Entry Nickname: Stellar Twins Kickin it Cosmic-Style
Word Count: 66k
Genre: YA Space Opera
The year is 2088. Solar flares have turned Earth to a dusty red planet, and mankind has terraformed Mars into utopia. So far, only the lucky have migrated to a brave new world…or so it would seem.
Sixteen-year-old Joey Westen never thought she’d go to Mars. Her life of painting murals on the walls of her lead-lined home was good enough, until a golden letter arrived in the mail. She and her twin brother, Jesse, won a spot in the Emergence Program. They’ll be jetting off on the next flight to humanity’s new home, and the shuttle leaves tomorrow.
It takes only minutes in space for Joey and Jesse to realize something’s wrong, as a total ship lockdown was not in the brochure. After meeting their roommates, the Matsuda twins (notorious hackers and shady secret-keepers), they discover an extremist plot to sabotage the Emergence Program. No other shuttles made the trek to Mars, their lush paradise waits empty, and the terrorist responsible is loose onboard their ship. They didn’t travel to the deepest pits of space to be slaughtered by a psycho in a high-tech tin can. These two sets of siblings will lie, hack, even kill to survive the attacks and make it to their promised land.
Joey pulled a helmet over her head and fastened the latch to her anti-radiation suit. So much work, just to get the weekly post. Her art kit waited, the sketch of an ocean left unfinished, but chores don’t do themselves.
After flipping on her oxygen tank, she hit a red button on the wall. A buzzer sounded and the outer door of her home crept open, sucking all air from the room. Light glared off metal, shocking her eyes for a split second. The sun’s flare raged today, no different from yesterday, and the same forecast as tomorrow.
She slid down her visor. A reflection of the deep crimson sky colored the lens of her old spacesuit, which still bore the tag from Goodwill. Her boots scattered dust with each step, a cloud of scarlet haze kicking up when she stopped. While peering through tinted glass, she imagined the land as her mother described it. The reddish tint, which covered the parched countryside, transformed to crisp green meadows and pools of turquoise shaded water. Heavy layers of gray smog gave way to puffy white clouds.
Her fantasy ended when a ray of sunlight pierced through her visor. She lifted her arm, blocking the shimmer that bounced from a monstrous glass dome. Hard soil crunched as she neared the edge of a steep drop-off. She gazed down, spying into the elite A-Sector. All those people, strolling along without radon-suits, safe inside a UV bubble of riches.