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Book 1: Living Water Sculptures
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-307-5
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 142 Pages
Published: May 2016

From inside the flap

In the 22nd century ocean levels have risen and most of the world’s coastal cities are under water. Wealthier citizens from America now live under the ocean in a series of interconnected bubble dome cities known as Seatopia, while poorer citizens and outcasts live in anarchistic chaos on the shrunken land.

Jonathan Briar is a talented hologram artist with bipolar disorder who is madly in love with a holographic woman of his own creation. He works for the most powerful corporation in Seatopia, and he has a difficult decision to make after discovering that his employer is involved in a scandal causing the suffering of millions. Meanwhile, Kristin Thatcher and Marcus Taylor are members of a dissident faction from the land who seek revenge on Seatopia for the brutal execution of their leader and mentor.

Seatopia, Book 1: Living Water Sculptures is the story of how a disparate group of heroines and heroes work together to reclaim freedom from an oppressive false paradise in a brutal and chaotic world.

Seatopia (Excerpt)

Chapter 1

Life begins in water. Floating in the warm, inviting comfort of your mother’s womb. Seeds of existence swimming through sustaining fluid with a scintillant hope of continuity; primordial life penetrating the surface to embrace a sandy shore.

The blood pumping through your body originates from sea water and the rains of antiquity. Now in the 22nd century this life giving liquid enshrouds an accumulative portion of the world’s surface, and wealthier humans have retreated to the womb-like bubble cities beneath the waves with their brethren left behind on the wounded, imbalanced land.

The serene water surrounding the Seatopia city of New Richmond flows in a perpetual rhythm, but a sudden explosion breaks the serenity – and a battle rages around the city.

Unified attack subs surge toward New Richmond with their weapons blazing. Seatopia sub drones (small, sleek trapezoids with glowing red eyes) send pulse cannons percolating through the water to meet them in a parley of aggression.

Lamborghini-like Enclave subs stream through the Atlantic sending volleys of laser torpedoes, turning many of the drones into bubbling husks, as the drones take down their share of attacking subs. Several sub drones converge on a Unified vessel to bombard it with cannon blasts, disabling the force shield to make frothing rents in the hull until one of them finishes the job with a torpedo. Manta ray-like submarines from the Marine Emergency Reactive Military Aid unit pour into the fray to blast drones at will. A few stray torpedoes slam into the crumbling, sunken ruins of Old Richmond. Weapons fill the once peaceful water and the seabed becomes an ever increasing ship graveyard.

The Unified fleet blasts an opening in the swarming wall of sub drones to surge past them toward the waiting bubble dome. The first wave of Unified subs, however, slams into a portcullis of invisible depth charges around the city – causing a cascade of bubbling explosions and heavy casualties. The detonating charges phase into appearance for a split second before disappearing again. The fleet falls back in response to this unexpected setback, forced into a standoff with the pesky drones.

Marcus Taylor races through the water in a brand new, single pilot fighter sub that looks like a sleek, slightly tilted crescent moon. Marcus sees the depth charges flash for a split second on the midair holographic display in his cockpit, and looks ahead through the viewport to see fellow soldiers die in the waste. Their crippled subs sink to the bottom leaving bubbles in their wake. Raymond Kildare streams right behind him in his own fighter sub and says into his earpiece, “Damn, they must have known we were coming. Wasn’t this supposed to be a sneak attack?”

“Someone or something must have tipped them off. Do you see anything that might be cloaking the charges?”

“Not right now. We need to get closer to the city, but it’s going to be damn hard. We need Miranda and her team in the water ASAP.”

Marcus quickly sends the message to Miranda’s command sub, but doesn’t have time to think after that: a host of Seatopia drones turn their attention to the new fighter subs and fill the deep liquid with pulse cannon blasts. Marcus, Ray, and the other fighter pilots break off in a defensive pattern to evade fire while returning fire of their own. Marcus picks off a few drones and maneuvers away from enemy shots with expert precision. Ray moves his fighter swiftly through the water, loving how well these new subs maneuver, and concentrates on blasting drones before they hit his comrades. The small sub drones only have one torpedo each, like a bee with a lone stinger, but a few of them release their torpedoes before being blown to smithereens. The enemy laser torpedoes destroy a few Unified fighter subs, making the suddenly lifeless shells spin through the water, while two more torpedoes tail Ray’s sub like rats behind the Pied Piper. Marcus turns from his target to blast one of the torpedoes streaking toward his friend. Ray operates countermeasures with a wave of his lone hand. A defensive pulse shoots out to destroy the torpedo and the resultant blast wake sends Ray’s fighter tumbling through the bubbling liquid until he can reclaim his bearings to fight afresh.

