Hello all! 

Curio Citizen is still in 1st place AND we are just ONE order away from 200 readers! If you know anyone at all who might be interested in ordering, please direct them to the site and let them know the deadline is THIS TUESDAY, June 27th. We are in the home stretch and have a real chance of winning this thing and getting Curio Citizen published. You all are so amazing to have helped me come so far. Thank you! 

Please click HERE to pre-order your copy if you have not yet done so. 

Please direct friends to https://www.inkshares.com/books/curio-citizen

Here is today’s look into the world of Curio Citizen:

Cálido Reúnen is Inquieto’s younger brother and is the Earth equivalent of 19 years old. He has an insatiable sense of humor, which is his way of lightening tension and keeping peace in social interactions. He is an expert at walking the line between jests in good humor and insults, and so it is extremely rare he actually offends any paz with his lighthearted jibes. His skills are put to the test when he meets Carmen, however.

In addition to his wit, Cálido is a genius when it comes to engineering and programming, and he "tinkers" with machines in the basement workshop of his parents’ home. He can be quite handy in a tricky situation--if he can be convinced to participate.

         Inquieto smiled down at me, and I stepped back from the door as I heard footsteps on the other side. 

         “Weeeell, look who cleans up nice.” Inquieto made an annoyed clicking sound. 

         “Cálido,” he said, “really?” 

         Cálido smirked, and then eyed me up and down. I looked at him with an expression that echoed Inquieto’s word. 

         He was shorter than Inquieto and looked a few years younger, but there was a definite resemblance. They both had high cheekbones and nicely-shaped lips with just the right fullness. He was dressed in similar black fabric, but had draped a salmon sash across his chest, trimmed with fine threads of gold. He wore the same pin on his chest that I did. 

         “Well, it—she does,” he said. “Though that scowl is the same.” 

         “Maybe, if you—” 

         “Carmen,” Inquieto interrupted the insult he no doubt sensed was forming on my tongue and placed his hand on my shoulder. “This is my brother, Cálido. Cálido, this is Carmen. And yes, she is in much better condition than when you saw her last, now that she is recognized as a person.” 

          Fantastic. His brother had seen me before. One of my many visitors at the Museum. I swallowed my outrage and flush of humiliation and gave a short nod. 

          “It’s nice to meet you, Cálido,” I said as clearly as I could. 

          He laughed. “Ah, this is great,” he said. “She can talk.” He turned around and waved us inside. “Father’s making tilt-sticks; he’s around back,” he informed us over his shoulder as he walked off. 

          I sent Inquieto a wide-eyed glare. 

         “Don’t worry about Cálido,” he said. “He’s easily amused. Mother and father will be less...” 

         “Rude?” I offered. 

         “This is a new situation,” he corrected. “Try to be understanding.”


        Whether Inquieto had specifically invited him for my benefit or not, I was glad for the company. Teasing as it was, Cálido’s sense of humor was bold compared to most paz, different from Inquieto’s gentle sarcasm laced with worried affection. I could relate to Cálido on a more human level, even if he did share the pervasive paz outlook that everyone was innocent and never intended any harm to one another. If anything, his jokes were his way of keeping peace, of laughing off any potential, awkward situations to make people smile. He lived up to his name, Warm. He was vivacious as fire and as kind and comforting as a mug of hot chocolate.


Thank you again for all of your help!


Hello again! 

Guess what? We only need 10 more orders to hit the 200 readers mark! That would be an amazing accomplishment. It would also help Curio Citizen keep hold of 1st place! You all have done so much for me already, and I am so grateful. I hate to ask more of you, but there are 4 days left in the contest, so please help me make the final push towards finishing in the top 3 by asking another family member or friend to pre-order a copy. Only $10 could change my life forever! I also have more followers than I do pre-orders, so please consider pre-ordering if you haven’t already. It would mean so much to me! Remember, the deadline for pre-orders has been changed to this Tuesday, June 27th!

Click HERE to pre-order Curio Citizen.

