Release Date: November 21, 2013
Series: The Dream Box
Publisher: The Zharmae Publishing Press (Zharmae.com)
Jaren Reese is just another red collar, trapped at the bottom of Descarta’s genetic caste system. But in the Dream Box he can forge a new digital identity for himself. In the Dream box, he is Balmus the Wolf Knight.
Balmus has long since carried a torch for the linker Petra but he doesn’t know her, not really. Outside of the Dream Box she is nothing more than a fantasy, a dream that is out of his reach. But Brea is the real thing. A living and breathing person outside of the Dream Box and Jaren needs to decide if he is willing to give up his fantasy for reality.
But when the Dream Box that Jaren depends on crashes due to the evolution of a hostile A.I. life form, a secret military branch commissions a team of gamers and hackers to go back into the corrupted Dream Box to eliminate the threat and Jaren is given the chance of a lifetime, though it comes at a price and Jaren now needs to decide just how much he’s willing to loose because the war about to be waged will be one on two fronts- the corporeal and the virtual.
~ Excerpts ~
EXCERPT 1:Balmus shut his eyes to the sparks.
The mace sang against his helm and rung in his ears. His visor crumpled under the stroke. It was now a jagged line of light hovering over the bridge of his nose, blocking his vision. Balmus cursed as he centered his shield.
What did you expect? he chided. The Jackal Knight, the Crimson Hind, the Grim One, and the Leech... They were worthy opponents, every one. But this is the Lion Knight, the Paragon. He reads the language of the angels...
The crowd that had gathered here for the tournament of champions roared as another impact spun his shield, stirring his heels together. He staggered for the shelter of the boundary marker. Circling back, he swung his ax across his body in a wide, desperate arc.
A dull clamor of steel, a swell of silence, and then all was lost to the thunder of a thousand voices. A smile tugged at the corners of The Wolf Knight’s mouth. At least that shot had connected.
Just a little farther now, and this bastard has to grant quarter...
"You don't want to end up like them, do you?" It used more inflection now, knelt beside his desk. In a moment it would squeeze his hand with a bit too much pressure and tell him everything was going to be all right. He shivered. Reese could see the contours of the Simbot's face carved out of the dim lighting now, the stark, angular features of a woman in her mid-twenties. Her perfect mouth smiled a bit too widely. Her eyes—its eyes, he corrected—were a cold blue, rimmed with a steady glow of ambiance to appear more human. Its gaze washed over him as if it could probe his thoughts. And in a moment, it would.
But as she followed in his wake, she could not help but wonder if Reese had left a part of his soul in the other realm, the shining place she too had glimpsed so fleetingly. Had the man she loved and craved gone into the blue ether to never descend, replaced by a phantom that bore his likeness but none of his fire?
Reese beckoned her through a hollow. A metal door stood on the other side, its smooth surface in stark contrast to the raw earth that surrounded them. There was a keypad, and Reese punched in a code. Somewhere within a mechanism released, allowing the door to swivel along its track.
A great cavern loomed within, the dome of its ceiling continuously lit by electrical currents cascading down thick tendrils of wiring. The wires coiled at the hub of the room, connected there to a homemade sleep chamber, the largest and most sophisticated Kara had ever seen. The pod was an opaque material rather than bubble glass, save for a square near the top, where it was crowned with a Dream Box linkup. Scientists in white and green coats made their rounds about the massive apparatus. There were fluorescents on the walls as well, but their light was hardly distinguishable from the electric mist.
“R-reese,” she sputtered
Daniel Pike is a high school English teacher, author, blogger, and father of two energetic daughters, Aurie and Kiera. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from ASU as well as his Masters in Education. His first novel, Repressed Memories, was written when he was 17 years old and high on anime. He openly admits that most of the writing took place in his Algebra class. We may forgive him for that.