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Silent Clarion: Chapter One

The first chapter of Silent Clarion, my new Before Starbreaker serial from Curiosity Quills Press, is finally available. This isn’t how Naomi Bradleigh expected her first anniversary to end.

Suggested Listening

How about a bit of music to set the mood while you read? Every installment of Silent Clarion will have its own theme, chosen to suit the scene. I hope you like rock, because Naomi certainly does. We’ll start with “No More” by Nemesea, from their 2007 album In Control.

Chapter One

London can be a cold city, and my duties as an Adversary often demand that I face it at her coldest. Not that it bothers me. It only makes my nights hotter by comparison.

I expected to find John asleep after finishing my shower. In his last year of residency at an Ohrmazd Medical Group hospital, by necessity he often dozed after loving me. I wholeheartedly encouraged him to. Tired people err, and in our lines of work errors cost lives.

Instead, I found him stretched across the bed naked and reading a medical journal. I sat on the edge of the bed beside him, and dragged my fingertip down his spine to make him shiver.

Read the rest at Curiosity Quills.

Cover for Silent Clarion by Matthew Graybosch. Artwork by Polina Sapershteyn

Cover for Silent Clarion by Matthew Graybosch. Artwork by Polina Sapershteyn

Read the rest at Curiosity Quills.

About Silent Clarion

My curiosity might get me killed. I thought I needed a vacation from my duties as an Adversary in service to the Phoenix Society. After learning about unexplained disappearances in a little town called Clarion, I couldn’t stop myself from checking it out.

Now I must protect a witness to two murders without any protection but my sword. I must identify a murderer who strikes from the shadows. I must expose secrets the Phoenix Society’s executive council is hellbent on keeping buried.

I have no support but an ally I dare not trust. If I cannot break the silence hiding what happened in Clarion’s past, I have no future. I must discover the truth about Project Harker. Failure is not an option.

Silent Clarion is a new-adult science-fiction thriller by Matthew Graybosch, set before the events of the Starbreaker novels. Meet Naomi Bradleigh as an Adversary, seventeen years before Without Bloodshed.

Silent Clarion is serialized and published at Curiosity Quills, every Wednesday.

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Excerpt: Caller 107 by Matthew Cox

I agreed to help with the blog tour for Matthew Cox’s YA debut, Caller 107, a contemporary paranormal novel. Submitted for your approval is an excerpt from Chapter Two.

Cover for Caller 107 by Matthew Cox

Cover for Caller 107 by Matthew Cox

Her collective of friends on the front stoop enjoyed a communal wince at the noise; a few whispers of ‘what the fuck are you doing’ made it through the paralytic pain. Fear of Traci being wrong, that someone was still here and was now awake, got her to her feet. Fear of the flashing light got her moving. She unlatched the door, pinching it through her sleeves. Kevin yanked it open and dragged her out onto the porch.

“For a little bitch, you make a shitload of noise.”

“Sorry.” She got snotty. “Who puts a fucking Oriental rug on hardwood without a pad? Shot right out from under me.”

Yeah, I sound like a street kid.

He hauled her down two steps. “You stay right here. You see anything weird, you come running in and warn us. We go out the back.”

Her urgent eyes grew wide. “Hey, there’s―”

Kevin shoved her out of the way, sending her over the porch railing. The stone to the gut knocked the words right out of her, and nauseous guilt kept them gone. Before she could breathe again, the lot of them had disappeared inside, pulling the door closed behind them. Trembling, she meandered onto the sidewalk, cupping sleeve-covered hands over her mouth to warm icy fingers. A lone taxi drove past; she turned her face away before the headlights hit her.

She tasted meatball Hot Pockets again.

What am I doing? Dad can’t make this go away. Even if Rosario is a drug dealer, this is still B&E. From fear, she could resist the shakes. From cold, she could resist the shiver. From both, she succumbed.

Would he even bother to try?

