Resilient (Tainted Elements, #6) by Alycia Linwood - Read Online
Resilient (Tainted Elements, #6)
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Summary

Moira's story comes to a conclusion as she faces the biggest and most dangerous enemy ever.

The sixth book in the Tainted Elements series.

The Tainted Elements series reading order:
DIFFERENT (Book 1)
INVISIBLE (Book 2)
MONSTER (Book 3)
CAPTIVE (Book 4)
HUNTED (Book 5)
RESILIENT (Book 6)

Published: Alycia Linwood on
ISBN: 9781311938176
List price: $3.99
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Resilient (Tainted Elements, #6) - Alycia Linwood

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27

Chapter 1

The first thing I could hear was the rustling of sheets, and I twitched my fingers, my whole body feeling heavy. Forcing my eyes open, I squinted at the bright light that threatened to blind me. Where the hell was I? What was going on?

Moira, hey, a dark-haired woman with hazel eyes said, bending over me, a wide smile on her face. She didn’t look familiar, and she was dressed in a white coat and white pants. Was she a doctor of some kind? Was I at a hospital? I lifted my hand toward my head, pain shooting through my skull.

Are you okay? Do you want some water? the woman asked, and I slowly nodded. As she went to the nightstand to pour a cup of water, I glanced around me. I was in a small room with white walls, and there was a door with obscure glass in front of me. A desk with a chair stood in one of the corners, along with a white closet.

Here. The woman came back, pressing the cup to my lips, and I gulped down the refreshing liquid in hopes of soothing my dry throat.

Where... where am I? Who are you? I eyed her carefully. This room didn’t look like the ones in a hospital.

You’re at Sinders Research Facility. You volunteered to give your energy and whatever else necessary to save our planet. We were doing some tests on you to increase your elemental productivity, so you might be feeling a little woozy until the effects wear off. She placed her hand over mine and squeezed gently. Do you remember any of that?

I blinked at her, and my mind tried to process what she was saying. Volunteered to save the planet? Yeah, I believed that was what I had done. I think it’s coming back to me. A memory of me promising I’d give anything, including my life, to ensure we’d have enough energy and water to survive, even if I didn’t, flashed in my mind, but I couldn’t focus on any of the details. I just knew that it had happened.

Good. The woman let go of me.

Can I... Um, I need to use the restroom. I pushed myself up despite the protest of my achy muscles.

Sure. It’s just down the hallway. You’ll remember once you see it. She offered me another smile. And in case you’re hungry, the lunchroom is just through the door at the end. You can’t miss it.

Thank you. I got to my feet and slipped into my white shoes, waiting a little until I was sure I could keep myself up, then headed for the door.

Wait, the woman said. Take this. She held out a white shirt and a pair of pants, and I took them. Why so much white? Oh well. I assumed people just love that color here. Pushing the door open, I peeked outside and saw a pristine white floor and white walls.

As I made my way down the hallway, I kept glancing around me, but aside from the cameras with blinking red lights in every corner, I didn’t see anyone or anything else. Why couldn’t I remember this strange place? Still, I felt like I knew it, so that probably meant that whatever they had given me to increase my energy levels had messed with my head.

I entered the big white bathroom and immediately went into one of the stalls. When I emerged, I leaned on the sink, staring at my reflection in the mirror. Why did everything feel so familiar, yet I couldn’t remember anything? Why couldn’t I recall coming here? I stared at my brown eyes.

All I knew was that the people here wouldn’t hurt me, that I was safe, and that I’d come of my own free will. Maybe the uneasiness I felt about everything was due to whatever had been done to me, but if it was for the greater good, then it was worth it. My memory loss was meaningless compared to the whole planet dying out due to a lack of water.

