Seventeen-year-old Vita is the next step in human evolution. The daughter of two prominent scientists, Vita is content to live in the spotlight. After all, it affords her a lifestyle most only dream of: living in a Lunar Colony, luxurious gifts, and her unique ability to project her consciousness onto different planes without the aid of injections. Succeeding where others have failed has a price. A growing population of Shells - people whose minds have shattered from the stress of experimentation - shows just how ruthless the Director can be in pursuit of his goal. When Vita makes a startling breakthrough, the ambitious Director takes over her development, and he wants to see just how far she can go. It's up to Vita's young Processor, James, to catch her before she breaks. But he's keeping a dangerous secret. Someone is playing games with her. A game where the loser ends up shattered. Vita must make the choice: Continue risking her life for a cause she doesn't believe in or make an unprecedented escape?
**This is a Young Adult/ New Adult Science Fiction Story**
**This is an exciting rebranding of the original cover as the author prepares to release book 2 in the series**
“Vita!” James is panicked, shaking my shoulders, when my eyes begin to crack open. The bright light violates my pupils, and I slam my eyes shut again. My head is pounding. “Stop shaking her, boy. We don’t know what damage that could cause.” I relax a bit as my body takes in the grandfatherly voice of wisdom. James’s hands release me. “She’s coming around. Give her a moment.” I moan, raising an arm to cover my closed eyes. “I’m fine.” “She could pave a road with those words.” The Old One’s voice gets farther away. Before I can even wonder what that means, the light mercifully wanes, and I dare to peek out from under my arm. I begin to piece together where I am. The tiny white room. Lying on my monitoring station. A visibly shaken James is sitting next to me, tears threatening to spill out of his eyes, face ashen. “Hey,” I coax. “It’s okay. Nothing to be worried about.” James shakes his head and looks down. A sniffle seems to actually compose him, and he looks up at me. “Vita, I’m so sorry. If I would have known, I would have warned you.” Still hazy, I recall my experience in the meadow with the solider boy. Before speaking, I resolve to never let myself be that helpless again. Starting right now. Just like James said, I will be the one doing the breaking. Well, maybe not right now. After I recover from whatever this is. “Warned me about what?” “The dazers,” he practically whispers, but I still hear the George’s tongue cluck from the computer station. His disapproval is thick. “You passed out on the steps. I couldn’t wake you up. When I brought you here, I thought you were dead.” “Yes, the drugs caused your heart to race,” the wizard explains, less emotionally. His eyes never leave the tablet in his hands. “Your heart didn’t care for that so it shut down...for a bit.” “It shut down?” I echo as panic begins to rise from my toes. “Only for a moment.” His hand waves dismissively. “Everything’s fine.” The Old One smirks, finally looking up at me as he turns my own words around on me. “I died?” “For a second.” George holds up two fingers very close together in an attempt to keep us positive. Whoosh. “I came as soon as I heard.” Long brown hair whirls through the room. Mom busies herself snatching the tablet and replacing James at the side of my bed. She grasps my hand, leans in, and begins examining my eyes. I have no idea what they look like, but her fear and disgust focus across the room. “George, thank the stars you are still here! How could this have happened? I’m not even sure what this means.” She shakes the tablet at him, the data revealing itself to me shortly. “Where was she? Who was with her?” James makes a move to step forward and the Old One stops him. “She was just doing as I instructed. Taking time off. Meeting new people. Trying out a party. I’m sorry. I didn’t know she would be confronted with...substances.” Mom visibly calms down. I guess maybe she couldn’t be too angry with the man who had just saved her daughter’s life? She lays the tablet down gently. “What can I do for her?” “Nothing, I’m afraid. The drugs have to work their way through her system. She won’t be able to start training until they are flushed out. Her new friends just may have bought her enough time to completely restore before the next round.” My eyelids feel as though they are made of lead. My hand is nestled between stronger ones. I fight to stay awake behind the fading light. “What will we ever do without you?” My mother’s whisper floats across the room to me. His firm response slices through the darkness closing in around me. “The director has plans but so do we. Stick to the plan. Thanks to your husband’s—ex-husband’s—news story, she’s about ready to enter a world where everyone knows her and what she can do. She needs you two more than ever.” I didn’t know then that when I awoke, it would be to a new world. A world without George, without visits from my dad, and without panic attacks. A world where I was a celebrity, a scientific wonder, and no longer alone. Never mind that I put my life at risk each time I pushed one the boundaries of human capability. I lived by the words I was never meant to hear: “Vita’s never going to be broken. She’s going to be the one doing the breaking. She’s stronger than any of us will ever know.”
About Mandy Peterson
Mandy Peterson grew up all over Nebraska and eventually settled down there with a family of her own: husband, daughter, and son. When she isn't writing about herself in third person, Mandy the high school librarian can be found digging through young adult and new adult lit. An avid reader of all genres (but she secretly told me she loves sci-fi the most), you will usually see her with her nose in a book or face to her Kindle app, iced or blended coffee drink in hand. A former roller girl and roller derby referee, she can also be found watching roller derby online or dragging her family behind her to cheer on teams in person all over their great state.
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** Cover design by MSN Art Studio (Maduranga Sampath) **