GENRE: Science Fiction
A century has passed and yes, the human race stumbled into evolutionary compromise. But it’s not the androids who are the victors. Post-humans have exploded into preeminence, gaining tech superiority and a tech immunity against the global environmental degradation. Humans are trivialised, a minority species, their one last significant task, restore the environmental damage they inflicted on Earth and terraform off-planets. One human and his ‘biot’ android embark on such a journey to Mars, opening the possibility for an evolutionary path back to greatness, but hostile post-human agents have infiltrated their mission.
The reconnaissance soldier, Harvey, was the first to walk into the cave, his adversary not just Draven, but to his shock, four Dravens. The soldier attempted to fire his pulse gun, but it failed to activate, causing him to back away to com Jarvis, when it too failed.
Draven was unarmed except for a single dagger, which he removed from his sheath and pointed his assailant’s way, inviting him to battle. Harvey, like all military biots, were robotized killers, programmed to fight in the fires of hades if their commander required it. He welcomed Draven’s challenge, exchanging a steel salute with his blade.
In that moment between standoff and battle, both combatants exchanged an inscrutable glance that signaled the opening gesture, acceptance that what they now started would only end with one standing. War-like adrenaline saturated the cave like the Martian dust as they began a dance, they’d spent their lives honing. Both were masters of the blade.
The soldier relished rather than feared Draven’s advantage as he rotated 360 degrees to confront the four assailants that encircled him. It was a Russian roulette encounter, with only one holding the real weapon of death. 340 Sentient But which? The soldier flicked his handle, extending his knife to a sword, showing he too brought tricks to the arena. Masterfully, he swept the sword in a Samurai-like movement of grace and skill glancing all four assailants, clicking real metal on only one, establishing his real target.
He attacked Draven, slicing, carving and driving his sword in every possible direction and angle but each time Draven evaded his assault untouched, toying with him. The soldier grew bolder with every exchange as if the challenge was all that mattered. Ever faster, he launched attacks that ultimately pushed Draven into the rock wall. Cornering Draven, he felt emboldened to make a devastating but risky assault, successfully finding the small opening in his defense allowing Harvey to plunge his sword deep into Draven’s core.
The sound of steel driving through Draven’s body echoed through the cathedral signaling victory, but to the soldier’s shock, Draven stood tall, before the flickering of his holograph gave way to the cold rock where he stood. “You’re fast, soldier. But I’m as quick as light,” he said, pulling his knife from the soldier’s back, spilling his blood to the Martian dust, decommissioning the young soldier with a single decisive incision.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
4 out of 5 stars
Sentient by Michael Leon follows Dane Walker, as he and his “biot”, Hali, return to Mars with a critical element that will revolutionize life there. His mission is fraught with danger and he doesn’t know who he can trust or who his allies are, and a wrong conclusion can be deadly…for him and for the colonists.
This science fiction story does a great job of evoking a very different society that has evolved in the 22nd century. Not only are there tech implants that provide humans with advanced capabilities, but there are human-like robots commissioned to support humans and help them achieve their goals. It was a little confusing, trying to adjust to the concepts of the different types of artificial lifeforms and figuring out who had what goal, and eerie but not unexpected to learn how bad things have become on Earth.
I was drawn into the story and surprisingly attached to some of the secondary characters, but sometimes disconcerted by apparently changing loyalties. The tension heightens as the story unfolds, and the conflict between the two main factions highlights the challenge of identifying what is most beneficial to all beings. There is an entertaining combination of technology and emotion with vivid imagery and I think this story will appeal to those who like suspense thrillers as well as fans of science fiction.
A copy of this story was provided for review