This is my stop during the book blitz for Rogue by S.A. Stephenson. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 13 till 19 November. See the tour schedule here.
As a rogue government official orders an alien attack on the Empire of America, two women must uncover the government’s dark truth and unravel the weave of lives that have spanned decades. They’ll learn why alien-human hybrids were created, and will need to master their own alien powers in order to survive.
Genetic testing on humans began during the Cold War, when ancient alien DNA was discovered in the artic. As super soldiers were created during the war, Americans soon began to create the first wave of alien-human-hybrids in preparation for the day when the aliens would strike.
Nearly a century on, the world has been broken by an extra-terrestrial war and Kit Valletta is a human-mutant trying to survive in one of the only free zones left in the Empire. But the President wants her dead and is going to stop at nothing until all the mutants Kit freed are back in her control.
When Kit meets Evie Fox, one of the President’s scientists, who’s broken free of the wire, the two begin their fight for freedom and justice as the alien attack hits Empire soil. Together, both women will need to accept the secrets they’ve been trying to hide and decide if they’re the ones who are powerful enough to save the Empire from the President’s dictatorship regime and alien invasion.
You can find Rogue on Goodreads
You can buy Rogue on Amazon
Kit Valletta was asleep when the world erupted into sirens and blaring red lights. Her eyes flew open and when she looked up and saw an empty bed above her. Gia Russo, her long-time partner in crime, had a knack of knowing how the Shard’s system worked. She knew what happened at each well-timed moment, the movement of guards and the few seconds that were exposed in their well governed lives. She had managed to avoid being caught as the rest of them had filed into the dorms, or she had been caught and was on the way to one of the camps in the Nevermore. Kit quickly dismissed that thought, Gia wasn’t someone who would let a guard capture her so easily and they had been preparing for tonight for too long for Gia to get herself caught now.
Kit needed to find her father, Edward and Gia had been preparing for this night for months, everything down to the last detail had been thought of and through a number of heated debates, they had managed to convince Kit to escape with them.
The alarms were deafening and Kit swung her legs round from the bed, reluctantly leaving the brief comfort her blanket provided. The smell of her mother lingered in the fabric, a sweet perfume of motherly love, Kit dwelled in the moment for a fraction longer than she should, wishing Erin were there with them but she shook the thought away as she filed out with the other residents and went to find her father. Erin had been killed, Kit knew that, but there was something in her subconscious that told her mother had to be alive. They hadn’t found a body, there had never been any proof.
The Shard Building was one of the hundreds of nondescript bunkers in Volt that housed soldiers and government workers, segregated by position and ability according to the great State of Volt’s processing system. The men were located in the Z Quarter of the Shard, the women were located in the L Quarter and they had begun to file out of the building, undisturbed by the noise that deafened the air. Kit pushed her way against the crowd when she saw Gia ahead of her.
‘Gia!’ She called.
‘Kit, what’s going on, is it time?’ She asked.
‘It’s time,’ Kit told her.
‘They’ll be heading to the Domain,’ Gia said.
‘We need to get to my father,’ Kit told her. Gia agreed and they continued to in the opposite direction of the crowd. The women marched around them, their expressions blank as they fell into the well-trained response that they could not break free from.
Kit followed Gia down a flight of stairs as the sprinkler system kicked in. ‘Great,’ Gia said as they reached a door. She pushed against it and entered a back-passage way to the Z Quarter. The male quarter was filled with the male soldiers, like the women, they filed out of the bunker and Kit took a moment to survey the crowd. Her pupils widened as she tried to zoom in on the faces, looking for the one that was the most familiar. When she saw him, her heart rested. Edward was a well-built man, prime material for a soldier in Volt. His silver hair flickered against his dark grey fatigues. The wrinkles on his forehead had deepened in the previous months as concern had found a way into their conversations. The planning, the secret meetings, had all led to this moment. Edward had never been built for the walls that Galen’s presidency had created, he had come here during the late days of the plague, when there was nowhere else left to go. Kit had grown up with him telling her stories of the world and how it used to be. He told her about New York, how it had fallen and become known as the Spire, how the great Plains of America had become wastelands, the Nevermore, and how the once free United States, had fallen to become the Empire of America. Kit wondered how the world had ever been so different, but she had believed in her father’s passion for the world that once was and was determined to try and find it again.
‘Dad!’ Kit called over the noise of the crowd, he heard her and began to make his way over to them.
‘Are you ready?’ He asked.
‘As I’ll ever be,’ she said.
‘The wire is a good 15kms away,’ Edward said. ‘We need to be ready because they’re not going to let a bunch of us mutants out so easily.’
‘Then we’ll show them what mutants can really do,’ Gia said.
They headed out with the rest of the soldiers, and once they had made it to the courtyard Kit saw the extent of the evacuation.
‘Oz really did a job on the security system,’ Gia commented.
