Kimberly Trayne is in hiding. Accidentally-but-sort-of-on-purpose flash-freezing the son of a drug kingpin tends to require it. Unfortunately the transition from international computer-hacking badass to night manager at Taco Bell has left her life… wanting. The virtual combat realm of Warhawk lets her take out her frustrations with a sniper rifle, and with gun, she travels.
Then the impossible happens. A complete stranger knocks on her virtual door, accidentally thrusting her into the spotlight where private security firms, the FBI, the Bolivian mafia, and her mom can find her.
Stuff always happens, they say.
It usually happens to her.
Geologists warned it was inevitable that an earthquake would collapse the Three Gorges Dam. When it finally did, a wall of water six hundred feet high rushed down the Yangtze River, destroying other dams as it went. Fifteen million Chinese died in the worst natural disaster in human history.
This is what people are told. It is a lie.
Kimberly Trayne has no time for the past. She’s a free woman now. There are family reunions to avoid, realm championships to win, and an AI-human hybrid in her life. Or not. It’s complicated.
What she needs most of all is a vacation. Kim’s heard about those; they sound nice. When Mike mentions he has family—of a sort—in China, she even has a destination.
What she doesn’t know is that behind the Great Firewall of China there are secrets. Secrets about who lives there. Secrets about who dies. Secrets of power and control.
Secrets people will kill to keep.
Stuff happens, they say. Even after flying halfway around the world, it still keeps happening to her.
The Child of the Fall
China was fun. For certain values of fun. Kim got to see the sights, taste the food, meet Mike’s sister--his AI sister--and prevent a thermonuclear war. You know, standard touristy stuff.
Now all she wants is to be a locksmith. Live the quiet life. Maybe join the Lions Club or the Chamber of Commerce or whatever it is legitimate business people do in their spare time. She’s heard about those. They sound nice.
But then her worst enemy breaks into her shop and tells her about a bomb. Mike’s sister just called him about the same thing. The bomb is big enough to bury half a continent under a hundred feet of ash, sending the rest of the world crashing into a new ice age. But it gets better. The bomb is also the biggest clean energy project in human history. Everyone loves it.
And only Kim can stop it.
He ran from her, and was never seen again.
Will disappeared through the portal, and they have no way to get him back.
That was not how the story would end.
Kim has to find him, but the portal is destroyed and nobody knows how to build a new one. They have to go back to basics by experimenting with dimensions, with physics…
Because, somehow, Kim's special abilities are tied into the technology that created the portal. Mike has theories she doesn't trust. Tonya has ideas she doesn't understand. Spencer has tech that's held together with bailing wire and duct tape. But Kim doesn't have a choice. They have to get Will back.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the galaxy, a brand-new D-ship pilot is waiting anxiously for her captain to return.
The secret is out, barely.
Humans are not alone in the galaxy. It's filled with intelligent life. At the moment only five people know. The question is what do they do about it.
Mike and Kim encountered the aliens, and the merciless AC network nodes that control their civilization. What chance does Earth have against a galaxy-spanning network with countless worlds? What chance does a galaxy-spanning network have against the first intelligent life capable of destroying it?
They’re going to make sure those questions never get asked.
Helen, Spencer, and Tonya missed out on the encounter but have their own questions. Helen wants to know why a fully sentient galaxy is a deadly threat. Tonya needs alien tech to understand time. Spencer just wants to get off this rock and see the galaxy.
Maff, the only alien in a sea of humanity, has a different idea.
She’s going to sell a world.