»Thou shalt kill.«
In an overpopulated world where it is the duty of every citizen to kill one other person, an unworldly young woman defies her lawabiding family and joins the resistance – only to realise she is a pawn in a catastrophic cat-and-mouse game between the state and a notorious anarchist group.
It’s 2093. The global population is over 12 billion. Planet Earth has ceased being the pleasant haven it once was. Spring doesn’t visit every year, but heat waves, ice storms, and big freezes do. Not a ton of diamonds can buy you a tank of drinking water. We are one too many for what’s left of the fertile soil. Survival of mankind is the evergreen topic on television talk shows. It’s official: the human population has exceeded the carrying capacity of Earth, and if we are to survive as a species, we have to empty half of the Earth of its humans.
In Springdom, West Antarctica, there’s still a place for the good life: inside the climate controlled domed »City of Dreams«, people have fresh water, food, shelter, and a chance to procreate. In order to be granted access to this city, however, the state has made it the primary civic duty of every citizen to kill one other person. When you turn 21, the state decorates you with a gun and exactly one bullet. You are then sent out to Fallmount, the so-called »City of Death«, where you are expected to perform your duty. Only then are you allowed into the domed »City of Dreams«. Rules of the animal kingdom are at play. Natural selection, if you will. May the fittest survive to welcome spring again!
Olive Court, the unworldly daughter of the »Defender of the Charter« of the state, Sir Raymond Court, just turned 21. As heir to her father, her privileged life inside the Springdom bubble has prepared her thoroughly to fulfil her duty – with rigorous shooting lessons, physical training and whatnot. In theory, she is ready for duty.
Here’s the plan: At 18:00 hrs, Olive will get out of the gates of Springdom and ride into Fallmount. She will go to 28 Shadow Lane, shoot Quill, and report back to her father at the Gateway at 19:30 hrs.
What Raymond doesn’t know is that Olive has been lying awake all night, dreading what’s to come. Up until this day, everything had always been decided for her – her diet, her vocation, her future spouse, and even whom she will have to kill. Jon is her peace-loving state-arranged fiancé, whom she dearly loves. It has been more than a year since she last saw him, though. He had ridden into Fallmount after he received his gun, and nobody had heard from him again. For Olive, the prospect of seeing Jon is the only silver lining in this hellish situation.
They say, when things go wrong in Fallmount, they go horribly wrong. For Olive, two things go horribly wrong. One: She learns that Jon has been arrested. Apparently, he is the state’s most wanted outlaw – the ever-elusive »Chief Moe«, who had been stealing and hoarding guns. Two: The minute she steps into Fallmount, her own gun gets stolen.
Life as Olive knows it is about to end.