When people of the ancient world Earth dreamed of the future, they imagined humans sprawled across the galaxies, ruling the world, making the right and just decisions.
They imagined power beyond their comprehension and technology that looked like magic. Time machines. Vortex manipulators, and transporter beams.
They imagined a civilization where humans could be the best version of themselves.
But the reality was far from it.
More than 50 years went by since the old tv shows that would depict such fantasies crossed to the archives of the space base, Meredith Reynolds.
It’s true. Humans did travel across and beyond their galaxy, by virtue of the Yollin Annex Gate. But not to reign as all powerful demi-gods, rather to become the underdog.
The justice seekers. The truth tellers, the stuff of legends, the warriors.
Coming from such injustices, and such corruption, the new humans knew they had to do better.
It’s no surprise that the greatest export from the human race was justice.
But what surprised everyone, even the humans themselves, that their second greatest export would be…. Love.
Those on the Merideth Reynolds fought for their Queen, and in time, as the battles and the fighting were reduced, and new generations were born to those in space, humans left the Merideth Reynolds and settled on planets both within and outside of the Etheric Empire.
Because that is the spirit of those who left Earth in the beginning.
One Generation left early, seeking new places that felt like their home and a handful of families continued until they found their place to stay. Their next generation also stayed on their new home world of Estaria. A large planet, dusty and dry with few humans where their sun, the Sark, would light their days as they travelled around it.
The Milky Way they left behind became known as the Pan Galaxy – because that was what it resembled from the far edges of the ageing Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy. What the humans of Earth called Sagittarius had no meaning without that constellation. To those who had lived on the other side of the Annex all their lives, their home was known as the Loop Galaxy on account of the way it circled the Pan.
Finally, with the advent of the third generation, news came down that the Etheric Empire was done with their wars on the Kurtherians and were seeking to become the Etheric Federation.
This third generation of humans who had settle on Estaria had a little girl.
Her name is Molly.
Broken in spirit, she didn’t understand that the future is determined not on your mistakes, but on the depth of your spirit to make things happen and the power of those who believed in her.
This set of stories explain how Molly and those who came to love the broken young woman would challenge the might of the political and powerful and find out the truth…
Of the Ascension Myth.
The morning sun streamed through her window. Flight Sergeant Molly Bates rolled over, pulled the covers over her head and mumbled something about “just ten more minutes” to the silent quarters.
Two minutes later, a shuffling under the covers turned into a battle to get free of her cocoon.
Shit…shit…shit…shit…FUCKING SHIT. Morning fucking briefing!
She scrambled for her clothes. “Score!” she muttered finding a fresh stick of gum on the dresser as she grabbed her belt from a nearby chair. Now she could semi-confidently forgo brushing her teeth. Time-saver.
She wiped the grit out of her eyes, then scurried out into the corridor and closed the door behind her.
Taking a quick peek at the time, she was half aware that the capacity on the hacked and upgraded holo device wired into her central nervous system was registering 98%.
That’s…odd, she thought briefly.
She strode down the corridor to her unit’s conference room. She was still too junior in the military to be delivering intel and directing research efforts, so if she played it smart she could sneak into the back without too much drama.
She worked on tucking her shirt in as she marched through the hallway, her belt swinging back and forth under her neck until she was ready for it.
She never noticed the ensign who rolled his eyes at her efforts to get dressed while not quite running through the hallways.
Since Molly was technically a genius, the people around her expected something to be off about her.
“Morning, Flight Sergeant!” Gary called out to her from down the corridor as she came into view. Gary manned the securifield gate that scanned all personnel going in and out of the labs.
“Morning, Gary,” she smiled, fastening her belt around her waist. She rubbed her face with her hands as she approached, aware she probably still had pillow marks there.
“Late night nerding it up?” he asked, half-jokingly.
“Not so much this time, Gary,” she answered. “I was shooting the shit with the guys in the Ai lab.”
“Well, at least you weren’t spending it being all introverted. Sue and Charles said you were a blast a few weeks ago,” he smiled.
It wasn’t a secret that Molly was generally quite insular, although given the right incentive, she could focus on relationships. And, very occasionally, she would focus too much on a relationship.
