By Kass Morgan

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Kass Morgan, New York Times bestselling author of The 100, once again delivers pulse-pounding action and glittering romance in this thrilling sequel to Light Years.

Tensions are rising between the Quatrans and the Specters, and the Quatra Fleet is gearing up for an epic fight. With a galaxy on the brink of war and loyalties divided, the friendship of four cadets will be tested.

Orelia has been arrested for espionage, and her future is looking bleak . . . until the Quatrans make her a surprising offer that could save her life–and the lives of everyone in the galaxy.

Reeling from his breakup, Arran finds comfort in a sympathetic boy from Loos, someone who understands how hard it can be to fit in. But is it enough for Arran to forget his heartbreak?

Cormak’s position at the Academy is finally secure. But when someone discovers his treasonous secret, it jeopardizes everything he’s fought for, including his relationship with the person he cares about most.

And Vesper is ready to become a superstar officer . . . until she uncovers a conspiracy that shakes her faith in the Quatra Fleet to its core.

As secret machinations come to light, these cadets will be forced to overcome their differences and band together to restore peace to their worlds.


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Orelia lay on her back on the narrow, rigid bench—the only piece of furniture in the tiny cell. The gravity controls here were separate from the rest of the Academy, and the force was so intense, she could hardly lift her arm to scratch her nose, let alone try to escape. Standing was out of the question, and even sitting proved too arduous for more than a few minutes at a time. She could almost feel her heart struggling to pump blood through her heavy, immobile body.

No one had spoken a word to her since yesterday, when she’d been seized by the guards and dragged from Zafir’s office. She wasn’t even entirely sure what she’d been accused of. Had the Quatra Fleet realized she was a Specter? Or were they merely suspicious of her knowledge of the Specters’ spread spectrum, a fact Orelia had exploited to help her squadron mates destroy the ship headed for the Academy? If it was the former, then there was no doubt that Orelia’s labored breaths would be her last. She’d be tortured and interrogated by the fleet’s top intelligence officers, perhaps even by Zafir himself. Orelia shuddered as she imagined the face that’d once made her heart flutter gazing at her impassively as she writhed in pain.

She closed her eyes and forced her overtaxed lungs to take a few deep breaths as she fought against the panic expanding inside her like toxic gas. She’d spent her entire life training for this mission, and despite the immense danger, she’d succeeded. She’d managed to infiltrate the Quatra Fleet Academy, triangulate its top-secret location, and transmit the coordinates to her commanding officer on Sylvan. Because of Orelia, the Sylvans could finally launch the campaign they’d been planning for years—a crippling strike at the heart of the Quatra Federation’s military operations, the Quatra Fleet Academy. But at the last minute, Orelia had found herself unable to watch the Sylvans kill the first real friends she’d ever had, and she’d made the wrenching decision to sabotage the attack by telling her squadron mates to fry the Sylvan ship’s communication system by sending a directed pulse across multiple frequencies. The plan worked, but success had come at a devastating cost. Every Sylvan on the battlecraft had been killed, and the Quatrans had grown immediately suspicious about Orelia’s knowledge of Specter technology.

The door hissed open and Orelia flinched. Her head felt too heavy to move, forcing her to lie tense and still.

“Hello, Orelia,” a deep, familiar voice said. She managed to turn her head just enough to see Zafir and Admiral Haze standing in the doorway.

“Can you sit up, please?” Zafir pressed his link and the weight pinning Orelia to the bench vanished. She moved her fingers tentatively and flexed her feet a few times before she rolled onto her side and tried to push herself into a seated position. She’d been in the best physical condition of her life when she’d arrived at the Academy—a state she’d maintained through grueling daily training sessions—but the long hours she’d spent in the cell had weakened her muscles enough to make even this small act difficult.

She glanced at Zafir, who’d stepped into the cell and was now watching her with an inscrutable expression. Just a few days ago, it would’ve seemed like the most natural thing in the world for him to reach for her hand and help Orelia sit up. She could still feel the lingering traces of the warmth that had spread through her body the last time he’d touched her. But this time, Zafir’s arms remained at his sides as he watched Orelia struggle into a seated position with her back against the wall.

