an excerpt from Mourning Dove
In this chapter, art-school dropout Chandra has snuck back into the Human/Etech research compound in an attempt to rid herself of M3R1, an artificial intelligence that has been imprisoned within her mind through the EMPATHY nanochip. Where we pick up this chapter, she’s in the compound’s server farm where her personal data is stored on a drive known as an egodrive.
After swinging her arms in circles and bouncing on her toes to make sure her muscles remained warmed up, she placed the shank of the screwdriver between her teeth and set herself to climbing. A pirate with a blade between her teeth, she thought, clambering after a treasure that would make her richer only in silence.
She wedged her left foot in the space between two servers before reaching up with her right hand. After testing its ability to support her weight with a tentative hop, she threw herself fully into scaling the stack of egodrives. One by one she climbed, moving a foot before raising a hand before adjusting her grip to begin the process again. The taste of steel on her tongue blended with that of her sweat, her pocketab’s light dimming as she neared the edge of its glow.
It took a minute of climbing to draw herself level with her own egodrive. She adjusted her weight to press her left hip against the stack of servers before coiling her arm around one of the vertical supports that connected one column to its neighbor. Taking care not to chip her teeth, she withdrew the screwdriver from her mouth with her right hand and started unscrewing the first of four screws that appeared to hold her egodrive in place.
>> M3R1 loves this: get to compound. Steal egodrive. Wire it up in the comfort of your own home. Be rid of M3R1 forever.
Chandra ignored M3R1, her focus trained instead on turning the screwdriver to the left. It took only seconds for the first screw to wriggle free before it tumbled to the floor end over end, pinging against the tile and echoing throughout the server farm. She’d have to be careful hopping down; the last thing she needed was a screw to pierce the bottom of her tennis shoes.
Her ears perked up at what sounded like a cough. Or wait—was it a tired wheeze of her own from her run and climb? She kept still, listening for another burst of sound. None came.
She returned to the task at hand. The second screw came as easily as the first, and she managed to keep it from spilling to the tile. With the second screw in the front pocket of her jeans, she adjusted her arm’s grip and shifted her way toward the third screw, this one on the opposite side of the egodrive from her.
The room went dark. Her pocketab’s battery must have died.
>> Steady now. Use your fingers to feel for the final screws. You might have to fumble around to unplug everything at the back of the egodrive, but once you’re done with that, the journey down won’t be so bad.
Chandra forced a dry swallow as she ran the middle finger of her right hand along the top of her egodrive, the screwdriver pinched between her forefinger and thumb. There. The screw jutted out from the top corner of her personal server. She lined up the screw as best as she could manage and set herself to loosening it.
Another sound—this one of a hushed, frantic man’s voice—called out near the entrance.
>> They’ve started their sweep of the basement. Unscrew quickly. Hop down. Hide.
The third screw became dislodged, this one, too, dinking and donking as it bounced off other egodrives on its way toward the floor. Chandra fumbled in the dark for the fourth. The voices grew louder—there were two of them now—and her chest tightened, her hands growing unsteady.
>> Keep it together. The screw must be close to free now.
Her egodrive went limp as the fourth screw came free. She yanked at the cables and other connectors behind it, her left elbow fatigued from supporting her weight against the upright steel column. The cables unplugged, and she slid her left arm free to try to grab the egodrive before jumping down.
She managed to pull her left arm back, but lost her grip on the server, gasping as she fell back toward the ground.
The lights in the server room flashed on the moment before impact. Chandra landed, her butt plopping square onto one of the screws she had failed to secure. She cried out.
“I heard her. Back there,” said the man’s voice she heard earlier.
Chandra’s attention snapped in the direction from which she fell, just in time to shield herself from her loose egodrive sliding from its perch.
>> No. No! ##$%QFE#@#@
Instead of smacking her in the temple, it thwacked against her forearm before smashing onto the floor, its casing cracking and sending green electronics flying this way and that.
Her egodrive had been destroyed and her mission accomplished, even if it hadn’t gone exactly as planned.
Down the aisle, two wide-eyed, out of breath security guards speed-walked toward her. One pocketabbed for a third to join them as the larger guard lunged forward to secure Chandra in his grasp. “We’ve got her. Found in server farm. Situation under control.”
Chandra flailed against the guard who had secured her arms behind her back, lifting her to her feet. “Unfortunately for you,” the man said, “the Halmans are a little busy with that senate panel. You’ll have to wait until tonight for them to decide what to do with you.”
about the novel
In the aftermath of the calamitous Human/Etech research study, Chandra and Kyra struggle to reclaim the life they shared in a pre-EMPATHY world, while Ty, armed with
knowledge of EMPATHY’s programming language, seeks revenge on the Halmans for the harm that’s befallen his friends.
As a North American Union investigation into the happenings on the compound looms, a grief-stricken Peter works to resurrect the memory of his mother from a harvested nanochip, and Heather scrambles to keep her family—and their company—together.
Alistair, having abandoned the family business, plots to save his hide and that of his wife
while she strives to stay one step ahead of a husband she has no reason to trust. As old and new foes emerge, spouse is further pit against spouse, brother against sister,
and governments against their people.
Mourning Dove is an evocative, sweeping symphony of love, revenge, and desperation
in cacophonous times. It is the second installment in r. r. campbell’s epic EMPATHY sci-fi
more on the book
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: April 29th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-950412-64-8 (print), 978-1-950412-53-2 (eBook)
Available in eBook and paperback from most major retailers.
praise for book one
“… freaking sci-fi Game of Thrones.” – author M. A. Hinkle
“Campbell is a master storyteller. A breath of fresh air.”
– Jeremy Martin, author of Foreign to You
“A Black Mirror-esque sci-fi thriller.” – Ravenous for Reads
about the author
Born Ryan Campbell, r. r. campbell is an author, editor, and the founder of the Writescast Network, a podcast collective for
writers, by writers. His work has been published with Five:2:One Magazine, Erotic Review, and National Journal WritingMonth. Beyond the EMPATHY series, r. r. is the author
Accounting for It All.
For more about Imminent Dawn and Mourning Dove, visit empathyseries.com
empathyseries.com – rrcampbellwrites.com – @iamrrcampbell – firstname.lastname@example.org