Since the night her mother was murdered, sixteen-year-old Rory Gray has known one truth: There are no good Seeders.
In post-apocalyptic Australia, the scientists known as Seeders have built a Citadel surrounded by food-producing regions and populated with refugees from the wars and famine. To maintain their control, the Seeders poisoned the land and outlawed the saving of seeds.
It’s been six years since Rory graced the Seeders’ circus stage as the Wind Dancer and still the scars on her body haven’t healed. Even worse are the scars on her heart, left by a Seeder boy who promised to protect her.
Now the Seeders are withholding supplies from Rory’s region for perceived disobedience. Utilising the Wanderer knowledge she received from her mother, Rory must journey to the Citadel through uninhabitable terrain to plead for mercy.
However, the Citadel isn’t as Rory remembered. The chief plant geneticist is dying and rumours fly that the store of viable seed is dwindling. The Seeders are desperate to find a seed bank they believe Rory can locate, and they will stop at nothing to get it.
To defy the Seeders means death. But Rory has been close to death before--this time she’s learned the value of poison.
**Poison (Wind Dancer #1) is on sale for $0.99 for the week of September 7th-11th!**
I feel like an utter moron as the director instructs me to preen and pose for the camera. The angled lights shining on my face causes my eyes to water and I’m sweating through my aerialist costume. Soon there will be wet patches soaking through the sky blue spandex of my leotard and I get the feeling that’s why the cameraman is snapping at me to do as he says. These snippets of video will be used for the Social Season promotional ads which will be broadcasted to all the regions.“Smile, Aurora!” The director says. He’s a portly man with a moustache aspiration that he’s not entirely living up to. “No one wants to see a sombre video.” What he means is that no one wants to see the truth, nor would the Seeders ever allow it. Why they don’t just piece together shots of my circus performances is beyond me. My video isn’t going to entice the regioners. If anything it’ll be a cautionary tale. Do not allow the Seeders to realise you can be used for their purposes. I do my best to comply with his instructions, if only because this can’t be over quickly enough.When the cameras finally stop the director and produces pore over the video, their expressions grim. “I guess this is the best one,” the younger woman says. “Thank goodness she’s a better aerialist than she is an actress.”With that vote of confidence I’m escorted by a stage hand to a room that’s been set up especially for the interviews. I knock and the door swings open automatically. A voice crackles from within the earpiece I’m wearing.“Be nice, pet,” Harlan says. Do all the interviewees get a personal order from the Chief Warden’s son to be nice? I don’t think so. The stage hand bows and then the door swings shut behind me. The smell of warm syrup and cream wafts over from a tea table set up by the bay window. Seated at the table is Katrina Winters, the host of these interviews for the past ten years. She’s in her mid-forties but you wouldn’t know it by looking at her clear skinned smile. Proof of the Seeders advanced medical technology at work.“Ah, Aurora!” Katrina says. She beckons me over and I sit down gingerly in the seat opposite her. “What a pleasure it is to have a bona fide celebrity with us today.” I school my lips into as genuine a smile as I can and eye the butter knife sitting beside my plate of waffles.Katrina reaches over to pour tea into a delicate china cup and pushes it towards me. I wrap my fingers around the warm edge to give myself something to do other than contemplate how to steal the knife. My host takes a swig of tea and then she sets a recording device on the table beside her notepad.“Let’s begin shall we? Feel free to eat as you talk!” She wiggles a little in her seat and were it not for the sharp glint in her steely eyes I would think she might be as simple as she let on. “Could you please state your full name, age and origin region for the record?”“Aurora Gray. I’m sixteen and I was originally from Gideon’s Landing.” I stumble a little on the last answer as the memories of the Landing flash back. Katrina doesn’t give me time to dwell though.“And how long have you been in the Citadel?”I want to ask whether she counts those months on walkabout as technically being in the Citadel but decide against it. “I’ve been back for three weeks now.”“Oh yes! When you say you’ve been back, you’re referring to those four years you were here previously?” I nod because I don’t trust myself to actually speak. Harlan’s warning to be nice reverberates in my head as the interview teeters ever closer to a question involving my exit from the circus and then my mother’s murder. My focus flies to the butter knife again before I can force myself to breathe deeply and think logically about the consequences of maiming the Citadel’s interviewer. Especially since Harlan hasn’t done his interview yet. When I look up again Katrina is appraising me like a hawk does its dinner and I can tell by the twitching of her smile that she knows I’m already on the edge.“So tell us,” she says, changing the subject. “What does the Wind Dancer think is the Citadel’s crowning achievement? She takes another sip of tea. This time my answer is neither forced nor fake.“The Forgotten Garden,” I say. I think of the fresh air inside the domed garden unadorned by synthetic scents. I think of the many heirloom trees and shrubs that in autumn would yield a bounty of viable seeds. “If there was somewhere I could spend all my free time it would be inside the Forgotten Garden.”Katrina grins as she makes notes on the pad and I wonder if it’s occurred to her that I’ll never have free time. Every second of my existence in the Citadel is regulated.“Right, stop me if I’m being too forward but I’m sure all the young ladies will want to know the status of your relationship with Captain Forrester.”It’s like someone has thrown a bucket of ice water over me. The tea has cooled considerable between my palms. Each breath I take is laboured because I want to shout at her that there is no relationship between Aiden Forrester and me. A tendril of fury uncurls from a locked compartment deep in my chest. I refuse to concede that all the region girls would cut off their arm to even be looked at by Aiden.“Aurora?”I don’t say a thing. Flashes of red and black dart across my vision. Somewhere a timer beeps and that small sound brings me back to reason. It means that my allotted timeslot for the interview is over. My time is blessedly short because the Council don’t trust me enough to extend my leash for too long.I push back and stand before Katrina has a chance to dismiss me. “Tell the region girls that they’re welcome to as much of Captain Forrester’s time as they like,” I say.I don’t see the expression on Katrina’s face because I’m almost sprinting out the room. It isn’t until I’m inside the limousine that takes me back to the Palace Hotel that I open my palm and smile at the knife I’ve managed to swipe from under her nose.
About the Author:
Lan Chan is a writer, gardener and professional procrastinator based in Melbourne, Australia. She is still waiting for her super powers to manifest but until then she writes young adult novels featuring strong female protagonists, minority characters and has a particular interest in dystopias and urban fantasy. Lan’s debut novel POISON, the first in her WIND DANCER series is due for release in September 2015.