A teaser from my Cybergrim Novel in process… opening sequence.


“Precarity, wake up dammit!”

Hell is waking up and realizing you’re a program in someone else’s digital mindware. There is no escape, no exit, and you know the algorithmic truth – that the quantum information in which you find yourself entangled has been scrambled beyond redemption or retrieval. You can only repeat the endless life codes someone else controls, like a puppet in a diabolical engineering plot you roam the electronic void like a mythological agent of an alien mind.

“Ok, ok, give me a sec…” Rubbed my bleary eyes and synced the bioscreen. Green and red LED’s flashed on the folds of the inscape relays, left to right / up and down. Scanned and ported the neuralfeed to on position. The holochron on the the datatab was the only thing glowing in the quantum darkness beyond: 02:30 SMY. If you’d been a CI operative – Competitive Intelligence Division – for as long as I had you learned the hard way to take it all in stride. I sat up, popped a pill, bled the almost empty tumbler dry and queried: “Who the frack is this?”

“Who do you think, Jones?” A voice like a hippo intoned.

I knew who it was, couldn’t mistake that arrogant bastard. Bossman Joe a.k.a. “Joseph R. Greathouse”, or at least his facsimile – twitching on the neurofeed like a neon diamondback ready to strike. My crew and I’d done odd jobs from time to time for Greathouse Enterprises, an InfoCorp Bioweapons firm in Shiva City – Harbinger Quadrant. He has a place on the Lux River, a Light Tower that brought the Three-Worlds together. Headquarters of the Gaian Conclave. Some said the Tower was alive, heart of the Sentient City, a living goddess… but, we knew better it was an AGI that had its hooks in everything, ran splice rhizomes through a trillion sensors that seemed to know your every move and thought before you did. Yea, a real nice place. That is if you liked angels, real decopunk jobs, slick nanobots like hypervalent flyers from a transtemporal universe. But me and my crew? No. We were of the demon clans. Undercity denizens. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Liked our little hideaway in the tunnels below Shibatsu.

“I’ll bite, so what’s the pitch?” I yawned. Hated the bastard but he kept my crew and I in the mix, so I’d suffer his crap till something better came my way. That’s the way of it in the Shibatsu.

“Listen, Precarity… listen hard,” a seriousness I’d not expected. “We’ve got to meet. None of your slipshod excuses either. Got me?”

Dam I hated going up city, but more that that I despised being in his presence. Fat, ugly, smoked those two-bit cigars from a steamcopy catalog, Old Havana biochems, 3D print jobs tasting more like homegrown algae than tobacco. But hey, no one is perfect, right?

“Ok, I’ll fast-track it and slide in tomorrow morning.”

I was about to shut the neurofeed down when he said: “Take the Shev-Train, Precarity. Be here tonight.”

“Frak it if I’ll take that slime train tonight.” Dam, fool, I hated that quant-tube. Who the hell liked being demolecularized? Always left me feeling like a burned-out hypersuit, razed and shredded.

“You’ll do it are be wiped! Kapeesh! And…” he paused.


“Bring the crew, Precarity, this one’s business… and, I do mean BUSINESS! Got that?”
Well, when he said it that way I had to think hard – nah, even if I was a pawn in a script of coded nausea I’d begun to like our datavillain lifestyle here in the dark zones. It had its perks!

“No problemito… I get it!” I wanted to reach through the neuralnet feed and fry his ass, but knew that wasn’t goin’ to happen.

“Good! And by the way Precarity there’s the matter of Chogan’s Run to clear up, too!” He blinked off.

I felt the back of my mind blink off, too. Why Chogan’s Run? And, why now? Shite! Dam the bastard.

©2020 S.C. Hickman