Once upon a time the world burned.
Until a girl and her dragon smothered the flame.
But the spark that ignited the apocalypse never went out.
And the scorch is about to begin...
When Team Dragon rescues Emmy from the government lab, they think the future is finally safe. But they soon discover that Emmy has a secret-a secret so dangerous it could trigger the very apocalypse Connor and Caleb were sent back in time to prevent.
As a dragon hunter, Connor has committed his life to saving the world. There's nothing he wouldn't do to complete his mission...even if it meant betraying his brother and losing Trinity's heart. Even if it meant doing the unthinkable.
But a desperate choice meant to prevent The Scorch, may be the spark that sets the world aflame once more.
The epic conclusion to the genre-bending Scorched series, which Melissa de la Cruz, New York Times bestselling author of the Blue Bloods series, called "A heart-pounding, twisty, time-travel fantasy."
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By MARI MANCUSI
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2015 Mari Mancusi Beach
All rights reserved.
"Come on. They should be here by now."
Sixteen-year-old Trinity Foxx glanced down at the clock on her disposable cell phone, then over at Connor, who was sitting next to her, in the driver's seat of the delivery truck. He turned to her, a sympathetic look on his face.
"Yes, you've mentioned that," he said wryly. "About fifty times in the last five minutes, I believe." He reached over and squeezed her hand. "Don't worry, Trin. They'll come."
Trinity nodded absently, still staring out the grimy windshield. The wind had picked up, and the sand on the desert floor was swirling around like a living, breathing thing. Her gaze traveled to the large, gray building squatting in the distance, and she narrowed her eyes at it. As if the architecture itself were to blame for all their misfortune. "Well, they'd better get here soon if this is going to work."
And why do you think it will work this time? an ugly voice inside her head jeered. When it's never worked before?
It was, unfortunately, a valid question. In fact, it'd been nearly six months since her dragon, Emmy, had been captured and brought to this secret government lab buried deep in the Mojave Desert. Six months since Trinity had started receiving distress calls from Scarlet, who had surrendered along with her. Six months since they'd started formulating and acting out rescue plans that had failed to free either girl or dragon. Why should this one be any different?
"Oh, Emmy," she whispered. "Are you still in there? Are you okay?"
The worst part was, once upon a time, she would have known the answer to those questions. Would have heard the answer — straight from the dragon's mouth. Well, her subconscious whisper, anyway. Since before Emmy had even hatched from her egg, she and Trinity had shared a special bond. Fire Kissed, they called it. It allowed them to talk without speaking, share thoughts and feelings over thin air. And when they combined their powers together, they could bend people's minds and wills. At times, Trinity had been sure there was nothing she and her dragon couldn't do — if they did it together.
But that bond had long since severed. Dragon and Fire Kissed were now as separate as two beings could be. Back then, Trinity had believed the de-bonding was the best plan of action — the only way to keep Emmy safe from those who sought to capture her and use her for their own gain. But each day since, the screaming emptiness in her head had become more and more unbearable. And while once upon a time she might have been grateful to be spared the burden of being a dragon's guardian, now she was pretty sure she'd sell her very soul if only she could get her best friend back.
But that would never happen. Because Emmy belonged to Scarlet now. Scarlet, who should have never gotten involved in any of this in the first place — she was now Emmy's keeper and protector. A fact that, most days, made Trinity want to bash her head against the wall. She knew she should be grateful that Scarlet had willingly stepped in at that final moment. After all, if it weren't for her, they wouldn't have any idea where Emmy had been taken. That, in and of itself, was worth everything.
But that didn't mean Trinity had to be happy about it. She'd lost her dragon in more ways than one, and even if they did manage to stage a miraculous rescue, things would never be the same between them.
She reached out, searching for Scarlet now. When she'd first convinced the girl to surrender to the enemy — in order to keep tabs on Emmy — she'd used her gift of mental telepathy to open up a sort-of back door in her mind — a mental homing device to help them lock down Scarlet's location and put the rescue plan in place. At the time, Trin had figured it would be a short-term thing. They'd break Emmy and Scarlet out of their prison and that would be the end of it. She had no idea that the government would thwart their efforts for nearly half a year. And her heart ached as she imagined what they'd been doing to her dragon all this time, deep in their labs. Experimenting on her. Abusing her.
This had to work. It just had to.
