The first class of Bounders, including twelve-year-old Jasper Adams, has just shipped out to the space station for training with Earth Force, the planet’s military-space agency hybrid. Earth Force reintroduced conditions like ADHD and autism to breed kids with the best brains for quantum bounding – instantaneous space travel between two fixed points.
Security at the space station is sky-high, especially around the unexpected alien prisoner Jasper spots the day he arrives. Plus, when Jasper is trained to use secret brain-sync technology, he realizes Earth Force hasn’t been straight about why it needs the Bounders. Looking for answers, Jasper and his new friends break into the station cellblock and pay a visit to the alien prisoner. The kids discover that Earth Force didn’t develop the technology on its own. They stole it from the aliens. And the aliens are angry.
Earth Force is readying for battle and betting on its secret weapon: the Bounders. They’re the only humans capable of using the stolen alien technology. If Jasper and his friends can’t master it, Earth Force will be left defenseless, and the kids will never make it home.
BOUNDERS, my Upper Middle Grade Sci-Fi, is complete at 66,000 words.
I know it’s rude to stare. How many times has Mom told me that? A million? But I’ve never seen an alien before. Not up close, at least. Sure, we’ve all seen the Global Geographic specials that air on the webs in a constant loop, 24-7. Anyone who hasn’t seen pics and videos of the Tunnelers must have been hiding out in a dingy hover garage for the last twenty years.
But there he is. Sitting across from me on the air rail car. Me, Jasper Adams, riding the rails with an alien – a real live Tunneler – on my way home from school.
It must be a sign. I mean, what are the odds I’d have a close encounter with an alien the day I ship out to the space station?
The alien’s lips pucker in a perfect circle and then whip back. A snarl bubbles out of his throat. Errr. Arrr. Kleek. Kleek. Arrr. Kit. Ahhh.
I’m staring at his mouth when a mechanical voice makes me jump. “Can I help you?”
I spin around in my seat, looking for its source.
Kleek. Arrr. Kit. Arrr. “Yes, you. The boy who keeps staring like you’ve never seen an alien before. Can I help you?”
I didn’t notice the translator box hanging around the alien’s neck. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have stared.”
“It’s not a problem,” he says through the box. “I’m sure I would stare, too, if I encountered an Earthling on our home planet.”
That must mean it’s okay to look. The alien is small. It’s not like I’m one of the short kids, but I’m not that big for twelve, either. And I’m a lot taller than the alien. He has a long, rodent-like snout. Bristly brown hair sprouts from every patch of skin. He wears dark glasses that curve around on the sides. The light probably bugs him because Tunnelers live underground. He wears the standard officer’s uniform – grey jumpsuit with slanted orange lettering, EF, Earth Force.
As soon as I get home, I’ll be suiting up in my own Earth Force uniform. I leave for the space station in a few hours. Maybe the alien will be on my flight.
“Do you work at the space station?” I ask.
“I do,” he says. “A group of us came down to help at the aeroport. The first batch of Bounders are shipping out to the new EarthBound Space Academy later this afternoon. While I’m here, I thought I’d do a little sightseeing. It’s my first trip to the planet.”
He’s here to help out for the Academy? Maybe I should tell him I’m a Bounder. I’ve never told anyone in my life. I mean, my parents know. And Addy knows, of course. She’s a Bounder, too. And all the doctors and scientists who I visit every year for two days of testing know. But I’ve never told anyone. I’m not supposed to tell anyone. Mom has seared that into my brain.