Lydia Kang Catalyst

ISBN 13: 9780803740938

Catalyst

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9780803740938: Catalyst

For fans of Uglies and The Maze Runner comes a complex, thrill-filled love story that will make you question exactly what it means to be human

In the past year Zel lost her father, the boy she loves, her safety, and any future she might have imagined for herself. Now she, her sister, and the band of genetic outcasts they've come to call their family are forced on the run when their safe house is attacked by men with neural guns. But on the way to a rumored haven in Chicago, Zel hears something--a whisper from Cy, the boy who traded himself for her sister's safety. And when she veers off plan in order to search for him, what she finds is not what she expected. There's more to their genetic mutations than they ever imagined...aspects that make them wonder if they might be accepted by the outside world after all.

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About the Author:

Lydia Kang is a doctor who decided writing was maybe just as much fun as medicine, so, now she does both. She is the author of Control and Catalsyt. She lives with her husband and three children in Omaha, Nebraska.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

PROLOGUE

CALIFORNIA SENATOR ALEXANDER MILFORD IS DEAD AT 64

9.6.2151

(STATES NEWS PRESS)—Alexander Milford, Senator from the State of California for twenty years, died Sunday morning.

Senator Milford had been diagnosed with cancer only three days before his death, after passing a health screening one month earlier. Test results have strongly suggested a biological attack, and a subsequent homicide investigation has been opened.

“Preliminary reports show that foreign, altered DNA was found in the senator’s tissue samples,” said Dr. Meerhoven, Chief Pathologist at Sacramento’s state hospital. “Every cell type in his body had become cancerous.”

Senator Milford spent the last few years of his life rallying against HGM 2098, which outlaws genetic manipulation of human DNA. While not a direct proponent of the practice of genetic manipulation, his concern was for the human results of such experimentation. Others, however, have strongly disagreed.

“Human DNA must remain pure,” said Dr. Meerhoven, a vocal advocate for HGM 2098. “Those carrying aberrant DNA—who are capable of poisoning the gene pool as they did with Senator Milford—cannot be allowed to exist. We will find the source of this altered DNA. We will find this person and others like them. And we will purge them to protect our society.”

State lawmakers are already pushing for amendments to strengthen the law, calling for mandatory population screening to prevent possible deaths. Quarantines are already being prepared in every State.

“There will be no judge or jury. By federal law, anyone with artificially altered DNA should not, and cannot, exist,” said a U.S. marshall at a CDC press conference.

Many elected officials are now having their own blood tested for signs of the abnormal DNA. Thousands of citizens across the States have lined up at local clinics for testing, and orders for CompuDocs CancerClean screening programs have risen exponentially.

CHAPTER 1

ALONE IS A FOUR-LETTER WORD.

Of course, no one in our crazy makeshift family at Carus House will ever admit this, especially while setting up for our nightly slumber party.

“Hex, get your Bomb Bed out of my corner.” Vera is stomping around our common room, a blur of gesticulating green arms. Blankets and pillows are piled everywhere.

“Stop calling it that.” Hex pushes his bedding back against the glass wall. He likes to sleep with his four arms splayed out, so he laid an extra mattress across the top of another and piled on countless pillows, giving it a mushroom-cloud shape. Hence “the Bomb Bed.” It’s also a convenient reference to the fact that Hex gets bomb-tastically gassy after dinner from Vera’s fiber-rich meals.

“Anyway, you don’t even need to sleep in here. The temperature in your room is perfect,” he says, dodging a swipe of her green hand. Vera and her skin-embedded chloroplasts thrive in warmer temperatures, yet she loudly complains about her hot room anyway. But she just doesn’t want to be alone. Same as the rest of us.

Since we lost Cy over a year ago, everyone finds all sorts of reasons to be in each other’s presence, as if the world and our fear are cramming us closer every day. Dyl doesn’t complain when I insist on brushing her hair before bed. For a whole hour. It’s a miracle she has any hair left. And I say nothing when she and Ana sit reading on the floor by me, each leaning on one of my legs, fixing me in place while I work on my e-tablet. My legs get all hot and claustrophobic when they do that, but I can’t bring myself to tell them.

