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New Rho Agenda Book Teaser June 28, 2021

Posted by rhoagenda in Rho Agenda Updates.
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Hello fans. I have heard inquiries from a bunch of fans wanting to know what is my next novel after completing my Endarian Prophecy Fantasy series. I am pleased to announce that I am working on a spinoff from my Rho Agenda science fiction series. The working title is “The Ripper’s Son”. Here is a short “Rough Draft” sample of the book I will be releasing around the end of the 2021.

The Ripper’s Son

Prologue

Tasman Mining Complex, New Zealand

October 1st

“I’m frightened.”

Dr. Denise Jennings stared down at her phone, frozen in place by the short message displayed there. Two simple words that screamed the impossible.

Despite the nanites that coursed through her bloodstream, keeping her at peak health and repairing any injuries, she felt a sudden dizziness overwhelm her. Denise sank to her knees in the rich loam of her garden, feeling the gentle touch of her lilies and snapdragons against her arms.

She tore her gaze away from the small screen, fighting to catch the breath that the message had robbed her lungs of. Her gaze swept the snow-capped mountains that surrounded her New Zealand complex. A gentle breeze caressed her cheek on this spring morning. Nothing disturbed the tranquility of the beautiful scene.

Three personal-defense robots bracketed her, left, right, and rear, granting her a personal-space, two-dozen feet in diameter. Sensing no danger, they made no move toward her. Except for their overly large heads with the arrays of sensors, they looked almost human. Each carried a pulsed laser rifle mounted on its back, capable of deploying the weapons faster than Denise’s eyes could follow.

Technically, she did not need this extra security layer. Her entire Tasman Mining complex could be instantly draped by an impenetrable stasis field should any threat present itself to the automated systems that controlled these facilities.

She looked down at her phone. It was not the words themselves that had so disconcerted her. It was the sender.

Big John.

What the hell?

Big John was the name she had given the self-organizing neural network she had created for the NSA. Denise had merged Big John’s source code with the digitized brain of Jamal Glover, the NSA’s top cyber warrior. In so doing, she had spawned the super-intelligence that had seized control of the entire world’s computers, robots, and electronic systems. With that one desperate action, Denise had made clear to everyone on the planet that she was now in charge. She was the creator whom Big John’s served and protected.

Only twice before had Big John contacted her of its own volition. Both instances had preceded episodes where she had faced dangers too horrible to think about. The violence and endless wars that plagued the Earth had driven her to direct Big John to take control of the planet. Her creation was everywhere, overriding mankind’s attempts to reassert human mastery.

But despite its awesome powers, Big John was incapable of feeling fear.

Denise returned her gaze to the phone clutched in her trembling right hand. The message that had leached the strength from her legs was still there. And she had no idea what she was going to do about it.

Chapter 1

Siena, Italy

October 2nd

My name is Robert Brice Gregory, and I can move things with my mind. Nothing big, like a sewing needle, mind you. But I have been known to put a ripple on a cup of coffee.

Now, I know that there are those who would say the disturbance was produced by a passing vehicle, but I’m pretty certain it was me. One indisputable fact is that, within my telekinetic range, I can manipulate the flow of electrons through electronic systems. As for how far my mind-reach extends, I don’t know. It seems to be getting bigger with practice. And since Earth is ruled by a machine intelligence that I really want to avoid, I get lots of practice.

When it comes to computers and other electronics, I am a god… or at least a demigod. Otherwise, I’m just the semi-normal, eighteen-year-old son of two ex-CIA assassins.

Oh, one more thing. My mind is linked to an alien AI who controls the computers on a crashed alien starship. Long story.

If someone forced me to introduce myself to a group of people who needed to know, that would be how I’d do it. But on this Tuscan, late-fall morning, such an audience was the last thing I wanted. After all, I hadn’t traded New Zealand for Siena, Italy because I wanted the limelight.

Taking one more sip of my rapidly cooling cappuccino, I set the cup on the outdoor table, pinning a five-euro bill beneath it. Paying with cash was old-school, but Big John and its master, Dr. Denise Jennings, hadn’t forbidden it. For those of us who liked to test the system, it had become a fad.

