Read a full summary of Aurora Rising, book #1 of Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s The Aurora Cycle series, right here. This page is full of spoilers, so beware! If you are wondering what happened in Aurora Rising, then you are in the right place!
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in Aurora Rising?
Tyler Jones trained at the Aurora Academy to be an Alpha (team leader) and has always earned top marks. He has first dibs at the perfect team, but he misses his chance to choose his crew when he gets caught up in an act of conscience. He rescues Aurora (Auri)—the lone survivor of a mission gone terribly wrong—from her cryo tank.
When Aurora awakes, she’s all out of sorts. She slowly discovers she never arrived on Octavia III and she’s 200 years in the future. Everyone she knew and everything she cares about is long gone. In fact, she soon learns that everyone believes Octavia III was never their mission.
Tyler’s team is mostly made up misfits. Kal, Zila, and Finian (Fin) are all very good at what they do but have a history of violence, sass, and/or anti-social behavior. At least he has two top performers: his sister Scarlett (the ambassador) and his best friend of years—who’s maybe in love with him—Cat (the pilot).
Their first mission seems like a simple one: delivering supplies to refugees on a star called Juno. But things go terribly wrong. They realize they have a stowaway. Auri snuck aboard their ship after Battle Leader de Stoy, the commander of Aurora Academy, left her a message and instructions on how to hide aboard their ship. The planet they’re on is attacked while they’re there. It becomes apparent their attackers were after Auri.
Auri’s important, but she’s not sure why. Her memories are foggy and slowly resurfacing. She has powers of visions, telekinesis, and blasts of strength but has no idea how she obtained them. And she doesn’t know why everyone insists that Octavia III is uninhabitable and was never her ship’s destination.
Tyler and his crew send Auri with the GIA who arrive to question her. But when the crew is slowly separated for questioning, they get suspicious. They find Auri and break her out of her bonds. They barely escape with their lives.
Cat directs their ship into the Fold to travel to Sempiternity. They stay at Fin cousin Dariel’s place. When they awake the next morning, Aurora has drawn a particular figure all over the walls. She has no recollection of doing this. It’s like her subconscious is trying to tell them all something. The figure is a work of art called the Trigger that is held by Bianchi, a gangster of sorts.
Tyler, Scarlett, and Aurora crash a masquerade ball Bianchi is throwing. The whole team is helping with tactics behind the scenes, and they’re able to obtain the Trigger. Tyler can’t help but wonder if this is the Trigger, then where is the Weapon. They’ve gotten themselves into something two centuries in the making, yet they don’t have any idea what it is. Once again, they barely escape.
Zila finally has time to show them what she, Fin, and Kal saw at Dariel’s flat. When one of the GIA agent’s uniforms was removed, it revealed a lifeless, middle-aged woman with a plant growing out of her eye socket. She’s obviously been dead for a while, yet her body was still functioning in the suit. Crazily enough, Auri recognizes this woman as Patrice. She was on Octvaia III with Auri’s father; in fact, last Auri knew, Patrice was her father’s new girlfriend and was going to be Auri’s mentor once she arrived.
Kal confirms they’ve seen at least one other GIA agent in this state before. The crew thinks it might be a nematomorph inhabiting these bodies, exerting chemical control over their host’s brain. They can’t think of anyone to report this to since the GIA is their governing authority and it’s apparently been breached.
Zila knocks Auri out because her powers seem to manifest when she’s asleep or unconscious. Kal is furious because he has taken a liking to Auri and feels a mating bond toward her. But Scarlett uses this opportunity to question her. In her unconscious state, Auri robotically answers that she’s one of the Ancient Ones they all thought were wiped out hundreds of millennia ago.
Tyler asks Auri what she wants, she reaches toward the Trigger and makes it rise from the floor of its own accord. Cracks form on its surface, and then it shatters. They all panic because this is what they risked their lives for, and it’s now destroyed.
But then Auri reveals what was inside: a diamond with a complicated pattern of spirals on its surface. When she beckons it, the diamond lands in her palm. It projects light that forms a map of the entire galaxy. The star map begins to move forward, as if it’s flying through time. Kal hates this because he can tell the Ancient One inside Auri is hurting her. The Being tells them to beware. Kal demands it release her. It does after Auri says two final words: “All burn.”
Zila makes sure all of Auri’s vitals are good. When she finally comes to, Kal questions her about what she remembers. She remembers the whole scene like she was watching it from outside of her body. She asks why he protects her and acts strange around her. He explains to her about the Pull, the term his people use for this mating bond he feels toward her. Kal tells her he can’t control it but can control what he does about it, and he promises to resign his position as soon as they’re out of this mess.
Auri doesn’t get a chance to respond to Kal before Tyler’s voice calls for them to the deck and see something. Cat’s mapped all of the systems the Trigger displayed onto a map of the galaxy and realized they’re all weak spots in the Fold. The weak spot they’re closest to is Octavia.
Is the story the GIA concocted about a deadly atmospheric virus real? They decide to head there and check it out. Tyler gives everyone a chance to back out since they’ll be committing a pretty serious crime. Everyone is in.
