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Seatopia: Book 2 - The Eye Of Odin
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-365-2
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 167 Pages
Published: May 2017

From inside the flap

A submarine battle rages around the New Richmond bubble dome in Seatopia as the Unified fleet fights to gain a crucial supply line a few months after taking over New Charlotte; Raymond Kildare and Marcus Taylor engage enemy drones as they maneuver their new, single pilot fighter subs through combat-filled water. They’re joined by Lieutenant Colonel Miranda Ulmo and her formidable Marine Emergency Reactive Military Aid unit. Dr. Prapti Gupta and Dr. Brendan Kim (from a group of rogue scientists called The Greek Chorus) command their attack subs toward the city so they can deploy two special, sentient computer programs on a mission to take down the city’s defenses.

Meanwhile, Chad Fullerton and Elizabeth Chastain are pariahs in the Seatopia plutocracy following Pharmadyne’s downfall, but they have one remaining asset: The Eye of Odin, an extraterrestrial artifact discovered in an ancient chamber beneath the Mariana Trench. The seemingly intelligent device can read minds and is the most effective information-gathering tool ever known, among many other powers yet to be uncovered. Chad and Liz’s endeavor to sell the Eye to the highest corporate bidder sets off a race to use and study the device, and it falls into the hands of an eccentric corporate overlord obsessed with joining the Eye’s powers with the mysterious living hologram named Kephera.

Filled with action, adventure, and romance in a dystopian future where the wealthy live under the ocean while the poor live a life of vigilant struggle on land, The Eye of Odin is a fast-paced novel that continues the Seatopia saga but can also be appreciated as a stand-alone adventure for those who haven’t read the first book.

Seatopia: Book 2 - The Eye Of Odin (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.

Jonathan Briar and Kephera gradually phase into solid form in the middle of an empty corridor. The two holographic lovers embrace and give each other a deep, sensual good luck kiss before running off in opposite directions. Jon is heading toward the controls to the city's force shield, while Kephera heads toward the control center for the drones and depth charges.

Kephera turns a corner to find herself confronted by a squad of corporate soldiers. She smirks and waves her hand - attempting to surge holographic energy into their smart chips and knock them out… but it doesn't work. Kephera thinks oh no and then phases into noncorporeal form so the laser blasts from the grinning soldiers go through her translucent body. She would not be killed if they hit her with a laser blast in solid form, but her core program would be reset back to its location in the Virginia's computer banks - similar to respawning in a video game. Kephera and Jon can't afford to have that happen with either of them. So Kephera somersaults away from the laser blasts, phases to solid form, and then attacks the soldiers using martial arts that Kris taught her. Kephera proved to be the perfect student because she immediately incorporated everything into her program after only one training session, and she is now the equivalent of a multiple degree black belt. Kephera quickly phases in and out of corporeal form to avoid being shot while rocking the soldiers with spinning heel kicks, palm thrusts, and every other move from her extensive arsenal. Kephera flickers in and out while dancing around the room in a furious blur of hand to hand combat.

Jonathan also encounters a room full of soldiers, and when his technique of zapping their smart chips doesn't work he says, "Oh shit…" out loud and phases out while the soldiers converge to send laser blasts through his translucent body. Jon stands there with laser beams shooting through him and says, "Briar to Kephera. Apparently these soldiers do not have smart chips."

Kephera's voice comes in, "I see that, and I'm a little busy right now… you should have let Kris teach you how to fight!"

"I know - but what now?"

"You'll just have to improvise, sweetheart. I'm going to use Kris's fighting skills to battle my way to the control center. Kephera out."

Jonathan thinks fuck… and decides to just run for it in translucent form. The soldiers follow him, continuing to blast through his apparition-like body, until Jon reaches a door. He can't open the door unless he phases in. Briar quickly looks around the room: on one side there is an elongated window with the ocean and a view of the raging battle on the other side, but the rest of the room serves as a guard station… with several desks and chairs. Perfect.

Jon dives away from the door and behind a desk, quickly phases in, and before they can shoot him he makes holographic energy surge out from the walls to pick up the furniture and send it hurtling toward the enemy soldiers. The desks and chairs knock over a few of them, and Jon phases out again as laser blasts from the remaining soldiers go through him. Jon leaps behind another one of the desks, phases in, and then makes energy from the window's force shield leap over to zap the hands of the upright soldiers, making them drop their weapons while wincing and cursing in pain. Jon then stands up, manipulates holo-energy to pick up furniture while holding his hands out like an orchestra conductor, and then draws his hands back to send the pieces of furniture careening right into the heads of the New Richmond soldiers - knocking them all out. Jonathan breathes a sigh of relief before continuing his journey.

