Threshold of Annihilation (The Firebird Chronicles #3) - T.A. White

ONE

“WHY DON’T YOU say that again,” Raider suggested in a deceptively soft voice.

The man who had served at her side for years, through thick and thin, during a war that threatened to decimate the human race seemed calm. Serene even. Unnaturally so, given the life-altering revelation that he had a daughter he’d never known with a woman long since thought dead in said war.

It was his eyes that gave him away. They burned with suppressed emotion.

Raider was on the brink, and Kira was standing directly in the blast zone.

The waif responsible for this whole mess kicked her feet from where she was seated beside Kira, utterly unconcerned over the repercussions of her dramatic revelation.

Oh, to be young and convinced of your own invincibility again.

Years of planning wiped clean by a few careless words.

Kira had known this day was coming. If she was honest with herself, this showdown had been inevitable from the instant Kira learned of Elena's existence and chose not to track Raider down to inform him that his and Elise's love bore physical fruit.

None of this made the coming explosion any easier to take.

You didn't drop a bomb of this magnitude and expect to walk away unscathed.

There were consequences to your actions. No matter how you struggled, they always came due.

This was the calm before the storm. You could see it on the horizon, feel the gathering pressure in the air, but there was no way to outrun it. No way to hide from it. All you could do was batten down the hatches and pray that the storm would leave you battered and bruised, but otherwise alive.

Kira’s uncle frowned unhappily from his spot next to the doorway. Piercing golden eyes lingered on Elena. "I'm interested in hearing this as well."

The Overlord of House Roake was built like an armored tank. Power was written in every line of his body and stamped on his features.

A stranger to Kira until recently, even she could admit the family resemblance between them was unmistakable. They looked like father and daughter rather than uncle and niece.

The line of their noses and the stubborn jut of their jaws were nearly identical. It was the hair, however, that clinched it. A distinctive deep wine color that verged on burgundy.

A vertical scar bisected Harlow's eyebrow, narrowly missing his eye before dragging down his cheek. Already physically imposing, the scar made Harlow even more intimidating. Kira was betting none who served him ever questioned his orders. One hard stare would have his warriors swallowing any protests.

Of those present, Harlow was the one most likely to understand why Kira had chosen this course. Why she'd made the decisions she had. Like her, he hadn't lived an easy life.

He’d been forced to assume leadership of a broken House when an attack from a shadowy organization left his twin brother dead and his baby niece stolen.

He knew sometimes choices had to be made that hurt the people around him, even as it kept them alive.

House Roake had not only survived but thrived under his leadership.

Already she could see him doing the calculations and arriving at answers that threatened her future wellbeing.

Elena frowned. "Auntie, you never told me the sperm donor had a hearing problem."

"Not helping," Kira told her niece in a sing-song voice.

Elena harrumphed, folding her arms over her chest.

Raider pointed at Kira. "Explain. Now."

At that, a mischievous expression crossed Elena’s face. "Didn't anybody ever teach you that pointing is rude, sperm donor?"

Raider's nostrils flared as he took a deep breath, holding onto his temper by a thread. He kept his gaze locked on Kira, not acknowledging his daughter's existence.

Mistake, Raider.

Elena might have biologically come from Elise, but there was a lot of Kira and Jin in her. Evidently, nurture was as important as nature when it came to personality, and a few of Kira and Jin's less than desirable traits had rubbed off on her, including the fact that none of them reacted particularly well to being ignored.

Sensing the danger, Jin inserted himself between the two. "Let's all stay calm."

In a universe filled with odd things, Jin's existence was unique unto itself. Once a Tuann boy in the same hellish camp as Kira, Jin's soul was now housed in a military combat drone that took the shape of a sphere the size of Kira's head.

Jin was Kira’s best friend, her partner in crime. He’d saved her life and sanity more times than she could count.

"Don't tell me to stay calm, Tin Can." Raider's composed mask shredded, leaving him looking

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