Coming March 24, 2016
Genre: New Adult Dystopian Romance
Cover Artist: Brannon Jones @ B- Dirty Graphics
Cover Artist: Brannon Jones @ B- Dirty Graphics
In the 23rd century, war has ravaged the planet.
A biological weapon has decimated the population, and those who remain have been driven to desperate measures to survive. Over the course of a century, evolution delivers an answer -- the Xeno gene, which provides its bearers with immunity to disease. All adolescent girls are tested for the X-gene, and carriers are obligated to bear children for the good of the human race.
The promise of salvation comes at a terrible price.
Stone Emmerson, heir to a position of supreme power, is surprised to learn his best friend Kella is an X-gene carrier. He's quick to claim her as his own, but as a mere servant, Kella can't help but doubt his motives. Before he can offer the protection of his name, she escapes his household. Mourning her loss, Stone becomes the black sheep among his peers by focusing on the welfare of his people.
While survival and freedom hang in the balance...
Starting over under an assumed name, Kella is a founding member of the X- Diplomats, a radical group dedicated to stopping enforced X-gene testing and promoting equal rights for commoners. Years pass before she crosses paths with Stone again. As the web of deceit that has come between them unravels, their love begins to grow. But can Stone turn a blind eye to Kella's violent revolution and see the justice of her cause? Or will their differences prove too great to overcome?
What price would you pay to break the chains of oppression?
--& HERE &--
August 8, 2282 A.E.E.
Mack Ellason tugged the itchy, wool mask over her face. She glanced at her best friend, Reaper, who was outfitted in a similar fashion, all dark clothing, no shine on their boots, and nothing but eyes showing. “Let’s do this.”
“Stay sharp, Mack.” Reaper gave her a stern glare. It’d been so long since anyone called her Kella, she’d grown to miss her real name. “If I say run, you fucking run this time.”
Yeah, yeah, she knew the drill. This wasn’t her first rodeo. They’d made recon missions into the Xeno clinic twice to gain intel, and everything had panned out like clockwork. Except for the loner guard on the second gig that’d almost nabbed her from behind in the alley. And by almost, she meant did nab her. Their fight couldn’t have lasted more than a couple of minutes, but it’d been touch and go for a moment on who would claim victory. It’d been a close call.
Reaper had come upon the scene as she huffed and puffed, on her last spurt of energy, while she put the guard down. Suffering from double vision and bleeding from her ears, she guessed she’d been a bad sight because he’d flipped. Thankfully, she hadn’t been seriously injured, just banged up. Her buddy hadn’t let her forget the incident and likely wouldn’t anytime soon. He could be a bit of a mother hen when he felt so inclined.
“I count twenty guards in all,” Dutch’s voice came at them through their earpieces. As their resident hacker, she could hack into the local security feeds and shut them down or use them against their enemy.
“Copy that,” Reaper said. “Like before, I’ll distract while you set the charge.”
Creed surveyed the landscape from the rooftop with a bootlegged sniper rifle and night- vision scope, ready to drop guards with his tranquilizer darts. He’d made a fortune selling illegal items on the black market.
That some dregs obtained financial success pleased her. She despised those who thought they were better than others simply because of their hefty bank account. She also reviled them for treating all dregs like expendable civilians. Every single soul should matter in this world where too many had already perished. What she loathed most though were the spooners who felt it their due to indenture innocent Xenos.
While killing wasn’t necessarily their game—and every spooner involved in indenturing X-genes deserved to die—they preferred tranqs to keep a clear conscience. Despite taking the moral high ground, good intentions wouldn’t matter because there was no defense for a man of Creed’s low rank—any of them really—owning a gun. If ever caught with the weapon or doing his preferred trade, the offense came with a mandatory immediate execution. Might be why he chose to maintain a decoy house in the Quad, but resided mostly in the badlands.
“Ready, Creed?” Kella asked.
“It’s a go,” came his gruff reply.
She and Reaper slunk through the darkness, sticking to the shadows as they moved. She heard a grunt and then nothing else. Best guess, Reaper knocked a guy out and then settled him on the ground for the least amount of noise. She’d seen him execute the move a dozen times. By the time she finished delivering the EMP blast, every guard would be unconscious.
Kella kept moving. Staying light-footed she zipped behind a guard without the man noticing and shot him in the back with a stunner gun. Another bootlegged weapon.
