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Heroes Reborn e-book: Brave New World exclusive excerpt

‘Brave New World’ is the first of six e-books that go behind the scenes of the NBC series

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Christos Kalohoridis/NBC

When Heroes Reborn premieres Thursday, it picks up years after the first series ended, and there are differences in the status quo this time around. The public is aware of superpowers, and the people who have them (referred to in the show as “Evos”) are hunted down like dangerous criminals.

Ahead of the premiere, fans can get a sense of what life is like for Evos with this exclusive excerpt from Brave New World, the first of six e-books that go behind the scenes of Heroes Reborn and fill in some of the gaps between Heroes and the follow-up event series. Brave New World, written by David Bishop, is available for pre-order on Amazon. The e-book — with print editions to follow — is set one year after the events of the Odessa Summit and addresses many previously unanswered questions from the original series. 

Heroes Reborn premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Read on for your exclusive sneak peek at Brave New World

SAINT-FÉLICIEN, QUEBEC — NINE MONTHS AGO

The man was running for his life. He raced along the road, breathless and desperate in the darkness. He could hear a utility truck behind him, powerful hunting lights mounted on top of it, their beams trained on him. He could hear the shouts of his pursuers, calling to each other in French.

As he ran the man’s head flicked from side to side, looking for anyone who might help him. But they were at the edge of town, heading into darkness, only trees on either side. Streetlights were getting further apart. Soon it would be just scrubland.

The truck was catching up to him fast. He couldn’t stay on the road. He would have to risk going into the woods, and hope to lose his pursuers. Hope was all he had left.

The roar of a second utility joining the first made up his mind. He broke left and ran into the trees, weaving an erratic path between them, feet pounding the uneven ground. Bursting into a clearing, he stopped to get his bearings. But it was no use. He was lost.

The fugitive bent forward, hands on his hips—panting, gasping for air. His hair was carefully groomed most days and, with his sculpted goatee, usually gave him the look of a hipster—but not here, not now. Instead his body was covered head to foot in white talc, and a pair of tighty whitey underpants was his only protection from the cold evening air. This was no midnight run to the coffee shop.

The roar of approaching engines meant the hunters had found a path through the woods. Shouted voices echoed in the darkness: “Par ici! Ici!” This way, they were calling. Here! Here! Summoning his strength, the man forced himself to move. He had to get away from them. He had to try. But no matter where he ran, escape seemed impossible. The search beams of the twin trucks stalking him were everywhere, angry French voices shouting over the roar of the engines. It was no good.

Then the clouds overhead parted for a moment and moonlight glinted off a wide shallow pond up ahead. He dashed forward and dived into the dank water. It was ice cold, but that didn’t matter. He scrubbed at his body, intent on washing off the talc. Suddenly, a voice close by was shouting: “Ici! Sous l”arbre!”

Here. Under the trees. They’d found him.

He was scrambling across the pond when both trucks roared up to the water’s edge. Glancing back, he could see men in hunting gear leaping from both vehicles, armed with rifles, some with dogs. One of them was carrying a big cargo net. They would throw it over him, trap him underneath it like some wild animal. Cornered. Helpless.

The hunted man saw faces in the searchlights. There was no pity here. No mercy.

He turned, running toward the far side of the pond—and disappeared!

The hunters gasped, spluttering curses at this impossibility.

Water was still splashing up from invisible legs.

But then their quarry got clear of the pond.

All trace of him vanished in the night.

*

YANQUING, CHINA—FOUR MONTHS AGO

Everything was blue and white and bright. Harsh winter sun gleamed off a landscape of ice stretching as far as the eye could see. The frozen lake looked smooth from a distance, but the surface was uneven and treacherous for anyone on foot. Wave crests had turned to ice, white hazards that hampered anyone trying to cross this wasteland. So clear and blue was the sky, it was hard to distinguish where it met the horizon.

Across the middle of this frozen wasteland lurched a single, solitary figure. His pale blue prison uniform marked him out as a fugitive, while his shock of black hair was a stark contrast to the surrounding blue and white. His progress was slow across the frozen lake. Exhaustion was part of that, and malnutrition from a harsh prison diet.

