Jac and her grandfather have survived forest fires, floods and storms but now live in constant fear of discovery by the spy-drones of the oppressive Avarit regime.
When her peaceful community is raided, Jac offers her medic skills to the outlawed forest rangers on the front line of the Resistance – but she has never met anyone like Raine, their charismatic and mysterious commander.
Their fiery affair will have to survive an attack by the Avarit military as well as Raine's responsibility to his people – and to the powerful woman who is his second in command.
Passion, power struggles, deep friendships and treachery compete for dominance in a race to defeat a cunning enemy.
' A fast-paced adventure romance, often described as “Hunger Games meets Divergent.”'
The pigeon-sized drone glided above them, red navigation lights blinking. The camera rotated, scanning the area, a sinister warning of activities recorded, reported, noticed.
Jac held her breath and waited. When Fischers from the next holding had been drone-spotted five years earlier they said the thing made a second circuit when its program registered illicit food-production.
No hesitations or detours. Another day safe.
She felt everyone’s relief drifting through the air like a soft sigh. Relaxing, she slipped the grey hunting jacket from her shoulders as people cautiously emerged from the trees and painstakingly lifted and rolled the nets.
Matthias yelled a second warning from his perch on the barn roof.
Two heavy-plated black police-military vehicles crashed through the young trees flanking the rough farm track, smashing and splintering everything in their path. Jac had seen the things a few times before on the road but this was the first time she had been in the line of attack.
Three times bigger than Outlander jeeps, the sheer weight of the snub-fronted monsters chewed up the crumbling roads which Outlanders then had to repair. Her habitual resentment turned to sheer terror as the transporters screeched to a halt, disgorging a dozen armed men in blue-black chem-resist body-shielding.
Two of the bulky figures hefted heavy backpack-guns that hissed nastily as they vomited orange spray over the food-crop. The role of the rest of the crew seemed to be crude intimidation, shoving workers aside and using their heavy automatics as clubs on anyone foolish enough to resist.
Jac watched four people go down with bloody faces. She was no fighter but the nurturing instinct that had drawn her to train as a medic urged her forward, recklessly ignoring the insanity of challenging the overwhelming odds.
PHOENIX Season 1
A firm grip on her arm held her back. Heavy farm work had left its mark on her grandfather, his sinewy strength still greater than her own despite his eighty years.
‘Jac, what did I tell you about sanitizer patrols? Don’t resist! Makes it worse.’
She struggled to break free. ‘Gramps no! They’ll kill everyone!’
‘Not if we act defeated. They feed off the fines and debt-slavery. Dead people don’t pay––’
‘Matthias!’ Jac tried to pull away again, watching helplessly as Matthias scrambled down to throw himself into the melee in a futile effort to protect two of the women who had been bold and foolish enough to defy the attackers.
‘I told him never to fight staz!’
Gramps’ voice was tight with exasperation. Jac felt the tension in his grip as he suppressed his own instincts to fight back. Trapped in a waking paralysis-nightmare, she watched long weeks of their backbreaking work shrivel from green life to black toxic heap, their food-security rotting visibly under orange spume, the acrid stink of chemicals stinging her lungs.
She had lived in fear of the sanitizer threat her whole life but until now it had happened somewhere else.
A careless Outlander. Vague stories from further north in the forest. Now the myth was here, solid and stinking and ugly, giving her restlessness shape and logic as poison spread through their food, creeping and killing deep into the earth itself. Her body recoiled as if from a sick pain, the urge to flee tugging against her instinct to hide. The protective cocoon her grandfather always tried so hard to weave around her was breaking open as reality cut through denial. Trying to survive out of sight couldn’t work indefinitely.
That time was over.