We’ve been sleeping in the common room because the environmental controls have stopped working in parts of Carus House. Our home is growing decrepit, in bits and pieces. Wilbert, who had all the know-how for fixing things, went back to Aureus. And after our battle in the junkyards last year, we lost access to parts and equipment anyway. Even before the assassination of her senator uncle, Marka’s allowances outside Carus were limited. Were it not for Vera’s wicked gardening skills, we’d have gone hungry a long time ago. Even so, there’s a clock ticking down in Carus. We can feel it in our bones.

The common room is one of the only rooms left that doesn’t feel like Antarctica or the Sahara all the time. We could spread out to different corners of the room. It’s big enough. But instead, we end up sleeping like a big egg yolk in the middle, within arm’s reach of one another.

In the middle of the night, I sacrifice sleep to simply watch them, hugging my arms to myself. Savoring the hours we have together. I watch Hex and Vera hold hands all night long. Ana curls into Dyl’s arms, even though Ana’s the tall one. It pains me that Cy can’t witness this sweet evolution of our family.

Marka, the only adult at Carus, sleeps at the center of our human galaxy. She takes turns resting with her hand on Hex’s ankle or Ana’s wrist, as if afraid they’ll disappear before dawn. Last night, when her blind search for my hand came up empty, she found me sitting against the glass wall.

She came over and started combing her fingers through my frizzled hair. I’d have stayed there in silence for hours, but Marka knows when I’m playing chicken. She always knows.

“You miss Cy,” she whispered, matter-of-fact.

“I’m fine.”

Marka wrapped her arms around me. “You’re a lousy liar.”

And that’s when I cried.

No one brings him up anymore, and I don’t talk about him. I don’t want to be a downer, so every day I wear my plastic happiness like a suffocating, form-fitted skin with no cracks.

It’s been over a year since he sacrificed himself to Aureus, so that they’d let Dyl go and take him instead. Aureus is like the opposite of Carus House: Instead of being a safe house, it’s an exploitation factory—if you are traited. They’d mistakenly abducted my sister looking for my valuable longevity trait, but wouldn’t let her go for free. The price was Cy. His regeneration trait is as valuable as mine.

Cy’s scent was gradually swept out by the vents, replaced by the unlovely, sticky air of the State of Neia. I used to burrow my nose into his worn-out shirts, knowing that every breath I took whisked him away.

“Earth to Zel!” Vera hollers at me, snapping me out of my reverie.

I realize I’ve been sitting at the common room table, staring into space like a neurodrug junkie. I was supposed to help Hex and Vera rearrange the bedding, but they’ve stopped fighting and it’s all done already.

“I’m so sorry, what?” I say blankly.

“What is with you, Quahog? Dyl’s been calling you. Didn’t you hear?” Vera’s using her pet name for me. She thinks it’s adorable to compare me and my longevity trait with a clam that can live over four hundred years. Truth is, I try to forget I even have a longevity trait. Because it will mean that I’ll outlive everyone I love.

“Zelia, I said, can you come to the lab please?” Dyl speaks to me through the walls, the transmission crackling with static. These days she’s in the lab all the time, without me. Her virtual professor, a ringer for Marka, has stepped in to teach Dyl when I haven’t had the time.

Hex has lifted Vera off the floor with her legs bicycling helplessly in the air. She’s squealing and laughing, trying to escape his masterful hugging technique.

“It’s no use. You shall never defeat me!” he yells triumphantly.

“All right! You win, insect.” Her face is that brownish color that shows she’s blushing through her green skin. I know the make-out session is about to happen, so I scurry out of the room, protective of their time together.

I head for the door. Before I exit, something catches my arm. It’s like a soft hand, but no one is there. It’s Ana, Cy’s sister. I’m used to her ghostly touch from afar by now. Usually, she’ll also whisper in my ear from another floor entirely, but this time she says nothing.

Maybe she’s with Marka in her bedroom. Lately Marka’s been focused on the holographic screen in her room, absorbing every detail about her uncle’s death. Senator Milford brought her to safety and built Carus House for her. He thought she was a gift to the world and deserved to live, and fought HGM 2098 in public. And now he’s gone.

