Terminal: A Virals Novel

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9781101890714: Terminal: A Virals Novel
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The gripping finale to Kathy and Brendan Reichs’ New York Times bestselling VIRALS series

The Virals are back—but they’re not the only pack in town anymore. Terminal finds Tory Brennan and the rest of the Morris Island gang tracking a pack of rogue Virals who call themselves the Trinity. The new pack was infected by a strain of supervirus created by Tory’s nemesis and sometimes-crush, Chance Clayborne, who accidentally infected himself, too.

These red-eyed Virals have openly challenged Tory’s pack for domination of Charleston, and they’ll stop at nothing to bring their rivals down—even if that means giving them up to a shadowy government agency intent on learning the secret to the Virals’ powers. Surviving it all is going to test the limits of the gang’s abilities.

In the riveting conclusion to the Virals series, Tory and the others are nearing an impossible choice—and the ultimate showdown.

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About the Author:

Kathy Reichs, like her iconic character Dr. Temperance Brennan, is a board-certified forensic anthropologist, and creator of the Fox television hit Bones, now in its ninth season. Reichs has written seventeen books in the Temperance Brennan series, all New York Times bestsellers, including #1. Terminal is her fifth novel for young readers.

Brendan Reichs was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated from Wake Forest University in 2000 and The George Washington University School of Law in 2006. After three long years working as a litigation attorney, he abandoned the trade to co-write the Virals series. He lives in Charlotte with his wife, Emily, daughter, Alice, and son, Henry. He plans to keep writing novels until they drag him from his desk.

 Visit www.viralstheseries.com.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:





DATE: APRIL 8, 2014







TIME: 10:34 AM

VB: When did you learn how to flare, Chance?

CC: Over the last few days. Though “learn” is fairly generous. I have almost no idea how it works. My powers can snap on without warning, or fizzle in seconds.

VB: Still, that’s . . . incredible. It took me weeks to gain even that much control. [PAUSE] How’d this happen? How’d you suddenly become . . . Viral?

CC: I was careless. Didn’t take proper precautions in the lab. Then, last week, I got terribly sick. Could barely function. Strange things started happening to my body—unnerving side effects you won’t find on WebMD. By that point, I no longer had any illusions about the cause.

VB: The weird sensation I’ve been experiencing lately—an odd kinetic force, like my mind is connecting to things around me—it spikes around you. Because of you, I’m sure of it now. How can that be?

CC: Don’t ask me. I’m new to the species, remember? [PAUSE] Maybe it involves whatever sets you apart from normal people. Sets us apart, I should say, now. Perhaps your unconscious mind innately recognizes the presence of another Viral.

VB: That can’t be it. I’ve had this feeling for months now, off and on, since right after the hurricane. I noticed it at least a half-dozen times before last week.

CC: Yeah. Um, about that. [PAUSE]

VB: Yes?

CC: Well. You know I’ve been following you. [PAUSE] But you probably don’t know for how long.

VB: What . . . for months? [PAUSE] Months!?! Seriously? Are you saying you were in Charlotte after the storm?

CC: Had to go somewhere.

VB: What about Morris Island?

CC: I’ve visited a few times, unannounced.

VB: Even to our . . . private retreat?

CC: You mean that hill bunker? [LAUGHTER] Nice place. I love the décor. How’d you get all that stuff in there?

VB: Jesus. [PAUSE] How’d you find it? Because of me?

CC: I don’t pretend to understand any of this. But sometimes, if I concentrate really hard, I can pinpoint exactly where you are. I sense your presence, perhaps in the same way you detected mine. I can’t explain it, either.

VB: I . . . that’s . . .

CC: Also, I’m fairly certain I’ve been infected for a while. Months, most likely, probably since the first few days of the Brimstone experiment. What you just said—that you’ve been sensing my presence for some time—all but confirms it.

VB: How is that possible? How could you carry a supervirus that long and not . . . change?

CC: I have a guess. The parvovirus strain used in Brimstone was slightly different from the one that infected you. Better, we thought, though we obviously had no idea what we were doing. I think our pathogen has a longer incubation period, which would explain the course of my infection. This viral deviation must’ve caused other differences, too.

VB: Your eyes glow red, Chance. Not golden. Why?

CC: [PAUSE] I don’t know. I wish I did. I’m just glad I stopped puking all day.

VB: How do you feel now?

CC: Great. My fever broke yesterday. The chills and sweats are finally gone. I can actually stand without feeling dizzy. But I have no idea what’s happened to my body.

VB: Yesterday? [PAUSE] Interesting.

CC: Why?

VB: Because our flares were a mess last week. Erratic. Unstable. Mine backfired more than once. We couldn’t understand why, but it seems like the trouble occurred during your worst symptoms.

