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Adrienne Renick
Hello! I'm Adrienne, and I'm thrilled to share my world with you. I've been writing since I knew what a book was, and I don't plan to stop any time soon. My favorite genres are character driven with sci-fi and fantasy (often spliced together), have plenty of drama, comedy, and all the heart-warming moments in between. If these are things you enjoy, my hope is that you'll feel right at home here. Thanks for checking me out!

The Rift Bringer Saga - Rift Bringer: Chapter One

The unexpected buzz of Liana’s phone brought her pulse to an all-time high. She was already on edge, and she swore as she fumbled through the folds of her jacket. A moment later, her screen flared like a beacon through the night.

Squinting as the device failed to recognize her face, Liana angled herself toward the light reflecting off a nearby store window. As her phone unlocked, Liana caught sight of herself in the store’s display window.

She let out a stream of nervous energy. She looked tired as ever, the dark circles under her brown eyes present more from stress than exhaustion.

Liana gave herself a hard look and squared her shoulders. You’re not cut out for this, she thought.

Her. Hundreds of other people with anomalous powers in Terminus, and the head honcho himself, Matthias Stryker, had requested her for a stealth operation. 

He must have been desperate. Or maybe he assumed Liana was as smart as her mother had been.

Whatever the case, she needed the money. If she screwed things up tonight, there would be no paycheck. Dad would have to postpone his appointment another month, and she’d have to keep lying about what she’d been up to most nights since graduating high school last year.

Liana took a moment to straighten her curtain bangs. She gave her dark outfit a once-over. Then, she tucked her shoulder-length braid of black waves into her jacket. 

When her phone buzzed again, a gentle reminder that she still had an unread message, she nearly jumped out of her skin.


Hurry up.


Liana rolled her eyes, silenced her notifications, and shoved the device deep into her jacket.

It was only Jace. But it could’ve been her handler at Terminus. Maybe even a direct order from Stryker, she thought, humming something light to keep her panic at bay. 

Being requested for a mission wasn’t totally uncalled for—since Mom had worked alongside Stryker for a while before she died, Liana had felt like this day might come. 

She just didn’t expect it to be something so… simple.

Eavesdropping. That was the short of her handler’s instructions. Listening in on some meaningless conversation she wouldn’t understand in a shady back alley, more like it.

Right now, Liana’s only concern was finding Jace. As her mentor, he would have more information about the assignment. And hopefully a pack of the chocolates he always seemed to carry.

As Liana’s breaths shortened, her steps lengthened. The west side of New Wick was nowhere to be strutting around this late at night but, with the impending threat of a thunderstorm, no one would bother to look at her. Even so, Liana was relieved to reach the alley she’d been searching for. 

As promised, it was sandwiched between two rundown buildings, the passage narrow enough that she hoped she didn’t run into someone on a smoke break.

Her joints couldn’t work fast enough once she’d squeezed through to the other side. Even though she was hunched beneath the hood of her jacket in an attempt to stay invisible, every streetlight seemed to point at her.

There she goes, they whispered. Off to sell another piece of her soul.

Liana reached up as the skin on the back of her neck prickled. Her braid held tight, but it wasn’t strong enough to stop the end from drifting out from beneath her collar.

She clutched the braid as though it were sentient. It may as well have been, but that was only a side effect of her anomaly.

Because Liana had received Serum Anomalia as an infant, her diagnosis had been expected, but not the nature of her power. Experts had determined it was a form of telekinesis, but to what extent was still unknown. 

Liana was sure there was more to it than that. It should’ve been easy to have telekinetic powers—look at something, command it to move. Reach things from far away. Never need to bend over to pick things up.

Sometimes it was that simple. But most of the time, Liana’s powers were like claws attached to her thoughts, hungry to dig into anything if she wasn’t properly focused. Until middle school, her will had been almost uncontrollable, her mind frantic to hold onto anything and everything once she slipped into her mindscape. 

Including her own hair. 

So, to keep the snide remarks from normal children at a minimum, Liana’s mom taught her how to braid her hair. ‘A necessary evil,’ she’d called the scalp-flat braid. But to Liana, it was just one more reminder that she was an anomaly.

One more reminder of why she was out here this late, desperately trying to keep from shivering with nerves in the biting winter air. After all, if anyone cared about rights for anomalies, they worked for Terminus. Kept to the shadows and hoped to not be spat on for having EVOS’s ink on their knuckles.

On the other side of the alley, a streetlight flickered. 

