Voices in 16-year-old Annabelle Scott’s head aren’t God or signs she’s going mad—yet. Despite being a Mech Warrior recruit, she rebels against her post-Second Civil War society by not only refusing to kill Morgan, a boy she’s attracted to, but also helping him to escape. After officially kicking her out of the program, Commander Samantha Hernandez gives Annabelle auditory implants and contact cams for an undercover assignment to investigate her corrupt police captain. Morgan hacks the implants to plead for her help in freeing his brother from a heavily guarded geek institute.Unable to get either her commander or Morgan out of her head, Annabelle can’t confide in her adoptive mom, her beloved sister, or anyone else. While this rift tears at her bond to her sister, circumstance prevents her from searching for her birth mother or who tried to assassinate her adoptive mom.
opened. The guard pushed me inside the sparsely decorated grayish-beige room I’d
left only a short time ago. The door slammed behind me. The commander looked as
if a thunderstorm had blown through. The ruby-red scar down her right cheek
thumped harder. I held my face as still as stone, the product of keeping too
many secrets in a communal family.
back in high school, forced to sit in the corner of the Harmony Director’s
office for skipping class.
poked at her virtual screen. “In my 20 years running this facility, we’ve only
had a few breakouts. Hell, we haven’t had half that number in the entire 20
for Morgan’s voice in my head, I could have enjoyed a moment of pride. My hasty
escape plan had been the biggest in Mech Corps history, payback for what they
did to my family. Except, it failed.
looked as if her head would erupt like a volcano and spew blood all over her
gray-beige office. Well, the room does
need some color. My attempt at humor didn’t ease my jitters.
needed details of what had gone wrong. Yet,
nothing eludes the commander’s attention. Those words stuck in my throat,
choking off my questions.
focused so much on orchestrating your transition from official recruit to
covert operative I took my eyes off security.” She slumped into her seat, eyes
staring at the ceiling.
I felt her reading my rebellious thoughts. After all, she ran the Mech Corps back
when they took my birth parents. I didn’t hate the commander, but I did hate
what the corps did to my family and still did to boys like Morgan.
sigh. “That’s not good enough. We’ve never failed to catch every last one.”
narrow scar that had faded to dull gray. “Do you need me to help search,
Commander?” I needed information on Morgan, but asking would signal my
interest. Too many secrets.
compound and the border. My role had been to provide a diversion. All I did was
distract the commander until the boys got out of the building. It wasn’t long
composure. She jumped to her feet. “No. I want you to review cam footage with
Lance Erlick grew up in various parts of the United States and Europe. He took to stories as his anchor and was inspired by his father’s engineering work on cutting-edge aerospace projects to look to the future. He studied creative writing at Northwestern University and University of Iowa.
He writes science fiction, dystopian and young adult stories and likes to explore the future implications of social and technological trends. He’s the author of The Rebel Within, The Rebel Trap, and Rebels Divided, three books in the Rebel series. In those stories, he flips traditional exploitation to explore the effects of a world that discriminates against males and the consequences of following conscience for those coming of age.