She knew she shouldn’t be surprised by his detachment; although they were about the same age, he was one of the most accomplished intelligence officers in the Quatra Fleet. Like Orelia, he’d been trained to maintain his professionalism in any situation, even if that meant interrogating the girl who’d kissed him in the ocean simulator. Unless—a new wave of fear crashed over her—unless he’d known her secret all along and feigned attraction to get close to her. Could he really have faked the look in his eyes that night? The tenderness and intensity with which he’d kissed her back?

“What’s going on? What am I doing here? There has to be some mistake…” It didn’t take much effort to make herself sound confused and terrified instead of guilty and terrified.

“You can skip the theatrics,” Admiral Haze said. “Tell us your name.”


“Your real name.”

“That is my real name.” It was true. There’d been no need to devise a fake name. To the best of their knowledge, the Quatrans had never even laid eyes on a so-called Specter, let alone compiled a database of known secret agents.

Admiral Haze glowered at Orelia, then gave a small nod toward Zafir. The nearly imperceptible gesture was enough to send an ominous shiver down Orelia’s spine as she wondered how many times they’d performed this routine: Haze stepping aside to let her counterintelligence expert and master interrogator do what he did best—extract information from unwilling participants.

“How did you know about the spread spectrum?” Zafir asked, his tone surprisingly light, as if they were back in his classroom instead of a high-security prison cell.

“I told you. It was a lucky guess.”

Next to him, Admiral Haze crossed her arms and glowered, but Zafir merely raised an eyebrow. “You have an impressively analytic mind, Orelia. I highly doubt you ever resort to lucky guesses.” He sounded more amused than accusatory, but that only made the situation feel even more chilling. It didn’t matter that her life was on the line; this was just a game for him. It’s all just a game.

“Right,” Orelia said. “We tried a number of options, but none of them worked. The spread spectrum was unlikely, but it was still worth trying.”

“We know you sent that encrypted transmission with the coordinates,” Admiral Haze said, ignoring Zafir’s subtle look of warning as she abandoned whatever plan they’d devised. “The security cameras caught you prowling through restricted areas. You were responsible for the attack. So either you’re spying for the Specters, or else—” She cut herself off with a frown, as if the second option were too disturbing to say aloud.

“Or else you are a Specter,” Zafir continued calmly.

Her years of training kicked in, allowing Orelia to keep her voice and breath steady despite her frantically thudding heart. “A Specter?” she repeated with as much incredulity as she could muster.

“Enough,” Admiral Haze snapped. “We have sufficient evidence to lock you up on Chetire for the rest of your life. If you even make it that far. The Quatra Federation knows we captured a spy who put the entire solar system at risk, and we have the legal authority to extract information from you by any means necessary. If you refuse to tell us the truth, then Lieutenant Prateek will be forced to resort to less pleasant methods.”

Orelia looked at Zafir, desperately searching his face for a sign of sympathy, some indication that he’d do his best to protect her. But his expression remained as inscrutable as ever.

She’d been trained to resist interrogation. It’d been the most frightening, grueling portion of her intense preparations, but she’d learned to stay calm and withstand pain. This one will never crack, her gruff instructor had told General Greet while Orelia sat slumped in a nearby chair, struggling to breathe normally after being deprived of oxygen. She’d find out soon enough if he’d been right.

“I don’t think that’ll be necessary, Admiral,” Zafir said, turning to Orelia. Instead of the sadistic gleam she’d always associated with interrogators, Zafir’s eyes seemed full of something akin to wonder. “You are a Specter.”

“That’s ridiculous,” she said quickly. Under no circumstances was she to admit the truth. Better to die a terrible, violent death than endanger her people.

Zafir’s face hardened slightly as he reached into his jacket and produced a metal device Orelia didn’t recognize. “Fine. If you don’t feel like cooperating, there are other ways to discover the truth.”