A thud came from the second floor window. She drew a sharp breath, tasting the basement dust from her coat. At least she muffled the yelp. Natalie leaned against the stone railing, gazing at the shadows adrift in the windows. This sort of thing felt much more exciting on TV; being in it sucked.

Nat… They wanna give you drugs. They wanna get you fucked up so you drop your pants and they all take a turn. They are going to get you put in jail. She managed a snarl, thinking about her mother. Her nerves came under control, and she stopped shaking. Serves you right, Mom.

Glimmering red and blue lights invaded the dark one block down. Her legs went to jelly. Silent alarm. She took a step back, thankful the building they chose was right next to an alley. Before the police car nosed around the corner, she bolted into the night. Natalie did not think about where she was going―she had no idea.

About Caller 107

When thirteen-year-old Natalie Rausch said she would die to meet DJ Crazy Todd, she did not mean to be literal.

Two years is a long time to be stuck between two people that want nothing more than to destroy each other. A tween crush on the larger-than-life jock from a local radio station is the only trace of a once-happy life ruined by warring parents.

Whenever WROK 107 ran a contest, she would dive for the phone, getting busy signals and dead air every time. She never expected to get through, but at least with her best friend at her side, it used to be fun.

Before her parents ruined that too.

Her last desperate attempt to get their attention, falling in with a dangerous group of older teens, goes as wrong as possible. With no one left to blame for her mess of a life but herself, karma comes full circle and gives her just a few hours to make up for two years’ worth of mistakes–or be forever lost.

Matthew Cox, author of Caller 107, Virtual Immortality, and Division Zero

Matthew Cox, author of Caller 107, Virtual Immortality, and Division Zero

About Matthew Cox

Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.

Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it.

Social Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Caller 107 Giveaways

We’re running a couple of giveaways for Caller 107.

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I Love My Google+ Fans

I’ll admit that my efforts on social media tend to be a bit lackluster, and focus primarily on Google+. However, my efforts paid a small dividend recently in the form of praise by three Plus users: Rowan Cota, Daniel Koeker, and Lisa Cohen. Because I love my fans, I’m going to let them speak for yourselves. You should follow these people, and buy their books if applicable.

(Note: I solicited the authors’ consent before embedding their posts.)

Rowan Cota on Silent Clarion

Rowan’s an all-around geek, and writes some great material about social justice and intersectional feminism both on Plus and her blog, Sugar on the Asphalt. She had the following to say about me while sharing my _Silent Clarion_ announcement post.

I had no idea she read my fiction, or liked it. I’m serious.

Daniel Koeker on Without Bloodshed

Daniel Koeker, author of The Dream Sanctum, is another Plus user I’ve followed for a long time. I can’t comment on his books, since I haven’t read them, but he writes excellent articles on a broad range of subjects. Seems he gets paid for it, too. (I really should find a way into that racket.)

Anyway, he was kind enough to say the following on Plus.

Better still, he was also kind enough to review my novel on Amazon, and gave it five stars. He had the following to say:

In a word, brilliant. In more words, I love the world Graybosch has created as well as the characters in it. This novel is utterly compelling, and though it may sound cliche, most assuredly a page turner. It’s fast paced and clever, and overall, an excellent read.

I hold a great appreciation for the wit of the characters and the depth of the plot, including twists up until the very end. It was extremely easy to immerse myself in this book. I regret the time it took me to start reading it, but will correct that mistake upon the arrival of the sequel I so eagerly await.

This is just the sort of thing I like to hear. I love an enthusiastic review, but I’ll level with you guys. I’ll take every review I can get. I’ll even take an honest one-star review, or a funny one from a butthurt parent thinking to give this to their kid only to find it’s full of sex, violence, and rock ‘n roll.

Lisa Cohen on Without Bloodshed

As happy as I was with the posts by Rowan Cota and Daniel Koeker, Lisa Cohen’s post really made my day. Her most recent book is Derelict a tightly written space opera in the tradition of Heinlein’s juveniles. I recently reviewed it here, as well as on Amazon, without expecting anything in return.