My wrist started to itch, so I lifted my sleeve to scratch it, but my eyes widened when I saw a tattoo there. The truth is in the mind, it said, and I frowned at it. I didn’t remember getting a tattoo... but my memory was messed up anyway, so that wasn’t a surprise. I just didn’t know what that meant. What truth? Whose mind? Why would I get a tattoo of something I didn’t even know the meaning of? Or maybe everything would come back to me eventually. It didn’t matter, so I lowered my sleeve to cover it.

My stomach rumbled, so I splashed some water on my face, washed my hands, and headed in the direction of the lunchroom. Once I walked into the big room filled with rows and rows of tables and chairs, I was surprised to see more people who looked about my age sitting and eating in silence. The only sound was the clinking of utensils and plates. That was a bit creepy. The whole place reminded me of a school lunchroom, except all the chatter and noise were missing. Why was everyone so damn quiet?

Hi, I said as I stopped in front of an elderly woman with gray hair and light blue eyes, who simply handed me a tray filled with a steak, some fries, carrots, a bit of salad, and a glass of juice. Um, thanks. I glanced up at her, but she didn’t say anything, just turned around and picked up a plate. She was probably too busy or not in the mood to talk, so I faced the rest of the room, wondering if I knew anyone here or had friends. Had I come alone or had there been someone with me? I couldn’t remember any of that either.

Hey, mind if I join you? I asked when I came to the first table where three girls and a boy were sitting. One of the girls, a blonde with greenish eyes, lifted her head and said something in a language I couldn’t understand. Sorry, I... Do you speak English?

The girl just stared at me for a moment, then went back to her food. Was it wrong to assume the answer was no? The others didn’t even acknowledge me, so I padded over to the nearest empty table and lowered my tray onto the shiny white surface.

I chewed on my food, which was tasty actually, and drank a bit of juice. Someone yelped, and I immediately looked up. A guy had spilled his juice all over some girl’s shirt and she started yelling something in a language I couldn’t understand, but it sounded different from the one the blonde spoke. The guy, though, kept saying something unintelligible too, and a moment later, the girl stormed off and the guy went on to pick up a new glass.

Okay, that was weird... or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe the volunteers for this project had come from all over the world, so it was natural that we wouldn’t understand each other, although people usually knew at least a few words of English and... A beginning of a headache started to form behind my eyes, making me squint. A moment later, it disappeared as if it had never been there, so I took my tray and carried it to the tray dispenser.

Maybe a little walk would help me clear my head. Surely I’d remember something from my time here. I found myself striding through another hallway, although it looked just like every other hallway. Two people in white coats passed me by, and when I wanted to stop them and ask them a question, a heavy feeling filled my stomach.

I wasn’t supposed to look at them or even talk to them. Those were the rules... if I remembered that correctly. Lowering my head, I hurried down the hallway, intent to go back to my room. There was nothing for me to do here until they called me for my next testing or energy harvesting. Besides, I had to keep my strength if I wanted to make sure I had good levels of elemental energy inside me.

A shout pierced the air just as I was about to leave the hallway, and I stopped dead in my tracks. What was going on? I was supposed to go back to my room, but something inside me wanted to go back and check to make sure that everything was fine. Fighting the urge to just keep going, I gritted my teeth and inched toward the sound.

It was coming from one of the rooms, and someone had left the door slightly ajar. Holding my breath, I stepped closer and peered inside. A guy was strapped to some kind of a chair, and there were wires connected to his body. His dark brown hair fell into his dark eyes as he let out another cry. The machine he was attached to was doing something to him, and it was hurting him. A grimace of pain appeared on his face as his every muscle strained against the bonds keeping him in place.

Without knowing, I’d taken another step toward the door. I couldn’t just watch this guy get hurt. I had to do something. I... Whatever was happening, it was none of my business. The nice scientists wouldn’t hurt him if it wasn’t necessary, right? But why was there a pit in my stomach and a strong desire to jump inside and rip that machine apart?

That’s enough, a man in a white coat said. The dark-haired guy was slumped in the chair, his eyes closed, and my heart started thudding loudly in my chest. Was he okay?

