cover

Contents

About the Book

About the Author

Also by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

Title Page

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Extract from Code

Copyright

Also by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

Virals

Seizure

Code

Déjà Dead

Death du Jour

Deadly Décisions

Fatal Voyage

Grave Secrets

Bare Bones

Monday Mourning

Cross Bones

Break No Bones

Bones to Ashes

Devil Bones

206 Bones

Spider Bones

Flash and Bones

Bones Are Forever

Bones of the Lost

About the Book

Tory Brennan’s great aunt, Temperance, arrives just in time to investigate a robbery at the Loggerhead Island Research Institute in this exclusive direct-to-digital short story from Kathy Reichs, author of Bones are Forever and Virals.

Renowned forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan is obviously qualified to figure out who the criminal is but Tory and her Virals pack want to crack the case on their own.

Yet the crime is puzzling. Who could have accessed the labs at LIRI, and how could they have gotten the equipment off the island?

It’s Brennan vs. Brennan in this straight to digital short story that gives readers a brand new insight into the world of the Virals.

About the Author

Kathy Reichs is vice president of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists; a member of the RCMP National Police Services Advisory Council; forensic anthropologist to the province of Quebec; and a professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her first book, Deja Dead, catapulted her to fame when it became a New York Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. Her latest novels, Flash and Bones and Virals, were both instant Sunday Times bestsellers. For more information, please visit www.kathyreichs.com.

Shift

A Virals Adventure

Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs

For Laurie,

who finally came to Charleston.

Epub ISBN: 9781473505117

Version 1.0

Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road,

Read on for an extract from Code
Also by Kathy Reichs

CHAPTER 1

THE REEL SCREECHED, nearly jerked the pole from my fingers.

“Whoa!” I death-gripped my rod. “Got a live one!”

“Go easy.” Ben’s dark brown eyes radiated caution. “The line’ll snap if you’re not careful.”

Tern Point. Loggerhead Island. Ben Blue and I were perched upon a wide stone ledge twenty feet above the Atlantic Ocean. We’d been there an hour, with no bites.

Until now.

“WhatdoIdo?” First time on a spinner, and my mind was blank. I wiped a sweaty palm on my gray polo shirt.

“Both hands on the rod!” I could tell Ben itched to take over but was suppressing the urge. “Let the fish run a bit, reel back slowly, then let it run again. But stay alert. That tackle isn’t designed for sportfishing.”

I followed his instructions, letting my catch tire itself out. Finally, a wiggling silver streak flashed in the surf just below.

Ben whistled as he ear-tucked his shoulder-length black hair. “That’s a big boy. Nice haul.”

“Thanks. Tag in?” My arms were burning from the extended tug-of-war. “This monster’s not a quitter.”

Ben took over, muscles straining beneath his black tee and cutoff khakis. Of all the Virals, he was strongest by far. And the most connected to nature. Ben spent most of his free time outdoors, and had a deep, coppery tan to prove it.

The Blue family claims to have descended from the Sewee tribe, a local Native American group that disappeared from the pages of history three centuries ago. There’s no way to prove it, of course. Just don’t tell Ben that.

Ben’s small boat, Sewee, was our primary means of transportation. He’d used the old sixteen-foot Boston Whaler runabout to explore dozens of Charleston’s barrier isles. And learned the best fishing spots, like this one.

Moments later a gleaming, flopping captive dangled from the end of my line. Ben reeled it up to eye level.

My catch was silver, a foot and a half long, and covered with small, loose scales. A thin trail of blood leaked from its mouth.

“King mackerel.” Ben removed the hook and lifted the fish by one gill. “Twenty pounds—a pretty good size. Glad he didn’t break loose.”

The beleaguered fish gulped air, futilely searching for oxygen. Our eyes locked.

Suddenly, I wasn’t having so much fun.

“Throw him back.”

“What?” Ben frowned. “Why? This species is good eating. Or we could sell him at the fish market in Folly Beach.”

The mackerel’s jaw continued to work, opening and closing, but with less vigor now. A bubble formed at the tip of its mouth. Burst.

“Throw him back,” I repeated, sharper this time. “Fish-face still has some living to do.”

Ben scowled, but knew better than to argue. Over the past year the boys had come to accept my stubbornness, and the fact that I didn’t lose too many arguments. Not when I dug in my heels. Just like my aunt Tempe.

You may have heard of her. Dr. Temperance Brennan, World-Famous Forensic Anthropologist. Some just call her the Bone Lady. She’s my great-aunt, a wonderful fact I learned only after my mother’s accident, when I moved in with my dad, Kit.

She’s also my role model. My idol. Only everything I ever want to be. I might as well wear a What Would Tempe Do? necklace 24/7. My greatest ambition is to be as good a scientist as Tempe. To solve cases like she does. Leave my mark.

“Okay, pal.” Ben gripped our captive at both ends. “Count your blessings that my friend here is a total softy.”

He took one stride and tossed the mackerel back down to the sea. It hit the water and, with a flick of its tail fin, disappeared from sight.

