Finally: Book 2 has escaped from captivity!!

Exiles’ Escape was released on the 7th February 2018 by Indigo River Publishing (http://www.indigoriverpublishing.com/portfolio_page/exiles-escape/)

Malila’s story continues after her staged suicide.  Hecate Jones, preceding her in her own escape attempt, plans to paddle around the Rampart with help from Jocenta. Jesse comes back to civilization only to find old enemies waiting for him and must, therefore, escape to the skies. Edie lives. Meet Frog, Cain, EffieCee in their own universe. Meet Will Butler, the Shadow, as he fights to avoid the Mouse-Poets.

Lots to see. Lots to think about in the world of a 22nd century which is all too plausible.  (I am adding excerpts)

Outland Exile: Chapter Eleven; The Presence

Divisional Shop, Nyork, Unity

07.42.19.local_18_10_AU76

“Guess what jag Major Khama is on today?” Technical Sergeant Iain Dalgliesh reported as Gunnery Sergeant Jasun Ciszek entered the ops center for Battalion Thirty-Nine.

“Haven’t a clue, fecker. Stopped eavesdropping on that ensign has he?”

Iain laughed. “Nope, this is on top of that. Ya know that maintenance platoon that went missing last week? Well, it appears the looie’s implant is still skidding around the bottom of some outlander river. Khama’s intrigued.”

“One less hero of the Unity. Imagine my sorrow, would ya?” said Ciszek.

“Funny thing, Gunny, is that the lieutenant was an S08, bottom of the barrel.”

“Well, how Major Khama amuses hisself is none of my nevermind. What’s he got ya doing anyway, Doggy?”

“I set up an on the looie’s plug job every few hours. If she comes within a hundred fifty klicks of the Rampart, we get a signal.”

“I need to do anything?”

“As if I could trust you, Gunny.” He smiled. “Nope, the signal goes to Khama himself.”

“Sounds good to me, Doggy. Let’s sit down and go over the new enunciation protocols before ThiZ time, okay?”

“Aye, aye, Gunny!”

Feigning work, Iain watched as Jasun walked over to his workstation and reversed a blue folder from its habitual place. Someone from Ciszek’s faction would notice, no doubt, and would report the odd occurrence to his handler. Iain was sure to meet his own handler, a woman he knew as Shirley, within the day.

The factions were quiet for now. That was good. He had come to like Jasun, even if he belonged to the wrong faction. He really wanted things to be peaceful for a while, at any rate. He was distracted.

Monee’k was quite a distraction.

 

Jourdaine’s Presence was his own discovery from years ago while he had been a mere ensign. He had told no one about it since. Jourdaine did not have a foolishly generous character. Really, he thought of it as the unintended reward for attempting to rescue the COREd-out protégé of his commander Major General Divny. For reasons that escaped Jourdaine, the old man, almost a Sisi himself, had decided to rescue his E7 boyfriend from a CORE coma.

“You know him, don’t you, Eustace? He was a classmate of yours at the academy, wasn’t he? Olevar Thimosen? You could talk him out of it. It was a mistake, I’m sure. I shouldn’t have been so harsh with him. A bit too much ThiZ, and he looked into the CORE. I found him at my apartment, dead to the world. He’s at Bellvu now. We have to do something!”

“It would mean trying to go into the CORE myself, sir. I-I’m not sure, sir.” Jourdaine had sensed his heart pounding in his ears.

“I’m not a fool, ensign! I have a CORE tech on the strength. He has an idea. The implants have their own ID number, of course. He can reprogram your implant. Get you to poor Olevar’s locus in the CORE in one shot. Olevar trusts you. He’ll listen to you, and we can put a tracer on you … give you a way back. It’d mean a promotion for you, just for trying. I know I’m asking a lot, but if this works, think what good it would do for all the other COREd-out citizens?”

Jourdaine indeed knew young Olevar. They had been more than classmates but less than lovers. Olevar had abandoned him the month before Jourdaine had gone off to Officer Training School.

