When Tanwen Varro turns sixteen, she’ll get the tattoos proclaiming her an adult in a world forever changed by nuclear catastrophe. She’ll also be able to work on her family’s farm fulltime at the New Mexican colony that’s now her home. All she needs to do is complete the basic education requirements. As well as avoid the fiery raids that killed her best friend—the result of a protracted fight with a rogue collective over the colony’s precious water supply.
But Tanwen’s not sure she wants to stay a farmer, especially after her teacher forces her into the advanced classes her father forbid her to take. There, new friends and a way out of her family's farming obligations to the colony become too good to give up. And her reluctant feelings for Brant, an apprenticing energy tech, suggest an even brighter future.
Her father warned her what would happen if the colony found her useful, but she didn’t believe him. When she can’t erase evidence of her intelligence fast enough, her father’s paranoid fears come to life. The colony’s council taps her as the ideal candidate to infiltrate enemy territory, plunging her into the middle of the fight over the colony’s water supply.
Her father trained her to be a survivor, but the colony will train her to be a spy. Away from her family, her friends, even Brant, Tanwen must come to terms with all she thought she knew about her life. And when her mission objective changes from recon to sabotage, she’ll learn what’s really worth saving.
First 150 Words:
When Mom raises her voice that crucial octave—the one that gets the hair on the back of my neck standing at attention—I sometimes wish we left her behind like she wanted. It would probably make things simpler. But not necessarily better.
I stay bent over the control panel, my back to my parents, and pray the nanobots will hurry up and neutralize the sooty soil. We can’t lose another crop. Not this late in the growing season.
“I didn’t move halfway across the country to live underground.” Mom always says that, and today is no different.
Dad just grunts. He probably doesn’t even look up, too busy repairing the flame-resistant webbing we suspend over our five acres of beans, barley, and broccoli. Drought tolerant varieties that are supposed to stand up to the extremes here.
I retreat to the next row, out of the strike zone for now.