Book 3 in the The New Prometheus Series, which is called, The Prometheus Trap, is getting very close to release, and in the run-up to this next book, I will be posting snippets from the book here on my blog over the next week or so.
So, check back often.
Note: The text is not final and is yet to be edited, so there will be typos.
Here's the first snippet:
‘Sorry to drag you out so quickly,’ Frankie said.
‘Don’t apologise, I was keen to get back into it, it’s been too long,’ Gibson said as the flyer they stood within banked between buildings and dropped down into the chasm’s of concrete and glass in Neo-London’s mid-levels.
‘Good, we’re just stretched a little thinly and with Cole, Veronica and Kalypso on the other mission today, I needed you on this one,’ she said.
‘Well, it’s good to be back. Sorry I had to take a break, but, I wasn’t in a fit state really,’ he said.
‘It’s okay, I understand, there’s no need to explain,’ she said, smiling warmly at him. The death of his wife, even if he didn’t really get on with her like he used to, had naturally hit him hard. Probably not as hard as it might have done if they had been on better terms, but, losing someone you care for is never easy.
‘Thanks,’ he said. ‘I appreciate it.’
‘Hey, I could come over later, we could catch up if you like?’ she said.
‘I’d like that, great. You know where my room is,’ he said.
‘I do,’ Frankie smiled, the wind in here from the open side door whipping her shoulder length dark hair about.
‘We’re on final approach,’ Xenox said through their group neural link. He was sat nearby at the flyers terminal and hadn’t said much since they had boarded the aircraft.
‘Copy that,’ Frankie answered him.
‘Hello to you too,’ Gibson said to him.
‘Apologies, I have been rude. Welcome back, I trust you are rested and in a good state of mind?’ Xenox said.
‘Subtle as ever,’ Gibson smiled to Frankie. ‘I’m well, yes. William was happy with my psych evaluation, so that’s good enough for me,’ he said. ‘So, is someone going to tell me what this mission is about?’
‘Sorry, I forgot. Yeah, we’re dealing a lot with the fallout from the Nano Liberation, as the media have taken to calling it,’ she said.
‘I’ve seen the news stories, there’s been some unrest with some of those from the Undercity causing trouble, right?’
‘Partially. All of those who used to be in camps in the Undercity, suffering from Typhoid and failing cybernetics, they suddenly woke up to find themselves cured when their Nanobots started working, and many of them now feel they’re due some kind of life. Which they are, but the Corps are a little harder to convince,’ she said.
‘The Corporations are killing innocents?’ Gibson asked. ‘In fact, I have no idea why I phrased that as a question, of course they are,’ he said.
‘They are, being somewhat… indiscriminate, but it’s tough when there are so many of these former exiles, as they’re being called, who not only feel they deserve their life back, but they want to take some kind of revenge on the Corps as well. We may be the Anti-Corporation Taskforce, but we’ve also had to protect innocent Corporation employees when these exiles take things too far,’ she said.
‘Frustrating,’ Gibson said.
‘Very,’ Frankie answered. ‘Anyway, we’ve had a report of gunfire and a Corporation flyer near a known exile building, so we’re going to investigate,’ she said.
‘So, we’re cleaners, basically,’ he said.
‘I suppose. Who knew that de-registering everyone’s Nanobots would create so much chaos,’ she said, sarcasm in her voice.
‘Publicly, on the media channels at least, the Corporations seem thrilled, acting like this was meant to be all along,’ he said.
‘Until you dig a little deeper. Privately, they’re pissed. I’ve heard all kind of reports of them intimidating and killing people to keep their leverage and power. They’re not happy with us, I know that for certain,’ she said.
‘They know about us, the A.C.T. I mean?’
‘Some of it, sure. They know we exist, they know we had a hand in the Liberation, and they suspect people like myself of being on the team, but, as for how much they really know? I’m not sure,’ she said.
‘Well, they know about you and me, after our little stunt at Psytech,’ he said.
Frankie smiled at his comment, remembering their attempt to rescue Gibson’s wife and stepdaughter from the Psytech building. They’d failed to extract them, but at least they had escaped with their lives.
‘They do, you’re right. Marissa Webb may be many things, but she’s not stupid, so I’m pretty sure she will have us at the top of her wanted list.’
The flyer dropped, and the rear door levered open to reveal the buildings on either side that were so close, Frankie could almost reach out and touch them. Catwalks, platforms and elevated highways crossed the space they were descending into with pedestrians on them watching their flyer pass by with mild curiosity.
Not for the first time, Frankie felt grateful for the skill of their Doll pilot as their aircraft slid smoothly past and under the various obstacles in their way as it descended to the landing area it had picked out.
Frankie held on as the Flyer bumped down, landing on top of a building in the shadows of the monoliths above. Frankie looked over at Gibson and nodded.
‘You ready?’ she asked.
‘Of course, let’s do this,’ he said, adjusting his rifle.
Frankie moved down the ramp and scanned the area around the flyer. It was dark down here. The whole place was lit with artificial lighting due to the minimal sun this section of the city got. Known as the Dog Stacks from its location above the old Isle of Dogs, and the way its buildings were stacked on top of each other. The whole area had been heavily renovated and built upon for years with little regulation or planning so that it was now buried beneath other buildings that hid the area from the sun. She could see where they had flown in here, spotting the white glow of sunlight back the way they had come.
Walkways and catwalks crossed the open sections above and below them with people going about their business as neon lights lit the area up in a multi-coloured glow. Frankie accessed the map in her cyberbrain and checked their route, They had a short distance to walk to get to where they needed to be.