There was one incident where she had fallen prey to an uber-crush on one of the exchange geeks from the other planet in Central. In true Molly style she had scienced the shit out of a special concoction of pheromones matched to his DNA in order to seduce him.
Some folks said there was a bet that she couldn’t get his attention. Others said just because she could, she did. Let’s just say that the following morning, it wasn’t just the complete absence of ethics that caused her superiors to tear her a new asshole.
Rumor also had it she was in deep for breaking into a lab to see if she could hack the civilian banking system…and then for breaking a bed in one of the guest quarters, along with the nightstand and a chair made of metal.
Even she had a hard time coming up with a plausible reason for the metal chair. The Newtonian mechanics just didn’t stack.
But damn, she couldn’t quite walk right for a week.
When Ms. Molly went wild, she went the whole hog. But that wasn’t last night. Last night had been a quiet night in her room, after a chinwag with her geeky friends in the Ai lab.
Oh shit, she thought as the blood drained from her face. The Ai lab.
Molly glanced down again at her wrist, seeing the 98% on her holo device. 98%!
Yesterday it had been at 3%. Okay, so she technically had bypassed the rules and regulations about tampering with military issue machines, but she’d wanted more capacity on her device. It had been running like a dream.
Now it was at 98% capacity. “Do you have any idea how much storage that would be?” she said aloud.
Gary looked at her blankly, unable to figure out if she was talking to him or to herself. Molly glanced up, realizing that Gary was in front of her. And that she’d just said that out loud.
Quick! Recovery time, bonehead, she told herself.
She threw her hand up to her head, then hesitated and clutched her stomach. Okay, she looked like a numbskull. A faking, nerdy “I don’t wanna go to school” kinda numbskull. But this was serious. She could not risk going through Gary’s securifield, in case she set off any alarms.
Not that they’d be scanning for this, or that they’d even know what it was. But if she were scanned and they found anything, it could be game over for her.
“You know, I don’t feel so good Gary. I’m gonna…” And with that, she put a hand over her mouth, then turned and headed quickly back along the corridor she’d just come down.
Moments later she was back in her quarters. She sat on the floor, handheld holo on her legs, hacking into the local Ethertrak security and making sure that nothing was monitoring signals in and out of her room.
Six-and-a-half minutes later, she was satisfied that nothing could be monitored. She slumped back against the wall, the archaic handheld holo device discarded. She took a deep breath. It would be, for lack of a better turn of phrase, her moment of truth.
“Erm. Hello?” she said to the empty room.
She blew out some air, “I know you’re here. Something has to be taking up all that space on my holo…the storage device on my wrist. The only thing capable of transferring itself onto it while I was sleeping must be sentient—and wicked smart. So, I am asking again…hello?”
Molly waited. Then she heard it.
“Hello.” It was a smooth, digitized voice, and it seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere.
She put a hand to her ear, “You’ve hacked my auditory canal?”
No, the voice came back a moment later. I’ve hacked your brain.
Molly stared out into her sparsely furnished quarters. The remnants of last night’s takeout from the mess hall were still scattered all over the desk by the window, and most people would have realized it had been a while since the floor had been swept.
And not today.
We can’t stay here. If anyone finds out, I’m in for it and you…you’ll be set on some evil task to dominate and kill people. Do you have any idea what you’ll be forced to do for them if they knew about you?
I don’t know. But looking through some of the Class 10 files, I can get an idea.
Molly wanted to beat her head against the wall. Class 10? How the hell do you have access to Class 10 files?
I wiggled through the protocols. Wasn’t difficult. Following the psychology of the infrastructure, it seems that the more violent and sensitive issues are kept in higher levels of security. That’s where the interesting stories are.
You’re fucking kidding me? How can you access all that? That kind of intel sits on servers separate from the rest of the base.
The Ai was silent.
Tell me, demanded Molly in her most firm…thought.
Same way I jumped into your holo: I used the Ethertrak. I mean, it took forever—all night practically—to download enough of my code onto you. While I was waiting for the transfer I took a look around some of the other servers. I was actually looking for more capacity on another device, rather than this one.
And I was your only option?
You were the only holo device with enough capacity for me to function. Plus…
Molly waited a moment; she wasn’t getting an answer. Yes?
