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Emma L Adams

Transcendent: Indestructible Trilogy Book 3 (Paperback)

Transcendent: Indestructible Trilogy Book 3 (Paperback)

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Book 3 of 3: Indestructible Trilogy

Two years ago, the fiends invaded Earth. Two months ago, I joined the Pyros, a group of warriors with astonishing powers, to fight the monsters that destroyed our world.

Today, the second invasion began. The Pyros have scattered. The fiends are on the brink of invading, led by the terrifying, bloodthirsty Fiordan warlords.

My friends and I must take the ultimate risk to find the truth about the Fiordans, and how to unlock my potential as Transcendent. Because the enemy has a reason to fear me.

And today, I'm taking the war to them.

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The world is ending. Again.

It’s been four hours since a second divide tore through the earth, directly through the centre of the Pyros’ base. Four hours since our escape. At a safe distance, behind a hill rise, I watch my home burn for the second time. Yesterday, this part of the country was green fields and rivers like a photograph of the world before, if not for the red sky. Now, the ugly jagged line of the divide mars the countryside, dividing the mountain down the middle and turning the green fields into burned, lifeless ground. Though the tremors have stopped, a red haze hangs above like smoke.

The sky’s already burned-red, less impressive than the first time, two years ago, when the divide tore through the country. This time, once again, we had no warning. We barely made it out.

We’ve lost almost everything. There was no time to gather supplies. Even Murray’s research labs are gone. We don’t even have shelter, food or water. Pyros might be stronger than normal people, but we can only survive for so long outside. Especially with the fiends roaming the countryside. I’m reminded of the two years living on the road before the Pyros took me in. Two years of hiding. When I came into my powers as a Pyro, and again as Transcendent, I hoped against hope I’d be able to stop anything like the fiends’ first invasion. But even though I as good as returned from the dead a few hours ago, I was powerless to stop them as they destroyed my new home.

It’s a couple of hours until sunset, and although we have the advantage of numbers, we’re far too close to the divide for my liking. But only a handful of fiends came through and attacked the base, fewer than I’d have expected if the second invasion has really begun. We can’t see through to the fiends’ world even close to the divide—the transparent barrier between our world and the twisted dimension the fiends call home. So what’s their game? The silence is suspicious. I thought the fiends had a plan.

Unless they were setting the stage for the real invasion.

“Leah,” says Elle, sidling up to me and wrapping an arm around my shoulder. I stiffen automatically, though I saw her coming. Her heart-shaped face is concerned, her blue eyes huge. “I don’t think you should go back.”

Here we go. “I’m all right,” I say. “Besides, if the fiends come back, I’m the person with the most likely chance of making it out alive. Apart from Murray.” The mountain’s a no-go area even for regular Pyros now the divide’s sitting right in the centre. But I’m no normal Pyro.

Elle winces. I didn’t sugar-coat my words like I might have done before. Murray’s fifteen-year-old daughter has had to do a ton of growing up the past few days. Since Jared, Murray’s crazy brother and her own uncle, tried to kill her. And me. There’s no denying we’re desperate, waiting for the go-ahead for a small group of us to go back and try salvaging anything we can from our former home. While risking another attack if the fiends decide to appear again.

“You’ll have the others,” I say. “Safety in numbers, right?”

I don’t voice my worries that a hundred and fifty of us make so much noise, it’ll draw every fiend in the area. Most of us are more than capable of taking down one of the monsters. Some of us, more than one. But an army? And the Fiordans? I’m suspicious none of the fiends’ twisted leaders showed up. If this were a real invasion, the Fiordans would have been leading the army, burning everything in their path. Sure, I killed one of them before, but there aren’t enough of us to protect the whole planet.

The divide looms ahead. Mocking. Warning. I glare at it, wishing anger would burn away the fear twisting inside me. I might be more than human, but the last time the fiends invaded, over half the Pyros died—even the supposedly-invincible Transcendent.

I’m not sure I’ll get a second miracle.

“How many are there?” Elle asks in a small voice. She’s watching the divide, too.

I shake my head. “I don’t know.” It’s the truth. I didn’t see the army close up during my brief time in the fiends’ world. Cas and I only had a distant glimpse. Most of the images in my head of the fiend army aren’t from the present, but from visions I had of the first invasion, thanks to the blood-link I used to have with Cas.

Cas has been walking around the perimeter of the camp ever since we arrived, chasing after every suspicious sound. Only Murray’s insistence stopped him wandering over to the divide itself. Probably to see if he could stick his blade in a fiend from this side. But that’s impossible even for the almost-invincible Cas.

I’d join him, but he pretty much bit my head off when I suggested we each take one side of the camp to watch out from. Cas is not a team player. And now the fiends have made another play, the Cas I talked to back at the base has disappeared, leaving a soldier in his place.

