Today we have an excerpt of (R)evolution by PJ Manney, the first book in the Phoenix Horizon series.
Here’s what the book is about:
Scientist Peter Bernhardt has dedicated his life to nanotechnology, the science of manipulating matter on the atomic scale. As the founder of Biogineers, he is on the cusp of revolutionizing brain therapies with microscopic nanorobots that will make certain degenerative diseases become a thing of the past. But after his research is stolen by an unknown enemy, seventy thousand people die in Las Vegas in one abominable moment. No one is more horrified than Peter, as this catastrophe sets in motion events that will forever change not only his life but also the course of human evolution.
Peter’s company is torn from his grasp as the public clamors for his blood. Desperate, he turns to an old friend, who introduces him to the Phoenix Club, a cabal of the most powerful people in the world. To make himself more valuable to his new colleagues, Peter infuses his brain with experimental technology, exponentially upgrading his mental prowess and transforming him irrevocably.
As he’s exposed to unimaginable wealth and influence, Peter’s sense of reality begins to unravel. Do the club members want to help him, or do they just want to claim his technology? What will they do to him once they have their prize? And while he’s already evolved beyond mere humanity, is he advanced enough to take on such formidable enemies and win?
Read on for the excerpt!
Emma cut quickly through the [convention] hall, past “Content Creation Village,” “Satellite Site,” and “Internet Services,” to the far corner where “Technologies for Worship” was housed.
Shucking her backpack, she propped it against the wall between “Event-gelicals” and “VC Cubed: Viewer Content for Virtual Catering of Virtual Communion.” Again, she checked her watch: 12:00:17. With smooth, swift moves born of countless practice runs, Emma knelt and pulled a nylon bag from inside the backpack. Quickly removing some plastic and ceramic pieces, she fitted them like a K’nex set, until the object in her hands was recognizable as a drone aircraft, about a meter long. A tiny video camera peeked from beneath its nose, and a miniature directed-thrust engine with four nozzles was cradled inside the skeletal fuselage. Emma skinned the frame with tightly fitted black fabric. Finally, she clipped a preassembled pod resembling the passenger cabin beneath a dirigible to the bottom of the craft. Together, the belly and pod created a sign in bright, cheerful letters: “Smile! GOD’S Watching!”
Emma placed the tiny craft on the floor and powered up the remote, pressing “Collect,” which initiated a collection of spatial information from two scanning laser sensors on its belly and dorsal. When her remote’s light turned green, she pressed “Start.” The miniature Harrier jet rose into the air. Several exhibitors and attendees clapped as it climbed above their heads to the ceiling and away.
She tossed the remote into the backpack and slipped into the crowd to find the nearest ladies’ room.
Inside the restroom, two leggy spokesmodels complained about frequent costume changes as they washed their hands and reapplied makeup. Emma locked herself in a stall and unzipped her backpack on the toilet seat, quickly removing three clear ziplock bags. One contained nonpermeable polymer nose- and earplugs, rimmed with a nano-superadhesive protected by pull strips. She ripped off the strips and shoved the plugs up her nostrils, high enough not to be seen, and squeezed her nose around them, forming a tight, gap-free seal. Then she stuffed the other pair in her ears. She pulled off her ponytail band and fluffed her thick hair around her ears to obscure the plugs.
The second bag held a nonpermeable polymer mouthpiece connected by a tube to a small steel container. She yanked off the strip and bit down hard, locking her inner lips around the adhesive seal. Two small tubes emerged from the left side of her mouth. She took small breaths, keeping her mouth shut to conceal the mouthpiece, and stuffed the container and extra tubing into an inner pocket of her jacket. Ripping open the last bag, she removed a pair of adhesive-rimmed plastic goggles designed to look like wraparound sunglasses and fitted them around her eyes.
Entering the hall again, Emma looked up. The drone skimmed one meter below the ceiling, almost thirty-five feet above the crowd, maintaining a precise distance from the rigging, its laser guidance enabling it to avoid displays, signs, banners, and lighting equipment that hung from the rafters and catwalks.
Emma permitted herself a satisfied smile as she strolled past a display for super high-definition cameras, and tossed the remote beneath the display’s large skirted table. No one noticed. And there would be no fingerprints. All three of them had dipped their hands in clear, fast-drying acrylic that created an invisible glove, preventing incriminating fingerprints or sloughed skin cells.
Just ahead of her, a man in his sixties with a huge gut stopped to catch his breath. He had the pallor of someone about to pass out. Or worse.
Emma quickened her pace. With fourteen acres under this roof alone, she still had serious ground to cover. As she breathed more deeply, the tiny tank under her jacket struggled to provide her with sufficient air.
At the Panasonic booth, a twentyish intern with black spiky hair suddenly fell to the floor in what appeared to be an epileptic fit. Concerned patrons immediately surrounded him, dialing GOs for medical aid.
A burst of adrenalized panic overwhelmed her. Sprinting down the aisles, she dodged attendees like a football running back. High above, the plane flew ahead of her, reaching the front doors, only to turn around in an ever-widening loop.
More people looked ill. A few squatted in the aisle, head between the knees, to prevent passing out. An elderly woman in a motorized chair stopped by a squatting teenage podcaster and offered him her oxygen mask.
Sucking limited air through the regulator made Emma woozy. She burst through the glass doors of the grand lobby onto the sidewalk, trying not to faint, convincing herself she just needed more oxygen. She scanned the parking lot. They had parked their getaway cars in different areas, all within a block of their buildings. Her car was the farthest from the halls, beyond the lot and across Paradise Road, at the Courtyard by Marriott.
Cold sweat made her shiver in the sweltering heat. A shuttle bus pulled up to take conventioneers from the center to surrounding halls and hotels. Two people got off, but a crowd was lined up, ready to board. As Emma got on, the itinerary taped to the dashboard listed the Courtyard by Marriott as the first hotel stop. She found a seat in back. . . .
Peering out the window, Emma saw Brandon dash outside the north hall for the nearest parking area, his loping stride revealing a long-distance runner. Reaching his anonymous Ford Escort, he fumbled for the keys. They hit the ground and he dived out of sight behind the car to find them. When he popped back up to unlock his door, he caught a glimpse of Emma in her shuttle as it pulled away. They traded a relieved look. He jumped into the driver’s seat, turned the key . . .
. . . and a white light enveloped the parking lot, burning the retinas of all who witnessed it. A high-pitched hum became a whooshing sound that sucked all other sounds up and away.
The shuttle driver slammed the breaks. Passengers shrieked, and a few lost their balance, falling into seated laps in confusion.
Emma froze, hands pressed against the hot window glass, the screams around her muffled by the earplugs. Satellite Man burst out, “Herre Gud! Did you see that . . . that . . . What the hell was that?” His accent was Swedish.
As eyesight and hearing slowly returned, everything looked washed out, overexposed. The blinding light was gone. Along with the car. And Brandon. All that remained in their place was a hole in liquefied tar, strewn with chunks of molten metal and a sprinkling of ash.
This was not the plan. None of the team was supposed to die.
Excerpted from (R)EVOLUTION by PJ Manney. Copyright 2015. Published by 47North. Used by permission of the publisher. Not for reprint without permission.