A thrill-packed action-adventure in the year 2187. Earth is a world where war equals money and parents are coerced into providing a constant supply of children for the ongoing alien wars. At the age of fifteen, kids are assigned a career or advanced into the Global Forces and a family with only one child is frowned upon. Fifteen-year-old Daxella Rose Orwan, is one of those ‘only children’, and of a low status. She hates the idea of unending wars with alien species she knows nothing about, but her outspoken nature gets her classified as a ‘non-conformist’, a damning designator, which earns her advancement as a soldier placed under gruff Commander Viteri. Being low status, Dax realizes that her family will be in dire straits if she doesn’t bring in a decent income, which an advancement will do. She soon finds that the Commander has an ulterior motive for placing her into his training camp; to stop her asking questions about the wars and putting ideas into people’s heads.
Dumped into the Anti-Foe Ground Forces, the AFGFs, the sacrificial squadron, Dax at first accepts her fate, but, being a non-conformist, she soon refuses to accept her condition. The Commander plans for her to die in a gruesome display at the hands of the alien enemy to encourage parents to continue sending their children to war to fight the evil aliens. Now Dax has to find a way to survive and stay alive long enough to expose the truth about the wars and those who benefit from them. Plus, she has to protect her new squad who have quickly become her friends. That’s a lot to take on for a fifteen-year old.
Targeted Age Group:: 13+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I love science fiction and dislike how wars are designed to generate money for everyone but the soldiers, so imagined a future where this became an extreme example. My hero, Dax, is how I would imagine myself to be in a situation like hers. She doesn't accept the status quo and will stop at nothing to expose the truth.
How is writing Science Fiction different from other genres?
I get to imagine a future world, in this case, and develop characters who are similar to those in the current timeline, but changed enough to make the passage of time realistic. When dealing with a future Earth, it's fun to create a different world with interesting weapons, spaceships, and behaviors.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Dax is a bit like me, so I drew upon myself for her development. The other characters evolved from people I know or purely from my imagination!
Year 2187, Earth
How did this happen? I can’t believe I’m strapped into this seat like a prisoner. I’m being sent away to die and if I don’t find a way to escape, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. All I want is to be back home, wrapped up in my blanket like this never happened. But it did, and the stale air in this shuttle is making me sick. The transportation shuttles back home never felt this suffocating. This is the worst day of my life.
Everyone needs to stop staring at me like I’m a pariah. Especially Commander Viteri. Those close-set eyes of his are boring into mine, and I know I should look away, but I won’t. I won’t give him the satisfaction of seeing how scared I am. He told Ma and Da that I’m a non-conformist, well then, how’s this for non-conforming. Go ahead and glare at me, I refuse to flinch.
His hatred is burning into me. He looks at me like I’m nothing, a stupid Single, the only child in my family. But why should that make me less than the Multiples, and who decided that being a Single was a stigma anyway. Ha! He looked away first. Sure it’s because he brought up a projection in front of him, but it still feels like a little victory.
Lenora Averlowes is on my left. I remember her from school, but we were never friends. She’s popular, taller and prettier than me. Even her shiny auburn hair is better than my dull brown. And she’s not a Single. She has a lot of siblings. She hasn’t said a word to me and I know why. I’m nothing to her. I completely forgot that we have the same birthday, but I do remember that she volunteered to be advanced. Hard to forget, because she let everyone at school know, bragging like it made her special and better than those of us who didn’t volunteer.
“Hi, Lenora, I’m not sure if you remember me, but I’m Dax.” I’ll shake her hand and be friends, if she wants to.
Look at her pulling away, repulsed by my offer of friendship. I should have known.
“I know who you are. You’re a Single and your parents are poor. And you talk too much about things you shouldn’t talk about. I don’t want you talking to me.” She turns away.
There are a few chuckles from the other kids, some I know and some I don’t, and a few of them strain against their seat restraints like they want to get further away from me. So much for making friends.
“Orwan!” booms Viteri, staring right at me. He’s out of his seat, holding onto a strap attached to the ceiling. “There’s no talking on the shuttle! You’ve just brought on the first behavior modification.” He touches a small metallic box attached to his belt.
Immediately, there’s a stinging jolt that goes through my feet all the way to my head. Apparently everyone got the same shock because they all jump and cry out as well. My fingers and toes are tingling. Viteri sits again and goes back to scanning through the projection.
Lenora glares at me, her bottom lip trembling. Her voice is barely above a whisper, “I knew you were trouble. Behavior modification before we even get to camp. Who’s ever heard of that? I’m going to be made a Lead at training camp and I’ll make you pay for this.”
The other recruits nod and scowl at me.
How does she know she’ll be a Lead? I thought ranks were given out at the camp, not ahead of time. It doesn’t matter to me though, because I’ll be slated to spend the rest of my life, however long that might be, fighting the Katarga aliens on the moon, unless I can find a way out of this. All Singles go straight to the moon and are never heard from again. Everyone knows that. I wish I never had to turn fifteen and go through my Date of Fate. I wanted to stay home and get a job, not get advanced into the Global Forces.