We’ve all taken turns bringing her food because she’s losing weight from stress. The silence in that room has been frightening, bigger than the room and Carus itself. We know she’s not just in mourning.

Ever since I took Marka’s bionic-smell-enhancing pills last year, I’ve had a lingering, watered-down sense about people I hadn’t had before. Dad had warned me about long-term side effects of pharmaceuticals, and Marka’s scent trait in pill form was no ordinary drug. Now when she’s nearby, I can faintly detect a sharp, metallic scent. Fear.

The transport is humid and warm, and it gets stuck on the third floor, though Dyl’s lab is on the fourth. I curse and kick the walls. Another casualty of the failing muscle and sinew of Carus. After a lot of huffing and two broken nails, I pry open the circuit board and override the door locks, then take the stairs to the lab.

Ana is in her pajamas, perched on a stool with a lit Bunsen burner before her. The yellow-and-blue flame wobbles when I approach.

I’m making beasts, Ana says in my head, waving her hands at a collection of tiny glass animals spread out in a menagerie. Dragons, unicorns, and mermaids, among other things. They aren’t perfect. Pointy glass juts out from odd angles of each one. Only if you blur your eyes can you see the creature it’s meant to be.

Dyl walks over, all gangly in a pair of shorts and faded T-shirt topped with an oversized lab coat. Her hands come to rest on her hips. I hang my arm around her shoulder and she leans into me. I love when she does that.

“We only have so many pipettes, Ana. Really. I need them,” she chides.

I need them, Ana says in our heads. This is part of her trait. She can make us hear her without uttering a word. Though whether she’s echoing or arguing now, it’s hard to tell. The thin glass pipette is like a transparent straw with a tiny narrow end. She holds it over the Bunsen burner with a flameproof glove until a section of glass glows orange, then bends the softened section at an extreme angle and repeats the process. When she’s done, she’s got a prickly glass ball that resembles a sea urchin. After it cools, she presents it to me on a bare, outstretched palm.

Be careful. If you breathe, it breaks.

“It’s pretty Ana, but don’t—”

Ana squeezes the urchin and cries out like a stepped-on kitten.

“Oh Ana!” Dyl rushes to her side to pluck the glass figurine out of her hand while I survey the damage. Luckily there’s no broken glass embedded in her palm, but the cut is deep. Dyl hastily places the urchin on the table, but she’s not careful. It skitters with a squeak and there’s a tinkle of broken glass.

Ana pouts. It died.

Dyl retrieves a first aid kit from a drawer and I get to work cleaning the cut. When I wash away the blood, the wound seems far less deep than before. I blink several times. Huh. I guess the blood made it seem worse than it really is. Ana stares forlornly at the sprinkle of glass shards on the floor.

She is a wonder, even now. And a worry. Ana can make the kraken out of glass but doesn’t have the sense not to impale herself on it.

It was beautiful, she says wistfully.

“Just because it’s beautiful doesn’t mean it can’t hurt you,” I say.

But I loved it.

Love is no guarantee of safety either, I want to say. I think of Dad. His lies, how he experimented on my mother, how she chose freedom over family and, in the giddiness of her new life, forgot her annual vaccine packet. Now she’s dead. Dad was responsible for the creation of children destined to be nothing but raw material for Aureus products. Marka thinks there might be a hundred of us, in total, scattered around the States. Some in safe houses, some in not-so-safe houses. But no one knows for sure, except for Dad. And he’s gone.

Sometimes I hate myself for missing him, for missing his love. That is, if he loved me at all.

Once she’s bandaged up, Ana starts reading a holo book. A much safer endeavor than playing with fire and glass. I tilt my head to scan the book title. Fine’s Advanced Applied Mathematics. Relaxing stuff.

“So . . . why did you ask me to come?” I ask Dyl.

“Oh. I just missed you. How are your med school lessons going?”

I shrug. “At a glacial pace.” After Cy left, I took up the medical duties at Carus. Marka said someone had to take over his job. Since I was getting way too depressed rereading Dyl’s poetry book and obsessing over Aureus’s latest move, Marka put her foot down. Do something constructive, or else.

