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The final spark, p.1
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       The Final Spark, p.1

           Richard Paul Evans
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The Final Spark


  To my talented daughter, Jenna Evans Welch (the author of Love & Gelato), who, for seven years, helped bring Michael Vey to life

  Dossier: The Electric Youths

  Michael Vey

  Power: Ability to shock people through direct contact or conduction. Can also absorb other electric children’s powers.

  Michael is the most powerful of all the electric children and leader of the Electroclan. He is steadily increasing in power. He also has Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes tics or other involuntary movements. Elgen scientists believe his Tourette’s is somehow connected to his electricity.

  Ostin Liss

  Power: A Nonel—not electric.

  Ostin is very intelligent, with an IQ of 155, which puts him at the same level as the average Nobel Prize winner. He is one of the original three members of the Electroclan and Michael’s best friend.

  Taylor Ridley

  Power: Ability to temporarily scramble the electric synapses in the brain, causing confusion. She can also read people’s minds, but only when touching them.

  Taylor is one of the original three members of the Electroclan. She and Michael discovered each other’s powers at Meridian High School, which they were both attending. She is Michael’s girlfriend.

  Abigail

  Power: Ability to temporarily ease or stop pain by electrically stimulating certain parts of the brain. She must be touching the person to do so.

  Along with Ian and McKenna, Abigail was held captive by the Elgen for many years because she refused to follow Hatch. She joined the Electroclan after escaping from the Elgen Academy’s prison, known as Purgatory.

  Bryan

  Power: The ability to create highly focused electricity that allows him to cut through objects, especially metal.

  Bryan is one of Hatch’s Glows. He spends most of his time playing video games and annoying Kylee.

  Cassy

  Power: Ability to electrically contract or “freeze” muscles from remarkable distances.

  One of the most powerful of the electric children, Cassy is also the only one to be found by the resistance before the Elgen. She has lived with the voice since she was four years old. Her job, in addition to special missions and acting as the voice’s bodyguard, is to keep track of the electric children. She is well versed on each of their powers and on the backgrounds of both the Glows and the Electroclan. She is a big fan of Michael Vey.

  Grace

  Power: Grace acts as a “human flash drive” and is able to transfer and store large amounts of electronic data.

  Grace was living with the Elgen but joined the Electroclan when they defeated Hatch at the Elgen Academy. She has been working and living with the resistance but has not been on any missions with the Electroclan.

  Ian

  Power: Ability to see using electrolocation, which is the same way sharks and eels see through muddy or murky water.

  Along with McKenna and Abigail, Ian was held captive by the Elgen for many years because he refused to follow Hatch. He joined the Electroclan after escaping from the Elgen Academy’s prison, known as Purgatory.

  Jack

  Power: A Nonel—not electric.

  Jack spends a lot of time in the gym and is very strong. He is also excellent with cars. Originally one of Michael’s bullies, he joined the Electroclan after Michael bribed him to help Michael rescue his mother from Dr. Hatch.

  Kylee

  Power: Born with the ability to create electromagnetic power, she is basically a human magnet.

  One of Hatch’s Glows, she spends most of her time shopping, along with her best (and only) friend, Tara.

  McKenna

  Power: Ability to create light and heat. She can heat herself to more than three thousand kelvins.

  Along with Ian and Abigail, McKenna was held captive by the Elgen for many years because she refused to follow Hatch. She joined the Electroclan after escaping from the Elgen Academy’s prison, known as Purgatory.

  Nichelle

  Power: Nichelle acts as an electrical ground and can both detect and drain the powers of the other electric children. She can also, on a weaker level than Tessa, enhance the other children’s powers.

  Nichelle was Hatch’s enforcer over the rest of the electric children until he abandoned her during the battle at the Elgen Academy. Although everyone was nervous about it, the Electroclan recruited her to join them on their mission to save Jade Dragon. She has become a loyal Electroclan member.

  Quentin

  Power: Ability to create isolated electromagnetic pulses, which lets him take out all electrical devices within twenty yards.