"Look," Connor said, interrupting her tormented musings, his finger pointing down the road. Trinity followed it, heart in her throat. Sure enough, a parade of cars now stretched out before them, as far as the eye could see, winding down the dusty dirt road, toward the facility's front gates. Old cars, beaten-up cars, cars that looked brand-new. All colors, all sizes, all coming their way. Connor rolled down the window, and Trinity's ears picked up the distant bass of the latest Two Sad Boys tune drifting through the air.
Her pulse kicked up. They'd come. They'd actually come!
The walkie-talkie sitting in the cup holder crackled to life. "Did someone order a flash mob?" asked the voice on the other end.
Trinity grinned, grabbing the walkie and pulling it to her mouth.
"Luke! Oh my God. There're so many! How did you get so many?"
She could hear the smile in his voice as he replied, "Yeah, well, that's the interwebs for you. Though they're going to be mighty disappointed when they find out this well-sourced rumor of a secret show is just that," he said with a laugh. "But hopefully you'll be in and out and long gone by then."
"Absolutely," she replied, watching the cars surround the facility, parking everywhere as a mob of colorfully dressed raver kids spilled out of every available door. Insta–Burning Man, just add water. "You did good."
As she set down the walkie-talkie, she could hear Connor's hmph beside her. She turned to him. "Come on, dude. You have to admit, this is pretty genius."
Connor shrugged. He'd made it clear he didn't trust Luke and his two friends, the gamer geeks from Fauna, New Mexico, who had dubbed themselves the Dracken and ran an Emmy fan site online. And Trinity supposed she couldn't entirely blame him for that. After all, for him, this entire thing was a strange sort of déjà vu. Where he came from — two hundred years in the dragon-scorched future — the Dracken had been the bad guys. The ones who had started this whole dragon apocalypse to begin with ... by breaking into a government facility and letting the dragons free.
In other words, exactly the same thing they were doing now.
The Dracken, Connor had argued, shouldn't exist in this new time line. Not if Trinity had truly stopped the apocalypse. But somehow here they were. Not only here — but contributing to the exact same mission that had led to catastrophe in the first place.
Trinity had tried to convince him that things weren't the same this time. That these so-called Dracken were gamer geeks, not the trained animal rights activists the original Dracken had been. Heck, just their daily hamburger consumption alone should have clued him into that. Not to mention, this time, they'd formed on their own — without Trinity's help. And way earlier in the time line than the first time around.
But no matter what she said, Connor remained unconvinced. In fact, she knew if he had his way, they wouldn't be rescuing Emmy at all. She would already be dead — dragon apocalypse permanently averted.
But he hadn't killed Emmy when he'd had the chance. Because Trinity had asked him not to. And as much as he hated dragons, he loved her more.
She shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. Right now, none of that mattered. The point was, they were here. They were going to rescue Emmy. This time it would work.
It had to work.
"Look," she said, pointing to the road again. "Here come the delivery trucks."
"Excellent. That's our cue."
Connor turned the key in the ignition and stepped on the gas, pulling their own vehicle into line with the others, heading around back, toward the facility's loading dock. Trinity swallowed hard, her heart pounding in her chest as they followed the other trucks into the belly of the beast. There was no turning back now.
By the time they entered the dock, chaos reigned. Which was exactly their intention when they'd set this plan into motion. Through the website, Luke had rallied a bunch of his followers into placing massive delivery orders of every kind — to be delivered at this very moment. Now, while music fans caused a scene in the front of the building, distracting all the guards, the loading dock would be assaulted from the back with pizzas and furniture delivery and Amazon orders, all arriving at once.
Luke had explained it was like a DoS — denial-of-service — attack on a computer, but in real life. Overwhelm them, knock out their resources, and slip inside unnoticed to stage the rescue. It truly was a brilliant plan.
And this time, it had to work.
Connor placed the truck into park. A harried-looking man with a clipboard ran up to them, sweat beading on his forehead. Connor rolled down the window and gave him his best annoyed look. "What the hell is going on here?" he demanded. "I just need to drop off a box. I'm already way behind schedule."
The man shook his head. "Hell if I know. They never tell us anything." He glanced over at the loading dock entryway, where more trucks were arriving. "Seriously, they do not pay me enough to deal with this." He groaned loudly. "Drop your box wherever you find room. I'll be back to sign off on it in a minute." He ran off to talk to the next driver. Connor turned to Trinity, his mouth quirked to a grin. Even if he didn't like the idea of this plan, she could tell the soldier in him liked the way it was working.
"Okay, Fire Kissed," he said. "It's showtime."
