Title: Designs of Euphoria
Category and Genre: YA Science Fiction
Word Count: 68,000
Seventeen-year-old Lottie might have accepted that her first love is a genetically modified warrior loyal to an emerging AI. At least until she discovers that the machine is systemically stamping out all dissent and diversity on its quest to build a perfectly just city—modeled after the three-tiered society of Plato’s Republic.
When the lives of her family get caught in its path, Lottie realizes the fight to save them is much bigger than herself. Pockets of impoverished provincials and groups of vengeful exiled warriors have launched a counteroffensive. But the uprising captures her father, thinking he works for the AI.
Now with her love and family on one side and a ragtag cabal that she believes in on the other, Lottie has to decide what—and whom—she’s willing to sacrifice to stop the encroaching army of warriors and exobots.
First 250 Words:
The second to last time Dad lay buried between the sacks, every part of me hoped he’d stay there. I had no idea that the next time, I’d be a sobbing mess, begging him to get up.
Grains of sand whipped around us, scattering as we neared West Gate. Our transport cruised along with the low hum of autopilot, running a methodical scan over the deserted terrain. I’d stopped paying attention hours ago. Now sitting hunched over, I flipped through page after page of the tattered book. A slow ache rippled through my shoulder blades. Everything hurt, everything always hurt, by the time we got to the gate.
The transparent display ignited a faint orange glow, signaling an alert. The following ding said it all: they’d identified us. Cursing myself for not moving sooner, I slammed the book closed and jumped up. A hollow slip ran between the interior wall and flat deck. Two quick bangs and the rusty casing opened enough for me to hide the gift inside. A good kick and it closed. Once settled, I switched the transport to semi-manual mode and queued a couple controls. We floated forward at a slow pace.
Up ahead, warriors stood erect with their backs against chiseled stone, looking as greyed and weathered as the wall they guarded, but also as proud. As we neared, the darkened silhouettes shifted, drawing electrified braided spears outward. Black synthetic leathers ran smoothly over their bodies, concealing the source of their inhuman strength: exogear.
Either the automatic alert or my scurry woke Dad.