Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.
But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.
Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she's in love with her best friend, Dahlia. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother's shadow, and to unlearn his colony’s darkest secret.
To save everyone they love, they'll both have to commit treason.
During one twenty-seven-hour night, these four runaways must stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, or the things they fear most will be all that's left.
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About the Author
Michael Crouch is actor based in New York City. His audiobook narrations have earned an Audie Award, multiple Earphones Awards, and Best of the Year accolades from Booklist, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly. He can also be heard on national commercials, cartoons, video games, and the anime series Pokemon XY and Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc-V.
Read an Excerpt
Nightside 1000 Hours to Dayside: 27 RUMOR
Rumor Mora feared two things: hellhound gargoyles and failure.
The first stemmed from the gargoyle attack that killed his mother when he was ten and left him with a silvery scar down his spine. The second was why he methodically swung through his blade exercises again
They never knew when another attack would hit. Always be ready. His father's words. Always be aware.
Sweat rolled down his temples and his back, sticking his shirt to him despite the cooler temperatures on Sahara's nightside. His muscles burned, and his scars twinged, but he kept going, pushing through each slash, each step, each memorized movement. The twin machetes felt like extensions of his arms, their inner cores glowing red-hot along the entire blade. His boots slid through the gravel of the empty training lot. He liked the top terrace for a few reasons: it was only a few kilometers from the north city wall, it afforded him privacy for training, and the view of the city was spectacular.
Not many people stayed in the upper terraces for training. The training building was right there so any instructor could see them at all times. Rumor didn't mind that, if it meant fewer people around to talk to him.
Most trainees picked the lower terraces: more practice weapons, dummies, obstacle courses. Plus the lower you were, the quicker you got out when each training session was over. The main avenue through HUB2 started at the lowest terrace and cut the city in half north to south, ending at the main residential district.
Far away, lights dotted the residential towers that were staggered along the wall in enormous stair-step patterns, but they were nothing compared to the illuminated sprawl of HUB2's central district at night. It curved down below him and up again on the western side — an enormous bowl of a city stretching toward the northeastern corner of Lake Llyn. The eastern side of the avenue housed HUB2's adamantine mining operations. Every dayside, the steady thud of drills pounding into the ground filled the air like the city's own heartbeat. Right now, the drills sat silent and dark, long shadows thrown across them from the glittering lights of the city. The mag-train hummed along its elevated magnetic track around the city, ferrying HUB2 colonists who didn't care to walk from one side to the other.
Sahara's host planet cast a dark shadow across the eastern side of the HUB, the gas giant eclipsing a third of the night sky. The stories from Earth said the night sky there had been the color of the void and pricked with millions of stars. Only one moon had stamped a hole in the darkness. The sky above the colonized moon of Sahara was a jumble of blue-green nebula, Sahara's host planet (which had some long number designation Rumor could never remember), and five other moons.
From up here, the sounds of the city — the mag-train, the marines, the shouts, the automata, the traffic — all blended into a steady, thrumming white noise that helped him focus as he trained.
"Did you sleep?"
Rumor glanced at his father, who must have come out of the training facility without him noticing. "A little bit. Like six hours."
"You need more sleep than six hours." Eric Mora folded his arms, his stance wide as he watched.
Rumor hitched a shoulder as he spun around, ending the exercise with a diagonal slash toward the ground. The blade blurred as he moved, thirty centimeters of heated adamantine that cut through the blue-green light from the nearby butterfly nebula smeared across the sky.
"Drop your shoulder more when you land that hit," his dad said. "You'll be able to move into defense better if you do."
Rumor nodded. "Got it."
He switched the blades off as he straightened and faced his father. Rumor had inherited Eric's wild dark curls and dark eyes, but the brown skin and the wide smile came from his mother. He knew Eric saw his late wife in their only son. The tightening of Eric's eyes always betrayed him. After all, Rumor saw his mom every time he glanced in the mirror or the scar up his back hurt. It'd been seven years, and those memories still didn't hurt any less.
Eric looked like he wanted to say something. Finally, he ran a hand through his curls and blew out a breath. "We need to talk about something."
Rumor arched an eyebrow. "Okay."
"Not now. Later. I don't want to disturb your training."
The second eyebrow joined the first. "Ohhh-kay."
Eric's lips twitched in a smile. "Stop looking at me like that."
Rumor fought to maintain the patronizing expression, but he couldn't stop the smile. "I'm probably going to head down to Padriack's after this. Maybe meet up with Jordan and Steve."
"I have to head into the office. General Stewart wants to discuss something. He said it was urgent. I'll try to meet you there later." He turned away as he spoke, his eyes narrowing at the shadowed side of the HUB, just beyond the military barracks.