Liana peeked at her phone. No new messages. Her chest tightened. With the way Jace pestered her every time they were about to meet up, radio silence wasn’t a good sign. She thought of what to text him, fingernails clacking against the screen—

A hand fastened around Liana’s mouth and dragged her backward. 

Her phone clattered to the ground as she steadied herself, fists clenching in retaliation. She panted for air, hands trembling as her captor let go. As she spun around, Liana let her thoughts surge—and was met with a familiar pair of blue eyes.

Jace. A whole head taller than her, his playful stance not so daunting as he gave his classic, crooked grin. At the sight of his teasing eyebrow waggle and the dimples in his ruddy cheeks, Liana’s mind released the wads of street garbage she’d considered flinging at him.

“Are you twelve?” she snarled, struggling to keep her voice at a whisper. “I was about to knock you out.”

He smirked. “Before or after you started flailing around?”

As Liana groaned, Jace softened in apology before he ducked to pick up her phone. 

Liana’s stomach knotted. Jace was a dork, but he’d do anything she asked. She was hesitant to feel the same.

As her mentor, Jace had been by her side every step of the way since last year. When her dad had first been admitted to the hospital, he’d been the one to show up. Run his card when they got breakfast after late-night Terminus assignments. Always show up at the apartment to see if she’d gotten a chance to get some sunlight on nicer days.

Despite Jace’s upbeat outlook on life, Liana struggled to match his energy. Besides—she was convinced his favorite pastime was finding new ways to get under her skin. Make her hair stand on end, on purpose. Jace was usually successful, though Liana always ended up with red cheeks and her hands on her knees as she laughed alongside him.

She laughed now, too, when he made a show of polishing her phone screen on his shirt. It was hard to stay nervous around him, she’d give him that.

“You seem tense,” he said.

Liana grunted again, the uneasy feeling pervading her as they moved deeper into the heart of the concrete neighborhood. Gravel crunched underfoot, the sound a bit too loud for her liking. “Did Terminus tell you anything else? How long are they expecting us to stay?”

Jace swayed his head back and forth. “Until it’s done. This job should be quick, though.”

Nearby, a cat screeched. The noise grated on Liana’s ears, and she shuddered as Jace took her hand. Curled around hers, his fingers were warm. She sank further into his grip than planned.

Jace sneaked another smile at her, but the knots in her stomach only wrenched themselves tighter.

Liana pulled away. “It would be better if we could see where we’re going.”

Jace pursed his lips, surveying the area. Then, he raised his palms. 

In response, a rusty old light that probably hadn’t worked in years sputtered to life as new energy sang through its wires. Liana and Jace shared a disturbed glance as what must have been the entirety of the alley’s flying insect population flocked toward the light, and then they stifled their laughter.

The warmth didn’t last long before the light faded. Jace’s trick could only follow them so far before he’d need to find another conduit, but when he stopped illuminating new light fixtures, Liana knew they were close.

She kept her voice hushed as her anxiety began to build. “Any idea why Stryker requested me for this mission?”

Jace gave a bewildered look. “Stryker? As in Matthias Stryker?”

“Yeah.” Liana wished she could dissolve. “Maybe because my mom worked with him.”

“This must be some sort of initiation for you.” Jace straightened a little, smoothing a hand through his blond hair. “I wonder if he knows who I am.”

Liana shoved him gently. “I don’t get it, though. I haven’t done anything crazy. And we’re just supposed to be eavesdropping? How is that an initiation?”

Jace breathed in, the air hissing through his teeth. “I mean, we’re eavesdropping on eonites.”

Liana recoiled.

“You didn’t know?” Jace’s brow knitted.

“My handler sucks at briefing.” She paled. “Says he’s got, like, twenty other anoms to talk to. But that makes sense. I’ve never been on a mission involving eonites.”

Jace gripped her shoulder, the sudden movement sending a shock through her system. “Don’t worry about impressing anybody,” he said. “Just follow instructions and stick with me.”

She blinked at him, brushing his hand off. Instead of letting go, Jace reached for her hand and squeezed.

“Eonites aren’t that scary.” Jace leaned closer. “I’ve been on plenty of missions involving them. Half the time, they stay in their human form.”

“What if they don’t?”

“Then we run. Can’t get any information out of them like that, anyway.”

When Jace rustled through his coat to offer her a chocolate, Liana should have been excited.

Instead, she pressed her lips in a firm line. “But why does Stryker want me doing this? If I were going to integrate someone into Terminus, I’d have them steal something big. Or—I don’t know—start a fire.”

