Read an Excerpt From Devastation Class, a YA Space Opera

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An annihilation force of invading aliens. Human civilization on the brink of extinction. Earth’s only hope—seven cadets and the legendary starship they were never meant to command. No matter the cost, they will stop at nothing to survive. No matter the odds, they will fight to save their future…

We’re excited to share an excerpt from Devastation Class, a novel by Glen Zipper and Elaine Mongeon—publishing September 8th with Blink.

The distant future. Earth’s Alliance forces have emerged victorious from a brutal nine-year war with the mysterious Kastazi—a vicious, highly advanced alien race. In the dawn of a new peace, the Alliance Devastation Class starship California embarks on a mission of science and learning with a skeleton crew of seasoned officers, civilian students, and inexperienced military cadets in tow.

For JD Marshall and Viv Nixon, gifted cadets and best friends, the mission holds special meaning: It offers an opportunity to prove themselves and begin to escape the long shadows of their legendary war hero parents.

Suddenly ambushed by a second wave of invading Kastazi forces, JD and Viv make the impossible decision to spearhead a mutiny to save the California and everyone on it. In command and quickly out of options, they are forced to activate the ship’s prototype Blink Reactor—an experimental technology they expect to send them to the safe, distant reaches of space. When their escape transports them to a reality they don’t recognize and reveals unimaginably terrifying secrets, they must fight their way home to save not just everyone they love but also humanity itself. Standing in their way are an insurmountable enemy, saboteurs from within, a mystery eons in the making, and the fabric of time and space itself.


 

 

CHAPTER 1
JD

My red sportbike breached a thick wall of opaque heat radiating off the pavement. To my left, the pristine blue waves of the Pacific Ocean. To my right, towering walls of gray-brown rock and boulder. Behind me, closer than ever before: Vivien Nixon, a yellow projectile hurtling forward at almost impossible velocity.

We’d raced each other in these canyons hundreds, if not thousands, of times. I had every curve, every line, every crevice memorized—and used them to my advantage. Even the seemingly insignificant angles of shadow and light were weapons at my disposal.

Our machines equal, only strategy and technique separated us—and perhaps the intangible will to win.

Entering a straightaway, Viv made her move. In my rearview I could see her foot stabbing downward, downshifting into third. The sound of five thousand RPMs rattled inside my helmet as I watched her yellow streak blast by me.

Instinctually, I matched her technique: Downshift. Accelerate. Overtake. She was not going to beat me.

In an instant, the road narrowed, and we were even. A blur of yellow and red intertwined.

And then came the curve. Our two bikes, cornering at breakneck speed, inches apart along the cliff’s edge.

I could’ve eased off. Let Viv have the curve. But that would’ve meant submission and certain defeat. One of us had to lead and the other had to follow. I understood that. I wondered if she did. A phantom taste of bile flooded my mouth. The thought of losing made my stomach turn. No. I would hold my ground. Not give a single inch.

Ever predictable, Viv held her line, prioritizing technical precision over strategy. Her mistake. My opportunity. I took one short breath and leaned into the curve first, intersecting her path.

Behind me, I could hear the grotesque impact of Viv’s bike against the guardrail. An intense wave of anger overwhelmed me. How could she let this happen again? After all this time, she should’ve been smarter. Better. Like me.

I turned my head and watched her bike plummet over the cliff on a meteoric collision course with eternity. And in the span of a moment, my world was gone. Empty. It was like floating underwater in the dark, no noise but the hammering of my heart.

* * *

And then the emptiness was filled with noise—the sound of metal against metal, an alarm and a cycling message broadcast over the PA: This is a drill. All cadets report to the bridge. All students report to your safety positions. This is a drill.

Next came blinding light as a hatch opened from above and a uniformed arm reached down to me in the darkness. As it pulled me upward, a sixteen-year-old bespectacled face came into focus: Roger Bixby. My roommate and fellow cadet.

“Come on, man. Snap out of it. Blink Drill,” Bix said, shouting over all the noise. “You’re going to get us written up again.”

I acknowledged him with a half grin but didn’t try to get out of my pod any faster. Getting written up didn’t really bother me anymore, even though it should’ve.

I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the Iso-Pod tank as I stepped down to the floor. I may not have been the same physical specimen as my father—everything genetics divinely gifted him, I had to earn the hard way. Exhaustive, if not obsessive exercise. Strict dietary regimens. Constant discipline. But still, for all my limitations I was holding my own. At least physically, anyway.

The alarm and message continued to cycle: This is a drill. All cadets report to the bridge. All students report to your safety positions. This is a drill.

I pulled off my red armband and nonchalantly scanned Iso-Rec. The compartment was circular, with a dozen chambers arranged in a half-moon. The walls and floor were uniformly charcoal, the pods oblong and glossy black. You could always count on the Alliance to design everything in different, previously undiscovered shades of boring. A door at the far end exited to Beta Deck’s main passageway.

Despite the fact Bix was standing right next to a control panel, he looked puzzled by the annoyed look on my face.

