Yes… another excerpt from my book…. don’t worrry, I’ll go back to reviews next week.
HMS Hunter: Strings on a Shadow Puppet© 2003
Lights flashed and strobed in time to the music. Alyiar could feel the rhythm in his chest as he walked around the edge of the dance floor. His eyes studied the erotically writhing forms of the young hierarchs, seeking out the wealthiest and spotting those who protected them. The dance floor was the center of the club, a series of huge circular sunken stages filled with bodies and lit by lasers and synchronized lights. The rest of the nightclub was a darkened array of bars and corner nooks; hardly secluded, but more private than the dance arena where the sons and the daughters of the ruling classes displayed themselves. It was in those more darkened corners that the threats would lurk, the body-guards and rent-a-cops meant to look after the burgeoning young elite. Alyiar noted each one, recording their faces and locations, but he didn’t focus on it. He simply passed the info on to those who would later neutralize the threats. Tonight, security was not his assignment.
Inside his mind a silent chime went off. It was almost time to put on his game face. He moved into position, his eyes lighting upon Bolyacov doing the same. No matter what features she wore, Alyiar always recognized her. A sleepy smile passed over her face, showing that she had made him as well. He pretended to ignore her and got to his post: a darkened spot overlooking the dance floor.
Hovering over the dance floor was the image of the musician dressed in glitter and little else; a holographic singer undulating her belly and waving her arms with the movements of a marionetteer. Below her, the half naked men and women moved as if tied to unseen strings. Some leaped high into the air, spun and came down meters away. Displays made possible by cybernetics, genetic mods or muscle grafts — playthings for the ultra rich.
The dancers were beautiful, at least, the humans were. Modified by knife or test tube, they were stylishly perfect to a point that disgusted Alyiar. The fact that, for the moment, he shared that perfection was irrelevant. He would change in a few moments.
Only the sophants stood out as different, and there were not many of them. A few slimies and a couple of bugeyes, just enough for diversity’s sake. One kept drawing his eyes, the great furry form of the child of Senator Futhmoarthen stood a full meter taller than its dance companion. Red-brown hair flowing wildly as it danced, it was bipedal, but if it had any arms Alyiar couldn’t make them out. Other than hair and legs, the only feature that he could see were the rows of eyes that descended in tri-lateral symmetry.
Elsewhere another sophant scuttled like a meter wide crab, occasionally popping up and down into his view with its ludicrous movements. Alyiar couldn’t make out if it was an encoutersuit or its natural form. He set a predictor to note the creature’s likely continued positions.
Alyiar felt the vibration he’d been waiting for. A dull rumble in the distance went unnoticed by the celebrants, but caused a series of subtle movements among the private security. Boliacov would no doubt have been watching for the signs in others that Alyiar ignored, the tells that would give away the security that had managed to remain unnoticed. Alyiar didn’t care. He had made his marks already and now it was game time.
Even as the sound wave from the far off bomb shook the darkened windows, Alyiar was transforming. His face stretched like rubber, his features moving from the innocuously beautiful to the stylized bizarre. As subdermal nano- and micro-tech activated, his skull lengthened, his hair grew, his eyes stretched and slanted to an unnatural angle. Swirling lines and dotted patterns formed on his skin, his limbs grew as his telescoping bones gave him ectomorphic proportions. From underneath his sleeves pistols were launched into each hand, and he was not alone. Others, including Bolyiacov, had similarly transformed and moved out from the shadows.
Gunshots rang out through the nightclub as he and his fellow transforming revolutionaries stepped into view. Screams sounded, bodies fell. The staccato sound of a machine gun came from the direction of the front door. Someone had tried to be a hero. Wylde would have taken care of them. In the center of the dance floor Rubo had taken form: a Wayang Stalker like himself, long hair curling into a spiral above his elongated stylized head. Alyiar chuckled when he recognized their leader; he had made him out to be a prime target.
“Quiet!” Rubo shouted, submachine guns in each hand, “Everyone get feckin’ down on the ground now!”
“Wallets! Jewelry!”Hastingssaid, moving through the crowd with a bag.
Here and there a man or a woman fell, body guards singled out by Bolyacov’s deadly aim. Alyiar kept his eyes open for new threats. His targets were already marked and mapped to be taken at the end, kidnapped and ransomed for more money than the average citizen made in a lifetime. In the ghettos Alyiar could only have dreamed of the kind of wealth as they would make in this attack, and this was only one cell making a single raid. The earlier bombs, one in the Army barracks, one at Imperial Hospital, would have signaled a dozen such attacks in the city. Banks, markets, bars and private residences would be cleaned out tonight. That money would help to fund further attacks, after passing a percentage on to the Dalang to help fund the revolution against the Imperialists who had stolen Sophyan culture.
- An Excerpt from HMS Hunter: Strings on a Shadow Puppet, Thomas L. Evans (©2003) (sophyanempire.wordpress.com)
- The Karagoz Shadow Puppets Invade A Smartphone (slowly-by-slowly.com)
- Life behind the shadows (thehindu.com)