So here it is, THE BANE's first chapter:
“Good-bye my friend,” Avian whispered. His eyes closed with silent words of regret that echoed through the rest of us.
We all shut our eyes as Avian pressed the device to Tye’s arm. The back of my throat tightened when I heard the sharp hiss of the cybernetics under his skin short out and die. Agonizing seconds later, he took his last gasping breath.
Avian set down the one piece of technology that existed in Eden on the wooden table. I finally opened my eyes again when I heard his suppressed sob. Bill and Graye bowed out of the medical tent silently, unable to deal with Avian’s grief in addition to their own.
I couldn’t keep my eyes away from Tye.
His body lay limp on the table, one of his legs about to slip off. His left arm rested at his side, the skin shredded and torn where he had tried to rip it off. The dirty, bloody wires and metal bones shone from underneath. His head lolled to one side, staring emptily at me with one still-human eye and one cybernetic one.
I wished Avian would stop sobbing. I should have tried to comfort him, but what do you say to the man who had just killed his own cousin?
Avian looked up at me from where he stood with his hands braced on the table next to the body. “Thank you for bringing him back, Eve.”
I bit my lower lip and managed a small nod. He held my eyes for a long moment, each of us knowing what the other was thinking. We would never hear Tye’s hesitant laughter again, never urge him to take a break from his post to eat a few bites. He would never hunt in the woods or go on a raid again.
“I don’t understand,” Avian said quietly. “They don’t attack at night. We’re supposed to be safe when it’s dark.”
“I don’t understand either,” I replied. There were certain rules when it came to the Bane. Inactivity during the night was one of them. Night time was the one advantage we had over them.
“Let me help you,” I offered as Avian started picking up the body. He graciously accepted, his entire frame trembling as we carried what was left of Tye to the furnace. We couldn’t even bury our fellow men and women in the ground after they were infected – which meant we could never visit their graves. Even destroyed cybernetics were too dangerous to keep around. They were melted down and transported away.
Avian collapsed to the ground as we slid the heavy door closed. Another round of tears consumed him as I lit the fire beneath it. I sank to the ground next to him, hugging my knees as I watched the flames grow in intensity and consume Tye.
All it had taken was one brief touch from the Bane. Tye had tried ripping his own arm off before the infection it carried could spread any further. It was useless. Less than an hour after being touched, Tye’s eye started changing. He’d turned on us within three hours and tried to return to the city. It had taken the entire unit to drag him back to Avian. Bill had to knock him unconscious so he wouldn’t try to kill us all.
“Why don’t you go to bed?” I said quietly as I stared at the flames. “I can take care of things.”
“No,” Avian said as he shook his head, wiping a few tears away with the back of his hand. “I can handle it.”
“You don’t have to,” I tried to argue, but only half-heartedly.
“Go home, Eve. You’ve done your job.”
I stood and walked out of the tent.
Small fires glowed in the darkness, scattered about in the village of tents. I avoided eye contact and pushed the flap of my own tent aside and stepped into the darkness. My worn-out cot felt more uncomfortable than ever as I collapsed onto it. I stared up at the blackness above me, my arms resting above my head. The sound of Sarah’s breathing a few feet away let me know she was still awake.
We lay silently for a few minutes. Tye’s death would be as hard on Sarah as it was on Avian, brother and sister in painful loss.
“How’s Avian?” she finally spoke.
“I helped him with the furnace but he sent me back,” I forced the words out of my mouth. All I wanted to do now was sleep.
Sarah was silent again and I knew there would be tears rolling down her pale cheeks. I understood why she had not come to the farewell. It killed a little piece of us all whenever we attended one.
I faintly heard her roll away from me before I fell off the cliff of consciousness into the dark.
THE BANE IS AVAILABLE NOW!