Jace laughed, and then he bobbed his head. “Li, if you get promoted, you’ll be in the same rank as me. We’ll have a chance to really make a difference if we’re both mentors. Train recruits, show them what Terminus is really like—none of that ‘terrorism’ stuff people think we’re all about. Plus, you’ll make more. You can get your dad better treatments—”

“Don’t.” She shied away from him. “Don’t talk about that. He’s going to die whether I do this or not.”

“Li,” Jace begged.

“We’ve been through this already. I’m not going to sugarcoat it.”

He looked like a hurt puppy.

Liana couldn’t help the guilt that bubbled in her throat. She kicked herself internally, eyeing the path they should have been doubling down.

“I’m sorry,” she lied. “It just feels pointless. We can talk about it later.”

Jace sulked as he followed her. He was right about being promoted, though, and Liana hated it. 

If only she could find a way around her fears—moving up was supposed to be all she’d wanted since joining the rebel group. After all, her father had been denied too many things because of Liana’s anomalia. 

She hated herself for it, out of her control as it was.

But to move up now… every inch of her screamed that she was in over her head. Terminus was unkind to failure. Failure meant their roots were rotten, and there would be no hope of reaching an ideal world for anomalies.

Liana didn’t know where she fit into that picture.

At first, she’d joined Terminus to be like her mother. To be on the side of history that cared about justice. 

After all, why should anomalies be treated so low for the very thing mankind had made them to be? It was the eonites’ superior abilities and alien biotechnology that had birthed the idea of super-powered humans in the first place. And still, anomalies had been quickly discarded, considered dangerous threats with no moral compass anywhere close to the ‘high-and-mighty’ creatures who inspired their creation.

But Terminus’s fight to rid Earth of its cosmic cohabitants was the last thing on Liana’s mind these days. Not with how Dad’s cough had gotten worse and the way his skin had quickly faded.

Sure, they needed the money. But Liana wasn’t certain she wanted to work any closer to Stryker. She’d seen how tired working that high up the ranks had made Mom. And then Mom had simply left for the sake of her career, leaving her and Dad to fend for themselves.

Liana shrugged the itchy feeling off, faced with a new realization: If Stryker himself thought it was time for her to move up the ladder, she really didn’t have a choice.

The best she could do was focus on the mission at hand. Liana grabbed at the candy packaging in Jace’s hand, swiping the rest of his chocolate before he could protest.

Soon after, the alley they were following backed up to a yard, just behind a bar. One of Liana’s favorite rock songs blasted from a tinny speaker on the side of the building, and she had to force herself not to sing along. A dying neon light flickered closer to the street, boasting all-night happy hour specials. Cigarette smoke hung thick in the air, gathered beneath an aluminum roof that extended across the side of the yard and into the alley. 

As rain pattered the roof, Liana and Jace sidled against the wooden fence beneath it. Liana fidgeted, leaning into Jace’s shoulder as they studied what little cover they were working with.

Jace finally dropped the overconfidence and let out a candy-sweet breath. “It’s going to be okay,” he told her. “It’s just a job.”

Liana rested her head against the damp wood, listening to the gentle trickle of rain down a storm drain. A few drops splattered against the back of her right hand, which she rolled over. The ink on her knuckles was black as ever. 8642—the brand she’d been given the moment her bones were hard enough as a child. “I should be doing something else with my life,” she said.

Jace flexed his numbered fingers, too, lips pursed to one side. “Anoms with day jobs are ignoring the real issues. We’re doing good, being here.”

Liana was getting sick of Jace’s heroic façade. He was lucky; he didn’t have any family upstate. To the family he saw twice a year, he could still get away with lying about having an office job, lining his pockets with fake water cooler gossip and enough change to have some fun with life.

Meanwhile, Liana lied to her dad every morning, coming up with tales of late-night customers who didn’t like the way she made their drinks at the late-night café she’d invented for her stories. The money she got from her Terminus missions was believable enough—and her handler hadn’t assigned her to anything overly dangerous—but the thought of something going sideways and not being able to pick up a payment shook her to the core. 

Liana didn’t want to be a hero of any kind, let alone have to start hiding bruises from her dad. The worst she could do to him was to never come home.

From the other side of the fence, low voices interrupted the silence, and her heart rate rocketed.

Jace grappled for his phone. “I’ll record,” he said. “You cover the other side of the alley.”

He hit record and shoved his phone into his front pocket. Then, he hurried through the rain to crouch opposite the gate leading to the side yard. Finally, he used his power to darken the light around himself—enough to keep hidden—as their targets approached the gate.

Even if the men across the fence had been shouting, Liana didn’t think she would have heard them over the rain pelting the tin roof above. The thump of her own heartbeat in her ears was equally deafening, and she had to shove her braid back into her jacket before it could take on a mind of its own again.

