The Second Rebel Synopsis
Since so many people enjoyed The First Sister synopsis, I’ve decided to do the same thing with The Second Rebel since The Last Hero releases November 8th. Keep reading for a summary of what happened in The Second Rebel to jog your memory before you read the finale of the trilogy! Of course, there are SPOILERS coming!
HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!
THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE!
DO YOU REALLY WANT SPOILERS?
OKAY, HERE THEY ARE!
The Geans: the alliance of Mars and Earth
The Sisterhood: The practitioners of Gean religion. A group of silent priestesses, the majority of which act as comfort women to soldiers.
The Agora: The ruling body of the Sisterhood, made up of the Mother and the seven Aunts that lead each of the Sisterhood’s Orders. With the Mother dead and no replacement yet chosen, the Agora enjoys a certain power over the Sisterhood at the beginning of our story.
Astrid: The former First Sister aboard the Juno, now the First Sister of Ceres, which flourishes under her food and employment reforms. After freeing Icarii prisoners of war and sending them back to their people with a message of peace, she became known as ‘the Unchained’ when her actions led to the current ceasefire between Geans and Icarii. However, because she acted without the Agora’s permission, she is called to Mars to stand trial, during which it comes to light that she desires to become the next Mother of the Sisterhood. After uncovering a plot between Aunt Genette and Aunt Sapphira to not just embezzle Sisterhood funds but traffic impoverished girls into brothels, Astrid gathers evidence to blackmail them into choosing her as the Mother, despite the disagreement of her allies. Believing she has the majority of votes, she goes before the Agora only to discover she’s been outmaneuvered by Aunt Marshae. During a sham trial, she is declared unfit for her role and not just denied the role of the Mother but also stripped of her title as First Sister of Ceres. Deciding she has nothing left to lose, she calls on Ringer, her alter ego, to help her kill Aunt Marshae. Together, they sneak onto the Juno, only to find that Aunt Marshae has swapped rooms with Lily, who likely gave Aunt Marshae testimony against her. Unable to assassinate Aunt Marshae, Astrid flees, only to be spotted by the new First Sister of the Juno. After giving her the former Mother’s neural implant and explaining the corruption of the Sisterhood, the new First Sister helps Astrid reach the Ironskin deck, where she launches herself into space and falls to Earth. Now she lies broken on a dying planet, watching the sky fill with a mysterious ship…
Eden: The former Second Sister of the Juno and Astrid’s Second on Ceres. Once enemies, now they are friends who work together to see the Sisterhood changed, alongside allies Aunt Margaret of the Agora and Lily, who Astrid initially fears is a spy for Aunt Marshae. She vocally disagrees with Astrid about using the information they discover as blackmail, leading to several arguments between them. After Eden visits Aunt Tamar of the Agora, Astrid fears Eden has betrayed her, only to discover Eden, dead, hanging by the neck in her quarters. Nearby is a note written in a hand that isn’t Eden’s, blaming Astrid as the reason for her ‘suicide.’
Lily: A frail and sickly girl but also a trusted friend of Aunt Margaret of the Agora, Lily desires to become the First Sister of Ceres once Astrid is named the Mother. Formerly the Mother’s Second, she arranged the Fall of Ceres as a go-between with the Asters, only for the Mother to break her promises to the Asters, alienating Lily in the process. She still uses Asters to gather information, which helps her discover much of the blackmail that Astrid uses against the Aunts of the Agora. Once Astrid is stripped of her title, Lily abandons her to her fate and, at Aunt Margaret’s urging, accepts the role of First Sister of Ceres. While Aunt Marshae threatens her, Lily decides it is better to work with her to become the next Mother in order to help Asters not just on Ceres but across Gean space, for secretly, Lily is Castor’s twin sister, geneassisted into the shape of a Gean.
Aunt Marshae: Formerly Astrid’s Aunt on Juno, now head of the Order of Cassiopeia and a member of the Agora. Because her rise in power also brought about Astrid’s rise despite Astrid refusing to inform on Captain Saito Ren, she’s determined to see Astrid humiliated and block her attempts at becoming the Mother.