I should be prepared, too. But despite having spent most of the past day unconscious, I feel mentally exhausted. In the last few days, I’ve been Jared’s prisoner and experiment. I’ve been beaten to the point of near death, more than once. I’ve come so close to losing everyone I care about. And finally, Cas and I survived a trip to the fiends’ world, where I killed Jared for the last time. As if that wasn’t enough reason for a rest, I almost died from the blood-link connection Cas and I had. But it’s been over twelve hours since I was injected with the cure Cas took from Jared’s lab, and since then, I haven’t had as much as a hint of a vision.

Let’s hope it stays that way. There are no upsides to a freakish mental connection with someone who can’t stand you, especially when it’s actively killing you. I can’t even complain that the cure was actually blood from the fiends’ leaders, the Fiordans. The blood of the monsters that attacked Earth runs in my veins.

Cas walks past, weapon in hand though there isn’t a hint of an enemy around. He doesn’t look at me, and I can’t deny the sting. I can’t get the look on his face when he thought I was dying out of my head, but now he’s avoiding me like I brought the fiends knocking on our doors.

It shouldn’t bother me like this. We’re done. Our connection is broken, and good riddance. Now we need to worry about defending the Earth from a second invasion.

Shockingly, that thought jolts my attention back to the present. “I’m going back,” I say to Elle. “Come on. We might be Pyros, but we can’t survive out here without food, water and shelter.”

Technically, I can, since I’m Transcendent and virtually impossible to kill. But that won’t help my argument.

“I know.” She bites her lip. “I wish… you only just got back.”

“Yeah, you’d think they’d have let us finish our party before attacking us,” I say, in an attempt to lighten the mood. She gives a reluctant laugh. “Anyway. Let’s go see Murray.”

I have a list of questions for him the length of my arm, but no one will give him a moment’s peace. Murray’s the leader of the Pyros. But he’s also Transcendent, like me. I found out during the fight with Jared, and I’ve yet to question him on his many secrets. Right now, he’s surrounded by at least fifty people shouting questions. My heart sinks. This is impossible. Surely he knows we don’t have much time before sundown.


I turn at the sound of my name. Val stands with some of the other senior Pyros. I head over, Elle behind me.

“Hey,” I say. “Are we going back to the base?”

Val shakes her head. “It’s too risky. From what Cas told us from his last report, the whole mountain’s unstable. Not even we can survive being buried alive.”

“But…” I could survive it. But I’d never risk the others, and I promised Poppy and Tyler I wouldn’t run off and do anything risky alone. Considering the circumstances, though, I have a feeling that promise is going to be tricky to keep.

“There’s a town nearby,” says Val. “Murray used to be friends with the leader, a few years ago. We’ve kept them safe from the fiends, so they owe us a favour. We can get supplies from there. They have some stockpiled,” she adds, in response to my incredulous expression. I lived rough for two years following the fiends’ invasion. The concept of sharing blew up in smoke along with half the planet. Most towns refused to let outsiders in, because they had enough trouble feeding their own populations. And they especially hated the red-cloaked strangers. I never could have imagined the Pyros would be my new family.

“If you’re sure,” I say, doubtfully. “Last time some of us knocked on the door of a town, we had guns shoved in our faces.”

“This is different,” says Val. “I’ve never been there myself, but if Murray knows them, there’s a good chance we’ll be able to get at least some supplies, if not shelter.”

And if not? If they have guns, like the people at the town…

It seems like yesterday. The day Cas and Nolan found me cornered by a fiend in an abandoned house, after the energy blast killed my companions.

The last day I was in any way human.

The thought hits me like a blow to the chest. I suck in air, like I really have been punched. “I’ll go, if you want me to,” I say. “But… how close is the town to the divide?”

That’s the other snag. The new fault line will doubtless have cut right through some surviving towns and villages. I don’t know how many people there actually are left in what used to be the UK, let alone the rest of the world. The entire south side of the first divide could have been obliterated, for all I know. London was. So were the other major cities.

Val doesn’t answer for a minute. I can’t stop thinking about the first attacks now. Things were so confused back then, when we went from online updates on impending catastrophe to losing the entire world’s power supply overnight. The end happened over a two-day period: destruction, death, the disintegration of the human race. And it started with the divide.

But the second divide didn’t cause nearly as much damage. Which makes me suspicious. Though as half-invincible creatures which can energy-blast people to smithereens, they don’t need a flashy entrance to be a threat.

Maybe they’re already here. Hiding.

“Murray plans to go there himself,” she finally says. “I can’t talk him out of it. It makes sense, because they know him there, but we had to leave our radios behind. We have no way to contact anyone.”

“He’s the one everyone’s turning to for answers.” I suspect the latest bombshell, that Murray isn’t fully human, is the only reason people aren’t bombarding me right now. That, and the fact I nearly died less than twelve hours ago. A very good job my Transcendent body is good at recovering fast, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to run when our home collapsed.

