Project: Phoenix (Neon City Book 3), Chapter 23

Story by Spiders Thrash on SoFurry

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#23 of Project: Phoenix (Neon City 3)

Finally finished with the rough draft. Now I just need to get it polished up and into Kindle Scout before I get evicted or my electricity is shut off. :(

"Should be almost done now." Jack glanced at his watch, yawned, and turned to stare at Corona pacing slowly to the far end of the hall and back. Even though she and Taura had been engineered to have more stamina than any human, she'd started having trouble keeping her eyes open a few hours ago. Jack sighed and faced forward again. She and Taura are gonna need to sleep sooner or later. We all will.

"I hope so." Ramirez sat on one of the benches a pair of orderlies had brought to them this morning, slumped over with her forearms braced on her knees. She stared at the floor, almost nodded off, and jerked back upright. "It's been, what, eighteen hours?"

"At least." Taura glanced toward Corona, nudged Jack's shoulder, and pointed. "Machiko's here."

He turned and found their boss striding through the hallway toward them. Corona fell into step beside her.

"Hey," Ramirez muttered.

Machiko nodded. "How is the operation progressing?"

"Last update we got was that it's almost finished." Jack glanced at the operating room doors. "I'm kind of surprised it's not taking even longer, considering the amount of tech they're putting in Kim's body."

"From what I understand," Taura said softly, "a lot of it's nanotechnology. They insert something to use as raw materials, then inject the nanobots and let 'em construct some of the components while the surgeons implant others. Speeds up the process quite a bit." Taura smiled at Ramirez. "Another bit of good news is, once the cybernetic components are functioning, they'll just need to keep observing her for a day or two to be sure it's all working properly, then she'll be able to go home."

"That's a relief." Ramirez took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Psychological trauma is a whole other thing, though. Even if she's back on her feet right away, it'll be a long time before she recovers from the assault."

"Good thing she's got all of us to give her the support she needs." Corona smiled and leaned over to pat Ramirez's shoulder.

"Yeah." Ramirez put her hand on Corona's for a moment, then she turned back to Machiko. "Sorry for not reporting for work over the next few days, but -"

"No, I understand completely." Machiko held a hand up. "I've got a son, and if he were in Kim's situation, my job is the _last_thing I'd be thinking about. Take all the time you need."

"Thanks." Ramirez glanced over at the doors again and sighed. "I just hope getting those people to save Kim didn't cost you too much."

"The project lead wanted total immunity from prosecution for himself, but he was perfectly willing to throw his team to the wolves. I had to agree to his demands. Kim's life is more important." Machiko shrugged. "Even if I had the authority to give him what he wanted, I'd still wouldn't actually do it. Not for a smug, rotten bastard like him. He's going to do his time in prison no matter how this turns out."

Everyone stared at her. Corona shook her head slowly.

"I don't know about this. I mean, I already feel dirty enough after ... what I did to the son of a bitch who put Kim in this situation. But promising this guy what he wanted and then shafting him ...?"

Machiko winced and glanced away for a split-second. "I've been thinking about that. I admit I may have let my anger get the better of me. You should've heard this guy, though. He demanded all charges be dropped against him, but stated flat-out that he didn't care about his own team. Even worse, though ... he used Kim's life as a bargaining chip. Give him a clean slate, or he'd let her die. I can't let him off the hook."

"There's another problem," Taura said softly. "If word gets out that you lied to this guy to make him go along with this, people we arrest will be less likely to cooperate with us in the future because they'll know our promises can't be trusted."

"There's that, too." Machiko let out another slow breath and rubbed a hand over her forehead. "I don't know. I'll take it under advisement, but letting this guy go wouldn't be anywhere _near_the right thing to do, either."

"I'd suggest giving the project team as many concessions as you can," Ramirez said. "They're the ones doing the actual work, and regardless of being involved in an experiment to revive dead bodies to use them as weapons, the tech they've developed is saving my daughter's life. That's got to count for something."

Jack smirked. "You can always let the team know that their boss tried to sell them out to get himself off the hook. Maybe some of them will take out the trash later on."

"Hmm. The incentives I could offer Carson were limited to a reduced sentence and a stay in a minimum-security prison. The place is for white-collar criminals, more of a hotel and country club than an actual prison. I'll definitely try to get that extended to the whole team if the operation is a success. Carson, though, is such a complete and utter self-serving bastard that I'm having a hard time even entertaining the thought of not burying him." Machiko shrugged again. "I suppose I could always say someone above me overrode my decision and stuck him with what I originally offered. Locking him up in that place would be too good for him, but at least he would be locked up. For a while, anyway."

