(Aunare Chronicles, #4)
Published by: Ink Monster LLC
Publication date: July 19th 2022
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
The moment I realized I had to go back to Earth, I panicked.
It wasn’t a little bit of panic. It was the kind that sucked the air and light from the room and made my body go cold with sweat and fear. I knew that if I did this, if I went back, then I had a shot of saving everyone—Earthers, Aunare, everyone—but it could cost me everything and everyone I love. And it could cost me my life.
But that moment of panic passed. It was still an insane, stupid, deadly idea, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew going back to Earth was the only plan that made sense.
Lorne agrees that this is the right plan, but he wants to come with me. We’re married now. A team. A unit. Where I go, he goes. It was in our marriage vows. And while I love that, I know that going to Earth will hurt him. He’ll want to see where I lived, how I survived, and seeing, knowing, understanding my past better will only hurt him. And yet, I don’t have a better plan.
There will be no hiding there. Not anymore. Everyone on Earth knows my face.
The vids of what happened on Abaddon and Sel’Ani have played throughout the known universe for months. But seeing those vids opened the Earthers’ eyes. They realized that I’d been fighting for them for years before I left. I’d taught martial arts, patrolled the streets, and helped save as many of them as I could. And now, somehow, my story has inspired Eathers to speak up and act out.
My name has become the rallying cry of the revolution.
Returning to Earth is risky, but nothing in life is without risk. I’m not afraid anymore. All I feel is determination to win. I won’t stop until SpaceTech has been destroyed.
Haden cleared his throat. I opened my eyes and made myself watch his face. “Shit has been going down since we talked. They’ve been hunting us, and we’ve been on the run, but every time we hide, they find us. I don’t know how they’re finding us so fast. We’ve lost nearly half the Crew, and no matter what I do or where I go, nothing helps. Nothing stops them. I’m scared about what will happen the next time they find us. I can’t…I can’t end up in an execution arena. Please. I’m scared.”
Suddenly the room was gone and all I could feel was Lorne’s hand tightly gripping mine. I couldn’t breathe because the weight of this news was crushing me until I had no breath left in my body.
This couldn’t be happening. It couldn’t be true. But it was.
And it was my fault.
The Crew had been everything to me. They’d given me a purpose, a life, a family when I had nothing but my mother. We’d been on the streets, close to starving, and I knew my mother was only moments from giving up. The only thing stopping her was me, but even my strength was ending, not because I was giving up but because I didn’t have any food. I’d been slowly starving, we had no money, no job, nowhere to go, no hope of surviving.
But then Jorge saw me and took pity on us. He gave us food, shelter, jobs. He taught me about Earth’s history, how to pilot ships, how to fight SpaceTech, and he never once cared that I was a halfer. All he saw was someone he could help, and boy, did he help me.
I owed him my life.
No. This couldn’t be happening. I couldn’t lose Jorge, the Crew, any of them. I couldn’t let them suffer Jason Murtagh’s revenge. Because that’s what this was. He couldn’t reach me now, so he was going after the people I loved on Earth.
“I should tell you that we did manage to find Ahiga, but he’s hurt and trapped in a building where they thought Declan was being held. Some of his guys are with him—and some of ours, too—but they’re all hurt. Ahiga’s intel was bogus. We’ve since found out that Declan’s in the main building of the SpaceTech HQ here. He was transferred there a few days ago, which explains why we’ve had so many officers swarming in, patrolling the streets. If he’s got any of your secrets, you best consider them spilled. So be careful. They want you, and anyone who ever spoke to you, dead, and so far, they’ve been pretty fucking successful. As usual.”
I tried to think of the key points. We had a location for both Ahiga and Declan. Wherever Haden was, he was safe for now. But the panic was still there—its claws still gripping my heart—because I knew none of them would be safe and alive for long.
“Jorge and I have been doing our best, but we’ve hit the end. We have no more places to run. Nowhere to go. And we’re running out of food. Water will be gone soon, too. I don’t think they can find us where we are right now, but we can’t risk leaving for supplies. We need help or we’re all going to die down here. And I’m not talking just me and your guy Ahiga and Declan. I’m talking all the Crew and the entire resistance because it’s not just us in ABQ that are hurting. We’re hearing the same across the planet.”
My father might’ve fought against me going back, but Lorne wouldn’t. Lorne knew how important they were to me.
My father would have his war in the stars, but mine? Mine would be on Earth’s streets, alleyways, cities.
“We want to help take SpaceTech down, but we can’t do it alone. We’ve tried, and it’s only made them hunt us harder. And I know you’ve been doing some diplomatic shit with the Aunare, but it’s a distraction. You can’t be falling for that shit, babe. They’ve already stolen your allies and while you’re off chasing the dream of getting them back, SpaceTech is murdering the Earther resistance, starting with us. By the time you realize you can’t win back your allies, we’ll all be dead.”
Damn it. I already knew that. Lorne and I learned that the hard way on Telnon. The war lay on the backs of the Aunare, and alone, the Aunare would win it.
Haden leaned closer to the screen. “Please, Amihanna. If you ever cared for any of us, please come home. I’m begging you. We will do anything you say. We will fight how you want us to fight. We will run when you say run. We will do whatever needs doing. But I’m begging you, please come. Now. Right now. Don’t let whatever bullshit happened between us keep you away. I swear. This isn’t a ploy.” He wiped a hand down his face. “We’re in the place where we hid that night. The night when everything went wrong.” He looked down. “Shit. I hope you haven’t forgotten.” There was desperation and defeat in Haden’s voice, and I wanted
Of course I hadn’t forgotten.
“Please help us. We have nowhere else to go. This is it. You’re it. You’re all we have. We’re waiting for you.”
The screen went blank, and I closed my eyes.
I was all they had.
If I didn’t go there now, they’d be dead soon.
Aileen Erin is half-Irish, half-Mexican, and 100% nerd–from Star Wars (prequels don’t count) to Star Trek (TNG FTW), she reads Quenya and some Sindarin, and has a severe fascination with the supernatural. Aileen has a BS in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles, and spends her days doing her favorite things: reading books, creating worlds, and kicking ass.
a Rafflecopter giveaway