Ringer/Hringar Grimson: Astrid’s alter ego, a voice in her head she can’t ignore. While he had disappeared during her days on Ceres, he returns during her journey to Mars on the Juno. But is he just a delusion caused by her faulty neural implant, or is there something more to the vision she had during her fall in the Ironskin, where Ringer took a young Astrid onto his knee and fed her a golden star?
Warlord Vaughn: The military leader of the Geans. He surrounds himself with young Admirals, despite refusing to name a successor and retire despite his advanced age.
The Icarii: the peoples of Mercury and Venus
Duelists: The elite members of the Icarii military, consisting of Rapiers and Daggers paired mentally through neural implants.
Lito sol Lucius: Hiro val Akira’s former Rapier and Ofiera fon Bain’s current one, he joined the Aster rebellion after learning the truth of what the Icarii had done to them. With Ofiera at his side, they broke into Val Akira Labs on Mercury and released Sorrel, Ofiera’s husband, from captivity, only to fail at gathering the information they needed from the labs and for Ofiera to be mortally wounded in the subsequent fight. Instead of returning to Hemlock on Ceres as planned, they aim for Pallas, where the Aster Elders reign, to beg for help for Ofiera. During their journey, they’re chased by an Icarii craft, and Sorrel pilots them over the Synthetic border despite the promise of instant retribution. With no weapons on their ship, Lito begs for the Synthetic’s forgiveness and help, only to surprisingly receive it. The Synthetics destroy the attacking Icarii ship but allow Lito’s ship to pass with a warning never to return. As Sorrel suspected, the Synthetics are rational beings. On Pallas, Ofiera receives the life-saving treatment she needs, but the Icarii discover they’re on the asteroid and demand the Aster Elders turn over the traitors or risk invasion. Lito volunteers to turn himself over so long as the Asters offer Ofiera and Sorrel protection, but Hemlock arrives with information from Val Akira Labs that could change everything: proof that they’ve been conducting unlawful experiments on Asters. While Lito becomes furious that his sister was the one who gathered that information, when he realizes that Luce is on her way to Pallas, he hatches a plan with Hemlock to protect both his sister and the Asters and to spread that information across the Icarii system. He leaves Pallas just before Luce arrives and heads for an old satellite station the Icarii used when they controlled Ceres, only to be ambushed. While he successfully sends the proof of the horrific Aster experiments to the Icarii network for anyone to view, he is captured by High Commander Beron val Bellator and taken captive. After so many days of torture, Baron shows Lito the horrific video of the Asters testing a virus on his sister, but when Beron learns that truthfully Lito knows nothing about what’s happening outside his cell, Beron informs him that the proof of the Aster experiments reached the Icarii and that Cytherea has broken out in protest. Knowing he’ll never be allowed to testify, Lito accepts that Beron is going to kill him, and he is put to death. After their funeral, Luce commits his body to the black of space, as is duelist custom, only for a Synthetic watcher to discover it and take interest…
Lucinia sol Lucius: Lito’s sister and an artist. During the day, she works at Val Akira Labs as a designer in a geneassist clinic under the daughter of Souji val Akira, while by night, she spray paints buildings with other artist friends for change. After painting Lito and being cornered by a peacekeeper, Luce is saved by a strange Aster who asks her to use her position at the labs to get information for the rebellion her brother works for. Castor also supplies her with Hiro val Akira’s messages for Lito. Agreeing to help Castor, she steals the data from the Val Akira Lab’s server, escapes pursuit by a pair of duelists, and hides with the Asters until she can make it off-planet. Hopeful about being reunited with her brother, Luce also realizes her feelings for Castor have grown, and the two kiss. However, when they arrive at Pallas, they find that Lito has already left with the information Luce stole and that the asteroid is being blockaded by the Icarii. Starstruck by the Aster known as the Harbinger, Castor works with Sorrel using some of the data Luce took for them, only for Luce to discover that they want to use that data to create the Genekey virus, which would attack any geneassisted Icarii’s genetic structure and change them in undefinable ways. The Aster Elders agree this would be a way to keep the Icarii from invading and also strengthen their position to argue for the return of the captured Lito. Sorrel wants to test the Genekey virus on a layer of Cytherea on Venus, but Luce refuses and demands they use it on her. While being recorded, she takes the Genekey virus, which almost kills her as it attacks all the parts of her genome that had been modified by Val Akira Labs. When she wakes, she discovers she has no hair and can no longer see color. They send the video of the test to the Icarii, and Souji val Akira himself responds: they will leave the Asters to their asteroid and abandon pursuit of Sorrel and Ofiera, but Lito will not be returned. The Aster Elders, Sorrel, and even Castor accept, regardless of Luce’s feelings. After Hiro val Akira comes to Pallas bearing Lito’s body, she swears to Castor that she will never speak to him again and offers Hemlock her assistance in the rebellion.
