Chapter One


Islet cast her sights to the crumbling buildings towering above her, most of the structures no more than skeletal remains of Before Time.

Shit. A hunk of falling masonry from a derelict skyscraper was headed straight for her.

Leaping aside, she narrowly dodged the cement block as it hit the ground and exploded in a cloud of gritty dust, ricocheting fragments spewing at her with the rapid-fire velocity of artillery shrapnel.

Covering her face with a gloved hand against the pulverized particles, Islet kept moving.

Scrap metal and other assorted rubble had turned this part of the City into a goddamn obstacle course. In every direction, rusted junk stood in her way. The debris of mass destruction littered her narrow path, essentially preventing her from getting where she was going.

Islet kicked some twisted rebar aside. Screw it. Pussies didn't get rich. Neither did heroes. But sneaks would inherit the fucking earth. Though who'd want this dump now that it'd been irradiated? Her one and only ambition was staying alive in this bombed-out wasteland while making a little easy barter on the side. Any barrier she couldn't go around or vault over, she’d plow through, her patched sack on her back. Her ass was on the line here. Hesitate, and she’d get caught before ever reaching the Citadel.

Pulling in a shallow breath, Islet bounded up the side of an aluminum mountain, scaling the none-too-steady pile of metallic refuse, hand over hand. Caution was the name of the game here. One clumsy move would trigger a tinfoil avalanche that would alert Maniot guards of a trespasser in their midst.

Trespasser. Ha! That would be her, all right. Might as well add illegal Scrounger to the description too. She answered to both, and a whole hell of a lot more, none of it good.