Book 5 in the Deviations series. Don't miss Covenant, Appetite, Destiny and Bloodlines.
Fifteen years have passed since Rudder annexed Promontory. Seventeen years have passed since the Covenant's destruction. Born in-between those two events, TelZodo is coming of age in Crossroads. And he is in trouble.
He should have been a scientist like his parents, Ghost and Piri, but the lab and its corpses terrify him. His freedom from Yata dependence made him a celebrated hybrid child, but he is sterile. Living as a ***** and driven to the brink of madness, TelZodo's only salvation is to return to his birthplace, Promontory, a city that once wanted him dead ...
"A fresh-slaughtered goat." TelZodo pitched his voice to mock-graciousness. Typical, to celebrate his arbitrary milestone by killing something. "You shouldn't have."
"Don't worry, Tel, he was way past his prime." Evit grinned as he sliced flesh off the bone. His bronze-toned cheeks dimpled. "They let me pick him for you. I gave him a merciful death."
"Thirsty, yes." The diminutive man raised a mug of ale, his wrist slick with froth. "Happy birthday, old goat."
Merriment rippled across the room. The Yata continued to cut, standing on a box and wielding a knife as long as his arm. TelZodo leaned back in his chair at the head of the long farmhouse table. He surveyed this travesty of a party, seeking out eyes as hooded as his own.
They weren't hard to find. These people celebrated a mirage, the so-called new face of Crossroads, its first and oldest hybrid child. They surrounded him, cheering the day sixteen years earlier, when he'd ripped Piri apart from the inside out and ensured he'd be the last of her progeny.
Once she'd been as much livestock as this butchered animal before him. He couldn't look at her.
His father seemed mildly discomfited, but only because Ghost, the youngest of five, was now the head of this household. The odd child, the outcast, the outlaw. The reluctant hero and patriarch who'd rather be back working in his laboratory than doing anything else.
Except, perhaps, this.
"I won't bore you with the stories surrounding TelZodo's birth, because I know he hates them." Ghost's seamed and pockmarked profile towered over the others as he stood. His storm-colored eyes glinted with pride as he raised his mug from across a spread of bounty. "So I'll tell them to you behind his back instead. To your survival, son."
TelZodo drained his ale, trying to drown out the accolades. More froth spilled into his cup. When had Evit stepped off his box?
"Meethouse later," the Yata whispered. His breath already smelled pickled. Cords stood out on his arms as he tilted the pitcher. "We'll celebrate the real way."
TelZodo answered him with a crooked smile. He lifted earthenware in a silent toast. To the ***** of Crossroads. He might as well give credit to what he did best.
Talk around the table became a murky buzz. At least they hadn't grouped all the hybrids together, otherwise someone might actually notice how truly wrong all this jollity was. Between Ghost and HigherBrook sat dim-witted HeadWind, proof that depriving a Yata-dependent baby of flesh-infused milk might not prove fatal after all. The Governor eased loose strands of carroty hair from her mouth as she bestowed a beatific smile on her plate.