After an admittedly long period of self-loathing, Jourdaine had bounced back to what he’d hoped was a competent sober officer. When Olevar had joined Divny’s professional family as a protégé, neither of them had acknowledged their previous attachment.

“Yes, sir. Of course, sir. For the good of the service. I am sure he will know me. I consider it a great honor, sir.”

His stomach lurched at what he was saying.

“That’s my boy! I’ll contact Pippitte right away. He’s the CORE tech. One more thing: When was your last ThiZ? Pippitte wants the attempt to be done cold, off ThiZ at least for forty-eight hours.”

“I haven’t had mine today, sir.”

“Good, it will give us some time to set up. Go see to transferring your assignments, and we will contact you. Dismissed.”

Taking ThiZ was the only way he knew to navigate the rest of the day, and now that was taken away as well.

“Sir, yes, sir!”

After the wrenching diarrhea and nausea of the next two days, the little of Jourdaine’s confidence had drained away with the toilet flushings. Nevertheless, he came when summoned.

Pippitte turned out to be a dark little man who talked to himself. Jourdaine was required to wear some sort of orthodontic apparatus that allowed him to hear Pippitte even when he was in the CORE.

The first few attempts were futile. The CORE illusion using the standard O-A was of gleaming mental corridors, branches, turnings, doors, passwords—a net of connections, passages, and information. Jourdaine easily slid along the illusion at Pippitte’s direction, his nausea subsiding as he went on, even as the man’s mutterings grew less helpful. In the end he ignored them.

He reached a blockage. Pippitte’s plan was foolish, really. No two consciousnesses could occupy the same locus at the same time. Jourdaine was preparing himself for failure when he glimpsed the dark line along the wall. It should not have been there. Questing along the line, it moved to his command.

He pushed again; it opened to blackness. He looked around to see if anyone noticed.

He moved through the gap more from frustration than curiosity to find himself in another reality. Nothing was “up” unless he told himself so. He looked back at the defect he had discovered. The bright corridors of the ’net stretched around him but were different from this vantage point, “the outside.” It looked like patchwork, as if made of plates. He expected it was code segments.

He had escaped the interior of the ’net; he was outside. His disembodied bowels began to rebel. He was floating free. He would be lost … like so many others. In panic, his mind yearned … quested … to touch the merest edge of the crack from which he had just emerged, to find a handhold, something solid … and it was so. Gracefully, his Presence swept back to the fissure, and Jourdaine reached out a “hand” to run along the edge. It sizzled coldly at his touch.

Finding Olevar was just as easy. Jourdaine thought of his name and was drawn the short distance to the locus. He could tell it was Olevar somehow; he had the right smell. However, the tornado of swirling thoughts surrounding Olevar battered Jourdaine away. Olevar recognized him.

                                                                                                                                “What are you doing? Why are you here? Useless. I’m so cold. Where are all                                                                                                                                         the pencils? The general … wanting … Don’t! Why? Go away! Og ywaa?”

Olevar was continually terrified of falling, but his frenzy was like a buzz saw to Jourdaine’s touch.

Pippitte’s urgent mutterings broke through to Jourdaine, even here, and ordered him to return. Once back, Jourdaine just told them he had been successful in contacting Olevar. The general was pink with hope. Pippitte wiped his mouth on his sleeve and asked for his apparatus back.

Jourdaine went again. He had to. Divny demanded, cajoled, and eventually ordered him, then fell to wringing his hands during Jourdaine’s attempts. Later, Jourdaine’s questing mind went unsupervised. He stopped using ThiZ. He was learning.

The CORE, outside the limitations of the Unity conventions, was a great temptation.

The lights, sounds, concepts, and jangle of identifiers flashed by, oblivious to Jourdaine’s freed Presence. In the CORE but outside Unity restrictions Jourdaine claimed a new world as his own.