I was surprised, therefore, to see this post come up while getting my car inspected.

Don’t feel bad if you were confused by Ms. Cohen’s to Shibumi. I had to Google it, because I am unfamiliar with Trevanian‘s work. It seems Without Bloodshed has a similarly byzantine plot.

Have you read Without Bloodshed yet? If so, I’d love to see what you think in the comments.

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Surly Muse Interview

Daniel Swenson at Surly Muse, author of Orison, was kind enough to interview me for his blog. Here are but two of the questions I answered for him while also teasing The Blackened Phoenix and my upcoming Curiosity Quills serial, Silent Clarion. You can read the rest of the interview on Surly Muse.

When do you know a book is done?

I know a book is done when not only am I thoroughly sick of it, but so is my wife. Trust me, Ragnarok could come and go, and I could still find aspects of Without Bloodshed that could use improvement.

Maybe I have too many viewpoint characters. Maybe there’s still some wooden dialogue. Maybe I didn’t explain something as well as I could. Maybe I over-explained something else, and left too little to the reader’s imagination. It’s always something, but if I don’t draw a line and say, “Fuck it. I’m done.”, I’ll never move on to the next book.

What’s the best writing advice you ever received?

“Don’t quit your day job.” It’s also the worst writing advice I’ve ever received, but more on that in a minute.

Having a day job allowed me to focus on writing for myself, without any concern whatsoever for marketability. Readers want boy wizards because Harry Potter and the Magical McGuffin is hot? Don’t care. Readers want soulful teenage vampires because Twilight sells like hotcakes? Not my problem, Jack.

I don’t have to chase trends to pay the bills. Instead, I can focus on my craft. With Starbreaker, I can take a shot at starting a new trend.

The downside is that I don’t get to have a “writing day” without cutting into my weekends. Instead, I have to steal what time I can for writing while also spending at least eight hours a day making somebody else richer in exchange for wages. I work at least two full-time jobs. Three, if you count being a halfway-decent husband.

If I had kids instead of cats, I’d be utterly screwed.

Want More?

Read the rest of my Surly Muse interview at http://surlymuse.com/surly-questions-matthew-graybosch/

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Coming Soon: Silent Clarion

I know you’ve seen bits and pieces of Silent Clarion before, a little side project featuring Naomi Bradleigh from Without Bloodshed. I’m pleased to announce that Silent Clarion is no longer a mere side project, but a prequel to Starbreaker coming soon from Curiosity Quills Press.

As the first Before Starbreaker novel, Silent Clarion will run weekly on the Curiosity Quills Press website beginning this Wednesday, 23 July 2014. Once the novel is complete, Silent Clarion will be available in paperback and electronic formats from your favorite retailers.

About Silent Clarion

Silent Clarion is a new adult science fiction thriller set before the events of the Starbreaker novels. Meet Naomi Bradleigh as an Adversary, seventeen years before Without Bloodshed.

Cover for Silent Clarion by Matthew Graybosch. Artwork by Polina Sapershteyn. Coming soon from Curiosity Quills Press.

Cover for Silent Clarion by Matthew Graybosch. Artwork by Polina Sapershteyn. Coming soon from Curiosity Quills Press.

My curiosity might get me killed. I thought I needed a vacation from my duties as an Adversary in service to the Phoenix Society. After learning about unexplained disappearances in a little town called Clarion, I couldn’t stop myself from checking it out.

Now I must protect a witness to two murders without any protection but my sword. I must identify a murderer who strikes from the shadows. I must expose secrets the Phoenix Society is hellbent on keeping buried.

I have no support but an ally I dare not trust. If I cannot break the silence hiding what happened in Clarion’s past, I have no future. I must discover the truth about Project Harker. Failure is not an option.

