Genre: Science Fiction, romance
Publisher: Etopia Press
Number of pages: 207
Word Count: 71,000
When technology fulfills every dream, reality becomes a nightmare.
Below the streets of New State, the undergrounders fight to remain free of the technological control of the world above. Every night, Yara risks her life fighting New State’s deadliest weapons, the drones. Half human and half machine, their living half tortured until everything human is gone, the drones have only one objective. Kill. And they do it with exacting precision.
Yara is good at her job and committed to her raids on New State. Until one of those raids brings her face-to-face with Joshua, 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 Yara feels for Joshua is very real. And it’s punishable by law.
As she and Joshua grow closer, she convinces him to leave New State for her underground cause. But as the unrest between New State and the underground escalates, and the drones move in to destroy her world, nothing goes as planned. Families are arrested, loyalties are strained, and Yara’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...
“Hi,” he called out.
Yara’s heart hammered, and adrenaline coursed through her limbs. She turned to run.
“Wait,” the stranger whispered. “I won’t turn you in. I’m out here too.” He obviously didn’t realize that Yara was a rebel. He might not know it yet, but he would soon. Still, he didn’t sound dangerous. Maybe Yara could take care of him. She had never had to kill anyone totally human, but she had trained to do so. At this point, she didn’t think she would need to. The skinny boy didn’t look like a real threat, either.
She turned back toward him and attempted what she hoped was a look of death and destruction.
Instead of being scared, he smiled at her and brushed the hair out of his eyes. Even in the shadowy street, Yara could see the color was a beautiful emerald green. She had a hard time looking away, until his voice jarred her back to reality.
“I’m Joshua15111,” he said robotically. “What are you doing out here?”
“I could ask you the same thing.”
“Enjoying the night sky,” he replied, each word clipped and succinct. Unable to make prolonged eye contact, he looked toward the stars.
“Aren’t you supposed to be hooked up to an alternate universe, enjoying battle, boobs, or whatever perverted fantasy you want to conquer tonight?” Yara asked, and then instantly regretted her words.
“Hey, it’s not like that. You know how it is.” For the first time, his voice took on a more humanistic quality. He sounded peeved.
She grunted in response. She didn’t know anything of the sort.
Joshua15111 looked at her briefly, quizzically. “Wait, do you know that? Are you one of them? The rebels?”
Oh no. “What rebels?”
“Are you for real? Everyone knows about the rebels. You must be one. Are you a rebel? That’s so cool.”
Me and my big mouth. Fear finally overtook her. Vague ideas about running away from or fighting the stranger flitted by, but Yara’s feet felt like concrete blocks. She wasn’t even sure she’d be able to form a coherent sentence if he asked her something about the underground.
Character Name: Yara
Character Bio: Daughter of a rebel leader, raider of New State, defender against drones, and best friend to Mason.
Describe yourself what is your worst and best quality?
- My best qualities are my tenacity and moral code. I have a clear sense of right and wrong and fight for what I believe in. My biggest downfall is my inexperience as this can lead me to be stubborn, not listen to my elders, and act immature.
What is the one thing you wish other people knew about you?
- I wish people knew that even with my tough exterior, I still constantly fear failure and not living up to expectations. I want to be the best raider, not only to make my family (especially my father) proud but also to serve the people of the underground. These are my friends and neighbors. I want to keep them safe and happy, but it is a huge responsibility.
What is your biggest secret something no one knows about?
- I develop feelings for Josh, a New State citizen. As far as I know, this has never happened in the history of the undergrounders. I struggle with not being able to tell anyone about this new relationship, even my best friend Mason. I haven’t had many previous love interests, so the idea of loving someone, especially someone who is a tech head from New State is overwhelming.
What are you most afraid of?
- Not living up to my fathers expectations. He is the leader of the undergrounders and always seems to have things in control. My life is the opposite. I know he has high standards and I want to live up to them, but many times, I feel I let him down.
What do you want more than anything?
- To not disappoint people, especially my father.
What is your relationship status?
- It’s complicated.
How would you describe your sense of fashion?
- It’s whatever I can scavenge. I call it fashionably recycled.
How much of a rebel are you?
- 110% rebel.
What do you considered to be your greatest achievement?
- Breaking Josh’s parents out of a New State jail and defeating the drones. His parents’ imprisonment might have had something to do with a raid the undegrounders conducted on New State Archives and I felt responsible. Breaking them out of jail was tough, and I had to defeat New State’s deadliest weapons -- the drones. The drones are half human and half machine, tortured until everything human is gone.
What is your idea of happiness?
- Being independent and self sufficient. Getting closer to Josh and learning if it is possible to love someone from New State.
What is your current state of mind?
- Determined. I’m committed to the raids on New State.
What is your most treasured possession?
- My most treasured possession is a necklace of a bird that my mother gave me when I was born. I always forget I am wearing it, but I would be devastated if I lost it.
What is your most marked characteristic?
- Inner strength
What is it that you, most dislike?
- I dislike life as a rebel because I can’t walk into the sunshine without the constant fear of being discovered and being captured or killed by a drone. The drone program was started by New State to wipe out undergrounders and I live in fear of the unrest between New State and the underground escalating and the drones destroying my world.
Which living person do you, most despise?
- The leaders of New State. Every night, I must risk my life fighting New State’s deadliest weapons, the drones. These creatures, half human and half machine, have only one objective -- kill undergrounders.
What is your greatest regret?
- My greatest regret is not being strong enough to defend my way of life and family.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
- Individuality. Joshua, a New State citizen, is constantly challenging my preconceived expectations and assumptions about tech heads and New State.
Who is your favorite hero in fiction?
- I don’t have the time to read a lot of fiction, but I am inspired by revolutionary leaders of the past.
Which living person do you most admire?
- My father. As a leader of the undergrounders, he protects us from New State and leads the fight to remain free of the technological control of the world above.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
- I wish I could be a normal undergounder and not feel obligated to make a difference. I also wish I could change the embarrassing hook ups that happen. Josh showed me 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. Let me just say, the outcome was beyond embarrassing.
What is your motto?
- I will not be controlled!
Lisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and holds an EdD in Educational Leadership. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughters, three cats, and horse. She is the author of Apocalipstick and has contributed to local newspapers, news and travel blogs including The Patch and Hollywood Scriptwriter.