Sitting near Olevar’s turmoil, Jourdaine watched huge magenta engines of commerce chunter by, flaking off RFPs in the same color that scattered in six directions. Svelte ellipses of the arts in myriad colors teemed in a large scintillating ball in the distance, waiting for sponsors, occasionally fountaining off into smaller groups, then recombining. Individuals appeared to him, at a distance, to be wraithlike squiggles, nodes that, while appearing to fill the space, were invisible when he looked past them, varying in appearance only once focused upon. Whole dimensions of meaning were somehow compressed into the scene, obvious to him but near impossible to describe once he had exited.

Only with difficulty did he go back to Olevar.

                                      “Olevar, it is me. It is Eustace. You know me. You liked me once. Remember? You don’t have to do this. You can come back with                                        me. Everything will be all right. Divny wants you to be happy. I want you to be happy. Just take my hand … Olevar, it’s me,”

he said again and again.

At first that had slowed the maelstrom of mirrored thoughts, but only at first. Olevar had stopped talking after the first few times. At intervals, he lashed out with bursts of sensation: heat, cold, a stench of death, quinine bitterness, and pain. But far worse were the memories: memories of Eustace being taunted by his crèche mates, Olevar’s own abandonment, Olevar’s ascendancy as Divny’s protégé, his smug disdain for the plodding Jourdaine.

                                   “Olevar, it is me. It is Eustace. You know me. You liked me once. You don’t have to do this. You can come back with me.                                                         Everything will be all right. Divny wants you to be happy. I want you to be happy. Just take my hand … Olevar, it’s me. It is                                            Eustace.”

It was all he could offer, unarmed as he was before the mounting violence of his friend’s circular thoughts. Battered, he would leave for a few hours, only to be forced back by Divny’s mounting anxiety and threats.

Jourdaine recounted to Olevar his own memories, random but always containing something that he should recognize: a teacher, a matron, a lost friend. Eventually, mercifully, it worked. Jourdaine never knew what it was that stopped Olevar’s whirling intensity of self-loathing. The chaos slowly petered out like a dying top.

For the first time, Eustace saw what had become of Olevar in the mirrored corridors of his thoughts. Wizened, sapped of vitality, feral, his face in the illusion of the CORE was nevertheless unmistakable. Jourdaine still shivered anytime he thought about it. The face was there, the same smooth brow and gentle mouth, but now creased with rage, guile, and savagery. In repose, the face relaxed almost to beauty—until Olevar recognized Jourdaine.

                                                                           “Little Useless, come to fumble, have you? Clueless Useless, fathering baby. Feck off someplace and fumble                                                                              yourself!”

                                          “Olevar, I came to help you come back.”

                                                                           “You help me? Help me? You have nothing! Nothing to help me!”

Jourdaine had tried again and again, but that one thought was the only one he got from the creature that Olevar had become. Pippitte told him to return. By then, Jourdaine was weary and repulsed by the creature.

In his disgust, Jourdaine killed Olevar just before he left.

Sacrifices had to be made.

The boy’s body died a few days later. Jourdaine’s report to the general described how the damage was too severe. It gave no mention of the illusion of Jourdaine’s hand sliding along the slender silver tether of Olevar’s life and severing it with a paroxysm of disgust.

The exercise had gained him rewards. Divny had given him an excellent efficiency report and, after being denounced, had not suspected Jourdaine’s betrayal. In his grief, the man had no longer cared.

Thus, Jourdaine learned to be a thinking Presence, a resident phantom in a land peopled by tourists. He alone had plumbed the possibilities of the CORE. He could project his Presence into the CORE itself and thence to another O-A recipient.

Cadets for generations had been warned that they might contract CORE fever. He wondered if the CORE had been warned that it might catch a case of Jourdaine.

Excerpt from Outland Exile: Chapter Two

Beautiful_Illustration_and_Digital_Art_by_Cristiano_Siqueira_27

Nyork, the Unity

11.01.35.local_11_10_AU76

Second Lieutenant Malila Evanova Chiu heard the bottom drop out of her vision and smelled burnt umber. She felt the clanging of cheap wine and retched from the taste of the creaky gate that had scared her as a child.

