The year is 2034 and a bacterial epidemic is sweeping the nation. When seventeen-year-old Trinity Jane Nicklefire is diagnosed with Chronic, the last thing she expects is to be rounded up in the middle of the night and transported by Army trucks to an American concentration camp patrolled by drones. Who is behind this disease and can Trinity survive long enough to find a cure?
Our Story Begins...Early Spring, 2034
On Tuesday the national news announced it was a World War again, by Thursday all the Chronics had been rounded up from their San Francisco homes and apartments, and sometime in the middle of a pitch black Saturday night Trinity Jane Nickelfire finally stumbled from a monster-green Army transport truck and was herded by drones into a medical camp by bright, blinding lights.
Now, she now lay like a broken China doll on a damp patch of dirt, shivering under a piss-brown tarp, trying to keep her twitching muscles from jumping out of her skin.
The tarp crinkled like birthday wrapping paper.
It was annoying.
When she’d finally fallen asleep, she’d even had a stupid birthday dream where her mom and dad were singing in a sunny yellow kitchen and everybody was all excited, the lemon poppy-seed cake had seventeen candles, and then bam! the cake blew up and her parents ran around screaming with blood spurting from their flesh-peeled faces.
Bacterial nightmares were a drag.
When you woke up you really quick had to count ten good things that you knew were true. When you were done counting, the lies in the nightmare would already be fading away.
Because for one, she’d never had real parents, so they weren’t going to lose their faces.
And secondly, she couldn’t eat sugar anymore. So any kind of cake was like broccoli and she didn’t miss it.
Not when sugar made her symptoms worse.
Trinity realized suddenly her neuro twitch had stopped. She held her breath under the tarp. Even the low-grade buzzing vibrations under her skin were gone.
It was always a freaking miracle when her infected body went still.
She almost smiled. But it was too much work.
A coughing fit punctured the night. That same phlegmy lung-hacker from inside the Army-green blowup tent had started up with his whoop again. Damn mucous-filled stranger, laying there inside that sea of metallic folding cots with the other parchment-paper faced people gripping their woolen blankets under the glow of blue service lights (that made everyone look like they were wearing black mascara)—hack, hack, hack.
The terrified whispers. The uncontrolled moans. The psst escape of stinky cabbage farts—then hack, hack, hack.
But really it was the cabbage farts that had been too much. Who could breathe?
Within the first hour, Trinity had dropped out of her cot and crawled secretly along the modular plastic floor of the Army tent on her hands and knees.
Just to find fresh air somewhere.
The hexagonal floor pieces had been snapped together like a jigsaw puzzle and the little drainage holes had pinched circular imprints into her palms. Trinity had slunk past one row of pot-bellied cots and then another. The tall folks with their feet dangling. Cold blue toes.
Her bony knees spiked with pain through moss-green drawstring pants—the identical bottoms they’d all been issued with white T-shirt tops.
Trinity had thought the spherical nurse drones would track her movement at the canvass exit flaps, but for some reason their ocular sensors didn’t sense her.
The nurse drones had panels that could open, and all kinds of medical gadgets could extend on mechanical probes. Each drone had a different numeric identifier and a barcode. They floated down the rows, smooth white basketballs with a big red plus sign, monitoring their human horde.
While one had crawled secretly away.
Technology was stupid.
The tracking frequency of Trinity’s V2 identity chip must have been malfunctioning. She’d investigated the surgical implant, permanently flush to the skin on her wrist. Tapped the touch screen, but it had just glared darkly at her with a singular white pixel. That was unusual. In fact, the device had never blinked with a single white square before.
She should have made a break for it then. Run like hell and escaped. But who could run? She hadn’t even felt like her legs could stand.
Instead, she had collapsed under this piss-brown tarp just outside the Army tent—and now the fresh air probed through the holes in the plastic with airy fingers.
Fragrant and clean and wild, blowing in from somewhere that couldn’t possibly be another city, the intoxicating, honey-sweet breeze could have been funneled right through the perfume section of an elite consortium.
You know what?
It smelled gorgeous.
Where the hell had the military stashed her, anyway? She’d never been in a targeted group before—not through any of the world wars in her brief stint of life so far. She wasn’t Muslim, she wasn’t Anti-Technology, she was just plain old Latina.
And inside the cultural melting pot of The City, Latina was still cool.
Trinity ground her teeth. It was having an incurable disease that wasn’t cool.
It was having to fear your own government that wasn’t cool.
For most of Trinity’s life the domestic terrorist attacks had been cranking up to an insane level. Finally, the defense conglomerates had run for President under the state of emergency Save Our Sovereignty campaigns, and the question had been fervently debated—how do we save the country?
The pundits squawked while domestic terrorists blew more stuff up. Bye-bye Golden Gate Bridge. There was a national vote. The defense corporations officially merged into one corporation and the new Universal One became the first elected Corporate President.
Save Our Sovereignty had become the final answer.
The end to capitalism would allow the release of scientific patents that had been keep secret for centuries. New technology would save us from the terrorists who had sacked Washington. The state. (Because Washington D.C. would have been too much).
Reality changed overnight.
It was like a science fiction movie except it wasn’t a movie.
Nanobots in the sky to fix global warming, made-to-order cloned organs, a new monetary system with scannable human implants (everybody has to have one), and these UFO flying disc things that all along had existed.
Free energy boxes called the Free-E Device hit the shelves. Google already had the hover car.
But Chronic disease.
It was poking a dangerous hole right through all the political lies.