Series: The Extinction Trials: Book 2
By S.M. Wilson
Everything was white. And he hated that more than anything.
Bright lights and whiteness seemed to make the sick look even sicker. It was certainly the case for his sister.
He was tempted to close his eyes as he hurried along the corridor of the medico care centre, just to stop the glare of the whiteness. Even the labs weren’t this bright. Their walls were a drab grey. He was lucky to get away from his work there. They were so busy right now. His visit to the dinosaur continent, Piloria, a month ago had quickly been forgotten. Life was back to normal – if you could call it that.
But no wonder. Lincoln hadn’t won anything. He hadn’t aced the final test. He’d almost lost out on this chance of care for his sister. If Storm hadn’t stepped in…
He shook off his thoughts as he hurried the last few steps towards the door to Arta’s room. As if she’d heard his approach, it swung open and Storm stepped out into the corridor.
For the briefest of seconds, her violet eyes met his. In less than the blink of an eye, the smile fell from her face and her hand dropped from waving goodbye to Arta back to her side.
He could see something forming on her lips, but then she changed her mind, spun around, with her long brown hair fanning out, and stomped off down the corridor.
He could swear she left an icy blast in her wake.
One month on and she still hadn’t forgiven him. Still hadn’t forgiven him for trying to save his family.
Storm was now staying in a house. Hardly anyone had a proper house in Ambulus City. The trouble with Storm’s was that it now sheltered all the brothers and sisters of Rune and Kronar – their two teammates who had died on Piloria. Lincoln’s sister, Arta, should also have been there, but she’d been so sick she’d only made it to the care centre.
Sixteen people in one house. He almost shuddered to think of Storm moving from her own small room in the Shelters to her new crowded home. The noise levels, the chaos, the fights between siblings – Storm was used to none of this. She had switched from one extreme to the other.
She was lucky though. Space was at such a premium on Earthasia that the majority of families lived in the cramped tower blocks or caves. He and his mother were still in the caves. Another family had even moved in alongside them. They slept in shifts. It was claustrophobic.
But at least Arta had health care now. The whole week he’d been on Piloria that was all he’d really cared about – winning the prize that could save her life and praying she’d survive until he came home.
He swallowed and pushed open the door. Arta was lying against the white sheets, her skin so pale she almost blended in with them. Her face broke into a smile as she saw him and she winced as she shifted against her pillows.
One month. That was how long she’d been here. And even though part of Storm’s rewards had been health care for her and her “family”, the Stipulators had already started to grumble about Arta being so unwell and taking up so many resources.
But although Storm seemed to hate Lincoln for his betrayal, she didn’t carry that hatred over to his sister. In fact, she was a formidable advocate. She argued with the health staff at every opportunity. Any time she thought
Arta’s care fell short, she reminded them of her time on the dinosaur continent. She told them about the T-rex, the deinosuchus, the pterosaurs, the raptors. She told them about how many Finalists had been lost – sometimes in graphic detail. According to Arta, it always seemed to help the medico staff focus their efforts on trying to get her blistering skin disease under control.
“Lincoln.” Arta’s voice came out as little more than a gasp. Despite the health care, her disease was still progressing, although slower than before. She held out her fragile hand towards him.
Her arm was bound with bandages, cream smeared over her hands. Cracks were visible in her paper-thin skin, and her fingers were red and swollen.
Lincoln took his sister’s hand as gently as possible. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t get away from the lab any sooner. It’s so busy.”
She nodded, then winced. Even tiny movements were becoming painful. “What’s happening?”
He shook his head as he sat down in the chair next to her bed. “There’s just so many more people working there now. Maybe a thousand. Some days I can barely move. Apparently it’s the same in all the labs on the continent.”
Arta wrinkled her brow. “Is everyone working on the same thing? Is it all the dinosaur DNA?”
Lincoln’s stomach gave a little flip. The dinosaur DNA that Storm had been so against letting the Stipulators have. It still made him cringe that he’d tried to hand it over and steal the credit for himself.
“Do you really get to work on it yourself?” asked Arta.
He smiled and shook his head. “Not really. I get to do more minor things. Preparing slides. Pulling off reports. Checking rates. They are so desperate to find something. To find anything they think will kill the dinosaurs. It’s round-the-clock work.”
His sister gently brushed her fingers against his. “Are you getting any sleep?” Her voice lowered. “Are you getting any food?”
He gave her a weak smile. “Some. Regular rations are fine.” He tried his best to appear brighter. “Your cheeks have filled out a little. Did you manage to eat today?”
It was easier to turn the conversation back around. His body still hadn’t adjusted. There had been unlimited food during the Trials and on the ship to and from Piloria. While on the dinosaur continent they’d existed on ration packs and whatever they could find, but the surprise was that a whole host of other foods seemed to grow there – some rich, some odd, and some that had strange effects on the body. It was so different from their own continent, Earthasia – here, the land had been overworked and food production was at a minimum.
Since that final Trial when they’d arrived home – the Trial to claim ownership of the dinosaur eggs, the Trial
that he’d lost – Lincoln had been back on normal rations. The hunger pains he felt now almost made him wish he’d never been exposed to the unlimited food.
Arta gave a nod. “I had some soup. And something creamy. I’m not quite sure what they called it. But it was sweet. It was nice.”
“Good.” He glanced towards the door. “What did Storm want?”
Arta looked uncomfortable. It didn’t matter how much Lincoln wanted to shield her, she’d seen his behaviour. She’d watched him try to claim the eggs as his own, then take part in the Trial to try to win them again. She knew exactly what Storm thought of her brother.
