Authors: NJ Tanger
Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Science Fiction
Publication Date: 25th April 2015
The Stephen’s Point colony is dying. Desperate, the colony must restore the ancient colony ship Chimera for a dangerous return journey to Earth.
To sixteen-year-old Theo Puck, the Mandate to crew the Chimera seems like a game—one he isn’t invited to play. A brutal murder changes everything: left with no choice, Theo has to complete the Selection training and make it aboard the Chimera or face terrible consequences. Selena Samuelson wants to do what she does best—fly. Piloting her father’s ore trawler is the only life she’s known before a horrifying accident strands her aboard the Hydra, the station responsible for rebuilding the Chimera. Forced into the Mandate testing against her will, Selena encounters an unexpected ally, forever changing the way she sees the Chimera and herself.
Forced to make dark choices in order to survive, Theo and Selena’s fates intertwine. But behind the scenes, someone else sets into motion events that could destroy everything they’re fighting to protect.
NJ Tanger is a team of storytellers, packing all of their unique strengths into the voice and pseudonym of a singular author. Nathan Beauchamp is a gifted science-fiction writer and successful businessman with a background in finance. He has multiple short stories in publication and is the brains behind the nuts-and-bolts business strategy of the Universe Eventual book series. Joshua Russell is a screenwriter and filmmaker by trade. One of the highest ranked instructors at DePaul University where he teaches story craft, Josh is a story structure enthusiast and provides the comic relief, which is ever-so-necessary for a team of ambitious artists. Rachael Tanger is a world-traveler, entrepreneur, and fiction junkie. She has a rich background in online advertising and marketing, as well as web and graphic design. She has a profound dedication to the crossroads of art and technology.
Theo had seen Stephen’s scratchings before at the various shrines that dotted the mountain ranges. The Order considered them prophesies, left behind by the original navigator of the Chimera. Many of them looked just like the drawings in Stephen’s journal, the book the Order referred to as The Emergent Intellect. Neither the journal nor the drawings meant much to Theo, but he’d never admitted his doubts to anyone, least of all his mother. She believed in Stephen and his prophesies. Almost everyone did. If genuine, a new discovery of scratchings would make the value of the hacked Selection list seem trivial by comparison.
“Theo? You should come out now. I just wanted you to see—”
“And now I see,” Theo snapped. He twisted his shoulders, inching himself down and forward, scraping with his fingertips. If he could get through the opening and down into the cavern …
A tiny current of air rose from below. Theo gagged. The air smelled bad. Like rot. What was down there?
“What are you doing?” Meghan’s voice was faint; his body filled the hole like a cork, muffling her. “You can’t fit!”
“I can make it,” Theo shouted. “Put your back against my feet so I have something to push on.” A second later, Meghan’s sturdy back pressed into his feet. Theo shoved forward, clenching his teeth as rocks dug into his abdomen and hips. The downward slope that had seemed so manageable before became unbearable, his head pounding from the blood flooding it. The walls tightened around him, closer, squeezing, crushing. Frantic, Theo pushed harder. Reaching with his arms, he felt along the lower portion of the opening, searching for leverage. Below him, the light from his fallen handscreen dimmed and then went black.
The rock was moving in, constricting, pushing the air out of his lungs. Devastating terror threatened to overwhelm him. “Help! You have to get me out!” Theo’s panicked voice echoed into the depths, taunting him.
“Stuck?” Meghan asked, voice coming hollow and tiny. He felt her shift against his feet, the cool air of the upper cavern cold on his ankles where his pants legs had rolled up. Then Meghan’s hands circled his feet and yanked. Theo slid two inches, legs catching against the rough rock, one of his shoulder blades catching.
“Stop, I can’t move!”
Theo’s chest deflated again, breath coming short—his lungs wouldn’t expand. He was suffocating. He would die. His mind filled with images of his homeroom at school, his house, his sister Liddy, his father and mother. Crystalline awareness flooded him, a calm, almost benign understanding. This was how people like him died: in the stupidest way possible, stuck in a tiny hole in a giant mountain, trying to impress a girl.
A pair of hands tightened around his dangling wrists and without a shred of tenderness, jerked him through, down into the cavern below.
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