‘Let’s go,’ she sent to Gibson through their neural link.
Frankie hustled forward, towards the edge of the rooftop and down some metal stairs, checking all around her as they went. They moved through an unlocked gate and onto a quiet public walkway. A few people further along stopped when they saw them and the big guns they were carrying, but Frankie ignored them after making sure they weren’t a threat and led Gibson along the walkway over to another set of steps leading down.
‘Comms check,’ Xenox said over their link.
‘I read you loud and clear,’ Frankie answered.
‘Same here,’ Gibson said.
With her rifle up, Frankie moved down the steps, dropping first one flight, and then another, and then a third before exiting onto another catwalk, and walking along it. They did their best to be as quiet as they could, but the metal of the walkways made it impossible to be silent.
As they moved, they passed by a building to their left. As they cleared the edge of it, Frankie spotted the distinct shape of a flyer behind the edifice where it had landed on a platform. Frankie slowed and swept her gun over the area.
‘Corporation flyer to our left,’ she said for Xenox’s benefit.
‘Any signs of life?’ Xenox asked.
‘Negative, it’s quiet,’ she said. ‘Moving on.’
‘Copy that,’ Xenox said.
Frankie kept going, keeping one eye on the Corporation flyer as they advanced, in case someone had been left down there and decided they wanted to take shots at them.
Reaching the end of the walkway, she started down some more steps and got a good look at the surrounding area from their elevated vantage point, spotting a noodle bar not too far from the flyer, the golden glow from inside of it lighting up the shadows.
She continued to scan around and spotted an open door, way off to her right, and what appeared to be a body on the floor next to it. She zoomed in and felt sure she was right about this.
‘I think I have a dead body over here,’ she said to Gibson and Xenox over the link, pointing to it for Gibson’s benefit.
‘I think you’re right,’ he answered her. ‘You think that’s our target?’
‘Let’s find out. Moving to investigate,’ she said, before proceeding down the stairs to the platform that the body was on, one floor below the noodle bar.
Frankie paused, looking around her, checking over towards the silent and still Corporation flyer and then back over to the suspected body next to an open door.
It was all quiet for the time being, but Frankie felt there was a pregnancy to the air around them as if something were waiting to happen, waiting to erupt and cause chaos.
‘Do you want to check the flyer, or not?’ Gibson asked.
‘No,’ it’s likely to be guarded, and that’s not why we’re here. The exiles are probably still in that building, and it’s them that we need to protect,’ she answered.
‘Understood,’ Gibson replied to her.
‘Okay, let’s get in there,’ she said. ‘Follow me.’ Frankie stepped out from the stairway and started to make her way over to the open door. Frankie moved cautiously, watching both the door and, as she had correctly suspected, the body on the floor, ready for any potential traps. Frankie spotted a gun next to the body as she stepped up to it and could make out the faint smell of cordite in the air.
Frankie knelt down next to the victim. It was clearly a man, and his face was partially obscured and covered in blood. She checked for his pulse, just in case, but found nothing. She hadn’t picked up any vital signs in him as she had approached, so she wasn’t surprised.
He was still warm though, and the blood was fresh, meaning this had happened recently. As she finished checking the body, the sudden sound of a gunshot echoed out from within the building and grabbed Frankie’s attention. She lifted her gun and aimed it inside.
‘Gunshot from inside the building. We’re going in,’ she said over the link with Xenox before she moved to the door. Checking her corners before stepping inside, Gibson on her heels, she found herself in a dark corridor, with just a couple of lights shedding some dim illumination along the passageway.
Maybe thirty meters in front of them, another set of double doors stood open on the right side wall, and there appeared to be two more bodies lying on the floor just outside it.
Frankie’s enhanced hearing could pick out sounds of movement and some voices that were issuing orders and asking questions.
‘I think we’ve found them,’ she said as she moved along the corridor, aiming along the length of her rifle which she kept trained upon the door. She glanced down at the two bodies out here, her cyberbrain checking for any visible vital signs, but seeing none. They were almost certainly dead.
She sighed. Every day there were more deaths in the struggle for freedom from oppression, but the exiles weren’t entirely blameless. They often took things to greater extremes than were necessary and as much as she disliked the idea, she knew that sometimes, she and the A.C.T. needed to work against the very people she had been trying to help over recent months and years for their own protection.
Today though, it looked like they would be dealing with the usual Corporation oppression.
Frankie edged around the door and found herself looking into a large room. It was mostly open space with metal shelves and other bits of furniture scattered about around the edges while wires looped down from the ceiling, and trailed along the floor, linking up terminals and workstations.
In the midst of this space though, a contingent of black-clad Corporation operatives, or C-SWAT as they were known, kitted out with high-tech tactical gear and deadly weapons were spread out in front of some people holding their hands up in surrender. Most of these others were dressed in layers of old clothing that had seen better days and were on their knees with their hands up or behind their heads. One of the operators was shouting at these captives.
‘See what happens if you don’t talk? Do you? Because I have no problem doing this to all of you, one at a time, slowly,’ he shouted, pointing to another body on the floor that they must have just shot.
Frankie guessed that the people that were being held at gunpoint were exiles, victims of the Corporations that used to live down here in the camps, trying to survive against the odds due to their nanobots being suppressed.
Frankie didn’t wait to see what would happen, she didn’t want anyone else to die on her watch, so she moved into the room, her gun up and aiming at the operators. She stepped a few paces into the room before she spoke.
‘Drop your guns, we don’t want this to get messy,’ she called out.