TITLE: The Diaspora
GENRE: YA Science Fiction
Like all Artakin’s über-violent eldest children, sixteen-year-old Becca is trained as a soldier who protects the planet from afar. Her only goal is to distinguish herself in battle against a tenacious enemy, but after she’s downed on a hostile planet, fleeing becomes complicated when she discovers the young lieutenant she’s come to trust may be using her to achieve his own ends.
I’ve learned two important lessons while masquerading as a Hawthorne Youth Outpost cadet. One: dress like a cudgel and you think like a cudgel.
And two: cudgels are idiots.
Lester Jyles hauls me to my feet and slams my head against the mess hall wall. My boots dangle a foot above the scuffed linoleum. My windpipe threatens to collapse under his hairy forearm. Bravo Company falls silent. Even the distant clatter of dishes getting manhandled by grunts on jankers duty dies away.
I should have just let him take the bread. But that’s a cudgel for you. Instead of keeping my mind on my goal, on gaining a berth on the Cor Moon shuttle, all I could think was: I don’t want that jack to have our food.
Lester leans in. His breath is humid – warm and wet from the musty protein stew we’ve all been eating. His free hand presses against my chest, pins me to the cement block, and I’m thanking the Fourteenth God I took the time to bind my breasts this morning. I don’t always, not since winter set in. Four layers of synthowool hide my figure better than all the med-stretch tape on Artakin.
His thick fingers grip my jaw. “When a Com wants something, grunt, you give it.”
“Yessir,” I croak, but korfi floods my blood and the world edges red as the kill hormone swamps my senses.
Everything I am screams at me, and it screams that I must end Lester.
I want to. I really, really do.