Ms. Katherine’s Dystopian Masterminds
It takes a very clever and persistent writer to create a new world, especially when that world is facing the injustice and danger of a dystopia. But my writers were happy to accept the challenge and create dystopian stories of their own.
For a whole week, we studied all of the nitty-gritty of YA dystopian stories: the empowered heroines, the power-hungry villains, the showdowns, and all of the complications in between.
And these brilliant writers had ideas of their own and worlds to explore. I am thrilled to present to you excerpts from their stories, which you may find leave you to shocking discoveries and cinematic cliffhangers. Enter if you dare!
Badgerdog Teaching Artist
Excerpt from “Angels of the Night”
I walk down the cracked pavement under the faint flickering lights of the street. The concrete is damp, and weeds force their way through the cracks reaching for the sun. I smile to myself; it is night now and the sun has gone, what do the weeds reach for now? I draw my thoughts back to the current assignment. A relatively simple request; Find the man named Larvone, force him to surrender the whereabouts of his treasure, and then eliminate him. I do not know what his treasure is, nor did I bother to ask. That is not my job. I am an assassin, one of the best here in the dark ruins of what used to be New York City. I consider myself lucky to have such a providing job. There are so many fools in this place, willing to pay for the death of a hated enemy or even long-time friend. I run my finger over the gun strapped to my thigh. This will be easy.
I scale the rooftops of crumbling buildings with ease. It has always been a special talent of mine and it gives me the perfect cover from anyone watching on the streets. I am on a mission. A mission to kill.
I have been working for Larvone as a secretary for two weeks now. Why? Because it is the easiest way to get close to him and learn his schedule without drawing suspicion. I have been tasked with extracting the code to a safe, hidden somewhere in New York. I have been told it contains a treasure of vital importance, though to me, that means nothing. All I care about is the pay. For two weeks I have not seen my younger sister Eva and not a minute goes by that I do not think of her. She is the reason I’ve put up with this vile man and I do not intend for it to be for nothing. I scan the coded paper in my hands once again; Larvone is in danger. Do not allow his death until the code has been received. Should you fail, no payment will be given. I do not care for this man and his death would not bother me, but my instructions are clear. Until I have secured my pay, I will allow no harm to come to this man.
I stand in front of the darkened manor, hidden by the shadows of the trees lining the path to the door. Its walls are almost completely hidden by vines and I see no light coming from any of the many cracked, opaque windows. To a passerby, the manor would look abandoned. But I know better. I run and press myself against the vine-covered wall at the side of the house. I hear the faint sound of footsteps and draw my weapon but no one approaches. It may have been my imagination, though I highly doubt it. I have done this enough times to know this place is clearly hiding something. Once I get to a window, I peer through. The inside of the manor is barren and dark. No furniture, light, or people. But it is clean. I see no cobwebs or dust, and the walls are evenly painted. My eyes narrow and I get to work on the window. Locked as I suspected, but after a few minutes of twisting with my fingernail, I hear the latch click. I slide the window open and roll through the opening.
To be continued……
Drip…drip…drip. Outside, a light rain was falling, forming small puddles which reflected the silvery glow of the moon. The wind silently rustled the leaves nearby but cautiously so, as if the slightest disturbance would bring the Devine Spirit’s wrath upon it. Tonight was the Unbinding and every creature, entity, even Night was holding its breath in apprehension, fearful of the Faelita Destiny has chosen to release.
Not far away was a towering gray castle, situated at the edge of a cliff. Its imposing towers seem to touch the clouds, creating the impression that it used to be lived in by royalty. Worn-down stone steps leading towards the busted metal gate and crumbling walls suggests this castle was an ancient architecture bearing the mark of its suffering.
Right then, the sound of quiet footsteps broke the tense silence. Striding down a narrow path was a figure wearing an azure blue cape. As it got closer, his profile came into view. His features were exotic but no less attractive, with high cheekbones, sharp facial features, glowing amethyst eyes, and shoulder-length white hair so white it seems unnatural. His face was unrevealing and stoic. Spotting the castle gate ahead, he hurried towards it as though on a mission.
Finally reaching it, he soundlessly pushed open the gate and entered the grounds of the old dwelling. As he drew nearer to the grand doors, something must have occurred to him seeing as he soon started sprinting unusually fast towards it, already a blur. Then, he slipped inside and shut the door behind him. And all was silent once again.
. . .
The inside of the castle was nearly pitch-black, with only the dim candles flickering here and there to guide the white-haired fae. After criss-crossing through a series of hallways, he eventually stopped in front of an onyx marble door, decorated with gold symbols. Pushing open the door, he stepped inside. Seated all around the room was a court of 56 gorgeous looking fae, divided into 7 houses-Aqua, Aer, Ignis, Glacio, Terra, Umbra, and Lucidus-each having eight representatives.
