In the world of Altadas, there are no more human births. The Regime is replacing the unborn with demons, while the Resistance is trying to destroy a drug called Hope that the demons need to survive.
Between these two warring factions lies Jacob, a man who profits from smuggling contraceptive amulets into the city of Blackout. He cares little about the Great Iron War, but a chance capture, and an even more accidental rescue, embroils him in a plot to starve the Regime from power.
When Hope is an enemy, Jacob finds it harder than he thought to remain indifferent. When the Resistance opts to field its experimental landship, the Hopebreaker, the world may find that one victory does not win a war.
Excerpt from the Novel:
The walls crashed down and the soldiers stormed in, replacing bricks with leather boots and stones with clenched fists. The dissonance died down, but the dust hung for endless moments, dimming the light and stinging the eyes. Yet Jacob did not need to see; he knew why they were here, what they had come for.
A figure, tall and broad, stepped into view, his hair and uniform as black as the long shadow he cast across the room. His fists were not clasped, but the anger was still there, pouring out of the cracks and crevices of his crooked face. Everyone could recognise him, even in darkness—especially in darkness. Everyone knew his name. Domas. Yet not everyone knew what he was.
“You are accused of smuggling amulets,” Domas said. He paced to and fro restlessly, until the very floor began to recognise him. The light from the oil lamp flickered on his face, creating and killing lots of little shadows. Those shadows made him look inhuman, but under any other light he looked like everybody else. Jacob remembered when he was first told about them by his father. They are like you and I. They walk among us.
“What evidence do you have?” Jacob asked, hoping they would not search the bookcase, hoping they would not scour his soul.
Domas drew close, seizing Jacob by the collar. “I don’t need evidence.”
Jacob parried Domas‘ glower with his own. He felt like responding, like snapping or biting, even though he knew it would not help. It would make him feel better for the briefest of moments, and then, as the soldiers responded with their fists, it would make him feel much worse. The words of his father haunted him like a demon. In time they will replace us.
“Take him to the Hold,” Domas barked to one of his commanders. He turned to leave, but halted as something caught his eye. “Open your hand,” he ordered.
“It’s a bit late to shake it.”
“Open your hand,” Domas repeated. He did not need to give a warning. His tone gave enough.
Jacob offered his left hand, which was empty.
“A clown as well as a smuggler,” Domas said. “Your other hand.”
Jacob reluctantly loosened his grip on the tiny bag of coils he was holding, his all too meagre payment for smuggling an amulet into the city. Domas snatched it from his grasp.
“You won’t be needing this,” he said. “In the Hold, the rent is free.”
The soldiers seized Jacob and pulled him outside, where a mechanised wagon waited, one of the many vehicles the Regime used to transport its forces—and its prisoners.
In moments Jacob was hauled up and hurled into the back of the warwagon, where he banged his head against the iron walls. He heard the cogs and pistons start up, and he heard the roar of the furnace and the rhythm of the wheels.
The smell of coal and smoke filled his nostrils and seeped into his lungs, until finally he faded off into a halfway place between the waking world and dreams, where he imagined what things might have been like if the demons had not come here, if the Regime had not gained power.
About Dean F. Wilson:
Dean F. Wilson was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1987. He started writing at age 11, when he began his first (unpublished) novel, entitled The Power Source. He won a TAP Educational Award from Trinity College Dublin for an early draft of The Call of Agon (then called Protos Mythos) in 2001.
His epic fantasy trilogy, The Children of Telm, was released between 2013 and 2014.
Dean also works as a journalist, primarily in the field of technology. He has written for TechEye, Thinq, V3, VR-Zone, ITProPortal, TechRadar Pro, and The Inquirer.
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