As for Kephera, she fights her way to the drone control center while leaving behind a trail of battered soldiers like bread crumbs in a fairy tale. She flashes into a ball of light and zooms across the ceiling until reaching her target, and when she flutters into the room the few soldiers in there take shots at her while the employees dive for cover under their desks. Kephera morphs back into human form while kicking a guard in the face, knocking him out cold, and then she waves her hands to send holographic energy into the smart chips of the workers, knocking them out as well. However, there is one more guard to take care of, and he looks quite formidable: a huge, muscular man. He shoots his laser pistol at Kephera but she bounds out of the way and makes energy zap from the wall to knock the weapon from his hand. He barely even flinches from the pain, and stands up with a menacing look - daring her to try him, as he stands between Kephera and the control panel.

Kephera has no choice but to fight him. She takes a deep breath and gets into a fighting stance as the large man approaches, grinning confidently. They exchange a few blows that the other parries, feeling each other out, and then she drops down and tries to sweep his legs out from under him. He's too big to topple, though, and he reaches down, grabs Kephera by the throat, lifts her up, and tosses her across the room, making her crash into a row of chairs.

The living hologram simply springs up, with an angry look on her face, and then uses energy from the omnipresent holonet to lift up some chairs and draw them into the man's back, knocking him off balance. Kephera runs up, kicks him in the nuts, and then leaps up, turning to a beam of light for a split second as a furious punch goes through her harmlessly, and then she phases back in and gives the man a sensational flying kick that sends him toppling backwards. Kephera leaps on him and cracks him across the face a few times until he's completely knocked out, and she feels guilty about enjoying it. Kephera gets up, goes over to the main panel controlling the drones and depth charges, and flickers as she suffuses herself into the system - looking like a protean cascade of light and color.

After a few moments she succeeds in shutting down the system. Out in the ocean the depth charges go still, disarmed, while the ominous red eyes of the sub drones go dim as they halt in the water like toys with dead batteries. The Unified fleet can now approach the city practically unabated, with only a few manned subs and divers in their way (divers that are being cut to pieces by Miranda and her aquatic soldiers).

Jonathan rushes toward the command center that controls the force shield over the city's main hangar, and he once again knocks out the guards using a combination of flying debris and energy shooting from the holonet-infused walls and ceiling. He steps over the unconscious bodies of the guards and into a tech room full of frightened employees. Jon says, "Everyone, I know you're scared - but rest assured that I am not going to kill you. I simply need to knock you unconscious so that none of you interfere. You may have a bad headache when you wake up, but you'll be okay. Get ready." The employees in the room, with their security badges and formal business clothes, wince in anticipation until Jon shoots energy into their smart chips as gently as he can. The employees slump forward on their desks. Jon quickly goes to the main terminal and suffuses himself into the system. His experience from doing this at the Battle of New Charlotte pays off and he is able to take control of the system within moments, deactivating the force shield and opening the threshold of New Richmond.

Miranda and the others surge toward the rapidly filling lockout hangar with the ferocity of suddenly freed predators. Hapless enemy divers swim in their way in a futile attempt to stop them. Miranda literally slices one of them in half with her machete while making another do a lifeless backflip through the ocean with a pulse rifle shot. Ariel and Margot team up to destroy an attack sub with surgical blasts followed by a well-placed bomb. Shelly slashes an onrushing diver in half and his body parts drift like balloons.

Aquatic soldiers swim into the lockout hangar and wait for the water to rush out, licking their chops in anticipation, with very nervous looking New Richmond soldiers on the other side. By now the news of what Miranda and her unit did at the Battle of New Charlotte has drifted like a rampant wildfire, and these soldiers are not looking forward to engaging them. The last of the water drains out and the shield drops, and the aquatic soldiers swarm in to cut their enemies to pieces, committing a level of slaughter that would make Genghis Khan wince.

The M.E.R.M.-Aids dominate the New Richmond soldiers and take over the bubble dome in less than an hour. The city is theirs.