I know, the first chapter is a little short, but I wanted it to be suspenseful.

Aranda Delimore pretends to be the perfect citizen in Utopia, but she is so much more. She is an Aura, a descendant of the participants in the Prismorph Project, which supposedly ended the world and was dropped four centuries ago. For seventeen years, she has managed to blend in, but when he secret is found out, she is forced to flee with a strange boy that doesn't seem to like her all that much. Faced with the choice of a normal but fearful life or a dangerous life of the Liberation, Aranda must realize who her real friends are, where her allegiances lie, and the truth behind her heritage. She is more powerful than anything in the world, but will she be able to find the power within?


The train passed under a bridge; the same monotonous bridge it passed under everyday. As it exited, daily news flashed on the large buildings and the projection screen in front of the railcar. The rain clouds rolling in from the west suggested a storm later in the day. The streets bustled with men and woman in black and gray suits while going on with their day and occasionally stopping to visit with their peers. Children walked along the sidewalks, swinging their arms and laughing at the amateur jokes only they understood. The train was silent, the only sound it made was a low hum, ineffective to the masses outside. The windows were open, letting the cool spring air travel through the scorching car. The train moved rapidly, faster than any Pre-Downfall vehicle, although it was probably not nearly as comfortable.

I was on this train, heading to the only Accelerated School in Arcadia, the City where I lived and one of three regions left in existence that is inhabited by humans. The train pulled to a stop and more people piled into the already crowded car. Most of them were students, but a few were Workers returning from the night shift. The smell of detergent, cologne, and perfume floated through the room and I breathed it in heavily. Next to me, my friend coughed. The students chattered with the same friends they've had since birth and would probably die alongside with. My guess was that most of them were from Thatcherville, a small neighborhood for more endowed members of society.A small pit of jealously formed in my stomach, but I pushed it down. I was supposed to respect them, not resent them.

I lived in a tiny apartment building at the very edge of Arcadia called London Heights. According to my grandmother's books, London was a city that existed before the Downfall; it was beyond Utopia's borders. My friend Casee also lived in London Heights with her widowed mother, but her apartment is on the lower levels. The building was for elderlies and disadvantaged individuals. I had lived there with my Grandma Dorris and Grandfather Anthony since the disappearance of my parents nearly a decade before. The only links I had to my childhood were my brothers Tam and Miekal and my sister Imogene. I was seven when my parents disappeared, the oldest of the four of us. I was the only one who still had faint memories of them: my mother's singing, my father's laugh, their stories about angels and flying.

Casee nudged my shoulder and I realized I had been daydreaming about the past again. "We're stopping, Aranda," she whispered.

We stand as the steel doors slid open. "Arcadia Accelerated," a robotic voice announced.

I turned around to look down at the seat behind me and saw Miekal asleep on the leather seat. When I poked him, his chocolate brown eyes popped open. "Are we here already?" he asked me groggily.

I nodded, "Yes, Miekal, education awaits."

He moaned as he sat up, "Imogene is so lucky it's here birthday."

"Luck's got nothing to do with it."

Casee and I exited the train, Miekal close at our heels. "I can't believe she starts Accelerated tomorrow," he commented as he yawned quietly into his hand.

I nodded, "It does seem strange; she's still so small for age."

Poor Imogene had grown barely an inch since her seventh birthday. She was so small and it distressed me. What if they couldn't find a Occupation that she could do with her small frame? Casee laughed, "She is very adorable though."

I stopped to stare up at the large gates to the wrought iron fence surrounding the school. "I can't believe I'll graduate in three months," I whispered, more to myself than my companions.

I tugged my messenger bag up higher as they walked ahead, not bothering to comment. The Accelerated School was huge; the largest building in Arcadia. It had ten floors and over a hundred rooms. There was an old uninhabited building next to it that students were forbidden to go into. I had to wonder what was behind those locked doors and boarded up windows. A girl in my class had told me that it was going to be demolished the following year.

We passed through the large gate into the courtyard. Aside from the large trees and the green grass, the area was all but dreary. Hundreds of students wandered around, each of them dressed in the same gray pants or skirt and cotton white shirt. Self-consciously, I tugged up my white stockings and brushed off imaginary dirt from my black shoes. When I straightened up, I saw Miekal and Casee doing the same thing. One infraction could lead to immediate disciplinarily action. I avoided the searching gazes of the Elites as I scuffled into the school's boundary.

