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Authors: Julianna Baggott

Fuse (Pure Trilogy 2)

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FUSE

J
ULIANNA
B
AGGOTT

Copyright © 2013 Julianna Baggott

The right of Julianna Baggott to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.

First published as an Ebook by Headline Publishing Group in 2013

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

eISBN: 978 0 7553 8555 3

Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library

HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
An Hachette UK Company
London NW1 3BH

www.headline.co.uk
www.hachette.co.uk

Contents

About the Book

The second book in the PURE trilogy for fans of THE PASSAGE, THE ROAD and THE HUNGER GAMES.

When the end came, the world was divided. Those considered perfect, the Pure, sheltered inside the controlled Dome. Outside, the Wretches struggled in a destroyed world, crippled by the fusings that branded them after the apocalypse that changed everything.

Partridge, a Pure, has left the safety of the Dome in search of the truth. Pressia, a Wretch, is desperate to decode the secret that will cure her people of their fusings forever. Together, they must seek out the answers that will save humankind, and prevent the world’s annihilation.

But the betrayal of Partridge’s departure has not been forgotten. As the Dome unleashes horrifying vengeance upon the Wretches in an attempt to get Partridge back, Partridge has no choice but to return to face the darkness that lies there, even as Pressia travels to the very ends of the world to continue their search.

Theirs is a struggle against a formidable foe, and it is a fight that will push them over boundaries of land and of sea, of heart and of mind. They can only hope for success because failure is unimaginable …

About the Author

Julianna Baggott is an award-winning poet, novelist, and young adult writer. For years, she has been thinking about writing a futuristic dystopian novel about a society of haves – the Pure, who escaped the apocalypse and live in an uncontaminated dome-covered city – and have-nots – the wretched survivors who live in the nearly-destroyed outside world.

By Julianna Baggott and available from Headline:

PURE
FUSE

Praise for Julianna Baggott

‘A great, gorgeous novel, boundless in its imagination. You will be swept away’ Justin Cronin

‘Discomfiting and unforgettable’
The New York Times

‘This novel sizzles with invention and viscerally disturbs with its portraits of catastrophe’
The Sunday Times

‘She has a flair for keeping the pages turning with a combination of short, sharp action beats and drip-fed revelations. Strong stuff, and gripping to boot’
SFX magazine

For my father, Bill Baggott.
Thank you for helping me build worlds,
especially the original world of my childhood.

A
CKNOWLEDGMENTS

So many people go into the brute work of this creation. I want to thank my steadfast agents Nat Sobel, Judith Weber—their entire team—and Justin Manask. I’m deeply thankful to Hachette—Jaime Levine, Jaime Raab, Beth deGuzman, Selina McLemore, and the brilliant art department—as well as Hachette UK, in particular Hannah Sheppard and Ben Willis and all of my dedicated foreign editors. Thank you Karen Rosenfelt, Rodney Ferrell, and Emmy Castlen for believing in the cinematic possibilities. I’m incredibly thankful for Heather Whitaker, who might just one day let me read her work.

I’m thankful for the work of Andrew Collins, in particular his book
The Cygnus Mystery: Unlocking the Ancient Secret of Life’s Origins in the Cosmos
. Again, I’d like to thank Charles Pellegrino for his book
Last Train from Hiroshima
, which is still not currently available, but I hope for a revised edition to hit the shelves once more. Thank you Cheryl Fitch for inviting me into the Florida State University Molecular Cloning Facility for a tour. To the tour guide at Newgrange who took us in and to the kid who jumped up and down in the dark chamber, setting off his light-up sneakers. (Ireland, my soul sways.) Special thanks to Rick Wilber. I’m thankful for the vast collection of colleagues at Florida State University—the breadth and depth of their work inspires. And, oddly, I want to thank St. Andrew’s School. It’s been a long time, but it’s all still there.

My family. You, kids. Dave. I love you tenderly. When I’m weary, I remember that I’m building this for you.

And again, the Pure Trilogy is something that wouldn’t exist without my father, Bill Baggott—too gentle for wolves, you are the wisest man I know. You taught me to be curious and critical and brave. You remain my favorite interpretive dancer and the best model I know for living heart-first. I am so deeply indebted, for everything.

Peace.

P
ROLOGUE
WILDA

Lying on a thin coat of snow, she sees gray earth meeting gray sky, and she knows she’s back. The horizon looks clawed, but the claw marks are only three stunted trees. They stand in a row like they’re stapling the ground to the sky
.

She gasps, suddenly, a delayed reaction, as if someone is trying to steal her breath and she’s pulling it back into her throat
.

She sits up. She’s still small, still just a nine-year-old girl. She feels like she’s lost a lot of time, but she hasn’t. Not really. Not years. Maybe only days, weeks
.

She tugs her thick coat in tight around her ribs. The coat is proof. She touches its silver buttons. There’s a scarf tucked down into the coat, wound twice around her neck. Who dressed her? Who wound the scarf twice? She looks at her boots—dark blue with thick laces, new—and her hands fitted into gloves, each finger encased in a taut cocoon
.

A curl of her dark red hair sits on her jacket, her hair shining. The end of each strand is thick and perfect as if newly cut
.

She pulls up the sleeve of the coat, exposing her arm. Just as it was under the bright light, the bone is no longer warped. There are no thin plastic ridges bubbled along the skin. She isn’t stippled with shards. Not even a mole or a freckle. Her skin is white—white, the way snow should be, maybe even whiter. She’s never seen really white snow with her own eyes. The light veins ride blue beneath the white. She touches the soft inner skin of one wrist to her cheek, then her lips. Smooth skin on smooth skin.

She looks around and knows they’re close; she can feel the electricity of their bodies filling the air. She remembers what it was like when they first took her from the other strays; motherless, fatherless, they slept in a handmade lean-to near the markets. She isn’t sure why she was chosen, lifted into the air, clutched. One cradled her in its arms and hurdled across the rubble while the others bounded around them. Its breath chugged, mechanically. Its legs pumped. Her eyes teared in the wind, so its angular face was blurry. She wasn’t afraid, but now she is. They’re here, their strong bodies buzzing like massive bees, but they’re leaving her. She feels like a child in a fairy tale. In her mother’s stories—she had a mother once—there was a woodsman who was supposed to take a girl’s heart back to an evil queen, but he couldn’t force himself to do it. Another sliced open a wolf to save the people it had eaten. The woodsmen were strong and good. But they left girls in the woods sometimes, girls who then had to fend for themselves
.

Light snow falls. She stands slowly. The world lurches as if it’s suddenly grown heavy. She falls to her knees and then hears voices in the woods; two are people walking toward her. Even from this distance, she can see the red scars on their faces. One wobbles from a limp. They’re carrying sacks
.

She tugs the scarf over her nose and mouth. She’s supposed to be found. She’s a foundling; she remembers this word was used in the room with the bright light. “We want her to be a foundling.” It was a man’s voice, quavering over a speaker. He was in charge, though she never saw him. Willux, Willux, people whispered—people with smooth skin who weren’t fused to anything. They moved easily around her bed, surrounded by metal posts where clear sacs of fluid were clamped and dripped into tubes, among little beeping machines and wires. It was like having mothers and fathers, too many to keep track
.

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