East Country upheld the laws. Mid destroyed them.
In the year 2185 Earth is rebuilding after a global eco-crisis. Countries maintain complete isolation so there is no warfare over scarce resources. One Elected family is chosen to lead each country for 100 years to ensure stability. Women aren't allowed to take office and must reproduce at all costs. Technology use of any kind is banned to preserve what's left of the environment.
And yet, I'm my country's Elected. I've just sanctioned technology use to ready us for war. I'm about to cross the border to spy on our neighbor. And...I'm a girl. Shhhhhh.....
Even the terrain in Mid Country senses we are intruders. Jagged rocks and thorny brown weeds jut out of the earth, scraping our ankles and slowing our progress. I didn’t have as much trouble hiking up East Country’s side of the border, but now that the three of us, me, Griffin, and Margareath, descend the steep slope into Mid, we’re constantly catching ourselves mid-stumble.
“You ok?” Griffin asks, reaching out a hand to steady me.
“Uh-huh.” The lie sounds hollow, even to my own ears. But I say it anyway and pick up my pace. I don’t want Griffin to convince me to turn back again like he tried to do as we waited for Margareath at the hill’s crest. Going back to East Country is the one thing I can’t do, and Griffin doesn’t even know the whole reason why. All he thinks is, I left East Country to spy on our neighbor and to help him escape our country’s death penalty.
Yet there is another reason, and thus far, there has been no good time to tell Griffin he’s going to father not one, but two children in the Elected family. My pregnancy is something I want to divulge in a special way, not as we run like fugitives, breaking almost every law of our forefathers.
When the lights from Mid catch my attention again and almost set me into a forward tumble, I try to focus on doing one thing at a time: get down the hill, cross into Mid Country, then tell Griffin the news.
Everything about Mid so far is offensive: their flagrant display of electricity, the strange way Margareath didn’t remember her family when asked about her children moments ago, even the air on Mid’s side of the Nirogene mines smells different than ours. There is a faint scent of wet metal and something sweetly acidic, which I can’t quite place, but that’s causing me to gag. I stop for a second, burying my face into the fabric of my shirt sleeve to take a deep, clean breath. Vienne warned me that newly pregnant I’d have a heightened sense of smell. That, on top of my perpetual nausea, is overwhelming to say the least.
I blink my eyes once hard before proceeding forward again. The massive amount of illegal light emanating from Mid’s epicenter miles to our west is tremendous. It’s so dark on the mountain and so bright in the distance; our direct path seems even bleaker.
“Just a little more to the bottom of the hill,” says Margareath. She pants in between every other word, the exhaustion of our trek down this treacherous mountain evident on her features. “Once we reach the bottom, it’s about a day and a half walk to Mid’s city.”
I try to estimate the number of miles from the border to Mid’s center. Maybe fifty, given Margareath’s statement and the fact that our pace is relatively slow. How long, I wonder, would it take a group of fighters from East to traverse the plains if an invasion was required? Every nugget of data on Mid gets me one step closer to understanding why they’re trying to invade my country, steal our resources, and kill my people. And closer to figuring out how to stop them.
I turn my head to peek at Griffin. Even in the inky darkness, I can see his brow furrowed in concentration. He’s been trying to act calm as we make our unlawful descent into enemy territory, but I can see the uneasiness in his eyes. He’s an escaped convict, and I’ve just broken at least two of the world’s Eco Accords. He’s as determined to thwart Mid as I am, but sneaking into the country is dangerous for both of us.
And Margareath is only barely helping. She’s been strange ever since we met her at the hill’s peak, giving hints about Mid Country, but not really telling us anything tangible. Her apparent glorification of our enemy and its “amazing” capabilities is unnerving.
What if it’s a trap? Could Margareath, the first and only spy I sent into Mid, have defected? Would she dare lead us straight into the hands of Mid’s Elected? Breaking the Eco Accords and country isolationism would be a good enough excuse for their leader to execute me and Griffin right on the spot.
Other Books in the Series
It’s the year 2185, and in two weeks, Aloy will turn eighteen and take her father’s place as president of the country. But to do so, she must masquerade as a boy to avoid violating the Eco-Accords, four treaties designed to bring the world back from the brink of environmental extinction. Aloy hopes to govern like her father, but she is inheriting a different country. The long concealed Technology Faction is stepping out of the shadows, and as turmoil grows within her country, cryptic threats also arrive from beyond their borders.
As she struggles to lead, Aloy maintains her cover by marrying a woman, meanwhile battling feelings for the boy who knows her secret—the boy who is somehow connected to her country’s recent upheaval. When assassination attempts add to the turmoil, Aloy doesn’t know whom to trust. She understood leadership required sacrifice. She just didn’t realize the sacrifice might be her life.
Author Bio - Rori Shay
Rori Shay is a strategic management consultant living in the Seattle area with her family, black lab, and cat. In the writing world, Rori is primarily know for her science fiction trilogy, The Elected Series. She enjoys running, reading, snow-shoeing, pumpkin-picking, and right now…writing the third ELECTED novel! Rori is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).
A kindle + signed copy of Suspected
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