SINdicate - The New Lyons Sequence #2 by J.T. Nicholas Book Tour and Giveaway :)
The New Lyons Sequence #2
by J.T. Nicholas
Genre: Science Fiction/Cyberpunk Noir
Pub Date: 3/20/2018
The Post-Modern Prometheus
Synths were manufactured to look human and perform physical labor, but they were still only machines. That’s what the people who used—and abused—them believed, until the truth was revealed: Synths are independent, sentient beings. Now, the governments of the world must either recognize their human nature and grant them their rightful freedom, or brace for a revolution.
Former New Lyons Detective Jason Campbell has committed himself to the Synths’ cause, willing to fight every army the human race marches against them. But they have an even greater enemy in Walton Biogenics, the syndicate behind the creation and distribution of the “artificial” humans. The company will stop at nothing to protect their secrets—and the near-mythological figure known to Synths as “The First,” whose very existence threatens the balance of power across the world . . .
The New Lyons Sequence #1
The Artificial Evolution
They look like us. Act like us. But they are not human. Created to perform the menial tasks real humans detest, Synths were designed with only a basic intelligence and minimal emotional response. It stands to reason that they have no rights. Like any technology, they are designed for human convenience. Disposable.
In the city of New Lyons, Detective Jason Campbell is investigating a vicious crime: a female body found mutilated and left in the streets. Once the victim is identified as a Synth, the crime is designated no more than the destruction of property, and Campbell is pulled from the case.
But when a mysterious stranger approaches Campbell and asks him to continue his investigation in secret, Campbell is dragged into a dark world of unimaginable corruption. One that leaves him questioning the true nature of humanity.
And what he discovers is only the beginning . . .
There was a body on my doorstep.
I don’t know what woke me, or what drove me to climb so early from the narrow cot that served as my bed. Maybe it was some lingering cop instinct from my time with the NLPD, that nagging sense that something was wrong. It was that instinct that had me tucking the paddle holster of my forty-five into the waistband of the ratty jeans I had fallen asleep in.
I slid open the door of the eight-by-eight walled office cubicle that served as my bedroom and stepped out onto the cavernous floor of what had once been a call center. The first rays of dawn were peeking over the eastern horizon, filtering through what remained of the call center’s windows, casting the interior in monochromatic grays accented with darker pools of shadow.
The broad floor was filled with sleeping people. Sleeping synthetics. The genetically engineered clones that had served as an underclass of slave labor for decades and, with a small amount of help from me and a whole lot of work and planning from a synthetic named Silas, had begun a de facto rebellion.
I padded among them on bare feet, stepping as silently as possible, and yet, without exception, the eyes of each synthetic I passed popped open. They stared at me, stark-white against the gray, eyes wide, searching, and somehow fearful. Not one of them moved. They waited in statue-like rigidity, a coiled-spring tension resonating from their stillness. It lasted only a moment, until they realized where they were; until they realized who I was. I couldn’t begrudge them that moment of fear, but it still hit me like a punch to the gut.
Such was life in revolution central. Nearly a month since we had taken over the air and net waves. Nearly a month since we had ripped off the veil covering the ugly truth that synthetics were not unthinking, unfeeling things, but as much people as any of the naturally born. Nearly a month, and for synthetics, things had gotten worse.
It wasn’t unexpected. Silas had predicted the reaction from society at large when we shone a spotlight on the truth that everyone suspected but no one seemed willing to admit. It had started with protests. Angry people marching with signs about respecting their rights and not dictating what they could do with their bought-and-paid-for property. The protests should have collapsed under the weight of irony alone, but instead they had given way to violence—violence directed almost entirely against synthetics. Viral videos of synthetic beatings—always popular—had hit unprecedented highs, as had videos depicting darker, more depraved “punishments” for those who dared to think they might one day be “real” people. The violence, in turn, had given way to death. Not on a widespread scale—not yet. Whatever else they might be, synthetics were, after all, expensive. Only the very wealthy could afford to dispose of them wantonly.
We’d given the world an ultimatum: give synthetics rights, or be prepared to have all the little secrets that they had gathered in their decades of near-invisible servitude released to the public. Silas had managed to bring together and weaponize secrets that could topple governments and destroy lives. The plan was simple enough—release a wave of compromising information on a number of politicians and public figures. The first wave was embarrassing, but not damning, not actively criminal. If that failed to spark action, then a second, more catastrophic wave would be released. And so on, until the governments either acceded to our demands or toppled from the sheer weight of skeletons tumbling out of closets.
