Between Mountain and Sea Excerpt

Between Mountain and Sea: Paradisi Chronicles
by Louisa Locke

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 by Mary Louisa Locke All rights reserved.
Cover design © 2015 Michelle Huffaker All rights reserved.

Chapter One
Mabel Yu’s Diary
Three Months to Launch, Earth 2092 AD

For my fifteenth birthday, my father gave me this super sturdy voice-activated tablet. Said I could enter my private thoughts here and download my favorite books and photographs…to take to New Eden. He cautioned me that even for this stripped-down model the memory capacity is finite and that I couldn’t depend on there being anywhere to upload when the memory was full. Same with everything else—I have to really think about what I want to pack for the trip. Each of us only gets a small personal container since cargo space is so limited and everything we want can just be printed out when we get there. Ten thousand people are a lot to cram into one space ship. What I really want is to be able to bring my grandmother. But they say she is too old to come.

She raised me since I was a baby, and I hated leaving her behind when I came up to Nautilus Space Station four years ago. I miss her so much. I am having trouble remembering all of the Hakka words she taught me. There is no one up here who speaks that language—not even my mother. She doesn’t like it when I use Hakka words.

All my Yu cousins look down on my mother and me because of our Hakka ancestry. Yet our teachers say that in New Eden—where you were born, what you look like, how you practice your spiritual beliefs—none of that will be important anymore. We will all be Founders of New Eden.

I would like to believe that. But then why did each of the ten Founding Families build its own spaceship? Why are over half of the spots on those ships reserved for people related to those ten families? Why does each Family live in a separate part of the space station? And why did they start making Jaxon and all the other Reacher kids stay in their own section of the station last month so they can’t even attend school with us anymore?

It wasn’t that way when I first came to the Nautilus. Almost a third of the kids in my class were the children—some even the grandchildren—of the people who have been working for years and years for Reach Corp. They are the ones who built the space elevators, stations, and the ships. Most of them, like my friend Jaxon, have been up here longer than me and my stupid cousins.

Mei Lin Yu
May 22, 165 AA (After Arrival), New Eden

Mei Lin Yu straightened out her legs and was surprised to feel a sudden lifting of a warm weight that had kept the blanket snug against her feet. This odd sensory impression was followed by a soft touch on her face and the sound of someone or something scurrying away. A human medical technician? One of the robotic monitors? Puzzled, she opened her eyes and was even more confused when she saw that the wall next to her was constructed of rough plaster.

Definitely not her room in the Winston Yu Hospital back in New Hong Kong.

Had her parents actually taken time to come rescue her? Taken her back with them to whatever remote geological exploration site in the southern hemisphere of New Eden that they were currently excavating?

This slender hope crumbled when she remembered. Not my parents. It was Albert who’d arrived in her hospital room yesterday. Her insufferable brother who swept in and announced that he’d chartered a private helio––at great expense––to deposit her at Mynyddamore where the grandparents she’d never met could deal with her. Deal with me! Like it was her fault that the laser eye surgery went wrong.

She’d tried to tell the school nurse practitioner that just because the New Hong Kong Academy had an on-site clinic that did routine corrective procedure didn’t mean that she should get her astigmatism taken care of there. She explained that she hadn’t reacted well to laser surgery in the past. But no one ever listened to her. And when she sent an urgent message asking her parents to intervene, her mother’s response was that scheduling the procedure in a hospital would take too long and that Mei needed to be ready for the university entrance exam that was in two days.

That worked out well, didn’t it, Mother?

Two days later, while her classmates took the all-important exam that determined who would get into the best scientific research institutions in New Eden in the fall, she was lying in a dark hospital room with her eyes bandaged. The only reason she scheduled the surgery was that she’d done miserably on the prelim exams, and her parents, in their infinite wisdom, decided it was somehow her slight astigmatism that was the problem. Because how could it be that their daughter was just genetically defective when it came to science? Which was what Albert thought.

Albert––who’d obtained the highest marks of his class ten years ago when he’d taken the exam. Albert––who’d parlayed his double degree in business and physical engineering to become the youngest manager in MynyEnergy, the Yu’s energy business. Albert––who would eventually be expected to find a low-level job for her at MynyEnergy if she ended up going to one of the less prestigious colleges that her parents felt were no better than finishing schools for the mediocre. No wonder he was angry with her.

What else was new? He’d been angry with her from the day she was born, and her parents decided to send him off to boarding school a year early. At least that was what Glynis, her Ddaeran nurse, told her one Founders Day holiday when she was five and Albert was particularly nasty to her.

Glynis, more of a mother to her than her own mother, was the only one who’d hugged her when she left to attend the same boarding school. Yet three years ago, her parents didn’t even bother to tell her that Glynis died. Mei only discovered she was gone when the annual ecard she’d posted, wishing her old nurse a safe and happy solstice, was bounced back as “recipient deceased.”

Not surprising, then, that it was Glynis she yearned for during the first forty-eight hours in the hospital, when she worried she might lose her sight completely. Glynis would have held her hand and told her in her soft Ddaeran accent that everything would be all right.

The same Ddaeran accent spoken by the man who met the helio last night and lifted her into his arms.

She didn’t remember much after that. Darkness, a glimpse of Caeruleum, the larger of the two moons, rising over the man’s shoulder, and then the odd experience of being carried up stairs instead of rising in a lift.

Finally, she remembered being laid down and covered in an incredibly soft blanket that smelled oddly spicy. A blanket that she now pulled up over her head, intending to go back to sleep and hoping that everything that happened since she heard the idiot intern operating the laser say, “Oh shit,” was simply a bad dream.

To be continued….you can get ebook or print editions.