The Elites were young genetically engineered men that were created for the purpose of protecting the citizens and detecting a threat. All of the Elites were male, handsome, and mysterious. No one knew anything about them because they rarely answered anything with more than a one word sentence. All that I knew was that they were everywhere in Utopia, but no one has ever seen one that appeared to be over the age of eighteen. I assumed that they retired and lived normal lives, but most of the students had other ideas.

I could feel a pair of eyes on my back as I walked into the crowd, but when I glanced back, no one was there. I spun back around, but I couldn't shake the feeling that someone was watching me.


As I went through my workbook, I felt the same gaze on my back. Although I was tempted to spin around a face the offender, I continued to focus on my book. The intensity of their gaze made me anxious, but I kept my composure until I finished the last problem. After I gave my work to my teacher, I made my way to the door and punched in my ID number. With a small intake of breath, I looked over the crowd of students.

My eyes immediately focused on the Elite in the back of the room. It wasn't the one that I was used to seeing in my literature classroom. The other guy was older, probably seventeen or eighteen... It had to have been the other Elite's replacement. He watched me emotionlessly with calm blue eyes, his light hair cut close to his head.

I watched him for a moment more before leaving the room. The moment the door slid closed behind me, I slammed against the thick wall and slid into a crouched position. My breath came out quickly, but I forced it and my heartbeat to slow. An Elite watching me couldn't be a good sign... But I hadn't done anything wrong. According to the governments standards, I was the perfect citizen. I received good grades; I only spoke with those of my level; I did what was expected of me. I should have a bright future ahead of me.

Unless they found out...

I jumped to my feet and slowly paced back and forth. How could they figure it out? I was so careful. I spent endless hours training and it could be for nothing. My life could be ruined.

After a moment, I hurried to the restrooms, the only room not monitored. The wooden door slid shut behind me and I eased the bold into place. When I pulled out my compact phone, it almost fell out of my hands. I punched in my grandmother's number and jumped in place as I waited for her to pick up. She picked up on the second ring, "This is Dorris Deli-"

"I think they know," I interrupted her.

"Aranda?"

"Grandma, they know," I repeated, feeling my heartbeat quicken.

My grandmother breathed out slowly, "What happened, Ara?"

"A-an Elite was watching me. I think he's been watching me since I entered the school's boundaries," I explained, walking over to the mirror and sink. I was pale, too pale. "Grandma, what do I do?"

"First, you need to calm down, Aranda," she told me calmly and I let out a long breath. "Good. Has he tried to approach you?"

"No, but-"

"We planned for this to happen, Aranda," she reminded me. "If he approaches you, you know what to do."

"Grandma, I don't know if I can do that."

"Of course you can. Your mother and father didn't risk their lives just so you could give up yours," she paused as if lost in thought. "Go about your day normally, okay? Blend in and don't do anything unless it is absolutely necessary."

I nodded, but then I remembered she couldn't see me. "Y-yes, Grandma," I replied verbally, my voice shaking. "I love you."

"I love you too, Ara. Have a safe day."

And with that, she hung up. I let my arm fall to my side. I felt sick to my stomach as I stuffed my compact back into my pocket. With a sigh, I splashed water on my face and pinched my cheeks to make them look healthier. My grandmother was right; I had to act normal for the rest of the day and if worse came to worse, I could handle it. I could; I knew I could. What if I couldn't though? What if everything comes crashing down because of a procedure I didn't realize I missed.

I shook my head. I couldn't think negatively because it would only get me killed. With a sigh, I unlocked the door and opened it. I was about to leave, but someone was standing in my way. My eyes slowly lifted to be met with a pair of startling blue ones. A small gasp escaped me as I stumbled back, tripping and landing ungracefully on my butt.

The Elite stared down at me impassively. I scrambled across the tile, prepared to do anything. He simply watched me. "What do you want with me?" I asked, my tone sounding more confident than I felt.

Moments that felt like hours passed before he said, "I know what you are."

My jaw nearly dropped to the floor. That was the first time I had ever heard an Elite speak. His tone was calm but forceful. To my surprise, there was the slightest incline of arrogance in his voice. I didn't reply to his accusation, but he seemed to take it as an invitation and he crouched down to my level. His blue eyes glowed with knowing, "You are an Aura."


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