  Quentin is smart and, before his defection, was regarded by the Elgen as second-in-command, just below Hatch. He is now a member of the Electroclan.

  Tanner

  Power: Ability to interfere with the electrical navigation systems of aircraft and cause them to malfunction and crash. His powers are so advanced that he can do this from the ground.

  After years of mistreatment by the Elgen, Tanner was rescued by the Electroclan from the Peruvian Starxource plant. He then stayed with the resistance so he had a chance to recover. He was killed in the battle of Hades.

  Tara

  Power: Tara’s abilities are similar to her twin sister, Taylor’s, in that she can disrupt normal electronic brain functions. Through years of training and refining her powers, Tara has learned to focus on specific parts of the brain in order to create emotions such as fear or joy.

  Working with the Elgen scientists, she has learned how to create mental illusions, which, among other things, allows her to make people appear as someone or something else.

  Tara is one of Hatch’s former Glows. She and Taylor were adopted by different families after they were born, and Tara lived with Hatch and the Elgen from the time she was six years old until she was rescued by the Electroclan.

  Tessa

  Power: Tessa’s abilities are the opposite of Nichelle’s—she is able to enhance the powers of the other electric children.

  Tessa escaped from the Elgen at the Starxource plant in Peru and lived in the Amazon jungle for six months with an indigenous tribe called the Amacarra. She joined the Electroclan after the tribe rescued Michael from the Elgen and brought them together.

  Torstyn

  Power: One of the more ruthless and lethal of the electric children, Torstyn can create microwaves.

  Torstyn is one of Hatch’s former Glows and was instrumental to the Elgen in building the original Starxource plants. Although they were initially enemies, Torstyn is loyal to Quentin and acts as his bodyguard. He defied Hatch and joined the Electroclan.

  Wade

  Power: A Nonel—not electric.

  Wade was Jack’s best friend and joined the Electroclan at the same time he did. Wade died in Peru when the Electroclan was surprised by an Elgen guard.

  Zeus

  Power: Ability to “throw” electricity from his body.

  Zeus was kidnapped by the Elgen as a young child and lived for many years as one of Hatch’s Glows. He joined the Electroclan when they escaped from the Elgen Academy. His real name is Leonard Frank Smith.

  PART ONE

  1

  Escaping Hades

  Former EGG David Welch stood alone on the Joule’s deck as he panned his binoculars over the smoldering prison island of Hades. At least what was left of it. Everywhere he looked was death. What few trees and foliage the Elgen had left on the island were still burning or glowing in heaps of red and orange embers. Around them scorched human skeletons and bones lay strewn across the landscape like straw after a windstorm. The island’s sand, now mostly melted to glass, glistened where streams of morning sunlight broke through the retreating storm clouds, refl
ecting the vibrant prisms of the color spectrum. Had it not been so terrible, it almost would have been beautiful.

  On one side of the crystalline beach were the only signs of life—the scurrying Tuvaluan natives who, along with the Electroclan, had survived the Elgen attack and taken shelter in the underground bunker before the explosion. Welch had left the natives water, food, and the Joule’s remaining life rafts to make their journey back to their home islands. Their leader, Enele Saluni, grandson of the former Tuvaluan prime minister (who, at Hatch’s orders, had been sentenced to life on display, naked in a monkey cage in the Tuvaluan capital), saluted Welch from the distance. Welch lowered his binoculars and saluted back.

  “Everyone’s below,” Jack said, climbing up the conning tower behind Welch. “Everyone’s here.”

  “Everyone?”

  “Everyone who made it,” Jack said hoarsely.

  Welch raised his binoculars one more time and scanned the horizon along the northern end of the island, looking for signs of Elgen. Again he saw nothing of the once terrible force—at least nothing that was still alive. “All right. Let’s get out of here.”

  Welch followed Jack down the inside of the Joule’s conning tower, pausing on the ladder near the top as hydraulic pistons pulled the hatch closed. Pneumatic clamps hissed and clicked around him as the steel hatch was locked airtight. Then Welch climbed down to join the others in the Conn, the Joule’s control center.

