The Red Queen

By: Meg Xuemei X





Where am I?

A sea of red. Was it fire or blood? Lucienne Lam couldn’t tell. Fog filled her mind, clouding her judgment. She twirled around in difficulty and found herself trapped underwater.

She felt heat. It was fire. It licked the surface of the ocean. She’d drown if she didn’t go up, but who would take a chance with the endless fire? Her burning, bursting lungs answered the question. Kicking her legs, Lucienne swam up, looking for gaps in the inferno.

Every stroke was an ordeal. Something was wrong with her body—she was combusting inside.

Forbidden Glory, she summoned.

The power from her Siren’s mark responded like a trail of static.

The venom. Blood Tear had infected aether, one of the five elements of Forbidden Glory. That was what had brought the sense of wrongness. She was on her own, forced to keep moving up. The sound of water pounded harshly in her eardrums, and yet, amid the rushing water, she heard voices. Distant voices, but distinct nonetheless.

“Are we just going to sit around, watching her like this?” She made out Kian’s voice, and it was laced with fear, despair, and anger.

Her people were around her somewhere. Relief washed over her. But where were they?

“We thinned her blood,” said Dr. Wren, her family doctor. “We’ve tried everything possible, but everything we’ve done has only worsened her condition.”

“We need to figure out the hidden code in her genome.” That sounded like Dr. Christophersen, the Norwegian geneticist.

“Your team will work around the clock until you find the cure,” Kian said. “From now on, the lab is where you eat, poop, and sleep.”

Lucienne wanted to tell Kian that that was an unreasonable demand, but first she had to reach him. “Kian,” she called, “put out the fire!”

He was still barking orders at the doctors and scientists. For a split second she was upset that he ignored her, but then she realized he couldn’t hear her. She was this distant, floating body that couldn’t talk underwater. With one strenuous stroke, she approached the surface, but immediately fell back as the flames bore down on her.

A wall of fire sealed every inch of the sea. The temperature was too high for her to break through. She had one choice—drown or be torched.

She bit her lip. No, this couldn’t be her end. She’d survived Blood Tear’s poison. She’d passed the trial of fire at the age of eight when she became Siren. Fire was part of her. It was her lifeline.

She would live through this.

Quenching her fear, she summoned Forbidden Glory again. Fire is your element. Take me through this fire.

Her power whimpered.

If I die, she said, you’ll be trapped in ash and bone.

This time, Forbidden Glory responded like a raindrop.

At least that’s an improvement. She could only hope her power still had a spark left—a spark that would shield her flesh from the earthly fire.

She went up again. Despite the unbearable heat, she pushed on, at least until she touched the flame. Only the fear of drowning kept her from screaming in agony.

Her hair singed. Her skin peeled from her face.

Lucienne plummeted. Drowning would be easier.

Water poured into her lungs. They burned too.

“What is happening to her? She’s choking!” Kian shouted in raw fear. “Lucia, wake up! Wake up, kid! Please.”

So this was a dream? A nightmare? That could be good news. All she needed to do was wake up, and the flood and fire would leave her alone. She blinked hard, once, twice, three times. She still couldn’t breathe. She pinched herself. She bit down on her tongue and tasted blood. Nothing worked. No, this wasn’t a dream. She couldn’t wake herself. The burning was real.

“Bring her back!” Kian yelled in fury.

Just put out the fire and I’ll get through! she shouted at her audience, but it was as if they were on the other side of a soundproof door unaware of her cries.

What kind of hell was she in this time?

Drowning and burning.

“She isn’t waking!” Dr. Wren’s panicked voice passed by her ear in the rushing water. “Her heartbeat is weakening.”

“Should we use the defibrillator?” Christophersen asked.

“This isn’t a guessing game!” Kian grated. “A wrong move will kill her. You kill her, and I’ll skin you.”

Cold metal hit Lucienne’s chest. The doctors tried to jumpstart her heart. Forceful electricity shocked through her. You’re electrocuting me! she roared to no effect.

Lucienne went limp and plummeted, face up.

Someone charged into the room and cussed profusely. Was it Ash? He never swore, yet the harsh voice was his.

Where was Vladimir? Why didn’t she hear him? Had Kian and the men taken him out while she was incapacitated and unable to protect him? Fear pumped vigor into her. She surged up again toward the surface fire and instantly dropped back with another shriek.

“You never should have sedated her!” Ash said.

“She had an episode,” Wren said with a pang of regret. “She turned violent. We couldn’t let her hurt herself or the others.”

▶ Also By Meg Xuemei X

▶ Hot Read

▶ Last Updated

▶ Recommend

Top Books