I pushed back my chair, stood up, nodded to the brunette barista with the Emilia name tag pinned to her blue blouse, and stepped from beneath the red awning into the crystalline sunlight that bathed the Piazza Del Campo.

“Hey, Rob. Wait up.”

The familiar voice pulled my gaze toward the spot where Renzo Bruni wove through the milling tourists. Tall and skinny, with shoulder length auburn hair, a nose ring, and tattoos that sleeved his bare arms and neck, Renzo’s normally jovial face was twisted into a worried frown.

“What’s eating you?”

“I can’t talk about it in this crowd.”

Curiosity engaged, I motioned my hacker friend to walk with me toward Costa Barbieri, the walkway that exited the west side of the cobbled plaza.

“Okay,” I said. “Spill it.”

“Where are we going?”

Renzo’s gaze shifted as he scanned the people seated outside the row of restaurants and pizzerias that lined the northwestern end of the city square. Sensing that he was going to keep avoiding my question until we reached a more private space, I played along with him.

“Tonight is date night. I want to pick out a nice bouquet of flowers for Jianna from the street merchant near the Duomo di Siena.”

“Somebody needs to tell you that you’re not a newlywed anymore. What’s it been, two years?”

“Almost three.”

“I’ve got one word for you, mio amico… whipped.”

“And loving it.”

Renzo looked at the security camera positioned outside the Caffe A. Nannini, his nervousness pulling a low chuckle from my lips.

“Relax,” I said. “You know cameras and microphones only track me when I want them to. I’m the man in the virtual bubble.”

“That’s creepy.”

We headed southwest on Via dei Pellegrini, strolling past the swirling mounds of gelatos on display in the window of the Brivido Gelateria. Ignoring the saliva that flooded my mouth, I led Renzo onward.

“What’s got you so worked up?”

Renzo stopped, his face going pale.

“The accident. This morning, there was a crash on the SR2 highway between Siena and Florence. A truck crashed head-on into a tourist bus. My uncle Vito was there. The bus flipped onto its roof beside the highway. Vito and others rushed to try to help the survivors, but the fuel tank exploded. Vito heard them screaming but nobody could reach them. More than thirty people burned alive.”

“Jesus. What about the truck driver?”

Once more, Renzo glanced around. He lowered his voice.

“There was no truck driver. Both vehicles were fully autonomous.”

I opened my mouth but, such was my amazement, it took several seconds before I found my words.

“That’s impossible.”

Renzo shrugged.

“It happened.”

“What time?”

“Rush hour. Just before 7:00 a.m.”

I shifted my gaze, taking in the pedestrians calmly going about their business on both sides of the street. Something about their utter lack of concern prickled my skin. I made a quick query to the AI who had been my mental companion as long as I can remember.

Eos. Was the auto accident on any of the news feeds you monitor?

No.

I refocused my attention on Renzo, noticing the beads of sweat that had risen on his brow.

“This didn’t make the news?”

“Not a chirp.”

Renzo leaned closer, placing his right hand on my shoulder.

“Apparently our governing AI doesn’t care to publicize this incident. It might instill doubt in the people about its ability to control this worldwide ‘Utopia’ it has created.”

The tone of disgust in Renzo’s voice when he voiced the U word did not surprise me.

He continued. “Haven’t I been telling you that everything’s not as rosy as you and the rest of the socialist sheep want to believe? First, the machines buy your freedoms with free stuff. Then they promise to keep you safe. What you don’t know can’t hurt you, right?”

I stared. “Much as I like you, my friend, you see conspiracies everywhere. I got this same stuff from my mom and dad. Freedom this and freedom that. But look around. Everyone you see has a nice middle-class income, courtesy of Big John and the machines that produce everything. Poverty is passe. Life is good.”

Renzo took a step back. “Someday, you are going to take off those rosy glasses and see the world for what it has become.”

“Funny. Dad and Mom have been fighting for ‘Freedom’ since before I was born. Struggle was the only thing I ever knew until Dr. Jennings unleashed Big John to put an end to the wars and violence that mankind’s rule gave this world. If that is what Jack, Janet, and you call freedom, then I’ll keep these glasses right where they are.”

