This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. David will be awarding an eCopy of Turing Evolved to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
When Ex-DEMON pilot Jon Carlson meets beautiful humanitarian Rachel, it's a match made in HEAVEN. Literally, because Rachel's an ANGEL. She's also an AI controlled android of immense power and capability. As Jon finds himself drawn into the world of these enigmatic creations of mankind, he unknowingly becomes involved in a program to create autonomous superweapons intended to fight the next war.
Enjoy an excerpt:
I was certain that everyone on the base hated me. I’m surprised they tolerated me long enough to deliver me somewhere else. The pilot made his feelings clear when he ignored me during the pre-flight as though I wasn’t sitting in the cargo area.
Persona non grata. Isn’t that what they call it?
Their feelings towards me extended far beyond the razor-wire and chain-link fence that separated the base from the town. My actions had brought scrutiny to the district, affecting many of the locals who worked there, too.
As I left the hangar to walk out to the transport, I turned to take one last look at the quarters. A pickup truck was parked just outside the base. Three civilians sat in the back while one leaned against the side with a bat sitting next to him. It didn’t amount to much of a threat, but it explained why the base commander didn’t want me making my own way out of here. I guess he figured I’d caused enough trouble already.
I thought the airfield would have been as deserted as the hangar, but as I rounded the corner it was hard to miss the row of demons. The entire mobile-armour squadron, bar one, lined up in formation along the path to the transport. It might have been a show of strength, demonstrating I had no power to stop them. It might have been some form of ritualised acceptance of my leaving, recognising the choice I had made to go quietly.
Except that they mostly had their backs to me. That was where the true message lay.
Only one stood out of formation, standing at the end of the line like a steel sentinel, facing me as I approached. It watched as I made that final walk to the Fatpan transport. It was cleaner than I remember. Unit 372. It used to be mine. Then it, too, turned its back on me as I walked past, just to make sure I knew exactly how they all felt. The pilot who replaced me had taken everything. My demon, my career, even Susan. It was as though replacing me wasn’t enough — they wanted to erase me altogether from their memory.
There were no lights turned on in the cargo area of the Fatpan. All the crew positions in the forward cabin were filled. They had left the transport controller seat down, so I knew where I was expected to ride.
So there I sat in the darkness of the cargo hold for three hours, struggling to breathe. These transports don’t usually fly too high, but the lack of oxygen told me they had managed to climb much higher than they should have. The hold wasn’t pressurised and there were no oxygen masks or feed lines here.
It wasn’t enough to kill me or make me lose consciousness yet, but it was enough to make this last trip very uncomfortable. The bitter cold of altitude had no difficulty finding ways through my uniform. It had never been designed to keep such low temperatures out, and my skin was numb at its presence. The lack of air I could tolerate. I was trained to withstand uncomfortable positions for extended periods, but the coldness seemed to drag this final trip out and reflected the loneliness I felt.
I pulled my jacket closer around me and tried to find some comfort through meditation, but only the words that ended my career echoed through its silence.
‘Jonathan Carlson, it is the finding of this tribunal that you acted lawfully. However, your obvious contempt for the chain of command cannot be ignored.’
I tried to stifle the anger that surfaced as I thought about what they had said, but it kept me from focusing on what I needed to do. I still believe I wasn’t the one in the wrong. They tried me in a court martial and found nothing to convict me of, but not for lack of trying. Demoted to lieutenant and asked to leave. There’s no justice in that. But after what had happened, I was glad to be leaving. At least that’s what I kept telling myself.
Closing my eyes, I concentrated on breathing. I intended to survive this and rebuild my life somewhere else. I’d done what I had to and I could live with that, but for now I was tired — more tired than I ever recall being. I just wanted to sleep and let the past slip away into the darkness.
About the Author: David Kitson has worked in corporate and government environments as a security analyst and technical network architect, as well as a print and TV journalist focusing on video games and technology news. His love of science stems back to a childhood spent climbing trees and building rocket launchers. He lives in Western Australia with his wife and four children.
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