The Undergrounders #1: Immurement – Norma Hinkens
What little land is habitable is patrolled by cutthroat gangs of escaped subversives, but that’s not the greatest threat facing sixteen-year-old Derry Connelly, her brother Owen, and a ragged band of Preppers holed up in a bunker in the Sawtooth Mountains. Mysterious hoverships operated by clones are targeting adolescents for extraction.
Owen, is one of the first to disappear. To save him, Derry must strike a deal with the murderous subversives, and risk a daring raid to infiltrate the heart of the extraction operation.
But will the rookie leader falter when forced to choose between her brother and a clone who ignites something inside her she didn’t know was possible?
Norma Hinkens grew up among vibrant storytelling traditions in her native Ireland. A Celtic bard at heart, she wields her wordsmithing sword with as much wit and eloquence as a bard can muster. She’s a legend-loving author who takes a fiendish delight in pushing reluctant characters over cliffs to find out what they’re made of. Epic odds, seemingly impossible missions, pasts that haunt, intrigue and misadventure. She’s happiest when wrangling provocative big picture ideas that are never black and white when you turn them inside out. It’s all about the tension in the journey. She lived and worked in Germany for several years, and currently resides in California with her husband, three children and Chihuahua extraordinaire. She is the author of The Undergrounders Series, Immurement, Embattlement and Adjudgement, a Young Adult post-apocalyptic, sci-fi adventure trilogy.
Someone gives a feeble clap. “Magnificent! A most rousing speech to rally the heathens, Mason!”
My feet fuse to the floor at the raspy voice that wafts into the room. Tucker strains at his collar. I yank him back, my heart pounding.
A shrunken man with an unnatural stoop steps into view. My skin crawls with a new level of fear. My gun’s in the Crematauto, along with the rest of the weapons. I fumble around in my pocket and latch onto my switchblade. A trickle of sweat runs down behind my ears. The man standing in the entry looks freakishly old and frail. Tucker could take him down in a heartbeat, but my brain sounds an inner caution. He probably didn’t come alone.
Before I even finish my thought, the doorway darkens and four armed men in black fatigues troop through. Big-shouldered, faces set like flint on necks thick as tree stumps. Schutz Clones! I tighten my grip on Tucker and command him to stay. One false move and he’ll end up another carcass waiting to be incinerated. He minds me, but tension radiates through his collar.
“Welcome to the Craniopolis,” the old man says. “My apologies for the modest welcoming committee, but your timing is most unfortunate. Everyone is at the unveiling of our new Hovermedes prototype.” His body shakes out a shallow breath, as he shuffles toward me. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Dr. Lyong.”
I slide my gaze in Mason’s direction. His face registers confusion. Then a flicker of recognition.
“What … happened to you?” he asks, in a half-whisper.
Dr. Lyong jerks to a stop in front of me and lets out a long, trembling sigh. It’s all I can do not to gag. His breath smells of decaying compost.
“Restructuring DNA proved more complex than I had hoped.” Dr. Lyong runs a finger under his beaked nose and waves it dismissively in Mason’s direction. The skin is stretched so tight over his hand I can see the grape-colored veins forking out beneath it. He barely looks human.
I can’t repress a shudder.