Word Count: 81,500
Genre: YA Sci-fi
System of Oppression: Sexism
Author's Identity: Woman of color (Latina, cis)
Reeka Pendleton and her brother Dek have three rules: stick together, trust no one, and always go back for each other. When Dek is recruited for the fighter pilot program at the JetStar Academy--the toughest, all-male school in their galaxy--Reeka grudgingly lets him go. But when he disappears, she vows to jump a transport from her home space station and find him.
However, several failed attempts have left her with a few broken ribs and more than a handful of enemies. Worse, her options are running out. Regulations on all space stations have increased due to the threat of the Iorge, a rogue organization determined to create super soldiers by erasing emotions from the main population. Their constant attacks have driven the stations to the brink of war.
But Reeka won’t let even a war get in her way, seizing an opportunity to be one of the JetStar Academy’s four female recruits. As Reeka battles chauvinistic classmates and dives into the secrets of Dek’s actions at the Academy, she discovers that her commanding officer knows more about Dek's disappearance than he's willing to reveal--and that Dek may have a more significant role in the impending war than Reeka ever expected.
I collapsed in an alley as the fiery whip of pain in my ribs threatened to burst out of me. I barely had enough strength left to tap a message to Ari on my ion5:
: Are you up?
Several excruciating moments passed, the hot jolts in my ribs acting as much more than a distraction. Finally, instead of a message, Ari sent me a vid-chat:
“Reeka, where are you?” she asked, her voice cloudy with sleep.
“Downtown?” My head throbbed as I tried not to slip further down into the void.
“Wait, what time is it?” Ari’s eyes flashed over to the digi-time. “Reek, it’s three AM! Why the hell are you out?”
Her cursing made me laugh, but doing so made my ribs hurt. “Goozer,” I said, wincing. “I tried going after Dek. Didn’t make it.”
“You are so stupid, Reek. Why would you leave without telling me?” Ari sat up and turned on her bedroom low light. Her brown eyes were big behind the specs that she shoved up the bridge of her nose.
I braced myself against the wall so that I wouldn’t pass out. “I don’t know. I had to go after him, Ari.” I closed my eyes. “But you’re right, it was stupid.”
Dek and I had made three rules for survival when we were kids: stick together, trust no one, and always go back for each other. I’d been having a rough time with that last one since he’d been officially classified as MIA from the JetStar Academy.