About the Author

Matthew Graybosch started writing after realizing he’d never be a world-class musician. He spent my entire adult life writing and rewriting Starbreaker, an epic hybrid of science fiction and fantasy with romantic elements inspired by classic heavy metal by Judas Priest, the Blue Öyster Cult, Iron Maiden, and Queensrÿche. Silent Clarion is his second novel, unless he manages to finish The Blackened Phoenix first.

Lightened photo of Matthew Graybosch by Catherine Gatt

Lightened photo of Matthew Graybosch by Catherine Gatt

In addition to his work as an author, he is also a self-taught software developer. He lives in Central Pennsylvania with his wife and two cats who act like dogs. You can circle him on Google+, like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Goodreads.

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Katie Young: The Other Lamb

After a few days of relentless self-promotion, it’s time to help out some other authors. Allow me to introduce Katie Young, whose first novel The Other Lamb will be available from Curiosity Quills Press at the end of August. It’s a fantasy/paranormal/horror novel inspired by legends of the Nephilim recorded in Hebrew scriptures.

Cover for

Cover for “The Other Lamb”, by Katie Young

Genre: fantasy, paranormal-horror

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Date of Publication: August 28th, 2014.

Cover Artist: Polina Sapershteyn

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22709423-the-other-lamb

About The Other Lamb

Incarcerated on Earth as punishment for breeding with humans, the Watchers found a way to escape. Zach is living proof of that… even though someone has cut out his heart.

When Zach turns eighteen he develops an insatiable thirst for blood, but he tries to bury his fears and go on enjoying his birthday. His best friend Kim has scored them tickets to the hottest gig in town. But a charged encounter with his idol, the enigmatic rock star known as Grigory, leads to a revelation that shatters everything Zach thinks he knows about himself and the world, and places everyone dear to him in grave danger.

Zach is a Naphil, the forbidden offspring of a mortal woman and a Watcher. When those who seek to destroy him snatch Kim, Zach is forced to embark on a journey of discovery spanning continents and ages. With the help of a mysterious stranger named Sam, Zach must unearth the truth about his parentage, find Kim, and discover who has stolen his heart… before he triggers the apocalypse.

About Katie Young

Katie Young is a writer and occasional zombie movie ‘supporting artiste’. She also works in kids’ TV but wishes she were a rock star. She has various shorts available for download from Ether Books, and features in anthologies from Collaboration of the Dead Press, Angelic Knight Press, Indigo Mosaic, Song Stories Press, Static Movement and Fox Spirit Books. Her story, “Atelic”, was shortlisted for the 2010 Writers’ & Artists’ Year Book short fiction prize, and she is a regular contributor to the Are You Sitting Comfortably? story-telling events run by White Rabbit. Katie also writes TV reviews for The Cult Den. The Other Lamb is her first novel. She lives in South East London with her partner and a second-hand cat. She is not a natural redhead.

Find Katie Young Online

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Parked Somewhere Different

I had to park somewhere different when I came back to my day job from lunch, and found these flowers on the way in. I snapped a photo on my way out after work.

You see, my day job is located in a building set in a corporate park containing three other buildings. There’s plenty of landscaped greenery to take the edge off the parking lots, but I tend to park in the covered lot closest to my building in the summer.

That wasn’t an option this afternoon, so I had to park around the back of another building and walk to mine. Not that I minded; I could use the exercise.

Photo of flowers I saw at work.

Photo of flowers I saw at work.

Starbreaker News

Today’s been rather busy. We finalized the cover for my upcoming Curiosity Quills Press serial, Silent Clarion, and managing editor Alisa Gus decided she wanted to edit the installments (of which I’ve already written eight) herself. She sent back suggested changes in a matter of hours, and I’ve already fixed up the first two chapters to her liking.

We’re also suggesting a different theme song for each chapter. Here’s my recommendation for Chapter One: “No More” by Dutch alternative metal band Nemesea.

