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Project W.A.R. #2

Type X (Special Edition)

Type X (Special Edition)

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Paperback

SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:

  • Holographic Foil

PLEASE NOTE: As this paperback is shipped directly from the printer, it is unsigned. If you would like it to be signed by the author, bookplates are available for purchase.

Feared by many. Frightened of few. Torn between humanity and the monster she's become.

Type X is book two in the Project W.A.R. trilogy.

Turned into a weapon for the State by Dr. Richter, Wynter must choose between playing the role of a monster or fighting to regain the humanity she's lost.

Minority Report collides with Akira and 1984 in this thrilling apocalyptic dystopian trilogy about a young woman living in a totalitarian society who has a rare illness that gives her the power to see the future.

WHAT READERS HAVE SAID

"This series is a must-read for dystopian readers." ★★★★★

"Twists at every chapter will have you thinking and rethinking about the way things will play out and even then you will never see it coming!" ★★★★★

"Miss Phipps really has shown the world what a 'Dystopian' is meant to be." ★★★★★

MAIN TROPES

  • Morally Gray Characters
  • Badass Heroine
  • Destructive Superpowers
  • Megalomaniac Leader
  • Government Conspiracies
  • Forgotten Past

SYNOPSIS

Feared by many. Frightened of few. Torn between humanity and the monster she's become.

When Wynter surrendered to the DSD over two years ago, she thought she was protecting her friends. Lured by the promise of a cure, she hoped she might finally be rid of her devastating disease or, at least, be on the path to controlling it. But Dr. Richter was never interested in curing her.

With a collar around her neck keeping her unstable powers in check, Wynter is transformed into an unstoppable weapon. Compelled to do the State's bidding, she kills without feeling, remembering nothing of the people she gave herself up to protect. Her only thought is to obey.

When a mission goes wrong, triggering suppressed memories, Wynter finds herself determined to piece together her past. But as she uncovers the truth, she realizes it's no longer clear who the real enemy is, and with the threat of war looming, she must again make a choice. Can she escape her role in the impending destruction?

Or is she doomed to remain a monster forever?

In the second instalment of this gripping dystopian saga, loyalty is tested, alliances crumble, and the relentless battle for freedom reaches a fever pitch. Follow Wynter as she is forced to confront her deepest fears and find yourself immersed in a high-stakes battle for survival where the line between friend and foe becomes razor-thin.

TYPE X is the second book in the Project W.A.R. trilogy.

LOOK INSIDE: CHAPTER ONE

A heavy wind slams into the side of the helicopter, jerking the metal carcass with rough, repetitive jolts, which threaten to send the gargantuan carrier aircraft spiraling to the ground. The two dozen Enforcers around me don’t seem to take much notice of the turbulence, their expressions drawn, eyes fixed straight ahead, like robots that have been programmed to concentrate only on the specified task laid out before us.

Propping my head back against the vibrating wall, I focus on the roaring drone of the rotors, listening intently to the constant whir. Steadied by the deafening hum, I drag in a deep breath and let my eyes drift closed, my heart rate evening out as I distance my thoughts from what awaits when we land. More than anything, I wish my consciousness could remain in this state of calm in-between forever. Here, reality is but a dim afterthought. 

Unfortunately, such blissful escape isn’t an option.

I push out an exasperated breath through my nose and peek open my eyes, scowling at the tingle creeping over my face. Even without looking, I can tell someone’s watching me. The burning touch of wandering eyes is a far too familiar sensation by this point—that unavoidable curiosity that seems to go hand in hand with what I am now that my existence is public knowledge. 

Hell, after this long, I’ve grown to expect it.

Looking up, I narrow my eyes into slits, glaring at the Enforcer strapped in the seat directly across from me. He doesn’t glance away, which intrigues me considering how skittish others tend to become in my presence. Especially the newer recruits who have only heard stories of my unfathomable power. 

Based on this particular soldier’s appearance, I’d be willing to venture a guess and wager he’s barely older than me. Perhaps we’re even the same age, although twenty is unusually young for an Enforcer. Then again, the State is at war. The rules for registration have likely been eased to help expand our ranks for the battles ahead. 

If only these soldiers knew how little their presence in this war even matters.

