To what extremes would you go to return humankind to its full creative potential after generations of game-leveling genetic tampering?
For the followers of a martyred genetic engineer named James Illion, the answer is obvious—all the way to the very edge of the death of civilization itself. Joshua 1011, the artificially created son of Illion, finds he is the carrier of a deadly and life-altering viral weapon. As his lover, Matthew Dennon, and his sometimes-enemy Adam struggle to find a way to save Earth and themselves, an old intelligence stirs in the depths of a vast interstellar computer network. It has worn many masks, evolving and changing over the course of centuries. But its time to act has come because it, too, knows that the only way forward for all of life, both biological and man-made, will be a path both breathtaking and destructive, and that the cost may be the end of nearly everything that came before.
From sensitive m/m romance to high adventure, from a love-sick artificial life form to young men who begin to bridge multiple realities, Strands of Silk and Fire will lead you into a time where intuition must become the best defense, and imagination, the sharpest weapon of all.
Available in audio late Spring 2014 from audible iTunes and Amazon.com with narrator Gregory Peyton
Title is currently under a giveaway promotion until February 14 on goodreads.com...enter to win one of three copies.
Adam wove himself quickly into the shadows of the bay, hunkered, watchful. He knew there was no way L Group would have come at the medcenter from just one angle. They were here, silent, waiting. He just had to find them first. Otherwise, game over in a very messy way.
I am going to give you new eyes, a voice in his skull murmured. He knew that voice, the deep tones that the AI named Raven had chosen for himself.
A brief wave of nausea and vertigo swept over Adam and he crouched, his fingers touching the dusty floor. It passed quickly, and he raised his head.
“Oh,” he breathed. It was like he could see through twisted hulks of shuttles, cranes, and cement, could see the red heat signatures of L Groupers crouched and moving toward his location. But everything was slightly off, as if something was interpreting angles from a higher location and then making adjustments for his current position. “Security feeds,” he murmured. “Nice.”
You don’t have to talk out-loud to me. Just think it, clearly.
We need to move.
You mean you need to move, Raven retorted. Fifteen steps to your northeast—a small hole you can block. Metal casings will make any scans of that area inconclusive. Go now.
Move Adam. Move now or I will move you.
He could see the soldiers easing ever closer, the way they crouched and searched. They knew they were looking for one of their own gone bad. For one moment, he simply considered rushing them. They wouldn’t expect a head-on assault. But before he could rise, his body dropped flat of its own accord and slithered over the debris.
Stop it! Adam felt a piece of metal bite into his hand, and still Raven drug him forward. It was horrific, feeling his body animated by something outside of himself, as if he were just a ship following the commands of the central computer. Another long tooth of cement caught his pant-leg, ripping it cleanly from knee to ankle and scoring his skin as well.
Let me go!
I will not let you die.
All right. I’ll go where you say, but let go of my body. You’re leaving a bloody trail with parts of me, don’t you get it? A trail they can follow.
I am sorry. My comprehension of motor control is obviously still evolving.
Adam fell flat against the ground as Raven left him again. He heaved himself up and ran low and crouching. He couldn’t see much cover in this direction—great slabs of heat-resistant concrete-Astazia blends gleamed even through the dust.
That shadow line—can you see it now?
He could but he didn’t like it one bit. Two plates of debris had slid over each other, one plunging downward, the other upward into a small ridge. Right at that fault line he could see a narrow darkness.
There is a small space just under the lip of the lower debris plate. Even if they shine light down, they will not see you and the Astazia ore will deflect heat signatures. GO!
Adam crept over the lip, his eyes straining into the darkness. He forced himself to slide in on his belly, and shoved himself up under the lip. The rock and metal hung mere inches above his chest.
Your heart and breathing rates are accelerating in an alarming manner, Commander. Those soldiers won’t need special equipment—they’ll hear you. You must calm down.
I can’t do this. I can’t do…small spaces. Adam shut his eyes, his hands knotted at his sides, burning with anxiety. Just a little settling of the tons of weight above, and he would be just so much jelly.
Yes you can. Remember your beach. Think of the blue sky above you, the sound of waves.
It’s too close. I’ll be crushed here. I’ll die here. It’s a grave. A fucking grave.
And then Adam felt a soft weight touch him. He opened his eyes and could see only Raven’s face above him, gold-flecked eyes and wild tangled hair framed by the sky. One hand rested on his breastbone, light but steady, a living raft riding the wave of his breath. Stay with me. Just look at me. Yes. Better. His lips didn’t move, but Raven smiled, his lips curving up enough to show just the edge of his teeth.
They’ll find us. They’ll kill us.
No. Just breathe. Raven leaned closer, his breath smelling of cinnamon and coconut. Breathe with me, Adam.
What…what do you want from me, Raven?
The smile widened. Maybe I want to work on my fine motor control.
Adam stopped breathing as the dark-hair illusion dropped closer and kissed him. It was not hungry nor was it chaste. It was a kind of tasting, lips murmuring against each other, then the barest tip of a tongue, running the fine line between soft skin and stubble. Erotically scientific, he supposed. Adam tried to turn his head away, confused, but Raven’s hand caught up his blond hair and held him firmly.
Kiss me back.
You want to, Adam. It’s not like I have to second-guess you. I can feel it, rippling in your brain’s pleasure centers. Kiss me.
He supposed he couldn’t argue with that. Adam felt his imaginary arms raise, folding around Raven and drawing him closer. This was a delicious pressure, and he opened his mouth to the other, their tongues contending until he fairly lapped at the taste, the ridged peaks of teeth, the smooth gums. Raven shifted lower, his whole body lengthening over Adam’s, and he could feel the arousal there, nudging his own. Raven moved against him, a slow pelvic tilt as he continued to kiss and be kissed. His long body was so lean, the feel so much like Joshua’s had been, all muscle gliding beneath dark skin, sliding against his own strong frame.
But there were still clothes in the way, just loose pants again, like in his beach dream. He tried to reach down, to shove the fabric away, but Raven caught up his wrists, holding him. Clothes do not matter.
What? Adam struggled a little against Raven grip.
Raven lightened abruptly, his features smoking. Adam could feel a presence extend into him first like a covering of silk, and then, sinking, as if Raven were pouring himself through the very pores of his skin. Adam’s vision went dark, but he could feel Raven curling in his cock, his balls, riding along the lines of his bones, his lips, and then a bright light burst in his brain, brilliant, spacious. For one moment, he sensed streams of data rushing at him as if he were standing just beneath a newly awakened waterfall. He was looking up and almost cringed away, all those shards of brilliance crashing down on him, but they never hit—they flowed around him, swirling around him, now a swarm of fireflies and everywhere they touched there was heat and pleasure. He gasped, hanging in a place where every nerve ending vibrated with music, with light, and through it all, the sweet, cloying taste of Raven.
The fire dropped into one center of his brain, and he could feel only his passion then, the need to take and be taken, a union and sweet contention.
He came then, his back arching but even then, he was held upright without his feet touching anything at all, his cock jerking yes, but that was incidental, far away. The space, the light, it was all. No boundaries, Raven and he dancing together, closer than any skin ever allowed two lovers to touch.
And then Raven was settling him back down in the sand, curling around him, laughing, petting him with human feeling hands, stroking him, chest and belly as he curled up in the crook of a machine mind’s arms. Sleep, my Adam. You must sleep. But I will hold you. I will watch over you.
Adam couldn’t form a coherent answer, but sleep? That he could do. For days he had not really closed his eyes. Despite the close ceiling and the L Groupers poking around above him, he let himself go.