And here’s today’s look into the world of Curio Citizen:

Marea Reúnen is Inquieto’s aristocratic mother. She came from a wealthy family and succeeded in her schooling and career well enough to maintain some semblance of the wealth she once enjoyed. Because of this and her high intelligence, even by paz standards, she has a slightly superior attitude towards others. She tempers that attitude most of the time, but it comes out full force when Carmen becomes involved in her son’s life. 

Marea is a high-up employee of the Understand, the planet’s most vital scientific research center. On a planet where the dominant species values intelligence above all other traits (aside from peace), paz as intelligent as Marea are granted a level of respect and wealth that appropriately corresponds to the great mental aptitude and time it takes to perform such vigorous research. 

Marea does indeed spend a good deal of her time at the Understand. She is working on something secret, something big, which she can’t discuss with anyone--not even her own family. 


“Ah, everyone’s here,” she said pleasantly in a smooth voice. She, too, was dressed in black, but a lustrous amber sash covered most of her clothing, along with a mesh of amber swathing her bald head, which she lowered as she scanned the gathering. 

“Marea,” Oyente said. “Excellent timing. Dinner is set to be ready in a few minutes.” 

 “Yes,” Marea said in acknowledgement, but her attention was focused on me. I stood, getting the distinct impression she did not want me dirtying her furniture. 


“Tell us a little about your planet,” Aliado requested. 

I noticed both Oyente and Marea tense a little at his words. They exchanged a look of disapproval tinged with nerves. 

“It’s surprisingly similar to Paz,” I said, truthfully. “The soil, the trees, the blue sky, the yellow sun. The people.” I looked straight at Marea at the last. 

“So similar,” said Aliado. “That’s odd, isn’t it?” 

I turned my eyes to him. “Yes,” I said, meeting his pointed intrigue with my own. “It is.” 

“And,” Marea spoke, light and thin, “how are humans like paz?” 

I took a quiet breath and floated my gaze across the table. Her heavy black eyes studied me while her hand lightly clutched a delicate glass, her full lips curled in an aristocratic smile. 

“Can you not see?” I asked. Her eyes brightened, but their light was not internal, only a reflection of the dying sun.


Thank you so much for your continued support. You have all done so much for me already, and I am incredibly grateful. 4 more days and hopefully we’ll see this book published! The deadline is Tuesday, June 27th.


Hello my dear followers!

I am thrilled to announce that Curio Citizen currently holds 1st place! But some interesting news was thrown our way yesterday. From the beginning, there has been a disconnect between the contest ending date--on the official rules, it stated June 27th was the ending date, but on the site settings, June 25th had been programmed as the ending day. I operated under the assumption that the 25th was the ending date, but it turns out, June 27th IS the actual end date for the contest.

Why does this matter? It gives the competition two extra days to gather pre-orders and potentially overtake us. We have a good lead as it now stands, but that could change at any moment. Five days is a lot longer than three when every contestant is bringing in more orders every day. I will need your help to keep me in the top 3 spots and get published!

Please ask at least one other person to pre-order my book and help them find the site and place the order. You all have been so amazing, and we are almost there! Please help me win this contest in these final days. The deadline is now June 27th at 11:59pm. Any individual orders from separate email addresses placed before then will count towards the contest!

Just $10 could truly change my daughter’s life and mine. Please consider helping us so we can find our feet, and I can start a career that will support us. Plus, you get a fantastic sci-fi novel (if I do say so myself, haha :P )

Thank you again! Click HERE to pre-order a copy of Curio Citizen.

And for all you awesome sci-fi fans, here is today’s look into the world of Curio Citizen:

Paz Economics:

As described before, the paz are inherently peaceful, and, as expected, have established a peaceful, planet-wide society. Part of what makes such peace possible is their structured economic standards.

Their money is called "din" and is stored on triangular cards.

