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WolfSinger Publications

Don't Write What You Know;

Write What You Care About -- Passionately!

- Joy Jones

A world decimated by virus,
A crime lord’s daughter holds the key.
Can she discover it in time?

Meet the crime lord of the future—she’s five foot five, wears an evening  gown, has computerized reflexes and carries a Glock. Her soldados  defend her against assassination or attacks by San Francisco homeless.  But neither they nor the world of high tech Jaymes lives in can protect  her from GEORG—a virus that thinks and plans, or Adan Bernardo, the  mysterious scientist behind it. When her corporate stronghold comes  crashing down, she’s forced to make new and bizarre friends with talents  for manipulating technology to uncover her family skeletons and how  they link to a terrible future. Unless, that is, Jaymes can unlock the  secret she carries within herself to fight back.

Her world depends on it.


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“No,” Jaymes whispered. “No…”

“Yes,” the med tech caring for her father intoned without emotion. “He’s infected.”

How could he say it like that—so abruptly, so cold? One of her brothers stood up and took his place beside her.

“How long?”

The tech shrugged. “Until he starts raving about God, like the others.”

Jaymes saw a muscle in Joaquin’s jaw twitch. “Get out,” he said, and put a hand on his piece.

The  tech shot him a contemptuous glance…as though the threat of being shot  was neither new nor frightening after all he had seen with the GEORG  virus.

Jaymes could believe it wasn’t.

As  he turned to leave the Pride penthouse, Jaymes heard her father calling  incoherently from the room behind them…Who was he asking for with those  garbled sounds? It could have been any one of the three of them:  Jaymes, Joaquin or her other brother Jeremias. Of late, their father  couldn’t always articulate in order to be understood. And yet his  ability to speak clearly could return, inexplicably, within seconds, as  well. But his struggle to breathe—that had been painfully ongoing.

Jaymes  began backing toward the balcony doors, trying to take in what was  really happening, trying to keep the chilled mask she always wore from  dissolving on her face.

No, no, no, her mind kept repeating. Not Papa—not my papa…

Joaquin  followed the tech to the outer corridor of the Arc’s penthouse, hand  still on his gun, intent in his eyes. Jeremias came toward her.

“Stay  back,” Jaymes said sharply and continued through the doors onto the  balcony. The enveloping sound of water and air traffic from San  Francisco bay hit her between the shoulder blades. Her hands,  floundering, fell to the balcony rail as she staggered to the edge and  gulped air through tears that could safely come, now that her family  wasn’t watching…

The  city sprawl ground on relentlessly below: a Leonidas urban assault  craft banked away, scanning the streets below for potential rioters,  dozens of ground vehicles vied for a place in the traffic grid, and her  blurred gaze fell on the Pride Arc’s light rail station, a lev train  just pulling in. It would be filled with workers for her family’s  corporation, going about their busy little lives—content they were  employed and not on the streets…oblivious to the drama being played out  so far above. Fierce anger hit her then, a wave of heat from her gut to  her face—and it pushed her to her knees on the hard concrete, her long,  dark hair partially hiding her eyes. How dare they be happy? How dare they when my father is dying?

Jaymes  put her hand into her jacket for her gun as her brother had done  earlier…as though it would help her now, as though she could aim at  anything at all and pull the trigger. Focus, focus—what do you know? She  thought, trying desperately to chill, to grasp the facts she knew  rather than what her mind wanted to do: deny, rationalize away, find  something tangible to hold onto that could confirm this was all a  terrible nightmare and not really happening at all…

She’d  been wounded a few weeks before during a firefight—a stunning shot to  the shoulder that left her curled in a ball on the sidewalk until  Joaquin could get to her and drag her back. She’d had no memory of  firing or being fired upon until she was there, wet concrete under her  cheek, dirt and blood in her mouth. She hadn’t even remembered hitting  the pavement.

It was how she felt now: like something essential in her memory had been neatly plucked away, leaving her gasping with shock.


Jaymes  knuckled both fists against her mouth to keep from crying out with  grief. Images of her father bringing her a puppy as a child warred with  the bodies of dead dogs infected with GEORG they’d seen lying in the  street everywhere for months. Papa had started constantly washing his  hands ever since they’d seen the first one—made all of them do it, too.  Joaquin had teased him about it one too many times only a week  before…and her father had backed him up against the car, his pistol  shoved under the boy’s chin, dark eyes flashing. Her brother hadn’t said  anything since.

“It’s you,” Jeremias said now from the doorway. “He wants you,” he added, just a hint of bitterness in his tone.

Jaymes  blinked and sniffled, slipping her gun back into her jacket without  looking. The world was unimaginably heavy on her shoulders as she got up  and stumbled past him, through the living room and into her parents’  bedroom…

Her  mother looked up, dark eyes swollen from crying, and then threw herself  away from the bed, breaking into a run as she reached the doorway.  Dimly, Jaymes was aware of Joaquin following to comfort her. She moved  forward.

Javier  Osvaldo Leonidas, CEO of Leonidas Corporation, lay propped against the  pillows of the huge bed, his eyes shining in his strained face as Jaymes  approached. His saturnine features were familiar to anyone who read the  news terminals with any regularity. But the public would not have  recognized him in this emaciated version of the once vibrant, olive  skinned man with snapping black eyes.

