Terri Doty

Some of you might recall a story Apphia Yu and I created pretty much out of nowhere two years ago…

For those of you that don’t know or need a refresher, Apphia posted a link to this article on October 26th, 2016.

She tweeted:

A company called Elysium has released an anti-aging pill that hasn’t been fully tested. We’re in a dystopian novel.

My reply:

Already approved in Sector 57.8. Many deaths but only adults. Kids seem to be immune—HOLY MOLY, I think that’s an actual YA.

… that’s how BA5IS began. 

The story played off of YA tropes/themes that many of us are familiar with. We’d further the plot based off what the other wrote.

Feel free to check out the thread via Twitter.

For those of you that don’t wanna scroll through DOZENS of tweets (I did my best to link to the respective post), I tried to make it relatively easy to read.

Here ya go:

The worker hands me my pill. Strange that something so small could have such a large impact, but Basis changed everything.
  "No," I tell myself. "I control my destiny."
  I looked up and saw people start to collapse. People like my sister, Tertiary. 
  I try to run to her, but Zen holds me back. He's stronger than I expected. "She's an Undone," he whispers.
  "You can't help her. Watch," he tells me. "Watch and remember this, Vespa."
  The workers do nothing to help the ruined. And so we're all undone.
  Zen and I ride the Mag Train back in silence. I feel like I should be crying, but there are no tears.
  Only anger.
  Anger that's only further fueled by Aunt Marguerite's blank expression at the news of Tertiary's death.
  "I have no family."
  Suddenly all the years of her refusal to discuss my parents' disappearance makes sense. I need to find what she's been hiding.
  The fermented drink my aunt poorly hides works in my favor tonight. She'll be out for hours. More than enough time to pilfer.
  She falls asleep, and I head to her safe. It's been years since Dad secretly taught me lock-picking, but I still remember.
  If Marguerite hates one thing, its technology. The safe behind the bookshelf is older than Prime Nihon herself.
  Lucky me.
  The first thing I find is a photo of Tertiary and me. Her porcelain skin is a stark contrast to my pasty white.
  I miss her.
  Curbing rising heartache, I then find the charm bracelet I thought I'd lost ages ago. The one Mom left me.
  Why's this here?
  I slip it onto my wrist. I'll get in trouble if I'm caught wearing it, but I'm sure my long sleeves will cover it up.
  You're stalling, Vespa.
  I don't even know what I'm looking for. Is a file labeled "Incriminating Evidence" too much to ask?
  Wait, Dad's research journal! Marguerite told me it had been destroyed. I open it, but it's confusing. I'll ask Zen for help.
  Not like I have a lot of options.
  I coul—NO.
  Zen would never let me the hear the end of it if I reached out to Dorian Thorn.
  I hear the front door burst open.
  "Slint," I curse under my breath.
  The Blue Suits are doing random house searches again.
  This batch of lamoids didn't bother trying to knock. Maybe this has to do with Tertiary. I'm not sticking around to find out.
  I stuff Dad's journal into my shirt and throw the window open. It's a long jump to my Hover Cycle. I don't think I can make it.
  "Vespa," a voice whispers. "Jump!"
  "Are you blitzed?" I snap back. 
  "Don't worry, I'll catch you." 
  I'm less than relieved.
  Still, I have little choice. I leap. The wind rushes through my hair and I suddenly find myself in Dorian's arms.
  "Admit it," Dorian started, "You missed me."
  "Hard to miss someone you despise."
  "Says the girl snuggled up against me." 
  It's been years since Dorian was demoted for refusing Basis. He's somehow managed to stay youthful without the drug.
  We should all be so lucky. Before I can dwell on how different today would be if Tertiary had refused, Dorian takes my hand.
  "I heard about your sister," he whispers, as if reading my mind. "I'm sorry." His grip on my hand tightens. "But we have to go."
  "Vespa Price!" someone shouts. The voice is colored in eight shades of pissed the hell off.
  Whoa, that came for my bedroom.
  Dorian leaps onto my Hover Cycle. "Get on!"
  "But I'm a better pilot."
  "Fine, you fly!" He rolls his eyes. "Let's just GO!" 
  And we're off.
  With my eyes forward, I know they're watching. As I push on, I can't help myself. "Why do I know that voice?"
  Dorian wraps his arms around my waist. He smells like fire. "Turn right."
  "But that'll take us to the Dark Zone."
  Dorian's all-knowing smirk tormented me even hours later.
  I don't remember much after that. It was as if I'd fallen asleep.
  "Are you sure?"
  I wake to the sound of hushed voices nearby.
  "Professor Tesla said she's the key."
  "She doesn't look like much."
  "Yeah, she doesn't loo—"
  "Don't agree just because she's your sister."
  "I agree because she's my twin."
  "Totally different."
  The door opens and I'm greeted with my mirror image. If my mirror image were a fit teen with a gorgeous tan and a badass scar. 
  "Don't bother," my badass doppelgänger says as redheaded identical twins sidled up behind her, "She's awake."
  "Glad we rescued you from the Cradle at printing, Noelle," one of the redheads smirks. "You could've turned out like this one."
  "I don't know," the other twins chimes in. "I could definitely seeing her rocking totalitarian gray."
  The other twin laughs.
  "That's impossible." Noelle points at my charm bracelet. "Her ID wristband. They used different Codes when they built her.”
  "My mother gave this to me," I say to myself more than anyone else.
  Noelle sighs. "We know. She is—was a biotech genius."
  "In fact," Red 1 chirps. "She's the one who invented Basis 500 years ago."
  "What? No..."
  Red 2 sighs. "She never told you?" 
  Red 1 nudges his twin. "Does that look like a knowing face?"
  "She's gonna retch."
  Noelle groans. "Enough, reciprocit twits." 
  "The professor said we had to alert her as soon as Vespa woke up." Noelle side-eyes the twins.
  "Oh slint!"
  The twins race out. 
  I sit up.
  Who's bedroom is this? 
  "BORian? He's around. But Dorian Thorn isn't who you should be worried about." 
  "Zen! What are you-"
  "Keeping my promise to your parents and protecting you," he glowers. "And risking my life. You're welcome."
  This isn't the Zen I've come to know and care for. The guy standing before me hasn't known much in the way of happiness.
  "You can leave now if you want." Noelle says.
  "Like hell," Zen snaps. "I don't trust you any more than the Union. I'm staying." 
  "Careful, Noelle." Dorian enters. "Zen here is using his tough guy voice. He's been practicing it in the mirror for years."
  "I can handle myself," Noelle scoffs. "Is the Professor ready?"
  "That's why I'm here."
  Noelle turns to me. "Then let's go." 
  How to describe Professor Elaine Marbelle Tesla... Scattered, loopy, VERY fond of the sound of her own voice, and a Scorpio. 
  "You look JUST like your mom!" she gushes. "Well, you all do, in a way..." she frowns. "Maybe 'Mom' is the wrong word. Prime?"
  If she sees my confusion, it doesn't stop her. 
  "Which would be ironic since prime means—"
  "Right. Focus, Elaine. As you know, Basis was invented 500 years ago to cure aging. But the Union has been hiding one of it's darkest side effects." 
  "Death is a hell of a side effect," I hear myself say.
  Professor Tesla pushes up her glasses. "The dead are the lucky ones." 
  "Basis halts the aging process, but it also halts certain brain development. Specifically, the part governing free will."
  "Yeah," Red 1 says, "Oh."
  Red 1-Andreas crosses his arm. "Spoilsport."
  "Why doesn't everyone know this?" I ask.
  "The Union decided that the side-effects were... beneficial to their cause." Tesla leans back. "Your parents had other ideas."
  Noelle scoffs. "Her parents."
  "Something to add, Miss Spector? No? Then, as I was—"
  "We shouldn't reveal too much just yet."
  Before Noelle can explain, the room is rocked by an explosion.
  Red 2 pulls out her plasma gun. "Blue Suits! How'd they find us?"
  "Couple theories spring to mind," Zen says while eyeing Dorian.
  "Uh," Professor Tesla mutters, "Anyone else hear a beeping?" 
  The beeping swells and the room glows green.
  Zen grabs my hand. "Don't let go." For a moment, he almost seems kind again.
  "What have you done?" Dorian asks Noelle. He steps in front of Zen and I.
  Noelle smiles. "Its too late to save her, Dorian."
  I feel heat bubbling inside of me. My hair begins to glow red.
  Noelle looks horrified. "But how? You shouldn't be able to-"
  "You aren't the only one that came prepared." Dorian motions to my charm bracelet.
  Zen pulls me to him. "Whatever happens- I will always find you." Zen tears a charm off my bracelet.
  "No!" Noelle screams as the world around me fades to black. 
  "Take care of her," Zen tells Dorian.
  "Zen, what are you-?"
  "Find your father," Zen interrupts. "He'll know what to do." 
  I wake up slowly in a room I don't recognize. Dorian is lying beside me, unmoving.
  I sit up and take in the scenery.
  Where are we?
  A zeppelin flies overhead.
  WHEN are we?