  “Take us down,” Welch said to the boat’s COB—the chief of the boat—as he stepped from the ladder onto the metal floor.

  Even though the Joule could travel as much as fifteen knots faster above surface, Welch didn’t want to take the chance of being seen. Outside of the Joule’s crew members who Welch had set adrift, he didn’t know who had survived. He didn’t even know if Hatch had survived. Perhaps no one had. But still, there was no sense in taking chances.

  “Yes, sir,” the Elgen COB replied, speaking into his microphone. “Down twenty meters.”

  * * *

  Including the COB, there were five Elgen still on the Joule and one Fijian servant. Twelve hours earlier, when Welch and his Glows—Quentin, Tara, Torstyn, and Cassy—had hijacked the Joule, they’d disarmed the seventeen-man crew and then sent everyone off the boat, except for the Joule’s COB and the four crew members needed to operate the ship.

  Welch had also sent J.D., the boat captain who had betrayed the Electroclan by sailing them into a trap, and his crew with the Elgen.

  “Man, don’t leave me here,” J.D. had said, clinging to the one life raft Welch had left them. “I helped you take this boat.”

  “You’re lucky I’m leaving you alive,” Welch said. “But don’t get used to it. When Hatch finds out that you helped us hijack the Joule, he’ll feed you to his rats.”

  “You will all die,” J.D. said. “Like rats.”

  Welch looked at him stoically. “Everyone dies. Some just sooner than others. And some, one bite at a time.”

  J.D. looked at Welch hatefully. “I will die as I choose. No one takes my life but me.” Then, letting go of the raft, he sunk down in the black water beneath the heaving waves. He never came up again.

  “So ends the traitor,” Welch said to himself.

  Quentin had disabled the raft’s outboard motor and radio with an EMP so the Elgen would not be able to alert anyone for hours, giving Welch and the Glows the time they needed to get back to Hades to rescue their friends. That was, if their friends were still alive. Even thirty miles from Hades, they saw and heard the massive explosion. Welch’s first thought was that Hatch had detonated some kind of nuclear device to destroy the island. But there was no mushroom cloud or, outside of the flash, evidence of a nuclear weapon. They weren’t going to leave the islands until they knew for certain if any of their friends had survived.

  Hours later, when Welch and company surfaced the Joule off the coast of Hades, they couldn’t believe what they saw. All the Elgen boats were sunk or burning on the surface. They were relieved to find the Electroclan huddled on the beach.

  Welch and Quentin sailed to shore to pick up their friends, leaving Cassy, Torstyn, and Tara on board to secure the ship.

  Ten minutes after Welch and Quentin left, one of the Elgen crewmen approached Cassy. “Hey, baby. We’ve been cooped up a long, long time.”

  “I’m not your baby,” she said. “And don’t take another step.”

  He kept walking. “What’s a little girl like you going to do to stop a big man like me?”

  Cassy pursed her lips. “You had to ask.” She froze the man’s entire body, including his lungs. He fell over, dropping to the floor with a loud thud.

  When she let him go, he gasped for breath, then said, “Please don’t do that again.”

  “When I tell you to stop walking, you stop walking. Next time you won’t breathe again. Ever. Do you understand?”

  “Yes, ma’am.”

  She smiled sardonically. “ ‘Ma’am’? What happened to ‘baby’?”

  * * *

  Jack was the last to board, gathering the teens in one corner of the Conn. The room echoed with the sounds of grief—sobbing and crying. Especially from Taylor, who was inconsolable. “Michael,” she said over and over. “My Michael.”

  McKenna’s arms were around Taylor, the two of them slightly rocking.

  “I can’t believe he’s gone,” Taylor said.

  McKenna wiped her eyes. “I can’t believe any of this.”

  Ostin watched them silently, too emotional to speak. His eyes were red and swollen.

  “I knew he had a hero’s heart,” Jack said. “I knew it the moment he came to my door to ask me to take him to California.”

