Authors: Eric Nylund
HE WORMED HIS WAY TO THE FAR EDGE AND
Below in the streets and along the arching bridges there were robots.
Lots of them. Everywhere.
Ethan counted dozens, moving back and forth—some in obvious patrol patterns, others speeding along on their single wheel on some urgent mission. These weren’t like the rusted suits in the metal graveyard outside the city. These robots gleamed with polished steel and oiled hydraulics. They were similar to the athletic suits he’d played soccer in but had one wheel instead of legs and slitted helmets for heads. In either hand they held parabolic communication dishes.
There were no human pilots. Where one would have sat inside, there were heavy-duty hydraulic pistons and a bluish glow.
Ethan’s skin crawled. He knew what that glow was.
Also by Eric Nylund
The Resisters 2: Sterling Squadron
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Text copyright © 2013 by Eric Nylund
Cover art copyright © 2013 by Jason Chan
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Yearling, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
Yearling and the jumping horse design are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Nylund, Eric S.
Titan Base / Eric Nylund. —1st Yearling ed.
p. cm. — (The resisters; 3)
Summary: Twelve-year-old Ethan must take command of a fractious flying squadron charged with finding a new Resister base, while being pursued by alien invaders.
[1. Science fiction. 2. Extraterrestrial beings—Fiction. 3. Leadership—Fiction.] I. Title.
PZ7.N9948Ti 2013 [Fic]—dc23 2012008449
Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.
TWELVE-YEAR-OLD ETHAN BLACKWOOD WAITED
outside Colonel Winter’s office. He fidgeted, because a guard stood at attention at her door. He was an adult master sergeant and he eyed Ethan suspiciously, but the man couldn’t ask questions or even tell Ethan to stop staring back.
Ethan was an officer. Sure, the lowest-ranking officer in the entire Resistance, second lieutenant, but still, by the rules, this man’s superior.
It made Ethan feel uneasy. What right did he have to outrank an adult Resister who’d been fighting the enemy all his life?
It didn’t make any sense.
Colonel Winter called from inside her office: “Enter.”
The master sergeant nodded at Ethan and opened the door for him.
Ethan entered and the door shut behind him.
Colonel Winter sat at her huge mahogany desk. She didn’t look up at Ethan; rather, she continued to pore over papers on her desk.
Ethan noted that the snow globe of Mount Fuji was no longer on her desk. It had been moved to the bookshelf, next to photos of her son, Sergeant Felix Winter, Ethan’s best friend.
How was friendship supposed to work when you were your friend’s commanding officer—and his mom was yours?
“At ease, Lieutenant,” the colonel said, and finally looked up.
Colonel Winter was the leader of the Resistance. Her dark hair was streaked white down the center. She was cold and hard, and she always looked like she wanted to court-martial someone (usually Ethan).
“You’ve read your orders?” she asked.
Ethan’s squadron was supposed to find a suitable location for a new base, in case the Ch’zar found the Seed Bank one day.
Actually, Ethan wondered why this hadn’t been done twenty years ago, but he kept his mouth shut. He had learned that was the best thing he could do around Colonel Winter.
“Any questions about the mission?” she asked.
“No, ma’am. I understand the parameters and the consequence of failing,” he said. “No questions … about the mission.”
“About something else, then?” she asked, her eyes narrowing with disapproval. “Don’t hedge your words, Lieutenant. I expect all my officers to be candid with their concerns. Consider that a standing order.”
Ethan shifted from foot to foot, trying not to squirm like a little kid.
He took a deep breath. “Just one question: Why was
put in charge?” He opened his mouth but couldn’t seem to get the rest of the words out.
Colonel Winter’s frown deepened. “You have permission to speak freely, Lieutenant. Please go on.”
“Well, Colonel, no one
me if I wanted to be a second lieutenant. I don’t think I’m cut out for command. I want to fight—don’t get me wrong—but I’m not sure I should be in charge.”
The disapproval on her face vanished. “
attitude,” she said, “is exactly why I put you in command, Lieutenant.”
Ethan shook his head, not getting what she meant.
“When you understand that,” she said, “you’ll understand what it means to be in charge.” She nodded toward the door. “Now, if there’s nothing else, I have plans to make. Good flying, Lieutenant. You are dismissed.”
Ethan snapped off a crisp salute, turned on his heels, and left her office.
Once outside, he strode directly down the damp concrete corridor to the elevator without looking back. He didn’t want the master sergeant at the door to see he’d broken into a cold sweat.
The elevator pinged and the doors opened.
Dr. Irving stood inside.
He was the chief scientist for the Resistance. He wore a white lab coat and had bushy white eyebrows that made him look half surprised all the time, like he was on the verge of a great scientific breakthrough. He was the only adult on base who’d always been nice to Ethan.
“Good morning,” Dr. Irving said, and smiled. “Had a pleasant meeting with our colonel, I trust?” His smile turned mischievous, and he added, “No, don’t answer that—my idea of a bad joke. Junior officers never have pleasant meetings with the colonel.”
Ethan got onto the elevator as the doctor stepped off.
The doctor set his hand on the door to stop it from closing. “Yes, young man?”
“What do you think makes someone a good leader?”
Dr. Irving’s grin faded. “What makes a good leader? Asking questions like that.” He patted Ethan on the shoulder. “I’m sure you’ll do fine. In fact, we’re all counting on it.”