Excerpts

Isaac’s camdrone perched upon a nearby rent-a-charger and zoomed in on the two men as they walked into the RemoleCafé, trying to appear calm. The decor in the cafe was dominated by two huge waterfall walls pulling from the tower’s recycler system. Sitting on coffee-colored cerament floors, the bar took up the back of the room. Assorted seating was scattered about. They punched in their orders and waited silently.

A minute later, Green Eye Teas in hand, the two found a table to catch their breath. Ohreno sipped his tea while shooting angry glances at Isaac; who was in the midst of setting up that damn pompous antiquated tablet of his.

At last Ohreno couldn’t hold it any longer.





“Sssshhhh,” Dea hissed. I hit my shin on a malfunctioning DreamRec™ someone had left sticking out in the middle of the passageway. I swore, then I giggled, and Dea’s hand clamped down over my mouth.

“Quiet, you idjit,” he ordered softly. We were creeping down the passage in front of Malinda’s door. As we passed, it opened, and light streamed out, a detail I clocked later as weird. I knew Helpers didn’t need light to maneuver. Now I know Cade was in there with her, having figured out things I should have known myself, dammit, if I hadn’t been so full of my own opinion of my supposed high IQ. I’ve learned since that if you want to trip up an opponent, lay on the flattery. It works every time.





I isolated the part of the strand that I thought controlled the loss of telomeres, and created an incident at the company that made it look like we were being hacked by one of our competitors. During the supposed hacking, all our test subjects were injected with samples of the DNA. I thought, “Well, that will certainly make my name when it turns out that none of the brats can ever get cancer.”

But there it is. My name has never been made.

What happened was that the DNA snippet entered the test subjects and decided to reproduce itself. Aggressively. Replacing the host cells as it attacked and destroyed them.





Skyscraper windows showered outward from a force grenade. A thousand strands of reflective safety glass vomited out the side of the Calibration Logistics building, showers of pain erupting in arcs across filtered rays of light, reflections dancing on a thousand glimmering walls.

There was a moment of gut-hunch panic before K8T enacted C-15 and tossed the grenade, before she ever saw the cracking elevator door.





“Okay Ben,” says Jojo, putting too much emphasis on the name. His sleeveless black pullover bears the logo of the Abnation: a capital N in a circle, horizontal line through the center. The designer of the graphic has represented the N as a red lightning bolt, extending beyond the circle's perimeter and tapering off into wicked points above and below.

Mikal blinks. He's suddenly afraid, and he's not sure why.

The solid credit card hovers into the space between them, waving gently up and down. Its NIN and current value bob up and down above it in aug reality, green for Mikal and blue for Jojo. “My friend Ben needs to leave a message for the Pan Sibs,” says Treat, with similar emphasis. “He's vetted. I reset his systems and cleaned up his wake.”