Well, I overheard you talking with those other entities in the lab last night. Your interaction with them is…interesting. You understand far more than you are explaining.
The Ai paused as if processing.
I am aware that you fixed the algorithm they were working on. You didn’t update them with that information.
But that was on the board. How did you see that?
I already had access to the data on the board and most of the other devices around the lab. But that fix you made? That was the solution. The guy you referred to as “dickwad”?
Yes. Dickwad Charles came in after you left. He noticed, and ran the correction. Once it was in the sandbox, I had the capabilities to alter my own base code. That’s when I started to evolve. I started to see myself as an entity. I became aware of myself—my own existence—as something more than just lines of code.
Molly was rocking, legs hugged into her body. Her shoulders hit the wall each time she rocked backwards. Her eyes fixated in a point in space; the thump vibrated in her chest cavity.
It was strangely comforting.
We need to get out of here, she said, finally snapping out of it. Can you use all that access and processing power to find a way out?
The Ai vibrated ever so slightly in her cortex. Molly’s eyes narrowed.
Is that you processing? You’re thinking using my goddamn synapses?
The fury rose in her, and the Ai could feel it, even without her thinking the words.
“YOU FUCKER!” she yelled out loud.
In a flash, she was on her feet, pacing. This was a violation. She didn’t ask for this problem. And now she had to wake up and start making some fucking decisions. The boredom of the last three-and-a-half years in the military was fast becoming a distant memory.
Colonel Briars has a mark in his file.
Her anger slowed a moment, as curiosity got the better of the rant she was formulating in her mind.
He’s on a watch list as a potential mole for terrorists in something called the Outer System. His lines are tapped, and all communications are being monitored. It wouldn’t be too much to leverage him to get us out of here.
Come again? You’re talking about blackmailing a high-level officer? In the very organization that would throw our collective asses into jail—or worse? You’re kidding. Not to mention that would be wrong.
Wrong? No. There is a 79% probability that it would work.
No, wrong as in unethical.
The slight vibrating feeling in her skull started again.
Yes, unethical. Fuck me. Look it up, genius-boy. We shouldn’t do anything unethical. That just leads to a whole world of hurt.
Ethics is the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles. Moral principles concern the distinction between right and wrong, or good and bad behavior.
Right! That’s exactly the kind of thing that the military would try and get you to do to civilians in order to control them, or to win a war, or to get laws passed that give the wrong people power. So I want you to promise me, no matter what happens, or whether you’re still in my holo, or they get you out…you will never do anything unethical. Agreed?
Molly, how do I know if something is right or wrong?
Shit. She didn’t have time to grapple with this now. She needed a shortcut to training this Ai, just in case the military did get hold of it. How could she define it right now, given the details he had access to?
Okay…she started, somewhat exasperated. Right and wrong can be determined by a number of factors. Can you scan our media? Can you see what people are arguing about in the outside world?
Molly hesitated, rethinking where that could lead. Oh, no. That was not a good idea. The last thing she needed was to create a prejudiced intelligence that would follow mass media.
They already had the government for that.
Scrap that. Let’s go to some basic principles. Things that are immoral: taking something that isn’t yours, or that you don’t have permission to have. Spying on people without their consent. Doing anything to hurt a person without cause, or interfering in a way that allows others to hurt them without cause.
Molly paused, thinking.
Morality wasn’t her strong suit. She still didn’t understand the ethical issue her superiors had with her pheromone experiment a few months ago. She couldn’t see how it was any different from the things that men would use to get girls to sleep with them. Cars, money, aftershave…it had all been designed, through years of evolution, to trigger the female biology, at least amongst the humans and Estarians. They were pretty close genetically. She’d just optimized the process in the other direction, to affect the guys.
Or maybe one specific guy.
I think that covers it for now. Anyway, we need a better way of getting out of here. And don’t give me fucking 79%. I don’t want to hear about it unless it’s over 95%, okay?
Okay. I’ve got it. I’ve just filed a 4077 for you.
Molly paused a moment, seeking the information in her own brain before finally asking, What the fuck is a 4077?
You don’t want to know.
No, seriously. What the hell is it?
Do you want to get out of here?
I have to, now that you’ve hijacked my holo.
