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The BetterWorld Trilogy, Book 3

Science fiction (Cyberpunk) / Techno-thriller

Date Published: Oct. 1, 2020

Publisher: See Sharp Press

 

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In Zero-Day Rising, the third book of the BetterWorld trilogy, Kiyoko is
tired of hiding and grieving, and has decided to strike back. In the first
volume of the critically acclaimed BetterWorld cyberpunk trilogy, Kiyoko’s
older sister Waylee and their hacktivist friends exposed a conspiracy
between MediaCorp and U.S. President Rand to control the flow of information
and run the world on behalf of a cabal of billionaires. In volume two,
Waylee faced life imprisonment, while Kiyoko and her friends were hunted by
a team of ruthless mercenaries. In Zero-Day Rising, Kiyoko resolves to free
her sister and bring down President Rand and MediaCorp. However, MediaCorp
unleashes its ultimate plan: direct mind control with cerebral implants. Can
Kiyoko and Waylee’s team stop them? Can they penetrate MediaCorp’s networks
and end the company’s grip over humanity? All while eluding the biggest
manhunt in history, in a country where everyone and everything is under
surveillance?

 

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EXCERPT

The Fin and Tonic, a 42-foot fishing boat they’d chartered with cryptocurrency, bounced into the furious black sky, then smashed down again with a crash. Kiyoko gripped the arms of her tightened-down swivel chair, and fought not to throw up or scream in terror. Battered by wind and rain, the clear tarp around the bridge fluttered violently, threatening to rip from its fasteners and fly away. 

 “Quite da squall, ain’t it,” the captain said, gripping the steering wheel from the center chair, struggling to keep the boat angled against the white-capped waves. If they swung parallel to the waves, he’d explained, they could capsize, and if they drove straight into them, they might bury the bow. 

The captain was old, with leathery dark skin and thinning gray curls beneath a Miami Dolphins / Super Bowl Champions cap. “Don’t normally go out in weather like this,” he said, “’specially after dark.”

That was Pel’s idea, so no one would see them. “We have faith in you,” Kiyoko told the captain. According to his Comnet site, he’d been piloting boats for decades.

Gripping the other passenger chair on the bridge deck, Nicolas stared into his augmented reality glasses, verifying their course and monitoring the VHF radio for Coast Guard patrols. Pel had lessened that worry by calling in a fake tip about drug smuggling into Biscayne Bay, well to the south.

Pel, Charles, and Alzira were below in the cabin, along with their bags of gear. The boat didn’t have a satcom so there wasn’t much they could do until they reached the mainland.

Another rise. Kiyoko’s muscles tensed in anticipation. The boat plunged down, leaving her stomach behind. 

They smacked bottom with a shudder. Water crashed over the bow and splashed against the tarp. Despite the scopo patch behind her left ear, she almost retched.

Please O Mazu, O Poseidon, grant us safe passage. Kiyoko had given up on the gods after what happened in São Paulo, but this was a good time for a truce. 

The captain tacked to stay on course. “’Taint the first time someone paid me to sneak across the water,” he said. “But first time I been dumb enough to do it in a storm.”

And they were only an hour out of port. It would have been a four-hour trip in calm seas, the captain had said. But in this weather? They’d be lucky to arrive at all.

No lights on the horizon or in the air. Not that Kiyoko could see far through the storm. The radar display on the console screen showed some white triangles on the perimeter, embedded in wide bands of green, yellow, and red. 

Kiyoko pointed at the screen. “What are those triangles?” she asked. They had small alphanumeric codes to the side.

“Don’t touch nothin’,” the captain growled. “Freighters, tankers, not to worry,” he added.

Another rise and fall. A loud thump came from the cabin below. What was that?

Someone shouted, the voice carrying above the dueling wind and engines. Sounded like Charles, cursing. 

Kiyoko turned to Nicolas. “What is it? What happened?”

Nicolas spoke quietly into his wraparound mic, then turned toward her. “Charles wants to know why there aren’t any seatbelts.” 

“Is he okay?”

Nicolas shrugged. “Probably. He’d be screaming if he broke something.”

 

The waves diminished as they neared the Florida coast, although the rain didn’t let up. 

“Westerly winds workin’ in our favor now,” the captain said. 

Kiyoko checked her comlink. They were two hours behind schedule. “Can we go faster then?”

“Yeah.” The captain pushed the dual throttle forward. They picked up speed. 

It was hard to see much through the sheets of rain, but a glow appeared along the horizon, brightest to the south. Ahead, a light swept across the sky every ten seconds or so.

“Is that a lighthouse?” Kiyoko asked. 

“Yep,” the captain said. “That’s the Jupiter Lighthouse. That’s where we headed. I got a GPS navigator but I like t’ see where I goin’.”

Kiyoko didn’t see any other boats, nor anything on the radar display. No Comnet signal, but they were still miles from the coast, with heavy rain in between. She hoped M-pat was still waiting for them and hadn’t given up, or been accosted by police.

The waves picked up as they approached the inlet, rocking the boat up and down, left and right. 

Sweat dripped down the captain’s cheeks as he stared ahead, gripping the wheel. “Hate these shoals.” 

They roared between two rock jetties, then the waves died. The captain slowed the boat and it seemed to sag with relief.

“Welcome to the United States,” Kiyoko told Nicolas in quiet Portuguese.

About the Author

T. C. (Ted) Weber has pursued writing since childhood, and learned
filmmaking and screenwriting in college, along with a little bit of physics.
His first published novel was a near-future cyberpunk thriller titled Sleep
State Interrupt (See Sharp Press). It was a finalist for the 2017 Compton
Crook award for best first science fiction, fantasy, or horror novel. The
first sequel, The Wrath of Leviathan, was published in 2018, and the final
book, Zero-Day Rising, just came out in October, 2020. He has other books on
the way as well. He is a member of Poets & Writers and the Maryland
Writers Association. By day, Mr. Weber works as a climate adaptation
analyst, and has had a number of scientific papers and book chapters
published. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland with his wife Karen. He enjoys
traveling and has visited all seven continents.  For book samples,
short stories, and more, visit
https://www.tcweber.com/.

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