SURVIVORS OF PEACE

When one fight ends, another begins

SURVIVORS OF PEACE

After spending more than eight months in prison, former PEACE Project assassin Zira returns to a world vastly different from the one she left after the rebellion. A new Republic now governs America, paving the way for the restoration of democracy. But the nation's transition has not been an easy one, and tensions continue to rise as some call for the return of the Project.

Zira's only goal is to find her place in this new world, but with her best friend Tripp battling a debilitating addiction and no resources of her own to help him, she reluctantly accepts aid from her former partner—and former adversary—Jared.

With so much at stake on a personal level, the larger challenges facing the nation as a whole are of little concern to Zira…that is, until an old ally asks for her help in the hopes that she will be able to find answers others cannot. Before long, Zira, Jared, and Tripp are all drawn into the fight against a ruthless terrorist group who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. Their own lives—and the fate of the Republic—may depend on their success.

The end of one fight is just the beginning of another.

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PRAISE FOR SURVIVORS OF PEACE

It would have been so much easier to end the series on the vague promise of the sunshine and roses to come, but Hernandez chooses to tell the hard—and more authentic—story.
- Sci-fi author G. S. Jennsen
This was a great conclusion to this series that built off the previous stories but also added unique elements of its own,  some of which I definitely hadn’t expected.
- Sci-fi author E. J. Fisch
T.A. Hernandez has done an excellent job elevating the stakes in this thrilling conclusion to her dystopian trilogy. She has taken into account all that has happened in the previous two books and asked the question: What are the consequences?
- Amazon Reviewer

EXCERPT

Jared couldn’t hear the conversation from his place on the bench near the hospital elevator, but Zira’s stiff posture and hostile scowl told him all he needed to know. Something wasn’t right, and she was furious.

The nurse she spoke to wore an apologetic expression and nodded sympathetically as she showed Zira a holographic projection from the CyberLink around her wrist. A sudden alarm from another room caught her attention, and she ended the conversation abruptly. Zira took two steps after her, then seemed to think better of it. She whipped around and headed back towards the elevator with clenched fists, her blonde ponytail swishing between her shoulder blades.

Jared stood and hit the call button as she marched up beside him. Frustration radiated from her entire being like heat from a fire. The doors slid open, and they stepped into the empty elevator. Jared kept his head down, just in case someone was monitoring the security cameras and had a good enough eye for faces to recognize the one beneath his hat and thin beard. The Republic hadn’t been circulating his photo as often as they once had, but he was still a wanted fugitive.

Zira jammed her thumb against the button for the ground floor.

“What happened?” he asked as they began to descend.

She shook her head. “They have no idea where he is. He slipped out two days ago when no one was paying attention, and now he’s gone.”

The elevator stopped on the third floor, and the doors opened to reveal a group of people waiting to get on. “Take the next one,” Zira growled. She repeatedly hit the button to shut the doors until they started descending again.

“We’ll find him,” said Jared. “It’s going to be okay.”

“None of this is okay. He could have overdosed again between then and now. He could be dead under some bridge for all we know. This is a big city. How are we supposed to find him?”

The only other time Jared had heard this much fear in her voice was when she’d called him to ask if Aubreigh was safe, just before Ryku had discovered his betrayal and arrested him. That hadn’t ended well for anyone—a thought he planned to keep to himself—but jumping straight to the worst-case scenario wasn’t going to help them find Tripp any faster.

“Just take a breath,” he said.

She didn’t seem to hear him. As soon as the elevator doors opened, she headed for the exit. Even with his longer stride, he had to hurry to keep up with her. Outside, big flakes of snow fell from the sky, fuzzy spots of white against the black night. It had to be nearly midnight, and the parking lot was empty except for two cars sitting side by side under an unlit streetlamp.

Slush coated the edge of the sidewalk where Zira now walked, and she slipped. Jared instinctively reached out to steady her. His hand brushed against her arm as she righted herself. He pulled back, then shoved his hands deep into his pockets. “Slow down. You’re right—it is a big city. But we have to start looking somewhere, so let’s just take a second and think it through.”

She whirled on him with her eyes blazing like she was ready for a fight, but the glare faded after a few moments. Her breath clouded in front of her face as she sighed. “Yeah, okay.”

“Okay. So if you were Judah—”

“Tripp.”

“Sorry—old habits. If you were Tripp, why would you leave the hospital?”

“He told me when he overdosed before, he was afraid Ryku would use the hospital records to find him, so maybe it was that. Or maybe he just wanted to get high again. Either way, he probably went looking for drugs.”

“So maybe we start looking wherever he was getting his drugs before. Where was he when he overdosed?”

“I don’t know, but Seth might.” She was already entering the former Project officer’s contact code on her new CyberLink. Jared had picked the device up for her at a bus stop on their way here after she’d asked to use his. If she’d had one of her own after leaving the Project, it must have been confiscated in prison and never returned. He had gone to great lengths to avoid capture, and even if the people Zira needed to contact would have had no way of knowing who his CL really belonged to, giving the code to Seth or anyone else in the Republic—even indirectly—seemed like a bad idea.

When the video call connected, Zira turned at an angle so the camera wouldn’t capture Jared. He couldn’t see Seth, but he could hear his groggy voice clearly through the CL’s speakers. “Zira? Why are you….” An enormous yawn cut off whatever he was going to ask. “It’s the middle of the night.”

“Oh, did I wake you up?” she said with exaggerated mock sympathy. “We have a problem.”

“Did you find the hospital? What is it you need—transportation, a place to stay? I’ve been so busy this week I honestly didn’t even think about making arrangements for you beyond your release, but I can—”

“Tripp is gone.”

“Gone? Where are you?”

“I’m at the hospital. The one where you told me he would be kept—safely—until I could come and get him.”

“There must be some mistake. Are you sure you’re in the right place?”

Wrong question. Jared grimaced as Zira’s eyes narrowed.

“Am I sure?” She enunciated every syllable in a low growl. “I just spent the last two hours arguing with doctors and nurses and med bots on every floor of this building trying to figure out what happened to him. He was here, but they turned their backs on him for a few minutes, and he left. Days ago.”

“That wasn’t very smart of him,” Seth muttered.

“He’s an addict, and he’s terrified. The last time he was in a place like this, Ryku’s assassins tried to kill him. Seriously, Seth, I shouldn’t have to spell this out for you.”

He sighed wearily. “What do you want me to do?”

“Just tell me where they found him when he overdosed.”

“Somewhere on the south side of town, I think, near Cedar and Miller.”

Jared put the street names into his CL and pulled up a map.

“It’s a rough neighborhood,” Seth continued. “I really don’t think—”

“I can handle myself.”

“I know, but you just got out of prison, so maybe you shouldn’t put yourself in a situation where you could get into trouble and violate your parole. If you just wait until morning, I can—”

Zira cut him off midsentence as she disconnected the call. She turned to Jared, who raised his arm to show her the map projected over his CL. “Good,” she said. “Let’s get going.”