Dr. Brendan Kim sits wearing his trademark lab coat in the command chair of the Myrmidon, the M.E.R.M.-Aid unit’s large flagship that’s crisscrossed inside by water-filled tubes so the aquatic soldiers can freely traverse the ship in their natural form, when he receives the signal from Marcus’s fighter sub. He turns to Lieutenant Colonel Miranda Ulmo, the aquatic soldier leader who also happens to be the love of his life, and says, “It’s time. Marcus and Ray need you out there.”

Miranda answers by walking up, giving him a deep kiss, and saying, “Make sure you have a fresh bucket of fish ready for me when I get back.” She runs her hand along his arm before her countenance turns businesslike as she rotates to face her soldiers. She doesn’t flinch when the Myrmidon is rocked by a laser blast hitting the force shield. Miranda fires up her soldiers with a nod and a grin of bloodlust. They follow her into the pool and out to the lockout trunk with their weapons ready; the aquatic soldiers live for combat.

Miranda, Major Shelly Naiad, Major Lisa Cardita, Captain Margot Unagi, Lieutenant Ariel Triton, and the rest of the M.E.R.M.-Aid unit stream into the water to meet the onrushing drones. They plow through the water with swishes of their powerful tails as they fire their pulse cannons at any drone within range. Miranda and the others deftly weave around enemy fire while laying waste to the sub drones, and they are so agile that they take few casualties.

New Richmond launches manned attack subs to reinforce the drones – cylindrical gray ships similar to the Pharmadyne subs at the Battle of New Charlotte. The Myrmidon and other Unified ships turn their attention to these newcomers with the usual barrage of torpedoes and pulse blasts.

Meanwhile, Dr. Prapti Gupta sits in the command chair on the Virginia’s bridge, giving orders and focusing on the intricacies of underwater combat. The ship has taken some hits but the force shield is holding. Kristin Thatcher, with her dirty blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, paces from nervous tension with her eyes fixed on the translucent image of Marcus’s sub within the holo display. She is a land warrior and feels out of place in a subaquatic battle. Kris almost lost Marcus before, and she sure as hell doesn’t want another scare like that. Her friend Josue watches with her, and he puts a reassuring hand on her shoulder as if to say Marcus will be fine.

Back out in the ocean, Marcus and Ray evade heavy fire while desperately searching for a way to disable the hidden depth charges. They zig and zag their subs through the detritus of battle while fighting a path to scan the city for a holo projector that would obscure the mines. The fighter subs have pulse cannons underneath and a vertical row of small torpedoes to each side, but their torpedoes are running out.

Finally, Ray notices a structure similar to what Jon Briar used to project illusory New Baltimore subs into the Battle of New Charlotte. He quickly patches in to the Virginia, “Kildare to Gupta. Prapti, are you there?”

“Yes, Ray. What’s going on?”

“Your sensors have a much farther range than mine. Scan that structure just off the southwest side of the main bubble dome and tell me if it’s letting off a holographic signature.”

“I’m on it… yes, it’s faint but it’s there.”

Marcus was listening so he immediately breaks off and races toward the structure, leaving bubbles in his wake. There’s a problem, however: the fighter subs have a better chance of sneaking through the network of depth charges, but he could still very well slam into one. So, while curling away from a volley of fire from a gray New Richmond sub, he patches through to the Myrmidon, “Taylor to Kim.”

“What’s up, Marcus?”

“Brendan, I need you to do a calculation for me. Go back to the time index when our subs slammed into the depth charges, note their location and probable trajectory, and let me know the best place to sneak through the web.”

Dr. Kim analyzes the data and answers Marcus by sending him the ideal coordinates within seconds.

“Thanks, man. Now I’ll feel even worse when I kick your ass in Sea Strike after this.”