Together they jumped out of the truck, slamming the doors behind them. Connor ran around the back, rolling up the door and pulling out a huge box. Trinity helped him heave it onto the loading dock.
"Are you okay in there?" she whispered to the box.
"Perfect," Nate assured her from inside. "You guys go on ahead. I should be close enough now to hack into their security cameras and get them offline." He paused then added, "Good luck. Just don't forget about me once you have your dragon."
"Never," Trinity assured him, patting the box. Then she rose to her feet and approached Connor. "Ready?"
"As I'll ever be."
With confident, casual steps, they strode up to the guard, who was propped in a chair by the elevator, his feet up, nose in a book, completely ignoring the chaos around him. Guess deliveries weren't in his job description. Connor gave him a small smile. "We need the elevator," he informed him.
"Yeah, well, I need my ex-wife to get off my back," the guard said lazily, snapping his gum. "We've all got problems."
Connor's eyes zeroed in on him. "I don't think you understand," he said. "We need the elevator. We need to get upstairs. You need to let us in."
Trinity drew in a breath, watching him work. She had to admit, Connor looked particularly hot when he was working to manipulate people's minds. It was like he got this look in his eyes — those blue, glowing eyes of his — like he was some kind of Jedi Master or something. Truth be told, it kind of made her want to jump his bones. Not that this was the time or the place.
Pushing the inappropriate thought down, she turned back to his victim. Sure enough, the man's face had gone slack, and he was staring up at Connor with vacant eyes. "You need the elevator," he droned. "You need to get upstairs. You need me to let you in."
Then, to Trinity's excitement, he slowly rose to his feet, walked over to the elevator in question, and inserted his key. Just like that. A moment later, the doors yawned open. The guard looked at them expectantly.
Trin flashed Connor an approving look. You didn't even need my help for that one, she teased.
Yeah, well, it's all you from here on out, he shot back, but he looked pleased by the compliment all the same. She wondered how normal people who didn't have psychic powers managed rescue attempts. It was hard enough with the gift.
They stepped into the elevator, and Connor turned to her expectantly. "What floor?"
She closed her eyes, searching for Scarlet in her mind. "Three," she said after a moment. "She's on three."
Of course she would have much preferred to go straight for Emmy, rescuing her before even thinking about springing Scarlet. But because the connection between her and the dragon had severed, there was no way to know precisely where they'd stashed her, and they didn't have time to waste wandering around. So they'd decided it was best to rescue Scarlet first and then have her lead them to Emmy.
Connor pressed the button, and the elevator grumbled loudly as its doors slid shut. As they shot up to the third floor, the walkie burst to life again.
"I've disabled the security cameras," Nate whispered from the other end. "It was ridiculously easy, actually. For a government lab, their security kind of sucks."
"Or maybe you're just kind of awesome," Trinity suggested, finally allowing herself to smile. For once, everything was going exactly to plan, and she was starting to feel hopeful that they could really pull this off this time. "Now stand by, okay? We may need you again."
"I'm taped up in a U-Haul box, remember?" Nate snorted. "I wasn't exactly planning on going out for cigs." He laughed. "Just don't leave me hanging too long. My legs are already starting to cramp up in this thing."
"Well, we were planning to swing by the cafeteria for a leisurely brunch, but I suppose we can expedite for your circulation's sake."
Trinity stuffed the walkie in her back pocket, then looked at Connor expectantly. He sighed. "Yeah, yeah," he said. "He did good, okay? What do you want, for me to give him a Medal of Honor?"
"If we pull this off, I'm buying everyone medals," she declared as the elevator doors slid open. "Maybe even full-on trophies."
They stepped out into a white hallway lined with doors fitted with barred windows. Thankfully there didn't seem to be any guards on duty — maybe they were all dealing with the music fans out front. She and Connor's gift to bend minds was vital to the mission, but it was also in limited supply. Too many minds and they'd end up out of spark. And they'd have to start taking out guards the old-fashioned way.
Trinity closed her eyes, seeking Scarlet again as they headed down the hall, Connor guiding her by the arm so she wouldn't walk into any walls. Halfway down the corridor, she opened her eyes, turning to one of the nondescript doors. She peered into the window.
"It's her," she whispered to Connor. "At least I'm pretty sure it is."
With a trembling hand, she reached for the door handle. But, of course, it was locked. She grabbed her walkie again. "Can you find the security system for the third floor?" she asked Nate. "We need to open cell door ..." She scanned the area for a number. "Fourteen."
