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Authors: JA Huss

Fledge

BOOK: Fledge
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Contents

Fledge

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four

Chapter Forty-Five

Chapter Forty-Six

Chapter Forty-Seven

FLIGHT Preview

Acknowledgments

FLedGe

I Am Just Junco, Book Two

 

By J. A. Huss

www.iamjustjunco.com

 

Edited by
RJ Locksley

Cover art by
James Ledger

 

Copyright © 2012 by J. A. Huss

All rights reserved.

 

ISBN-10: 1936413159

ISBN-13: 978-1-936413-15-7

 

Other books by J.A. Huss

Clutch (I Am Just Junco, Book 1)

Flight (I Am Just Junco, Book 3)

Range (I Am Just Junco Book 4)

The Magpie Bridge (A Tier Novella, Book 4.5)

TRAGIC (NA Contemporary Romance)

Losing Francesca (MYA/NA Contemporary Romance)

 

 

 

Well-trained soldier or genetically engineered monster?
Junco Coot can't even remember her trip off Earth; she was too busy being morphed into her new avian body. But reality hits her hard when she wakes up to find her new life is not what she expected. Not even close.
Tier is on trial for treason, the avian president wants her dead, her new military team is hostile, her body is being taken over by an illicit AI, and her only friend is a ten-year old throwaway boy.
In most places the avian Fledge ritual would be nothing more than mass murder, but here in the capital city of Amelia, it's called growing up. Junco has two choices: fight to the death to prove her worth, or get sent back to Earth in the hands of her enemies.
In a foreign culture and surrounded by people she can't trust or count on, Junco must find a way to save herself and Tier without losing her immortal soul in the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

A bead of sweat tickles me as it slides down my ribcage, clings tight as it rounds the curve of my back, and finally drops to settle on the towel underneath my body. I squirm a little to shake the feeling and cool air rushes in where there was once only heat. I flip over on the towel and put my hands under my forehead and try to go back to sleep.

"You're gonna burn, Junco."

"Mmmmhmmmm. Maybe."

I jump a little as the cold squirt of lotion drops onto my back and rough hands begin massaging it into my skin. I pick my head up a little and mumble, "Thank you."

He laughs. "Believe me, it is my pleasure."

He moves his hands to the back of my legs and I laugh and kick him away. "Tickles, Charlie." He increases the pressure to make the tickle stop and I relax back into the small dent my body has made in the sand over the past hour. When he's done he sits back in the beach chair next to me and is silent. I peek up at him with one eye, squinting at the sun. "Quit it. It hasn't changed. Just ignore it."

He looks down at me and nods, but the words tell another story. "What do you think he's saying?"

I let out a huff and turn back around so I can look out towards the lake where the apparition floats, just a few feet off the end of the dock. "Who cares?" I look back up at Charlie, but he's still staring. "We can't hear him, so who cares, Charlie."

"Junco, if he didn't have something to tell you, he wouldn't be here at all."

I lay my head back down and mumble, "Not interested. Not one bit."

Charlie gives up and slides down next to me on the towel, slipping his arm around my body and kissing the back of my neck until I arch my back and giggle. "Let's go inside," he breathes in my ear. "He's giving me the creeps."

I smile and then I laugh. "He's a hologram, Chuck. He can't see anything. Shit, he can't even get the talking part straight. Just ignore him. He'll go away. Eventually."

But he ignores my plea. Instead, he grabs my hand and pulls me to my feet. Then swings me over his shoulder and starts running towards the cabin. My body jerks and bounces with each stride and I laugh so hard it hurts. "Oh, God! Stop! Stop!" I beg, but he just swings me over and plops me on the ground, then grabs my hand again and pulls me inside.

I fall down on the rumpled blankets and laugh as he crawls towards me from the foot of the bed. "No tickling!" I warn.

But he just takes my wrists and holds them over my head and leans down onto me. "No tickling? Since when?"

I laugh and squirm. "I'm serious." But he knows I'm not.

He gathers both of my little wrists into one hand and then slips the other under my back to unclasp my bikini top and covers my mouth with gentle kisses. "I love you, Junco," he breathes as he lets go of my wrists.

My hands go to his back and I draw my fingertips up towards his neck, making him buckle this time. They continue up into his blond hair and I pull his face towards me. I open my eyes and he's staring at me. "It's almost time to go, you know. That's why he's out there."

I shake my head as I search his brown eyes. "No, Charlie. I'm not going back. Ever."

He lets out a puff of air. "Silly, Junco. You can't live in a virtual when you still have a body. You have to go out so you can come back again."

My head is shaking before he is finished. "No."

His lips reach down to my neck and touch me softly. He leans into my ear. "Babe, I'll always be here. They can't ever take this away."