The voices that filled the alley weren’t human. They sounded human and, when they exited the gate, they looked human. But the way every nerve in Liana’s body fired off on instinct reminded her they weren’t.

She calmed a bit by telling herself she was lucky. Lucky that these eonites were pretending to be human, menacing as their eonite forms could be.

Unshifted eonites were beings of unearthly golden light, closely resembling humans in form due to their inherent ability to match their surroundings. Most unshifted eonites were only a couple of feet taller than the average person, but a select few were immense, some large enough to see into a sixth-story window. Maybe even taller.

All of them were terrifying.

Liana’s knuckles whitened as she gripped her elbows. While most of the world revered their alien inhabitants for their incredible abilities. So, if there was one thing she didn’t want to be caught doing, it would be hiding in an alley trying to gather dirt on them for an underground organization.

If she and Jace were caught… she was afraid to consider the consequences.

But her fears didn’t matter; Terminus needed eyes on this meeting. Her handler might not have mentioned eonites would be involved in tonight’s assignment, but he’d said it was crucial they recorded everything they could. One of their marks was supposedly of high rank—amongst the eonites, evidently—and they were sure to have something worth hearing.

These particular eonites were in no rush. One of them caught sight of the tin roof hanging over the fence. They began to move closer to the makeshift shelter.

Liana froze. Any closer, and they’d see that her crouched form wasn’t just some pile of junk in the back alley. She hadn’t even had time to come up with an escape plan. 

Distracting the approaching eonites with the nearest moveable object, a metal trash can, would have to work.

Liana closed her eyes. In her mindscape, the can was no more than a faint outline behind the edges of these eonites. She sent a thought forward and, despite the spray of wet and cold firing through her senses, her focus hit its mark. The trash can was heavy and full of garbage, but with enough effort, it began to rock beneath the thrall of her concentration.

The can toppled, shattering the silence. Metal clanged against stone and released a flood of trash into the alley, enough of a ruckus that Liana even startled herself. 

Not a second later, the eyes of both eonites glowed golden, and they twisted to see what the commotion was long enough for Liana to hurry around the corner to a new hiding spot.

After that, the eonites’ conversation lulled, quieter than it had been when Liana could already barely hear it. She swore under her breath, wondering if Jace’s phone was picking up any of their chatter.

The harder the rain pelted the roof, drowning the conversation, the tighter Liana squeezed her eyes shut. I can at least silence the rain, she thought.

It wasn’t a simple manipulation. She’d only done it once before.

Liana curled her fists. It wasn’t the rain that needed to be held—it was the pressure around it, a subtle ebb and flow through Liana’s mindscape that she’d never quite grasped. But with enough confidence, she could bend it to her will.

She trained her focus skyward. Much to her relief, the rain became as smooth as a plane gliding across a gale of wind. It hit the invisible wall of pressure she forced through the air, trailing into a nearby gutter instead of dampening the conversation between the eonites. But when Liana opened her eyes, her concentration faltered, and droplets fell through the shield.

A clap of thunder broke her focus for good, the vibration ricocheting off her thoughts and forcing her to grab at her temples. Liana shivered in the cold as her mind was forced back in place, and the rain returned in full force.

“What was that?” one of the eonites spoke, and Liana’s blood curdled.

“You sensed it as well?” the other responded.

There was a ringing through the air, followed by heat like the static before a lightning strike, and Liana gaped as one of the men shifted into their e-form.

It wasn’t as horrible in person, she thought. But a shiver went down her spine at the sight of its featureless face. Somewhat translucent, the eonite was ghostly in the alley, not much more than glowing light. Then, armor formed along its exterior. The armor appeared to be made of stone, but it contained an otherworldly, brazen texture as it shaped the eonite into something far more humanoid.

In this form, the creature didn’t speak. But the human-presenting eonite with it nodded, responding to a pitch that Liana couldn’t understand.

A rattle drew her attention. Nearby, a light came on, sparks falling from disconnected wires as Jace brought a lamppost back to life.

“There are two of them,” the human eonite muttered. “Clear the area. I will handle this.”

And then it shifted into its e-form, and Liana’s heart stood still.

She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been too scared to move. Now, as this eonite filled the alley, her breath hitched at the sheer size of it. It had to be at least sixty—maybe seventy—feet tall, too monstrous for such a small space. Its featureless visage stared at the ground. At her.

Armor formed around its exterior, the same as the smaller one’s had—golden and intricate. Two sets of eyes peered at her, no more than tapered, glowing ovals. 

Liana nearly choked. And then she ran.