The TransSomnium Needle
Work-in-Progress Status: First draft complete. Working on second draft.
Shipwrecked in the Sea of Dreams
In the vast, liquid universe of the Dreamsea, beauty blends with peril, nightmare creatures known as the Onieroi prowl the depths, and everything you think you know can change in an instant.
To cope with these dangers, all ships traveling between worlds carry vaticinators, advanced artificial intelligence computers that see the future and predict hazards before they arise. So when the Aisling Caislean, the most luxurious dreamliner ever built, sets sail on her maiden voyage, no one could have guessed that the Oneiroi fleet might show up with a weapon of unprecedented power and annihilate her without a single ping of warning from the Caislean’s computer.
What went wrong? Why the unprovoked attack? And what kind of weapon can destroy a ship that size with a single blast?
A misfit band of survivors has no answers as they are forced to take refuge in the only haven they can find: a tiny, derelict wreck of a ship once known as the TranSomnium Needle. With no other option, they struggle to bring the Needle back into working order. Inexperienced and under-manned, they risk the protean expanse of the Dreamsea and try to continue their voyage, while inexplicably tenacious Oneiroi continue to hunt them.
Why would an enemy that powerful bother with prey this insignificant? Who among the survivors holds the secret the Oneiroi want to discover or destroy?
Could it be Charlie Cotter, a former Special Ops saboteur turned ship’s mechanic, whose time as an Oneiroi prisoner of war left him with a secret so dark even he doesn’t know it’s there?
Could it be Kleio 2000, an outdated history android who by circumstance has been forced into a role she was never designed for and whose farfetched idea of contacting the Dreamers themselves may put the whole mission at risk?
Could it be Cassian Bell, a shape (and gender) shifting diplomatic courier whose commission could alter the political destiny of multiple worlds?
Could it be the scarred and tattooed hunter, Nydon Chrow, a member of the Baku tribe, and the only survivor who is utterly at ease in the depths of the Dreamsea? Jameson Price, the ne’er-do-well con man posing as a doctor? Hector Dean, full-time bartender, part-time disciple of a discredited New-Era guru? Ratri Warburu, the nonhuman stowaway who has more ties to the Oneiroi than she cares to admit?
Or could the secret lie somewhere in the rusty confines of the Needle itself?
The ragtag crew must find the answers if they ever hope to reach their destination alive.
A science fiction adventure where dreams are the ultimate weapons.
Excerpt: (first page of prologue, first draft)
On Parnassus Street, where canned music wailed and the bars stayed open round the clock, a row of shopworn Muses performed in glass booths for the enjoyment of dock hands and factory workers.
Twenty-seven Terpsichores gyrated in cheap feather boas and sequin-spangled bikinis. Four Thalias capered and mocked the passersby with wit as stale as last night’s beer. At the far end of the street, close to the old port wall, where corrosive iridescent puddles sometimes seeped in through the rusting airlock, one lone Kleio played her scenes of heroes past.
Today she was Joan of Arc. Slim and erect in the beam of the single spotlight, she lifted her chin and turned her pale wrists forward, displaying invisible shackles to unseen inquisitors. "It is true I wished to escape, and so I wish still. Is not this lawful for all prisoners?"
Beyond the bulletproof glass, her audience consisted of six empty seats, their threadbare purple upholstery as familiar as her own skin. She hadn’t seen a customer all day, but that never stopped her. Each line she spoke was letter perfect; each gesture brimmed with nuance.
To an outside observer, had there been one, it was just another Saturday. But inside Kleio’s head, everything was different.
The words formed as a cold, electronic tickle in the back of Kleio’s mind. It still felt strange to communicate this way, although she supposed that technically this was her native language. She could feel the server pulsing silently as it awaited her reply. Could it hurt her if she answered incorrectly? There was still so much she didn’t know. Stifling her nerves, she sent out the dry flutter of coded impulses she had memorized. With a sullen click, the void parted, and the network opened itself to her.
The unfolding multitude of connections dazzled her. She wasn’t used to choices, not yet. But that wouldn’t always be so. If she could just find the code Snake wanted without getting caught, she’d be able to choose a whole new life, someplace far away from here.
Kleio 2000 was what her manager liked to call “New in Box.” All his Muses were—or so he claimed—to preserve their resale value, but in Kleio’s case it wasn’t just one of Hinsley’s lies. Granted, she wasn’t new in the strict sense of the word: She’d stepped off the assembly line back when Tinai was still a bustling interplanetary port, before the TransSom factory closed. But it was true that in all the years since then, she had never once left the six-foot glass box where she performed, except to change costumes in the adjoining dressing room. Today, if Snake’s plan worked, that would all change.