I sat him down in his office chair and approached

“I sat him down in his office chair and approached his laptop.
Only days ago, my first instinct at the sight of his open laptop would be to search it for the Bloodless antidote. It was a relief to have finally cracked
that mystery. Now, I pulled up his web browser to see that he had been searching the internet—for news channels that were still showing no signs
of closing down. I glanced at the television opposite us. It was displaying coverage of TSL’s activities in Chicago. As more footage flashed of New
York, my stomach churned. We had barely scratched the surface of the destruction. And we had only two hours before the IBSI got their way,
and everyone as good as accepted that they and their methods—however backhanded and duplicitous—were the only solution to Earth’s
problems.
Kailyn kept the television on channels displaying the scene in Chicago. The cameramen seemed particularly interested in following our people,
which was good. They showed our method of dealing with the Bloodless—cure rather than kill, at least in all possible cases. If we were the IBSI,
we would have done something rash like bomb the area, regardless of whatever innocent humans still remained hiding in their homes from the
Bloodless.
Atticus became unexpectedly quiet. I glanced back at him, frowning and wondering what was going through his head.
I didn’t know how long we’d be able to keep him locked up in here before security personnel figured out that something was odd—probably
noticing the camera in Atticus’ office had gone blank. I moved instinctively to the door and made sure it was closed firmly.
We had less than two hours to camp out in here, but that was a long time to keep a hostage like Atticus cooped up.
I pushed his chair closer to the television so that I myself could be closer to it without constantly checking on him over my shoulder.
Once we hit the one-hour mark, it was hard to keep hoping. Even in spite of our diligence, our small group in Chicago was still struggling to get a
handle on the Bloodless. The area was just so massive, making the dozens of streets we had managed to clear seem insignificant. Many Bloodless
had simply migrated to other parts of the ravaged city, and there were still countless families trapped in their homes or being preyed upon at this
very moment by the monsters.
By now, we had brought along every single person from The Shade capable of helping us with this mission, and yet we desperately needed more
people.
The dragons would be tempted to take a similar approach to that of the IBSI—release storms of fire and burn out the monsters. But we could not.
We had to do this right, every step of the way, if we wanted to stand a chance of distinguishing ourselves from the IBSI and striking a chord in the
hearts of the public. They needed to want us to rise to authority, rather than simply accepting us because they had no other choice, as was the
case with the IBSI’s reign for the past few decades.
Then came the announcement that I had feared would come—Los Angeles had fallen. Atticus had not been bluffing when he said that his colleague
was ready to pull the trigger. Now we had three cities to contend with. I found it hard to believe that the government would be able to stall granting
Atticus’s wish much longer, though all channels still remained active. It seemed that the authorities really were desperate for an alternative to the
The second hour came upon us and began to pass at a frighteningly fast pace.
The minutes were punctuated by flashes of nightmares from the cities. Even the channel that had been focusing on Chicago began to switch to the
newly invaded LA. It was hard to keep watching, witnessing so starkly just how outnumbered we were.
“He’s not going to arrive in time,” Kailyn whispered, apparently forgetting that Atticus was still present with us. I gritted my teeth. I did not want to
give him the satisfaction of my response, or for him to guess whom, exactly, Kailyn had meant by “he”.”