Title: FERAL PRIME
Genre: YA Science Fiction Ownvoices
Word Count: 87,000
Is your antagonist hot or cold?
Villain? You're calling me a villain? I'm the guy keeping hundreds of people from dying out here in the Wastelands. Those two domer chicks who came barging into our territory, messing with my kid's head...they're the villains. But sure, target me. You ain't the first.
So hot means I snap easy, hmm? Hell yeah, I'm hot. If someone steps outta line, ya gotta chew 'em out, stomp 'em down, and make sure they know who's boss. Hot gets the job done.
Ava, a deaf programmer, and Bren, a blind mech pilot, have one chance to save their home...but only if they destroy someone else's.
Bren and Ava grew up with mechanized animals roaming the ruined land. They're also the first to notice the mechs' sudden aggressive behavior. Left unchecked, these rogue machines could attack anyone--including the two teens' families.
Ava creates a taming program to install in the mechs' update center. But before she and Bren arrive, they're captured by a clan of raiders who rely on wild mechs for survival. If Ava's program tames everything, the raiders' society will collapse, leaving them and their children homeless. Ava develops a bond with one of the children and insists they seek a compromise.
Bren doesn't do compromise. Not when it comes to family. And definitely not with the assholes who kidnapped them. Her powerful mech is their best chance at reaching the update center. She demands they bust out and install the program before Ava's stupid hesitation puts people they know and love in danger.
The rogue mechs' code is changing by the second. If they can't resolve their differences soon, the faulty code will no longer be compatible with Ava's program, and the girls' decision will be made for them.
First 250 words:
Ava spotted the blinking red dot and jolted to life like a hot-wired hauler. Surely red dots only blinked for important reasons. As her fingers flexed eagerly inside her sensor-covered gloves, she peered around the pilot's chair.
"What's that?" she signed. Her shoulder pad speaker vibrated, confirming the interpretation.
Bren leaned toward the console. A tap on the leftmost view screen enlarged the sensor data to her much-bigger-than-normal settings. Her lips moved, and Ava's visor flickered with the text translation: "Looks like Fang's detected a core signature. Should be on that Questrian herd in half an hour."
Ava dropped her hands and fell back into the clunky passenger seat. They'd been "within half an hour" of this herd twice already. After three hours squished inside the cockpit of Bren's massive canine robot, all Ava had seen were some distant sparking clouds and a bleak, lifeless landscape. Hardly the wealth of information she could save lives with.
The tracking screen lit up again. This time, a whole group of dots appeared in the center. Ava bolted up, smacking her heel on the canister beneath her seat. "Oooh! Are those the Questies?" she signed.
"For (expletive)'s sake, Ava!" the visor helpfully censored. "I said half an hour, not half a min--" Bren stiffened and leaned forward, zooming in on her center screen. Something stood on the horizon, but it wasn't the small, light-footed animechs they'd been following. Instead the screen revealed a group of gunmetal gray machines with squat, bulky figures.