Date Published: December 31, 2013
The only things sixteen-year-old JAX STONE has of her former life is an antique watch and an old storybook her grandmother left her, a five-year-old brother, ANDY, her mother left her, and a hypnotic singing voice she inherited from her father.
A streetwise orphan, she is an expert at surviving in a dangerous city, where the rich have fled to the New Continent and the deadly daytime sun forces the middle class to live in sewer tunnels. Jax, along with the rest of the homeless, must be wary of rats—the furry ones underground that steal their food and invade their shelter and the human ones above ground that steal their children and threaten their lives.
When the tyrannical mayor, SYLVANIS A. CULPEPPER, kidnaps Jax’s brother it’s no coincidence. His son has died from multiple rat bites and he kidnaps all of the city’s children with a two-fold ulterior motive. One, to find his illegitimate offspring, and two, to garner a slave labor force to build his planned underground city using those he did not father.
Jax is surprised when Culpepper’s personal pilot, COLT CONRAD, a stranger from the New Continent, facilitates her escape from the mayor’s mansion after her first attempt to save Andy goes awry. Romantic emotions interfere with her determination to rescue her brother and though she knows who Colt is, she doesn’t know they are both descendants of the founders of an environmental militant group called the ECOS, who battled Culpepper two generations earlier, and lost their lives to the unscrupulous tyrant.
Jax accidentally discovers her singing has a hypnotic effect on the rats. Desperate to win Andy’s freedom, she disguises herself as a world-renowned exterminator with the help of a rag-tag band of friends. ASTORIA CRUZ, a teen nightwalker. RAFE JOHNSTON, the leader of a street gang. And a genius boy nicknamed CHIENSTEIN, who designs tools from scavenged machine parts Jax picks at abandoned mansions and industrial sites. Colt introduces her as THE VIPER and she barters with Culpepper. If she rids Metro city of the rats that killed his child she will receive enough gold to pay passage for her brother, her friends and herself to the New Continent.
In a life-threatening ruse Jax uses her mesmerizing song to lure the city’s rats to their death in the toxic river. But when the corrupt mayor reneges on the agreement, Jax and her friends ultimately outwit and out battle the greedy autocrat. Culpepper and his Megamark Guards kill Rafe as he protects Astoria, his unrequited love. In Jax’s grief over his death a new relationship blossoms with Colt, one that changes her life forever. Though the price paid for her brother’s freedom is extreme, Jax saves not only her brother, but all of Metro City’s children from life in a dying city.
As Jax and Colt bond, they discover the ECOS secrets for saving the planet and put their ancestors’ plan into action as they start a new life in Antarctica, the new sustainable continent. Culpepper starts a new life too, one he never envisioned for himself— stinking, dowsed in darkness and scratching through the alleys of Metro City for food— the life of a sewer rat!
“We are orphans. We use our brains and our bodies to survive. But the only things that thrive in Metro City are the rats, and not all of them are rodents.”
Whoever said the teen years were the best of a girl’s life didn’t come from Metro City. Hell, they can’t imagine what it’s like to be me, living in a sewer tunnel by day, and foraging the forest for food or scavenging through abandoned mansions at night. Anything I find that I can’t use to survive this hellhole I trade for money.
And then, there’s the Megamark Guards who patrol this dying city. I avoid them at all cost. One never knows when they’ll turn on an innocent person. I’ve seen them beat up the homeless on a wager or for sheer entertainment. No, it’s not an easy life.
We used to live in brick houses and modern apartments, but the sun’s savage rays turned our lives upside down. It took a while to get used to sleeping in the day, but night, as dangerous as it is, is the only time we can venture to the surface to seek food or trade our services.
Between the vindictive Guards and the deadly daytime sun, I spend half my time surviving, and the other half planning how to. If this is the best part of my life, I might as well be dead. Only one thing keeps me alive . . .