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Messiah Games
Book One Of The Messiah Trilogy
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-430-6
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 845 Pages
Published: October 2018



From inside the flap

In 2344, Terra is the most backward planet ever granted membership in the Galactic Confetory. It has two exports: the consumingly immersive medium called “senso” … and Earth religions, which jaded Galactics just can’t get enough of.

From the planet Vatican, Roman Catholicism teaches that God sends his Son to world after world. The Church levies vast fees to reveal which of each world’s historical religious figures (if any) truly Incarnated the Cosmic Christ.

Then a famed mathematician calculates where God will send his son next … a ruined planet where most offworlders are forbidden.

A lascivious Cardinal … a bumbling Mormon trideevangelist … a vengeful planetary mining magnate … everyone wants a piece of the newest Christ. Never mind that the man himself is a conscious fraud who can’t control his closest followers.

This tour de farce builds a complex future world, confronts classic issues of faith and “infotainment,” and spews mind-numbingly horrendous puns. A must-read satire!

Messiah Games (Excerpt)


PART ONE: A Comedy of Terrors

To free a man from error is not to deprive him of anything but to give

him something: for the knowledge that a thing is false is a piece of truth.

- Schopenhauer

1

Planet Jaremi Four - Northern Hemisphere

Ruth Griszam stood among the downstream ruins, breathing deeply. The morning air smelled of dew. Moldering leaves. To her left, beyond the listless creek and its shell of fog rose a hillside. Ruth watched her companions lurch uphill. Ulf climbed surely, steamrifle slung across his back. Chagrin followed, a blundering scarecrow in rags with an antique carbine over one shoulder, pulling hard at his walking stick. One all-but-useless leg swung pointlessly as he climbed.

They search for food,Ruth thought. So much the worse for whoever they find who has some.

She squinted into a jaundiced sunrise. The implants tugged gently in her cheeks. In the northern sky pink aurora still swirled. She turned south, upstream. Toward the body.

The corpse bobbed face up. One foot had wedged in the crotch of a waterlogged tree. Otherwise it would have just continued downstream. Wading closer, Ruth prodded it with a long stick. Its arms quavered. Yellowed nails pulled free of the fingers, skittering away on the current like beetles' wings.

Dead for days, Ruth thought. Must've gone over the spillway during the night. Its face was black. Distended. Someone had slit the throat. Not Ulf's work. Ruth shrugged. Just a passing corpse. No big story here. Still, time to do some image-mongering.

Ruth Griszam of Terra, undercover documentarian on assignment among the autochthonous peoples of the Enclave planet Jaremi Four, clocked in for the day.

She subvocalized a nonsense syllable, triggering the cascade of electronic and biological events that would put her online. It began with tingling in her cheeks. Biotech implants started to record the faintest movements of her eye, head, and neck muscles-each glint of neural traffic between her vestibular system and her parietal cortices-for later resynchronization to her visual field. Those who experienced, or poved, her recordings would need that data; uncompensated for, the flittings of her gaze might induce vertigo.

Deep in her skull, a tiny transceiver implant opened a channel to an OmNet satellite overhead. An instant later, Ruth knew the satellite was receiving her. It beamed back sync information. Triggered alternate cortical pathways.

Ruth changed. Normally-dormant areas of her cortex sparked into orderly action. In microseconds, the largest part of her cerebral capacity was devoted to fine-grained control of the muscles in her head, face, and neck. Nerve shunts routed potentially distracting somesthetic information out of her conscious awareness. Blood flow to sense organs increased. An artificial gland released a hormone that canceled her olfactory bulbs' adaptive capability. The smells of morning assaulted her anew, pungent as the day's first breath.

Subvocalizing one more nonsense syllable, she went fully into Mode.

Suck, rush, wrench!

For a moment her eyes danced unnaturally. With a familiar effort she drove the "senso shudder" beneath her muscular threshold. Others would see nothing odd about her, save perhaps the preternatural smoothness of her movements. More than anything else, it was this ability to suppress the reflex signs of Mode-to function as a Spectator without looking like one-that separated undercover documentarians like Ruth Griszam from less-accomplished practitioners.

Ruth squatted. The corpse's eyes were fogged over, the irises black with decay. If she peeked below the veneer of her conscious awareness she could hear the polyphasic verify signal softly humming, assuring her that aboard the relay satellite a senso recorder was registering it all. Her visual field. The breeze brushing her neck. The chilly tug of the water at her calves. The body's stench. Later, she knew, the journal would be deep-beamed to OmNet Main on Terra. Edited. Catalogued. Repackaged. Distributed to a Galaxy full of humans eager for vicarious adventure.

She was a Spectator. Her job was to observe.

With the smoothness of expanded muscle control, Ruth rose. Ahead of her, the crumbling dam stretched across the valley, a concrete wall honeycombed with cracks. The six-story powerhouse, its empty doors and windows agape like toothless mouths, and beside it the foaming spillway. Along its crest, pitted control wheels accused the brightening sky.

A shot rang out.

Another.

Forjel the artsy establishing pov! Time this corpse disappeared. Then me.

Ruth jammed her stick into the crotch of the fallen tree to free the body's foot. In a single motion she was up on the bank. She glanced to make sure the body was bobbing downstream. She rolled her trouser legs down over the boots she'd never removed and pulled her fur wrap free of her ammo belt.

Another shot. Closer! Definitely not from the direction Ulf and Chagrin went. Her boots heavy with stream water, Ruth scrambled uphill from cover to cover. Marauders! Panting, she stopped below the twisted stairway that led up inside the powerhouse.

Thin voices could be heard now.

Ruth took the stairs two at a time. She hurled herself through the yawning doorway and onto the powerhouse floor.

Kraa-ak! This steamrifle round was really close.