The Unearthed Duology: Unearthed . Unearthed 2

The Unearthed Duology

 
Unearthed was originally pitched as ‘Indiana Jones teams up with Lara Croft… in space!’ and will be Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner’s next project together.

Buy the book

In the US: IndieBound . B&N . BAM . Amazon . iBooks
Internationally: Book Depository
Australia: Booktopia . Dymocks

Publishers

USA: Disney-Hyperion
Germany: Fischer

 
The first draft has just gone in to their editor, so what you see here might not make it into the final version at all. Here’s a sneak peek at the way the story starts…

CHAPTER ONE: AMELIA

This is really, really not going the way I’d planned.

The two scavengers below are talking to each other in Spanish, laughing and joking about something I can’t understand. Lying facedown against the rock, I wriggle forward just enough to see the tops of their heads over the edge of the overhang. One of them is taller, bulky in the shoulders. He’s around thirty or thirty-five, and easily twice my size. The other one’s smaller, a woman, I’m guessing, by the way she stands—but even she’d have the edge on me if they knew I was here.

You were right, Mink, I should’ve taken that gun. At the time, it felt good to surprise the Contractor—to make her eyebrows shoot up underneath her fringe and stay there. “I don’t need a gun,” I’d scoffed. “No one will ever even see me down there.” Because if I were home, if I were scavenging a city on Earth, that would be true.

But studying the topographic surveys and satellite images of Gaia’s surface didn’t prepare me for just how barren this landscape is. This isn’t like the ruins of Chicago, full of sewer tunnels and half-collapsed skyscrapers, with infinite places to hide and move around unseen. There aren’t even any plants on this lifeless world, no shrubs for cover or trees to hide in. Here there’s just open desert on either side of the canyon, and I’m screwed.

I’m screwed.

The raiders are filling up their canteens at the little spring under the overhang, the same spring marked on our pirated maps that drew me to this spot. Though I can’t understand their language, I don’t need to know the words to tell that they’re grumbling about the dusty, sandy quality of the water in the pool. Like they don’t even get how lucky they are that there’s water on this planet in the first place. The first one we’ve found with the right air—sort of—the right water, the right temperature and gravity. Perhaps the only planet like this, besides Earth. And we only found this one because we followed the coordinates left by ancient creatures long dead. There’s no telling when we’ll find another world like it, unless we find more coordinates in the ruins left by the Undying—ironic that the aliens called themselves that, considering they did. Die, that is.

I hold my breath, hoping that the scavengers don’t look around while crouching to replenish their water. My pack isn’t exactly well-hidden, since I wasn’t expecting company, but they haven’t noticed it yet. Idiots. But I’m an even bigger idiot, because I broke my cardinal rule—I let go of my stuff. I put it down because it was heavy in this gravity, and I wanted to see what was over this ridge. The desert is marked by groupings of immense rock formations stretching up toward the sky, swept into shape by the wind, and by water that’s long gone now. I’m going to end up marooned hundreds of light years from home with no supplies because I wanted to admire the damned scenery. Just a few chunks of red-gray rock stand between the raiding duo and my only hope at survival in this terrain.

Not only does the pack contain my food rations, my climbing gear, my water, my sleeping mat, and everything else I need to live out here—it contains my breather. The atmosphere here’s got just a little more nitrogen than Earth’s. Eight hours a day or so, you need to strap on a breather and suck in oxygen-enriched air, or your thinking scrambles, and then your body shuts down. And my breather—my lifeline—is in the bag a meter or two from a pair of raiders.

The man lifts his head and I jerk back, rolling over and gazing up at the empty blue sky. The light of the binary suns is harsh on my face even through the protection of the kerchief, but I don’t move. If I don’t get my stuff back, I’m dead. I won’t even be alive when they come to get me in three weeks, much less carrying enough loot from the temples to pay my exit fee.

My mind scrambles for a solution. I could call Mink—except my sat-phone is in my pack, and the comms satellite won’t be over this part of the planet for another six hours anyway. And even if I did find a way to signal her, she made it clear when she dropped me on this rock that I was only getting a ride back off the ground again if I had something to make it worth her while.

I have to get that pack.


The Unearthed Duology: Unearthed . Unearthed 2