Orelia took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to steel herself for what was about to happen. Part of her had always known she’d be forced to withstand torture, but she’d never imagined that the first person she’d ever cared for would be the one to do it.

“I’ll ask you one more time,” Zafir said with unsettling composure as he stepped up next to the bench. “Are you a Specter?”

“Of course not. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Zafir leaned toward her with the metal device and she twisted away, but he still managed to brush it against her arm. She felt a mild stinging sensation and braced for the agonizing shock of pain that was sure to follow, but to her confusion and relief, Zafir drew back. He held the tool in the air and squinted as he examined it, brow furrowing as he stared at a small screen Orelia hadn’t noticed. It wasn’t a torture device, she realized as her relief drained away. It was something far more dangerous.

“What does it say?” Admiral Haze asked.

“Her DNA matches the structure of the samples we collected from the Specter ship.” Orelia could tell it was taking considerable effort to keep his voice steady as he turned to her and said, “This is remarkable. You are a Specter. Though you certainly wouldn’t call yourself that, would you?”

Her brain raced to come up with a plausible explanation: The DNA scanner had malfunctioned or been contaminated. Yet the denials fizzled in her mouth as she took in the expression on Zafir’s face. He knew the truth, and for the first time since she’d left her home planet, the fact filled her with more relief than terror.

“No.” Orelia met his eyes. “I’m a Sylvan.” It was the first time she’d spoken the word aloud since arriving in the Quatra System.

“Sylvan,” Zafir repeated, frowning. “How many of you are at the Academy?”

“Just me,” Orelia said quickly.

“How many of you are there in the Quatra System?” The edge had returned to his voice, and all traces of wonder had disappeared from his penetrating gaze.

“Just me,” she repeated. “I’m the only one.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Admiral Haze said with a dismissive sniff. “Why would they send you on your own? It’d be a suicide mission. If you’re actually a Specter, then there must be more of you embedded throughout the Quatra System.”

“I’m telling you the truth. I’m the only one.”

Admiral Haze narrowed her eyes as she took a few steps toward Orelia. “What do the Specters want from us?”

Orelia stared at her, wondering if this was a trick. She glanced at Zafir for clarity, but the counterintelligence officer’s gaze had become searching and urgent. “We don’t want anything from you,” Orelia said. “We just want you to stop killing us.”

“Then perhaps you shouldn’t have attacked us unprovoked,” Admiral Haze said dryly.

They really don’t know, Orelia thought as her confusion turned to disbelief. During her first week at the Academy, she’d discovered that the cadets and instructors were under the false impression that the Sylvans, not the Quatrans, had attacked first. But she hadn’t realized just how far the lie had spread. Not even the highest-ranking officers in the Quatra Fleet seemed to know the truth.

“We didn’t,” Orelia said, careful to keep her voice firm without being accusatory. “Fifteen Tridian years ago, the Quatra Fleet sent a probe to collect soil samples from Sylvan. A few months later, three battlecraft arrived and dropped a bomb on our capital city.”

“That’s impossible,” Admiral Haze snapped. “No Quatran battlecraft has ever made it all the way to your home planet.”

“That’s what you’ve been told. But it’s a lie.”

“This is becoming ridiculous. Lieutenant Prateek, you have ten minutes to extract the truth from this girl, or else I’ll bring in someone who’ll get the job done. There’s an attendant that’s been programmed to interrogate enemies of the state. It has a one hundred percent success rate and even cleans up after itself, no matter how much blood it leaves on the floor.”

“Just wait a moment, Admiral,” Zafir said before turning back to Orelia. “What kind of soil samples? Do you know what the probe was looking for?”

“Fyron,” Orelia said, using the Quatran word for the mineral.

Zafir and Admiral Haze exchanged startled looks. “Are you sure?” Zafir asked.

“Yes. After the first bombing, it was clear that the Quatrans would be willing to kill every Sylvan on the planet to get to the fyron. That’s why we launched a retaliatory attempt.” She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “And that’s why I was sent to transmit the coordinates of the Academy.”