“Um. So how are you?” I ask guiltily, realizing that I haven’t asked in a while.

Dyl brightens and shoves her hands into her pockets. “The Ana research is going well. My holoprof helped me isolate the protein she sheds in her skin. It’s pharmacologically active. I think the only people affected are ones she’s been around. Even at a distance.”

“Really,” I say, but I’m staring out the window at the darkening twilight of the city. The agriplane looms like a dull, chalky blue ceiling above the buildings. Tons of crops are grown up there in Neia and the Dakotas, away from the more toxic soil on earth. Directly in my line of sight is the building I climbed over to the day I lost Cy.

“Yeah. And what’s more, it’s exclusively for hearing her voice and touch, that’s it. Not taste. That’s good, right?”

“Right.” I’m still staring at the building. The last time I tracked Aureus, they were in Arla, what used to be Arkansas and Louisiana. The patents for Cy’s quick-healing elixirs had been emerging regularly, followed by the products hitting the shelves. The other products, like Accelerated Teggwear—thick, armor-like skin that can now be grown in a day—or ForEverDay—Wilbert’s elixir that lets you stay awake for days without harmful effects (if you don’t mind daytime dreaming)—they’re still on shelves everywhere. The only reason they’re not directly illegal themselves is that they don’t alter the user’s DNA.

It’s ironic the way people scramble to buy these products, and yet are so quick to decry HGM 2098. They have no idea that these products come from us—the traited, the genetically manipulated. The illegal.

But in the last month, no new products have come out of Aureus. They’ve disappeared. Which means Cy has disappeared.

“. . . because it would be bad if we tasted what she might dream about. Like wasabi-flavored scorpions.”

“I’d eat that,” Hex says, sailing in through the doorway with a cookie in each hand.

“Eat what?” I ask, totally out of it.

“You”—Dyl points a pipette at me—“aren’t even listening to me. And you”—she points it at Hex—“are not allowed to eat in the lab! You’ll get radioisotopes in your food!”

Hex hides two cookie-laden hands behind his back and shoves the other two in his mouth. “Who faid I waff eating anyffink?” He ambles over to me. “Marka wanfs to talk wiff you.”

“Why didn’t she...

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2015. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. For fans of Uglies and The Maze Runner comes a complex, thrill-filled love story that will make you question exactly what it means to be human In the past year Zel lost her father, the boy she loves, her safety, and any future she might have imagined for herself. Now she, her sister, and the band of genetic outcasts they ve come to call their family are forced on the run when their safe house is attacked by men with neural guns. But on the way to a rumored haven in Chicago, Zel hears something--a whisper from Cy, the boy who traded himself for her sister s safety. And when she veers off plan in order to search for him, what she finds is not what she expected. There s more to their genetic mutations than they ever imagined.aspects that make them wonder if they might be accepted by the outside world after all. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780803740938

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2015. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. For fans of Uglies and The Maze Runner comes a complex, thrill-filled love story that will make you question exactly what it means to be human In the past year Zel lost her father, the boy she loves, her safety, and any future she might have imagined for herself. Now she, her sister, and the band of genetic outcasts they ve come to call their family are forced on the run when their safe house is attacked by men with neural guns. But on the way to a rumored haven in Chicago, Zel hears something--a whisper from Cy, the boy who traded himself for her sister s safety. And when she veers off plan in order to search for him, what she finds is not what she expected. There s more to their genetic mutations than they ever imagined.aspects that make them wonder if they might be accepted by the outside world after all. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780803740938

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2015. Hardback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. It s 2151 - a year since Zel s beloved Cy traded his freedom for her sister s-and now Zel, Delia, and the rest of the genetic outcasts they met in Control find themselves in a race for survival after their safe house is attacked by officers carrying neural guns. Not knowing exactly who is after them, they split up, promising to meet in Chicago where another safe house is rumoured to be. But Zel starts hearing Cy speaking to her in her head, and she veers off plan in order to search for him. What she finds is not what she expected. There s more to their genetic mutations than they realized - and much more complexity to the conspiracy intended to exploit them.or destroy them. Codice libro della libreria BZV9780803740938

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