Earth, February 21, 2355
Kristen Winters bent her knees and leaned back on the hoverboard, clutching the sail’s horizontal boom rail with all her might. It grabbed more wind, lifting the rig higher into the sky. Red lightning arced all around as she bounced on the front edge of the raging storm. With her boots locked tight, she had little fear of falling off, though losing control and crashing was a whole different story.
A thousand feet below, her target sped along a dirt road. The bulky six-wheeled terrain tracker fought to stay in front of the tempest. Fortunately, the Dallas Life Pod came into view in the distance quicker than she had anticipated. The city’s half-mile-wide dome glowed white in the desert sea like a lighthouse of old. An immense concrete wall surrounded the citadel, protecting the inhabitants from the unforgiving environment.
That used to be home, she thought. Every day, her family had barely scraped by until she’d discovered that hidden bag of seeds. Her parents thought they’d found gold. They would use them as barter to escape Dallas and start over in the Missouri Life Pod, but disaster struck. Her parents had died on the treacherous journey to their new lives.
Now, only death awaited her back in Missouri and possibly in her old hometown as well, but Dallas was the only place left within reach. Kansas, Chicago, even Oklahoma had all run out of water and gone dark. As she flew over the immense barren land, she imagined the world thriving and green again. Then her parents would still be alive. But the part of her still in the here and now knew that would never happen.
A blast of air knocked her sideways, forcing her to muscle the board back around. She caught herself, then looked down. The terrain tracker seemed to hit a faster gear, racing for the protection of the city walls. Even so, the hurricane force storm gained on it. From her vantage point, she couldn’t tell if the vehicle would make it to safety or not.
The screeching alarm in Kristen’s helmet warned her the oxygen tank bordered on empty. The envirosuit might protect her from the elements, but it wouldn't do her a lot of good if she couldn’t breathe. She pushed with her foot and the front of the board dipped. The rig streaked downward, hurtling toward the ground as if riding a giant rogue wave. She angled to intercept the terrain tracker before it entered the city. Furious wind buffeted her. Her hand furthest from the mast slipped off the boom rail, but she managed to regain her grip before the sail could tear away.
At the bottom of the raging trough, she pulled up and ripped across the surface mere feet above the ground. The hoverboard’s magnetic inductors kicked in, keeping it aloft as she flew toward the terrain tracker. The rear of the vehicle grew rapidly in her visor screen. Kristen yanked in the sail in a futile effort to reduce her speed.
Her helmet computer blared in her ears, “Warning! Slow down!”
“Disengage the foot locks,” she ordered.
The computer replied, “That will cause you to crash.”
“I know, damn it! Do it now.”
The snaps released from her boots. She scrambled to the front of the board and leaped for the back of the terrain tracker. She slammed into it and clawed at the handles as she slid down, her feet nearly dragging the ground. With the side of her face mashed against the back door, she saw the sail hit alongside the dirt road and explode into pieces that rocketed out in every direction. A chunk of the boom rail shot toward her. She let go with one hand and flung herself to the corner edge, barely dodging the metal rod as it crashed into the spot where she’d just been. She swung back and snatched the other handle again.
The vehicle rumbled forward at its breakneck pace, jolting across the rocky wasteland and barren hills. Desperate, she pulled her body upward and heaved herself on top of the metal behemoth, wedging between the cargo racks and antennas. Kristen hoped no one inside had noticed anything.
From her vantage point, the city’s protective wall loomed ahead. The massive outer door scrolled up, creating an escape route into the sanctuary. The storm engulfed the terrain tracker, blasting her with a deluge of sand and grit. The transport barreled through the entrance and slid to a halt. A cloud of dirt followed until the titanium gate closed behind them with a heavy thud. When the dust settled and the toxic gases had been vented out, the inner airlock opened. The tracker drove into the compound, stopping just on the other side. Kristen’s visor retracted up into a thin line and she sucked in the fresh air as quietly as she could.
A stern voice came from below. “We know you’re up there. Come down, now, and we might let you live.”
* * * * *
The Future's Dark Past Series
Prequel: The Recombinant Theory (completed)
Prequel two: Earth Dismantled
First book: Book One (completed)
Second book: Book Two (first draft complete!)
Third book: Book Three (under construction)