CC: You think my sickness was somehow related?

VB: I don’t know. But our powers stabilized at the same time you recovered.

CC: Could be a coincidence.

VB: Maybe. [PAUSE] Or maybe your . . . transformation was disrupting whatever shared mind-space Virals inhabit. We don’t really know how any of this works either. Perhaps your evolution created a ripple in the telepathic framework of our pack. That makes as much sense as anything.

CC: Our pack? Does that mean I’m one of you?

VB: I . . . I don’t know. That’s not up to me alone. It might not even be something we can choose.

CC: Well, I hope we can choose, Tory. I hope your friends will accept me.

VB: I’ll try to convince them. I promise that much.

CC: Good. Because I . . . I . . . [LONG PAUSE][MUFFLED NOISE]

VB: Chance?

CC: I haven’t told you everything yet. [PAUSE]

VB: Oh my God. [PAUSE] The night on the beach!

CC: I was wondering when you’d remember.

VB: When I was attacked on Morris Island, afterward I saw three sets of red eyes in the dunes. Three, Chance!

CC: Yes. I’m afraid you did.


The Trinity peered down from atop a church tower.

They sat stone still, watching the sleek black skyscraper across the street. Brilliant white lettering along its apex labeled it the worldwide headquarters of Candela Pharmaceuticals.

The Four had entered hours ago. The sun had set, yet they remained inside.

Night blanketed the city. Cloaking the figures in darkness.

A low growl floated on the wind.

The largest turned bloodred eyes on two companions.

A jerk of the head motioned them to follow.

They were ready. Determined. But it would have to be another day.

As one, the trio crept across a narrow ledge, ignoring heart-stopping drops to either side, and vaulted gracefully onto a lower roof. Moving like ghosts, they leaped to a willow tree in the yard below, then dropped into a small cemetery.

The smallest hissed softly.

The largest grunted in agreement.


The Four lived on a remote island.

The Trinity had observed their alpha there once before.

She and her mixed-blood beast.


A second growl escaped, louder than the first.


With preternatural grace, the figures melted into the shadowy field of tombstones.

Three haunting calls echoed down the streets of Charleston.


My adversary charged at full speed, intent on running me down.

Not this time.

I nudged the ball left, deftly sidestepping the girl’s clumsy challenge. Keeping my head up, I spotted Ella twenty yards ahead, streaking for the corner. The field opened like a book, and for once, I knew what to do.

I booted the ball into Ella’s path, then cut behind her, racing to a pocket of space across midfield. As a fullback I rarely ventured forward, but I was tired of playing it safe. The game was deadlocked at zero, and goals don’t score themselves.

Plus, the blonde, ponytailed freak who just missed spiking my ankle had been attacking relentlessly all game. Four hard fouls were enough. Time to put her on the defensive.

Ella corralled the ball, dancing between two hopeless opponents before noticing my run in support. She pulled the ball back, drawing the defenders closer, then lofted a cross over James Island Charter’s entire back line.

I experienced a brief moment of panic as the ball arced toward me.

Don’t embarrass yourself, Brennan.

Thankfully, I didn’t. Chesting the ball down, I was shocked to find myself completely unmarked. Thirty yards of open grass separated me and the opposing goalie.

“Push forward!” Ella shouted.

Oh crap oh crap oh crap. But I drove the ball ahead.

To say I lacked confidence in my soccer skills is an understatement. I’d only been playing a few months, and charging the other team’s goal without support, during the biggest game of the season, was not something I’d planned.

Please, God. Don’t let me trip over the ball.

As I neared the eighteen-yard box, a defender barreled over. I tapped the ball between her outstretched legs and raced around the awkward slide tackle, nearly stumbling in surprise when the move actually worked. The keeper charged, a look of desperation on her face.

Chip it over. Score. Win!

But before I could exploit the opening, my legs were ruthlessly hacked out from under me. I fell forward, slamming into the turf with a groan. A cleat dug into the small of my back as someone flopped over me from behind.

My head spun. The whistle blew.

I heard Ella shouting. What sounded like shoving.

I looked up.

Blonde Ponytail was standing astride the ball. She and Ella were nose to nose, and they weren’t discussing favorite boy bands. The harridan even had the gall to protest when the official showed her a yellow card. Unfortunately, Ella got one, too.

I rose unsteadily, wiping dirt from my purple Bolton Prep uniform. The official stepped between Ella and Ponytail and signaled a free kick for our side.

“You okay?” Ella was staring at my tormentor, face red with anger.

“Never better.” Gulping air into my lungs. “She seems nice.”

Ella laughed, but the humor didn’t touch her eyes. “That bitch knows you’re better with your feet, so she’s bull-rushing the ball, trying to intimidate you. Don’t let her.”

