Inheritance

Inheritance

by Malinda Lo

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316197991
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 09/16/2014
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 616,945
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 15 - 18 Years

About the Author

Malinda Lo is the author of several young adult novels, including Ash, a retelling of the Cinderella story with a lesbian twist, which was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, the Andre Norton Award for YA Fantasy and Science Fiction, and the Lambda Literary Award. Before she became a novelist, she was an economics major, an editorial assistant, a graduate student, and an entertainment reporter. She lives in Northern California with her partner and their dog. Malinda invites you to visit her at www.malindalo.com.

Read an Excerpt

Inheritance


By Malinda Lo

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2013 Malinda Lo
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-316-19800-4



CHAPTER 1

The triangular spaceship hovered motionless in the sky above Reese Holloway's house, as inscrutable as a black hole. Military helicopters made large circles around the craft, the noise of their rotor blades conspicuously loud compared to the silence of the black ship.

Reese pulled her gaze away from the triangle and looked down at the crowd of reporters at the bottom of the front steps. They were as impatient as a nest full of baby birds, mouths gaping as they shouted question after question at her and David Li. His fingers squeezed hers, and through the connection that opened between them when they touched, she felt his emotions echoing her own. They both had that jittery, butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling that said: You're about to do something that could either be a huge success or a crushing defeat.

It had seemed like a good idea when they were inside: to tell the truth about what happened to them at Area 51. With the reporters clamoring outside, they had the perfect audience. If they told the world, they thought, they would be safe from their government, which had abducted and locked them in a top secret military base in the middle of nowhere, Nevada.

It didn't seem like such a good idea now that they were outside.

Across the street a line of National Guard soldiers stood with rifles in hand, blockading a vehicle that looked like it had come out of a science fiction movie. Shaped roughly like a bird, it was about the size of a city bus and black as the triangle above. What looked like wings were folded against the vehicle's muscular black walls, making it seem as if it could leap into the air at any moment. A crow had alighted on the roof, its black feathers gleaming in the August sunlight. It turned its head as if to watch the scene below, where several silver robots waited with snub-nosed weapons in their metal hands, facing the National Guard troops. The robots had humanlike bodies, but their heads had no eyes.

Reese's hand was clammy with sweat and it slipped against David's, but he tightened his grip as if he were holding on to the edge of a cliff. The reporters were a blur before her, their faces smudging into one another as waves of emotion rose up the front steps and slammed into her and David. She had experienced this unusual sensitivity to a crowd's feelings before. It had happened when she and David got off the plane at Travis Air Force Base a few hours ago, where they'd been met by a different group of reporters. She knew it must be related to her adaptation—the alien DNA that had been added to hers—but the knowledge didn't make the reality any easier to bear.

The crowd's curiosity scraped like tiny claws against her skin. As they eyed the spaceship above, their agitation buffeted her in sharp bursts. Their emotions amplified her own nervousness. Objects in the sky weren't supposed to be as still as that black triangle, and that was the most unnerving thing of all: its perfect unnaturalness.

She swayed on her feet, nauseated by the collective anxiety, and David's fingernails dug into her hand. Maybe he wasn't holding on for himself; maybe he was trying to prevent her from falling. She was about to give in to the nausea and drag David back inside when a hand gripped her shoulder and turned her around. It was Amber. Her face was almost as pale as her short blond hair, the only color the smudge of dark pink gloss on her mouth.

David turned too. Amber had one hand on Reese's shoulder, the other on David's, and her touch seemed to push away the encroaching emotions of the crowd below. Amber gazed intently at the two of them through steady gray eyes. Listen to me, she told them. It didn't seem like English, exactly; it was more like she was projecting meaning without using any language at all.

Please let us help you. We can show you how to use your abilities, and we will keep you safe. Your government only seeks to use you. Please trust me.

Abruptly, Amber dropped her hands from their shoulders, and the urgent emotions of the crowd came back, pushing against Reese's spine. Amber pulled something out of her pocket and pressed it into Reese's hand. She leaned close to whisper in her ear: "Call us when you're ready." Reese shivered at the feel of Amber's breath on her skin, and for a split second all she was aware of was Amber's closeness, her lips a millimeter from her earlobe.

Then Amber brushed past both Reese and David and faced the reporters. "I can't take your questions right now," Amber said, her voice silencing the throng.

"Why not?" someone shouted.

"I'm not authorized," Amber answered.

"Are you an alien?"

"Is your name Amber Gray? Are you the girl in the video?"

Reese saw Amber stiffen slightly, but her voice remained steady. "I'm an Imrian. And yes, my name is Amber Gray."

"Who are you? Why do you look like us?"

"You'll get answers soon," Amber said.

"When?"