While different levels of wealth exist on Paz, every child, no matter how wealthy or poor a family they come from, is given the same education and opportunities. Following their education, they choose a field of study which interests them and pursue it as a career. Once in that career, salary, promotional steps, and pay raises are all standardized for each job planet-wide. Pay for each job is based on the level of time and aptitude it requires. The Council of Careers is the primary division of government that handles these decisions and makes relevant policies. 

In addition, the minimum wage on Paz is a true, livable wage. Those who cannot work or are otherwise in need are cared for monetarily by the government. 

The setup sounds ideal to Carmen, but she is left to wonder if a structure like that would actually work with humans involved--or if it is really as perfect as it seems on Paz.


               "’But, surely there are favors given, backhanded dealings,’ I prompted. ’You can’t really believe everyone lives in perfect honesty and integrity in that situation. And don’t some people get upset or jealous if they don’t get the career they want? What happens if they fail the tests and have to be a garbage collector or something?’

               Inquieto seemed confused by my logic. ’If someone fails the tests, then yes, they are usually disappointed, but they process their emotions and move on. Most find contentment in their new career because it is better suited to their abilities.’

               He then frowned in consternation. ’And as for backhanded dealings, no, of course not. That would ultimately lead to more trouble than it was worth. Everyone knows that. It’s common sense. Who would want to cause that much trouble?’

               ’Are you really so naive?’ I asked, unable to hold my tongue.

               ’Do you truly think so darkly?’ he asked, greatly troubled.

               ’I—’ I uttered. ’To believe everyone is peaceful and perfect—that’s not dark thinking, it’s just a reality of life.’
               ’On Earth, perhaps,’ he said uncertainly."


Thank you!


Hello Everybody!!

Curio Citizen is still in 2nd place! I never dreamed we would get so far, but we are currently only 3 ORDERS away from stepping into 1st place! Now, there is absolutely NO guarantee we will get there or even stay in the top 3, and honestly, I would be extremely happy to be 2nd or 3rd. BUT there is still an enormous chance we will be overrun by the books in lower places at any time if we do not keep gaining pre-orders over the next 4 DAYS. That is all that is left in this contest. It ends THIS SUNDAY, June 25th! Please, please, please, if you have not pre-ordered yet, I need your help right now! Please don’t wait any longer to pull the trigger and pre-order. Please also keep asking a friend or two personally to pre-order a copy to help me out!

Thank you all SO much!!

Here’s today’s look into the world of Curio Citizen:

Canción (Canto) Ortorgan is an illustrious socialite in the Capitol of Paz. He is extremely wealthy, and his unusually boisterous personality (by paz standards) makes him a very popular person. His excessive demeanor is unquestionably positive, however, and so is viewed differently from Carmen’s often fiery temperament.

While the High Council members are ultimately responsible for the legal decisions regarding Carmen’s life on Paz, popular opinion can play a factor. The support of Canto Ortorgan could be just what Carmen needs to improve her chances of being accepted as an intelligent being. But there is something strange about Canto--does he have other motives for his involvement with the curio?

               “’Oh, this is excellent!’ cried a booming voice from the stands. I looked up; the festive man in red, green, and gold was off his seat, applauding like a Roman emperor at the Colosseum. ’’What a show!’

               Tenaz was grinning beside me. I found Inquieto, his arms folded, tucked in the shadows of the stadium entrance. He stepped forward, shifting his face into a smile.

               The applauding gentleman made his way past the rowdy team and their jaw-dropped coach to the pitch level.

                ’Inquieto Reúnen,’ he said, clasping forearms with the younger man as if they were longtime friends. ’I have been wanting to meet you. Ever since I saw your story on the news, what a tale!’

               He looked over at me and beckoned me with welcoming arms. I hesitated, looking at Inquieto for confirmation that this flamboyant man was sane.


Thank you all again so much for your support! I am truly humbled by the amount of love I have been shown throughout this contest. We are in the final days, and I ask you all to make a final push to help me get more pre-orders so all of our work won’t be for nothing. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Hello all!

