Read Ash Online

Authors: Shani Petroff

Tags: #General Fiction

Ash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books by Shani Petroff

Bedeviled Series

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Dress

Daddy’s Little Angel

Careful What You Wish For

Love Struck

 

The Destined Series

Ash

Ultraviolet
(Coming Soon)

 

 

 

 

In dedication to the billions killed during the Event.

You are destined to live on in our hearts.

AMENDMENT 41

An annual tax shall be imposed upon each family that chooses to keep a child whose status determines they will be unable to contribute to society. The tax imposed by this amendment shall be used to fund credits, grants, and other financial support to improve upon the system.

 

AMENDMENT 44

Those who refuse, or otherwise fail, to accept and follow those destinies ascribed to them by the Department of Specialization may be prosecuted, and if found guilty, fined or imprisoned, as the Ministry of Seven shall dictate.

 

AMENDMENT 44, ARTICLE A

The Department of Keepers shall be authorized to punish noncompliance of destiny fulfillment with immediate and summary execution.

“D
on’t let them ruin this for you,” I told Laira, trying to keep her eyes focused on me instead of the gathering student body. I forced myself to sound confident. “Just pretend like they’re not there, okay? You’ve waited seventeen years for today, and it’s going to be ultra, no matter what.”

We stood on the front lawn of our school’s sprawling, perfectly manicured lawn, while the higher rings gathered about twenty feet down from us. They maintained a forced separation that I, for one, preferred.

“Why did the Ash cross the road?” a Purple shouted from across the lawn.

“To waste our time,” a Crimson screamed back.

I shook my head in disgust. The only thing you could count on the upper rings to agree on was their superiority over the lower rings. I was about to point this out to Laira when I noticed the horrified look on her face. She shuffled from one foot to another, trying to avoid the glares of our classmates.

“Oh Dax,” she said, her voice barely a whisper. “This was such a bad idea. They’re all angry to be stuck after school because of me. I was so stupid to pick this place.”

“No you weren’t,” I assured her. “Spectrum Academy is perfect. I mean, it must be, right? You had this location approved by the
Department of Specialization
.”

She hung her head, and I frowned. It was bad enough Laira’s family couldn’t be here to witness her Destiny Day. They couldn’t afford to miss work—that was the Ash ring for you. But there was barely anyone here to support her. Only a handful of lower ring students attended Spectrum, and the upper rings weren’t exactly lining up to make friends. But there was no way I was letting any of that spoil my best friend’s day.

“What is it the Seven always say?” I asked her, trying a different approach. “‘The gift of destiny is a perilous responsibility. With it comes the power of the future.’”

The Ministry of Seven had endless slogans promoting ring unity, and this was one of Laira’s favorites. It seemed to work, because she raised her head back up and tried on a tiny smile.

“It’s going to be great,” I continued. “I mean, just look at you. You look like a million ostows.” And she did. Laira had twisted her auburn hair into an elaborate crown that looked completely upper ring. And her shift dress wasn’t the usual gray that most of us Ashes wore. It appeared almost silver and sparkled in the sun.

“Really?” she asked.

“Absolutely.” I glanced at my own patched shirt and pants. I wished I had a dress like that—or any dress for that matter. But today, like every day, I wore bleached hand-me-downs from my seven older brothers. “Though I might not be the best judge of fashion,” I said, grinning.

The corners of Laira’s mouth twitched up, and the color crept back into her face.

“Come on already,” another Purple interrupted.

“We’ve got a race to get to,” a second voice added.

I turned to the crowd and yelled back. “And Laira’s got a time stamp to follow, so take it up with that guy if you think she should break it.”

I motioned to the closer of two Destiny Keepers who would monitor Laira’s destiny today. He was a block of a man. Solid and square with so many muscles I was surprised he was able to find a uniform that fit. A stun stick was slung through his belt, although I doubted he’d ever need to use it.

No one said another word. They all knew too well the consequences of messing with destiny.

“Thanks Dax,” she said, holding onto her grin, but only just. “You know,” she continued, “somehow I thought being in front of the school would make me feel special or important or something. That this might be the one day the higher rings would actually care. But I didn’t think about the date. No one wants to be here when the race of the year begins in three hours. I can’t believe you’re even here. Aldan’s destiny is what matters today.”

“No way,” I said, shaking my head emphatically. “Your destiny is just as important as my brother’s. Believe me, Aldan would say the same thing. A destiny is a destiny. And it’s double reason to celebrate.”

“I’m destined to cross the road, Dax,” she said wryly. “Your brother is destined to win a worldwide championship. It’s not exactly the same thing.”

“You might be right,” I said. “But what if you’re not?” I held up a finger to silence her protests. “You
never
know. That’s why I got you this. To remind you.” I opened up the flap of my tattered messenger bag, digging inside until my hand closed around Laira’s gift. It was a book. The real kind. With pages and a hard cover and everything.

Laira laughed. “You’ve got to be kidding,” she said.

I shrugged. “It’s vintage.” I thrust the book toward her.

“It’s
old
,” Laira replied, giggling.

“It’s about destiny,” I explained. “Written about Dr. Og’s first destiny extractions. It talks about everything—how he was able to scan the brain and retrieve and interpret each person’s fate, how time stamps and other details could be lost if the process took too long, and even info on some of the really famous early triggers.”

I took the book from her, opened it to the chapter on the trigger effect, and scanned the first page. “See, this chapter is about an Ash who was destined to read a poem out loud. It inspired Mula Olan to come up with hover technology. There wouldn’t even be a loop race today if she hadn’t heard that poem.”

“Do you really think I could make something like that happen?”

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