Excerpt from the book!:
Jack faced a wall of exposed brick. It was not the inside of the
weathered red barn he had become familiar with from other teams’
simulations. Where had the Dome sent them?
“This isn’t the farm,” Freddy said.
Team Thirteen stood in a tall passageway, empty except for a
single wooden door and a ladder that led to a hatch high in the ceil- ing. Asha held up her arms, examining the black tactical uniform
she was suddenly wearing. Voss, on the other hand, looked like a model for Versace, in a black tux. Jack caught Asha doing a double take at him while Voss examined his mirror-shined shoes.
The adaptive fabric of the three boys’ Hadley uniforms had morphed into expensive dark suits, perfectly tailored to each boy’s build. Freddy’s black curls were tamed in a way Jack hadn’t seen since picture day in sixth grade, and Jack felt his own brown locks slicked back.
Jack’s suit felt tight. Alexander, at Superior Blue’s request, had given Jack a prototype blast suit that worked exactly like the other adaptive-fabric suits. Jack wasn’t an improbable, and Superior Blue wanted him to have extra protection. Right now it was just uncomfortable.
Asha touched the monitor in her ear. “Can anyone hear us?
There’s a glitch in the simulation. We’re not on the farm.”
No response. All communication was cut off in the Dome.
Jack stared at the lone door. “I think I hear people out there. A
lot of them.”
“This must be an advanced simulation,” Asha said. “It’s probably an error. The Dome brought us in at the wrong time, after
all. Recruit simulations don’t run at night.”
“What’s the Dome doing bringing us in at all?” Voss asked, stretching his arms in the stiff suit. “Jack said it didn’t even know
“I said it was never going to call us in because we weren’t a team,” Jack corrected.
“So what changed?” Nobody knew.
Asha faced them. “Okay. Blades ready to deploy the instant you
see a threat.” She glanced down at herself again. “I’m clearly the odd
one out. I think I’m supposed to go up that ladder, to get a view of
whatever is out there.”
“You sure?” Voss’s gaze followed the rickety ladder to the top.
“I’m not sure, Voss! But that’s the plan, okay?”
“Yeah. All right. Just be careful.”
“Hoods up, everyone,” Asha directed. Team Thirteen took a
They pulled up the thin, transparent hoods from the back of their uniforms. Jack watched as their faces disappeared into shadow,
then became visible again. “It’s not working.”
“Your face is visible to your team,” Asha answered. “We’re still in shadow to everyone else.” She grabbed the first rung of the lad- der. “You go first, Voss. The shadow reaper is in there somewhere. If it’s on the other side of the door, the simulation will be over
Voss leaned into the door, hand on the knob. The three boys crouched together. Jack gripped the hilt of his blade as Voss mouthed
one . . . two . . . three!
They slammed into a mass of humanity. Blood rushed through Jack’s ears like whitewater, and the hilt of his Hadley blade slipped from his hand. He dropped to his knees and patted the ground among a forest of moving legs.
“Excuse me. Did you drop this?” A soft, unfamiliar accent. Female.
Jack rose slowly. Holding out the six-inch handle was an elegant older woman in a light green gown and an impossibly ornate hat. Jack took the hilt from her, wondering if this was a trap.
“I was just wondering where you got that gorgeous eyeglasses
case,” the woman said. “My husband would love one.”
Her voice was replaced by Asha in his ear. “Jack! Move!”