"I'd certainly feel less like a back-stabber if you do that instead," Corona said.

"I would, too, I suppose." Machiko let another breath rush out. "I'll think it over."

"Good." Corona smiled, glanced at the OR doors, and resumed pacing. Something behind Machiko caught her attention and she waved. "Hi, guys."

Jack turned to find Otto and Shakira stepping out of the elevator. Otto held his phone up.

"Got a text from one of the live stream's producers telling us to go back home or we'll be in breach of contract for disappearing for so long. Guess they care more about keeping us in front of all those cameras than the life-or-death situation our friend is in." He sighed. "Even if I didn't really need the money we're getting from being on the show, I don't like the idea of getting fired and having that on my employment history."

"Same here." Shakira shrugged. "On the other hand, they also suggested I start acting like a stereotypical 'sassy black woman.' On that one, I suggested they go fuck a goat. But I guess we should get back there. I'd rather not be fired again after losing all my coding jobs when everyone found out about me and Otto."

"I've been ignoring the notifications coming through to my phone," Jack said. "They probably sent us the same text."

"You go on ahead." Corona managed a brief chuckle. "I don't even want to think about what the stream looks like when the only one of us there is Dale."

"Oh, yeah, him and his beer-guzzling buddies." Otto grimaced. "Too horrifying to contemplate."

"Yeah, the house will probably be absolutely trashed by the time we get back there."

"We'll catch up with you later and help you clean up the mess, if they left one." Corona motioned at the OR. "We want to be sure Kim's okay, first."

"Okay." Shakira smiled and started to wave. "See you -"

The doors opened and a woman in pastel scrubs peeked into the hallway. She found Ramirez and walked over to her.

"They're wrapping it up now. They'll be keeping her asleep for the rest of the day, so she can recover. You'll be able to see her in the morning. Since you've all been awake even longer than the surgery's been going on, you might want to try to get a little shuteye, yourselves."

"I want to be here when she wakes up," Ramirez said.

"Okay, but someone will show you to a lounge where you can catch a nap if you need to. They'll be moving Kim into a private room in a bit. We'll escort you there first thing in the morning."

"Thanks." Ramirez watched her disappear through the doors, slumped over, and let a long breath rush out. "Almost there."

"Holy_shit_." Otto stared at the cigarette butts and beer cans scarred all over the front yard, shook his head, and glanced at Shakira. "Welcome home."

"No kidding." She took her glasses off, rubbed a hand over her face, and put them back on. She stared through her half-open eye, grumbled something under her breath, and trudged up to the front porch. "I'm too tired to deal with it. Think I'll just go to bed and see if I can actually get a solid chunk of sleep."

"Good idea. You only managed to get a couple hours in the hospital." He took a slow breath. "I'll probably do the same. I hate sleeping during the day, but I'm wiped out."

They stepped through the door and found Eddie the camera guy picking up half-crushed beer cans and dropping them into a huge trash bag.

"Hey, guys. Glad to have you back." Eddie waved a hand around the room. "Sorry about the mess. Hillbilly Halvorson really outdid himself with the party, this time. Fortunately, after he finished vomiting, he dragged himself up to his bedroom and passed out."

"Good. Won't have to even look at him, then." Shakira forced her eye back open and headed for the stairs. "Think I'll follow his example, only without the drunkenness and puking. I might be tired enough to finally get a full night's sleep."

"I'll be sure to keep quiet, then." Eddie smiled. "Sweet dreams."

"Thanks." She climbed the stairs and Otto followed her. They'd reached their floor before he realized her magnificent ass had been right in front of his face the entire time.

I really must be exhausted.

She stopped at her door and smiled. "See you later."

"Yeah. Sleep well." He had to suppress the urge to kiss her goodnight. The last thing either of them needed was the cameras mounted in the hallway to capture even more evidence of their relationship. He smiled back at her and stepped into his room. He contemplated unwinding by playing around on his computer for a while, but decided it would only make falling asleep harder. He placed his duffel bag on his desk chair, stripped down to his briefs, and flopped onto his bed.

Yeah, I know_I'm tired when falling asleep sounds better than jerking off first._He chuckled and closed his eyes.

Someone whispered and he snapped his eyes open again. He glanced around his room, but found no one else here.

What the fuck?