Their flight path’s picked up by the GIA. They’re caught and shot upon by an enemy starship. Even when they come through the Fold, the enemy is still right on their tail. The GIA ship contacts them but then comes under attack. It’s a Chellerian ship, and Bianchi is aboard. He wants his Trigger back.
All enemy ships are destroyed in the fight. Cat’s ship is damaged, but she manages to land it on Octavia III. Fin’s suit was damaged in the crash, so it’s not functioning at full capacity. He loves to see understanding instead of pity in Scarlett’s eyes when she realizes what’s up with it.
They noticed a settlement on Octavia III from the sky, halfway confirming Auri’s claims. Cat tried to crash them as close to it as possible. They don protective suits to explore Octavia III and look for parts to repair their ship. The air is full of glowing dust, maybe a pollen of some sort. The ground’s covered with plants similar to the one they saw protruding from Patrice’s eye. Auri says this isn’t how the planet was supposed to look.
Auri can’t quite believe she’s here, where she was supposed to be about 200 years ago. She tells her friends how her dad left her mom when she was scrubbed from the Octavia and then how lost her mom and sister must have felt when they lost Auri, too. She tells them how she argued with her father the last time she spoke with him and how she now regrets it.
Then a rabid chimp jumps out of the undergrowth, launching itself toward them. They fight it off, but Cat is injured in the process. Zila finally blows the chimp’s head off. When they roll Cat over, they discover her suit was ripped open and she’s been exposed to the planet.
The group separates. Tyler, Scarlett, and Zila take Cat toward the hospital to look for medicine. Tyler sends Auri, Kal, and Fin to look for ship parts. When they get to the spaceport, Fin splits from Kal and Auri so they can cover more ground in their search.
While they’re alone, Auri tells Kal she’s been thinking a lot about what he shared with her. She tells him she doesn’t want him to automatically assume she’s not interested and leave once their mission is over. She asks for time to give their relationship a chance. He agrees and is pleased.
Fin calls over their coms he might’ve found something that will work. They join him but soon hear a voice behind them. There are three of the re-animated dead figures with plants coming out of their eyes. A fight ensues. Kal manages to overtake all of them.
Cat’s getting much worse, but they’ve finally made it to the med center. They have to fight off some more chimps when they arrive. Scarlett thinks she hears the plants whispering as the chimps die. Zila looks for any substances that might help Cat, but she’s succumbing to the unity of the plants. She says she can feel “this place, this planet” and she now knows what it is.
Fin radios Tyler to let him know they have a part and are headed back to the ship to begin the repairs. Tyler and the others make it back to them. The gang discovers another GIA shuttle is inbound.
Auri pushes into Cat’s mind to try to heal her. They share thoughts and understand each other better, but Auri can’t help her. She discovers the enemy in Cat’s consciousness. It’s a single, colossal being that comes from a network spread out across the entire planet: every planet, vine, flower, and spore floating in the air. It’s the thing the Ancient Beings had almost destroyed. It laid dormant until the time was right to start slowly waking once again. Now it plans to spread everywhere. But the Ancient Ones left behind something for the coming fight: Auri.
The incoming ship arrives, but it’s not GIA. It’s full of Princeps, the re-animated beings. There are a lot of them. The leader of the group opens his mask. It’s Auri’s father. He says everyone is connected, perfectly together, and they’ll be complete once she joins them.
Auri’s tempted to follow him and can feel parts of him in her mind, but deep down she knows her father isn’t in this body any longer. These are only echoes they made sure he would retain to try to persuade her to join them.
Cat’s overtaken by the Princeps. In the end, it’s overtaken her mind so much that she welcomes it. There’s a warmth to being intertwined with so many beings, but Cat feels a small part of herself still inside even though she’s joined them.
Auri feels what has just happened to Cat and tells Tyler they have to go now. The tiny part that’s still Cat tells him the same. She wants to stay with the Princeps. She follows at a distance as her friends run away, but she’s okay with it. She knows Tyler loves her, and that’s enough.
How did Aurora Rising end?
Tyler’s devastated he couldn’t save Cat. Auri tells them one of the last thing Cat’s mind said to hers: “This defeat is a victory.” They realize it’s because they know who their enemy is now: the Ra’haam. They know where it is and what its plans are. And they know that the Ancient Ones left Auri as a Trigger to try to defeat it.
Fin wonders how they’ll be able to defeat the Ra’haam if every GIA seems to be infected by it. The whole government is now suspect. But they know how to recognize the infected, and it can’t be everyone.
The crew is still a fugitive one, war criminals really, and they can’t go home again to recruit help. Kal says then they’ll do it alone, the six of them against the whole galaxy. Tyler says it’ll take a miracle for it to work. Zila, of all people, says they should have faith.
The crew is behind Tyler. They ask where they’re headed. He says they have their Trigger, so they need to go find their Weapon.
There you go! That’s what happened in Aurora Rising. Hope you enjoyed this Aurora Rising summary with spoilers.
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