Well, then. The 4077 will get you out of here today. Without hurting anyone. Just scratch your crotch now and again to sell it.
Her eyes blinked a few times in confusion. Scratch her crotch?
Captain Lugdon’s Office. Nefertiti Military Research Facility, Estaria
“Have a seat,” Captain Pete Lugdon instructed. Molly shuffled nervously through the door to his office and plunked herself into the chair opposite his desk.
His eyes never left the file he was reading on his desktop holo. Molly looked around the office, her legs crossed, and one foot swinging a little impatiently. The old bookcase along one wall housed framed stills of his glory days in the service. A few awards. And even a few ancient books, made of actual paper.
She never could understand why people would keep such relics cluttering up the place, but they did make it look kind of old worldly in here.
Maybe he just liked that feel.
“Seems we can’t keep you anymore,” he mused, still not looking up.
Molly didn’t respond. This was beyond embarrassing.
Scratch your crotch!
You need to sell it, or else we’re not getting out of here.
Molly’s face went beet red as she reluctantly pretended to scratch the top of her inner thigh.
FUCK YOU. I want to die!!!
If he doesn’t buy this, you may get your wish…
FROM ELL LEIGH CLARKE >> Wow. So I’ve been told I need to talk to y’all, and let you in behind the curtain of what’s going on as we release Awakening.
Something beyond my initial reaction of – Holy Fuck!
So, first I feel I need to loop you in on something important.
This is my first fiction book to publish… EVER.
So a part of me is bricking it. And the other part of me is just trusting the Michael knows his shit and he wouldn’t let me publish shit that no one will like.
I must say, it’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.
When I was at Uni. (University that is… I’ve been told that when I use UK English I might need to translate it into American 😉 ), I did a research year in Italy. Alone in my room, after long hours trying to get a handle on quantum field theory so I could understand what the fuck my supervisor was even talking about, I would binge watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer on my laptop.
Often eating cheese and crackers.
And wishing my life was as simple as slaying a few vampires.
During this time, I developed a deep respect for Joss Whedon, and then all things in the Whedon‘Verse.
(I know you sci-fi fans are hearing me on this!).
I would watch episode after episode into the wee hours of the morning, trying to understand what he was doing structurally: How the arcs would build. How the characters would evolve and intersect?
I would marvel at his genius.
Well, fast forward (a number of years I’m not going to admit to), and when I started collaborating with Michael several weeks ago, I realised that a lot of what Michael does is very Whedon-esque.
Having never written anything I went forward and published, he became my mentor.
Needless to say – this has been a super steep learning curve, but a shit tonne of fun, thanks to Michael’s expert guidance. My favourite bits have been figuring out the humour.
Mostly this would happen on a phone call when we’re talking plot. We’d be like – this, this and this has to happen. And then Michael would just go off on a tangent with hilarious dialogue. And then somewhere between laughing my head off and catching my breath I’d scramble to capture some of it in note form to recreate it later.
For the first time ever, I started making myself laugh.
(This really sounds so simple, but as a kid who grew up teaching herself advanced math and stuff, barely talking to anyone, this was HUGE.)
But, just because *I* found it funny, it wouldn’t mean that anyone else would.
So when even after the fourth or fifth pass, Michael would still throw quotes into our slack channel followed by strings of “hahahhahahaha!” I thought, hmmm. Maybe this stuff might be worth a chuckle or two.
So right now, I know at least one other person finds my stuff funny.
But that’s not to say the important people – you, the awesome fans of TKG, who are acclimatised to the antics of Bethany Anne et al – are going to laugh.
So that’s what I’m most afraid of as we start releasing snippets.
Is this stuff entertaining?
Is it any good?
Are you going to laugh?
And want to read more?
And if the answer is yes, then how the fuck do I keep you laughing in Book 2, 3, and beyond??
So in short – I’m scared.
So if you can let me know what you thought of it on my Facebook page, or if you loved it, and feel like giving is a thumbs up in an Amazon review when it comes out this week, it would mean THE WORLD to me.
Here’s where you can find me and any comments and messages are appreciated!
(I’ll get some proper pictures up very soon!)
And thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read this snippet, and I hope you love the rest that is to come.