TITLE: Down into Darkness
GENRE: Adult - Science Fiction
When linguist Brian Marconi visits the subterranean Sulcan aliens on Ganymede and finds his predecessor dead, he must keep himself alive in the hostile alien underground long enough to convince Earth not to sacrifice him in an all-out attack on the Sulcans.
“Your move, Jade,” Brian’s voice echoed in the empty cabin of the Empathy. He reclined his seat in the cramped space, slowly settling back under the micro-gravity of the ship’s thrust. Above the table in front of him, a holo-splay shimmered the dimensions of a go gameboard studded with black and white pieces.
Another black appeared on the grid. “Capture,” a woman’s voice filled Brian’s ears, softened by a subtle Japanese accent. His surrounded white piece dissolved and reappeared with a “clink” inside a black cage housing a crowd of other whites.
“Imprisoned by my own ambition.” Brian glanced around at the bare walls of the ship that enclosed him. “Rather fitting.”
“You’ve made that mistake 73 times,” Jade’s voice issued from his ear implants.
“Thanks for that.” A running account of his performance statistics was one of the side benefits of an AI companion.
“You’re welcome,” Jade said, missing his sarcasm.
Brian ran a hand through his hair, knowing his opponent saw the board from his side of the table, perceiving the room through every flick and glance of his eyes. That gave her an unfair advantage, but TASSEC hadn’t spent a hundred million marks developing Jade so that Brian could play games.
Brian focused on one part of the board while he thought about strategy in another quadrant. Maybe he could turn Jade’s advantage into a liability. “Place my piece at ten, G, please,” he said, and another white appeared.
“Once again you are too eager. You rush into new territory and end up isolated and outnumbered.”