Annabelle Donohoe, the CEO of World Tech, is mad as hell.
Her dreams of world domination died the day Zac Robillard discovered her evil plans and fled World Tech, taking his greatest creation, his beloved I-Bots, and all his research, with him. (Read about their origins in Isaac Asimov's History of I-Bots!) More than super-machines, more than robots, the I-Bots are eerilyhuman in appearance, but not in abilities. Their genetic components--based on human DNA--and mechanical infrastructures give them pshyical strength and powers humans can only imagine, and a measure of free will impossible in robots.
Annabelle wants them back and will stop at nothing to get her way, including hiring the world's deadliest assassin to find Zac, and his I-Bots--the beautiful Radiant and Killaine, clever Itazura, Psy-4, and Stonewall--and bring them in...or kill them. For if Annabelle cannot have the I-Bots she vows that no one else can either. But Janus, the ruthless killer, is not the only hunter they must elude...
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June 01, 1998
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Excerpt from Time Was by Gary A. Braunbeck
Time was he knew happiness, hope, and acceptance.
Now, in the grave-silent, ink-black darkness where even the deepest shadows would shine brightly, the child thought: If only I could scream.
Blackness above, below, all around him.
Or so he imagined.
This darkness had been his home for so long he could no longer tell if his eyes were open or closed. Sometimes he wondered if he still had eyes; he had no sensations of blinking, of crying, of fluttering lids -he couldn't even reach up to rub them, to find out if they were still there or if Father had blinded him.
If only he could scream... but there was just numbness, a consuming nothingness where he knew his mouth should be. He'd long ago forgotten what it felt like to whistle, to click his teeth together, to moisten his lips with the tip of his tongue before letting fly with a good, loud raspberry.
Why did you do this to me, Father? he thought. If I did something bad, I'm sorry. Just, please..please let me out of here. It's so dark.
Please, someone, come get me.
He remembered the faces of other children he'd seen (though he could never be sure where it was he'd seen them), faces filled with joy, mischief, glowing with laughter, and he wondered if any of them had noticed him, if they remembered what he looked like, if they were now, right now, asking their mother or father where that little boy was, if he was coming back.
The memory made him smile (he thought/hoped), because that meant he wasn't blind, after all. The darkness had just lasted a lot longer this time, but maybe that was okay because then he'd appreciate the Light all the more, and maybe, just maybe, if he appreciated it enough, then Father would never put him back here in this awful, dead, silent, dark, and lonely, lonely place.
Sometimes, when he remembered the threat (and Father had made it, hadn't he?) and the Bad Feeling came over him, the child would think about his own face. He thought he knew what he would look like, and the face he gave himself was a good one, yes it was; a good, friendly face, the face of someone another child would want to have as their bestest buddy in the whole wide world.
He pictured his face now and felt a little better.
But only a little.
Only a little was often all he had.
He remembered ice cream, and hot dogs with mustard (he didn't think he liked mustard), and big, juicy cheeseburgers. It all looked so good and tasty.
He could not remember the last time he'd eaten anything.
He couldn't even remember what they tasted like.
Or even if he'd ever tasted anything.
Why wasn't he hungry? He should have been starving -but then he remembered seeing pictures of other children in faraway countries, their bellies bloated from starvation, and some voice telling him that these deprived children reached a point where their hunger was so great they were no longer aware of how hungry they were.