“What?” he asked, adding a flummoxed shrug of his shoulders.

“The noise, Bix. Kill the noise.”

“Oh.”

A quick swipe of his fingers across the panel cut off the Iso-Rec PA.

By the time my eyes found their way to Viv’s pod, Julian Lorde was already standing beside it. He was tall, strapping, handsome, and smart. Not to mention British. My distaste for the guy aside, I had no trouble understanding why Viv—or any other girl for that matter—would’ve fallen for him.

He hoisted Viv out of the pod’s inner chamber with effortless grace and gently set her on her feet. She responded by greeting him with a smile and delicately running her fingertips through his sandy-blond hair.

The softness of Viv’s demeanor evaporated as soon as she turned her attention to me. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t help but focus on the sensory fluid clinging to the contours of her body as she stormed my way.

“What is wrong with you?” she snapped, inches from my face. “If that was a real track, I’d be dead!”

“But it wasn’t, and you’re not,” I hit back.

“This is really starting to get old.”

“What is? Losing?”

“And here we go again,” she said with a sigh. “Your ‘whatever’s necessary to win’ sermon.”

“I like to think of it more as a lesson. One you still need to learn.”

“You know, John,” Lorde piped in, “perhaps if you concentrated more on rules and less on winning, you’d be having more success here.”

My lips irresistibly curled into a smirk. “That’s interesting, Julian. Perhaps if you concentrated more on winning, you wouldn’t be languishing on the lower decks.”

I immediately regretted saying it. The fact he hadn’t made the cut with us was a vulnerability he couldn’t escape, and it was beneath me to use it against him.

“If my father were captain, perhaps things would be different.”

I wanted to get in his face, but resisted the urge. I was accustomed to taking potshots about nepotism, but not from him. To his credit, Lorde had never cried foul about it before. Probably because it would’ve put Viv in his crosshairs too. Her mother was my father’s first officer.

“Are you really going there, Julian?” I asked.

“I’m sorry, John, but it really begs the question, doesn’t it?”

“The question of what? My qualifications as a cadet relative to

yours?”

“No. Not your qualifications. Your commitment. If anyone else

showed so little respect for their position—”

“The captain wouldn’t tolerate it? Is that it?”

“Like I said, John. It begs the question.”

Thankfully the high-pitched tone of an incoming alert pinged

from the com unit embedded in the wall beside me—interrupting us before I could indulge my impulse to belt Lorde in the jaw.

I steeled myself for what I knew was coming. “Marshall,” I acknowledged into the com.

“Why aren’t any of you at the Blink Drill?” my father’s angry voice boomed through the speaker.

I cringed. So much for steeling myself.

My father had far more important duties to attend to than monitoring my schedule, yet he made a point of riding me anyway. As he always did.

“Apologies, Captain,” I replied. Calling him Dad was only permissible off duty and in private. “I forgot to set the timers on the Iso-Pods. It’s my fault.”

“I don’t want to hear excuses. Get to the drill now, cadet.”

“Aye, Captain.”

Bix wiped the sweat from his forehead. “We’re getting written

up, aren’t we?”

“Relax,” I answered. “You know this is about me, not either of

you. The only thing you need to be worried about is tonight.”

I felt Viv’s eyes on me.

“What?” I asked her.

“What’s happening tonight?” she asked.

“A microwave experiment,” I lied.

“You’re working on a microwave experiment? You? Tonight?”

“Yes. Me. Tonight,” I answered. “Why? Is there something else

I should be doing?”

“Unquestionably, there is,” she said, trying to suppress a smile. “We’re supposed to be celebrating my birthday, you jerk.”

I maintained a straight face, but my eyes probably betrayed me. “Are we? Well if I happen to miss the celebration, happy birthday in advance.”

For a moment we stared at each other in a stalemate—neither of us wanting to break from the ruse. Inevitably, though, we both started laughing, and she gave me a shove.

“Whatever you’re cooking up, it’d better be good.”

Of course it would be good. Bix and I had been working on it for three months.

I looked at Lorde and wondered what he was thinking. If anyone was planning something for Viv’s birthday, it should’ve been him.

“Guys.” Bix anxiously stepped between us. He was considerably shorter than Viv and me, and his navy blue cadet uniform made him look something like an overmatched referee. “Guys, seriously, please get dressed. We’re really late!”

“Punctuality is the thief of time, my friend,” I answered, giving him a brotherly pat on the shoulder.

“Cute. That yours?” Viv asked.

“Maybe.”

“It’s Oscar Wilde,” Lorde snickered.

“Was it?” I answered, playfully feigning ignorance.

“Well, John, at least your choice in plagiarism attests to good

taste.”

“Thank you.”

Viv stifled a laugh, clearly relieved the bickering between Lorde and me had evolved into something less contentious. “You know what? You’re both idiots.”

 

Excerpted from Devastation Class by Glen Zipper and Elaine Mongeon
Copyright © 2020 All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission from Blink.

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