Living in an encampment in the Ruins, life is harsh for most Unis in the Resistance, but for Cyrus and the other Ruins survivors, it’s just more of the same. While training for their ultimate mission to take down the Uprising, tragedy strikes, turning Evan’s and Cyrus’s world upside down. Before they can recover, they discover someone in their ranks is working against them.Facing tougher odds than they ever imagined, the group realizes the only hope they have of saving the world they know is to find help.
When no one is above suspicion, even accomplishing everyday tasks is fraught with danger, but seeking out reinforcements could mean the end of the Resistance and all of them along with it..
Draya stands in the middle of the holding tent that’s served as her residence the past couple of weeks. Her long wavy hair is piled high on her head in disarray as she directs her unblinking stare in my direction. Not for the first time this morning, I regret agreeing to participate. But since Draya and I are the only people in camp who were present during my interrogations, I let the others talk me into it. After all, I’m the one she tortured, the one who admitted to blowing up their camps—which we did do—along with a number of things we didn’t do. And if we didn’t do them, she either made it up to throw me, or someone else out there is working against the Uprising, meaning we may have allies.
“So…what’s going on?” Draya asks, tilting her head to the side as if we’re inviting her to a picnic.
Mateo’s dark curly hair brushes the ceiling of the squat tent that’s barely tall enough for him to stand upright. A breeze from behind flutters the hem of my shirt, alerting me that the last member of our leadership council has arrived.
“Bring me up to speed,” Jack says.
“We waited for you,” Rainey says, her normally raspy voice even more so at this early hour.
Jack trains his attention on Draya for a few beats, assessing the situation as only a cop can.
Draya crosses her arms as her mouth twists into an arrogant grin. “Anyone care to enlighten me to the purpose of this party?”
“We need information,” I say. “When I was in your…custody, you asked me about attacks on the Uprising.”
Her bright blue eyes hold a defiance, sharp enough to slice through bone.
“I thought you said she was willing to cooperate,” I say to Cyrus, never taking my attention from the enemy before me.
Her head tilts in the other direction. “You haven’t asked me a question yet.”
Rainey moves her five-foot-nothing self forward until she’s in Draya’s personal space. Even without the scar cutting across her cheek to her jaw, she exudes power and authority.
Draya blinks and takes a step back, then rolls her eyes. “I doubt I can tell you anything you don’t already know.”
“Let’s start with details of the attacks on the Uprising,” I say.
Her brows nosedive. “You’d have more information on that than me.”
“Just…” I let out a frustrated sigh. “Just tell us what happened from your perspective.”
She snorts and her gaze sweeps the rest of the leadership. “You don’t know, do you? Well, now, isn’t this interesting?”
“Draya,” Cyrus warns.
“I said I’d help, and I will, but I want something in exchange.”
Mateo crosses his arms with a relaxed posture that says he’s bored. The way he can project anything he wants is just one of the things that makes him such an important part of our leadership team. After spending years as a mercenary, we were able to recruit him to our cause. “You’re in no position to negotiate.”
Draya taps her finger against her chin. “Oh, I think I am. I have something you want, and I want out of this tent. I’ve been stuck in here for two weeks.”
My body trembles as if the ground beneath my feet is quaking. “Oh really?” The words fly from my mouth, coated in the venom of my rage. “Your conditions are rough? How are you managing to get by without all the torture? That must really suck.” Cyrus puts a hand on my shoulder, but I shake him off. “And sleeping on a cot instead of a concrete floor in your own vomit and shit? Wow, that must be nearly intolerable.”
Some of the storm clouds brewing in Draya’s eyes dissipate before her shoulders slump, almost imperceptibly. “Fine. It was little things at first, like supply trucks missing inventory. We thought the drivers were making money on the side. But after investigating…we determined it wasn’t them.”
Investigating my ass. They probably tortured them to the brink of death only to find out they were innocent. Well, innocent of the crimes they were accused of anyway.
“Then a high-ranking Uprising leader disappeared.” Her gaze drifts to Rainey then Cyrus. “But after we’d lost a couple of commanders, it wasn’t completely unexpected. There was talk about the disappearances being connected.” Pressing her lips together, she glances at me. “That’s why I had to push you so hard about Cy’s location. A few days after the camp attacks, the leader’s body was found, throat slit, a hundred miles from where he was last seen.”
I glance up at Cyrus, wondering if he knows about this. He gives me a quick shake of his head. “Go on,” he says to Draya.
“We were only days away from striking the Union when the camps were attacked. It was a huge setback, but they’d already placed so many people in the Union that they quickly came up with a backup plan.” She flicks something off her pant leg. “And you know the rest.”
“That’s a lot of superficial information,” Mateo says. “We need dates, locations, a list of everything that was taken from the supply trucks, where the leader was last seen, where he was found…”
Draya’s chin tilts up as a smirk tugs at the corners of her mouth. “I take it you don’t need details on the camp attacks.”
Mateo’s chest expands with each terse breath.
“Didn’t think so,” she mumbles but spends the next couple of hours answering questions. Unfortunately, she doesn’t provide much in the way of concrete details, something we desperately need. If we have any hope of taking down the Uprising, we’re going to need help.
How Close Are We to a Dystopian Reality
Every day it seems like maybe we’re just a little bit closer to the dystopian world of The Union series. In THE UNION, the events kick off 150 years after a second civil war decimates most of the interior of what used to be the United States. In my fictional world, climate change became severe enough that the governments of the world felt they had no choice but to act. In the United States, where personal freedoms are valued more than almost anything, the restrictions the government was enacting were too much for some people.
Violent protests escalated and the government cracked down on gun ownership, which, in turn spawned more violence, leading to the first shot being fired in the second civil war in the 2040s; not far off from where we are now.
When the war ended, the devastation was so complete, the survivors moved to the coasts where water could be desalinated for drinking, leaving the center of the country mostly uninhabited. The survivors built up instead of out, creating a towering society that steps down as it approached the beaches, resembling the hillside towns of Europe, such as Cinque Terra in Italy.
Because the survivors believed man was responsible for climate change, they built their new society, known as The Union, with green energy and sustainable farming. But they didn’t stop there. To prevent anyone in the future from using dirty power again, they bombed all the power plants in the interior of the country, further ruining that land for decades.
The United States, being the world’s number one economy, obviously impacted the global economy with its collapse, leaving a fractured Earth, with most countries focused solely on their own survival.
How much would it take to get from where we are today to this dystopian/utopian future? A lot of anger and division within the United States and government overreach. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that’s as fantastical an idea as it was when I first conceived it ten years ago.