Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Silhouette Prequel Online!

Macmillan has published a prequel to Silhouette online at their web site! It's called "Unmasked" and tells the story of a Michael Ares adventure that takes place a couple years before the events depicted in the novel. It contains the same kinds of exciting action, future tech, interesting characters, and moral conundrums that you'll find in Silhouette. To read the story, click here. For a sample of the novel itself, visit its Amazon.com page here and click on the book cover "To Look Inside."

Here's an excerpt from the middle of the prequel story:

After making a few turns, including a wrong one that ended in a blank wall, and some winding steps downward, I found the camera that was watching the squatters’ hidden tunnel entrance. While Aaron had it temporarily looped, I located it on the wall near another dead end. It was a clear strip stuck to the concrete, about the size of a Band-Aid or a stick of gum, and the tech informed me that it was equipped with night vision as well, and a proximity alert. While its owner couldn’t see me, I explored the floor near the dead end and discovered the tunnel entrance, its outlines hidden by tiny holo projectors near the corners that looked similar to the camera on the wall, but were even smaller. It would be interesting to find out how they opened it from this side (probably by remote), but that wasn’t the reason I was here right now.

I crouched on top of the tunnel entrance, turned my head slightly away from the camera, and told Aaron to release the loop. Then I stood and moved slowly past it, like a squatter emerging from the tunnel. I could almost hear the proximity alert beeping in the killer’s ear—assuming Reyes was correct in her theory, and this wasn’t just a wild goose chase.

Then I crouched near the end of my little hallway, so I was able to make use of either corner, depending on which way the perp came. I moused the arm of my glasses to arrange the camera feeds, so I could tell which entrance he used. Then I told Aaron to watch the perp, and waited.

The masked man didn’t move from his seat in the Plaza, which I expected, because if he was the killer, he would be waiting until someone emerged from the fountain. He would be watching the same camera feeds I had in my glasses, to see which doorway I exited. But he continued to not move for such a long time that I started to think this was a wild goose chase.

Then he stood up and moved toward the fountain.

“Bingo,” I said to Aaron, and without explanation told him to unplug and give me some privacy. He did, after telling me which entrance the perp was using, and from which direction he would approach my position. I maximized that camera view at that entrance and watched as the man pulled a handgun while entering the fountain. It looked similar to the two boas I wore on my belt, which were the weapon of choice for many peacers, but I couldn’t tell for sure.

Still crouching, I leaned on the corner to the side he would be approaching and placed one of my boas on the floor so that the sight pointed in that direction. Then I accessed the sight wirelessly in my glasses so I could stay behind the corner, but see around it. I switched the other boa from killer rounds to stoppers, and held it ready to fire around the corner.

The gunsight’s view was looking down a long corridor that eventually reached another dead end (this was the “basement” of the fountain), but there was an opening in the right side, with steps leading up. I could see the far end of the bottom two steps, and knew this was an ideal setup because the perp would have to step off them when he entered my line of fire, the laws of physics guaranteeing that he would be at least slightly off balance when I fired on him. My idea was to knock him down and perhaps disarm him with a few stopper rounds (they were very good at that), then question him, and if he was a peacer, try to untangle the ethical knots that would present. If he was some other kind of criminal, it would be very simple—arrest him and lock him up in the cathedral that was also on top of Nob Hill, which Saul Rabin had turned into a high-tech jail after the quake. And if the masked man resisted arrest, I would shoot him with the killer rounds in the other boa. (That was the legal kind of murder in our new world order.)

Any notion of simple went out the window when I saw a proximity alert flashing in one of the tiny windows from the other perimeter cameras, and soon realized that a couple of lovers had been strolling by and decided to walk into the fountain. They were heading in our direction and could easily overtake the perp, which would complicate things considerably, so now I knew for sure that I needed to take him down as soon as he arrived, and before the couple could be caught in the fray...

To read the whole story, click here.

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