Hiro val Akira: Lito’s former Dagger and child of Souji val Akira. After the Fall of Ceres, they were geneassisted into Saito Ren to act as a spy among the Geans and assassinate the Mother, and while they’ve changed some of their appearance during their time on the outlaw station Autarkeia, they still bear the scars of the geneassisting work that made them Ren because, according to Autarkeia’s greatest geneassist Sigma, there’s no way for them to undo what’s been done without Hiro’s original genetic code. After chasing down another dead end for their current mission, they are summoned by Dire of the Belt, one of the leaders of Autarkeia, who shows them something new: the target Hiro has been after, who they believe is an avatar of the Synthetic Singularity, has painted a message for them in an alleyway. Three leaders of Autarkeia–Dire, Sigma, and an Aster called Dandy–have Hiro stake out the ‘artwork’ of a rat, only to spy a pair of Icarii duelists they used to know also investigating. While Hiro trails them, something odd happens, and they’re knocked out. When they wake up, they’re face to face with the Synthetic herself, who names herself Mara and offers to help Hiro recalibrate their prosthetics so they won’t hurt. Hiro accepts, but this leads to Mara seeing some of their memories, including hurtful ones from Hiro’s childhood. Mara and Hiro bond over a mutual understanding of dysphoria, and Mara asks for Hiro’s help with something strange the Icarii are doing on the station. Later, Mara shows Hiro what she means by ‘strange:’ they see a man who acts like he’s been brainwashed giving information to a pair of duelists. Despite Mara’s warning, Hiro goes to confront the brainwashed man, only for Hiro to be ambushed by several duelists, including their eldest brother, Shinya val Akira. Shinya tries to convince Hiro not to get involved with the outlaws, but Hiro ignores them and storms off. Hiro tells Dire that they fear the Autarkeian-brand neural implants have been compromised, but Dire refuses to believe that when only he, Sigma, and Dandy produce and insert them. Before Hiro can look into it any more, the Icarii disappear from the station and Pallas calls for aid. Dire and the outlaws arm themselves to come to the rescue of the Asters, and Hiro recruits Mara to come along as well, but when they approach the Icarii blockade, almost everyone on the ship freezes in place and the Icarii board their vessel. Sigma, who is not affected, admits that he turned over the information on the Autarkeian neural implants so that he could return home to Cytherea. Everyone except for Sigma is taken captive, though Hiro is led to a special room and meets with the Leander’s captain, who is none other than Shinya. Their brother has spoken with their father and offers Hiro their original genetic code in exchange for returning to the fold, but Hiro tears it apart and tells them to go fuck themselves. Unfortunately, Hiro lets it slip that Mara is the Synthetic avatar, and Shinya preps the surgical bay to tear her apart and study how Synthetics are made. Abandoned to their cell, Hiro talks with a data ghost of Mara, and they convince Mara that it’s time for the Synthetics to take a side. Mara tells Hiro to be ready to escape and disappears. Briefly, Hiro feels that they sense Lito’s implant, but that is soon forgotten when the Leander goes into emergency mode. The ship has been taken over by Mara and is heading for the Synthetic border where it will be destroyed. Hiro hurries to release the outlaws from the brig, only to feel Lito’s implant once more, except this time it’s cut off and Hiro intrinsically understands that Lito is dead. Abandoning Dire and the others, Hiro risks their life to retrieve Lito’s body and escape the Leander moments before it’s destroyed. After losing their brother, Mara, and Lito, Hiro is numb as they take the escape pod to Pallas, and can’t stomach sitting through Lito’s funeral. Both Sorrel and Ofiera try to recruit them to the Aster rebellion, and Hiro sees the writing on the wall: the Asters are soon to be split between Sorrel’s group and Hemlock’s group. Hiro refuses them, though, because they have their own ideas about what they need to do. Bidding farewell to Luce and Dire, they plan to return to Cytherea to assassinate their father.