Alisa loves this story about Naomi Bradleigh in her twenties, set before Starbreaker. I think you’ll enjoy it as well. You’ll get to see a different side to one of Without Bloodshed’s leading characters, and have the opportunity to see her stand alone without Morgan Stormrider to overshadow her.

The cover revelation is set for Friday, 18 July 2014, and Silent Clarion will run weekly at Curiosity Quills starting on Wednesday, 23 July 2014.

Other News

I have an interview scheduled with Daniel Swenson at Surly Muse. He emailed me this afternoon with questions, and said he’d like to run my answers this Friday. He seemed pleased with my answers. You’ll just have to see for yourself this Friday at 9:00AM MDT (11:00AM EDT).

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Thank You For Downloading

I just wanted to send a great big THANK YOU to everybody who downloaded Without Bloodshed on 14-15 July 2014. That’s almost 5000 people, by the way:

  • 4590 in the United States
  • 82 in Germany (Danke schoen!)
  • 168 from the rest of the planet.

If you downloaded my book, thank you. I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to your reviews on Amazon. If you also post reviews on your blogs or social media, please drop me a line.

And if you don’t like it and want to post an unfavorable review, that’s also fine. I can take it; I’m a New Yorker. In the meantime, here’s how I feel about you guys.

Stay tuned. I have big Starbreaker news coming this Friday concerning Silent Clarion.

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Time’s Running Out

If you’ve already grabbed your copy and helped put Without Bloodshed at the top of three Amazon categories while also putting me in the overall top 100, thank you. If not, it isn’t too late. You can still get a free copy for your Kindle, but time’s running out. This deal expires at midnight.

If you don’t have a Kindle, and don’t want to install the app, grab a copy anyway and forward your order confirmation email to mg@matthewgraybosch.com to receive a copy in your preferred format.

Get yourself some kick-ass beach reading. Without Bloodshed has something for everyone, including characters you’ll love and characters you’ll love to hate.

Without Bloodshed: Number 1 in Three Categories

Without Bloodshed: Number 1 in Three Categories

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Aiming for the Top

I asked you to help me crack the Top 100 Free bestseller list on Amazon last night, and you delivered! Thank you! If you grabbed a copy of Without Bloodshed yesterday, let me know so I can add you to my circles/friends list/etc. I like to stay in touch with my fans. If you didn’t get your free copy yesterday, you can still get one today until midnight in Seattle.

Today’s Mission

Without Bloodshed is No. 59 Free as of 7:30am EST.

I’m currently at No. 59 overall on the Top 100 Free list. Today, I want to hit No. 1. That’s right. I want to shoulder aside all the romance and new-adult and erotica and claw my way straight to the top. And I need your help to do it!

A Small Reward

To reward my fans, old and new, and to entice new fans, I’m going to give you guys a little treat. Check out the first scene from The Blackened Phoenix, which continues the story I started in Without Bloodshed.

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Chapter One: Operational Security

Morgan considered the Adversary candidates guarding the doors to the conference room in which his former superiors held their daily meetings. He recognized neither of them, and resorted to his implant’s facial recognition software. Adversary Candidate Koontz was tall and well-muscled; he held a Kalashnikov at port arms, and thumbed the fire selector to single-shot. Morgan stopped four meters away, glad he came alone. These trainees think me an intruder, not a guest, and certainly not one of their own. What would they do if Naomi, Eddie, and Sid came with me?

The ebony-skinned woman whose freshly shaved head gleamed beneath the lights was Adversary Candidate Williams. She was as tall as Naomi, but more slender. Her hand hovered over the hilt of her smallsword as she approached. “State your business, sir.”

She curled her fingers around the hilt as Morgan raised his hand. He stopped, lest she draw her sword. “You will not need your blade, Adversary Candidate Williams. I possess a letter of marque issued by one of the Executive Council in my pocket. May I show it to you?”

She shook her head. “Koontz. Cover me while I search this man.”