Curio Citizen remains in 2nd place! However, the 3rd, 4th, and 5th place contenders are gaining pre-orders just as fast as we are, if not faster. I could really use your help to ask others, one-on-one, to please pre-order a copy. If you are following these updates and have not pre-ordered, now is the time I could really use your help! There are only 5 days left! The contest ends on June 25th! Thank you! Just $10 could change my life and be the start of my writing career!

Click HERE to pre-order!

Here’s today’s look into the world of Curio Citizen:


The paz have inherent biological features known as electrolocation and electroreception. They can send electrical signals outward from their bodies to detect the locations and shapes of objects around them, and through electroreception, they can interpret the electrical signals of other people or animals nearby. This ability was originally developed for the species to hunt, but as they evolved to be a naturally peaceful species, their electrical abilities altered in function. Now, paz use these electrical signals to understand the physical manifestations of others’ emotional states so they can better approach an upsetting situation and resolve it. They also use electrolocation to calm others by sending a small, soothing electrical pulse through them.

Electrolocation and electroreception have become key elements to the paz culture. Their formal, friendly greeting, for example, consists of individuals clasping forearms and putting forth a small amount of electrolocation to show peace. Paz also use electrolocation to calm their children or to show affection. In extreme cases, electrolocation can be used in a stronger form to temporarily stun an unruly paz or animal, but only those in law enforcement or animal handlers tend to use this ability.

               “’Get me out,’ I said, flicking my eyes to the window and back again. ’Get me out,’ I repeated. ’Help me.’

               His face fell with sympathy, and he reached out to touch me. I stiffened. His hand stroked my forehead, and two of his firm fingers pushed lightly against my skin. I closed my eyes in surprise. A subtle pulse emanated from his fingers, and the muscles of my forehead smoothed. The pulse continued in a low, comforting wave of soothing euphoria. I blinked a few times as I waded through the brief experience.

                He removed his hand. His black eyes were consoling and carried a promise.

                ’Are you going to get me out?’ I whispered, testing his supposed resolve. I felt the smoothed muscles of my forehead twitch back into being, and the furrows reformed as I waited for him to answer."


Fun fact, duck-billed platypuses use these same abilities through electrical organs and sensors in their "beaks" (snouts), and many fish and invertebrates have similar abilities. While writing Curio Citizen, I knew I wanted the paz to be able to have some sort of ability like this, but it wasn’t until the research phase that I discovered this particular biological adaptation used by many animals on Earth. It fit in perfectly with my aims for the book, and is one example of how I love to incorporate actual science into my science fiction!

You are all so amazing! Thank you for continuing to help. I hope these updates are ramping up your excitement for Curio Citizen! Hopefully I will be able to share it with you in published form. 5 days will reveal whether or not that happens! Until then, we’ve got to keep working for more pre-orders!


Hello everyone!

Curio Citizen is still in 2nd place! I am so grateful to all of you for helping to get it there! There is only one week left, so please keep spreading the word! Deadline is June 25th, THIS SUNDAY.

Oh, and we made the local news!! Check it out:


And here’s today’s look into the world of Curio Citizen--one of the important characters who can influence Carmen’s journey:

Memoria Levantan is a long-time member of the High Council of the Capitol, and some would say she’s the most influential. She has a calm, but commanding presence, and her wisdom is respected, her opinions not taken lightly. She is compassionate, but does not allow her interpretation of the law to be sullied by emotion. 

Carmen must convince the entire Council to see her as equal to paz, but she knows swaying Memoria is key to achieving her goal.

               "’Inquieto,’ Levantan said, and then corrected herself, ’Citizen Reúnen, you are an expert in your field. Your evidence of her behavior is strong and is substantiated by your education and experience in animal, specifically, curio, behavior. I don’t believe anyone on this Council can ignore the validity of your testimony.’

              She eyed her peers, who seemed to acknowledge her words. Even Fortalacen’s lips were thin in assent.

              ’As such, I think it would be unwise to make any rash decisions in objection. However, Citizen Reúnen, you must not have expected your unconventional request would be immediately granted today,’ she continued.

              ’I did not,’ Inquieto agreed.