“That’s the most absurd story I’ve ever heard,” Haze said as she shifted her weight uneasily, glancing at Zafir out of the corner of her eye. “There’s no record of any such mission.”

“That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.” Orelia’s voice grew louder, her exhaustion momentarily pushed aside by desperation.

Haze gave Orelia a long, searching look that made her glad the admiral was Vesper’s mother and not hers. Then she jerked her head to the side to focus her penetrating gaze on Zafir instead. “Can we trust her?”

Zafir’s eyes traveled over Orelia, and for a moment, she felt some of her anxiety drain away as she thought about their kiss, when he had looked at her with an expression she’d never seen directed at her before. Like he’d glimpsed the real her, and it’d been enough to make him want to kiss her back.

Zafir would believe her. He’d understand that she’d done the best she could, given the terrible position she’d been put in.

When he spoke, his voice was so light, it took a moment for her to process the meaning of his words. He sounded almost amused when he said, “She’s the last person I’d ever trust.”



“Are you okay?” Vesper asked, glancing at Arran with concern as they hurried through the crowded corridor toward the launchport, where they’d been ordered to report for patrol duty. Since the Specter attack, the Quatra Fleet had tripled the security around the Academy, requiring so much additional manpower that even first-year cadets were given shifts on patrol ships.

“I’m not sure how to answer that,” Arran said with a rueful smile. Just days ago, their squadron had managed to foil a Specter attack on the Academy; they were still recovering from their near brush with death while preparing for the larger assault that now seemed inevitable. But it was impossible to focus on the task ahead with their squadron mate Orelia missing. Arran hadn’t seen or heard from Orelia in nearly two days, despite sending her eight messages and making multiple trips to her room.

Vesper let out a dry laugh. “I don’t mean in the larger, existential sense, obviously. You just looked particularly tense back there.”

Arran glanced over his shoulder at the guards they’d just passed. There were about a dozen lined up on each side of the long corridor, their helmet shields pulled down over their faces. They’d arrived a few hours after Arran’s squadron had blown up the Specter ship, and while they were ostensibly here to protect the cadets, that knowledge couldn’t overwrite the fear stored in his pounding heart. “I didn’t expect to see so many guards,” he said with a shrug.

“After facing down the Specters, it’s the guards that make you nervous?” Vesper asked with a teasing smile. “Afraid you’re going to get a speeding ticket?”

“That’s not what we worry about on Chetire,” Arran said quietly. On his ice-covered home planet, the most remote in the solar system, the guards served as a constant visual reminder of who was really in charge—the wealthy Quatran mine owners whom the government allowed to act with impunity. They used the government-paid guards as their own private security service, breaking up strikes and silencing anyone brave, desperate, or foolish enough to protest the cruel treatment of the miners.

Vesper pressed her lips together and looked chastened. “Sorry. I keep forgetting how different things are other places.”

“It’s fine. I need to remember that the guards are here to keep me from getting blown up by the Specters, not to bash my face in.” He lowered his voice. “Have you heard anything about Orelia?”

Vesper shook her head grimly, then glanced down at her link and scrolled through a message, blushing slightly.

“So I assume things are back on with Rex?” Arran said, smiling despite the anxiety roiling his stomach.

“I don’t know. Maybe. I guess.” She sounded uncharacteristically flustered, and the flush on her cheeks deepened. “It seems a little silly to worry about something like that, given everything that’s going on.”

“It’s not silly at all. If we don’t allow ourselves to be happy, then what are we really fighting for?” Despite his best efforts, he couldn’t quite keep a wistful note out of his voice, prompting a sympathetic smile from Vesper, one of the only people he’d told about his breakup with Dash.

Arran had spent the first few weeks of the term in a frenzy over Dash, analyzing the minutia of every interaction as his brain struggled to reconcile the outward signs of flirtation with the irrefutable truth—that no one as handsome, smart, and charming as Dash would ever fall for an awkward Chetrian. His skepticism was compounded by the fact that Dash was the son of Admiral Larz Muscatine, the most outspoken opponent of admitting Settlers to the Quatra Fleet Academy. However, the persistent, disarming Dash had eventually convinced Arran to trust him, and for a few blissful weeks, Arran had his first experience of true happiness.