‘He’s a good kid,’ Edward said. ‘This way,’ he told them and began to break away from the crowd who were heading to the Domain. Kit could see Armistice Guards high up on the brick wall that surrounded the government quarters. Their rifles were aimed down at the soldiers below.
‘It’s almost cute that they think bullets kill mutants,’ Gia said.
‘They’re designed to slow us down, not kill us,’ Edward said.
‘Where’s Logan?’ Kit asked. ‘He was supposed to be here with-’
An explosion ripped through the wall, the Armistice Guards were flung from their positions and the wall crumpled as a large army truck drove through it. Kit smiled when she saw Logan James at the wheel.
‘Run!’ Edward ordered and they sprinted for the truck. Kit leapt high into the air and landed in the back as Gia and Edward scrambled into the passenger seats. Logan quickly began reversing the truck as Armistice guards began shooting at them. Kit felt their energy pulsating through the air, determination emanating from them in a way she had never felt before, their intent was set to kill. She had become their prey, through all her training she had been taught to be the hunter, the one who would track down any enemy who entered the Empire’s boarders, now she would have to use those skills to survive the men who had operated alongside her for so long.
A group of mutants broke out and followed the truck, they’d got weapons and were firing any ammunition they had up at the Armistice Guards.
Kit looked back at the scene. ‘How far to the wire?’ She asked.
‘7ks,’ Logan called back to her as jets began to fly overhead. ‘Hold tight,’ he said.
He turned the truck quickly as a plane flew down low and began firing at them. Kit dropped for cover as the bullets ricocheted off the bumper. She looked up at the plane and felt energy burn behind her eyes, their natural brown shone green and the plane quivered in the air before it came crashing down behind them. The impact caused the truck to rear up and Logan skidded it to a stop as the engine died.
‘Great,’ he said as he hit the wheel. ‘They’ve cut the electric grid,’ he said.
‘Which is why we learnt to love running,’ Gia said as she climbed out of the truck.
More jets were approaching them as Kit climbed down from the back. She was weak, struggled to stand after her last attack. ‘You gonna be okay?’ Gia asked her.
‘Fine,’ Kit said. ‘Come on, we gotta bail.’ She took Gia’s hand, it’s familiar warmth helped her feel strength and they ran after Edward and Logan.
The land outside the buildings was rough, dead earth filled with landlines. Edward guided them, his sonic vision able to see through what was normal, to what was underneath. He guided them round a number of mines and Kit’s eyes widened with hope when she saw the wire. She had heard so much about life beyond the tall electric wire, heard stories of people trying to escape, but being killed before they had even made it this far. Life beyond this tall, wired fence was as unknown. The concept of freedom, was something that had been talked about in hushed whispers, Kit and Gia had talked late into the night about what there could possibly be beyond the world that they were confined to. The world they were created in. Edward had inspired and encouraged these conversations, he wanted his daughter to experience freedom outside of a compound that a dictatorship government had created.
‘Remember how we’re going to get through?’ Edward asked her as the truck slowed. Kit nodded.
Gia went over to the edge of the fence and could feel the electricity vibrating from it. She felt it shake in her fingers and smiled. Armistice Guards were close behind them. Their voices blurred into one over the sound of radios. ‘We don’t have time to hang around,’ Edward said. ‘Gia, time to shine.’
Gia smiled, her eyes golden, Kit leant against her father as dizziness swept over her, she could hear the guards getting closer. They were only minutes away.
Gia made a fist and punched the ground. Electric energy, that she had always called magic when they were growing up, shook throughout the soil, Kit heard the blood of the Armistice Guards boil and the bodies drop to the floor. The fence was dead, the electricity had been cut. Logan grabbed a knife from his boot and quickly cut through the chinks. He made his way through as Armistice Guards came out of the forest behind them. Gia hurried through the gap and turned back for Kit. Her nose was bleeding and she looked pale. Gia had seen this before and quickly grabbed for her. ‘I got you,’ she said. Kit pushed her way through the gap and turned back for her father to see him being held down by Armistice Guards.
‘Run!’ He yelled at her.
She paused as exhaustion began to take over her. She couldn’t leave him. They had planned this for too long. Their new life in a free world, where they could be like the other humans, the ones who hadn’t been trained to be super soldiers for the Empire of America’s new army. Where he could take her to school, before he went to work in an office somewhere. Edward had been her constant support in this world of uncertainty, he raised her with her mother and after she had been taken away Kit had clung to him tighter, listened to him with more intent and believed in his ideology of how the world should be. He was born to be free, to set her free.
‘We gotta blaze,’ Logan said and pulled Kit to her feet as another wave of Guards came after them. They ran through the forest on the other side of the wire, Kit’s heart raced against her chest as tears streamed down her face. She could hear her father screaming in the distance. Being dragged back to the world he had wanted to destroy for so long as she ran for her freedom.
S.A. Stephenson is a sci-fi author, blogger and editor. She writes LGBTQ+ stories about kickass women and can be found hanging out at writing events in Auckland. She’s originally from the UK but now calls New Zealand home.