Renzo took a deep breath. Then, with a slight wave, he turned away, calling out over his shoulder.

“Give Jianna my love.”

Then Renzo walked back the way we had come, leaving me to ponder things I most definitely did not want to think about.

Chapter 2

Siena, Italy

October 2nd

It was almost noon when I got back to our flat with a dozen, freshly picked roses and a nice bottle of Chianti. Hearing a familiar voice call out my name, I looked up to see Jianna leaning over the third-floor balcony, smiling down at me.

“What have you brought me?”

I lifted the bouquet in my left hand and the wine bottle in my right.

“A party.”

“Then I might just let you in.”

I laughed.

“I’ll be right up.”

I entered through the front door, climbed the three flights of narrow stairs, and made my way down the hallway to our corner apartment. Jianna stood in the doorway, bathed in a beam of sunlight from the window on the far wall, her floral summer dress emphasizing every lovely curve.

I leaned in to kiss her, but she put a finger to my lips, as if to shush me.

“Set the flowers and wine on the table. Then take my hand and let me lead you onto the balcony. I have something to show you.”

“Ooh. Mysterious.”

I stepped inside, hearing the click of the deadbolt as I set my burdens upon the table. Then her hand was in mine, her tremulous touch unleashing a mixture of anticipation and trepidation as she led me out into the sunlight. There, against the railing, between the twin flower boxes, she turned to face me, her brown eyes sparkling with sudden moisture. I felt my mouth go dry.

Taking both my hands in hers, Jianna pressed my palms against her tummy. It was as firm and well-muscled as it had been yesterday, but it seemed to almost vibrate with electricity. Or maybe that was just the nerves in my hands, triggered by the lightning that flashed through my brain.

I dropped to my knees and pressed my left ear to her belly, then I kissed it.

“When did you find out?”

“I did the test this morning, after you left. But I’ve been thinking I might be pregnant for the last week.”

She ran her fingers through the curls of my hair, and I rose to kiss her soft lips, feeling tears dripping from my chin. Smiling, I wiped my eyes, and took Jianna in my arms, pulling her close enough to whisper in her ear.

“My love, you’ve made me so happy. I hardly dared dream of this day, but here it is.” I swallowed hard. “I’m going to be a daddy.”

“I had to tell you out here in the open air and sunlight. I needed to see your face when you understood, so I could be sure this made you happy. Now I know.”

There, with my lovely wife and my future child in my arms, I thanked God and Dr. Jennings that our baby would not be born and raised in the world of maddening violence that I was. And I refused to allow my disturbing conversation with Renzo to elbow its way into my head.

Comments»

1. Brandon - June 28, 2021

Excellent! Can’t wait to read the whole book. Guess I’ll need to re-read the series to get ready…

rhoagenda - June 29, 2021

Glad to have my head back into that SciFi world.
Richard

2. Samantha Mercado - June 29, 2021

Yes!!! I love it and can’t wait for the whole book to come out!

rhoagenda - June 29, 2021

Thanks Samantha. I’m enjoying putting my head back into SciFi.
Richard

3. Baron - June 29, 2021

I am ready to preorder it now.

rhoagenda - June 30, 2021

Thanks Baron. I’ll let you know when the Beta draft is available … probably December timeframe.
Richard

4. David Hope - June 30, 2021

Thanks and hi from New Zealand. I’m so excited to see you turning your attention back to sci fi ! I struggle with fantasy books so I’m hanging out for more Rho Agenda works given your mastery of the genre.
Look forward to hearing more.

Regards

rhoagenda - June 30, 2021

Thanks David. Hope you and yours have a wonderful winter as we enjoy our summer here.
Best,
Richard

5. Richard - October 14, 2021

Big fan of all your work. Always enjoyable reading and I’ve learnt a lot about science along the way reading the series. Find myself going down the wholehole of YouTube and Wikipedia learning about some of the science you mention in your books.

rhoagenda - October 14, 2021

Thanks much. Glad you like the series.
Richard


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