TITLE: Down into Darkness
GENRE: 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 alien underground long enough to convince Earth not to sacrifice him in an all-out attack on the hostile Sulcans.
“Your move, Jade,” Brian’s voice echoed in the empty cabin of the Empathy. He reclined his seat in the cramped space. Above the table in front of him, a holo-splay shimmered the dimensions of a go game board studded with green and white pieces.
Another green 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 green 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 they didn’t spend a hundred million marks developing Jade so that he could play games.
When Brian landed on Jupiter’s third moon, every input Jade received through his eyes and ears would be sent back to Earth. The Terran Agency for Solar System Exploration and Communication (TASSEC) would not go blind and deaf a second time—not unless Brian did himself.