But as that deadline crept closer—now just over a week away—the bodies were beginning to pile up. The richest among society—individuals and corporations alike—could afford to throw away a synthetic here, a synthetic there, and as the dawn of revolution approached, they made their position clear. One billionaire businessman had gone so far as to cobble together a reality livestream. Every day, contestants undertook a series of challenges, and the winner got to kill a synthetic in any way they chose, all during a livestream that, last I checked, had viewership measured in
And yet, there was hope out there.
That hope was part of the reason the floor I moved across was filled with synthetics, crowded in here and there in clusters amidst the cavernous call center. They would trickle in by ones and twos, somehow always finding us, despite our having changed locations four times in the past month. Most told the same story—their nominal owners, horrified by the revelation that they had, in essence, been keeping slaves, but terrified of the possible reprisals from those who thought differently, had simply set them free. Turned them out. Part kindness, part assuaging of guilt…and part washing your hands of a problem you wanted no part of.
I didn’t know how they found us. They trusted me enough to share some pieces of their stories. The part I played in the rescue of Evelyn, what I had sacrificed to get the truth out, had earned me that much.
That didn’t stop a young synthetic girl, maybe seventeen, from rolling into a half crouch as I neared. Her hands were extended in front of her, a gesture half defense, half supplication. Her look of horror and shame and guilt and fear reminded me so suddenly and sharply of Annabelle that it was like a knife twisting in my intestines. Her mouth opened and formed a single word, not spoken, but clear as a gunshot nonetheless.
What could I do? I wasn’t the one who had hurt her, but she’d been hurt, badly. I offered a smile and kept my distance. It took a moment for the recognition to dawn, for the panic to quiet. Quiet, but not fall silent. I was still an outsider. I belonged to a different class, a class that had long subjugated and tormented them. A human. Trust only extended so
far. But I had my suspicions as to how they found me, and my suspicions had a name.
The albino synthetic who had started my feet on this path remained elusive. We received messages from him on a regular basis, and he made brief appearances a couple of times a week, mostly to check in on Evelyn and make sure she was receiving the medical care she needed so late in her pregnancy. But after only a short visit, he would vanish with the ease that had made him so damn hard to track down in the first place. He, or rather his messages, told us when to move, and where to move. That let us know when my former brothers and sisters in blue were getting too
close. I had no doubt that it was his network that funneled the turned-out synthetics to our door.
I just didn’t know what in the hell he expected me to do with them.
Whatever Silas might hope—whatever I might hope—when February 1 rolled around, the governments of the world would not simply roll over, pass some new laws, sprinkle a shit-ton of fairy dust, and declare that synthetics were now all full-fledged citizens. And by the way, sorry about all the assaults, rapes, and murders suffered in the interim. No. The months ahead would be steeped in blood.
And not one of the synthetics that were beginning to stir with the rising sun would be able to spill a single drop of it. Call it conditioning.
Call it brainwashing, but synthetics were engineered to be incapable of violence, even in self-defense. Which was going to make fighting a war pretty fucking hard.
I had nearly reached the main door of the call center. The entire front of the building—once a shining wall of steel and glass—had been boarded up, long sheets of plywood secured to the frame. Thin cracks of light filtered in where the boards fit imperfectly, and more came from openings higher up, where other windows had been spared the fortification. I had moved through that fractured light, my unease growing with each step. I dropped my hand to the butt of my pistol, thumb finding the retention lock and easing it forward.
A four-by-four rested in a pair of brackets across the door, barring it more effectively than any lock. I had eased it off with my left hand, straining slightly with the effort, and lowered it to the floor. I had pulled the door open, reflexively scanning left and right, searching for threats. Nothing.
The tension I’d felt since awakening had started to ease.
Until I had looked down.
And saw the body.
J.T. Nicholas was born in Lexington, Virginia, though within six months he moved (or was moved, rather) to Stuttgart, Germany. Thus began the long journey of the military brat, hopping from state to state and country to country until, at present, he has accumulated nearly thirty relocations. This experience taught him that, regardless of where one found oneself, people were largely the same. When not writing, Nick spends his time practicing a variety of martial arts, playing games (video, tabletop, and otherwise), and reading everything he can get his hands on. Nick currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, a pair of indifferent cats, a neurotic Papillion, and an Australian Shepherd who (rightly) believes he is in charge of the day-to-day affairs.
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