Read Gone Online

Authors: Francine Pascal

Gone

FEARLESS

GONE

FRANCINE PASCAL

SIMON PULSE
New York London Toronto Sydney

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

“Let's begin, then,” Ulrich said. “I want to get this over with.”

Gaia's life, he meant. He wanted to get her life over with. He leaned down to her with the IV needle in his hand, and he began to tap her arm for the vein.

Jesus Christ. This was how she was going to die. Euthanized like a death row criminal. She almost wished she hadn't woken up. Because there was absolutely nothing she could do. No amount of fighting spirit could change anything. Her body was strapped so tightly to that bed, she could hardly move a muscle. Even if she could, she was too weak to make a dent in those leather straps.

Ulrich inserted the needle into her arm, and then he moved around to the other side of the bed to insert the second. Gaia searched her brain desperately for some answer, some brilliant scheme, but there was nothing. Literally no room to maneuver.

He inserted the needle into her other arm, and then he moved back around the bed to press the switch and end her life.
Maybe there is an afterlife,
she told herself.
And I've just been too cynical to believe it.

Or maybe she just needed to believe that, in this last moment. Maybe she needed to believe a lot of things that she had never believed before.

Don't miss any books in this thrilling series:

FEARLESS
™

#1   Fearless

#2   Sam

#3   Run

#4   Twisted

#5   Kiss

#6   Payback

#7   Rebel

#8   Heat

#9   Blood

#10   Liar

#11   Trust

#12   Killer

#13   Bad

#14   Missing

#15   Tears

#16   Naked

#17   Flee

#18   Love

#19   Twins

#20   Sex

#21   Blind

#22   Alone

#23   Fear

#24   Betrayed

#25   Lost

#26   Escape

#27   Shock

#28   Chase

#29   Lust

#30   Freak

#31   Normal

#32   Terror

#33   Wired

#34   Fake

#35   Exposed

#36   Gone

Super Edition #1: Before Gaia

Super Edition #2: Gaia Abducted

Available from SIMON PULSE

For orders other than by individual consumers, Simon & Schuster grants a discount on the purchase of 10 or more copies of single titles for special markets or premium use. For further details, please write to the Vice-President of Special Markets, Pocket Books, 1260 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020-1586, 8th Floor.

For information on how individual consumers can place orders, please write to Mail Order Department, Simon & Schuster Inc., 100 Front Street, Riverside, NJ 08075.

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

First Simon Pulse edition November 2004

Copyright © 2004 by Francine Pascal

Cover copyright © 2004 by Alloy Entertainment

SIMON PULSE
An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

www.SimonandSchuster.com

Produced by Alloy Entertainment
151 West 26th Street New York, NY 10001

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

For information address Alloy Entertainment, 151 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10001.

Fearless™ is a trademark of Francine Pascal.

Printed in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Library of Congress Control Number: 2004100274

ISBN: 0-689-86919-3

ISBN-13: 978-0-689-86919-8

eISBN-13: 978-1-439-12102-3

To Christopher Grassi

Dear Readers:

At last Gaia is graduating. Moving on to the rest of her life. But, in true Gaia style, it won't be ordinary. That's what has been so thrilling about Gaia for the last six years.

About ten years ago I read a small article in the
New York Times
about a woman who didn't seem to have any reaction to fear. I was fascinated. They couldn't give any scientific reason so I invented my own: obviously she was born without the fear gene. I loved the idea, now all I needed was the right girl. And I found her in Gaia. Gaia is just enough of a rebel and just enough of a hero to be the dream of every teenage girl. And she's not afraid of anything or anyone. What freedom!

It was easy to hit the right notes. All I had to do was pretend I was Gaia and everything worked. And I think that's what the readers did, too. You were able to lose yourselves in the fantasy of being Gaia Moore. Well, now, faithful fans and dreamers, I promise I won't let you down.

Though we are going to lose sight of Gaia for a while, she will turn up where we least expect. And with someone who will be a complete surprise. I can't tell you any more at this time. But, I promise, she will be back. You have been marvelous fans and I thank you so much for your loyalty.

