Published by: Grimbold Books
Publication date: July 29th 2016
Genres: Dystopian, New Adult, Science Fiction
Balmoral Murraine works in a Battery, assembling devices she doesn’t understand for starvation pay. Pasco Eborgersen is the pampered son of an Elite, trying to navigate the temptations of the Pleasure Houses, the self-sacrifice of the Faith, and the high-octane excitement of Steel Ball. They are two strangers, who never should have met, and now they will rip apart the world.
What happens when ninety percent of the world lives on skaatch – a jellyfish and insect composite?
What happens when mankind spends more time in alternative life sims instead of in the “real” world?
What happens when economic interest is the sole determinant of global decision making?
What happens when a single secret is discovered that calls into question everything we have ever believed?
Welcome to the Autonomy. Welcome to your future.
Jude developed a love of fantasy from a relatively early age after realising an innate talent for making stuff up could result in something other than detention. Working across the globe in fields as diverse as journalism, data entry, sales, management consultancy and babysitting, Jude has partially succeeded in putting an English and History degree from Oxford University to good use. A somnambulist, insomniac, lover of letters, Jude writes late into the night, most nights, tumbling down the rabbit hole to dream of other lives. Jude currently lives in Pennsylvania with an over-enthusiastic family and absurdly entitled dog.
Despite his weakened state, Tristram broke Hitchcock’s arm in three places, kicked out most of his teeth and stamped on his crotch. When Pasco tried to help the boy, Tristram lashed out at him too. Pasco still had the scar, just underneath his eye. The next day Tristram left for Stern, and Hitchcock eventually ended up as some second rate graduate in Utilities.
The plane bumped onto the tarmac, and Pasco felt his stomach lurch. As they taxied to the small terminal, the hostess handed out respirators. Mandrax placed his over his nose and mouth and pressed a button to activate. Pasco did the same.
Taking his first breath, the device confirmed, through his iNet display, that he was breathing the correct ratio of nitrogen, oxygen and non-polluting trace gases such as carbon dioxide, and that the filter element was at ninety-eight percent. Pasco dismissed the update and gathered up his belongings, a small suitcase with three or four changes of clothes and a wash bag.
The plane only contained about thirty passengers; mostly mid-level managers, originally from Sector 1, returning to their posts in Sector 2 after a brief time away. They looked grey, miserable and bereft. Then there was the project team consisting of Mandrax and Pasco and six men from Securicom.
Pasco stood up, but Mandrax motioned him to wait.
The men from Securicom exited the plane first. As one brushed passed his seat, Pasco could see the bulge of a dot matrix on his forearm. They were field agents, teched to the eyeballs with scanners, sensors and an array of tracking devices.
“You didn’t know we were so important did you?” Mandrax said.
“They’re here for us?”
“For the project.”
The hostess stood at the exit. She looked about thirty but was probably about fifty. He couldn’t tell her exact age because she paid for the exorbitant age block function on her basic identikit.
"Bye love," she said as Pasco walked out.
Pasco mumbled a reply, and she flashed him an amber. It was a universal call sign. In this case it said, “I might be interested should you wish to contact me while we’re laid over in Churin.”
It was cheeky. She could see he was in a relationship through his own identikit status. He gave a polite ‘no’ in the form of two quick bleeps of red.
Another iNet alert showed that the air quality had just degraded to below healthy levels. He heard a tiny motor in his respirator buzz into life. He dismissed the update and all future air quality updates. He didn’t want to know unless his device conked out.
As he descended the steps, the hostess grabbed his elbow. He could see she was slightly embarrassed. “Sorry, I wouldn’t have pinged you . . . but I saw you were free and . . . you know . . .”
Free? He checked his identikit. “In a relationship” had become, “single”. Rosaline had dumped him.
“Are you all right?”
“Yes. No. I’m sorry,” he said, not really knowing what he was saying, beginning to choke up. They were finished. The one good thing he had, and it was over. In a daze he followed Mandrax out across the tarmac.
Vaguely, he became aware of someone in a crumpled suit, coming towards him. He found it difficult to concentrate on what the man was saying. Only when Pasco saw the hand hovering in front of his own, did he come to his senses. He took it and shook.
“Francis Guiren,” the man said gripping his hand.
Inane, archaic gesture, Pasco thought.
“Pasco Eborgersen,” he replied, but of course, the man knew that. Guiren would know he was single too, if he bothered to read Pasco’s identikit.
“I knew your father,” Guiren said. “He was the Logistics Elite for this region. It was a great loss when he died.”
Father, another one of those damn emotive words. Tears welled in Pasco's eyes. He fought to get a grip. Guiren regarded him curiously for a moment, and then turned back to Mandrax.
“When I was told they were sending you to inspect the site it was . . .” Guiren reached for the word.
“Unexpected,” Mandrax said smiling. “There are some things I want to take a look at, first hand, as it were.”
Pasco thought again about the image of the Asiatic girl Mandrax had accidentally shared, and wondered what the Elite wanted with her. He thought about Rosaline and how alone he suddenly was. He thought about the project, and all the millions of casualties it would create.Stepping into their transport, Guiren and Mandrax chuntered on about the bidding process. In the words of Dillon Vrain, it was all noise, just noise.
a Rafflecopter giveaway