Authors: Ruth Silver
Table of Contents
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Copyright © 2013 Ruth Silver
Cover art by Anthony Walsh
This book is a work of fiction. Any
resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, any events or locales is
purely coincidental. The names, characters, places and incidents are products
of the writer’s imagination and are not to be construed as real.
No part of this book may be used or
reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission from
the publisher LazyDay, with the exception of quotes used in reviews and
To my brother, who has opened up his home to me countless
times, helped me get my first job, and (hopefully) has forgiven me for whining
and begging for those Garbage Pail Kids cards, that I had to have of his, and
inevitably losing them. Yeah, that's what little sisters do, annoy their big
brothers. Thanks Geoff.
As I stood outside, I felt the crisp January air
graze my cheek. I stared up at the pale blue sky with a few wisps of clouds in
the distance. We had to meet the council in twenty minutes and I had no idea
where Joshua had disappeared to. I approached the edge of town, thankful for
the first time in my life no walls or gates kept us locked inside. Leaving
Shadow wasn't much of an option as I had nowhere else to go. In the seven
months I had been here, this place had become my home. I shuffled slowly
through the grasses, watching as they rose in height with each step I took
further into nothingness. From the distance I could hear the commotion of the
town behind me, and as I moved further away the sound drifted into oblivion.
My feet crunched on weeds as I pushed my way through
the waist-high grasses towards the river. It was rare anyone ventured outside
of Shadow. In most cases leaving wasn't permitted. Was I breaking the rules by
being here? I didn't know the answer to that question and hoped I wouldn't find
out. Bending down, my body hid among the grasses as I dipped my bare feet into
the water. I shivered and grimaced, scrunching my nose from the sensation. As
quick as my feet had dipped into the icy cold water, I pulled them out. With a
slight splash I heard a rustling in the distance.
“Who's there?” My voice echoed as I stood. I wasn't
afraid. Shadow was my home. Although I'd ventured from the town, it wasn't far.
I glanced in the direction of Shadow and could barely make out the community.
Perhaps I'd traveled further than I thought.
The grass shifted in the distance and I felt my
heart skip a beat. My eyes widened as I quickly took off for town. I ran as
fast as my legs would take me. Gasping for breath, I refused to slow down.
Whether it was an animal or an outlaw, I wasn't waiting around to find out.
Swiftly, I headed for Shadow. My knees lifted higher off the ground with each bare
step I took. I didn't turn around but I could hear the pounding of weight
against grass. Whoever or whatever was behind me wasn't small or light and they
were gaining on me. I didn't have time to scream as I felt a large body coming
down hard on top of me. My face slammed into the grass, scratching my cheek as
I gasped for breath. “Help!” The words barely left my lips as my head lolled up
from the ground; someone ripped at my hair and slammed me fast back into the
grass. I bit my bottom lip, tasting dirt as I jammed my elbow behind me. I had
to think fast. I'd spent months in Shadow training and now was the time to use
“Having fun yet?” the voice echoed into my ear. The
whispered breath made me shudder. I didn't recognize the voice. Was I supposed
to? I couldn't turn my head around, no matter how hard I tried.
“Get off me!” I grunted towards the ground. I pushed
my weight hard upwards but whoever had me pinned was twice my size.
“Try harder,” the voice answered as I used my leg to
kick back and jabbed again with my elbow. I missed my shoes and the sheath with
a small dagger I'd been carrying around. I wasn't prepared for today. That'll
My head lifted slightly off the ground, my eyes
seeing the edge of the grasses and Shadow just a few feet away. I'd nearly made
it back. Good or bad, this person sought our town. “Help!” I screamed again,
hoping someone would hear me.
“Quit yelling.” A thickly whispered response rolled
me onto my back as I felt a blade nicking at my neck. “Fight back,” she commanded,
staring down at me.
“Margo?” I choked, shocked she was the one testing
“We told you there'd be surprise training
exercises.” She stared down at me. The fear that had been crawling through my
veins simmered down. In all our recent sessions, the knives had been dulled.
They were real and weighted but not meant to cause harm. This one didn't feel
“Okay, I failed.” I rolled my eyes, getting the
point. “Now let me up!” I demanded, pushing at Margo to let her weight off me.
