Part one - Elysian Fields - is an all-action pulp sci-fi adventure set in a grim future, where the Last City of Old Earth is about to tear itself apart! Factions both human and alien struggle for control of a powerful secret technology meant to bring humanity back from the brink of extinction... but which, in the wrong hands, could mean the end of all sentient life. And just as the scope for ruin and death seems complete, the dead themselves begin to rise...
Elysian Fields on lulu.com
Technician Zhe is having one hell of a bad day. Not only has he been sent out from Liquid Space to overhaul a stinking little backwater universe, he's also been tasked by his master (the large and extremely hungry Praetor Primus) to track down his old supervisor Gharfos Nyl. Why in all the hells would a being like Technician Nyl vanish right now, when thousands of alien races have been trying to vaporize him for centuries to no avail? And what could he possibly see in a two-bit mudball called the Earth, a radioactive ruin whose last city totters on the brink of disaster, riven from within by plutocrats, druglords, inbred aristocrats and a faltering A.I. overmind? He's being paid to find out... the only question is, will that paycheck be enough? Elysian Fields is an all-action pulp sci-fi adventure packed with all the violence, destruction and alien terror you can put down on paper. Just like a comic book, only crunchy!
The engine howled and roared in protest as Gianni brought his elegant wingtip down hard, grinning around the smoldering butt of a huge cigar. Hundreds of dollars worth of whitewalled rubber went up in smoke as the Bugatti took a corner in a barely controlled slide, the immense vehicle skating across the asphalt as if on greased rails.
Beside him Maria slapped another drum magazine into her Thompson, sequins flying from her sheer-cut dress like tiny stars in their slipstream. The tearing sound of automatic fire battled the bellow of the engine for a second as she let rip with the machinegun, peppering the chrome grille of the Cadillac which dogged their smoking tires.
Gianni squinted, staring down the gleaming black ribbon of road where it snaked between the trees on one side and the river on the other. This car shouldn’t exist – the last of the Royales, wrecked in ’31 and rebuilt with bootleg money here in Chicago. Its long-nosed hood concealed a twelve-cylinder Victory aero engine, twenty-seven liters of raw power blasting flames out of a clutch of sawnoff pipes.
The Caddy was up on them anyhow, tighter through the turns than the monstrous Bugatti hybrid. He saw some of Frankie G’s boys hanging out the windows, letting off bursts of fire as their car swerved and shuddered from side to side. Maria picked one off as he watched, the hail of lead plucking him from the running board to fly off into the dark, a ragdoll trailing blood.
This was what he lived for – the great brutal car at his command, a beautiful woman at his side, adrenaline pumping though his body as he carved a name for himself out of the wild dark city. Here, nobody remembered the name of George Nathan Henry Smith, small time Tech fence.
They – the powerful, the rich, the corrupt and the beautiful – knew him only as Don Gianni. Here he was cruel and sophisticated and respected...even more so than in real life. There was no history to stain his character in the virtual fantasy his Suit wove for him, nobody who knew that he had once been a vile urchin from down in SubHab Seventeen. To tell the truth, all his machinations, his ‘dreno trade, his robotics business – they were all just to buy him time inside the ‘mersive.
That was how the agent found him.
Out to the left of Gianni's little pool of light, out over the knotted pseudotimber boards with their engineered creaks and groans. Past faces of cancerous stone, mangled supermen with horror shadows seeping ...
Black swathes of night surged into the room like a torrent; curtains blown in from a gaping window.
Orange and green light played across an impassive face there; A Euro, but dreadlocked, scarred. His face was wrapped in a ninja-mask of LCD tape, mirrored from the outside.
It slicked over his skin like paint; every wrinkle stood out in sharp relief. Abdulafia 330 had no time for moisturizer.
From the inside the tape showed him the room in a wash of night-sight green. It only took him a couple of seconds to spot the case which is his target - it positively glowed as ident programs lit it up for him.
The Ashsihim agent leaped from the window ledge and onto one of Gianni's giant statues, landing as quietly as a fluttering moth. Microfiber pads on his gloves and shoes held him tight to the cracked stone as he inched forward...
Oh yes - there was something strange about this batch. He could smell the adrenochrome from across the room with the olfactory boosters drilled into his nasal septum, and it was more than pure enough. With this stuff, there was no limit to what he and his fellow Dervashi could do.
Then the image of the Don seated at his mammoth desk flickered and collapsed. It was nothing but a hardlight hologram, projected from a tiny bead on the floor...
If 'Afia was anything less than a perfectly honed living weapon he would have died right there. Gianni Vexx didn't get to where he was by letting people jack his drugs, and his own tech augmentations made Abdulafia's every movement sound like an avalanche.
The Mafiosi loomed out of the shadows in a seething morass of twitching threads, his Suit tearing open down both arms as loaded guns dropped into his gold-encrusted hands. The feral grin plastered across Gianni’s features told 'Afia that he'd been ready and waiting, poised in the dark with his intelligent garment switched to camo.
"Welcome home, honey!" said Vexx, his face split by a yellow-toothed smile. "Didn't anyone tell you how to use a door, you nomad piece of shit?"
Typical dumb crooked bastard, thought the Ashishim. They always gloated first instead of just pulling the trigger. That bought him just enough time to lock in his autoinjector, and then the drugs came down on him hard. The whole world went glacial as his brain turned to frosted glass...
The first bullet jackhammered out of Gianni’s Taurus in a roseate bloom of flame and cordite smoke, moving in on him slow and heavy. His body clenched up tight, but it felt immense, blurred around the edges with static discharge. Now the lead slug was up to walking pace in the air, a rippling shockwave radiating from the muzzle of the handcannon behind it. Its revolver mechanism ticked over like continental drift...
Abdulafia bent the slug off course with a burst of energy patterned by his mind, and it plowed into the cheek of a scarred plasticrete Jesus with a sound like popping bubble-wrap.
Things were becoming much swifter around him. The nektar, his chemical aid, was wearing off.
The next six shells came in quick succession, and he had to use the last of his enhanced power to dodge them. He flickered from one place to the next as if lit up by strobes, too fast for the eye to follow. His last flash left him leaning nonchalantly against a statue, a single bullet held up between two of his fingers like the butt of a cigarette.
Gianni's face crawled with worms of black thread as he pulled his gun up; sneering at the theatrics.
“Stand still, will ya? You’re only making this take longer than it has to.”
As the revolver popped open, smoking, Abdulafia went for the case.
“This is all I need here, Mister Vexx. Put down the guns and you can write it off as a tax deductible.”
"You couldn't resist, could you?" asked the Don, as the rig lifted his gun clear. "Did you really think you were that good? That I wouldn't be waiting for you?"
Abdulafia swiftly tied the case to his combat mesh, silent. His mirrored face was a deaths-head floating in the gloom.
"As you jus' saw, Mister Vexx, we've found other uses for the 'chrome than simply gettin' blazed. I don’t suppose the junkies you tapped to get this would have any sympathy for you losing it.”