"Soon," she repeated, and then she went down the steps to the sidewalk, where the robots cleared a path for her. They were called erim, Reese remembered. The reporters stayed several feet back as if they were afraid of them. Amber walked quickly through the crowd until she reached the black vehicle parked across the street. She glanced back at Reese and David before she climbed through the open hatch in the side of the vehicle. The erim followed silently. When the door closed, the crow that had been perched on top flew away, and the vehicle's wings spread out, black metal unfurling smoothly. The National Guard troops on the ground fell back as the craft lifted into the air and headed for the black triangle.

When the smaller ship disappeared inside the larger one, the reporters turned back to Reese and David. He reached for her hand once more, and like hers, his feelings were a jumble of shock and uncertainty. The reporters began to shout questions again. She briefly closed her eyes, raising her free hand to press her fingers to the bridge of her nose, and realized she was still holding the device that Amber had given her. She looked at the object in her hand. It was an ordinary cell phone.

Startled, she put it in her pocket as the reporters continued to pepper them with questions. "Stop," she said, but her voice was too low. "Stop!" she cried, looking down at the assembled crowd. They fell silent, and she heard the rapid click-click-click of camera shutters as she and David were photographed. "We'll take one question at a time," she said.

There was no hesitation. A woman at the front of the pack, holding out a mini digital recorder, asked, "Why is there a giant spaceship above your house? Is that the ship that was in the video?"

For the past five days, Reese and David had been locked in a military hospital on Area 51. They hadn't been released until a video was leaked that showed them fleeing an underground bunker in the Nevada desert, running toward a black spaceship. Amber was on the video too. Reese had seen the grainy footage only once, but the image was burned into her mind forever: Amber shoving Reese onto the ground; a bullet striking Amber, her body jerking. Reese remembered what her best friend, Julian, had told her. The media thought Amber was the hero for saving her. Reese couldn't square that with the fact that Amber had lied to her, repeatedly, about her identity.

Reese, David thought.

Hearing him think her name jolted her back into the present. The reporters were waiting for an answer. She glanced at David, and he gave her a tiny smile. She felt it inside him like the flicker of a flame in the dark. She wasn't in this alone.

"Is that the ship in the video?" the reporter asked again.

"We don't know," Reese and David said together.

"Where did it come from? Why is it over your house?"

"We don't know," they said again.

"Was that girl one of the aliens? Why does she look human?"

David didn't speak this time. "Yes, she's one of the aliens," Reese said. "I don't know why she looks human."

"Why are they here? Are they experimenting on humans?"

"Why did the president think they were gone? Did you see the press conference she gave an hour ago? She said the aliens had left our planet."

"How are you connected to the aliens?"

Reese took a deep breath and interrupted the stream of questions. "We can't answer you all at once, and we don't know much more than you. We only know what happened to us."

"What did happen to you?"

"We were taken by government agents to a secret military base in Nevada," David said.

"Why?"

"They wanted to figure out what kind of medical procedure had been done on us earlier this summer," Reese said, and then realized that none of this would make sense to the assembled reporters because they didn't know about that.

"It's a long story," David said.

"Start from the beginning. What medical procedure?"

Reese glanced sideways at David, who nodded at her. Go ahead. "We had a car accident on the edge of Area 51 right after the June Disaster," Reese said. "David and I were in Phoenix, Arizona, for a debate tournament. We were with our coach. When all flights were grounded after those planes crashes, we decided to rent a car to drive home. Our coach died in Las Vegas during a carjacking at a gas station—"

A murmur of surprise went through the reporters, and one interrupted to ask, "What was the name of your coach?"

"Joe Chapman," David said. "We left the gas station because the gunman was shooting at us, but we couldn't go back because of the roadblocks. So we kept driving."

"That's when we had the car accident," Reese continued. "We didn't know we had crashed on the edge of a military base."

"We were treated at the hospital there," David said, "with Imrian science."

"You mean alien technology?"

"You could call it that," David said. "They've told us that we went through an adaptation procedure. They said it was to save our lives. It combined our human DNA with their Imrian DNA."

"How were the aliens able to do this to you on a US military base?" one of the reporters asked, sounding skeptical.

"We don't think the government authorized this," Reese said. "In fact, we don't think the government knew what really happened to us at all. That's why we were kidnapped and taken back to Area 51 two weeks ago. Our government wanted to figure out what had been done to us."

"You say they kidnapped you, but it sounds like they were making an effort to get to the bottom of something done to you by aliens. Shouldn't you be grateful for the government's help?"

"Government agents broke into my house and drugged me," Reese objected. "They took us against our will, and then they held us in an underground bunker and didn't allow us to contact anyone, not even our parents. We're not happy that the aliens did whatever they did to us, but that doesn't make what our government did right."

Her outburst had startled the gathered reporters. One called out, "Has the government apologized for what they did to you?"

"Senator Michaelson apologized," Reese said. Senator Joyce Michaelson had helped get her and David out of the military facility after the video had leaked.

"We're grateful to Senator Michaelson and our families," David added.

"And my friend Julian Arens for getting that video up," Reese said.