  Just then Cassy walked into the Conn. She glanced around the room, then asked, “Where’s Michael?”

  From everyone’s silence she knew something bad had happened. She raised her hand to her mouth. “Oh no.”

  “He didn’t make it,” Quentin said.

  Cassy started crying. She looked over at Taylor. “I’m so sorry.”

  Cassy walked over, and the two of them hugged.

  “I know you cared about him too,” Taylor said.

  “I . . .”

  “It’s okay that you loved him too,” she said softly. “He was easy to love.”

  “Michael’s not the only one we lost,” Ian said. “We lost Gervaso and Tanner, too.”

  Jack swallowed in pain, fighting back tears. Gervaso had been more of a father to him than his real father. Abigail put her arms around him and comforted him with her powers.

  “Please don’t,” Jack said. “I want to feel the pain.”

  Abigail stopped pulsing. “I understand.”

  Jack furtively wiped his eyes, then looked out at the others. “Gervaso told me that when he was in ranger training, his drill sergeant told them that they were all going to hell. The only consolation was that they’d already been there, so it wouldn’t matter.” He rubbed his eyes. “If there’s a heaven, I think there’s a special pass for heroes.”

  “I think so too,” Zeus said. “There’s far too few of them as it is.”

  “Someday we’ll return,” Welch said. “When the world has changed. We’ll build a memorial to the three of them. Then the whole world will know what they’ve sacrificed.”

  There was something hopeful in what Welch had said. After a few more minutes Welch said, “You must all be exhausted. Get some rest.” He turned to Tara. “Take them to their bunks.”

  “Yes, sir,” Tara said. “Everyone, follow me.”

  “Except Cassy,” Welch said. “You stay with me. I need some backup.”

  “Yes, sir.”

  The rest of the teens followed Tara, single file, out of the Conn. None of them had ever seen anything like the Joule before, which wasn’t surprising, since the Joule was the only ship of its kind ever built—a hybrid vault, ship, and submarine. It was tight and narrow with no portholes. Air, mostly recycled, was continually pumped throughout the vessel, an
d filled the echoing chambers with a continual hissing. The walls were all riveted metal, as was the floor, which had been coated with thick rubberized flooring that softened and dulled the sound of their footsteps as they walked.

  Tara led them down a narrow corridor past the commander’s quarters to the first of two bunk rooms. The compartment was designed solely for sleeping. It was only twelve feet wide, with pipe-framed cots on both sides of the room with trampoline-like mattresses. The cots were connected, by brackets, on one side to the wall, while the other side was supported from the ceiling by chains. The beds were stacked four high, with only a few feet of headroom; the bottom bunks were suspended only three inches above the floor.

  “This is where we sleep,” Tara said. “It’s tight, but the Joule is basically a submarine. Everything’s tight. Welch wants us all to stay in the same room so we can lock the Elgen crew members in the other.”

  “I don’t care where I sleep,” Jack said. “As long as I’m horizontal. I feel like I’m sleepwalking.” He took off his shoes and then, using the edges of the lower bunks as steps, climbed up onto the top bunk. Everyone else claimed bunks, except Taylor, who just stood in the middle of the room looking lost.

  “C’mon, honey,” Abigail said. “You need some rest. You’ll feel a little better after you get some rest.”

  “Sleep won’t take this away,” Taylor said. “Unless I never wake up.”

  “I can’t take it away, but I can help. Just lie down right here, sweetie,” Abigail said, pulling down the covers on a bottom bunk.

  Taylor took off her shoes and crawled out across the cot, lying on her back.

  “Now just relax,” Abigail said. She put her hands on Taylor’s head and lightly pulsed. At first, Taylor shuddered; then her body calmed and she breathed out deeply. Within moments she was asleep.

  “You have a beautiful gift,” Tara said softly.

  “Thank you,” Abigail said.

  For a moment everyone was quiet and the only sounds were the constant hissing of the Joule’s air system, Jack’s snoring, and the strained, eerie groaning of the vessel. Every now and then the boat creaked like a heavy door on a rusty hinge.

 
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