Could the Unity not do something to make reincorporation less disconcerting?

It was always the same when she reincorporated; her disembodied flesh sensed the trials her mind had endured … and suffered in her absence. It hardly seemed fair.

“Fathering muckers!”

Edie clucked at her as Malila groaned and sat up.

Don’t be vulgar, squilch! You brought this on yourself, you know.

Fecking frak!

The obscenity was meant to shock, and, on cue, Edie grew silent. Growing up in the crèche and then the Democratic Unity Forces for Security (DUFS) barracks, Malila possessed a flamboyant repertoire of profanity, vulgarities, and obscenities. Her metaphract, of late, had taken a dim view of this proficiency.

Lieutenant Chiu donned the light robe she had laid aside hours before and, shivering, waited for her heart rate to glissade from the heights of conquest. A trickle of sweat worked its way through her short, military-style haircut and down her neck as she took a large breath to steady herself.

You’re going to be late, squilch.

Give me a break, Edie. I just fought a battle … two battles … to the death.

That’s nice. Your appointment is in two hours and twenty minutes. You smell bad.

Malila rolled her eyes. No one was a hero to her frak.

<ED>[1] Tell me when the comm’nets announce my whale hunt.

Of course, Lieutenant Chiu. On an unrelated topic, we are getting full of ourselves—are we not, squilch?

Don’t call me a squilch, frak.

Don’t call me a frak, Second Lieutenant.

Malila thrust a gesture, equivalent to a small child with a wetly extended tongue, in the mental direction of her tormentor.

All right, metaphract, have it your own way.

<ED> Any messages?

You have received a number of offers on methods to improve pleasure-sex, another dozen offering to contact your spirit guide in the multiverse of your choice, one from a foundation requesting funds to combat the heartbreak of facial hair, and a message from Command Outland Signals.

I’m not going to deal with that now. Show me some music.

The Femtosense Grunge Philharmonic selection that Edie chose swelled within her. Malila experienced it in all her senses, feeling a breeze and receiving the sharp taste of spring rain. The music played upon her emotions, and she abandoned her will to its wanderings. Perceptions, which Malila interpreted as being “outside,” slid over the input of her eyes, ears, and other senses. These were a level “above” what she detected with her corporal body.

Metaphracts like Edie originated as interpreters of the interface for those receiving the O-A brain implants as children. Most of the boys taught their metaphracts to play tricks on one another and discarded them with puberty. Most of the girls decorated them with childish fashions, retaining them after puberty but keeping them unused in their mental closets. Malila had been unusual in embellishing hers with wit, a face, and a personality … or at least as much as a Turing Metaphract could imitate. Edie was, for Malila, a convenient construct of the CORE interface, coming when she called and doing the scut work of daily life.

In contrast to the metaphract, her O-A was a constant presence … with the constant potential danger of slipping across and becoming lost to reality. Malila had been taught to fear this fate. Those who ignored the warning suffered a living perdition. The first few victims had been immediately prohibited an interface with the CORE and had erupted in bloody rage. Thereafter the COREd-out had been left to dwindle away, lost both to the Unity and to their own shriveling personalities.

Perhaps it was just a tale, but some truth was embedded in it. The CORE interface was seductive. Once, when Malila had gotten too close, warning lights, a vile shade of green, had strobed across her inner eye. Now she only looked in that direction from the corner of her mind when she felt secure. Most feared to look at all.

A claxon sounded inside her head.

You are going to be late for your lunch appointment unless you—

Fleckafather!

Malila scampered across her room, shedding the robe as she went, knowing the chamber would retrieve it and sort it into the appropriate category: bureau drawer, closet hangers, or laundry chute. Malila stepped into her bathroom and , or accessed the CORE, with a few taps with her O-A. The room warmed and misted to her specifications.