"Is it about finishing that?" Rumor pointed up at the partially completed dome that would one day cap HUB2 from wall to wall. Supposedly. The project had been delayed many times for many reasons: supplies, manpower, attacks. HUB1 had completed a dome two years ago, protecting the citizens from air attacks. The HUBs were far too large for the adamantine webbing the smaller colonies used.
"I hope so," Eric said in a distracted tone. "Did you see that?"
"See what?" Rumor glanced in the direction his father faced, squinting into the darkness where the wall cut across a small set of foothills before heading south. Several guard towers dotted the edge, their guns trained out. Marine barracks lined up in organized rows, following the wall to the foothills. Most of them were dark, their occupants asleep. A handful glowed with life, shouts and muffled music seeping out of open windows.
"I don't ... maybe nothing." Eric waved a hand dismissively and walked away. He spun around after a few steps, walking backward as he pointed at Rumor. "Talking. You and me. Later. I promise not to embarrass you in front of your friends."
Rumor gave him a mock two-fingered salute. "Talking. Got it." He rotated his wrists, spinning his weapons over twice as his dad walked away, frowning at the shadowed part of HUB2. Rumor shook his head. Paranoid Dad.
The ground vibrated. It was low and brief, but it was enough for Rumor to pause.
Maybe not paranoid?
Metal groaned. The very distinct sound of stone on metal screeched across the night from somewhere behind the training building, sending goose bumps across his skin. Rumor pressed his tongue to the back of his teeth and strained his hearing over the white noise of the city. He scanned the immediate area, then looked upward toward the nebula. The sky remained clear. HUB2 bustled on as it had before. His dad had stopped walking on the other side of the terrace, and now stared at the shadowed portion of the city.
Rumor's skin tingled as he stood perfectly still and listened. His thumbs ghosted over the hidden switches on the inside of each handle, releasing the chemicals that heated the core and made the blades glow softly. They threw orange light across the ground as he tried to hear past the music and shouting from the barracks.
A roar echoed off the mountains to the north of the wall — a little to his left. The roars never ceased to put him on edge. Even if they never came near the HUBs, he'd never get used to gargoyle roaring during nightside.
Metal groaned again, this time behind him, bending into a squeal that seemed to echo across the entire training ground.
Eric turned around, his eyes fixed on something over Rumor's left shoulder. "Son, you need to move now," he said in an overly calm voice.
Rumor flexed his fingers around the leather-wrapped handles of his blades. He inhaled a shaky breath and took a step forward, his back muscles tightening and the base of his skull prickling. Gravel behind him crunched.
"Come on, Rumor," his dad said, his focus still over Rumor's shoulder.
Gunfire erupted in the distance, the cracks echoing through the city. Rumor flinched at the first shot, hating the instinctual movement despite all his training. His heart sped, and adrenaline flooded his system.
Not again. The words whispered through his mind as he stared at his father.
"Dad," Rumor managed.
"Drop," his father ordered.
The gargoyle launched, clawing the air where he'd just stood. It landed on the other side of him, sliding in the loose gravel as Rumor rolled and came up to a crouch, his blades ready. The gargoyle was one of the more humanoid-looking ones — one head, two arms, two legs — except it had too-long arms and horns curling up from its hairless head. Its skin was an ashy gray color, dappled by the nebula light. He had no idea if it was male or female or if the gargoyles even had those genders. He didn't care. He just wanted it to die.
"Stupid to try to attack a HUB, asshole," Rumor growled as he rose.
"Rumor!" Eric shouted. His gun fired twice, but Rumor couldn't turn around to check on his dad.
The gargoyle clicked at him, guttural noises rolling out of its throat. It lunged, claws swiping for Rumor's face. He bowed backward and slashed at the creature's ribs. The thick hide almost resisted the heated blade.
Almost, but not quite.
Black blood oozed out of the slash, streaking down the creature's side. Rumor straightened and spun, bringing both blades down across its back as it stumbled to the side. Skin split along bone, and the creature howled.
Howls answered it. Howls reverberating all around the wall. A chorus of howls overlapping and echoing as they built in volume and ferocity.
Rumor lowered his chin and stared at the gargoyle. It spun at him again, its claws catching him across the side. Pain bloomed up his side. He brought his blade down across the gargoyle's throat. The skin split, sizzling where the heated blade touched. Hot blood spurted across his shirt and arms. It stank like something muddy and rotten.
The gargoyle sank to the ground, scrabbling at its throat as the blood pooled, a void across the light gravel. Rumor held his side, breathing hard.