“Since you owe me one I’ll actually try now instead of just letting you win.”

Marcus smiles at this and then moves his small sub full throttle toward the coordinates while saying, “Ray, I’m going after that target – cover me.”

Marcus maneuvers through the heavier part of the battle, with enemy subs and drones swarming everywhere. Ray follows him through the water and blasts any enemy ships near him, clearing a path. They both take a few laser blasts but their shields are barely holding. Lieutenant Taylor reaches the spot from Brendan’s coordinates, takes a deep breath, and speeds through the wall of depth charges… he makes it past the coordinates safely and exhales, but can’t relax because more enemies bear down on him now that’s he’s made it through. Ray and other Unified subs try to cover him as best they can. A few pulse shots hammer into depth charges, triggering frothing explosions that destroy enemy subs while obscuring Marcus from them.

Marcus corkscrews through the ocean to elude enemy pulse cannons until he’s right near the holo projecting bunker. Another feature of these new fighter subs is that they can be armed to turn the entire sub into a moving bomb. Marcus grabs the remote control, pushes the button to arm the sub and eject, and feels his seat moving back into the coffin-like lockout trunk behind him. Marcus enters the tight, claustrophobic lockout trunk; water quickly fills it up and he starts breathing through his gills – a sensation he is much more used to now. Lieutenant Taylor then egresses into the ocean, feeling stunned from the cold of the water, but he quickly gains his bearings and uses the remote control to send his armed fighter sub careening right to the bunker at full speed. Enemy subs get there too late and only manage a glancing shot off the last of the force shield… and then Marcus’s former fighter sub crashes into the bunker, causing an enormous explosion that sends blast wake undulating through the ocean. Marcus does a backwards somersault while subs and drones tumble or sway in the water.

The obscured depth charges suddenly phase into view, and the Unified fleet streams toward the city like Pamplona bulls.

Miranda and her soldiers swim through openings in the depth charge network with the grace of creatures who call the sea home – swiftly going through the water with great swooshes of their flippers until they’re knocking right at New Richmond’s door, blasting enemies at will. Ray and the other fighter subs slip past the mine grid like flies through a screen door. Once they’re through the Myrmidon and other attack subs blast depth charges out of their way to surge toward the city through the frothing sea.

Marcus drifts in the water, and sees the Virginia swooping toward him. However, a sub drone detects him and turns to attack; it will reach him before Prapti does. Marcus smirks, unslings his pulse rifle, and gets ready to play patty cake with the motherfucker. Luckily the drone already discharged its torpedo, but it starts sending pulse blasts his way. Marcus swims as hard as he can to just barely dodge the blasts before returning shots of his own. He shoots the drone’s weapon system, rendering it unable to fire, and then picks it apart with unabashed glee. Just then the Virginia’s tractor beam ensnares him and pulls him into the lockout trunk on the stern.

Marcus floats in the lockout trunk as water rushes out, cascading over his muscular body, and he thinks, Damn, I was just starting to have fun!

The water finishes draining out, and then the door to the lockout trunk opens and Kristin comes in to meet him as he’s removing the top of his black combat wet suit. They embrace and embark on a long, deep, passionate kiss. Kristin gets all wet from the water dripping from her man’s dark skin, but she doesn’t care.

Ahead on the Virginia’s bridge Dr. Gupta is gets ready to implement the next phase of the plan. The attack sub battles its way until it’s directly facing New Richmond’s command hub. Prapti says, “Good luck” to the empty air and pushes a button that makes two holographic tethers lash out through the water and connect with the city’s main computer. She then transmits two very special computer programs directly to the enemy command hub...

Chapter 2

A large, ornate pleasure sub surfaces in the Atlantic Ocean over Seatopia. The enormous, richly colored ship slowly rises from the sea with water cascading over the hull like sand in an hourglass.

This particular pleasure sub is on a private cruise in celebration of a recent merger between The Peleus Corporation and Thetis Technologies, two of the most powerful corporations in the Seatopia Plutocracy, and this is a highlight of the voyage: a sun party.

