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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Phaze

Battery Drain

Alex's life is pretty simple: hack through the back doors of a few multinational companies' accounting sections, grab a million here, a million there, and feed his addictions. But a recent run in with a virtual security system forced him to reexamine his priorities. That's when Morgan reappeared in his life. Morgan - seductive, deadly, beautiful raven haired assassin that haunts men's dreams, walks out of a crowd and hands him the opportunity for a new kind of mission, one that includes her as a bonus prize. In return, Alex must become a cybernetically enhanced superwarrior, question his own humanity, and all along, Morgan fades in and out of his dreams, his personal experience, and continues to offer her influence and her sexual favors, in his life.

Don Luis de la Cosa is a new author with Phaze Books, however, he's not new to publishing. Currently he has one science fiction novella published with Phaze Books called "Battery Drain." Don also has a contract with Drollerie Press and a pending story in an anthology edited by Zane. He can be found at http://donluisdelacosa.livejournal.com/, http://twitter.com/donluisdelacosa, and http://www.myspace.com/bigbadludaddy.


EXCERPT FOLLOWS

Battery Drain by Don Luis de la Cosa

Morning reaches out and pulls me from the restless sleep that exhaustion has forced over me. Harsh sunlight filters through the grates in the metal floor that serves as a ceiling to the basement I’ve called home for the past few days. Daytime’s the worst. All the input between the daylight from upstairs and the stark white lab coats is too much for my optics, though, several of the techs habitually wear tight skirts as if they’ve forgotten I’m down here or simply don’t care. I’ve seen enough Victoria’s Secret while sitting here in the semi-darkness to rival their website.
Maybe they do care. Outside, I can hear the activity on the docks: the boats loading and unloading, workers shifting around shipments, and seagulls, lots of them. Must be fish. The subway rumbles past, five hundred yards away in an underground tunnel, and a wayward rat gets toasted when he brushes the third rail. I flip through the several different visual scans my new optics permit, just to pass the time. In one, heat signatures and temperature walk across my field of vision. In another, distances and center of mass targeting scrolls across on a tech’s
white lace thong in liquid red lettering. All the sensory input can sometimes send me into a hypnotic overload, and I close my eyes to concentrate on trying to control the waves of information my awakening senses are receiving.

The pain in my limbs has lessened in the past few days to the point where I can carefully move around the small basement without fainting. I feel as if gravity has suddenly became an arbitrary concept, or perhaps increased so much that it’s made moving around exceedingly difficult. I reach out to steady myself against the wall and my arm snaps up with a speed that
continues to amaze me. My body seems almost foreign, with reactions and perceptions I previously thought only possible in the purely digital realm. That was all fine with me, as long as they made sure to include my tongue in the list of organs they had mechanized.

Simple surgery to augment my capabilities was the common sense way to ensure that I survived what I’d been hired on to deal with. My last ‘job’ as a deck jockey hadn’t really required much physical exertion, except for carrying flat panels and cables to connect everything. Hell, even sex was virtual at this point. I had, in fact, managed to accomplish one of my infiltrations by seducing the security guard who, as she should have been, was jacked in when I showed up. Other times, more often than not actually, the data I would pilfer was buried under several sublevels of virtual security. Hacking has never been a completely safe profession, but in today’s market, the risks were heavier than ever before, defense mechanisms could just as easily result in mild frustration as neural disintegration. A few narrow escapes from the latter convinced me of the
need to change professions before something unpleasant happened.

Over the years, I had made a number of contacts involving my line of work, others who ride the edge of life to survive. I figured searching out a few old faces might help me rethink my options. My searching finally ended in a small bar hidden in a dirty corner of the city. Of course now, most corners of the city were pretty dirty.

She sat alone in a corner booth, silently observing the activities of the other patrons, mood lighting enhancing the sharpness of her jawline, shadowing her already shadowy mahogany brown hair, and accenting the cleavage her far too flirty outfit revealed. With a subtle nod of her
head, she offered me the open seat opposite her. Cautiously, I crossed the room and slid onto the vacant bench.

Turns out she’s looking for a samurai, a cybernetically enhanced bodyguard, to help her in her latest endeavor. I told her the story about my last brush with security at that company in England, and my inherent distaste for the field. She affected disinterest, and with a wave of her
hand, dismissed my concerns.

“You’re better at it than the people trying to keep you out, Alex. The last time we worked together, you really didn’t even need me, your security measures were so tight. Hell, it took them three weeks to even realize they’d been compromised.”

She did have a point. But what were the risks? And were there any benefits?

“In any sort of encounter, there are three distinct possibilities: one, you lose, two, you win, and three, it’s a draw, and neither of you ends up on top. So, yes, there are risks. Of course, we’re going to give you every tool in the book to make sure that you win and fight dirtier than anyone
else in the game.”

This was getting very serious, very fast. She sensed my apprehension and told me about the money involved. It was a tidy sum, and my bank account could definitely use the extra padding, but, why me? Why not somebody else?