Typically, registration age begins at twenty-five, so the person in question has to work within their designated career for a minimum of six years—since we don’t always immediately move into our career roles following our placement exams at eighteen—before they can make the conscious choice to become an Enforcer, a decision not to be made lightly given everything the individual would be sacrificing. For one, service to the State is for life, which means no reneging and going back to your previous career, not to mention that Enforcers all reside in the barracks in Zone 5, which means surrendering any previously assigned living quarters. Secondly, Enforcers aren’t allowed to enter partnerships or have families of their own and all existing familial ties must be severed. This rule is in place to prevent deviant forces from ransoming loved ones to gain access to intel or admission to prohibited locations that an Enforcer would be able to access. Not that such an eventuality is even really a threat to the State. Enforcers are nicknamed Loyalists for a reason, and they live and breathe devotion to the governing body. The good of the State must always come first. 

To them, nothing and no one else matters.

The young soldier’s dark eyes scan over my throat before meeting my gaze again, his pupils blown wide with the same fear written all over his face. The metal ring around my neck chafes against the skin of my collarbone when I shift in my seat. As the Enforcer quickly looks down at the floor, I grasp what it is he’s truly afraid of.

The irony of the situation would be amusing if it wasn’t so damn maddening. The battle we’re about to fly into poses far more danger to the Enforcers aboard this aircraft than I do, and yet, I’m the one he’s second-guessing. Or maybe, he’s simply doubting the effectiveness of my collar.

I breathe in, holding back a mocking laugh.

Don’t worry, I’m tempted to say to him. You aren’t the one who needs to fear me.

Another bout of turbulence jerks the transport helicopter from side to side, knocking me around in my seat. The straps restraining me hiss as their limits are tested and they tighten against my torso, the tough material digging into my shoulders, rubbing through my bodysuit onto my skin. With the sudden dip in altitude, my stomach flips, making me nauseous, but I’m used to the discomfort.

I’m used to all this.

A crackling pop assaults my ears as the speaker system overhead purrs to life. A few seconds pass before a husky voice speaks, reverberating in a tinny echo through the fuselage.

“We will arrive at our target destination in T-minus two minutes. Make your final preparations and ready yourselves for landing.”

I observe the soldiers around me in my peripheral vision, noting their movements with waning interest. A few of them load ammunition into their guns while others reposition their gear—pointless checks that do nothing more than prepare them for a battle they’ll never actually see. After all, the Enforcers are only a last resort.

The State has other means to get the job done.

Despite the chaos of motion around me, I remain still, my gaze fixed dully ahead, passing the seconds until landing in silence. As we descend, faint explosions rumble in the distance, the sound muffled by the thick, metal walls. The occasional shock wave rocks the cargo hold, reminding us all what we’re about to walk into.

Once again, I peer at the youthful Enforcer strapped into the seat across from me. Beads of sweat dot his forehead and upper lip, his fingers fidgeting as he wrings his gloved hands in his lap. His visible agitation leads me to wonder if this mission will be his first time in the field.

If it is, then he should be glad it’s with me.

His lips twitch as our eyes meet once again, and with a choked gasp, he touches the side of his helmet. In response, the opaque bulletproof shield lowers over his face, hiding his frightened expression from view. My mouth presses into a thin, disgruntled line as I wonder how long it will take him to realize that the very person he’s afraid of will be the reason he stays alive today. 

The reason everyone here stays alive.

The aircraft trembles, shuddering against the angry wind, as we continue our descent. A thunderous thrumming echoes through the large hold as the rotors slow their rotations, creating a vortex where other sounds all cease to exist. The engines stutter to a stop within seconds of the helicopter touching down on the ground.

Around me, the Enforcers unfasten their safety belts as soon as the pilot gives us the all-clear. In one cohesive unit, they rise to their feet, falling into formation and creating a single-file line, like cogs in a well-oiled machine.

A tremor rolls through the cavernous fuselage as the hydraulics scream and the loading ramp drops with a muted thud to the ground. Sunlight beams through the opening in the back of the aircraft, and for a brief moment, it’s as if the low-lit interior has been set on fire.

Metal clashes against metal as the soldiers trudge forward, dragging their steel-soled boots across the tread plates lining the floor. I linger behind, watching them move in their herd, refusing to lift a muscle until I’m alone—just like every other mission I’ve been on. I’m not entirely sure why I do this. Maybe it’s my own form of silent protest. 

Or maybe it’s the only way I feel in control.

When I can’t delay any longer, I raise my fingers to the buckles on my harness. Although I know all too well what awaits me the moment I disembark from this aircraft, my hands are steady as they loosen the straps. I’ve done this so many times now the thought of what I’m about to do doesn’t even faze me.

With a resigned breath, I push to my feet, my eyes straying to the loading ramp for the first time since landing. Just beyond it, I can sense the procession eagerly anticipating my impending entrance. 

I grimace. It’s always the same. No matter where we go or the devastation that follows, the State always makes it a point to parade me around like a trophy.