More whispering seemed to come from the air itself, near the head of his bed. He spun around, heart pounding, but found nothing but the blank wall with a small fluorescent reading lamp mounted on it.

Wonderful. I'm hallucinating.

The whispering came again, this time from across the room, and he whipped around to stare at the wall. Again, there was nothing but empty air. He couldn't make out any words. It was either gibberish or he'd missed bits of it.

He remembered the assault on the Justice Foundation - the attackers had used armor with stealth systems. His pulse jumped even more as he launched off the bed and crossed the room, swiping his hands through the air to see if they connected with anything solid. Yet again, nothing but air.

Maybe I'm losing it. Or I'm just so tired, my ears are playing tricks on me. Might've just been a gust of wind._He returned to his bed and sat. _Or maybe ... I wonder if it's connected to those nightmares I've been having for so long? He'd been growing increasingly convinced that they were memories rather than dreams. Strange, faraway places he couldn't possibly have been anywhere near, yet he'd become almost certain they were glimpses of things that had actually happened.

Maybe this was similar. Maybe he was sensing something.

He shivered. I think I'd prefer it being a hallucination caused by exhaustion. He waited nearly a full minute, but there were no more whispers. He let out a long sigh, lay down, and closed his eyes.

A scream exploded outside - a man's voice, directly across the hall.

Shakira's bedroom.

Otto leaped off the bed, yanked the door open, and charged across to Shakira's door. The screaming continued, definitely coming from inside her room. He pounded on the door. "Shakira? What the hell's -"

Someone thumped up the stairs and he whipped around and found Eddie scrambling into view with his shoulder-mounted camera. His face had turned pale and his eyes were nearly popping out of his head.

"What the hell?" He stared at the door. "That's not Dale, is it?"

Otto turned the knob and threw the door open. He stormed through and found Shakira backed against the wall, covering her mouth with both hands and staring in utter terror at her bed. Her whole body shook rapidly.

Aside from him and Shakira, no one else was in the room.

The screaming continued, seeming to come from the air above the head of her bed.

Otto hurried over to her and touched her shoulder. She stared at him, sobbed, and grabbed his hand. She clamped down so hard on it that it_hurt_, but he kept it to himself.

The screaming stopped.

Otto stared at the wall, his heart beating so hard his whole body shook, and held his breath for a few seconds. When nothing else happened, he put his arm around Shakira.

Now, the only sound in the room was their breathing. Eddie's breaths were ragged. Otto glanced at him and found his face pale and sweat beading on his forehead.

"What the hell was that?" Eddie whispered.

Otto gave Shakira's hand a tug and led her out of the room. Eddie followed them into the hall and pulled the door closed.

Shakira sucked in a deep breath, let it rush out, and repeated it a dozen times before she finally stopped trembling. She stared at the door and pressed her lips together for a few more seconds before she could speak.

"No way I'm getting any sleep now," she muttered.

Otto pulled her into an embrace and held her for a long moment. "Let's go downstairs. Sit on the sofa and try to relax. I'll make some hot cocoa."

"I ... really don't want to be alone." She shuddered. "Not after -"

"I'll make the cocoa," Eddie said, backing slowly away from her bedroom door. "I could use something stronger, myself, but for now I'll settle for some cocoa."

Otto and Shakira returned to the living room and sat. Shakira tucked her feet under her, shivered again, and crossed her arms tightly across her chest. Otto kept his arm around her for a few minutes, just holding her silently.

The faint sound of water boiling came from the kitchen.

Finally, Shakira glanced at him. "You're in your underwear."

"Oh. Right." He blushed and shrugged. "I wasn't expecting to be back down here so soon."

She glanced at one of the wall-mounted cameras. "I was so tired, I didn't bother taking anything off. Good thing, too."

"Not for me, necessarily." He winked and she snorted and gave his shoulder a playful shove before her smile faded. "What the hell happened in my room? First the creaking floor, like someone invisible walking across the room, then the whispering I've heard a few times before, and now this."

"I heard whispering in my room, too, just a couple of minutes before the screaming started."

She stared at him for a few seconds. "What the hell is going on?"

"We'll figure it out." He rubbed her back slowly. "For now, just try to relax."

"Sure.That'll happen." She flicked a lopsided grin at him, but it vanished almost instantly.

They waited in silence for Eddie to bring the cocoa in.

"Got it." Corona smiled and held up the handcuffs. She hadn't put them on, but to pass the time she'd started trying to pick the locks again. "Finally."

