In an ocean world teeming with terrifying creatures, a working-class girl cheats her way into a deadly monster chariot tournament to save her dying sister. Winning means gold and glory. Losing, certain death.
We hunt when the world sleeps. A risk that could get us killed. But it’s a risk we must take. I wake my brother up, ignoring his sleepy swear. “It’s three already. Baba told us to be at the Beach by now.”
Emrik clutches his mattress like a crab stubbornly clinging to a rock. When I yank his blanket off, he snarls, “Get out of my room.” His flying shoe thuds against the door as I shut it just in time.
The only light in the hallway is the haze of a single starfish above the door. Despite the bitter rumors in town about our family, we don’t get any electricity either.
I press back against the stone wall, the chill grounding me.
Minutes later, Emrik appears, dressed exactly like me. Black pants, fitted white shirt with collars to our chins. Boots molded to our feet after so long. Beneath, we’re both wearing skaya-threaded watersuits. The Hunter siblings.
His fist tightens on the doorknob.
Being nervous before a hunt is good.
It means we’re alert, not stupid.
“Koral,” he says, voice hoarse, all swears forgotten. “Is anyone else up?” His hair is far past his shoulders, almost as long as mine. Before I say anything, he has his answer: Liria’s asthmatic coughs echo in the silence.
The thought of our little sister choking on air isn’t helpful as we climb the claustrophobic corkscrew staircase, leaving the safety of our house for above ground. But it’s a good reminder of why the hunt needs to go perfectly, why we cannot afford to let a maristag escape tonight.