Updated as a second edition and available in digital format only, this box set comprises the first three episodes in The 18th Shadow Series by author Jon Lee Grafton; Dawn of the Courtezan – Phase 01, Voices in the Stream – Phase 02, and Absorption – Phase 03.
The Graphene Prairie – 2082. The North American Union comprises all of Mexico, Canada and the antique United States. 93% of citizens live with a nano computer consensually embedded in their skull. Alcohol is banned, cannabis is mainstream. Holograms fill our eyes, drones float above the city hovstreets and the Office of the Architect watches everything and everyone. Everyone, that is, except for a particular group of shiners, hand-picked outlaws protected by canine war cyborgs and a charismatic and mysterious telepath named Daxane Julius Abner. Mr. Abner has a purpose. That purpose is freedom. He and his shiners make America’s black market vodka. And they are the only heroes left.
Tara Dean had a gift. She used it to escape. The vile memory of the behavioral modification hospital was only fifteen kilometers behind her as the EMP projectile detonated and her stolen 2079 Mustang flipped off the hovroad floating 199 kph. Halfway through the first mid-air rotation, charges exploded along crumple junctions in the silver hovcar’s roof and the polyaluminum cabin blew free. Ejected into the sky, away from the disintegrating Ford, Tara Dean’s unconscious body was enveloped in an emergency collision sphere. Clear of the wreckage, her shrouded form bounced into a ditch and was immediately surrounded by the pack of waiting Coyotes. The animals began to savage the sphere’s elastiframe fabric with their dulled teeth. They had come for a reason. These were the Coyotes of cyborg legend, the vanished products of Darkpool Laboratories, drawn at long last from the darkness by the unique scent of her blood. Welcome to the Dawn of the Courtezan.
William Angevine was a quiet man, some would say a hard man. He was a hunter, born for this life. As the THOR class incursion cyborg stepped from the shadows cast by the vodka still’s fractionating columns, the air in the warehouse chilled. He saw the massive creature’s blue vidorbs first, then it moved further into the light. The cranial fuselage was aerodynamic, smooth, based on the skull structure of a dire wolf. The skull and chassis itself were made of reinforced, unpolished titanalum the color of slate. The beast was designed to inspire terror on a battlefield. Yet William Angevine felt no terror. A human tether, he alone could hear the cyborg’s thoughts. They called to him, like Voices in the Stream.
October 16, 2082. On this day in history, The War of the Dolphin began. Joan, a Maui Hector’s dolphin, floated to the surface of the aquarium and placed her head between the electroencephalogram terminals, aligning her consciousness with a quantum supercomputer as she pushed terabytes of dark code across the holostream, searching for the Israeli. The fusion core brightened momentarily from the power draw as contact was made. “It begins today,” the dolphin said. The Israeli’s voice responded slowly, deep and resonant, its inhuman timbre filling the aquarium chamber, “Are you afraid to die, dolphin?” “No,” replied Joan flatly. “There is no death. You of all should know this. In the end, there is only Absorption.”