“Then what? You and the senior Pyros… you can watch the group. Cas has turned into a one-man guard patrol on his own, right?”

“We’re too close to the divide,” she says. “Our best bet is to move away, but that’ll take us into the hills. We’re more exposed. And the town’s the opposite way. Murray could walk it, but we need to decide if we’re going to move first.”

“And…?” Does she want my approval? I’m not exactly leadership material. I became Transcendent by total accident, when Cas healed me from certain death with his own blood. As an artificial Pyro, Cas has the resilience and deadly fighting skills of a Transcendent, but not all of our abilities. Like the energy blasts.

Wait. “You think the blasts are coming,” I say. “Right? Because if the town’s within a mile of the divide…”

It’ll be wiped out. Last time the blasts radiated outwards, sending a ripple through the country, the world. Damn. I need to talk to Murray. If he knows about this…

“You talk to him,” says Val, startling me. “I’ll try to take over some of the questions. It’s not a question of who’s capable of leadership. It’s a question of practicality and preparing for any eventuality, even if it means going against the obvious option. The first time it happened, I was far enough away to avoid the attacks, but I saw them.”

I stare at her. I didn’t know Val was outside during the first invasion. Idiot. She’d been with the army, I assumed.

“What happened?” I ask.

“I was with Murray after the Transcendent fell,” she says. “He’d been injured, and couldn’t fight. But he recovered fast. I guess it makes sense now.”

So Murray never told her, either. He’s killed her trust, and probably that of his other senior Pyros, too. If he leaves, anarchy might break out. Then again, that might happen anyway, judging by some of the vocal anger coming from some of the other Pyros.

Like we need to argue amongst ourselves now.

“I know,” I say. “Well, you’ve known Murray for longer, but… even when he was being secretive, it was usually for good reason.” I say this more for my own benefit than anything, because I need the reminder. I’m none too pleased about the lies either, but I understand. Sort of. Murray lied about Jared to stop the others panicking. Up until yesterday, only Cas and I had any idea that the tattoo marks on Jared’s hand-picked favourites from the original Pyros were intended for blood control. The others are dead, apart from Val, Cas and Elle, and I’ve no idea why he picked those people in particular. Maybe as potential Transcendents.

There’s so much I don’t know. So much I could have found out, as his prisoner, if I’d at least pretended to cooperate instead of attacking him and pushing him into turning himself into one of the monsters. Maybe some people would still be alive.

Stop it. He’s dead. You killed him. It won’t undo what he did, but at least one enemy isn’t coming back.

“There’s a difference between secrecy and lying for no good reason.” Val shakes her head. “Garry says we should elect a new leader.”


She shrugs. “You got a couple of nominations.”

“Oh, no.” I raise my palms. “I have no idea how to take care of a huge group of people out in the wilderness. Being powerful doesn’t make a good leader.” I hesitate. “Guess that’s why they haven’t kicked Murray out, isn’t it?”

“He’s never given any indication he might have that kind of power,” says Val quietly. “But he was always the defender, keeping everyone safe, not fighting on the front lines. If he didn’t use that power to defend us last time…” Doubt creeps into her voice.

“He wasn’t born Transcendent,” I say. “He made himself that way with fiend blood. Could it have happened after the attack?” I of all people know how hard it is to adapt when there’s no information. Murray told me he gathered most of it after the last Transcendent died.

“He won’t say.” Val sighs. “Garry and some of the others are holding every word against him, which makes it difficult for the rest of us to get a word in edgeways. We shouldn’t be fighting.”

“I know that,” I say. “I need to talk to him. Urgently, actually. It’d help to have a discussion without everyone wanting in on it. Especially when I have Fiordan blood, and I don’t know for sure if it’s stopped the connection…” I trail off, regretting telling her already.

“Have you spoken to Cas about it?”

“We were interrupted by the invasion,” I say. “I haven’t had any kind of visions since, but it’s probably too early to tell.”

“Oh.” She frowns. “I would have thought… it’s not an exact science, though, is it? This is why I wish Murray had confided in someone. Even Elle.”

“He lied to her, too,” I say. “But about what happened in the fiends’ first invasion, I’ve only seen it in parts, in visions. I never got to ask Cas about the details. Did you know the Transcendent?”

“Not well,” says Val, sweeping her ponytail over her shoulder, streaked with reddish dust from our escape. “I was at the back of the fighting when the invasion happened as I’d only just qualified as a Pyro. I had no idea she and Cas slipped away. I blacked out for part of it—I guess Jared activated the tattoo. When I woke up, there was chaos.”

“And you knew Jared did it?”