“Jaime,” he said, “We must talk…”

She  tried not to wince, either at the way he preferred to say her name or  how his voice sounded, the way it had sounded for the last week…as  though his breathing was no longer involuntary while he spoke—as though  every word was an effort to get out. She could see the fear in his gaze,  too…the fear she might really see what he was going through, that he was suffering. So she pretended too, made believe everything was going to be just fine.

“Papa,”  Jaymes forced a smile. She came fully into the room, turned the sound  down on the vid he was playing, and then sat down by the bed. “What did  the doctor say?”

“Doctor,” Javier snorted. “That wasn’t a doctor. He doesn’t know anything.”

Jaymes  scooped up his hand from the covers and rested it against her cheek,  not trusting herself to speak for a moment. His fingers felt so thin,  the bones hollow-frail.

“I just need to take it easy for a while. And I want you to help me.”

She blinked. “Me? But what about Jer or Joaquin?”

“No,  Jaime—you. You’re the strongest. You always have been.” He smiled,  “Don’t you know that? They do. That’s why they’re always so jealous.”

Jaymes didn’t know what to say to this revelation. So she remained silent as he went on:

“The  family must be protected. They know, on the street. They know The Lions  are not strong any more. You have to be my strength.”

She shook her head. “But…how?”

“Listen  to me,” Javier Leonidas wheezed, “you need to find Adan Bernardo.” He  was starting to gasp for air after speaking so much. Jaymes waited for  him to catch his breath, her heart laboring painfully to see him so  helpless…

“Go on, Papa,” she prompted, after a moment.

Javier began coughing. “He is the one…who made GEORG.”

He made—?” Terror shot through her, cold ice racing along her spine. Adan Bernardo, Leonidas’ head biologist? But that meant…

“Yes,” her father hissed, dark eyes burning into her own now.

Jaymes  gathered both his hands into hers, willing him to be able to feel her  touch, though she knew he couldn’t any longer. “Papa, what is happening?  Tell me!

The  coughing became one of his spasms, and she quickly reached for the  water glass at his bedside, holding it to his lips so he could drink. A  moment later his dark eyes cleared and sharpened again.

Her father nodded. “Yes,” he whispered, “it is time you knew. We—the Family of Lions—created GEORG.”

Jaymes  set the glass onto the table, focusing carefully on that to keep from  crying out. She closed her eyes. “Tell me everything.” Her voice was  bleak.

“Bernardo is the only one who can stop it now.”

Jaymes  scowled. “But it’s impossible to find him. Everyone with a vid screen  knows he disappeared months ago and the authorities have been  searching—” She gestured toward the soundless vid running nearby and  half expected to see Bernardo’s face when she did. But it was only  another public figure who had been making the news recently—some kind of  religious advisor to Chinasia. She was caught for a moment by the  large, expressive eyes in a face marked with peaceful laugh lines. Then  her father was speaking again.

“The  authorities,” Javier growled, and tossed his head in contempt. Jaymes  could almost see the dismissing gesture he might have made…except he  could no longer move his arms… He swallowed, and she retrieved the glass  to offer him water again. After a moment he continued, “The only  authority is The Family. The only law Omerta: the code of silence. You  know that, Jaime.”

She offered a small, solemn nod. It was everything she had been taught, even as a child.

“I,” Javier said in a clear, certain voice then, “am almost dead.”

Unable to speak, Jaymes shook her head vehemently and clutched at his hands again.

But her father insisted, “Yes. And the other Families will try to move in—like jackals, scenting my blood. You know this, too.”

She did.

“We Lions have always protected our holdings ourselves!” Javier declared, shaking his head back and forth. “You must not let  them come.” This was followed by another coughing spasm until he was an  alarming shade of gray. Jaymes helped him sit up to counteract it, and  sensed someone standing in the doorway, drawn by the sounds of  distress…one of her brothers perhaps, or her mother. She waved them away  impatiently and the shadow retreated from her peripheral vision.

When she turned back her father had become distracted by the vid again, and Jaymes saw a headline on the screen: Where is Coman Gadi? Of course, that had been his name. It was commonly thought he’d gone  into hiding for his own protection, certain fanatical religious groups  having made several death threats against him. She wondered if her  father thought Adan Bernardo such a romantic figure as well, and her  lips tightened. She’d never met the man, but Jaymes guessed money had  been more his motivation for dropping out of sight.

“Turn that up,” Javier commanded, and she did so, watching her father as he watched the vid.

“I’m  nothing special,” Gadi was saying on the screen in an appearance  recorded earlier that same year. “I was a tech, you know, years ago.”

The crowd before him sighed—he understood them and they him.

“Now  they call me a theologian engineer,” and Gadi made a rueful face. “But  that doesn’t matter. The fact is, we all are more the same than  different—we have the same potential. We are still reacting to today’s  problems with yesterday’s solutions. But we have to change from the  inside first. It’s really the only way to change the outside world. And  any situation can be changed—with the right effort.”

Jaymes had heard it all before, and shook her head.

She  was about to turn the sound down again when her father spoke  unexpectedly, “I believe in God, Jaime. What do you believe in?”

“Nothing,”  Jaymes whispered, surprised to tears by the question, “Nothing, Papa.”  And although she’d never really thought about it, she said it with  complete conviction.

If this could happen to her father, then there was nothing left to believe in.

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