GENRE: YA SF
Once, a long time ago, Aria had dreamed the sky would catch her if she fell. She imagined that if she released her hold on the world, it would wrap her in a sun-streaked embrace, and she’d be saved.
Eleven years of Academic training and a series of tragedies later, Aria no longer held such beliefs. She knew exactly what would happen if she fell near the Pass. The sky would drop her like a careless promise. The Pass would reach to entangle her wings in electrical currents. The stars would sing, and the Pass would swallow her whole.
Which is why she had no intention of falling.
Aria clung to the back-boarding rail of the shuttle as it labored away from the Pass, pointedly ignoring the silver flickerings far beneath her feet and focusing on her crewmates instead. There were six of them. Six winged silhouettes flying in the shuttle’s wake—three of her girls, and three of Katka’s guys—their wings flashing as they performed erratic climbs, daring plunges, flirtatious arabesques. The training mission was a success. Why shouldn’t they celebrate? Aria would have herself, if she wasn’t bunk leader, and if the Pass wasn’t leering at her every way she turned.
Still, Aria let her bunkmates show off a moment longer. Then she raised a wing strut for attention. Most of the girls pulled level with the shuttle, turning to face her.
“Stellar work everyone,” Aria vibed. Her crystal pulsed with each thought.