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Sample Pages

Prologue

At the time of The Great Ozone Event, known as the Oze, the average human
used very little of their brain’s potential. But long before the Oze, a group
of young explorers hunting for the infamous Fountain of Youth, discovered
something far more fantastic.
     As the story goes, Akshay Riley, the lead explorer and Horticulturist by
trade, stumbled upon a mysterious flower believed to be extinct. Akshay
called out to rally the others around the unprecedented find. He explained
the history of the parrot’s-beak, as it was commonly referred, highlighting
the uniquely vibrant orange petals as being part of the lotus family. Within
the delicate flower’s petals pooled a liquid as blue as the Caribbean Sea
unlike any Akshay had seen before.
     Many cultures believed the parrot’s-beak had unique healing powers.
As the group rested next to the flower, admiring its beauty, the heart of
the flower began to pulsate a gentle glow from within. Subtle teardrops
dripped along the curve of each petal as they wilted, one by one. In true
horticulturalist style, Akshay quickly scrambled to empty his water bottle
and collected samples. Shortly after, the beauty that once was a rare flower
was gone. Within a matter of minutes, the beautiful flower had withered
until it became a powder before their eyes.
     The group soon discovered the liquid’s true power, a power beyond even
their wildest imaginations, beyond the eternal life they originally sought.
This sap, eventually referred to as the secret elixir from one Percenter
generation to the next, purified the blood of anyone who drank even just
a drop. So powerful was the elixir that 100 percent of the brain’s cortex
was activated by anyone who drank even a thimble’s worth. The elixir was
shared equally among twelve explorers, and those twelve became known
as the Founders.
     The Founders soon manifested extraordinary powers that defied natural
law. Their altered cortex resulted in a rare nucleotide, or genetic code,
hosting the magnificent power of the elixir. Forming a secret Percenter
Society, the families of the Founders quickly became among the world’s
elite. Their hidden powers provided an innate privilege, allowing them to
more easily secure wealth, influence, and power over their fellow mankind.
Generations later, a new superhuman species had secretly evolved: the
Percenters.
     It was believed that any time a child was born of both Percenter and a
non-Percenter, the Percenter bloodline was weakened and treated as a threat
to their elitist society. The purity of the bloodlines became as important
as their secrecy. Only those who possessed the perfect percent of elixir
markers in their DNA would be born with Percenter powers. Just like any
other genetic code, the extent of someone’s power varied and was sometimes
unpredictable. The most powerful were the rare Hundred-Percenters, the
purest bloodlines and direct descendants of the Founders.
     Centuries passed since the discovery of the secret elixir and man-made
pollutants eventually led to the Great Ozone Event. The earth was ravaged
for years by a toxic ozone layer, extending hundreds of feet from the surface
of the earth. The Oze rapidly made the ground uninhabitable. At the time,
scientists compared it to the volatile surface of Jupiter. Airborne poisons
meant certain death to anyone, or anything, that required oxygen to live.
Even Percenters fell victim to the Oze’s plague. All life on the surface of the
earth was dying. Mankind was forced to adapt or die.
     Within weeks of the Oze devastating the entire globe, the secret Percenter
Society revealed their powers to the humans still alive. Many believed the
Percenters were a gift from God. Humanity’s last hope.
     The Percenters built three major Sky Cities spread across the country
formerly known as the United Stats of America. These Sky Cities reigned
majestically in the clouds, high on carved-out landmasses mysteriously
tethered to the tops of skyscrapers lost to the Oze.
     These Sky Cities, San Sun in the west, Crystal Sky in the east, and Grand
View in the center are completely toxin-free. Only Percenters with powers
are allowed to reside in these luxurious Sky Cities. The Percenters created
Barren Pods, domelike structures that maintained a somewhat habitable
environment for non-Percenters to grow and harvest food.
     These domelike structures provided shelter and work for the people
without the elixir streaming through their blood, the last remaining true
humans. In exchange for protection from the Oze and certain death, the
humans in the communities were happy to be laborers in exchange for life.
     With most people dying from the Oze, those that remained felt lucky to
be alive and owed everything to the Percenters for saving them. In turn,
Percenters were treated like gods. The people living in these communities
would eventually become known as Barrens. All other humans born without
powers were left on the Ground to survive the best way they could, if at all.

     This was the new world. And almost no one remembered the world
before.