But the major cause of his fatigue was a fifty-pound circle of rusted metal. It was a disc usually found on a weightlifting barbell, but someone had run a chain through the hole in its centre. The other end of the chain was welded to a crude metal shackle clamped tight round the fugitive’s right wrist. He dragged the weight behind him as he staggered forward, step after belligerent step. The edges of the shackle had rubbed against his wrist until it was raw and bloody, harsh metal slicing into the skin and flesh with each step he took. Finally, unable to carry on, the fugitive stopped.

His breath fogged the air, white steam rising into the clear blue sky. How many miles had he trudged? How much further until he found sanctuary, someone who could remove this accursed millstone from his body? He sniffed the air, hoping for some scent that might give a clue. But all he could smell was his own sweat and despair.

As his breathing settled from a rasp to an easier effort, a sound reached him. Mechanical. Urgent. Getting nearer. The fugitive knew that noise: snowmobiles. They were coming for him. They were close. He looked round, searching for cover. But there was no hiding place, not for miles. Only two possible escapes were left to him, and both involved the crude blade shoved into his belt.

He had crafted it from a piece of sheared-off metal he found in the prison yard, binding bits of broken wood around it with scraps of cloth to create a handle. He could use the blade to cut his own throat, end this torment. Or he could use it to cut something else and set himself free. Ignoring the metal disc at his feet, he crouched down, face staring up into the sky. But when he snapped back upwards, his feet remained stuck on the icy surface, the accursed weight holding him down, holding him prisoner.

The fugitive turned to face the onrushing noise. Two military snowmobiles and an armored vehicle with snow tracks were speeding across the white expanse, headed straight for him. Even from this distance he could make out their green camouflage and the red star emblem. They would be on him in less than a minute. They would take him back to that hellhole.

He pulled the blade free from his belt, lifting it up in front of his face. He could see his exhausted features reflected in the metal, weary from having been a prisoner. He had not asked to be like this, to be a freak, an outcast. How long could he go on fighting? But he had no time for self-pity now. The fugitive moved the blade’s edge down to his right forearm, pressing against the skin. If he was going to do this, it meant hacking through bone. If he was going to do this, the pain would be excruciating. If he was going to do this, it had to be now. Because if he wanted to live, there was no other option…

*

The soldiers gunned their machines forward, accelerating across the frozen lake. Up ahead, the fugitive had stopped, as if giving up on his doomed escape attempt. But as they got closer, a horrific scream sliced through the air, the sound of a wounded animal so loud it could be heard over their engines, an anguished cry of loss and suffering. Ahead of them, something fell away from the solitary figure. Something red.

*

Free at last, the fugitive crouched down on blood-spattered ice as the soldiers stopped behind him. Before they got within range, he hurled himself into the sky! His figure rocketed toward the heavens, moving faster and faster, a shriek of triumph and pain rising fast. Within moments he smashed through the sound barrier, a circle of vapour billowing in the blue as he flew away, headed east—away from China, away from his captors. Away to find a new life for himself in a brave new world.

U.S.-CANADIAN BORDER—SEVEN WEEKS AGO

Tommy Clark was doing his best to keep it together, but his best wasn’t winning. Didn’t help that Tommy wasn’t his real name, no matter what it said in his passport. The photo—thin faced, wide-eyed, blessed with ears that stuck out too much—was him alright. The stated age of sixteen was correct, too. But everything else in his passport was a lie, and it was stressing him out. This whole trip was stressing him out.

Then there was his mom, Anne. Driving here had taken hours and she’d spent every minute making him rehearse their story, over and over. Now that there were only four cars between them and the Canadian border checkpoint, Tommy’s mind had gone blank.

“Let’s go through it again. Who are we visiting?”

“Cousins.” Tommy wracked his brain for their names. “Ned and Tammy Cooper.”

Anne drummed her fingers on the steering wheel. On edge, as usual. “Where?”