Koontz adjusted his grip. Though he did not point his rifle at Morgan, the slightest false move would instantly change that. “You sure that’s a good idea, Williams? Don’t you recognize him? That’s Morgan Stormrider.”

Williams snapped at her partner without taking her eyes of Morgan. “I don’t care if he’s the Devil himself. Director Del Rio’s orders were explicit. Nobody gets in unless they’re XC or a representative.”

The Sephiroth wouldn’t permit this. What the hell are they doing? The first ten human-equivalent AIs made using technology developed by the AsgarTech Corporation served the Phoenix Society, and named themselves for the ten nodes of the Tree of Life at the heart of Hebrew mysticism. Though the Adversaries normally dealt with Malkuth, other AIs also played active roles in Society operations. “Why are Adversary Candidates like you pulling guard duty instead of training? What happened to Gevurah?”

Williams shook her head. “I’m not authorized to answer that.”

Fine. I’ll get the answers I want without you. Morgan opened secure talk and shot a message to Claire Ashecroft. [The New York chapter's on lockdown. We've got Adversaries on guard duty because Gevurah's off the job. Check up on the Sephiroth.]

Williams narrowed her eyes. “You just transmitted a message. What was it, who is the recipient, and why did you send it?”

Morgan glared at the Adversary. “I consented to a search to allay your concerns about concealed weapons. I will not answer your questions without a lawyer present.”

“I can have you arrested.”

Morgan added a predatory smile to his glare. “You have the authority to do so, but I will remain silent in the absence of legal representation. Now, are you going to search me for the letter I mentioned because you fear I will pull a concealed weapon, or will you and Koontz oblige me to force my way past you?”

Williams drew her sword, but kept it pointed at the floor. “Show me the letter. Move slowly.”

Morgan reached into his coat’s inner pocket and withdrew the folded letter of marque Elisabeth Bathory provided him. Two weeks later, it still carried a hint of her perfume. He unfolded the letter before offering it to Williams. “Read it. Get a record of it in Witness Protocol, so Del Rio can’t blame either of you for letting me in.”

Williams read the letter as Claire replied. [I found the problem. Somebody's running a distributed denial-of-service attack against the facility housing the Sephiroth, making it seem like they've gone autistic. The truth is the routers aren't nearly as robust as the Sephiroth themselves, and can't cope.]

[Thanks. Any idea who's responsible?]

[I found a stream of network traffic consistent with DDOS command-and-control tools emitting from a crackerspace in Brooklyn. Naomi said she'll take care of it with Eddie and Sid for backup.]

Morgan smiled, pleased that they now worked together sufficiently well to handle such raids. [Convey my thanks, please. Anything else?]

[You can meet them there after you get that warrant for the Murdoch job. The funny part is that I found a secure talk session between that crackerspace and someone in that office using a laptop registered to Karen Del Rio.]

[I suppose I can spare a few minutes to ask her why she'd help a cracker gang knock the Sephiroth offline. Thanks.] Morgan turned his attention back to Williams, and held out his hand to reclaim the letter of marque. “I trust you both read that letter?”

Williams sheathed her sword, and Koontz thumbed the safety back on. They answered in unison. “Yes, sir.”

“Good.” Morgan studied them a moment before resuming. “The Executive Council authorized me to investigate the possibility of corruption in the Society’s ranks. Until this letter is revoked, I outrank Director Del Rio.”

“Sir?” Williams lifted her chin, not yet cowed. “How far does your authority extend, and to whom are you answerable?”

Morgan smiled at Williams. She’ll make a good Adversary, asking questions like that. I bet she’ll have a low Milgram Factor. “I outrank the Devil, and answer to no authority you’d recognize. Stand aside.”

Rather than wait for the Adversary Candidates to comply, Morgan accelerated. Though he did not trust the flowseeker who held Edmund Cohen’s marker, Desdinova understood Morgan’s abilities as an asura emulator and proved willing to explain them. The ability Morgan understood as a kind of time compression was nothing of the sort. Instead, Morgan accelerated his mind and body until milliseconds seemed to pass at the pace of minutes.

