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Close Obsession

By:Anna Zaires

Prologue


The Krinar stared at the image in front of him, his hands clenching into fists.

The three-dimensional hologram showed Korum and the guardians approaching the hut on the beach. One of the guardians raised his arm, and the hut blew into pieces, fragments of wood flying everywhere. The fragile human-built structure was clearly no match for the basic nano-blast weapon all guardians carried with them.

The K raised his hand and the image shifted, the flying recording device approaching the wreckage to take a closer look. He didn’t worry that the device would be spotted; it was smaller than a mosquito and had been designed by Korum himself.

No, the device was perfect for this task.

As it hovered over the hut, the K could see the drama playing out in the basement, which had been exposed by the blast. The guardians jumped down there, while Korum appeared to be carefully studying the remnants of the hut above ground.

Of course, the K thought, his nemesis would be thorough. Korum would want to make sure nothing and no one escaped from the scene.

The Keiths – the K had started calling them by that name in his mind as well – were panicking, and Rafor stupidly attacked one of the guardians. A foolish move on his part, the K thought dispassionately, watching as the invisible protective shield surrounding the guardians repelled the attack. Now the black-haired Krinar male was jerking uncontrollably on the floor, his nervous system fried from contact with the deadly shield. Had he been human, he would’ve died instantly.

The guardians didn’t let him suffer for long. At the command from their leader, one of the guardians swiftly knocked Rafor unconscious with the stun weapon embedded in his fingers.

The other Keiths were smart enough to avoid Rafor’s fate and simply stood there as the silvery crime-collars were locked into place around their necks. They looked angry and defiant, but there was nothing they could do. They were now prisoners, and they would be judged by the Council for their crime.

After a couple of minutes, Korum jumped down into the basement as well, and the K could see that his enemy was furious. He’d known he would be. The Keiths were as good as gone; Korum would show them no mercy.

Sighing, the K switched off the image. He would watch it in greater detail later. For now, he had to figure out some other way to neutralize Korum and implement his plan.

The future of Earth depended on it.



Chapter 1



“Welcome home, darling,” Korum said softly as the green landscape of Lenkarda appeared beneath their feet, and the ship landed as quietly as it had taken off.

Her heart hammering in her chest, Mia slowly got up off the seat that had cradled her body so comfortably. Korum was already up, and he extended his hand to her. She hesitated for a second, and then accepted it, clutching his palm with a death grip. The lover she’d thought of as the enemy for the past month was now her only source of comfort in this strange land.

They exited the aircraft and walked a few steps before Korum stopped. Turning back toward the ship, he made a small gesture with his free hand. All of a sudden, the air around the pod began to shimmer, and Mia again heard the low humming sound that signified nanomachines at work.

“You’re building something else?” she asked him, surprised.

He shook his head with a smile. “No, I’m un-building.”

And as Mia watched, layers of ivory material appeared to peel off the surface of the ship, dissolving in front of her eyes. Within a minute, the ship was gone in its entirety, all of its components turning back into the individual atoms from which they’d been made back in New York.

Despite her stress and exhaustion, Mia couldn’t help but marvel at the miracle she’d just witnessed. The ship that had just brought them thousands of miles in a matter of minutes had completely disintegrated, as though it had never existed in the first place.

“Why did you do that?” she asked Korum. “Why un-build it?”

“Because there’s no need for it to exist and take up space right now,” he explained. “I can create it again whenever we need to use it.”

It was true, he could. Mia had witnessed it herself only a few minutes ago on the rooftop of his Manhattan apartment. And now he had un-created it. The pod that had transported them here no longer existed.

As the full implications of that hit her, her heart rate spiked again, and she suddenly found it hard to breathe.

A wave of panic washed over her.

She was now stranded in Costa Rica, in the main K colony – completely dependent on Korum for everything. He had made the ship that had brought them there, and he had just unmade it. If there was another way out of Lenkarda, Mia didn’t know about it.

What if he had lied to her earlier? What if she would never see her family again?

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