The Elimination Game is reduced to ashes but Daniel and Sasha can’t afford to celebrate. Every Watcher in the state is looking for them, so when a resistance group calling themselves the Destroyers offer a safe haven, they have no choice but to accept. The Destroyers don’t give out charity, though. They expect help in return and as they arm themselves to take down the Watchers, Daniel and Sasha must choose: fight or flee?
Destroyers is the third book in the Watchers trilogy, available now on all major retailers. Read the first chapter below.
The scene in the motel room is chaotic when Sasha, Daniel and Levi return from the office, first aid kit in hand.
“Quick, open it up,” Aisha barks at them the moment they’re in the door. “Is there antiseptic? What about a hemostat?”
“I don’t know what that is!” Sasha says, panicked, as she comes over to the bed and pulls open the kit.
Aisha has Brody’s leg elevated with a stack of pillows and her hand is clamped over his thigh. Jane’s standing by with her arms full of what looks like every towel from the bathroom, and there’s blood everywhere. It’s on Aisha’s hands, on the comforter, and on the wash cloth she’s using to put pressure on the wound.
“Oh my God,” Levi says, his eyes as big as saucers. “Is he going to be okay?”
“Go sit over there,” Aisha barks at him. “You’re in my light.”
She nods to the front of the room, where Francie and Erica are huddled together beneath the window. They’re both just as pale as Brody, clinging to each other and looking sick with worry.
While Sasha frantically sifts through the first aid kit looking for anything that’ll help, Daniel takes Levi’s arm and guides him over to the window. The two of them sit down with Francie and Erica, and Daniel arranges his body so as to block their view.
“Don’t watch,” he says. “Aisha’s going to take care of Brody.”
“Are there Watchers out there?” Erica asks, her voice barely audible. She looks up and when she reaches for the curtains, Daniel sees her hand shaking.
He takes it before she can rustle the thin curtains, squeezing her hand in what he hopes is a comforting gesture. “No. Not right now, but we have to be careful.”
“They’ll be looking for us,” Levi says.
“We can’t worry about that right now,” Daniel answers.
“He’s bleeding out,” Aisha says, drawing everyone’s attention back to the bed. “Screw the antiseptic – I need that hemostat now. It looks like scissors, but with a gripping end. Any luck?”
Sasha riffles through the first aid kit, making a mess of bandages all over the stained comforter until finally, she fumbles something small and metal out of the box. “Is this it?”
Aisha doesn’t bother to confirm – she just snatches the hemostat out of Sasha’s hands and goes to work. When she lifts the towel from Brody’s thigh, blood comes bubbling out of the wound like baking soda from a science fair volcano and Erica makes a retching sound.
Daniel puts his hand over her eyes and then he closes his own. The darkness is only marginally better than watching Aisha dig into Brody’s thigh with the instrument.
“I have to get the bullet out,” Aisha says. “Or else the bleeding won’t stop.”
Brody regains consciousness as the thin metal pincer invades his already shredded thigh muscles. He wakes up with a scream of pure agony and Aisha motions to Jane.
“Keep him quiet or the Watchers will find us!”
Jane drops to her knees beside Brody’s head, taking his hand. “It’s going to be okay. Aisha’s fixing you up. Squeeze my hand as hard as you need to.”
“Okay,” Brody says weakly. Then Aisha twists the hemostat inside the bullet hole and this time Brody and Jane both scream as he clamps down on her hand.
“That’s not good enough,” Aisha warns. “Put a towel in his mouth.”
Jane gives her a shocked look for a split second, but she does as Aisha orders, letting Brody bite down on a clean hand towel.
“How many people are checked into the motel tonight?” Sasha asks Levi. He’s got his knees hugged to his chest and he doesn’t answer her right away. “Levi!”
“How many people are here?” she asks again. “Are they going to hear this and report us?”
“No,” Levi says, his voice shaky. “Even if they heard, the type of people who stay here aren’t the kind who can afford to report people.”
“Good,” Sasha says. “Are you okay?”
“Umm,” Levi says, losing his concentration again. “Yeah.”
“Got it!” Aisha says, retracting the hemostat, a small-caliber bullet pinched between its prongs.
“Thank God,” Brody says after Jane removes the towel from his mouth. He lifts his head just long enough to see the proof before his head falls back on the bed and he’s unconscious again.
“Is he going to make it?” Jane asks.
“I need to stitch him up,” Aisha says, “and he’ll need better antibiotics than that first aid kit is likely to contain. But getting the bullet out was a good first step – it bought us a little time. Sasha, is there a needle and thread in there?”
“Yeah, I found a sewing kit,” Sasha says, passing a little pack of thread to Aisha. “But I don’t think it’s for stitches.”
“It’ll have to do,” Aisha says.