                                 TO BE CONTINUED… 

The back and forth between us spanned over TWO DAYS.

I’d be hiding in the corner at parties and blowing off work, thinking of what to write next or refreshing my notifications to see where Apphia would go with what I’d posted.

Keep in mind that this was before the character limit went from 140 per tweet to 280. And none of this was planned. The only time we interacted with one another outside Twitter during this time was to see how long we wanted to keep this going.

I feel like this whole thing really solidified my friendship with one badass female creative. Seriously, this was so much fun and I don’t know if I’d dare attempt to do this again. And if I did, it’d have to be with Apphia.

Apphia even made cover art for BA5IS (which she also modeled for). We discovered later just how on point her instincts were when comparing it to an actual publication.

Isn’t it crazy how eerily similar the two are?!

Less than an hour after Tepphia Yuty’s thrilling tale concluded, my husband Stephen and I were setting up a Pro Tools session for BA5IS like we would for any audiobook we produce.

I narrated while scrolling through the thread. I didn’t streamline anything or edit. It’s performed as it was originally written.

Christopher Sabat, who’d kept up with our story, offered to do a forward. I gave him no specs to adhere to or parameters… always dangerous with Sabat. What he wrote and recorded was something deserving of BA5IS.

This was all done fairly soon after Apphia and I ended the thread. Being that we’re both creatives, it all just kind of got lost in project shuffling.

I wish I had a better excuse for why it took so long to compile this whole story and to get this out into the world. Labors of love and passion projects often have to take a backseat to more pressing matters.

All that being said, the audiobook is here!

So, without further ado… BA5IS is narrated by yours truly with a forward by Botch Teatparish (Sabat):

Botch Teatparish was sucked into a gregorian rhodium vortex late last year and hasn’t been seen since.

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