She shakes her head. “You have to understand that he was one of our best fighters. He saved lives, not just Pyros but humans’, too. None of us could have guessed he was working against us. When the fiends came, we were focused on our own survival. Nothing could have prepared us for an attack on that scale, because up until then, the Fiordans came through one, maybe two at a time.”

I nod. Jared showed me a propaganda video when I was his captive, of the shapeshifting Fiordans appearing from nowhere. At least, that’s what it looked like. But I didn’t know how convincing his act was. Bastard. He’d better stay dead this time.

“So when they appeared with an army, there was nothing we could do. We lost all contact with overseas, even the rest of the country. We lost two thirds of our group, including our other base. The chaos… it was unparalleled. The most we could do was stop the invasion, but nobody knew exactly when it stopped. We regrouped and Murray told us Jared was dead, and so was the Transcendent. But at the same time, the fiends stopped crossing the divide. We’d had to move back, far back, because energy blasts were striking across the area near the divide and there were just too few of us. People were dying by the thousands…”

I can’t breathe. Because I remember what I was doing at the time. I was at home, watching the carnage on TV, before the power outage. It took another twelve hours or so for the energy blasts to reach my home.

Time we could have been running.

I shake off the thought. This would have happened no matter what. Being Pyro is pure luck and barely kept me alive up until the Pyros found me. As for Transcendence…

“Was Murray fighting?” I ask. “There were other bases, but I guess like that lab, they got taken out.”

“Murray… I have no idea,” she says. “The Transcendent and Cas were on the front lines. Murray and Jared gave the orders. But Jared was supposed to have fallen into the divide, sometime in the chaos. I never questioned that was what happened until he came back, and…”

“Nolan said something odd,” I say. “When we were in the fiends’ world. He said Jared thought some of the Pyros survived. In the fiends’ world.”

Val blinks at me. “Nolan died, didn’t he?”

“Yeah. At least I think so… it might have been one of the Fiordans, but he acted like Nolan, and… he’s dead now, anyway. But he sounded convinced. I didn’t even know there was another group.”

“It’s been a long time since any of us talked about them,” says Val. “Our other founding members were amongst them, and they were lost on the other side of the divide. We couldn’t get close for at least a week, and there was no trace left. Murray ordered us back to the mountain, and since then, we’ve lived in secret, only going out in small groups. Defending people where we can, of course. Trying to build up our numbers again. I can’t believe so many…” She swallows, eyes glistening with tears. Guilt churns inside me. I didn’t know any of the Pyros who died during the escape from our collapsing base, but I feel responsible all the same. You’d think we’d have had some warning.

You’d think I’d have learned by now that the fiends don’t play fair.

“Could it be possible?” I ask. “I didn’t think humans could survive over in the fiends’ world. But Jared did. And he had spies flying in and out of the divide all the same. He said… he said only people with fiend blood could cross over. So…”

“He must have been lying about the others,” says Val. “We can’t worry about that now, anyway. We have to protect the survivors.”

“I know,” I say quietly. How many more had their lives torn from them today? What’s the point in being all-powerful if we can’t protect them? Small mercy that the energy blasts were relatively limited this time. For all we know, it could have been a prelude to something bigger. Not knowing what is the part that bothers me the most.

Val looks over at Murray, who’s beckoning all of us to come closer. A chill runs down my back, for some reason.

“I hope he’s thinking clearly,” she says. “He’s been through too much. Almost losing Elle…”

“Yeah. He owes her an explanation,” I say. “It’s a mess.”

But Val and I walk over to join the crowd jostling around our leader. Murray has to call for quiet several times and three other senior Pyros, including Val, help calm the crowd down.

“We’ve come to a decision,” says Murray. “I’m going to lead a small group to the nearest town and pick up supplies. There’ll be time enough to debate over leadership when I return, but survival is our first priority. I’m going to ask you ten of you to gather groups to set up watch stations around our camp. Especially near the divide. There’s no guarantee the Fiordans aren’t planning another attack, and we’ve lost too many people due to being unprepared. I will answer as many questions as I can, but later, once we have basic necessities in place. We won’t be taken unawares.”

How can you know that? I want to ask.

Murray names ten Pyros. I’m one of them. I ask to patrol the area closest to the divide.

“I don’t see why not,” says Murray, to my surprise. Good. I can’t be in three places at once, but at least I can watch the most likely place for the invasion.

“But that’s the most dangerous,” protests Poppy, with a glance at Tyler.

“Well, yes,” I say. “I don’t want the fiends sneaking up on any of us. You guys can be my backup, okay?”

Tyler gives me a faint smile. “Excellent.”

They’re a lot more optimistic than me. I arrange my group so I’ll be closest to the danger zone, but I can’t help hearing some of the whispers that Murray, our esteemed leader, is losing his mind. Just like Jared.

Maybe the fiends aren’t the ones I should be worried about.

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