in the chill, quiet air. "Ibby?" I'd left her next to us last night, carefully concea
led from the elements and wrapped in a thin silvery blanket to hold in her body heat. She had been safe, as safe as we could make her.

  But now she wasn't answering.

  Luis scrambled to the piled leaves and brushed them aside. He looked up at me. "Not here," he said. The tension and suppressed panic in his voice was unmistakable, even without any connection between us. "She's not here!"

  I had hesitated to use power before, but I reached for it now, horrified by the thought that she might have slipped away in the night... or been taken. She'd been taken from us before, violently, and the thought it might have happened again while I slept only a few feet away...

  I heard a rustle in the tree above us, and looked up to see Isabel a dizzying height up. She lay belly-down on a thick limb, and she looked delighted with the trauma she was causing--that smile was pure mischief, and her dark eyes were alight with amusement.

  She was six years old, and climbing trees to make her loved ones suffer was likely perfectly normal. I wondered if my anger was equally natural. "Ibby!" I snapped. "Get down. Now!"

  Luis was also staring up at her, and if I was angry, he was furious. He let loose a storm of Spanish, concluding with an emphatic gesture that clearly indicated she should waste no time making her way to the ground.

  "Oh, chill out; she's fine," said another voice, and I heard a slight rustle in the branches--the only warning before a massive snake's coils slithered into sight about twenty feet above me. The coils twisted, and the human half of Esmeralda's body--the upper half--came into view. She was a pretty young woman, with a bitter cast to her smile, which was also more than a little cruel. "I brought her up here for safety. Don't worry, she stayed warmer than you did. I'm only half cold-blooded."

  I tended to think of Esmeralda as a girl--a teenager--but she was, in fact, a failed Warden, a dangerous psychopath, and an expert killer of Djinn. From the waist down, her body had twisted and smoothed into the scaled, powerful shape of a snake--a rattlesnake, grown to nightmare size. It was the punishment of the first Djinn she'd killed, that she live out her life in that monstrous form, locked and unable to shift from it.

 
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