The Transhuman Project
By Erin Rhew
Publication date: January 15th 2019
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
When a video of Molly Richards is taken out of context and goes viral, she’s thrust into the upper echelons of social media stardom and becomes an overnight success in a country where Life Channel ratings reign supreme. As Kadar’s fastest-rising celebrity, her life becomes a media circus, a show put on for the shallow national audience salivating for the next new thing.
But in a world where image is king, danger and death hide among the shadows. In the nearby country of Pacifica, the brutal Caezar turns his citizens into robotic weapons who infiltrate Kadar as sleeper transhumans. They walk among the populace, unaware they are pawns in the madman’s personal arsenal.
Only Molly, her friends, and an elite group of Kadarian fighters known as the Cyber Knights fully understand the transhuman threat, and only they can break the Caezar's terrorist grip on both Pacifica and Kadar. Battling Fire Bots and humanoid agents, they seek to put a stop to the Caezar's tyranny by unraveling the secrets buried between layers of deception.
And they have to do it all while smiling and waving for the cameras.
As Molly and her friends peer behind the glitz and glamour, they discover something more frightening and more sinister than anything they’ve encountered yet...the truth.
Images shimmered, blurry at first, and then they crystallized—Molly and Jason during the rescue. Soft music emanated from small white speakers in the corners of the room. Molly watched Jason reach up, touch her cheek, and whisper, “I knew you’d come for me.” The music intensified as she helped Jason to his feet, and together, they hobbled to the awaiting hovercraft. After a close-up—where their stunned, disoriented faces had been softened to appear lovesick—the scene shifted.
Molly’s voice, from the interview, resonated loud and clear. The tone held a timbre of awe, which she didn’t remember using. “Jason Kent is a hero to our cause and to yours.”
Again, the scene slid away to reveal a shaky, grainier shot of Molly throwing herself against Jason as Gunderson, whose face had been blurred, pointed a gun at him. The moment ended without showing how Ryder, Tash, and Mac—whose faces had also been blurred—had scrambled to defend their friend. As the screen faded to black, the phrase Love Conquers All appeared from its inky depths, starting out small and expanding until it encompassed the entire screen with the message.
Toffee turned to Molly. “I had the best minds working on this. And they’ll work around the clock to pull together as many montages as they can to keep your fandom happy until you get Vid Implants.” She glanced back at the screen and gave a dreamy sigh. “It’s brilliant, and you should be grateful for all the hard work my team and I put into this.”
“Grateful? Grateful? You recorded that part in the war room, didn’t you? Even though Gunderson said you couldn’t.” Molly’s anger boiled, though Toffee didn’t know her well enough to notice. But Ryder, who knew her better than anyone else, placed a steadying hand on her shoulder.
She took a deep breath. “How? Gunderson kicked you out specifically so you couldn’t record anything that happened in there.”
“I have my ways.” Toffee stood tall and smirked.
“You jeopardized the safety of your nation for that?” Molly gestured toward the screen where the words Love Conquers All still mocked her.
Toffee crossed her arms. “Look, you may not care that you’re our Life Channel star, and I may not think you deserve it.” She sniffed in disgust. “But none of that really matters. I’ve been given a job to do, and I intend to do it. With or without Gunderson’s permission.”
“But don’t you people care that it’s a lie? It’s a lie that I love Jason.” Molly gestured toward the glittering girl. “And it’s a lie that you want to help me. You really just want your number one spot back.”
Toffee smoothed her perfect hair. “Regardless of what was, we have to focus on what is. And right now, you and Jason are the hottest couple Kadar has ever seen.” She pressed her lips into a fine line. “You and Jason will find a way to fall in love.”
“Find a way?” Molly guffawed. “You may not have ever experienced genuine emotions before, but it doesn’t work like that.”
“Sure it does.” Toffee waved her hand in the air like Molly’s concerns held little weight. “The fanship has spoken. We allowed them to choose, and they chose Jason.”
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Erin Rhew is an editor, the operations manager for a small press, and a YA fantasy and sci-fi author. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police."
A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin spent years in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest before returning to her roots in the land of hushpuppies, sweet tea, and pig pickin’. She’s married to fellow author, the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) Deek Rhew, and spends her time writing side-by-side with him under the watchful eye of their patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. Erin and Deek enjoy taking long walks, drinking coffee, lifting, boxing, eating pizza, staying up late into the night talking, and adventuring together.
From one bookaholic to another, I hope I’ve helped you find your next fix.
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