"You say alien DNA was added to yours? How does the alien DNA affect you?"

Someone began to push his way through the crowd, and several reporters made irritated noises.

"We're able to heal more rapidly than normal," Reese answered. An excited murmur traveled through the reporters.

"And we can communicate without speaking," David said. "Sort of like telepathy."

Reese felt an outburst of emotion like a puff of wind in her face: shock mingled with skepticism.

"Are you able to read minds now?" a reporter shouted.

"No," Reese said. "It's more limited than that."

She was struggling to find the words to explain her and David's new abilities when a man in a black suit broke free from the crowd and barreled up the steps. It was Agent Forrestal, one of the men in black who had taken them to Area 51 and brought them home earlier that day. Reese was beginning to think of Forrestal as her personal government bully.

"This press conference is over," Agent Forrestal announced.

"What do you mean?" Reese said. "We're just getting started."

He ignored her and spoke loudly over the angry questions from the crowd. "We need you to disperse right now and leave this vicinity."

Amid shouted comments about the freedom of the press and the right to assemble, David thought to Reese: He's shutting us down.

"Please disperse right now," Agent Forrestal ordered. Across the street, National Guard soldiers stood ready to move in.

"Who are you?" the reporters yelled.

Police officers began to enter the crowd, herding people away from the house, and Agent Forrestal didn't answer the question. He turned to face Reese and David. "Let's go. Back inside," he said grimly, and tried to push them up the stairs.

They both recoiled. "You can't do this," Reese protested.

"You don't understand what's going on," Agent Forrestal said. "This is for your own protection. Go inside right now."

A few steps above them, Reese's parents stood in the open front doorway, David's parents right behind them. Reese saw Julian peering around her dad's arm. Agent Forrestal grasped Reese's shoulder and she jerked away.

"Don't touch my daughter," Reese's mom snapped at the agent.

"Let's go inside, ma'am, and we can discuss this properly," Agent Forrestal said.

Reese's mom ushered Reese and David inside, but she turned back to Agent Forrestal with an angry expression. "No. You're not invited in."

She slammed the door in his face and locked it.

CHAPTER 2

Reese entered her bedroom and flicked the light switch that turned on her bedside lamp. Her mom paused in the doorway behind her. "You're sure you're all right, honey? Do you want a glass of water or something before you go to bed?"

"No, I'm fine, just tired," Reese answered, walking over to the windows to peek through the blinds. Many of the reporters had left after Agent Forrestal ended the press conference, but they had been replaced by other onlookers who gazed up at the black triangle as if they were waiting for a divine message. She could see some of them now in the light of the streetlamp, their camera lenses pointed at the night sky.

"Okay," her mom said. "You know where to find me if you need anything." She came into the room and kissed Reese on the forehead, her hand sweeping gently over Reese's hair. "I love you."

After her mom left, closing the door behind her, Reese sat on the edge of her bed and pulled off the shoes that the government had given her that morning. Ugly white sneakers, already scuffed along the toes. A surge of fury swept through her and she kicked them across the room. They bounced against her laundry basket. She sighed and took off the government-issue khaki pants and long-sleeved T-shirt, shoving them into her trash bin. Then she got dressed in her oldest, most comfortable pair of pajama bottoms—red-and-white plaid—and a roomy, faded Cal T-shirt and climbed into bed.

She couldn't sleep. Everything that had happened that day kept replaying through her mind. After the abrupt end of the press conference, Julian's parents had rushed over to take him home. David and his family stayed another hour or so, waiting until Agent Forrestal retreated to his tan sedan parked halfway down the block. When she hugged David good-bye in the front hall, she suddenly didn't want to let him go. Her fingers dug into David's upper back even though she was conscious of their parents waiting nearby. "I'm sorry," she mumbled, loosening her grip.

"It's okay," he whispered. I know.

What they went through in Nevada had brought them closer together than Reese had ever anticipated. She knew David was only going to his home, but the idea of him leaving filled her with an embarrassing panic. She told herself she was being illogical—this was just some kind of posttraumatic stress thing. Besides, their parents were watching.

She pulled away before the burning behind her eyes manifested into tears. "I'll see you soon," she said.

He gave her a small, crooked smile. "Definitely."

Now Reese turned onto her side, drawing her knees up beneath the covers. David had kissed her that afternoon in this very room. The memory of it made a warm thrill snake through her, quickly followed by a surge of self-doubt. One kiss didn't necessarily mean there was going to be another—and it might not mean anything other than kissing. But she wanted it to mean something. She just wasn't sure what.

She gave up on sleeping and turned on the light again. Across the room, the red and gold paint that covered one entire wall of Reese's bedroom took on a darker, warmer hue. It was like being inside a womb: soft gold skin and streaks of bloodred. This was what she remembered of the adaptation chamber, which Amber had described as being similar to an incubator.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Inheritance by Malinda Lo. Copyright © 2013 Malinda Lo. Excerpted by permission of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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