I sucked in another sharp breath.
Suddenly the overhead lights came on, flooding the entire club in a harsh white glare. I squinted, momentarily confused. The music cut off, causing shouts of dismay. Those on the stage froze. People on the dance floor slowed and then stopped, exchanging bewildered looks as they panted.
“Damn.” Luc sighed. “This is going to be inconvenient.”
Someone darted past the alcove, heading toward the bar area. Forgetting about the stupid ID, I twisted in my seat and watched the guy disappear down a narrow hall.
“Hell.” Luc shot to his feet as fast as a strike of lightning. And holy canola oil, he was tall, and if I had been standing, he would have towered over my five-foot-five-inch frame. “Here we go again.” Sounding bored, he looked to Grayson. “You know what to do. Move them out.”
Grayson slipped his phone into his pocket and stood. Then he was gone, moving so fast he was nothing but a blur. If he’d been wearing a Disabler, he wouldn’t have been able to move like that.
“You’re coming with me,” Luc announced.
“What?” I squeaked. “I’m not going anywhere with you. Like, I wouldn’t even walk from here to the dance floor with you.”
“Well, that’s kind of offensive, but we’re about to be raided and not in the fun way.”
There was a fun way of getting raided?
Luc reached down, wrapping his hand around mine. A charge of static passed through me again, duller than before. He pulled me the rest of the way up. “And hey, you’re underage. Don’t think you want to get busted, right?”
I didn’t, but that didn’t mean I was going anywhere with him. “I need to find Heidi. She’s—”
“She’s with Emery.” Luc pulled me around the low glass table. “She’ll be fine.”
“And I’m supposed to trust you?”
He looked over his shoulder at me. “I didn’t ask you to trust me.”
That was about as reassuring as a loaded gun pointed at my head, but the door up front burst open and the RAC—Retinal Alien Check—drones entered the club.
A shudder rocked me.
I hated those drones.
They hovered about five feet off the floor, all black with the exception of a white light in the center of the top. RAC drones became a thing about two years ago. There was something about Luxen pupils that the RAC registered as nonhuman. Mom once tried to explain the science behind it, but I’d checked out when she’d gotten to the part about rods and cones doing something with infrared light. All I knew was that it picked up on alien DNA.
And if they were here, that meant they were searching for unregistered Luxen—aliens like Luc and Grayson, ones without Disablers.
Those drones weren’t here alone. Pouring into the group like a horde of white insects were the Alien Response Task Force—ART—officers, and they were decked out to take care of business. Dressed in all white, their faces shielded by shiny helmets. Two had normal-looking assault rifles. Another two carried the heavier, thicker version—a rifle that was an electronic pulse weapon. One hit with that and a Luxen was done for.
Luc pulled me between the couch and a chair, tugging me toward the bar. I started to dig my feet in, because I’d rather be busted being underage in a club than get caught with a potentially unregistered alien.
That wasn’t a fine.
That was immediate jail time for harboring and abetting and a ton of other fancy criminal words. I tried to pull my hand free as Luc started dragging me along. “Let go!”
“Everyone, down!” one of the officers shouted.
People ran in every direction, scattering like roaches when the lights were flipped on. Bodies crashed into me. I yelped as my heels slipped on the wet floor. I lost my footing. Fear exploded like buckshot, shooting out darts of panic. I started to fall.
“Oh no, you don’t.” Luc’s grip on my hand tightened, and he yanked me up. One heel came off my foot and then the other as he dashed behind the bar, pulling me along with him.
My bare feet slipped in pools of liquid I didn’t even want to think about. A guy vaulted over the bar, landing in a crouch. Another came over, slipping on the spilled drinks. He went down, smacking into the floor, immediately followed by yet another person falling right behind him.
Everything was happening too fast.
A rapid firing—pop, pop, pop—commenced. Screams rose over the commotion, and my heart leapt in my throat as I tried to see over the stage. What was happening? I couldn’t see, and I had no idea where Heidi was in this mess.
Luc dipped down, sliding under the bar and blocking people from entering. I followed as several bottles flew off the wall. Glass and liquid exploded, flying everywhere.
“Such a damn mess,” Luc muttered, his jaw locked in disgust.