“We caught him,” I said. “That’s the fun part.” For us, at least. I doubt that fish would agree.

“Whatever.” Ben began packing our gear. “Let’s go find the others. Hi must’ve given up by now.”

I secured hooks to poles, then scanned the ledge for trash. It’d been nice fishing alone with Ben. The two of us didn’t spend much one-on-one time together, and he often went mute when Hi and Shelton were around. Probably because those two never let anyone get a word in edgewise.

Ben was already sixteen, the oldest of the Virals. He even had a driver’s license. That should’ve made him our leader, but he preferred letting me make the decisions. Which was surprising, since I was fourteen and youngest, the only girl, and still learning about our home city of Charleston. But Ben usually let me have my way.

And he’s a cutie, I had to admit, even though I only thought of him as a brother. Ben fascinated me, but he could be maddening, too. It was often impossible to read what was going on behind that intense gaze. I sometimes felt I understood him the least of my packmates.

After securing our tackle, we descended to the forest below. I’d barely touched boot to soil when a gray blur rocketed from the foliage.

“Coop, heel!” I wasn’t anxious for a full-bodied lunge to my midsection. Mindful of his new training, the wolfdog checked his sprint and scampered to sit at my side.

“Good boy.” Ear scratch. “Where’s your family?”

Crackling leaves answered the question. I turned to see Whisper crouching by a large cedar at my back. The gray wolf regarded me quietly, then stepped aside for her mate, a German shepherd I’d named Polo. Beyond them, Coop’s brother, Buster, alternated between chomping and shaking a stick.

“Release,” I said.

Coop bounded back into the bushes, trailed by his fellow canines. “Hanging around a wolf pack is nuts.” Ben wiped his sweaty brow with a forearm, despite the mild temperature. “Whether it includes your mutt’s mother or not.”

“Don’t be such a baby,” I teased. “They’re practically lapdogs.”

“Lapdogs won’t rip your face off. Or eat you.”

“Hey, we’re a wolf pack, too, remember?” I located the deer run we’d followed to Tern Point and started into the forest. “Why should we be scared of another one?”

Ben didn’t answer. He still wasn’t comfortable with the truth. Not like me.

Here’s the deal. Last spring, my friends and I got zapped by a nasty supervirus. Me. Hiram. Shelton. Ben. And my wolfdog, Coop, of course.

The culprit was a designer pathogen created by Dr. Marcus Karsten, my father’s former boss at the Loggerhead Island Research Institute. In a reckless attempt to strike it rich, Karsten combined DNA from two different types of parvovirus, accidentally creating a brand-new strain. A doozy.

Unfortunately for us, this vicious little germ was contagious to humans. We were infected while rescuing Coop, who’d been abducted by Karsten for use as a test subject.

First came the sickness. Headaches. Fevers. Blackouts. You name it.

The changes followed. We began to evolve. Or devolve.

Even now, I find it hard to describe. My mind twists and bends, sounding out new depths in my subconscious. My senses blast into hyperdrive, becoming more acute than humanly possible.

And sometimes I lose control, succumbing to primal instincts. Foreign impulses. Animal urges to hunt, or feed, or fight. It’s the same with the others. Mostly.

The illness eventually passed, but not the changes. Our bodies had been transformed. The tiny viral invader had rewritten our genetic code, inserting canine DNA into human double helixes.

Shifting us. Hiding the wolf inside our cellular blueprint.

Welding us together as a pack.

Now we’re Viral. To the core.

Scary thing is, we don’t know if the sickness is truly finished. Or if the alterations are permanent. Could the effects grow more intense? Will they fade over time? No idea. With Karsten gone, so was our only link to the virus.

That’s not to say we’ve given up. We don’t have the answers, but we intend to find them. How? Still working on that.

Ben and I continued along the trail to a small clearing.

Beep! Beep!

Ben threw me a knowing glance. My eyes rolled in response. Obviously, Hi was still at it.

Beep! Beep! Beep!

Entering the meadow, I heard agitated voices.

“How much longer?” Shelton Devers pushed black-framed glasses up the bridge of his nose. “This stopped being interesting before it started.”

Shelton is short and skinny, with dark chocolate skin and features common on the streets of Kyoto. Black father. Asian mother. You get the picture.

Shelton stood in the clearing’s center, arms crossed, boredom etched on his face. He wore a yellow Pac-Man retro hoodie and oversized basketball shorts, which hung from his scrawny frame like clothes on a hanger.

“Why all the Haterade?” answered Hiram Stolowitski. “We found buried treasure once before, right?”

“A perfect reason to quit,” Shelton said. “We’ve filled our lifetime quota.”

“Not yet.” Hi returned his attention to the device in his hands. “The geocache is supposed to be right here. Somewhere. I just have to find it.”

“So far, all you’ve found are bottle caps, some pliers, and a Diet Coke.”

“I re-jiggered the settings to ignore trash metal. No more false alarms.”

“No more anything. It just beeps.”