Swallowing my scorn, I take one step and then another, my stride confident as I inch farther into the thick beam of sunlight, the warmth washing over my face. The metallic clang of my boots rebounds off the aluminum floor despite how lightly I tread, each step like an icepick chiseling away at my eardrums. My sanity suffers the same assault, my senses hyperaware of the alert eyes watching me from below.

As I progress down the ramp, I glance up at the cloudless sky in an attempt to shut out the sea of faces beneath me. It’s harder to ignore them than I thought it would be—a lesson I never learn, no matter how many times I’m forced to go through this. Before I can stop myself, I look down at the crowd.

Heads turn and bodies shift at my approach, making room for me to pass as I step off the ramp onto a congested beach. As I make my way through the silent crowd, I sense what the Enforcers around me are thinking. Their every thought radiates like a radio frequency and is visible in their shared wide-eyed expressions.

Astonishment. Fear. I sense them both, although it’s difficult to tell which emotion is stronger.

I advance through the parting army, avoiding the hundreds of unblinking stares, instead turning my attention to the gray silhouette in the distance, welcoming the distraction of the growing skyline. As the space between us shrinks, I take note of the militarized units converging at the outskirts of the city. To my annoyance, the nearest patrol stops what it’s doing the instant the soldiers there take notice of me.

I press on. The sand merges with an expanse of small rocks, which covers the length of the beach up to the wide road on my right leading straight into the city. The gravel shifts beneath my feet, the crunch of each displaced rock soothing me the same way the rotors did earlier in the aircraft. Just like then, I know this moment of tranquility won’t last for long.

A quiet beeping echoes in my ear, abruptly halting my forward march and sending a shiver through my body despite the blazing heat from the sun. I hesitate for a few seconds before pressing the tip of my finger against the receive button on my communicator.

My mouth opens to speak, but words fail to form. Pressing my lips together, I wait for the familiar voice I know is on the other side of this call.

“Can you hear me?” Dr. Richter asks.

His words ring in my skull, triggering my gag reflex and igniting the flame of loathing that always consumes me at the slightest reminder of his existence. I draw in a deep, calming breath before answering. “I can hear you.”

“Good,” he says after a brief delay. “The target is two miles to the north of your location. A convoy is ready to accompany you—”

“That won’t be necessary,” I interrupt. “I’m already on my way.”

At first, Dr. Richter doesn’t respond, his only answer a faint chuckle that raises the hairs on my arms. When his voice comes back over the signal, I can hear the smile in his tone. His words are a mocking murmur in my ear.

“It finally seems like we’re on the same page. Good luck.” 

Clenching my teeth, I jab at the button on my earpiece to disconnect the call, growling an expletive or two that I would say to his face in a heartbeat if I didn’t know what sort of punishment would follow. If there’s one thing Dr. Richter doesn’t tolerate, even more so than disobedience, it’s disrespect.

When I resume my trek, an eerie stillness engulfs the beach as every eye within a hundred yards homes in on my every movement with interest. The Enforcers in my immediate vicinity all stand at attention, but their posture is almost too rigid, as if they’re all worried I’ll lash out if any of them dare to move. I shake my head. I couldn’t care less about them. 

My only focus is getting this over with.

Every crowd I approach separates, allowing me to proceed unhindered toward the perimeter of the city. The blasts grow louder with every step, the tremors serving as a warning that anyone within range of the explosions will die. No one tries to stop me from walking into that danger.

After all, this is what I’m here for.

Tiring of walking on sand and rocks, I redirect my path toward the road, finally moving onto the wide stretch of pavement. The tarmac is worn in places and dented with potholes in others, but the damage doesn’t take away from the overwhelming beauty of the city. What little I’m able to appreciate reaches down and touches my corrupted soul.

A sudden déjà vu washes over me as I follow the road into the confines of the city, my eyes trailing over the old stone and brick buildings with their arched windows and crumbling stucco, the architecture such a drastic departure from the cold glass and metal so predominant in the Heart. All at once, I’m no longer sure if what I’m seeing is real or just a tormenting reminder of every other city I’ve been to in recent months. The details blend together in my broken memory.

After the State launched the first dozen or so invasions, the places I saw became muddled in my brain until I could no longer differentiate between them. Or, maybe, I just didn’t care to. Maybe they all look the same to me—much like this city looks to me now—because I’m detached from everything, including my humanity. Maybe, by allowing the recollection of all these different places to bleed into one, I can somehow escape the guilt of what I’ve done.