Soldiering is a world I know nothing about. All I have left are my memories of home. It seems like forever ago, but it was just this morning that I woke up and smelled the wonderful buttery aroma of birthday cake baking. Ma must have saved for weeks to buy eggs. Before it came out of the oven though, Viteri showed up at our door.
That was the moment my life changed. He ordered me out of my bedroom and made me stand against the wall in our tiny living room. He’s so big, he took up most of the room and made Ma and Da look incredibly small with their heads drooped down. That’s something I’ll never forget because they looked defeated. I’ve never seen them like that. Even with us being poor and low status, they always had hope and made the best of things. That hope vanished this morning though and that’s what scared me most.
When Viteri went on about how the only option Ma and Da had was to advance me instead of keeping me home where I could work in our outlier, I got all sweaty and almost fainted. That’s when Ma yanked the cake out of the oven and tried to hand me piece, but Viteri was fast and smacked it away, grinding it under his boot. The expression on Ma’s face crushed me inside.
Looking back, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of him showing up at anyone’s house to pick up a recruit. So why me? I’m not exceptional in any way, so it’s not that. He did stress how my child rearing subsidies had ended since I turned fifteen today and that by advancing me, Ma and Da would get advancement subsidies now, almost double what they’d been getting. But that couldn’t be the reason. Viteri doesn’t care about low status families.
I can’t take it anymore.
I unfasten my restraints and get up. “Commander, I think there’s been a mistake. I don’t belong here. I’m not a soldier.”
He shoots up out of his seat. “Orwan! There are no mistakes. I own you now.” He rushes at me and gives me a hard slap across my cheek. “Sit down!”
What just happened? My legs are buckling and my cheek stings. I’ve never been hit before. He’s hauling back for another slap, but before he can hurt me again, I sit and slip the restraints over my shoulders, even though my shaking hands make it almost impossible.
With his left eye twitching, he lowers his hand and strides back to his seat, but doesn’t sit.
“Recruits!” he bellows. “Any further outbursts will warrant a secondary intensified behavior modification.” He glares at me. “I hope I’m understood. One last pick-up and then straight to training camp, where insolence will be met with a lethal penalty.”
Lethal? My stomach’s tight and it feels like the air’s been knocked out of my lungs. We’ll be at camp soon where things will be even worse. Only one stop left to pick up another recruit and then that’s it. Maybe it’ll be a girl who’ll like me and be my friend. My only friend on a shuttle full of kids who hate me.
The shuttle banks to the left, descends, and settles at the mystery place to collect our last recruit. Viteri is out of his seat, standing by the entryway door as it opens. He has a hint of a smug smile. What does that mean? He steps aside and fires a scowl my way. I hold his look for a moment and then glance around. All of the kids have perked up and are craning their necks to see who’s coming in. A second later, in strides a broad-shouldered boy with a long, jagged scar running from the bottom of his right eye all the way down to the right side of his upper lip. He has wavy, coppery hair, one of those barely-there mustaches and a stern expression like he’s better than everyone. I don’t know him and I doubt he’ll ever want to know me.
Unfortunately, Viteri tells him to take the empty seat next to me. If I could get up and move, I would. Now I’m sandwiched between him and Lenora.
I take one deep breath, let it out slowly, and then another. I’m still trembling. It’s not working.
Before the boy sits, Viteri motions to him. “Recruits, for those of you too ignorant to know, this is Tablon Neemiss, Senior Lead recruit and heir to the Neemiss financial enterprise. He scored a perfect 100% on his exit exams and has won every Early Training Simulation game he’s played. Take a good look at him because he’s in charge of you. Your duty will be to protect him and die for him.”
My duty is to die? Tablon marches down the aisle to his seat, with a sneer set on his face. I sneak a closer look at him while he’s busy fastening his restraints and wonder how he got that scar. And what is an Early Training Simulation game? I’ve never heard of it. Nobody ever said I could practice training.
When he’s strapped in, the ship zooms up into the sky again and Tablon lets out a whoop. Nobody receives an electric shock this time for the outburst.
About the Author:
I'm a multi-genre author and have been writing for as long as I can remember, but I have probably spent the most time concentrating and working on the craft of writing for about the last 10 years or so.
I was born in Sydney, Australia and now live in California in the United States. I have two undergraduate degrees in archaeology and environmental resource management (wildlife biology) and a master's degree in public archaeology. I even took criminal justice and forensics classes to help with my writing so I could understand procedures better. We can never learn too much, right?
In addition to writing, I absolutely adore traveling. I'm definitely a wanderer at heart and find it hard to settle in one place for long. And why should I? There are so many places to explore!
Links to Purchase Print Books
Link to Buy War and Money: Book One Print Edition at Amazon
Links to Purchase eBooks
Link To Buy On Amazon