Merger guests line up at doors that lead out to the pleasure sub’s roof, a deck that is usually submerged with the rest of the ship – but not today. The wealthiest passengers are allowed to be first in line, and once the pleasure sub is completely above water these lucky guests go through the doors and out to a beautiful, sunny day. People emit sighs of pleasure upon feeling the glorious sun on their skin; there are few pleasures greater than this for people who spend most of their lives beneath the sea. Holographic representations of the sun are simply no substitute for the real thing, and passengers slowly make their way out to the deck while soaking up the rejuvenating rays. These parties are such a rare treat because it can be dangerous for a sub to expose itself like this, so armed guards patrol the upper deck on the lookout for enemy missiles and other threats.

The party starts in earnest once most of the guests emerge from the lower decks, with live music, spa treatments, food prepared by some of the finest chefs in Seatopia, and aesthetic sun-themed cocktails circulating around the deck on floating trays. Many party guests simply choose to sun bathe on plush deck chairs, relishing the joy of doing nothing in a state of complete relaxation, while others dance, partake in the entertainment, or stand against the railing enjoying the breeze and looking out over the vastness of the ocean (from above for a change).

Amidst this bliss are two passengers who are not enjoying themselves as much as others. Chad Alexander Fullerton and Elizabeth Eris Chastain are dead last on the guest list, and they traverse the deck in business suits rather than leisurewear. Mr. Fullerton tries to avoid eye contact with people he used to control, before he was blamed for the takeover of New Charlotte and cast from the corporate council in disgrace. Pharmadyne’s stock plummeted after the battle, and the surviving members of the pharmaceutical company’s prior leadership now live as pariahs in Seatopia (except for General George Ironwood and his soldiers, who always fight for the highest bidder). Fullerton’s wife was only with him for his power and fame so she divorced him shortly after he was let go. Despite the stress and expense Chad sees his divorce as the ordeal’s only silver lining because he can now be open about his relationship with Liz – the one person who has been with him through thick and thin. Chad Fullerton and Elizabeth Chastain love each other with abounding passion.

The lovers now live a life of humiliation, constantly belittled by their rivals despite still living in relative luxury, but they have a proverbial wild card that they intend to play on this cruise. Chastain sees one of the three powerful CEOs who she requested a meeting with (Derek Jupiter from Olympus Legal Corporation, the largest and most powerful law firm in Seatopia) and nods at him to convey that it’s time for the meeting. Jupiter is a tall man with dark hair and a neatly trimmed beard. He is technically middle aged but you wouldn’t know it from his impeccable plastic surgery. Jupiter and one of his muscular bodyguards follow Liz and Chad to an elevator, and the four of them ride down in awkward silence to a corporate meeting facility called The Ida Center.

They step out of the elevator, and the two lovers lead the Olympus Legal CEO to a decorative meeting room. They walk into the room and Jupiter gruffly says, “This better not be a waste of my time” before sitting down at the table and buttoning up his sport coat with his bodyguard standing by. There are a few other bodyguards in the room along with a beautiful young woman holding a briefcase in a business suit, short skirt, and heels with her blonde hair pulled back in a tight bun. Two other CEOs are seated at the table: Dr. Martin Memnon from Memnon Industries and Debra Pallas from Cranium Corporation. Martin Memnon is a tall, amazingly handsome young man with blonde hair and green eyes. The attractive young woman is his personal assistant, Iris, and his most trusted bodyguard is by his side: a large, muscular Mexican man named Hector. Memnon Industries is a secretive, mysterious corporation and nobody really knows the extent of their endeavors, somewhat like Willy Wonka’s chocolate company, but they are mostly known for producing a wide array of holographic entertainment. Debra Pallas is an older woman (who looks younger from plastic surgery of course) with curly, brunette hair. Cranium Corporation has a monopoly on educational wetware and controls all of Seatopia’s holonet education.

Liz immediately quells the restlessness of her busy, powerful guests by opening up her purse and taking out the most beautiful, most mesmerizing thing that anyone in the room has ever seen: a golden, spherical object with tiny, polychromatic lights blinking in a random, sporadic pattern. Everyone in the room is transfixed on the object, admiring it with unfailing attention.

Chastain places the beautiful golden sphere in the center of the table and says, “This is the reason why Chad and I asked you to meet with us today. We call it The Eye of Odin, and we will sell it to whoever offers us the fairest deal...”