              ’Then, granted the new petition, I ask my fellow members of the Council for a delay in this decision, and that we shall confer amongst ourselves and notify the petitioner when further action on his part is required,’ she said. ’Do I have the agreement of the Council?’

              One by one, hands raised in agreement. I eyed Fortalacen as he hesitated, and his hard eyes met mine. I believed he thought I would look away; he certainly looked perturbed when I did not, but he raised his hand in agreement."


Thank you so much for continuing to personally ask others to pre-order Curio Citizen. I really appreciate all your help. We are almost there!!

Click HERE to pre-order Curio Citizen!

Hello! We officially have 1 week left in the contest! That’s right, 7 days! If you haven’t pre-ordered, please consider doing so. If you are planning on getting around to it, please do it now while it’s fresh in your head. :) Also, please continue to gather pre-orders from any of your friends and family who would love to help a fledgling author get published. Thank you again for all of your love and support!

We are still in 2nd place, but as always, the others are steadily gaining pre-orders and could catch up or run ahead of us at any time. I’m staying focused, though, so with your help, I think we have a great chance of finishing in the top 3!

As part of the 100 order mark, I promised you a sneak peek into the third book of the trilogy, Curio Criminal! Click here.

And here is today’s look into the world of Curio Citizen:

Planetary Tilt

We’ve already discussed the dense mineral that makes interstellar space travel possible--void--and the high gravity zones that are present, in part, due to this mineral within the bedrock of Paz. What we haven’t discussed is a strange phenomenon caused by the high gravity zones. 

Paz experiences periodic changes in the nutation of the planet. This causes extreme temperature increases or drops at various times throughout the year. These "tilts" can last from weeks to months, and while they are predictable in timing, the severity of temperature depends upon numerous meteorological factors in addition to the tilt itself. This can lead to unexpected consequences. 

The paz have made technological advances to control their immediate environments, but the fear remains that, should their climate control fail, people will suffer or die due to the dangers of these extreme temperatures. 


              “Father was just explaining to Carmen what causes the tilt,” Cálido said from his chair.
              Oyente nodded. “Yes,” he handed his daughter and son-in-law fresh glasses of juice and offered them seats around a wide table, “it appears to be something she’s never experienced before.”

               I took a bite of my tilt-stick, curious about the conversation, but not sure if I could handle any more condescension. The refreshment distracted me for a moment. It was ice cold and very tart. The paz certainly had a preference for strong flavors.

             “The planet wobbles,” Cálido piped up. A sidelong grin was on his face as he tilted one of his tilt-sticks to match. “The high gravity zones are so dense, they throw Paz off balance as it rotates.”

            “Not enough for us to feel it, of course,” Oyente assured me. “We’re not going to go flying off the planet.”

            “Oh, good,” I said mildly. “I was worried.”

            Inquieto suppressed a smile. Good, I thought, he had finally decided I was intelligent enough for sarcasm.


Thank you so much for your support! We can do this! Click here to pre-order Curio Citizen!


Hello to my amazing followers!

We have reached over 100 pre-orders, a number I never dreamed we would attain. Curio Citizen is still in 2nd place, but 3rd and 4th continue to gather orders and are right on our tail. There are only 9 days left in the contest!

Please, I ask each of you to seek out one person who might want to pre-order a copy and encourage them to do so. It would be so helpful! I am getting a lot of "likes" and "shares" on social media, but the actual pre-orders are slowing down. I know people are excited about Curio Citizen, but they might need a little nudge to get them to contribute monetarily.

If you are following this and haven’t pre-ordered, I ask you to please consider doing it now. I am so excited to share Curio Citizen with all of you and see it on bookstore shelves, but it will not be published if I don’t stay in the top 3.

Thank you so much for your help! Now, as promised, I will be posting sneak peeks into the second two books of the Curio Trilogy to give you a taste of where this sci-fi saga is going! Today, I have posted an excerpt from Curio Conspiracy.

