Title: The Hidden Meanings
Author: Brandon Victorian
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1
Buy at: www.roguephoenixpress.com
Jenius Starmage and Raiya Ravensong, two detectives in the Android Equality force, are ordered on the case of their lives: tracking down a rogue android who committed an impossible atrocity of high magic. Uncovering the android’s past, the two elves learn of a horrendous tragedy that left broken bodies and broken minds in its wake, and links to an ancient tale of near-apocalypse that threatens to occur again through this android’s unbridled rage. Guided by a grieving nobleman, and with circumstances reawakening long-suppressed emotions between them, Jenius and Raiya must stop the insane terrorist before history repeats itself to the destruction of all.”
Raiya's attention was fully captured from the pages of the Baron's book. "What would he have to do with a terrorist, even if she was an android?"
"Objectivity, Raiya," Jenius reminded her. "He might simply know something about this, but we don't know if he's directly related to the Center for Justice incident. Still, I wouldn't put it past him to have had something to do with our suspect. I'm sorry."
"Why do you think that?" Raiya asked, her tone both accusing and more than a little hurt. He's my father, for Divine's sake!"
"Because, before the Liberation War, he used to work with the Android Equality Force," Zan interjected. He was reading from something that neither of the elves could see. "The records are all here. No charges were brought up against him, because of Doctor Enit's plea bargain. In exchange, every one of his colleagues walked."
"Where is he now?" Jenius asked Zan.
"Berengard," both Zan and Raiya said in unison, and Jenius had to disguise his embarrassment at deferring a question that his partner would have known the answer to.
"Sorry," he murmured to Raiya.
"You want me to patch you in?" Zan asked.
Jenius nodded then waited for the ether to shift to the new address.
"I wonder what my father has to do with this." Raiya muttered aloud.
"We'll find out," Jenius said, placing his artificial hand atop hers. "It's what we do, remember?"
"Yes, but now I think it's getting personal," Raiya said, her voice stressed with concern.
"This case has already hit someone personally," Jenius said, remembering the Baron. "And it was only a matter of time that it would hit another."
The image above the dashboard changed from static to the distracted and annoyed face of an old elf. Though Jenius had only met him once before, long ago when he first introduced him to his daughter at the Android Task Force HQ, one thing about him stuck out the most: that he looked unusually haggard for an elf, even then. Young or old, humans had always described elven folk as possessing a sort of ageless youth about them, but this particular specimen seemed as world-weary as any overworked human in his middle ages.
"Am I speaking to Doctor Leneviir Ravensong?" he asked hesitantly.
"Who wants to know?" The elf asked in a gruff voice. "You'd better not be another one of those Daina bastards. I told them I'm not interested inn"
"Father?" Raiya said, looking into the hologram. Jenius looked and nearly shrank back for the sadness on her face. "This is serious."
The old elf narrowed his eyes. He was genuinely shocked to see her.
"Father, listen." Raiya pleaded. "We need your help in finding information about an android we think you might know something about."
The old elf was very quiet.
Finally, Jenius spoke.
"Doctor, my name is Jenius Starmage, and I work--"
"I know who you are, young one," the doctor said, cutting him off. "And I know about the Android Task Force. That is my daughter you're sitting by, isn't it?"
Jenius fought down the burning sensation of embarrassment and continued. "We need to know if you have any information about an android named Lihelis."
A flash of concern, almost fear, skipped across doctor's face. And then, unexpectedly, his expression darkened.
"No, I don't know a thing about it," he replied tersely then reached for something, most likely his orb, to turn it off Jenius figured.
"Father!" Raiya wailed, both desperate and indignant.
The doctor gave a start then regaining his composure, his face fell in shame. "I'm sorry, my dear," he said, defeated. "I forget myself. Yes, I do know of a Lihelis. She was an Alerian model, one of the second generation, built without the mindwipe option that others of her kind came with. It was still illegal then, but...well...the only way you could have known about her was if you talked to Baron Shosha's son. It's fairly obvious he had the monetary resources to keep the project secret."
"What can you tell us about her?" Jenius asked, having set the car to autopilot.
"Only what I know of her specs," the doctor answered, leaning backwards on something. "She was made with very specific instructions, so that's why she doesn't look like any other model, as you've probably figured out by now. We had a few sorcerers working for the labs, and so we magically extracted DNA from the children of some Alerian models in order to synthesize new templates for future models. In that respect, Lihelis was not only a custom order but a prototype as well: the first in her line."
He paused, as if gathering courage to continue.
"She also had a few...special features of my own design that I took the liberty to test out," he continued.
"What kind of 'special features'?" Jenius asked suspiciously.