Jack grinned and put his arms around her. "Now all you have to do is unlock the other one."

"Hah. I'm saving that one for after Kim wakes up." She slipped the cuffs back into her pocket, returned the lockpick to its case, and glanced around the lounge as she shoved it into another pocket. Hiro had stretched out on the sofa across from theirs, propped up on a pile of pillows on one end, with Ramirez leaning against his chest, sound asleep. He'd wrapped his arms and wings around her and held completely still since the moment she dozed off.

Montoya sat on one of the armchairs in the corner, nodding off with his head propped on his right hand.

Taura sat beside Jack, gazing at a half-dozen windows in the holofield projected by her deck of cards-sized supercomputer, reaching in to tap the occasional link or type in data.

Corona glanced at the clock in the lower-right corner of the field. Sun rose about an hour ago. I wonder how much longer it'll be before we can see Kim.

Another forty minutes passed. Finally, a doctor peeked into the room and beamed.

"Good morning." She glanced at Ramirez. "I hate to wake her up, but she'll probably want to see her daughter."

"Kim's awake?" Corona hopped off the sofa and almost held her breath.


With a twinkle in his glowing eyes, Hiro nudged Ramirez's shoulder gently, then gave it a few more shakes before she opened her eyes and blinked a few times.

"She's awake, Lola," he said softly, and she bolted upright.

"I want to see her!"

"Of course. I'll take you to her."

Jack and Taura stood and gave Corona a hug before following Ramirez out the door. Corrie glanced over her shoulder and found Montoya bringing up the rear, yawning and rubbing his eyes while grinning at the same time.

"They had to give her cybernetic eyes," the doctor said. "They glow like red LEDs, so be prepared."

Like those Revenants we had to fight._Corona shivered, but shook it off quickly. _It's the same tech, so of course she'll look like one them.

"Her eyes were damaged?" Corona cocked her head.

"It was the nanotech agent that was breaking down her tissues and shutting her organs down. I won't describe what it did to her eyes, but ... they were ruined. She would've been blind without the cybernetic ones." The doctor glanced over her shoulder. "Kim's pretty mellow right now, but she woke up screaming and might still be easily agitated."

"Screaming?" Ramirez rushed forward and reached out to grab her arm. The doctor held a hand up.

"The last thing she remembered was seeing her best friend murdered and nearly being stabbed to death immediately afterward. Her reaction was perfectly normal. Once we made it clear she was no longer in danger and explained exactly what was done to save her life, she seemed to take it pretty well."

"Aside from losing her best friend," Montoya muttered.

"Yes, except that. She's definitely more distraught over that than what happened to her." The doc led them to an elevator and tapped the button. "Her voice will sound odd - it'll have a sort of flanging effect - due to the cybernetics. They had to implant a system to keep her lungs going. Same for her circulatory system - they replaced her heart with a synthetic pump, so she doesn't have a pulse. The blood and other fluids that keep her body from rotting are being pumped continuously. Her movements will look sort of robotic, but don't be alarmed. Inside, she's still who she was before."

The doors parted and everyone stepped inside. Ramirez wrung her hands and took a few whooshing breaths as if to brace herself.

"Anything else you need to prepare me for, so I don't freak out when I see her?"

"They had to shave her hair off to open her skull in multiple places. They used an experimental nanotech agent of their own to seal the incisions, and Kim's wearing a skullcap to cover the remaining scars. Also, her skin is very pale, almost completely white, and she looks a bit gaunt. There's nothing that can be done about that right now."

Ramirez nodded and drew another shaky breath. Hiro clasped her hand and Montoya patted her shoulder.

The doors opened and the doctor led them down another hallway.

"She's in the second room from the end, on the right." She pointed at the door, led them to it, and kept out of their way as they filed in.

Corona found Kim sitting on the edge of her bed, staring out through the large window. She wasn't sure if her friend was taking in the view or thinking about something else entirely.

"Kim?" Ramirez whispered, and the girl turned around and smiled.

"Mom!" She stood, walked over - her movements almost as mechanical as the zombies Corona and the others had fought - and put her arms around Ramirez.

"I'm_so_ glad to see you, kiddo!" Ramirez squeezed her eyes shut and tears trickled from under her eyelids.

"Ditto, Mom." Kim hugged Corona next, then Montoya.

The doctor put her hand on Jack's shoulder and whispered, "I'll give you all the time you need. Just call the nurse's station if you need anything."