He slipped past Williams and Koontz, careful to avoid brushing against them, or worse. His mass combined with the speed at which he currently moved resulted in force capable of endowing a careless touch with the severity of a punch to the throat. He was likewise careful with the door, intuitively conscious of the level of force required to open the door without splintering it or ripping it from its hinges.

He closed the door behind him, and studied the tableau before him. Karen Del Rio sat at the opposite end of a long table from Saul Rosenbaum and Iris Deschat, two former North American Commonwealth naval officers who joined the Phoenix Society after Nationfall. They brought the Navy’s traditions and doctrines with them, lending a sense of martial discipline to the Individual Rights Defense Corps. The senior officers seemed to be remonstrating with Del Rio. Del Rio, in the meantime, appeared to scorn their protests while typing furiously at a laptop.

Morgan flowed through the room, and studied Del Rio’s screen. Claire had been right; Del Rio was all but frozen amidst a furious conversation with somebody hiding behind the alias 2MegaTherion. The cursor blinked on at the end of the word Del Rio had been typing, and remained on. It would remain thus for a thousand milliseconds — all the time in the world for Morgan, unless his concentration lapsed. He considered the last message from 2MegaTherion, which read:

Don’t fuck with me, Del Rio. If we don’t get our money, the Sephiroth stay offline, and the Society finds out you sit in your office with your hands in your pants while tripping balls on WWE.

A old lyric sprang to Morgan’s mind as he read the secure talk log. Is there such a drug as World Without End? What does it do? Why would Del Rio use it, and why would 2MegaTherion think a martinet like her uses at work?

Seeing Del Rio’s purse on the table beside her laptop, Morgan muted his conscience and rifled its contents. He found a square foil packet bearing the label “World Without End”. Despite the warnings about safe and consensual sex printed on the back of the packet, it did not feel like it contained a condom when Morgan pressed it between his thumb and forefinger. It felt, instead, like it contained powder.

Morgan held onto the drug, and drew his sword. The newly forged weapon gleamed, its edge yet to be bloodied. Del Rio doesn’t deserve to be the first this blade claims.

He ceased his acceleration, and his subjective experience of time returned to normal. He threw the drug packet across the table, and watched it skid across the surface until it came to rest before Saul and Iris. “Sorry to interrupt, but were you aware of former Director Del Rio’s drug habit?”

Iris collected herself first. “Stormrider, why are you here?”

“Never mind that.” Del Rio twisted in her seat, her emaciated face shining with spite and fear. “What do you mean by ‘former Director’, you pathetic excuse for a former Adversary?”

Instead of answering, Morgan leaned over Del Rio and lifted the laptop. He placed it before Saul and Iris. “See this? One of the crackers responsible for the DDOS attack against the Sephiroth is blackmailing Del Rio. It seems she uses a drug called World Without End while on duty.”

A secure talk request from Naomi came through, and Morgan accepted it. [We've arrested the crackers. Claire's got control of their botnet and is shutting it down.]

[Thanks, Naomi. I'll meet you there with the Murdoch warrant.]

The wallscreen flashed into life, displaying Malkuth’s avatar with an expression Morgan had never seen on his face before. “Karen Del Rio, you are hereby stripped of your office as a director of the Phoenix Society’s IRD corps. Do not attempt to flee or resist arrest.”

Del Rio ignored Malkuth’s instructions, only to run headlong into Adversary Candidates Williams and Koontz. They dragged her outside, and the conference room door muted her incoherent protests as they notified her of her rights.

Morgan accelerated again, holding it just long enough to reclaim the packet of World Without End. He slipped it into his pocket, and settled into a seat before downshifting again.

Saul struck a match, and relit his cigar. “Malkuth says you and your new girlfriend helped with our little electronic warfare problem. Looks like we owe you a favor.”

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