Then, a few days ago, Dash told him that word of their relationship had reached his father, and that if Dash didn’t break up with Arran, he’d be forced to leave the Academy. Dash—the first boy Arran had ever loved, the first boy he’d ever kissed, the first person to make Arran feel like he’d mattered, like he deserved the future he’d dreamed of—had dumped him a few weeks ago. The jagged pieces of Arran’s broken heart were still embedded in his chest like shrapnel.

“Hey,” Sula said, falling in step with Vesper and Arran. “Are you two also on patrol duty this afternoon?”

“Yup,” Arran said as Vesper nodded, her attention once again fixed on her link. “Is this your first shift?”

“I had my first one yesterday,” Sula said, rubbing her eyes. “Five straight hours of staring at a radar screen.”

Arran frowned. “They shouldn’t assign you back-to-back shifts like that.”

“I don’t really mind,” she said with a weary smile. “It’s nice to feel like we’re actually doing something, you know? I like to think that my little sister sleeps better knowing that I’m up here, helping to keep her safe.”

Arran’s heart cramped as he thought about his mother parsecs away on Chetire, alone in their sparsely furnished, spotless cabin. “I do know,” he said. But before he could say anything more, his monitor trilled in his ear. “Report to the superintendent’s office immediately. Based on your current location, your estimated travel time is eight minutes.” From the look on Vesper’s face, it was clear that she’d just received the same notification.

They excused themselves, telling Sula they’d see her on the launchport, then hurried to the administrative wing. “Any idea what this is about?” Arran asked as a knot of dread formed in his stomach.

“Nope,” Vesper said, imbuing her voice with forced cheer. More than anyone at the Academy, the superintendent’s daughter knew that a summons rarely boded well.

As they turned into the corridor that led to Admiral Haze’s office, Arran saw Rex approaching from the other direction. His grim expression softened when he saw them, and he raised his hand in greeting. “I assume we’re being invited for a surprise party, right?”

Vesper rolled her eyes and gave Rex an affectionate smile that made Arran’s chest twinge with a mixture of happiness and sorrow. The sensors outside Vesper’s mother’s office detected their presence, and the door slid open before any of them had time to lift their links to the scanner. To Arran’s surprise, Admiral Haze wasn’t alone. Commander Stepney, the head of the Quatra Fleet, was standing next to her desk, looking graver than Arran had ever seen him.

Admiral Haze wasted no time getting to the point. “Thank you three for coming. What I’m about to tell you is highly classified. So classified, in fact, that none of you should even know the name of this level of security clearance, let alone the actual intelligence. But given the extraordinary circumstances, I’ve been permitted to brief you. Orelia has been arrested under suspicion of treason.”

She paused and scanned the cadets’ faces, searching for a glimmer of recognition—a sign that they’d somehow known or suspected. But from the stunned silence, it was clear that Vesper and Rex were as aghast as Arran.

“We believe that Orelia was passing information to the Specters,” Admiral Haze continued. “Her knowledge of the spread spectrum roused our suspicion, and after further investigation, we discovered that, a few weeks ago, someone broke into the command center and sent an outgoing transmission with the Academy’s coordinates. Now, I’m only going to ask you once: Did you ever notice anything unusual about her behavior? If you know anything, speak up now, and there will be no disciplinary consequences. But that deal lasts only until you leave my office, so consider your actions carefully.”

Arran’s head had begun to spin; he felt dizzier and more disoriented than he had during his first ride on the shuttle, watching the ground fall away beneath him. Orelia had grown up on Loos. She’d been eleven years old when the Specters destroyed her capital city. How could she ever work for the callous, cold-blooded killers who’d murdered half a million people?

“With respect, that doesn’t make any sense,” Arran said. “Why would she have wanted to help the Specters? And how would the Specters have even contacted her to begin with? I don’t understand how…” He trailed off as the commander of the Quatra Fleet fixed him with a steely glare.