"Dad!" Oh, gods, where was his dad? Was he even okay? He'd been so focused on the gargoyle, he hadn't kept an eye on his dad.
Eric stumbled to him. "Are you okay?" Sweat dampened his shirt and stuck a few curls to his forehead. Parallel scratches ran down his cheek, and his hands were spattered with stinking black blood.
Rumor nodded. An alarm wailed, and he winced away. The whine grew to a feverish pitch, echoing across HUB2 and mixing with the horrified screams of humans — of his neighbors, his friends — and the grating and clicking of gargoyles to create a cacophony of terror.
"Rumor!" His dad grabbed his shoulders and pulled him away from the corpse. Eric cursed, loudly and creatively. Rumor thought he caught the word "Hector" but wasn't sure.
"What's happening?" Rumor bent a little to protect his injury. Pain radiated through his ribs. "Where did they all come from?"
His father's answer was swallowed by deafening roars that shook Rumor to his bones.
Rumor looked at the twisted gray body of the gargoyle he'd killed. Its blood was so black, it reflected the nebula above. His grip on his blades tightened. How dare something so ugly live under such a sky? "How did they get past the wall cannons? What's happening?"
Eric shook his head. "That doesn't matter. You need to run."
"What? No." Rumor pulled himself free from his father's grasp.
"Rumor, you need to get out of here."
Screams rose in the air as shadowy figures erupted over the city wall in dark waves. The shadow of a dragon slid across the sky. Gargoyles were swarming his city. There were so many. More gargoyles than he'd ever seen in one attack. Hundreds. Maybe thousands.
The dragon landed roughly twenty kilometers away, on the eastern side of the HUB just past the darkened mining equipment. Its bulk scraped over buildings, peeling off layers of greenery from walls and destroying solar panels as it hit the ground with a roar.
Rumor had always thought the old Earth descriptions of dragons from the archives were ridiculous. Giant lizards that breathed fire and hoarded gold and stole princesses. Those were nothing compared to these. Monstrous creatures as large as those giant lizards, but with long bodies, six legs, and serpentine necks ending in a mouth that split four ways and opened like space's deadliest flower. These didn't care about gold or girls. They wanted to kill and eat and destroy anything that happened to wander across their path. They were untamable and near impossible to kill.
He'd never seen them in a city.
The dragon's head swung and smashed into a narrow red tower, knocking the upper three floors to the ground. It trampled over the rubble, heading directly for the mining equipment.
"That was Padriack's," Rumor said in a shaking voice. "Jordan and Steve were there."
Rumor's stomach lurched as the dragon howled. "There's a gargoyle riding the dragon."
"What?" Eric breathed.
Rumor pointed at the cloaked figure standing between the dragon's spiked shoulder blades. "Why would a gargoyle be riding a dragon?" That would require an intelligence — a hierarchy — they didn't possess.
"Why aren't the wall guns firing?" Eric asked.
"Seriously, why is a gargoyle riding a dragon like a commander?" Rumor insisted.
An explosion flared along the western edge of the wall, followed by a domino of smaller ones that studded the entire length. Metal wall panels screamed as they tore like paper and fell.
"Dad, what's happening?" Rumor gripped his blades tighter, his wound forgotten as the gargoyles poured into HUB2. The beasts moved in unison, their clawed hands wrapped around shiny weapons Rumor recognized. They moved inward, circling the city like predators stalking their prey.
"Those are our guns. Dad, those are our guns." He couldn't breathe.
"It wasn't supposed to happen like this." Eric's voice shook. "Oh, gods. We need to warn the colonies."
Rumor shoved his dad out of the way as another gargoyle noticed them and charged. He ducked under the initial swipe and drove his blade upward into the gargoyle's jaw. The beast collapsed instantly. He yanked his weapon from the creature's skull and spun around to yell at his dad.
One of the giant wall cannons finally fired, drowning out Rumor's yell and sending large-bore ammunition into the dragon's middle legs. It howled in rage and swatted the gun off its mooring like a tiny bug. The gargoyle standing on the dragon's back wielded a giant curved blade that resembled a reaper's scythe. It pointed the weapon at the rest of the wall cannons. The dragon's long neck swiveled in the same direction, and it swatted at the next cannon in line. That cannon managed to get off a shot but missed as the dragon's jaws clamped around it. They were close enough to the training grounds that Rumor heard every crunch of the dying cannons, his bones vibrating with the aftershock of each one that managed to fire.
This couldn't be right.
"Come on." Eric grabbed Rumor's arm and tugged him back to the training building. Inside, they ran through the open space for indoor sparring. "What's the closest colony?"