Sincerely,

renegade psycho

There were a hundred different ways to shut Jake up.

The Great Confuser

GAIA MOORE HAD NEARLY FORGOTTEN everything that made her remarkable. It had been a nasty state of affairs. Embarrassing. Shameful, even. She'd found herself drowning in the most pathetic swamp of insecurity and mediocrity and what she could only term “generalized feminine nambypambyness.” Over the last few weeks she seemed to have completely forgotten that her IQ was genius level, that her senses were superior to the average human's, that she was trained in more martial arts than she could count. In other words, that she had more power in her little finger than Skyler Rodke and his entire family combined.

But she was remembering now. Bit by bit. Piece by piece. She was turning up her power in careful, measured increments. And as she sprinted up Morningside Drive, pumping her legs with forceful ease to make it back to Skyler's apartment before he did, she began to devise her plan of attack.

It would not be an “attack” in the usual sense of the word. Skyler deserved a hell of a lot worse than just a perfectly placed kick to the larynx or a punch to the solar plexus. Given the apparent scope of the Rodkes' plans, this attack was going to have to be strategic in nature. She had to know every aspect of their plan;
then she could formulate the ideal response—the perfect counterpunch. She needed all her power now. She needed to be cool and composed and rational. And finally, without gobs of fear clouding her judgment, she could be all those things and more. Because she was free at last. Free of all that fear.

There was at least one thing she had learned during her temporarily frightened existence: fear was “the Great Confuser.” All her bouts with terror had turned her brain into cafeteria oatmeal—weak and mushy and flavorless. That was Gaia in the presence of Skyler Rodke: weak and mushy. No
identity.
Which was just what he'd wanted. It's what they'd all wanted, apparently—Skyler and his father and Dr. Ulrich, too, which was pissing her off to no end. But that was all over now. Now she was paying attention. Now her thoughts were exquisitely pristine.

As she whipped around the corner of 121st Street, she replayed the entire scene she had just witnessed, or rather
heard,
in that generic medical facility on Bowery and Bleecker. She could still feel the aches in her joints from cramming herself inside that filing cabinet, but it had been worth it. She'd managed to eavesdrop on the Rodkes' “top secret” little meeting, and she'd heard at least some of what she'd needed to hear. She'd heard the voices of Skyler, his father, and Dr. Ulrich conspiring against her. And she'd heard that one new mystery man, although he wasn't such a mystery anymore,
given the words Skyler had spoken in his presence:
army
and
soldiers.
Whoever the mystery man was, he was unquestionably military. Whatever the Rodkes were planning, the army was somehow involved.

But conspiracies were all in the details. And the details were precisely what she didn't have. They'd called off their little meeting too quickly, leaving Gaia with too little information and no choice but to wait it out inside that cabinet and then sneak out the back stairs of the building, making a break for it.

At least now she could begin to put all the pieces together. With each long stride down the street, she revved up that once-dormant part of her brain that could think with machinelike precision.

Think it through,
she ordered herself.
What are the things you know? What are the things you don't know?
Her mind instantly split those two categories down the middle and formulated a simple informational chart:

Things I know:

  1. Skyler, Dr. Rodke, and Dr. Ulrich are the enemy.
  2. They are concocting some kind of drug using my genes—using me as their own personal lab rat. That's at least one of the reasons they've been trying to keep me under lock and key and under Skyler's disgustingly chauvinistic influence.
  3. The military is somehow involved.

Things I don't know:

  1. Just how extensive a family affair is this? Are Chris and Liz involved, too? Has our friendship just been part of the scam?
  2. How exactly is the army involved? Does this go all the way up to top government levels, or are we just dealing with one renegade psycho general?
  3. What the hell are they planning next?
  4. The most important question of all: Whatever they're planning next … how am I going to stop it?

That was really all she cared about now as the sweat trickled down her temples and she took the steps of Skyler's building in leaps and bounds. She just needed to figure out how to stop them all. By herself—that was an absolute. That was not up for debate. She was putting an end to this entire mystery operation alone.

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