I can’t even recall why I agreed to all this or why I’m still doing the State’s bidding now. It’s possible Dr. Richter altered my memory as a way of getting me to comply with his orders, but I don’t truly believe he would do that, not when he could instead punish me with the memory of whatever it is I’m forgetting. No, I think something far more ominous is happening inside me. My brain…

I don’t think it wants me to remember.

For over two years now, I’ve been the State’s puppet and Dr. Richter’s prized experiment. A large portion of that time has been devoted to rigorous testing and brutal experiments, all conducted in the name of science. The rest has been spent invading foreign countries with me at the helm of each occupation.

In less than a year, the State has managed to overtake almost everything.

Nothing feels real anymore. Nothing except pain. Even my memories seem distorted these days, and I can’t recall the last time I felt normal…if I ever did at all. I remember my mundane life before I became the property of the DSD, when I was merely a student preparing for my placement exam. I can even somewhat remember pieces of my initial time with Dr. Richter when I was first taken into custody, although the events that led to my apprehension are hazy, as is most of what went on after I became the DSD’s ward. I’ve never asked to be reminded of the details. 

Beyond that, there’s a bewildering gap in my memory I can’t make sense of. I know I got away from the DSD for a while and willingly returned on my own, but where I went and why the hell I went back…I don’t have a clue. It’s as if part of the eighteenth year of my life has been ripped from my brain and tucked out of sight behind a wall built by my repressed trauma. Whatever I’m forgetting hasn’t fully vanished; the lost memories, although shrouded in fog, niggle at the back of my brain, living with the small piece of me that still feels human underneath this abomination I’ve become. But…their presence is growing weaker. Each day, another piece of my humanity is eaten away, taking whoever I was before with it. Gradually, I’m becoming less of who I was and more of what the State has always wanted me to be.

A weapon.

The part of me that still has the strength to fight clings to whatever it is my mind refuses to remember, but it can never break down the blockade constructed around my stubborn memory. Some days, I wonder why I bother, why I don’t just give in to Richter and the State and fully abandon my humanity. That’s the path I’m heading down anyway, and without humanity, I wouldn’t need to feel this nagging, lingering guilt all the time. Whenever I consider this, though, a small voice in my head tells me not to give up, and that small encouragement is all I need to fight another day. 

I often wonder if my reason for suffering through this madness lies within those buried memories. I imagine I returned to the DSD to protect something…or someone. That’s the only logical explanation. But, if that’s the case, what could be so important that I’d allow myself to forget it? 

Who could be important enough to drive me to embrace never-ending torture to save them?

My feet slow to a halt as my senses sharpen, detecting the enemy like a bad smell in the air. I’m close. Only a little farther.

Then, this can all be over. For now.

The road curves to the right, steering me through a residential area of terraced houses and apartments. I cast a quick glance at the darkened windows on each side of the quiet street, but there’s no visible movement inside that I can see. The small part of me that’s still human is thankful for that.

After another few hundred yards, the buildings space out, separated by patches of dead grass and smaller outbuildings. Ahead, the road widens into a fork, like arms opening to welcome me home. My feet never falter as I push forward, my attention focused on my target.

Following the left branch of the forked path, I enter the immense plaza marking the center of the city. Erect barricades and soldiers form a straight line through the vast space, facing me in preparation for a fight, and a handful of tanks sit positioned along the outer confines of the square in a last-ditch attempt to save their home from our invasion.

My eyes scan the area with what little remorse I’m still capable of feeling. This meager battalion must be all that remains of this country’s defenses after our recent assaults—a pitiful contingent the State could’ve eradicated with a single bomb if my wranglers had felt inclined to act.

Of course, I know why they didn’t.

A surge of anger rushes through my body, and I can almost hear Dr. Richter’s laughter in my ears, taunting me with disdain and malice. This is what I’m here for. Besides, the State is seeking to oppress, not annihilate. Destroy just enough to make our enemies tremble in fear. 

Kill just enough to make them surrender.

Distant shouting draws my attention to a man screeching from the opposite end of the plaza, his face distorted by the slight haze of dust hanging in the air like morning fog. The enemy soldiers in formation around him all look in my direction, and my steps slow to a standstill as I stare back at the army, scanning their ranks before squinting my eyes at the officer in command who shouted before. Although I can’t see his face clearly, I can sense the exact moment our gazes intersect. Startling, he yells out to me again—his voice wobbling a little this time—but no matter how many times he repeats himself, I fail to understand what he’s saying. All meaning is lost behind his foreign tongue. 

After a few more wasted breaths, he finally gives up on his futile attempts to converse with me.