But first, I’ll start with a brief introduction of the primary villain of Curio Citizen:

Dignidad Fortalacen is an ambitious politician. As our story begins, he sits on the High Council, the most powerful seat of government, which is based in the Capitol, but oversees the entire planet. He is the youngest person ever elected to the position of High Counselor, and although he is now middle-aged, he still has years separating him from his wizened peers.

Fortalacen is a strict proponent of isolationism and sees Carmen as a threat to paz traditions and safety. He is arrogant, shrewd, and far more power-hungry than paz are bred to be. How far will he go to stop Carmen? Will he push the confines of his peaceful society in his quest for power?


                    "’We are present today to discuss Curio 0924,’ a man with a smooth, deep voice said. His skin was slightly darker than most paz, though not enough to suggest a different race. He had deep-set eyes and a slightly sloped-back forehead, with a square jaw and a biting elegance. ’A designated species of Planet 0924, established on Paz as of Fifday, the thirty-sixth of Month Eight, Year 601 of Forward Peace. We have viewed the provided footage and annotated assessment analyses you have submitted, and—’

                   ’She is a human, Counselor Fortalacen,’ Inquieto boldly interrupted. ’A sublevel intelligent species to a degree that no curio has ever been assessed, neither at the Curio Life Museum of the Capitol, nor any smaller city museum on Paz. She has a name, and it is Carmen O’Dwyer. She comes from a planet called Earth, on which her species is the dominant species, much like our own species is on Paz.’

                  Fortalacen listened to this explanation in a silence as smooth as his butter-knife voice. When he spoke, he revealed its subtle edge.

                  ’Whatever your perceptions, Citizen Reúnen, this council will decide whether or not the curio is worthy of being designated as a sublevel intelligent species or not,’ he said. ’Or are you confused about why you are here today?’

                  Inquieto placed his hands on the back of the chair behind me.

                  ’I am here today,’ he said slowly, ’to submit a petition for Carmen O’Dwyer’s citizenship.’
                  I blinked in surprise and looked up at him. Then I frowned at Counselor Fortalacen, who was laughing. He was joined by a few others; the rest looked stunned and rather dubious."

Click here to see our hero and villain in action in an excerpt from Curio Conspiracy!

And click here to pre-order Curio Citizen :)

Thanks so much!


Hi everybody!

Curio Citizen is still in 2nd! You are all fantastic people! I really appreciate all of your support. With 10 days left in the contest, we are no doubt going to face a fierce surge of competition for the top 3 spots, and I’m not going to lie--a girl can only know so many people. I could really use your help to widen the circle of supporters for my novel. If you could please find one person to sit down in front of a computer and pre-order a copy, I would be forever grateful! We are so close to being published, I would hate to have all of our hard work not be enough at the last minute! Thank you so much for helping!

Here is today’s look into the world of Curio Citizen:

High Gravity Zones:

Paz is pocketed with areas of increased gravity known as "high gravity zones". These zones have a thickened planetary crust and are packed with the super dense metal known as void. These zones are uninhabitable and consist only of mining facilities, as no one can withstand the immense gravity without the aid of specialized, mechanized suits. Even then, the time the paz or human body can survive there under such intense pressure is short.


                    "Spoken words were accompanied by three-dimensional diagrams, which leapt out of the screen to hover in the living room. I stood up, curious, and circled a sphere that rotated on an indicated axis. Paz.

                    A white, pinpoint circle sat in a frame of blue in the lower portion of the northern hemisphere, labeled as the Capitol. Otherwise, the planet’s diagram was colored on a gradient spectrum from bright red to deep blue. Many red small, irregular splotches seemed to be the focus of the illustration.

                    The sphere continued to rotate, but its rotation stopped being smooth and steady. Instead, it began to wobble, not much, but enough to alter the shadows and light that played around the sphere’s poles, presumably cast by an imaginary sun outside the realm of the display. The dot of the Capitol moved in a subtle southern shift. Words popped up on the diagram, but they did little to explain the topic that streamed from the woman’s lips as incoherent babble.

