Chase has been reunited with his younger sister, Lilli. He doesn't remember his past, but Lilli doesshe remembers their parents, and life before their planet was destroyed. Chase and Lilli are different. Chase can "phase"pass through objects, and Lilli can "transport"send a copy of herself to other locations, even other planets. There are only two people who may have the key to their abilities, and their purposes: Captain Lennard, who is harboring Chase and Lilli (and Chase's friend, Parker) on his spaceship, and Asa Kaplan, who may be responsible for an interplanetary takeover meant to push Lennard out of power. Chase, Parker, Lilli, android Mina, and the solider Maurus are fighting for their lives, the lives of Lennard and his crew, and for the truth about what Asa has in store for the universe.
The Stolen Moon, the thrilling sequel to Lost Planet by Rachel Searles, is an exciting science fiction adventure perfect for Star Wars fans.
"Searles' action- and intrigue-packed sci-fi thriller is peopled with characters who are sometimes confused, sometimes heroic and sometimes bratsthat is to say, always genuine. . . . Star Trek for young fans of the genre, who'll be thrilled at the prospect of a sequel." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review
About the Author
Rachel Searles lives in Los Angeles with her rocket scientist husband. She is the author of The Lost Planet and The Stolen Moon.
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The Stolen Moon
By Rachel Searles
MacmillanCopyright © 2015 Rachel Searles
All rights reserved.
For the fourth time in as many days, Chase Garrety was mad enough to spit nails.
His swift footsteps echoed off the walls of the metal corridor as he rushed through the soldiers' quarters of the starship Kuyddestor, muttering dire threats under his breath. How on Taras had this happened again, after everything he'd tried? Asking, begging, threatening—nothing seemed to work on her. He stopped short in front of one of the dozens of identical doors and stabbed at the entry key embedded in the wall. The door slid open almost soundlessly, and he stormed into his sister's bunkroom.
Lilli glared at him from her narrow bed, where she sat hunched with her back against the wall, knees drawn up toward her chin. The tiny chamber was not even two arm spans across, with a wide metal crossbeam on the ceiling that made it feel even smaller.
Chase stood shaking his head, almost speechless with anger. What could she possibly say that would make him understand her behavior? "And?"
She looked down at her wool bedcover and plucked an invisible piece of fuzz. In a barely audible voice, she mumbled, "It was a mistake."
"A mistake?" The words came out in a shout. He glanced over his shoulder at the open hallway and hit the interior key to close the door. The last thing he needed was more people's attention.
This time it had happened in the cafeteria. One moment Lilli was sitting at a long table sandwiched between a group of younger children and a handful of soldiers, and the next she was gone. Vanished. Luckily for her, she was so quiet that most people didn't pay much attention to her, and their minds tended to invent a rational explanation when she disappeared—so far everyone just thought she was incredibly stealthy. Nobody knew the truth: that the girl who sat among them wasn't real, that she was just a projection, a "traveling copy" of Lilli's body sent from wherever she actually was.
Until she got bored and withdrew the projection. Just like she had from the observation deck the day before, and the medical bay the day before that, and the fourth-level hallway the day before that. Chase was never there when it happened, but somehow word always filtered back to him about his ninja sister.
"Why? Why do you keep doing this? Eventually someone's going to realize there's something weird going on. They'll figure out you're not normal."
Lilli nipped at a cuticle and gave him a baleful look that made her seem much older than ten. "Nobody saw me go. I'm always careful."
"Careful?" Chase rolled his eyes. "I don't want to hear 'careful,' I want to hear 'yes, you're right, I won't do it again.' If I can manage to open doors instead of walking through them, you should be able to walk around in one single body like a normal person instead of projecting a copy everywhere."
She ran a hand through the choppy blond hair she insisted on cutting herself and didn't answer, casting her eyes at the floor with a shrug. Anger swelled up inside Chase. "You do realize we're supposed to be hiding here, right? Those people who killed our parents, who locked you up in a lab? They're still out there. All it takes is one slip-up, and they'll find us. Do you want that to happen?"
She exhaled sharply, a tiny indication of her own fierce temper. "What do you think? I'm the one who knows how bad it really was. I'm the one who remembers."
Chase rubbed the spot between his eyebrows. Somehow she always managed to twist his words into her advantage when they fought. "Lilli—"
"Just leave me alone. Stop trying to be my parent. You're not responsible for me."
But he was responsible for her, even if he was only three years older. He was the only family she had left. And as long as they were living aboard a Fleet starship, they needed to hide the special abilities that had been passed down to them from their parents, a pair of genetically enhanced soldiers created by the Fleet itself. "If you can't control yourself, I'm going to have to tell the captain what you're doing. You're putting him at risk too."
She arched a pale eyebrow, but didn't comment on his formal name for the man who was once Uncle Lionel to them both. Before the attack that destroyed their family and erased Chase's entire memory of their shared childhood. She didn't say anything at all, but she didn't need to. They both knew there was nothing anyone could do to stop her.