“She wasn’t helping the Specters. She is a Specter.”

Arran stared at Commander Stepney, his already overtaxed brain unable to make sense of the words.

“Sorry, what?” Rex said, echoing Arran’s own mess of confused thoughts.

“Your squadron mate is a Specter spy who infiltrated the Academy by posing as a cadet. She admitted it during questioning.”

The real meaning of the word questioning unfolded in Arran’s mind—interrogation. The Quatra Fleet’s technical ban on torture didn’t extend to anyone accused of treason, a loosely defined term that could be applied to a variety of scenarios. “Where is she?” Arran asked, surprised by his own vehemence. “What are you doing to her?”

Commander Stepney shot him a cold look. “I’m troubled by the fact that you seem more concerned about the welfare of a Specter spy than that of the Quatra System. Moreover, I find it staggering that none of you realized something was wrong with that girl. You spent how many hours together?”

Arran winced as the words unleashed a tide of shame. He should’ve never spoken like that to the commander of the Quatra Fleet, regardless of the circumstances.

“But Orelia didn’t do anything suspicious,” Vesper said carefully, looking from Arran to Rex, who nodded his agreement. “She was quiet, that’s it. And she’s the one who figured out how to blow up the ship. She saved all of our lives.”

“She wouldn’t have had to save anyone’s life if she hadn’t sent those coordinates to the Specters.” Commander Stepney was nearly shouting by this point. “And now our enemy knows our exact location.”

Admiral Haze stepped forward until she was standing between Commander Stepney and the cadets. “They say they didn’t notice anything suspicious, and I believe them.”

When Stepney spoke again, his voice was icy. “I think we should continue this discussion in private.” He turned to Arran, Vesper, and Rex. “You three are dismissed.”

They saluted and hurried out, none of them speaking until they’d left the administration wing. Finally, Arran broke the silence. “It has to be a mistake, right? How could Orelia possibly be a…” He pressed his lips together, unable to produce the word.

“I don’t know,” Rex said, shaking his head. “Someone had to transmit those coordinates, and even without the security footage, you have to admit, it’s strange that Orelia knew about the spread spectrum.”

“Really?” Arran snapped. A flame of anger flickered amid the cloud of confusion. “Or maybe there was some major intelligence screwup and it’s easier for them to blame a cadet than admit their own mistake.”

“Maybe,” Rex said, unfazed by Arran’s outburst. “But I really don’t think that’s what’s going on here. As much as it hurts to admit it, we have to face the truth—Orelia wasn’t who she claimed to be.”




  • Praise for Light Years:

    "Phenomenal...readers will be itching for more when they finish...A must-purchase for fans of the author and science fiction/romance."—SLJ
  • "The many space-combat scenarios are convincing enough to thrill ardent Trekkies. A fun, fast-paced read laced with a froth of space romance."—Kirkus Reviews

  • "In this character-driven sci-fi series starter, Morgan...offers smooth, easy prose, clever wit, and excellent character-building."—Publishers Weekly

  • "A lighter version of Ender's Game, Light Years is a must read for young adult and sci-fi lovers alike...a heartwarming, fast-paced read."—

  • "This mash-up of Ender's Game (Tor Books 1985) and The Hunger Gameswill be popular with readers of similar action, sci-fi series. The cliffhanger of an ending will have readers clamoring for the next book in the series."—SLC

  • Praise for The 100 series:

    "It's easy to be drawn in by the Lord of the Flies-style tension that builds as the teens struggle to set up a new society on a battered Earth, and by the smoldering romances that hang in the balance."—Publishers Weekly
  • "Dark and riveting. A mash-up of The Lord of the Flies, Across the Universe, and The Hunger Games."—Booklist

  • "The 100 is CW sci-fi done right."—Vulture

On Sale
Oct 1, 2019
Page Count
368 pages

Kass Morgan

About the Author

Kass Morgan is the author of The 100 series, which is now a television show on the CW. She received a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree from Oxford University. She currently works as an editor and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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