“Bram… ford?”

“Brampton!” She slammed a fist on the dash. Tommy watched her struggling not to yell at him. “Come on, Kevin, you’ve got to get the details right.”

He held his passport open at the photo page. “This says ‘Tommy’.”

Anne peered at it. “Right, you’re right. Tommy.”

They weren’t ready, not even close—and certainly not for this. Rain beat down on the windscreen, making it hard to see the way ahead. Tommy bit his bottom lip. Maybe he could persuade his mom to turn back. It was worth a try, anyway. “‘Hero_Truther’ says that in other countries they shoot people like me in the streets.”

“It’s Canada, not North Korea. You’ll be safe. Canadians are nice.”

Tommy grimaced. “That’s what you said about people in Denver.”

She ignored his comment, easing off the brake to roll forward as their queue edged closer to the checkpoint. There were four lines waiting to get through, but only two lanes open in the opposite direction. Seemed everybody wanted to visit Canada today.

Tommy could feel panic rising inside him, like a fist trying to fight its way up to his mouth. They wouldn’t have to run if it wasn’t for him. Stupidest. Power. Ever. He swallowed hard, wiping sweaty palms on his jeans. “This is all my fault.”

“No, it’s not. We have a chance at a new life,” his mom insisted. She reached out with her right hand to touch the side of his face, as if hoping to soothe his fears away. “If we can get to Saskatchewan—” She stopped, staring ahead. “What’s happening up there?”

Tommy leaned forward, squinting to see through the rain. Armed guards were moving up and down the queues, glaring into the vehicles. One woman was standing beside her car near the front of the next queue over, mouth wide open as a border guard with latex gloves was preparing a DNA swab.

“Oh no,” Tommy whispered. “They’re swabbing.”

Suddenly the woman bolted, abandoning her car and fleeing the surprised guard. She ran toward the border but it was hopeless, the last act of a desperate person. Four guards came running from the checkpoint, all of them armed. The woman got a few yards before she was shot in the back with an orange dart. She crumpled to the wet road, her body twitching and convulsing as if having a fit. The guards surrounded her, weapons raised, ready to shot her again—but she stayed down.

Tommy turned to his mom, terrified. “What do we do? What do we do?”

His mom was already putting the car in reverse.

Tommy twisted round, searching for a way out. There were at least half a dozen cars behind them, the nearest one close up to their bumper. They were stuck. Tommy heard his mother gasp, and faced front again. Two guards were marching toward them, faces grim and purposeful. Tommy sank down into his seat. This was it. This was the moment that the world found out who he was and what he was, what he could do—

His mom shoved the car back into drive and hit the gas. They slammed straight into the car ahead, shunting it several feet forward. That gave her enough room to swing left, escaping the queue. Tires squealed in protest as they veered round on the road. Tommy clung on for dear life as they made a wild U-turn. His box of Ninth Wonder comics spilled across the back seat.

Once they were facing south his mom floored it, accelerating away from the guards, away from the checkpoint. Up ahead of them, a green and white RETURN TO U.S.A. sign directed them to bear left. Tommy risked a look back at the Canadian border. So much for a new life.

*

Special Agent Cole Cutler was making a routine visit to the border crossing when the Evo woman bolted. He corrected himself—Evolved Human was preferred terminology at the Agency, though everybody still called them Evos. Made no difference to him. Finding and bringing them in, that was his job—plain and simple.

He watched guards bring down the fleeing woman with brisk efficiency. Border crossings were only one hotspot among many, but it was good to see the system working so well. Cutler pulled some pistachios from a coat pocket and popped one in his mouth.

Moments later one of the queuing cars jumped out of line. The driver was in such a hurry they clipped another vehicle before accelerating away. Cutler suspected there was an Evolved Human inside, but decided against ordering a full-scale pursuit. He preferred to be sure. Besides, the Evolved Humans might run, but they couldn’t hide forever.

Cutler savoured the salty tang of pistachio before spitting out fragments of shell, his remorseless gaze following the car as it sped into the distance. Catch you later.