The first time Lilli had seen him after the attack that, as far as she knew, had killed everyone in her family, she'd thought he was a clone of her dead brother and tried to stab him. At the time he hadn't even realized that the grief-crazed girl was his own sister. She was still as much a stranger to him now as she had been then. How could he make her see how reckless she was being? "It's dangerous for all of us when you travel. Just—please, promise me you won't do it anymore, okay?"
She gave him a flat little smile and, in a voice crackling with sarcasm, said, "Sure thing, big brother."
And then she blinked out like a light.
Chase yelped in frustration and raised his hands, grabbing uselessly at the air. It was impossible to tell the difference between the real Lilli and her traveling copy—for all he knew, he hadn't seen the real her in weeks. And he had no idea where she was hiding on the ship when she disappeared like this. How had their parents dealt with this wild animal of a daughter? For a brief instant, he was furious with them for being gone, for leaving him alone with her. Then he felt like a jerk.
He whirled around to the door, perversely tempted to phase right through it to show that Lilli wasn't the only one who could break the rules. But he imagined someone walking down the hall who would see him emerging from the solid door like it wasn't even there. Why couldn't Lilli see those kinds of consequences?
He pressed the exit key, and the door slid open. A second later, two soldiers in gym gear jogged past. Chase gave a fierce nod, his point proven.
His own bunkroom was at the other end of the long hall. When he walked in, Parker was sitting at their shared desk, typing furiously with one hand and swiping his fingers over a touchscreen with the other. Without turning around, he asked, "How'd the disciplining go, boss?"
"She did it again, right in front of me!"
Parker paused and half-turned, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. He snapped his fingers. "Just like that?"
Chase gave him a dark look. "I need to figure out where she's hiding."
"On a ship that houses over two thousand people? Pfft. Good luck." He turned back to his computer.
Chase punched the door key closed and sank onto his bunk.
After the attack on his family, he'd awoken on the planet Trucon, rematerialized from the particle disperser attack that should have vaporized him for good but with no idea who he was, what had happened to him, or why he was able to phrase through solid objects. He was grateful that he'd managed to find the answers to these questions, even though he'd also learned his memory would probably never come back, and that his parents' friend Captain Lennard had given him, his sister, and their friend Parker shelter aboard his Fleet starship. But in the three months since they'd come to live on the Kuyddestor, Chase's life had become safe, steady, and endlessly frustrating. Nearly every interaction with the sister he'd fought so hard to save turned into a fight. He'd tried everything: random acts of kindness, asking questions, not asking questions, being attentive, giving her space. Nothing seemed to get through to her, and instead of grounding him, his relationship with her made him feel more adrift than ever.
Chase rose to his feet and walked to the window. Outside in black space, the glow of distant stars outlined a massive patchwork collection of metal structures, the Movala mining colony. For the past three months, the Kuyddestor had been protecting the colony from raider attacks—a mission the captain had taken on in order to get the ship far away from Fleet High Command until he could figure out which corrupt arm of the Fleet had carried out a massive attack on the planet Trucon, setting up one of the Kuyddestor's own officers to take the fall. The captain had told a very public lie to save his officer—a lie that showed he, too, knew about the Fleet's deception. Not one day went by when Chase didn't worry about retaliation from whomever it was they'd foiled.
Chase swiped his fingers across the window, which was not, in fact, a real window. Their room was located somewhere deep inside the belly of the starship, and the window was actually a video screen that displayed the view from the observation deck. With each swipe, the view changed quickly to recordings of a scenic forest, a mountain, a twinkling cityscape. One more flick of his fingers, and Chase found himself viewing the inside of the command bridge, where the ship's top officers were hard at work.
"You finally hacked into the bridge camera," he said, only slightly surprised. Parker had already hacked into much more.
"Yeah. I can't get audio yet, but this isn't bad, right?" Parker glanced up at Chase, grinning at his accomplishment.
Chase nodded absently, his eyes locked on Captain Lennard, who strode across the bridge to lean over the shoulder of someone at console. It was the first time Chase had seen the captain in over a week.
Parker reached past him and flicked the screen back to the cityscape scene. "Don't leave it set to that view for very long. If somebody walks in, I don't want them to see what I've done."
"Understood. That's really cool."
"Yeah, well." Parker turned back to his computer. "Unfortunately, the other project's not going as well."
Chase glanced over at their shared desk, which was covered in bits of wiring and an assortment of tools. Parker touched an angled monitor resting amid the clutter and scanned over the day's accumulation of data.
"Nothing yet," he said, stating what Chase already knew. Soon after they'd arrived on the ship, the chief medical officer on board, Dr. Bishallany, had removed a tracking chip from under Parker's scalp. The chip had been placed there by Parker's guardian, a mysterious weapons dealer named Asa Kaplan, who'd created an identical chip found under Chase's skin—although Chase still had no idea what Asa's connection to him or his family was. The captain wanted Parker's chip destroyed, but Parker had insisted he could disable its tracking function inside a one-way radio blocking enclosure, which would still allow him to hunt for its source by intercepting the chip's reply to his former guardian, the man who held the answers to many of both his and Chase's questions.