Chapter One

I try not to remember it, but it’s always with me. The blood. The horror.
The dead-cold feeling that no one is here to rescue me. The realization
I’m fighting a war no one else is even aware is happening.
     I’m lying in the mud. Snowflakes drift down from the sky like wet feathers
and cover my face. I am cold . . . so cold. A loud snarl to my right shakes
my core, and I suddenly notice a pack of mangy dogs closing in on me.
Gruesome, with visible wounds oozing infection. And skeletal, obviously
hungry. Ravenous for meat, any meat . . . my meat!
     They bare their rotten fangs and growl at me with ferocious delight, eager
to devour. My eyes blur, and all I can focus on are barbed-wire tufts of fur
closing in. The beasts are preparing for a feast unlike any they have had
before.
     I hear a woman’s voice screaming, “Where am I? Why is this happening?
Help, please!”
     My eyes are watching the dogs get closer while scanning for the owner of
that painfully agonizing voice. I hear the voice screaming a second time.
     “Help me . . . PLEASE, HELP ME!”
     A blur of blood-soaked fur pushes past my face, knocking me back several
feet. I see only teeth reaching for my flesh. Another beast rushes me and
clamps down on my arm. It’s tearing through my sleeve. Gnawing into my
skin, drawing deep red blood. I hear the screams again, louder this time.
But different.
     She sounded more fearful than before. I look down just as the beast’s teeth
release my arm, fragments of my skin dangling from its mouth. There is so much
blood. Fresh crimson covering the old. Looking sideways, I watch as it trickles
onto the muddy ground. I hear the cry again, louder than the times before
but fading in its intensity.
     It’s me. I’ve been screaming uncontrollably to an audience of no one. I am
shocked by the realization that I’m on the Ground. Confused how I came
to be here but awakened by the need to survive one more day. My mission,
over. I failed. It was all for nothing. A waste. A stupid, stupid waste of lives.
Out of nowhere, a giant cat—no, a puma—lunges at the beast salivating
for another bite of my arm. The puma snapped the beast in half instantly,
flinging the creature to the side like an old rag. Right in front of my eyes,
right before I pass out, I see vicious beast after beast launching into the air
as the sound of their howls overtake my screams.
     The world falls away from my weakened sight as the fearful beasts
whimper and slink off into the forest of dead tangled trees and vines. Their
feast lost. My life saved.
     I begin to drift in and out of consciousness, but I am too horrified to force
open my eyes. I feel a false sense of security in the darkness my eyelids
provide. Too afraid to see what’s actually happening around me.
     I open my eyes just as the Puma transforms into a boy right in front of me.
He’s completely naked and has a muscular physique similar to the infamous
statue of David. Now I know I must be dreaming.
     Forgetting about the massive gash extending from my elbow to my wrist,
I shake my head and look back up at the boy, who is now close enough to
touch me. I try to blink the blood out of my vision to see him more clearly.
He looks similar to Alexander, except his hair is different—jet-black—and
disheveled, giving him a wild, animal-like appearance. But then again, he
was just a giant cat. I can’t help but feel I know him some how.
     Crouching down, he speaks to me.
     “You’re safe, for now,” he tells me, offering his hand. “Get up! Hurry! We
don’t have much time.”
     Still confused and slightly delusional, the only thing I could muster as a
response was “But you’re naked!” I immediately blush and look away like a
little schoolgirl, an instinctual response I didn’t know existed.
     “Wow! Your observation skills are off the charts, Jena,” he replies with
blunt sarcasm. “No wonder they picked you.”
     I shake off his comment and struggle to stand. I try desperately to ignore
his nudity, but in my sixteen years of life, he’s the first boy, besides my
brother when we were toddlers, Alexander, I have ever seen naked. My
searing pain was no match for my curiosity. I can’t seem to stop myself from
staring at every square inch of him.
     His abs are so defined they look like they were etched out of stone. I
watch his wide chest heave up and down as he takes each breath. My eyes
follow the blue vein running across his pec to his left bicep, bulging with
his every movement. I rapidly blink to ensure that what I am seeing in front
of me is actually there. Before making eye contact again, I notice his tree
trunk-like legs—strong enough to jump fifteen feet in the air.
     My body is racked with pain. My hair covers my face, matted with wet
leaves and mud. He smiles and extends his other hand and reluctantly pulls
me to my feet. I limp horribly.
     My bones and muscles ache. He half drags me, half supporting me with
his arm around my waist, and somehow, together, we head into the cover
of trees and darkness. At some point, I blacked out and woke up to a sharp
shooting pain ripping down my arm beneath the cover of some type of
homemade wrap.
     I remember everything now.
     This, unfortunately, is not a dream.


Copyright P. H. Perrine, 2020-2021
Percenters and the Amber Pendant