They all sit in silence for a few minutes while she stitches and then bandages Brody’s leg. Some of them are watching her, cringing along with each poke of the needle, but most of them wouldn’t watch if a pair of lunatics on a sound stage offered them a million dollars.
When she’s done, Aisha stands and goes into the bathroom to wash her hands. She comes back into the room and takes a clean towel from Jane to dry off, and every single set of eyes is on her.
Levi is the only one who has the courage to speak. “Now what?”
“We should get him to the Destroyer compound as soon as possible,” Aisha says. “Without further intervention, he could go septic, and we all know we can’t risk taking him to a hospital. The Destroyers have all the medical equipment I need and-”
“I’m sorry, what?” Daniel interrupts. “The who?”
“The Destroyers,” Levi fills in enthusiastically. “Aisha’s one of them. She came to take down The Elimination Game.”
“Well, actually,” Aisha says, “I came for you, Daniel.”
Daniel just narrows his eyes at her and Sasha stands, taking an instinctive step toward Daniel. “What does that mean?”
“I already told all this to Sasha and Levi,” Aisha says, her tone patient. “I’m part of a resistance group called the Destroyers. Our mission is to take down the Watcher system, and the first step in our plan was to dismantle The Elimination Game because it was the embodiment of everything that’s wrong with the mentality of American citizens right now.”
“You didn’t take down The Elimination Game,” Jane objects. “We did. We fought our way out.”
“Yes, you did,” Aisha says. “But that’s only half the story. The reason you were able to fight your way out and those evil people didn’t just let you burn was because the Destroyers hacked into the network and made sure the viewers saw what was really going on there. I can tell you all about it and even show you what we did if you agree to come to the compound with me.”
“Agree,” Daniel snorts, looking at Sasha. “Well, at least she’s giving us the illusion of freedom, unlike Gary and the game.”
“You are free,” Aisha insists. “If you don’t want to go, that’s your decision to make – but the Watchers will be looking for you and the Destroyers can offer protection.”
“In exchange for what?” Daniel asks, narrowing his eyes at Aisha. He may have been a sheltered, naive person six months ago when he walked away from his father’s campaign, but now he knows better – nothing in life is free.
“We think you could be of service to the revolution,” Aisha says.
“Me?” Daniel asks.
“Yes,” Aisha answers, looking earnest. “With your growing online celebrity-”
Daniel looks to Sasha, confused. Sasha takes his hand and squeezes, saying, “It’s true – Levi showed me while you were gone. There are actually people out there who have been rooting for us.”
“Sure didn’t seem like it every time I went into that Elimination Room,” Daniel says.
“Look,” Aisha says, “we don’t have many options right now. Brody won’t survive unless he gets some proper medical care and none of us can stay in this motel room. I’d give the Watchers about six hours before they trace us, and that’s being generous. Come with me to the compound and hear our plan, and if you don’t like what you hear, you’re free to go.”
“Just like that,” Daniel says, skeptical.
“Just like that,” Aisha says. “But I’ll warn you in advance – I’m going to need to blindfold you at some point during the journey because if you choose to leave, you can’t know where the compound is.”
Under the window, Erica whimpers and Jane goes over to her, putting one arm around Erica and the other around Francie. Levi’s still wide-eyed, but his expression has changed from horror to fascination.
“I want to go,” he says.
“How far is it?” Daniel asks.
“About three hours,” Aisha says. “I’ll have to call my contact to pick us up, but we can be there before morning if we act fast.”
“How many people are there?” Sasha asks.
“Half a dozen right now,” Aisha says. “We’re small, but our supporters are growing in number every day.”
The idea turns Daniel’s stomach, but Levi’s clearly bought in. Sasha looks on the fence like he is, and Jane looks nervous, too, but Aisha’s right. They only have two choices. They can take their chances with the Watchers on the streets, who will certainly show them no mercy if they’re found, or they can take their chances with the Destroyers at an undisclosed location.
Brody groans, his hand going instinctively to his leg, but when he touches the bandage, he winces in pain. Aisha diverts her attention to him, inspecting his injury. Blood is already beginning to bloom on the fresh bandage and everyone knows that’s not good news.
“Look, I’m not going to sugar coat it,” Aisha says to everyone. “It’s going to be dangerous, and if a Watcher drone zeros in on us while we’re traveling, there’s a chance we won’t even be able to get to the Destroyer compound. But if we don’t try, Brody is going to die.”
Silence descends on the room and everyone looks from Aisha to Brody, and then to Daniel. They’re waiting on his call.
He takes a deep breath, trying to settle his nerves.
“Okay,” he says at last. “But if you try to imprison us when we get there, I’m going to be very disappointed. I’ve had about enough breaking out of places to last me a lifetime, but I’ll do it again if I have to.”
“I promise, you can leave whenever you want,” Aisha says.
“Call your contact,” Daniel says.