Alight_ Book Two of the Generat - Scott Sigler

A stabbing pain jolts me awake.

I open my eyes to darkness. Total darkness.

My head feels thick, my thoughts clogged.

The pain is where my neck meets my shoulder, but it’s already fading. I remember a sting just like it, but much worse. That day…was it my birthday? Yes, I think so. My twelfth birthday.

A chill floods me—this has happened before.

I am in a coffin.

A monster is coming for me, a rot-black thing with one ravaged eye.


No…that’s not quite right. It’s different this time. I can move my hands…last time they were held down. My fingers rise up through the darkness. I feel a lid, so close it’s almost touching my face and chest. I need to escape before the monster destroys me.

I need a weapon.

The spear…where is my spear?

I punch at the lid, I scream and I hammer at it with fists and knees.

A noise, a whir of machinery; I feel the coffin lid start to slide down toward my feet. Light hits me, burning my eyes even through tightly scrunched lids—I can’t see.

I lash out wildly, blindly, punching and clawing.

Hands grab my wrists.

“Em, it’s okay!”

A girl’s voice. I recognize it: Spingate.

“Calm down,” she says. “Everything is fine.”

Her hand takes mine. Our fingers clasp tightly. Her skin is warm and soft, her grip strong and confident.

“We’ve landed,” she says. “You’re safe.”

Safe. That word is an illusion. And yet, I feel my body relax a little. I recall something big and silver, something that gave me hope, but the image evades me.

“Landed? What are you talking about?”

Her other hand strokes my hair. It comforts me, takes away some of my fear.

“You’re still groggy from the gas in your coffin,” she says. “The effects should wear off pretty fast.”

Even as she says this, I feel my head clearing. The fog drifts away. Memories rush back.

Horrible memories.

Waking up in a coffin. The needle driving into my neck. Fighting my way out. Not knowing who or where I was, my entire past gone save for a few wisps of someone else’s life.

Saving Spingate. Then O’Malley. Then Bello, Aramovsky and Yong.

The hideous, cracked skull of a little boy, skin dried tight to his bones, clothes too big for his small body.

The skeletons. The dust. The endless dungeon hallways. Our long walk.

My knife sliding into Yong’s belly.

Finding Bishop, Gaston, Latu and the rest. The vote, where I became leader—two tribes merging into one.

The pigs. Latu’s death. The Garden. That’s where I last felt safe, when I still believed that childish concept existed.

Bello’s terror-wide eyes when the monster’s wrinkled black hands dragged her into the Garden’s underbrush. Those monsters—the Grownups—with their red eyes and spindly limbs, their gnarled skin, fleshy folds hanging where their mouths should have been.


The shame of that moment hammers me. I left her. For the greater good, my head tells me, but my heart calls me a coward.

Meeting Brewer. Discovering that we weren’t underground, that we were on an ancient spaceship called the Xolotl. The Grownups were creatures that should have died centuries ago. They wanted to wipe our minds clean and take over our young bodies as easily as someone might change their clothes.

Learning about Omeyocan, the planet we were made for.

Then, my decision to attack. Harris, dying somewhere in the Garden. Capturing Matilda. Finding the big silver shuttle. And when we were almost away, El-Saffani—the boy and girl twins who finished each other’s sentences—charged an army of withered, walking corpses and were blown to pieces.

We escaped the Xolotl, but at such a price.

“Let’s stand you up,” Spingate says.

She helps me rise and step out. My legs immediately buckle—Spingate holds me, keeps me from falling. I think of an almost identical moment when I was the one comforting her, telling her to be calm, helping her out of a coffin.

My eyes don’t sting as much. I blink them open, and see the face of my friend. Spingate’s curly red hair is a tangled mess. Her green eyes are sunken, ringed by skin so dark it looks bruised. I’ve never seen her this pale; the black, circular gear symbol on her forehead stands out in stark contrast.

“I think I can stand on my own now.”

Spingate kisses me on the cheek, lets me go.

We’re in a long, narrow room. Red walls and ceiling, gleaming black floor. Two rows of thin white coffins lined up side by side run the length of the room. Wide aisles run along each wall, as well as one down the middle that leads through a curved opening. Just past that opening