"Thanks." Jack smiled as she left the room. He grinned as Kim gave him a quick hug. "Great to see you back on your feet. The eyes are a bit much, though, aren't they?"

"Hah. Look who's talking." Kim shrugged. "I'm still getting used to them, but I'm starting to think they look kinda cool. Only thing I don't like is that I don't have tear ducts anymore." She glanced at Ramirez and her lips quivered. "How's that for a kick in the teeth? Myaku's dead and ... and I can't cry for her."

"I'm so sorry, baby." Ramirez embraced her again.

"I'll adjust to it, I guess. Being unable to cry, I mean. It beats the hell out of being dead."

"Yeah. I'm just glad this actually worked. What that company was doing with people's dead bodies is completely fucked-up, but if that project didn't exist, you would've -" Ramirez held her breath until she'd regained her composure. "I would've lost you."

"Well, if it can be used to save other people who are injured too badly to recover without it, then some good'll come of it."

She nodded and pulled Kim into another long embrace. When they parted, Corona stepped forward.

"This may not be worth much, but I was hoping it'd cheer you up a little." She held up the handcuffs and pointed at the open one.

Kim grinned. "Ah, you finally figured out how to pick those?"

"Just a few minutes ago, yeah. I'm hoping I can repeat it in front of you."

"Go for it." Kim's grin broadened as Corona produced the lockpick and began working the other cuff over. She held her breath over the next few seconds - then giggled when the lock popped open. Kim laughed and nudged Corona's shoulder. "About time. You've only been trying to get it right for, what, several days?"

"Well, my hands are too big for these tools." Corona chuckled and put away the cuffs and lockpick kit. "Any other tricks I can keep you entertained with?"

"There's only one thing I need." Kim glanced around at everyone. "They want to keep me here for observation, but they can monitor my cybernetics remotely. I don't want to stay here any longer than I absolutely have to." She turned to her mom. "I want to go home."

"Well, that's ... um ... not what I expected." Jack shook his head and stepped aside so everyone else could enter.

Taura ducked through the front door and found Otto on the sofa, wearing only a pair of tight briefs, with Shakira leaning on his shoulder, her eye closed.

The very next thing Taura noticed was Otto's enormous tent-pole.

He caught her staring at it and shrugged. "Can't help it." He pointed at Shakira. "For obvious reasons."

Kim marched through the door, stopped abruptly, and stared at him. "Whoa." She tossed off a lopsided grin. "That'll boost the stream's ratings."

Ramirez snickered. "Mind out of the gutter, Kim."

"That wouldn't be any fun." Kim cocked her head and frowned. "Huh. I've just discovered a down side to being a high-tech zombie. Similar to not having functioning tear ducts anymore. I've got a dry pussy."

Otto belted out a guffaw and Shakira jolted awake. She gasped, blinked, and glanced around.

"Sorry." Otto blushed. He glanced at Kim and added, "That could be a problem, though."

"Did_not_ need to know that." Ramirez shook her head. "You've been hanging around Otto too much."

"Well, don't worry, I think he's got his hands full." Kim shrugged. "The team who worked on me warned me that I'll probably have to start replacing body parts in a few months, since this is just a temporary solution. I'm thinking I might just go for a whole prosthetic body, if one's available in time. Hopefully that kind of thing will be advanced enough to solve the, uh, 'dryness' problem.

"Uh." Ramirez grimaced, shook her head, and held her hands up. "Nobody told me this was temporary!"


"They neglected to mention it, yeah."

"Try not to worry. Like I said, it'll be a few months before anything starts to break down. Maybe longer. Should be enough time to figure something out." Kim turned abruptly back to Otto and motioned at his underwear. "The curiosity is killing me. Care to explain your state of dress?"

"Uh, well ..."

The floor creaked again. Taura glanced to the left. Even though everyone had been standing still, there was a sound like someone walking through the middle of the living room.


Shakira shuddered and jerked her feet off the floor. She pulled her knees up to her chest and stared at the floor as the creaking sound passed in front of the sofa. Otto leaned forward and swiped his arm through the air, as if testing for the presence of an invisible body.

"That shit again," Jack grumbled. "Seriously, what the hell is going on in this house?"

"Maybe it's haunted?" Montoya shrugged.

Shakira shook her head. "I don't buy that crap."

"Yeah." Otto nodded. His gaze tracked the creaking sound until it reached the wall and stopped. "There's got to be a ... well, 'normal' explanation."