Take him away.

Two men unstrapped the dark-haired guy from the chair and lifted him up, carrying him toward the door... toward me. I immediately stepped away, pressing myself against the wall. They took the guy outside and through the door at the end of the hallway. I followed them at a safe distance because, for some reason, I needed to make sure the guy was okay.

But when they reached yet another hallway, they opened the first door and carried him inside. The door closed with a click, and I realized there was a slot for a key card next to it. I wouldn’t be able to get inside without one. There was an obscure glass on the door, and I couldn’t see anything through it no matter how hard I tried.

Moira, a voice behind my back said. There you are.

I turned around, swallowing hard and meeting the eyes of the woman who’d been in my room when I woke up. They’d caught me snooping around. I shouldn’t have done that.

Yeah? I tried to sound casual, but there was a tremor in my voice.

You need to come with me for the second part of your testing, she said, her smile unwavering.

Okay. I followed her through the door, but I couldn’t help glancing over my shoulder at the room where the guy was. I had to make sure he was fine. I had to. I just wasn’t sure how. One part of me knew I could trust this woman and ask her anything I wanted, but... somehow I didn’t think my question would be well-received and I doubted she’d tell me the truth. How was that even possible? I knew I trusted her, and yet... I shook my head. The most important thing now was the second part of the testing and nothing else.

Chapter 2

Sit down, please, the woman said after we entered a room with a chair similar to the one that guy had been strapped to. Next to it was a machine that looked like a monitor from hospitals, and two computers were on a desk nearby.

I’m sorry, but could you please remind me of your name? I settled into the chair, which, strangely enough, was comfortable.

Kira, she said and took hold of my wrist, strapping it to the chair with a piece of brown leather. Don’t be afraid. We’ve done this a million times. I promise it won’t hurt.

I know. I just... I’m a bit nervous. I couldn’t hide the tension in my shoulders as Kira bound my ankles to the chair and secured a thin strap around my head. When she was done, I couldn’t move.

That’s okay, Kira said, taking two small blue pads and attaching them to my head. Then she rolled up my sleeves and stuck more pads onto my arms, and finally, she slipped one under my shirt and pressed it against my stomach. A shiver ran down my body, and my throat constricted a little. Something like this had to have been done to me before, but I couldn’t recall it.

Do you see that machine? Kira pointed at the big device next to the chair, and I nodded. It’s a special machine that can collect your elemental energy and also send all the information about it to our computers over there. She stopped in front of the machine and poised her finger over one of the buttons. Are you ready?

Yeah, I guess. There was no need to be afraid of any of this, but why did the pads feel so cold and so wrong on my skin?

Good. She pressed the button, and the machine came to life with a loud sputtering noise. My elements, which I hadn’t really felt inside me before, stirred and the energy whirled inside my stomach, making me think I was going to throw up.

You’re doing fine. Just let the feeling wash over you, Kira said. It’ll go away once the energy is sucked out.

I closed my eyes as the energy built and built, threatening to rip me apart, but just as I thought I couldn’t take it any longer, it whooshed out of me and into the machine. The computer started beeping and Kira focused on it, quickly typing something and studying the screens.

Your energy levels look good. After all is done, your energy will be stored in our special machines and used as electricity. The conversion process isn’t easy, but you should know that your energy is enough to keep a hospital powered up for a few hours. Thanks to you, lives could be saved. Doesn’t that feel great?

Yeah, it does. A smile popped up on my lips. My elements were becoming weaker and weaker, and some sort of an empty feeling overcame me. But what exactly do you do with this energy? Can it be turned just into electricity or into something else too?

Kira’s smile faltered a little, but she quickly recovered. We’re trying to find a safe way to turn it into water, but so far, it hasn’t worked. We had a great idea, but the energy was not strong enough, so while we did get it to turn into water, it would kill anyone who drank it.

Oh, God, I whispered, staring