Eli knows corruption runs deep within the compound. It's a reality he's forced to confront every year on Bid Day. But when your job is to go out into the radiation-soaked Fringe so that others can live in peace, you don't ask too many questions. For Harper, the bid system works just fine. She's the best developer in her year, and she's confident she'll find a place among the wealthy, respected Systems workers. But when an upset in the bidding changes the course of Harper's future, she'll be forced to rely on an unlikely ally.
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When Harper discovered the truth about Bid Day, she inadvertently painted a target on her back. Now Constance, the infamous espionage unit, wants her and her friends kept quiet at all costs. She and Eli are being sent out into the Fringe, where they'll face damaging radiation and violent gangs of survivors and be forced to fulfill Recon's sinister duty. After her first deployment goes bad, Harper is racked with guilt and paralyzed by fear. Out there it's kill or be killed, but the real danger is inside the compound.
When Harper and Celdon escaped to compound 119, they thought they had a chance to start a new life away from Constance. What they found instead was a desolate wasteland ravaged by death. Now they have no choice but to return to their home compound, where things have never been worse. The drifters are plotting a large-scale attack out on the Fringe, and Jayden is speeding up deployments to secure the perimeter. She's ordered Eli to kill the drifters' leaders - including his estranged older brother.
When two missing Recon operatives returned to the compound, speculations ran wild about where they had been. Harper is certain they're infected with a deadly virus, but she's locked away in the cages, facing 10 to 20 years behind bars. Blaze thinks Harper has a shot at being released, but nobody can save Eli from Constance. Jayden is torturing him for information on his brother's whereabouts, and as Constance's newest lackey, Celdon is caught in the middle.
Eli and Harper have fled the compound - running from people who once fought by their side. Owen has been captured, Sawyer is infected, and Celdon is facing a crisis of conscience. When Eli gets wind of an attack that puts Owen's life in jeopardy, everything changes. Eli is determined to rescue his brother, but Harper will have to make a choice: follow Eli along on a suicide mission or push forward without him to find a cure.