Acknowledging each of the leaders of the houses with a nod, he approached his own seat at the front of Glacio, but was interrupted by a voice filled with scorn. “Well, it seems as if Colden has finally joined us, what a surprise. Don’t you have better things to do as a prince, hm?” The speaker was equally alluring in his looks, but carried an air of darkness other fae did not. At that gibe, the white-haired fae whose name was Colden whirled around to face him. “I advise you to watch your mouth, Ryker, unless you have a death wish. I bet Lily wouldn’t want to see your deceased, bloodstained body show up on her front steps now, don’t you agree?” Colden retorted coolly. “Her name is Lula. L-u-l-a, not whatever ludicrous name you created for her.” Ryker ground out. Waving a hand dismissively, Colden sneered at him and stalked towards his seat.
At this point, everyone was watching their altercation intently and the room had gone still. Irritated, Colden scowled, “Well, get on with whatever it is and stop wasting my time!” Glancing at one another, the leaders of each house motioned for Valen to start. “Right, so as you all know the Unbinding is happening tonight. And you know for the past few years the Faelita has been…quite destructive, to put it lightly. Our assumption is that Destiny might be lenient on us this time, but what if she doesn’t? We need a plan-” he was abruptly cut off by someone scoffing. It was Colden again. “Seriously, a plan? What are we gonna do, run to those simpleminded humans? We’ve got nowhere to go, much less a plan. Why don’t we just stick around and wait for the deaths of fae species, sounds like a pretty good plan to me.” he deadpanned.
“Fine, if you’re so determined to die then go ahead, but we are NOT going to just sit here and wait for the worst.” Valen snapped at him. “And you have a plan that will work? I have to say I don’t believe that.” challenged Colden. Speechless, Valen struggled for words. “The least you could do is to cooperate though!” he said finally. “Yeah, yeah, sure whatever.” came the careless reply.
Visibly frustrated, Valen sighed. “Since Colden has been very helpful in cooperating, we should start thinking about the plan. Anyone have suggestions?” Nobody spoke a word. Cursing under his breath, Valen shook his head and gave in. Suddenly, melodious music sounded all around the room, filling the quiet place with an angelic tune. Everyone sucked in a sharp breath. It was time.
To be continued…
“I hate flying to other planets, something bad always happens.” Shoko muttered to herself as she was getting ready to fly another mission. Shoko walked to her ship and turned the engines on. As she waited for the engines to warm up, she went to the back to make sure that her package was secure. She was supposed to deliver the package to her friend on Neptune where the skirmishes were happening. Actually, she wasn’t even supposed to be going anywhere near Neptune because it was on lock down, PLANETS orders. PLANETS was a group of council members who ran the solar system, they were like the leaders. When they deemed Pluto a dwarf planet because of its size, Plutonians retaliated and started to attack Neptune. If you weren’t a planet, then you were at more risk because no one wouldn’t really care about what happened to the other dwarf planets and asteroids in our solar system. The council passed a law that no one outside of Neptune was allowed to help because it would put their lives at risk, that they were needed on their home planet to provide supplies and that the PLANETS would supply them to Neptune. Everyone knew that the PLANETS cared about nothing but themselves. Most people would just keep their heads down and continue with their normal lives, but not Shoko, she disagreed with the council. She knew that Pluto was deprived of its planet title because they opposed PLANETS. Plutonians knew something about PLANETS. They were going to tell everyone, but PLANETS found out and they removed Pluto from its planet title, effectively removing Pluto’s rights to associate themselves with other planets.
Shoko was what you would consider an outlaw, once you’re deemed an outlaw, you’re deprived of your planet. Shoko was an Earthian before she became an outlaw. She was transporting goods, weapons, and other supplies to Neptune to help Pluto. Her friend, Alijah was currently on Neptune, he would take the goods that Shoko brought and distribute them to Plutonians. Shoko was passing the asteroid belt when she saw a bright flash to her left. ‘Shoot’ she thought, ‘the PLANTEES saw me’ PLANTEES were loyal soldiers that served the PLANETS, once they found you, it was nearly impossible to lose them. Not for Shoko of course, she was a pro at this, also considering this was not the first time she was seen by the PLANETEES. Shoko maneuvered around the beacon light and flew onward past Jupiter. She continued to fly without any more disturbances. ‘Good’ she sighed to herself, ‘No more running’ Shoko really didn’t like running away. She had always thought that it was way too much work, like they had never caught her, so what’s the point in trying right? Shoko continued to fly and passed Uranus, ‘Almost there’ she reassured herself. When she reached Neptune, she saw Alijah waving to her with his arms, flopping around in the air. Shoko chuckled at his goofiness and landed her ship. Alijah was a Neptunian and his father was the representative for Neptune. Everyone would think that Alijah would be on his fathers side, but he also disagrees with their decision to remove Pluto from its planet title. Shoko chuckled at his goofiness and landed her ship.