Ofiera fon Bain: Lito’s Dagger and a special Icarii asset because, after rigorous Val Akira Labs’ experiments, her neural implant can influence anyone else’s. Kept in cryo between missions, she’s over 200 years old and, as such, suffers from neural degradation. After saving her husband Sorrel from captivity, she’s wounded and almost doesn’t survive. She’s nursed back to health on Pallas by the Asters and joins the Aster rebellion at her husband’s side.
Souji val Akira: Hiro’s father and the CEO of Val Akira Labs, willing to do anything to achieve his goals, which are as mysterious and multifaceted as he is.
Beron val Bellator: High Commander of the Icarii Special Forces. Has a soft spot for Lito but personally hates Hiro val Akira–but who in command doesn’t?
Noa sol Romero: Rapier and old frenemy of Hiro’s from Ceres, under the command of Shinya val Akira on Autarkeia. Like Lito, they come from the lower levels of Cytherea, only they don’t believe anyone on the upper levels will care about the poor, especially not the Asters. They are one of the duelists responsible for capturing Lito. Hiro killed their partner, Nadyn.
The Asters: the genetically modified humans
Hemlock: The Aster in the shadows who bears the scars of Val Akira Labs’ experimentation on his body. Alongside Dire, he formed the Alliance of Autarkeia, a group of free peoples and Asters in the belt.
Castor: An Aster rebel raised by Hemlock, he’s given what he considers a shitty mission to deliver Lito’s last message to Luce, until he convinces her to steal Val Akira Labs data for the rebellion. During his time with her, he falls for Luce despite all that stand between them, but when he’s forced to choose between her and the Harbinger of legend, he picks the rebellion and leaves Luce behind.
The Aster Elders: Made up of Mother Anemone, Father Cedar, and Nother Rue, these elders make the final decisions regarding Aster politics. Hemlock would be an elder, were he not cut off from the pheromonal group communication that Asters employ. Awed by the Harbinger, they accept his help and name him Shield of the Asters in fear of an upcoming war.
Sorrel: Also known as the Harbinger, he failed to achieve his goals in the Black Hive Rebellion over a century ago. Like Ofiera, his experimental implant can influence anyone’s, but he suffers a great deal of PTSD surrounding both its use and the labs. He is the main reason the Asters accept the deal Souji offers them, withdrawing Icarii forces but keeping Lito. Luce blames him for Lito’s death, and he accepts that blame.
The Outlaws: the non-allied anarchists living in the belt
Dire of the Belt: One of the leaders of Autarkeia, he’s best known for his anarchist writings and for stealing and smuggling Icarii technology and medicine to the peoples of the belt. He confides in Hiro that he was born poor on Mars and, suffering the Gean’s harshly defined gender roles, pushed toward the Sisterhood as a ‘woman,’ even if he wasn’t one. Alongside Hemlock, he created the Alliance of Autarkeia, a group of free peoples and Asters in the belt.
Sigma: An Icarii geneassisted to be ugly and banished to Autarkeia as punishment for helping Hemlock geneasssist some Asters on Ceres, he now works with Dire, creating the Autarkeian-brand neural implants. However, he left a family behind on Cytherea and takes an Icarii deal: information on Autarkeia’s implants for his original genetic code and being allowed to return to Venus.
Dandelion: Also known as “Dandy,” this Aster is an old-school tattoo artist and body modifications expert. They surgically insert Autarkeian-brand neural implants for Dire.
The Synthetics: the hivemind of AIs
Mara: An avatar of the Synthetics, an individual who is also part of the group mind known as the Singularity. A friend to Hiro and interested in the war between humans and Asters. After being captured and taken apart by the Icarii on the Leander, she captures the ship and sends it over the Synthetic border to destroy whatever data they found within her. But her actions have created a situation as sharp as a razor’s edge: will there be war between humans and Synthetics?