                    High Gravity Zones.

                   ’Huh,’ I uttered, scanning the globe, pocketed with red splotches.
                   The diagram was smoothly swept away, and the room was empty of projections. I heard a few understandable words about wind intensity and the time the sun would set that night. I fervently wished it would hurry up. Maybe then it would cool down."


Thank you so much for trying to get one other person’s pre-order. I would love for you all to have the ability to read Curio Citizen, and if we don’t finish in the top 3, that can’t happen! Please continue to help. Thank you again for everything you have done already. Have the best of days, everyone!

Hello everyone!

I am SO thrilled to announce that Curio Citizen is currently in 2nd place!! I am so grateful to all of you who have pre-ordered or who plan to pre-order. HOWEVER, there are still 11 days left in this contest, and 3rd and 4th place aren’t far behind! Not to mention, any books further down the list could get a large amount of pre-orders at any time and surprise us! So please continue to personally ask your friends, family, and fans of sci-fi to pre-order. Thank you so much for everything you all have done for me and Curio Citizen!

We have hit 86 readers!! This means that I will now announce the titles for the next two books in the Curio Trilogy:

Curio Conspiracy & Curio Criminal!

Catchy, no? :P  If we reach 100 pre-orders from separate readers, which I am confident we can do with your continued help, I will release sneak peeks into each of these books (without giving too much away, of course!)

Thank you so much for sharing this journey with me!

Here’s today’s look into the world of Curio Citizen:


Quadrisphere is an exciting sport played on Paz. It draws countless crowds and is the only form of entertainment that rivals the Curio Museums in scale and enthusiasm. It is similar to soccer, played without the use of hands to discourage any form of aggression. 

Paz "’sphere" players are greatly admired for their skills. Having evolved to be a generally docile species, most paz lack the needed physical prowess and desire for active competition. They find it highly entertaining to watch, however, and come out in droves for every match. Even more come out to see Carmen when she earns a chance to play on the field. 


                   "The pounding beat of aggression, the focused breaths of trained endurance, the adrenaline-fueled drive to take what was mine, the need to prove I was better than any person who dared to stand in my way...

                   ...Did the paz around me feel such a surge of channeled, instinctual violence? The players themselves were focused, athletic, and showed a transcendent joy in the game I had rarely seen in any human player, perhaps because it wasn’t tainted. Their focus was collected, their drive was to support their teammates, and their enthusiasm extended to the opposing team. They sought to win, but they did not fight to win...

                   ...Anyone who had ever said the point of playing sports was to simply love the game, win or lose, was a pathetic liar. This was the dullest game I had ever played...

                  ...But here we were, in the second half. And the Harmonics scored.

                  I felt a surge of indignation rise up in me. How dare they score?!

                 As soon as the ball was put back into play, I raced forward.

                ’Tenaz!’ I shouted. He stole the ball from an opposing player and met my eyes in determined acknowledgement. I ducked beneath a red player trying to block me and caught the ball between my feet from Tenaz’s kick.

                 Pumping with adrenaline, I shifted the ball from foot to foot with increasing speed. I dodged every player who attempted to steal my ball, racing around them, slipping underneath with startling agility, and in a glance, caught an unobstructed sight of a hoop—directly behind me. I stopped the ball, kicked it vertically, then spun around and delivered a sideways kick with all my might.

                It sailed through the hoop.

               ’Yes!’ I grunted, my fist in the air. The noise from the crowd was deafening, and my teammates were grinning ear to ear. More striking, there were zero boos in the crowd from fans of the opposing Harmonics, and even the players in red right next to me were enthused.

               From that point on, the game got much more interesting. My skill seemed to fuel the other players—on both sides—to match it. Well, they tried, bless them.

               Invoking my thrill for competition, I performed more feats of skill, some greater than I ever thought possible of myself. Most were moves I had done before in a state championship game, impressive on a high school level, but to the paz, who had evolved to be physically weaker and less competitive than humans, I may as well have been a Hall-of-Famer."

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