Author: Lisa Acerbo
Published by: Digital Fiction Publishing Corp.
Publication date: December 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance, Young Adult
When technology fulfills every dream, reality is a nightmare.
Below the streets of New State, the Grounders fight to remain free
of the technological control of the world above. When dusk falls, Wren
risks her life by entering the capital city as a raider to secure resources
for the rebellion. Each step further inside puts her life in jeopardy from
New State’s deadliest weapons – Phantoms. More machine than
human, tortured until devoid of emotion and caring, Phantoms have
only one objective. Kill. And they do it with exacting precision.
Wren is good at her job as a raider and committed to the cause
until she meets Codex, a New State citizen who doesn’t quite fit
her preconceived expectations. After a couple of awkward
encounters, he shows her the meaning of hooking up—a computer
simulation that allows people to live out their fantasies—without
the complication of emotional entanglements or physical reality. But
what Wren feels for Codex is very real. And it’s punishable by death.
As she and Codex grow closer, Wren convinces him to leave New State
for the underground. But unrest between New State and the Grounders
escalates, and Phantoms move in to destroy her world. Nothing goes
as Wren planned. Families are arrested, loyalties are strained, and Wren’s
forced to choose between her people and her feelings. The wrong choice
could mean the end of her people, and reality could slip away—forever…
An Excerpt from Remote
The beat of her heart pounded a symphony against her ribs. Adrenaline tripped through her veins. Wren stepped back, not sure whether to run or fight.
“Wait,” the stranger said. “I won’t turn you in. I’m out here too.”
He didn’t realize who Wren was. Yet. She did a quick assessment. No weapons. This man-boy appeared harmless in regulated baggy white New State sleepwear covering his tall, thin frame. She could see knobby elbows peeking out of the sleeves while a shock of bright blond hair radiated from his head like a lion’s mane. The diamond-shape port by his ear was almost hidden, but not quite.
A scowl forced a harsh line across her lips as she took a step closer. Wren should relieve him of his life now, but she’d never killed a New State citizen. The military had trained her to do so, and she’d disposed the abominations known as phantoms, but human life made her hesitate, especially after glancing at the boy who was roughly the same age. Innocence lived in his expression.
Angrily, she shook the thoughts away. Don’t delude yourself. He isn’t human. There’s a CHIP in his brain. She forced chilled fingers around the cold handle of a knife hidden inside her coat pocket. Watching and waiting, the weapon provided much needed courage.
Instead of being scared, the silly boy smiled and brushed the hair out of his shamrock-green eyes. His robotic voice was loud and jarring in the silence. “I’m Codex15111. What are you doing out?”
“Codex.” She tried out the strange name. “I could ask you the same thing.” Wren bounced lightly, ready to spring. She tried to hold his gaze, hoping to read his actions.
“Enjoying the night sky.” Each word was monotone. He refused to meet her eyes, his head tilted, gaze focused on the stars. “Beautiful, right?”
“I was waiting for you,” he said.
Silence built like an incoming wave. “Me?”
He looked at her quickly before lowering his eyes. “I think I saw you here before.”
Questions exited Wren’s mouth as if they had a life of their own. “Aren’t you supposed to be hooked up, Codex? It is nighttime.” She emphasized the odd name. “Shouldn’t you be enjoying your alternate universe? Battles, booze, and boobs, or whatever perverted fantasy you want to live tonight?” Anger from being caught by a New State loser leaked into the words, but then Wren instantly regretted them. A citizen would never say anything negative against New State. She had to get control. No wonder her dad called her careless and impulsive.
“It’s not like that.” His slim shoulders hitched.
For the first time, his voice took on a more humanistic quality, sounding peeved.
She grunted in response. She knew nothing of the sort.
Codex15111 bright eyes narrowed to slits. “Wait, exactly what do you know? I mean, you’re with the rebels, right?”
Oh no. Wren’s thoughts careened. I have to kill him. “What rebels?”
“Everyone knows about the rebels.” His gaze focused on her clothes and backpack. He took a step back, but he didn’t flee. “You must be one.”
Wren’s feet refused to obey her swampy brain. She couldn’t form a coherent sentence. This wasn’t time for talk, but she felt ill prepared to fight. She’d never actually met a New Stater before because they were always hooked up. This one would not be quiet. Staring at the blathering man-boy, she stroked the handle of her knife. The ritual brought her calm and steadied her. She could kill him to make him shut up but curiosity got the best of her.
I’ll do it before I go. I have to kill him, right?
About the Author
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