When she opened the back of her ship, Alijah went inside and started to remove the straps that were holding the package down. Shoko turned around and saw that he was struggling with the straps. She got up and pulled her dagger from its sheath on her thigh and cut the straps. “Thanks.” Alijah said. Shoko nodded in response and together they picked up the box and carried it out of the ship. “Hey, is this the last package?” Shoko asked. She had been delivering these packages for months now. Alijah had told her that Pllutonians were building something big to expose the PLANETS and to help them defeat the PLANETEES on Neptune. “Yeah, this is the last one. Now come on, Plutonians are gathering around to get the plan in action.” Alijah replied. Shoko followed Alijah, returning her dagger into its sheath. She had the package in her hands. They walked past a few buildings and rounded a corner into a dark alleyway where there was a hidden tunnel blocked by a rock. Alijah moved the rock and when they entered the tunnel Shoko heard the rock slide back into place. She turned around to see Alijah dusting his hands off and walking onward. They walked for another ten minutes before Shoko saw a bright light ahead.
To be continued…
The cat had laser eyes. Of course. Sorin didn’t know what else she had expected. How had the hunters even managed to catch this one? She was distracted by the cat turning, his (hers?) eyes glowing. She quickly dodged, throwing herself to the side as the lasers appeared again, this time slicing through one of the stone pillars that held up the compound. She groaned. Anymore of this, and the place would collapse, most likely killing the cats inside. And then she’d lose her job. She’d also most likely be executed. She had to calm the cat down. But to do that she had to lure the cat outside, where it could do as much damage as it wanted. She sighed. What she was about to do was one of the worst decisions of her life. She whistled, gaining the cat’s attention. They turned, charging, as their eyes started glowing, ready to fire their lasers again. She started running, and honestly, running was not her strong suit. Her strong suit was training the cats, giving them treats for their good work, and occasionally, sneaking some of their treats for herself to eat. It’s not like they would miss them. It’s not like she got much of anything else to eat. She quickly ran outside, the cat running after her. She quickly slid to a stop, throwing herself into a nearby bush, while the cat continued on, running into the brush. She sighed. The cat could go crazy in there, and calm itself down. It’s not like it had anywhere else to go. It was, after all, on an island.
She walked back to the compound, to finish what she was doing before the hunters dumped the cat on her. Madame Meredith, the Lord’s bodyguard, had required mounts due to the fact that she was accompanying Lord on a diplomatic trip. She needed to finish saddling the steeds, horses and giant cats alike. Mercenary Country had amassed the most superpowered cats of any nation in the world, and that meant they had hundreds of giant cats. Giant cats were some of the most common mutations that cats acquired, and every fortnight, if the hunters returned with cats, they’d inevitably return with a giant cat. She quickly looped the reins around Ginger’s head. Madame Meredith had a reputation for having a nasty attitude, and Sorin hoped she would be happy with Ginger, one of the worst behaved cats on the island. But when it came to Lord’s cat, she paused. While she could get away with giving Madame Meredith Ginger (really, she’s fast and good under duress!), that wouldn’t slide with Lord. So she gave him Greg, a hulking beast of a cat. Greg had been named by one of the cook’s daughters, and it had just stuck. While he was slow, both in speed and in brains. He was incredibly resilient and could brave all kinds of weather. The exact opposite of Lord, she thought, snickering to herself. It was a common rumor that Lord, despite being a genius with no equal, was sickly and weak from surviving the Cat Flu, as the disease came to be known. His guards, the police force of the islands, the Lord’s eyes, ears, and mouth, had done their best to quell the blasphemous talk, but they could only do so much.
Her thoughts were interrupted by one of the guards running in. “Lord requires the steeds now!” He barked. Sorin sighed, waving her hand. “I just need to bring these two out to the back with the rest of them. You can follow me.” She replied. Quickly hanging the names of those who were to ride the two cats around their necks, she led them outside to where the rest of the cats she had saddled were. Lord famously kept a large entourage, to protect himself, and mask who he was. Wherever he went, guards, servants and others went too. In order to protect his identity, he wore a mask at all times. It was amazing his identity had been kept secret for the past 15 years. She watched as the guard clumsily herded the cats to the ferry. Ferries were used to transport people between the mercenary islands, and from the cliff the cat compound was on, it was easy to see what was going on down below. She noticed, with surprise, that Madame Meredith was on the ferry as well as other guards. She never came to pick up the cats herself. She never left Lord’s side. That meant- she quickly turned to look at the others on the ferry, searching for him. There, in the red cloak. A frown present under his half mask, the mask, predictably, fashioned to look like a cat. He looked just as scrawny as she had heard before, but even from this distance, she could tell he was tall, easily towering over his companions. Against her better judgement, she continued staring. And maybe he was magic, maybe he was part cat, because somehow, he sensed her staring, and turned to look at her. The frown slowly morphed into a grin as if he was amused. Startled, Sorin jumped off the rock she had been standing on, returning to the compound, startled. And then it hit her. That was Lord. She had seen Lord. She had a better description of him than most people in the world. Lord was not a merciful man. She could be killed for that! But still, a part of her felt the thrill of looking the man in the… not eyes, but looking at him! If she wasn’t killed for that, it would be a story to tell her grandchildren.
To be continued…