“She visits every other day. She checks my skin, my breathing.” Arta gave a little smile. “She argues with the medico. She tells him he has to do better. She keeps asking him about a cure.” Arta’s voice got quieter. “But we both know there’s no cure. Apparently one of Rune’s brothers – Cornelius – is getting sick too.”
Lincoln felt a prickle down his spine. What if the health care he’d risked everything for wasn’t enough? Maybe it was time to try something else. Anything else. He pushed his hand into his pocket and kept his voice low. “I found something. I don’t know, but maybe it’s worth a try.”
Arta pulled back as he held out a scrap of cloth to her and a pungent smell filled the room. “Eurgh. What is that?”
It didn’t look – or smell – entirely pleasant. The contents, a coiled leaf, had decayed and practically turned to mush, melding with the ointment inside it. “This is what we used on Piloria for healing my dinosaur bites.” He paused as he tried to find the words – neither he nor Storm had mentioned Blaine’s existence to anyone since they’d come home. Lincoln didn’t know how to start telling the story of the exiled Stipulator who survived alone on Piloria and had made this medicine.
She wrinkled her nose again as he pulled up his trouser leg. “Look, the wound on my leg healed really quickly. No infection.” He shook his head, as he still couldn’t really believe it himself. “I thought it was only for deep wounds. Mum tidied my bag away when I got back, and I just found it again last night. Maybe it could help your skin.”
She shook her head. “You want me to smell like that?”
He held up his hands. “Well, are the other creams helping? Do you feel any better?” It was hard to keep the frustration from his voice.
She paused for a second then licked her lips. “I don’t know. I don’t think so. They’re trying five different ones. One for each limb and another on my back and chest.” She sighed. “I’m not sure any of them make that much difference.” She stared down at her bandaged arms and lifted one a little. “They take these off and everything just looks…the same.”
He smiled as he held up the decomposing leaf again. “Then give mine a try. Just on a small patch of skin. Pick a spot and we’ll see what it can do.” He tried his best to sound convincing. “The smell isn’t that bad.”
He opened the leaf to expose the ointment and the waft almost overcame his senses. Piloria. He could practically hear the noise of the insects, feel the warmth in the air and sense the earth shake beneath him with the thundering footsteps of the dinosaurs. He almost gagged.
Arta wrinkled her nose for a few seconds then pointed at the crook of her arm. “Okay, you can put a tiny bit here. But that’s all. And you better find somewhere to put that or it will stink out my room. They’ll wonder what the smell is.”
Lincoln walked around to the other side of the bed and smeared a little of the green ointment on the inside of Arta’s arm. He opened the door of the storage box next to her and rummaged among the care-centre gowns, depositing the wrapped-up leaf near the back.
He hesitated. “I might not make it in tomorrow. So remember where it is. And put a little more on. You never know. It might just help.”
She shook her head. “I don’t believe you – but I’ll try.” He bent to kiss her cheek and she whispered in his ear, “Tell Mum I’ll try and hide some food for her tomorrow.”
Lincoln shook his head. “Don’t, it’s too dangerous. They’re already suspicious of this arrangement. We mustn’t give them any reason to refuse you care.” He gently squeezed her shoulder. “I’ll try and get back tomorrow.”
Arta sighed and sagged back against the pillows. Entertaining two guests in a row was clearly too much
He closed the door quietly as her eyes flickered shut, and took a deep breath. Arta didn’t look better. One month of health care and unlimited rations hadn’t had the effect that he’d hoped for.
Had the journey to the dinosaur continent all been for nothing?
Terror. Wonder. Survival. Welcome to the continent of monsters...
To ensure the survival of the human race, three killer species must be destroyed. It's a deadly mission – one that Stormchaser and Lincoln are not allowed to refuse.
But in the jaws of danger, would you obey orders – or fight for the secret that might save those you love?
“The Hunger Games meets Jurassic Park.”
S.M. Wilson lives on the west coast of Scotland with her fiancé and two sons. Her day job is as a nurse in public health – and her dream job is writing fiction. Her love of YA fiction started as a teenager and has never stopped. She wrote The Extinction Trials to try and infect her sons with the same love of reading that she has – watch out, she’s hoping it’s contagious!
Visit www.susan-wilson.com/ to find out more.
“a suspenseful, fast-paced, intense read”
“This is sincerely the most jaw-dropping and phenomenal sequel I've read in a long time, it didn't suffer from any middle book syndrome. I feel Exile is far more superior, suspenseful and more exciting and it totally beats Hunger Games in my book.”
Never Judge a Book by its Cover blog
“I hate to say this because I feel like I’m saying there’s a fault with the first one (and there’s not), but this sequel was better. It’s not only my favourite in the series so far, but my favourite read of 2018. With both, I’ve seamlessly fallen into the world. However, with Exile, I was one of them.”
Queens of Geekdom blog
“Wilson writes with such cinematic brilliance it’s hard not to find yourself fully immersed in the world that she has deftly and gloriously created”
Storgy Kids blog
“This book is PHENOMENAL”
“What I loved most about Exile was how the author built on what she'd already conjured up of the world for us. While the world-building was exceptional in book one, I still didn't feel entirely comfortable in it, if you know what I mean? But here the author herself seems at ease in the world as she explores more into it, thus ensuring that we see more about the world we've grown to love in all the right ways. I loved that we got to see more into the workings of the parliament and Earthasia in general, but this is nothing compared to the feeling of being back in Piloria- I loved it all, swamps, forests, dinosaurs and all. While we don't get a a huge amount of action with the dinosaurs, what we do get is so thrilling and gory that you couldn't possibly be wanting for more!”
The Regal Critiques