But after nearly three months no good data had come from the chip, and seeing Parker's face pinched with worry as he tweaked his tracer program over and over, Chase had lost hope in that avenue. Not that there was much he could do to help.
Parker looked over at Chase. "The encryption on the chip seems to be getting more complicated the longer it's been out of my head. Asa might have programmed it to secure itself once it's no longer sensing living human tissue. The answer's there, I just have to find the right way to get to it."
Chase gave a half-smile. "Of course you will." It wasn't that he doubted Parker's genius with electronics—heck, Chase would have as much luck eating the tracking chip to absorb the answers by osmosis as trying to decode it himself—but Asa Kaplan, criminal mastermind, had clearly put all his resources toward making sure he was untraceable. How much progress could a kid hacker really expect to make against him?
"I'll do it," Parker repeated forcefully. "It just takes time." He had a good reason for wanting to find Asa Kaplan—although the man had been his guardian, he'd left Parker tucked away in an isolated compound to be raised by an android, and Parker knew nothing about his parents or why Asa was the one entrusted to care for their son.
But for Chase, the need to know what connected him to Asa was almost unbearable. After Chase's body was vaporized, his molecules had found their way back together in Parker's yard, apparently drawn there by the pull of the matching tracking chip under his own scalp. But after escaping from the Fleet, Chase's parents had lived in hiding on a planet the captain wouldn't even name for Chase—so how had he ended up with Asa Kaplan's tracking chip under his skin?
"Do you think he can tell you're trying to look for him?" Chase asked.
Parker didn't answer—all his attention was back on the computer. He likely hadn't even heard Chase, who began to turn away.
"Ha," said Parker loudly, with one final keystroke. "There. I've hacked into the mainframe so I can use the ship's computing power to analyze the chip's encryption."
All Chase heard was blah blah blah hacked into the mainframe. "That easily?"
Parker made a face. "Well, it wasn't easy. I've been working on it for a few days. But I've gotta say, I'm kinda surprised at how archaic the technology on this ship is." Seeing Chase's frown, he added, "It's solid, don't worry, but it's not even close to what I had at my house on Trucon."
"Yeah, it's strong enough, especially the external defenses. Nobody could hack into the ship from the outside—it's locked down tight. But once you're inside, on the local network? I mean, you'd have to be a really good hacker, but the infrastructure is pretty vulnerable."
A prickle of anxiety danced down Chase's spine. Why wouldn't the Fleet fix security holes in its own ship? "Do you think the Fleet did it on purpose? To keep the Kuyddestor—"
"No," scoffed Parker. "I doubt the Kuyddestor is the only one like this. There are only, I think, eight other Titan-class starships—these are the biggest ships the Fleet has—and they're spread pretty thin. To strip and update one would take at least a year, and the Fleet probably can't afford to lose one of its ships for that long. I'm sure this was top-of-the-line for internal network security when they built it back in the day."
Parker leaned over the desk to peer at the circuit board where he'd affixed the chip and frowned. "I'm going down to the engine room to ask Chief Kobes if he has any extra processing boards lying around. Come with me."
"I've got my appointment in a little bit," Chase muttered. He knew he didn't need to feel embarrassed about his visits with Dr. Bishallany, especially not around Parker, but talking about them made him feel defective. Parker wasn't the one who had to see a doctor once a week to study his own freak body.
Parker pulled him off the bunk and pushed him toward the door. "You've got time. Come on. You can ask around to see if anyone's spotted a skinny little blond girl lurking in any dark corners."
Chase stepped out into the hallway, his mind already back to the immediate problem of getting Lilli under control. "Hey, you think we could spot her now that you've hacked into the camera system?"
Parker tilted his head in thought as he followed Chase into the hall. "Hmm. Not right now. I've only got access to the bridge and the engine room cameras, and there aren't really that many cameras in the hallways."
A trio of boisterous engine room ensigns with their identifying green badges came around the corner of the hall. "Hey, Parker," called out one with a cheerful grin. "You still joining us for a game of Questlords tonight?"
"I dunno, Cutty—I'll send you a message later today," Parker called over his shoulder. A flicker of jealousy passed through Chase. It hadn't taken Parker long after arriving on the ship to make some new friends and establish an easy familiarity with the crew. Not that Chase wanted to play some nerd game with a bunch of dorky ensigns. Parker turned back to him. "Have you mentioned to Maurus or anybody what Lilli's been doing? It'd be easier to find her if more of the crew is helping you look."
"No," said Chase quickly. "I don't want her to get in trouble. I won't tell the captain unless I have to."
"Guess it wouldn't make you any more popular with her either."
Chase snorted. "I don't know if there's anything that can do that."
The next step he took was into sudden and complete blackness.
Excerpted from The Stolen Moon by Rachel Searles. Copyright © 2015 Rachel Searles. Excerpted by permission of Macmillan.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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