Arturo is a sixteen year old soldier. He hasn’t been in the army very long, just long enough to lose all his buddies to very bad deaths. Now he’s sieging Manganela. Camped right outside the city with a lot of hot, dusty, antsy men and nothing to fight but drones. He’s got a few problems relating to anxiety but he keeps those to himself, since he’s a stoic kind of guy.
One day he runs into Zeffany, a girl his age, who is helping someone escape from the city. Arturo helps her. Later he texts her. They develop a friendship, bonding over their anxieties. Zeffany has been trapped inside her city for years, and she has a few anxieties of her own.
There’s a lot of talk about how this war might actually end soon, leaving people free to go build themselves a normal society, but people who grew up during the war aren’t too sure what one looks like. Arturo and Zeffany are willing to try – assuming they can keep their worries, and their friendship, under control until it’s safe to speak.
Sieging Manganela is set in the same universe as One Sunny Night, but it has a little more nightmarish and horrific content, and therefore I’m flying the trigger warning flag:
- Guns and weapons and fighting (although it's mainly humans-against-drones because one side of the conflict isn't about to come outside and potentially get wounded when they can send out drones instead);
- Wartime trauma and ugly deaths all over the place
- Especially this truly scary scene that takes place in a mine and explains what happened to Arturo's buddies
- (but no sex, just teasing)
- (can’t recall if I used any bad words, probably there are some)
- (no animal cruelty)
- (no religion or politics or moralizing aside from "war will mess you up" with specific examples)
- (no race stuff but there are Latin/Hispanic/Portuguese names and several skin tones)
- (there’s a little gender-related weirdness in that one society has two versions of womanhood due to fertility issues relating to bioengineered enhancements – infertile women are regular people who work for a living, and fertile women are cosseted vain sheltered hormonal princesses who can murder their own spouses with impunity)
- (did I say that mine scene was really scary? It’s pretty scary, even gave me nightmares -- when I give myself nightmares with my own writing, I know I'm doing my job properly).
Several people have asked me if it should be "besieging" Manganela rather than sieging it. And the answer would be yes if it were written entirely from Zeffany's point of view. She is besieged, while Arturo is camped out with men who are actively engaged in committing the act of sieging.
Dictionary.com says that "sieging" and "besieging" are synonyms. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/sieging
Merriam Webster says that "besieging" is archaic when used in the context of laying siege to a city. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/besiege Plus it states siege is a transitive verb, with the proper form being "lay siege to" or "in a state of siege." https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/siege
I saw it as something more along the lines of "I siege, you are besieged." Which isn't entirely correct, but hey, this is speculative fiction, and I can always claim that, in universe, "sieging" became common use in the 3120s following the release of an extremely successful videogame.
Uncommon words are good luck in science fiction titles.
For example, this is a mangonel.
You can use them to lob rocks, poop, moldy bacon, or whatever over castle walls. In Portuguese, they call it a manganela. People speak entirely different languages in 3748 after the meteor/volcanoes rearranged the Americas, but some of the slang survives down in the grittier areas of Samerica.
You've probably seen a thousand of these things in cartoons and movies and comic books, and if you didn't already know what it was called, well, now you do.