“I already told you, you’re the best. You are one even if you haven’t yet realized it. Inside you is a spirit with a purpose. I’ve seen it. Your capabilities are so much more suited to this than sitting behind a console.” I listened to her words and silently thought about their meaning. I had never before thought to become one of the enhanced muscle that provide the physical support for a large scale attack on a corporation’s assets. I was always tucked away from the front lines behind miles of optic computer cables, writing myself checks for the immense collections of half cents that get lost in companies’ accounting. The tone of her voice, the look in her eyes and the warmth of her face all combined to finalize my decision. However, she wasn’t going to get me easy.

“So, tell me why I should accept your money when I can pull that down in a weekend without having to risk my neck in the process.”

“Because it’s in you, Alex. You might be happy doing what you’re doing for small change and stacking chips from shady deals, but at some point, you’re going to have to let it out.” She stared me in the eye for a long dramatic pause, just long enough to hypnotize even the deadest of poker
faces, and then dropped a bomb in my lap. “And you get me as part of the deal.”

“You’re bluffing.”

“I don’t lie, Alex.” And with that, she rose from the table, knowing that I would follow her, and glided across the floor to behind a velvet curtain. The shadows in that section of the bar made the pockmarked wall look even less sturdy than it should, but, I followed her knowing that she
was right when she said she didn’t lie. Behind the red crushed velvet curtain was a couch draped with the same material, and one solitary light, dimmer than the one at the table jutting from the exposed surface of the exterior wall. I thanked my lucky stars that she was wearing rubber when she sat on that couch, no doubt countless years of DNA had been spilled on its surface, and it certainly didn’t look like someone cleaned back here all that frequently. But then, that was part of the charm of this place.

She pulled me closer to her and started kissing my zipper, her hands grabbing me from behind as her lips slid and her tongue played across the enclosure. I had, since our very first encounter years ago, been dreaming about this, and to finally find it going on was almost enough to have me come right then and there. Of course, I wouldn’t dream of missing out on this experience for the world. She undid the hooks on my leather pants, the buckles at the waist similarly ceding to her expertise. She had me exposed faster than I could have protested if I was inclined to, and slowly began to lick my shaft from base to tip, wrapping her lips around the member along the way, and tickling the tip before swallowing the whole thing like a hungry beast. She pumped me in and out of her mouth, grabbing my hips and pulling me toward her. Her tongue did things to me that there were probably illegal in several states and I came in burning jets that went straight down her throat, grabbing for any handholds I could reach in order to keep myself from collapsing onto the floor.

She sucked the last drops from me and wiped the edges of her mouth. I tried like hell to make sense of what had just happened, and then, realizing there wasn’t an explanation, simply allowed the wave of pleasure to wash over me before I buttoned myself back up. She stayed on the couch until I finished putting myself together, and then rose, a hairsbreadth away from me. I could still smell the sex on her lips.

Just before she left the alcove, she spoke in a half whisper, saying, “Think about it, won’t you?”

Damn! Every time we get together, she rocks my world! I watched her disappear into the crowd and out the door before following the same path. On the way home in the transport, I sat in a daze wondering if I was making the right decision. I fell into my bed and didn’t wake up until
late in the day, though I suffered through a recurrent dream about battles fought and mortal wounds. When I woke, I commed Morgan and let her know that I would join the team, what else could I do? She let me know that arrangements had already been made for the procedures, and she would be by in half an hour to personally escort me to the location. I quickly stuffed
everything I thought I would need for a fast recovery into a bag: cyberdeck, HK Phoenix automatic pistol (just in case), and a couple fresh changes of clothes. The chime at the front door made me jump. Was I completely insane, or was this just another business opportunity? I
answered the door to find Morgan standing there, dressed skimpily, but not unclassy, with the same soft glow in her eyes that I had noticed at the bar. She asked if I was ready to go and I replied that I was, shouldering my bag. We left the building and walked out to the subway to cross the city.

On the way to the clinic, she told me more about the work to be done after my recovery. I’ve never heard anyone describe storming a fortress as being ‘easy’ before, but she somehow convinced me that it would be. Armed recon drones, wall-mounted cannons just to take care of those types who wanted to emulate Spiderman, windows made of the same material that commercial interstellar flights used in their windscreens – practically impenetrable stuff. Once inside, a laser latticework filled the hallways to detect the slightest amount of movement, and the mainframe we needed to get to was guarded by a quad-phase electric containment unit that only one person had the code for.

Yet, she assured me that all of this was not really the issue.

“The mainframe we have to get into is a new liquid state model. We’ve had some of the best people working on this for the better part of a year, but haven’t been able to crack it.”

“So, how do you think having me there to keep all the bad guys off your ass will remedy the situation?”

“Because I’ll actually be going along just to carry all the artillery.”

“And who’s going to do all the work?”

Morgan simply smiled at me, the left side of her mouth curling up and her eyebrows lowering to give her a sinister appearance. That sneer only served to remind me of what else she’d done with those lips the night before, and suddenly, my pants were far too tight. Her higher than
mid-thigh dress barely covered her, and as we traveled further toward the edge of the city, nearing the docks, the subway car became increasingly empty. Once I’d become excited, every time I looked at her face, I felt those lips caressing my stiffness. After two more stops, we were
completely alone, and her discourse had become a low hum in the background, fading in and out of the train’s own throaty whine.

