The year: 2238AD. In this prequel to Written In The Stars, the Culture Wars are in full swing, with the Freedom Alliance fighting the Moral League for control of Washington D.C., which now stands in ruins. The symbols of America have been looted and destroyed, but the war goes on for the P.R. campaign, with both sides trying to claim they have won the nation.
Gabriel Green, runaway from the League, joins the Alliance’s Ground Force to fight back against the persecution and oppression he has witnessed. Sent to the front in the midst of a bitter winter, a mortar hits his position and he is wounded. He finds an unlikely savior in the form of Angel Ramirez, a devoutly religious albino League medic with a heart of gold and a big secret.
Doubting the war they once both believed in, Gabriel and Angel trade the battlefield for exile on the neutral Melvana Colony, but Angel struggles to reconcile his religion with his feelings for another man. Torn between two sides of a war, Angel must find a middle ground between faith and love or risk losing both forever.
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If you’re still not convinced, enjoy this excerpt from Chapter Two:
Gabriel opened his eyes to see only pitch blackness surrounding him. He wondered for a moment if he was blind, but he saw a figure shift in the gloom and realized he could see some shapes.
“You’re awake.” The voice was clearly male, but gentle. Gabriel strained to see the man but the gloom was too much. His leg throbbed and fear shot through his gut as he remembered the red uniform he had seen for an instant.
“Who are you?”
“A friend. I’m going to help you, but first I need something from you.” The soft voice wavered, showing signs of fear, so Gabriel persisted.
“Tell me who you are, first.” Gabriel demanded.
“My name is Angel Ramirez.”
“I’ve never heard that name before. You’re not from my unit, are you?”
“I’m from the League.” Angel’s admission was deliberate and proud.
“Why would you help me? I’m from the Alliance. Unless what you need from me is a confession of my sins. I don’t think so.”
“I’m a medic,” Angel explained, in the same calm, soft voice. “I can help you. But I can’t see. I’m legally blind without my glasses, and I lost them in the explosion. I have a spare pair, but I can’t find them. I thought they were in this bag.”
Gabriel’s eyes were adjusting to the gloom and he could see the shape of the glasses case in the dust at Angel’s feet. He must truly be blind if he can’t see it. Or he’s playing games with me. “Why would you help me? If I help you find your glasses, what’s to say you won’t just kill me, leave me here, or take me in as a prisoner of war?”
“Life is sacred,” Angel said. “It doesn’t matter what side of this war you’re on. I’m a healer. I’ll help you.”
“Life is sacred… Funny thing to say in a war.” Gabriel’s leg throbbed and a wave of dizziness washed over him. He realized he had a choice; help Angel, and potentially survive, or face certain death from his injury. He couldn’t see it, but he knew it was bad.
“The case is at your feet,” Gabriel confessed. “You must have dropped it.”
Angel sank to his knees and felt around in the dirt until he closed his hand around the case. He cracked it open, putting his glasses on. “Okay, that’s better. Now to help you.” He fumbled around in the dark before he found an oil lamp and lit it, and Gabriel saw Angel’s face for the first time. He had pale skin and red eyes, with long white hair.
“That’s a unique look you’ve got going on there.”
“It’s not a choice,” Angel looked down at the ground. “I have Albinism. There’s no pigment in my skin or eyes. That’s why it’s hard for me to see.”
“Oh. I didn’t mean—”
“No, it’s fine,” Angel said, shooting him a soft, comforting smile. “People have said far worse things. The red eyes scare them.” He picked up his medical bag and brought it over, setting it down next to Gabriel with the oil lamp. Gabriel could see his surroundings for the first time. They appeared to be in the basement of an old, abandoned farmhouse. Old hay was stacked up in one corner and it covered the floor.
“You don’t scare me.”
“Don’t look so ashamed. It’s okay. Now, I’m going to fulfill my end of the bargain.” Angel looked down at the wound and Gabriel dared himself to look with him, seeing the massive gouge in his leg and turning away at once. A giant piece of shrapnel jutted out of his thigh and just the glimpse of it made him feel sick to his stomach.
“It didn’t hit the femoral artery, or you would have bled to death by now. However, I will need to remove the shrapnel and stitch up the wound before it becomes infected.”
“Here? Now?” Gabriel’s eyes widened in horror. “Without anesthetic?”
“The only other option is to brave the battle again and try to get you back to your base. As you can hear, it doesn’t sound like the battle is going to stop any time soon. This little skirmish could last for days, with the night vision technology we have now.”
“I don’t have days, do I? I would bleed to death…”
“Indeed,” Angel said, with absolute calm. “I don’t believe I know your name.”
“Gabriel. Gabriel Green.”
“The greatest of all the angels. How did a godless man come by such a name?”
“My parents belong to the League. Some people change their names when they come over to the Alliance. I just… didn’t want to.”
“Good. It’s a beautiful name.” Angel poured alcohol on the wound. “Don’t fight passing out. It will be easier for both of us if you slip into unconsciousness.”
“I’m scared,” Gabriel admitted. The alcohol burned white-hot in his wound and he stifled a scream, biting his lip and drawing blood.
“Trust me,” Angel said, in his same calm, gentle tone. He laid one hand on Gabriel’s arm and with the other one took hold of the jutting shrapnel. “It’s going to be okay.” In the same breath he pulled on the shrapnel and Gabriel’s entire nervous system shrieked in pain until the whole world turned black.