"Hm," Nate replied, and she could hear him typing furiously on the other end of the line, which couldn't have been easy to do from inside a box. "I don't think the doors unlock remotely. But I could cut power to the floor. It'd only be for a few seconds — before the emergency backup kicks on. So you'd have to move fast."
"Okay," she agreed, her eyes darting nervously down the hall. She didn't know how long they had left before the guards stationed on this floor returned. And she didn't want to be caught in the dark when they did. Drawing in a shaky breath, she wrapped her hand around the handle again. "I'm ready."
"Wait!" Connor hissed. "I think someone's —"
The lights cut out before he could finish, leaving them in total darkness.
"Hey!" a voice cried out. "What the hell?"
Startled, Trin let out an involuntarily squeak. Connor grabbed her hand — squeezing it tight, a signal for her to keep still. Her heart slammed against her ribs — so loudly she was almost positive the man in the hallway would be able to hear it.
What should we do? she sent Connor silently.
You get that door open, he returned. I'll deal with this guy.
He let go of her hand, and she felt him move; he was sneaking down the hall in the direction of the shuffling sound at the other end. It was then that she remembered how good his eyesight was — from a lifetime of underground living — and felt a little better.
She turned back to the door, pushing down on the handle slowly, so it wouldn't make a noise and alert the man to their presence. Fortunately, Nate's trick seemed to have worked, and the door gave way easily. Unfortunately, it let out a loud groan when it did, despite her best efforts. A groan that echoed through the hallway.
"Who's there?" the man called out. "What do you think you're —"
Before he could finish, the emergency power kicked in, just as Nate had predicted, and the hall burst back into light. Trinity whirled around, just in time to catch sight of the guard — and Connor, who had managed to sneak up behind him. The Dragon Hunter slammed his laser pistol down onto the back of the man's head, and he crumpled to the floor on impact, out cold. Trinity let out a breath of relief. Guess the old-fashioned way was pretty effective too.
Excerpted from Smoked by MARI MANCUSI. Copyright © 2015 Mari Mancusi Beach. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Ash,
Part 2: Ember,
Part 3: Smolder,
Part 4: Flare,
Part 5: Char,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
So sorry to see this series end, but have loved everything about it. There were so many twists and feelings through out this final book that had a hard time putting it down. The epilogue was a perfect way to tie up everything and thankfully doesn't leave the readers wondering.
Read from July 03 to 04, 2015 Book Info Hardcover, 384 pages Expected publication: September 1st 2015 by Sourcebooks Fire original title Smoked ISBN 1402284640 (ISBN13: 9781402284649) edition language English series Scorched #3 other editions (4) Source:Netgalley EARC Book Buy Links Amazon B&N BOOK SYNOPSIS Once upon a time the world burned. Until a girl and her dragon smothered the flame. But the spark that ignited the apocalypse never went out. And the scorch is about to begin… When Team Dragon rescues Emmy from the government lab, they think the future is finally safe. But they soon discover that Emmy has a secret-a secret so dangerous it could trigger the very apocalypse Connor and Caleb were sent back in time to prevent. As a dragon hunter, Connor has committed his life to saving the world. There's nothing he wouldn't do to complete his mission...even if it meant betraying his brother and losing Trinity's heart. Even if it meant doing the unthinkable. But a desperate choice meant to prevent The Scorch, may be the spark that sets the world aflame once more. The epic conclusion to the genre-bending Scorched series, which Melissa de la Cruz, New York Times bestselling author of the Blue Bloods series, called "A heart-pounding, twisty, time-travel fantasy." My Thoughts Surprise we are done, and there are a few twists in this one that shook things up too! I love stories that feature dragons as one of the main characters, these stories are no exception and in this final chapter you will cheer Emmy on as she fights for her freedom, as she makes a heartbreaking decision and at the end when she finds herself doing her best for Trinity while still trying to stay true to her promise to never let her down. This was an awesome, action filled ride with some unexpected twists that only added to the tension level for readers, some of the twists were foreshadowed and some were not but all of them led to an ending that was well worth waiting for. I especially appreciated the short epilogue as it ties things up nicely rather than leaving one wondering what happened The fact that the conflicts between Connor and Caleb escalated was dealt with beautifully, the way in which they both were able to finally manage to become key components to the success of stopping the actual ”Scorch” from happening allowed them both to utilize their skills to the best of their abilities. Trinity and Scarlet finally come to an understanding as well. Sadly the series is over but happily it ended on a very positive note for all concerned, cannot ask for better than that. [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for honest review]