The officer rounds on the nearest soldier, his wrinkled skin burning bright red with frustration, the sight of which is visible even from where I stand at the other side of the plaza. The younger man goes ashen when the officer barks his orders, hesitating for a moment before raising his rifle. Thanks to my sharpened senses, I can see his hands shaking as he fires a warning shot. The bullet hits the ground only inches from my right foot.

Letting out a calm breath, I tilt my head and peer at the small graze in the cobblestone below me, assessing the damage. A wisp of smoke hovers just above the charred pockmark.

A soft huff parts my lips as I lift my gaze, zeroing in on the soldier. The moment our eyes connect, an overwhelming pressure cripples my brain. As it takes hold, the part of me that has the power to stop the impending carnage is pushed under the surface until all trace of resistance is gone. 

In this moment, Wynter Reeves doesn’t exist. The weapon is in control of what happens now.

An outcry of chaos erupts through the plaza, and shouting intermingles with the clicking of metal as the soldiers all aim their weapons at me. When I step forward, the officer belts out another order, this time to the entire battalion. His squawking voice is followed by a torrent of gunfire.

My march forward is effortless as my mind redirects the rain of bullets with practiced ease. The shell casings fall around me in sheets, pinging off the cobblestone like discarded coins. I am a rock, and their attempts are like water, but still, the soldiers keep firing. 

As the distance between us diminishes, the enemy’s terror becomes palpable—a taste I savor on my tongue because this task demands it of me. Even the projectiles launched by the tanks fail to hit their target. With a flick of my wrist, the barrels bend back on themselves, preventing any further attempts. 

Realizing they’re fighting a losing battle, many of the soldiers turn tail and run. The one who first shot at me stays behind, his hand furiously reloading as he fires again and again, each attempt more fruitless than the last. Impressed by his determination, I decide to make him my starting point.

They will see what I’m capable of.

They will know who they’re dealing with.

As I close in, tears stream down the soldier’s face, the moisture on his cheeks glistening in the harsh sunlight. With a gasping breath, he reloads his gun again in one final attempt to strike me down, but before he can fire, I wrap my fingers around the end of the barrel and yank, tugging the weapon free from his grasp. Crying out, he loses his balance and falls to the dirt with a grunt.

The soldier scrambles backward, unable to regain his footing, his complexion rapidly changing from a putrid yellow hue to gray. With a whimper, he cowers against the dry ground, and as his eyes lock on mine, I glimpse the horror shining in the depths of his gaze. 

All the while, I feel nothing.

Inhaling, I reach out and grab hold with my power. The soldier arches his back, his head rolling on his shoulders as his screams slice through the air like a knife. Convulsions shake his limbs, and he drags his nails across his face as if to stop the pressure building in his head, creating vertical lacerations that cover each cheek. Specks of blood bubble up and drip from the gashes, coating his skin in a glossy red sheen.

I watch his crazed response with boredom, my mind collected and body still despite the havoc I’m wreaking on his. The half-formed pleas spilling from his cracking lips do nothing to deter my purpose. With a tilt of my head, his spine snaps like a whip.

His cries cease, and the surrounding gunfire follows suit until the plaza is silent and still. Trailing my gaze over the soldier’s broken body, I crouch to retrieve his pistol, noting the unit’s commanding officer out of the corner of my eye. His mouth opens several times as he trips over the unspoken words refusing to exit his throat. In the ominous hush between us, the terror etched into his face screams just how much he fears me.

I rise and stalk toward him, my every step matched by one of his own as he scurries away. Panic keeps him moving, but it also makes him clumsy. Within seconds, he stumbles over his feet and crashes to the ground with a yelp.

I watch as he writhes like prey caught in a trap it has no hope of escaping, small, weak cries escaping him as he drags himself backward. After a few moments of this pointless struggle, he stops, surrendering himself to his fate. His hands tighten into fists as a stuttering breath parts his lips.

Lifting my chin, I raise the pistol and press the muzzle against his forehead. As my fingers dance along the trigger, I take count of the remaining forces still present, concentrating my senses on every gun directed at me. Closing my eyes, I bend them to my will, manipulating their power. 

As I turn the weapons back on their owners, the resulting screams are drowned out by gunfire. Round after round is fired until the last bullet is exhausted and blood splatters the dirt and stone.

My tongue caresses my lower lip as my eyes bolt open, locking on the cowering officer on the ground before me. As my finger finds the trigger, he spouts one final word.

I don’t move for a long moment. My eyes simply follow the steady stream of red as it puddles beneath my boots, my mind reeling from what the officer said before I put him out of his misery. What he whispered to me.

What he called me.

I hear it again now—the one word he managed to utter in a language I would understand. It rings in my ears, haunting me in the growing silence of the city.

“Monster.”

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