Agartha's Castaway - Book 8
“I don't need that gold headband, cape, and lasso.” She pressed her lips together and aimed.
“I got rid of that Halloween costume years ago.”
“They will shoot you!” yelled Thorn. “What good will you be to the people who matter to
you if you die right here in this room?”
“Oh please! No one's dying. I'm way too valuable,” she whispered, barely able to hear her
own voice over the drumming of her heart. Something cold pushed against her back, and she
turned slowly, with dread gripping her.
“This isn't set on stun, human,” a soldier said, pressing the barrel of his gun into her
“You're so bluffing,” said Casey.
The soldier let out an evil chuckle. “Are you willing to take that gamble?”
He had called her bluff, and she forced her lips into a shamed smile. “Uh…I get the message
already. One dropped weapon coming right up.” She gulped, the gun trembling in her hands as
she lowered it, then laid it on the ground. Thorn was right: There would be no hope of escape if
she was knocked out cold—or worse—but it was far from over, as far as she was concerned.
A soldier ripped off her backpack and yanked her hands behind her back, securing them
with handcuffs. He yelled toward the door, “We've got two humans and a traitor!”
Thorn lowered his head, trying to hide his identity. Casey frowned at the gesture, wondering
why he'd want to keep a low profile when being Commander Tio's brother could earn him a get-
out-of-jail-free pass in a heartbeat. She couldn't understand why Thorn would possibly want to
miss the party she was heading to, what with all that pain, experimentation, and torture.
“I heard someone died from the gas leak in here,” said a soldier.
“It was just a bluff.” Tio marched toward them, as intimidating as ever. The soldiers parted,
giving him a clear pathway.
Casey shuddered at his voice. She felt her heart quickening as she took in all the tiny details:
the way Tio's long, silver cloak flowed and sparkled like nothing she'd ever seen before and
even how his heavy boots echoed on the metallic floor. Her eyes absorbed everything, searching
for something—anything—that might come in handy later.
She faced Thorn and spoke in her mind. “Commander Tio can read my thoughts. He’ll know
what we did!”
“He has to be totally focused on you and can only see images and thoughts that you think.
Digging through your mind would be like trying to find one sentence in an encyclopedia.”
“Okay. I won’t think about chipping the weapon.”
“These humans invented the story,” said Tio. “The foolish guards fell prey to it, but at least
one soldier had the sense to inform me of the fake leak.”
The sense or the need to suck up? Casey wondered.
He swept his hood back and focused his intense gaze on the weapon. “Was any harm done?”
A soldier lifted the lid and took a moment to examine it. “No. Nothing appears to be
disturbed or tampered with, and the countdown is still running effectively.”
Tio opened a latch and started fiddling with some buttons. The panel blinked, followed by a
series of beeps.
Casey worried that he might spot the microchip they'd placed. With her heart racing, she
held her breath, waiting for disaster to unfold.
The commander bent forward, scanning the tiny opening. Eventually, he ran a hand over the
shimmering surface and then closed the lid tight.
“Everything all right, sir?” asked a soldier.