Rumor stared at the big room. With the door shut, the sounds from the city fell to a muted hum. Sparring gloves hung on the wall in neat pairs. Towels lay folded in stacks. Training dummies stood along the back wall, waiting for the next session. He shivered.
"Rumor," his dad said sharply. "What's the closest colony?"
"You already know that," Rumor said.
"I need to make sure you're with me here. What's the closest —"
"Epsilon." Of the four colonies that surrounded HUB2 like notches on a compass, Epsilon was the nearest. It was exactly twenty kilometers away, closer to Lake Llyn. He only knew that because that's where Dahlia had moved when her mom had taken the chief medical officer position there.
"Okay, we need to get to Epsilon."
"What?" No. No way was he going to run. "I can fight. We can fight. We've been training —"
"We can fight, but not here."
"Are you kidding me? We have marines!"
His dad pointed to the large front windows overlooking the bowl of HUB2. "Do we?"
Rumor stared as his dad headed for the far door to the vehicle lot. "Where are the squads?"
"We can worry about that later," his dad snapped. "Rumor, come on. We should get out of here. They're coming."
Rumor sheathed his blades and jogged after his dad, slowing as the pain burned up his side. Red seeped through his shirt. He peeled it up and grimaced at the blood running in long streaks down his side and into the waistband of his pants. "Hold up, I need a bandage or something."
"First aid kit under the counter. Should be a few tubes of knitting gel. We can find medical at Epsilon."
Excerpted from "27 Hours"
Copyright © 2017 Tristina Wrigh.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Nightside 1000/Hours to Dayside: 27 (RUMOR),
Nightside 1000/Hours to Dayside: 27 (NYX),
Nightside 1100/Hours to Dayside: 26 (RUMOR),
Nightside 1100/Hours to Dayside: 26 (JUDE),
Nightside 1200/Hours to Dayside: 25 (NYX),
Nightside 1200/Hours to Dayside: 25 (BRAEDEN),
Nightside 1300/Hours to Dayside: 24 (JUDE),
Nightside 1300/Hours to Dayside: 24 (RUMOR),
Nightside 1400/Hours to Dayside: 23 (NYX),
Nightside 1400/Hours to Dayside: 23 (JUDE),
Nightside 1500/Hours to Dayside: 22 (RUMOR),
Nightside 1500/Hours to Dayside: 22 (JUDE),
Nightside 1600/Hours to Dayside: 21 (BRAEDEN),
Nightside 1600/Hours to Dayside: 21 (NYX),
Nightside 1700/Hours to Dayside: 20 (RUMOR),
Nightside 1700/Hours to Dayside: 20 (NYX),
Nightside 1800/Hours to Dayside: 19 (RUMOR),
Nightside 1900/Hours to Dayside: 18 (BRAEDEN),
Nightside 2000/Hours to Dayside: 17 (NYX),
Nightside 2000/Hours to Dayside: 17 (RUMOR),
Nightside 2000/Hours to Dayside: 17 (JUDE),
Nightside 2100/Hours to Dayside: 16 (RUMOR),
Nightside 2100/Hours to Dayside: 16 (JUDE),
Nightside 2200/Hours to Dayside: 15 (BRAEDEN),
Nightside 2300/Hours to Dayside: 14 (NYX),
Nightside 2300/Hours to Dayside: 14 (RUMOR),
Nightside 2400/Hours to Dayside: 13 (JUDE),
Nightside 2400/Hours to Dayside: 13 (BRAEDEN),
Nightside 2500/Hours to Dayside: 12 (NYX),
Nightside 2600/Hours to Dayside: 11 (BRAEDEN),
Nightside 2700/Hours to Dayside: 10 (RUMOR),
Nightside 2800/Hours to Dayside: 9 (JUDE),
Nightside 2900/Hours to Dayside: 8 (BRAEDEN),
Nightside 2900/Hours to Dayside: 8 (NYX),
Nightside 2900/Hours to Dayside: 8 (RUMOR),
Nightside 3000/Hours to Dayside: 7 (NYX),
Nightside 3100/Hours to Dayside: 6 (RUMOR),
Nightside 3200/Hours to Dayside: 5 (BRAEDEN),
Nightside 3300/Hours to Dayside: 4 (NYX),
Nightside 3400/Hours to Dayside: 3 (RUMOR),
Nightside 3500/Hours to Dayside: 2 (JUDE),
Nightside 3600/Hours to Dayside: 1 (RUMOR),
Nightside 3700/Hours to Dayside: 0 (BRAEDEN,
Day 0100Hours to Nightside: 36 (NYX),
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