At the building, she paused long enough to assess her perimeter. Two guards to her right, one lighting up a cigarette. An outline to her left shifted, but she recognized the way Reaper moved, like a predator on the hunt for unsuspecting prey. He drew closer to another shadow, and a moment later the silhouette dropped never noticing him.
Damn, but he was good.
She popped the two guards closest to her with a stun as Dutch’s voice came through the earpiece, “You’re invisible to all cameras.”
Going to one knee next to the building’s ventilation system, Mack opened the pouch at her waist and selected a mini drill set. The low hum of the electric screwdriver sounded as the bit released all four bolts in a matter of seconds. The grate slid up with a small creak. She sent a last glance around to verify no one had stolen up behind her—even while knowing Reaper or Creed would’ve neutralized anyone that brought danger to her. Dutch would’ve given her a heads up too. Stone taught her to trust no one, and old habits die hard.
She went headfirst into the ventilation system. It was a tight fit, but not so snug she couldn’t move. Her petite size was why she performed this part of the mission and not others in the X-Diplomats.
Even with her small stature, she likened her tight quarters to a hamster in one of those tiny tubes. I’ll be a hamster in a tiny cage if captured.
Thankfully the DNA clinic was a small building, and she didn’t have far to travel before reaching her destination. Just a right and left and a few more wiggles had her arriving at her destination.
Before she opened the grate into the lab, she tapped her earpiece. “Status.”
It was a request to verify she remained alone in the clinic. The least amount of casualties was their gameplay, and these EMP blasts took out not just computers, but re-hardwired the electrical neurons in a human’s brain resulting in immediate death.
“Just you,” Dutch confirmed.
Satisfied their hacker had run life-scans, Kella pushed the grill up and tossed the charge inside. Had Reaper elected not to ‘distract’ the guards, over half of them would have died once the charge detonated. Not that any of them would offer any thanks for valuing their lives. They were on the Regency payroll, and traitors to their own class of people, but it wasn’t their fault the Regency brainwashed them. Too many of the dregs were like sheep, believing the house of lies they were fed from the moment of their birth. If a person was born a dreg, they’d done something wrong in a past life to deserve their punishment in this life. Karma or whatever, labels didn’t matter when too many people believed the bullshit for Kella’s peace of mind. The X-Diplomats planned to open society’s minds, drag them kicking and screaming from their malaise if need be, and deliver them the truth.
“The package is delivered.” Kella scuttled back the same way she had come, making a left and right turn this time, before shimmying down a twenty-foot tube to where she’d entered. After sliding the grate back into place, she reset the screws. Couldn’t have the higher-ups easily determining how she’d infiltrated the building. Of course if they read the blueprints the same as her, they’d know the building’s security required an upgrade. That the Regency expected total submission of the dregs worked in their favor. It also detailed the control the spooners held over their sheep.
She palmed a paint can and sprayed their calling card on the wall.
Flipping the safety cap off the palm-sized tube she dug out of her pocket, she paused. One click to the button set the timer on the EMP. Thirty seconds later the charge would blow.
On the birthday of my resurrection…“The revolution begins.”
She’d waited eight years to utter those words. Instead of feeling the satisfaction she’d anticipated, she thought of her husband, Stone Emmerson. A Regent in his own right, now. Powerful and part of society’s problem.
Tears blurred her vision, and her heart ached for him. Regret for not giving him the benefit of the doubt and allowing emotion to rule her actions eight years ago, soured her gut. She should’ve confronted him about the accusations his dad made…but she’d made her choices, and she’d live and die by them. Pining for Stone was her greatest weakness and her biggest frustration.
The heart wants what the heart wants.
Welcoming the burn in her sinuses, she blinked back the tears. She would not cry for him or for the things she’d lost. Like her innocence. At least that’d been sold of her own free will. She longed for just a few minutes with her mother though. In the dead of night when she couldn’t sleep, she craved a smile from Stone, yearned for one of his hugs…her stupid, pathetic heart wouldn’t give up on Stone.
Eight years ago she’d made her bed. Didn’t matter that she’d been a hormonal, emotional fourteen-year-old who believed the story of a spiteful old man. A man who had every reason to lie to her.
Kella straightened her spine, while chastising herself for sniveling over a wasted friendship that’d meant more to her than it had Stone. Everything she’d lost in the years since her escape, those tribulations made her stronger.
“What’re you waiting for, Mack? Get the fuck out of there.” The alarm in Reaper’s voice jerked her to the present. “T-minus fifteen seconds. Run, goddamnit!”
revealed February 17th
@ Madison Sevier's website.