“Alex, have you been listening?”

“I’m sorry Morgan, it’s just that, well, I was thinking about….”

She recognized my intent before I was able to complete my sentence. She’d been watching my erection grow just as much as I’d been dreaming about her lips. Never once frowning at my forwardness, nor hesitating for an instant, she approached me from where she stood, fingers suggestively curled around and sliding along the floor to ceiling pole. She leaned over slowly, making sure I saw straight down the top of her garment, and kissed me passionately, her mouth eager, hungry, her tongue just as surprisingly deft as it had been last night. Then, she undid my pants with an expertise equal to that of the last time. She found my hardness pulsing to her
touch, and, turning, she reached for the bottom of her skirt, slid it above her hips, revealing her nakedness and inching toward my face with her ass. I could smell her already wet, a spicy sweetness to which I was immediately addicted. I grabbed her hips, brought her to my face, and
caressed her delicate lips with my own tongue, drinking the honey that dripped from between them. When I released her, she straddled me, and I noticed a large tattooed design across her waistline in the separation peeking out from under the material. Grabbing my shaft, she slid down onto me, damn near burning me she was so hot. We were far from the city’s center and the only other stop this train made was at the docks, a good twenty minutes away, plenty of time to accomplish our mission. Once she was comfortable on top of me, she started gyrating and bucking her hips, the trains vibrations and constant rocking from side to side adding to the
experience. We weren’t in that position long before I found myself almost ready to explode. Wanting to prolong this as much as possible, I grabbed her around the waist, stood up, and using the handrails for stability, continued in this new position, screaming, sweating, straining, feeling
the rush of fluids begin and suddenly, inadvertently, my gaze fell upon the bold design tattooed on her back, some ancient god whose significance was entirely lost on me. Its image was terrifying: an enormous fanged snake’s head on a scaly human body with a similarly terrifying skirt of serpents. The image impacted me so much that I came fast and hard, stumbling backward and thankfully falling into a chair. Morgan rushed over to me, with both hands on my knees to steady herself, and sucked the last few drops out of me, rocking gently with the train, the smell of sex permeating the air. Again those lips, she was fast converting me into a devotee, and I wasn’t quite sure just how to reconcile my feelings. We hurriedly got dressed as we were approaching the station, gathered our things and stood by the door.

Once at the shipyards, it was a short walk to the warehouse that contained the clinic we were looking for. A man wearing a white lab coat met us at the door and ushered us inside. The interior of the clinic was a stark change from the outer warehouse fa├žade. Offices with open doors lined a short hallway that ended in a large metal door labeled “Personnel Only”. My escort’s deft fingers played across a fingerprint scanning keypad, gaining us access through the metal door, opening onto a large trailer dominating the open space. I was told this trailer was the operating room and on the far side were the accommodations where I would be recovering. A
rather small attendant crossed the open distance, taking my coat and bag, telling me they would be in my room after the procedure. As the attendant walked away, Morgan told me she would be leaving to complete some arrangements. I watched her retrace the path we had just walked and then I turned to the man in the white lab coat to see what was next.

He told me he was a technician and would be assisting in the implants after I had been checked out by the medical team. Basic stuff: signal boosters to speed response time, multi-scan optics, channel amplifiers to improve aural capabilities, and rapidly multiplying nanotechnology would
be injected into the bloodstream to bond with and augment the existing neural network in order to handle the excess of information and the signal boosters’ higher range of output. Nothing I hadn’t heard of before, but certainly nothing I had ever expected to be going through myself. We walked toward the surgical trailer and I looked at the opaque windows lining the sides. Reaching the door, the technician opened it and led me into a rather large examining room. I sat on an empty table and tried to get comfortable as another man in a white coat strode into the room. The second man walked over to me and introduced himself as the head surgeon for my operation. He professionally explained the procedures he would be using, and the schedule for recovery, while checking my pulse, listening to my breathing, and testing my reflexes. After these items were finished, the doctor told me I would be put under for the examination and surgery, explaining it was easier to gather their data if I was unconscious. I pressed him on this point, challenging that he might simply want to put me under so he could transport me for one of the companies I’d hacked.

“Of course someone in your position might consider that. However, what I’m talking about is slicing through skin and muscle to the major nerves running through your body, then attaching pulse meters at both ends in order to test transmission rates. Local anesthesia won’t work at those depths, and if you so much as twitch during the operation, you run the risk of either damaging or severing the nerve completely and incapacitating that side of your body. Of course, we could regrow the nerve, but, the blood typing, stem cell generation, growth time, installation, and rehabilitation would conservatively take two years, during which time no one would even remotely consider the possibility of allowing you on an interstellar transport if, for some unforeseen reason, you should need to leave town on ‘business’. Or you could just agree to be
put under general anesthetic.”

“I see your point, Doc. So, when do we get started?”

“Follow Althea, there, and get showered. Use the scrubber to clean everything. I hate dirty patients.”

1 comment:

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