I feel the tears well up in my eyes and he lifts his head to study my face. "Shhh, not now, Junco. Now I just want to love you." His hands remove the loose top and then slide down my thigh and I moan and grab him tight and I thank God for every second we have together, every breath that escapes, and when the release comes I am bathed in the rays of total and complete happiness.

 

 

 

I wake later, when the moon is out and the wind has picked up enough to make the sheer curtains in the window blow in towards the bed. Charlie is gone and I am alone on the cool white sheets. I swing my legs over and dress in a large white shirt and some old denim shorts and make my way out of the bedroom. The moon is so bright that the ripple on the lake reflects the glow indoors through the picture window. I stand near the small kitchen and watch Charlie out on the deck, sitting down in front of the apparition of Tier.

My heart aches for him and for me, because he's right. Tier is here for one reason and one reason only. To announce the end of – whatever this is. My throat tightens up and I swallow hard to fight back the sadness. I walk out onto the deck, making just enough noise to let Charlie know I am out here, but he doesn't turn back to find me and the sinking feeling drops a little further into my stomach.

I walk down the steps slowly and then step into the soft sand that was never present at the lake cabin this virtual was based on. My toes sink in and I walk towards the dock and step on. Still, Charlie remains fixated on the holo hovering out over the water.

I can feel the vibrations on the deck as my feet touch down, and as I move out over the water the planks have a little more give than they do near the shore. Still, Charlie remains fixed.

I am halfway to the end when I hear the voice and I stop. It's Tier's voice. When he first appeared it was like the holo was stuck in a repeating pattern. No sound would play and we sat in front of it, just like Charlie sits tonight, and tried to read his lips. Tried to think of what he might be saying. Added in our own words, laughing at the absurdity of what we came up with. And finally, we just gave up and ignored him.

I cover the rest of the ground and take a seat on the edge of the dock. Charlie takes my hand and I lay my head down on his shoulder.

By then I already know what Tier's message is. He repeats the same two sentences, over and over again.

Trust no one, Junco. Show no weakness.

Trust no one, Junco. Show no weakness.

Trust no one, Junco. Show no weakness.

Trust no one, Junco. Show no weakness.

And I come out of it just like I went down. Swinging for the dumb fuck who just ripped me out of the happiest time of my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

I burst out of the tank and the desperate gasp for air is like a prairie devil sucking up a farmhouse. My fists latch on to anything that will prevent me from going back under as waves of thick goo slosh around my body. Only the whine of plasma charge snaps me out of it and I allow a multitude of hands to grasp my arms and keep me still as the voice booms next to my head.

"Don't make me regret letting you live, Junco."

I cough and somewhere deep inside my vomit reflex is triggered. Shit comes up, clogging my airway and making me struggle against the firm hands. Since my eyes are still glued shut, I have no idea what comes out.

They pull me up out of the tank – completely out of the tank – so that I'm in mid-air for a few seconds, and then my feet hit the cold tile floor. My legs know what to do, but it's not happening. They drag me and I count six pairs of boots as we travel. Damn. Six fucking avians for me. I'm about to feel special when I'm dumped on the floor. A door snaps shut and I know I am alone.

A hydraulic click makes me twitch as my heart pounds in my chest. I take a deep breath and Tier's words come back to me. Trust no one. Show no weakness. I count to five to calm myself, breathing in and out, up and down, and then scoot on the floor until I bump into a wall. My hands flail out, finding a rail, then I pull myself up and force my legs to stand. My whole body shakes with fear, atrophy and cold, but the legs hold and I straighten my back, let go of the railing, and lift my chin.

And wait as the thick, sticky tank goo crusts in the ventilated room. My body feels lighter than normal and I realize that gravity must be less than one-G.

It helps.

A fine mist sprays out in all directions and I lift my arms up to let it coat me all over. It is only then, when my muscles are asked to respond, that I realize what's happened.

The smile comes out and I laugh, soft at first, then wildly, hysterical, and I turn my face upward to the drizzle as my lids are freed from their prison. Hot water blasts the soap off my body and I finally open my eyes.

I expel the fear.

I've been reborn.

The water drenches me and then I step back to wipe my eyes and look around, holding the handrail for support. It's a shower room, obviously. Small, but I can see through the clear surround that there are close to a hundred of them all lined up. Mine is the only one in use at the moment. I look through the glass to try and see if anyone is around, but the large room outside the stall appears empty.

My attention returns to my shower and I lather my new body with gel provided by a wall dispenser. When my hands touch my chest and upper back I gasp with the changes. My upper body is pure muscle. The smile creeps along my face as I imagine the new power this will bring to my old skills. I turn my head to try and see my wings but all I get is a glimpse of the tips as they roll over to cup my shoulders.

BOOK: Fledge
11.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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