Within the hour, Lieutenant Chiu was dressed in the uniform of the DUFS: form-fitting black Produra cloth with the subdued holographic markings of her rank on her shoulders. This sleek envelope, surmounted by a black helmet covering most of her features, made her anonymous in the crowded streets of the Unity. Malila was ready to meet her friends for lunch.

Once on the street, Malila stepped onto the descending beltway and after a few minutes navigated to the express belt “For S24 and Above Only!” Malila’s specialist level, her rank within the Unity, was just high enough for her to use the belt.

Detecting Malila’s presence, the beltway comm’nets blossomed with a weltering array of advertisements, PSAs, and lepto-mercials of numerous flavors. Malila ignored them as much as she could, seldom finding the enthusiasm for anything other than a few sporting spectacles, like her beloved kirshing; the daily melodrama of politics; and especially the news.

At that moment the news was showing two people, a man and a woman, both handcuffed, being led to a waiting DUFS skimmer.

This fascination with news borders upon the macabre, Malila.

Nonsense, I’m being a good citizen. Does it occur to you that they brought it on themselves?

You think they brought that on themselves?

Bruises marked the prisoners’ thin bodies. The woman’s dress fell around her waist as she walked. The assembled crowd laughed at her attempt to cover herself.

They must have tried to resist arrest, frak. They were running an illegal phantom shop, after all.

One you have used yourself!

Edie, don’t be difficult! Here come the policoms,[2] I need to see these.

Major political analysts numbered about a dozen, and the long-time leader of the pack was James J. Gordon. He possessed an uncanny ability to ferret out scandal, hypocrisy, and political disloyalty in its many forms, using the flensing knives of parody, innuendo, and sophistry for the loyal citizenry.

Best to keep your head down around here with people like Gordon about.

That could be construed as a disloyal statement, frak.

Then it is you that should worry, isn’t it, squilch? I am but your humble servant, nothing more than your own program, am I not?

So when does the humble thing kick in?

I’m assertive only in your best interests, Lieutenant. Allow me to mention again that your messages await your attention.

Not now, frak!

Malila took an ascender and emerged immediately in front of the People’s Museum of Natural History. A huge banner proclaiming “Triumph of the Will” emblazoned the entrance in the state colors of red, white, and black.

As she entered, Malila looked up, as she did on most visits, to the three pale-blond stony depressions, surrounded by darker stone, far over her head.

I wonder why they chiseled them out in the first place, Malila. What could have been so obscene or seditious that they had to deface the whole building?

There you go again, getting us into trouble, frak.

No, I’m not! It was an honest question. For all I know it was done by the Sisis.

The possibility that senile senior citizens, those who no longer contributed, had once more conspired to injure her homeland was distressing.

The wisdom of the Unity in retiring the elderly had been proven out time and again. Once removed from society, the role of the aged in past mistakes became evident. Even now, the practice of compassionate retirement ensured new ideas and new vigor came daily to the forefront of national life. Young and vital citizens had nothing to hinder them in their rise to greatness. In the past, it had taken decades of public service before younger leaders could ascend to their rightful level of responsibility. But now, citizens could assure their ascendancy if they were able to arouse the ardor of the citizens and were able to formulate most adroitly the aspirations of the state.

Malila brushed past the guards and into the lobby.


[1] “The proper way to give a command to your new Turing Metaphract (ED v3.94) is always to begin on a new line. Announce to the ED that this is a command by the use of ‘<ED>,’ and then give the desired command. Lines that do not begin this way will not be taken as  commands, although, in time, your ED may act on them once it gets used to you. You can guess the effect of your comments and commands by the ‘verbals’ you get from your ED, a new and exciting feature of Turing Metaphracts. Your ED will gradually learn how you speak mentally and will pick up your personal habits. This comes with time and practice. Don’t be disappointed if your ED finds it too hard at first.” Concepts of Reality Engineering Inc., Beginner’s Guide for the Turing Metaphract (Education Device [ED] v3.94) (Passaic: COREprint, AU 64), 4.

[2] Entertainment personalities masquerading as political commentators.