She weighed more than twice what I did and didn’t budge. How was this a fair
Margo laughed, “Come on, it doesn't work like that.
A real outlaw is going to cut you nose to navel.” She made a point of showing
me with the tip of the knife against my skin. “Fight back.” Her eyes narrowed
as she reached down into her own boot, unsheathing a dagger. “I'll make it
fair.” She offered me the blade.
With both hands free, I took the blade and rocked my
hips to the side, knocking her off. I wasn't sure she didn't let me win that
one, just to get the fight started. At the moment, I didn't care. I knew we had
a meeting with Chancellor Collins and time was running out. “Fair?” I huffed,
finally able to stand. Margo loomed above me. I wasn't afraid or
frightened—only slightly intimidated—but I'd get over it. I exhaled a loud
breath and leapt forward, my blade coming with me. Margo jutted out of the way,
anticipating my move.
“Nice try,” Margo chuckled. Was she enjoying this? I
knew it was part of the training requirements—be prepared for anything—but I
didn't even have my shoes on!
“Maybe I should try harder,” I mocked, eyes
narrowing as I charged at her; this time she didn't move out of the way.
Perhaps she didn't think I'd slam into her, full-force. Her body tumbled
backwards and she slammed against the ground, the breath knocked out of her. I
didn't give her time to recover. She hadn’t afforded me that luxury when she
pinned me down and had me eating dirt just moments ago. I grabbed her arm that
was holding the blade, pulling it from her fingers as she struggled to catch
her breath. With two knives, I made an X over her throat. “Call it!” I
demanded, staring down at her.
Margo nodded weakly. “You win,” she rasped, coughing
as I slowly moved off her frame.
As soon as I stood, I felt an arm ripping me away
from Margo. “What the hell are you doing?” Jaxon demanded, grabbing the blade
from my hands.
“It's just training.” I gestured down towards Margo
as I offered her a hand to help her stand up. “She started it. I was coming
back from the river when she attacked me.”
Margo nodded, catching her breath. “It was a
training exercise, Jaxon. You know we're supposed to make sure Olivia's ready
for anything. No hard feelings.” Why would it be anything more than training?
Margo never had a grudge against me. We've always gotten along.
flipped the blade over once, then twice. “This isn't a training blade. You
could have easily gotten yourselves killed. You both are so stupid!” he shouted
at us. “Come on,” he insisted, leading us the few final steps from the field as
we walked down the street for the council meeting.
We were the last to arrive—Margo, Jaxon and I.
Joshua gave me a questioning look, wondering where we'd been, as I sat across
from him. I still didn't have on any shoes and now wasn't the time to explain
what I'd been up to. The council got situated around the long oak table. I was
the first to speak.
It had been seven months since we'd arrived in
town. Most of it had been spent training for the uprising. I knew it was only a
matter of time until we faced what we were preparing ourselves for. “We're
getting closer to spring; we need to know when it's safe for me to go to
Genesis to gather information on when the Governor's Ball will be held.”
“In due time, Olivia,” Chancellor Collins nodded
slowly. “We need to discuss our plans for the day of the Governor's Ball.”
“Plans?” I repeated, confused. “What do you mean?”
Chancellor Collins glanced briefly at Jaxon before
landing his gaze on me. “We're planning a strike on Genesis. The Governor's
Mansion is not our only target. I think it would be beneficial to take out
their medical center where children are conceived. It would put a huge dent in
“What?” My mouth dropped and my eyes widened in
shock. “You're not serious!” There were innocent lives at stake.
The Chancellor answered somberly. “I'm dead
serious.” He stared at me, showing no indication of joking around.
I couldn't believe his suggestion. I'd known for
months I'd be going back to Genesis. A small part of me wanted to go back, in
hopes of seeing my mother again. I knew it was selfish and I'd be stupid to try
and find her, but even so, just a glimpse would satisfy me, to see her alive
and happy. What the Chancellor suggested was insane. There was no reason at all
to risk hundreds of lives. And for what purpose? “This is a stupid idea.” I
stared at Chancellor Collins, refusing to back down. My eyes narrowed angrily
as I crossed my arms defiantly. “I won't go in. I won't do it if this is your