The official placed the ball fifteen feet beyond the edge of the box, then paced off ten yards. He glanced at his watch. There were only moments left in the match.

As the James Island defenders formed a wall, I began to retreat to my fullback slot.

Ella grabbed my arm. “Want this one? You definitely earned it.”

A generous thought, but Ella was worlds better than me. And everyone else on the field.

Not to mention that taking a game-deciding free kick was too terrifying to contemplate. I’d probably find a way to knock it into our own goal.

Ella frowned. “Well, at least get up there. Look for a rebound.”

Before I could react, Ella cupped her hands to her mouth. “Maddy!”

Madison Dunkle turned. Ella pointed at me, then at Madison, then jerked a thumb over her shoulder. Madison nodded without hesitation, jogging back to cover my position.

“Take her spot in the middle.” Ella’s rope of black hair brushed the ground as she knelt to position the ball on the grass. We both knew it’d take a miracle to score from this distance. “If the ball bounces your way, just blast it on goal.”

“That I can do.”

I think.

Joining the line of players jockeying for position, I felt an elbow dig into my back. Right where the cleat had struck.

I spun, knowing who I’d find. My temper slipped a notch.

“Be careful, ginger princess.” Ponytail’s eyes glittered with malice. “No more dancing. Things can get rough up here.”

My anger was reaching a boil. “Thanks. I’ll be fine.”

The hateful girl shouldered into me, forcing me outside the eighteen-yard box. “Even without your mommy to protect you?” She nodded toward Ella, who was lining up her strike. All eyes were on my friend as she prepared to take the free kick.

Maybe it was ninety minutes of abuse.

Or Ponytail’s smug attitude. Or the hard foul. Or the fact that I was hungry.

Maybe it was her referencing my mother.


I felt a rush of adrenaline.

A thousand suns torched my skin, followed by an ocean of freezing rain.

Energy poured into my muscles. My senses blazed with hyperacuity. Smell. Sight. Sound. Feel. Taste. Each shifted to superhuman clarity and perception.

Golden fire ignited in my eyes.

I flared.

In public. In the open.

In the middle of a freaking soccer game.

I quickly averted my eyes. Thankfully, everyone was watching Ella.

This is crazy. CRAZY.

But I ignored common sense. I was going to show this bully what’s what.

Head lowered, I was about to push back into the scrum when a message winged into my brain.

I was wondering when you’d go wolf style on that beast.

I stopped short, gaze darting to the sideline.

To where Hiram, Shelton, and Ben were lounging on a grassy hill.

Hi! You shouldn’t be flaring in public!

Oh, you’re one to talk. Hi tapped the sunglasses covering his eyes. Like Shelton, he still wore his Bolton Prep uniform, though he’d ditched the jacket, loosened his tie, and removed his shoes and socks. Which of us is standing in a group of strangers?

Okay. Fine. And I’d connected our pack mind without thinking.

I lost my cool, but—

Shh! Just listen. Hi pointed a chubby finger. There’s no one on the back post.

I glanced to my left, pretending to shade my eyes from the sun. He was right—expecting a direct shot, the James Island defenders were clogging the middle of the box.

No one was guarding the flank.

You’re welcome. Hi’s message carried a distinct note of smugness.

Ella was lined up over the ball. I had only seconds.

As casually as possible, I moved along the wall of defenders until I stood farthest right. Then I stuck an arm behind my back, waggling frantically for Ella’s attention.

At the last moment, she spotted my signal. Her eyes narrowed in confusion.

I nodded right. Spun my finger in a circle. Tapped my head.

Ella dipped her chin, then took two steps to the left.

What am I doing? I can’t pull this off!

Noticing Ella’s shift, Ponytail glanced down the line. Spotting my position, her eyes widened. She surged toward me, barreling over a teammate in the process.

Too late.

Ella shot forward and struck the ball.

At the same moment, I spun, looping around the wall and behind the defense.

The ball arced through the air—not toward goal, as everyone expected, but to where I waited at the corner of the six-yard box.

The goalkeeper tried to adjust, scrambling off her line with a muffled curse. Ponytail backpedaled desperately as the ball cut across the clear blue sky.

I leaped high, my flare-powered muscles firing me up with ease. The black-and-white sphere seemed to hang forever. I could smell yesterday’s rain on the wind, could see the cross-stitching on the ball. Heard a collective intake of breath.

I rose. The keeper rose. Ponytail rose.

Then I rose higher still.

I headed the ball as lightly as a feather, directing it into the open net.


My first ever.

I landed less gracefully, since both James Island girls slammed me in midair. I hit the ground hard, jamming my knee and tumbling backward, flipping ass over teakettle before rolling to a stop. Then my teammates mobbed me in a giant dog pile.<...

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