"There might be." Kim frowned at the floor, crouched, and continued staring for a few seconds. "One of the really cool things about my new eyes is that they can see more than just the visible spectrum, like Jack's eyes. I can also see wifi signals - and that's what I'm picking up here. You've got a row of wireless devices under the floorboards."

"Son of a bitch," Otto muttered. "Speakers. Wireless speakers."

He and Shakira exchanged a glance. She pointed toward the stairs. "You think -"

Otto jumped to his feet and turned to Kim. "I'd like you to take a look at something."

"Sure. Lead the way."

He charged up the stairs and everyone else followed. He pointed at the door to Shakira's bedroom. "It's in there."

"Oh, what were you doing in her room?"

"Not that." He flung the door open and pointed at the wall at the head of Shakira's bed. "Would you mind checking for wifi signals there?"

"Sure." Kim stared at the wall and turned back to Otto. "Yep, same as the floor downstairs."

"Guess that explains the whispering we've been hearing, plus the screaming. They put speakers in the walls before hiring us to be on this dumbass reality show."

"Uh." Jack raised an eyebrow. "Screaming?"

"I'll explain later." Otto stomped over to the camera at the end of the hall and glared into it. "I really hope the assholes running the show are watching right now. You bastards almost gave Shakira a heart attack. If you ever do that again, I'll rip your fucking heart out!"

_Huh._Taura stared as he stormed back to his room.

"I'm gonna put some clothes on while I'm here." He stepped into his room and slammed the door.

"Whoa." Shakira turned and scowled at the wall behind her bed. "I bet they were planning to keep screwing with us for weeks or even months, just to add 'drama' to the show." She sighed, shook her head, turned back to Kim, and smiled. "It's good to have you back."

Jack took his clothes off and flung them off to the side, too tired to care where they landed, and sat on the edge of their bed. He flopped over on his back and let out a long sigh. Corona crawled onto the bed and lay on her side, propping her head on one arm and resting her other hand on his chest.

"You know you've had a long day when you're too tired to screw."

"No kidding," he said with a laugh as Taura joined them. She mirrored Corrie's pose, running her palm slowly over his chest. He reached up to hold each of their hands. "It's been a fucked-up week."

"Sure has." Taura yawned. "I'm almost afraid to find out what tomorrow brings."

"Well," Corona said, "we survived this one, Kim is alive and well, she found out what the producers were doing to screw with our heads, and I learned out to pick handcuff locks. I'd say that's cause for celebration."

"Yeah. We can celebrate after getting a good night's sleep, though." Jack laughed softly. "And then ..."

"Then, a new day, and a new mission for the Foundation. Hopefully one that's a little less horrifying than the last one." Corona reached across Jack to prod Taura's shoulder. "And maybe your driving lesson."

"Oh, I forgot about that." Taura laughed. "So much for getting any sleep."

"You'll do just fine." Jack gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "You might have time to let the suspense build, though, depending on how soon we can get the car fixed or get another one."

"Great. I'll have a few days or even weeks to be nervous."

Corrie giggled. "Oh, Jack, here's something else you can look forward too. Sooner or later, you'll need to introduce us to your parents."

He snickered. "That won't be awkward at all."

Taura chuckled and gave each of them a kiss before rolling over on her back and closing her eyes. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight, my darlings." Corona kissed them.

"Goodnight, girls." Jack took a deep breath, yawned, and closed his eyes. He imagined the first in-person meeting between his girlfriends and his parents, and tried not to laugh. Hoo, boy, that'll be interesting.

Still, after the past few days, it would be good to have something a little more mundane to deal with.

He fell asleep with a smile.

Project: Phoenix (Neon City Book 3), Chapter 22

"We're back," Jack whispered, and Taura glanced up to find him and Corona in the waiting room doorway. She stood, glanced at Ramirez and the others, and led Jack and Corrie back to the lobby. "They're still operating on Kim," she said softly. "Another...

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Project: Phoenix (Neon City Book 3), Chapter 21

_No ... oh, no!_ The flashing lights caught Corona's attention from blocks away and several hundred feet below. As young as she was, she'd seen enough to know exactly what they meant. She changed the angle of her wings and put herself into a steep...

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Project: Phoenix (Neon City Book 3), Chapter 20

"Keep at it." Jack laughed. "You'll get it eventually." _Poor girl._ Taura chuckled despite her effort not to. Corona paused long enough to stick her tongue out at him before returning her attention to the cuffs and lockpick. Taura noted the stares...

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