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The Positive Deviant: A Mindguard Novella: The Mindguard Saga, #0

The Positive Deviant: A Mindguard Novella: The Mindguard Saga, #0

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The Positive Deviant: A Mindguard Novella: The Mindguard Saga, #0

Length:
77 pages
1 hour
Publisher:
Released:
Jan 16, 2018
ISBN:
9781386053200
Format:
Book

Description

THE POSITIVE DEVIANT is a prequel to THE MINDGUARD SAGA. Set a few months before the events of MINDGUARD, it can be read as a stand-alone or at any point in the series.

 

In the booming metropolis of New Tokyo, a high-ranking business executive is tasked with transporting valuable company data in the form of an information package stored inside his mind. Fearing an attack from one of the Federation's oldest criminal organizations, the corporation entrusts his safety to the Ayers-Ross Thoughtprotection Agency.

For Sheldon Ayers, a veteran telepath and Mindguard, the mission starts like any other. When his team is attacked in the high-speed transportation network below the city, Sheldon must once again use his legendary skills and experience to protect his client's mind. But this time, he finds himself facing an enemy who seems to be able to predict his every move.

Fighting to adapt to an unprecedented situation, Sheldon suspects that behind the attack lies an unlikely adversary – someone even he couldn't have prepared for, someone with ties to Sheldon's past.

Publisher:
Released:
Jan 16, 2018
ISBN:
9781386053200
Format:
Book

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The Positive Deviant - Andrei Cherascu

Deviant

Chapter 1: The Old Way

New Tokyo, Mars Three

February 6, 2325, Terra Antiqua Standard Calendar

You have an admirer, Sheldon said in place of a greeting.

He was standing with his back to his best friend, looking out the curved panoramic window of the Old Way restaurant, studying the New Tokyo cityscape. Before him, defiant in their recentness, six of the iconic Seven Symbols stood massive and suggestive against the backdrop of the Gojyi mountains.

The Old Way was located in the seventh building. From where Sheldon was standing, the position of the other six buildings spelled out the word Tradition.  

Sheldon had felt Mac’s thought timbre when the giant entered the restaurant. Immediately afterwards, he’d felt the woman’s mind reacting to his imposing presence.

Position? Maclaine Ross asked solemnly.

At the bar, third person from the left, Sheldon answered without turning to look at Mac or the woman.

Copy, Mac said. Sheldon’s mind felt him scanning the restaurant.

Oh, wow, his best friend concluded.  

Unseen, Sheldon smiled. Shall I inform our clients that you are otherwise engaged?

He heard Mac pulling a chair to sit at the nearby table. Nah, these women don’t want me for my mind, he joked. They all just want to know if it’s true what they say.

Sheldon finally turned to face him. From the absent look in Mac’s eyes, he concluded that his friend was reading the menu on his retinal insertions.

The giant’s curse, Sheldon joked, taking a seat opposite him.    

A man of enormous stature, with a muscular physique befitting a world-famous Bodyguard and head of a Thoughtprotection Agency, Maclaine Ross always made an impression. Sheldon was used to feeling people’s minds reacting to the spectacle that was Mac’s mere physical presence. Sheldon elicited a similar reaction, but only after he introduced himself.

What do you recommend? he asked Mac. Most restaurants offered menus on holopads upon request, for people without technological enhancements – prototechs like Sheldon – but Sheldon wasn’t in the mood to request one. 

I’ll let our hosts choose for us, Mac said with a wink. I’m just looking to see if they have Hamura. It’s been a while.

A local specialty, Hamura was an alcoholic drink made with the venom of an octopus-type creature native only to Mars Three. Most people’s genetic insertions rendered them immune to the venom, but it had a particular effect on the way the brain perceived taste, enhancing the flavor of the food. New Tokyo cuisine specialized in pairing local food with types of Hamura the way other places paired it with wine. As a prototech, the drink would have killed Sheldon, but he didn’t regret missing out on the opportunity. He preferred wine anyway.

And? Sheldon asked.

Yup, Mac said. "Though it’s not our brand."

He was referring to himself and a woman named Airi Sasajima, to whom he’d been engaged once, many years ago. Mac and Airi had lived together in New Tokyo for a while, before things fell apart. Sheldon suspected it was at least partially the reason Mac wanted to extend their stay.

When their client contacted them on behalf of Manashi Industries a couple of weeks ago and they set the date for the mission, Mac booked two rooms at the Reiyd Hotel for a few extra nights. He claimed Sheldon needed to spend some time out of the house, and Sheldon couldn’t refuse. He felt guilty for turning down a number of missions lately and knew he would be turning down many more in the future, so he wanted to make it up to Mac in a small way.

In truth, he’d enjoyed traveling with his old friend. They visited several museums, ate at the city’s best restaurants and spent the rest of the time just walking around, admiring the architecture. Many new buildings, like the Seven Symbols, had been erected over the last few years, after the Tanihara Initiative. Some were of better architectural taste than others, but all were impressive in their own right.  

Did you speak with her? Sheldon asked.

Mac just shook his head, as if it had been a trivial question. No, why would I? he said. It’s been almost twenty years. I’m not the sort of person people want reappearing in their lives unexpectedly – unless someone’s shooting at them.

Sheldon flashed a smile, but he didn’t say anything. He’d never told Mac that he and Airi had kept in touch. She’d asked him not to.

Mac summoned the waitress through the restaurant’s intracloud and the woman appeared almost instantly, as if by magic. The tattoo on the right side of her face indicated that she was an android. For a man like Sheldon, any visual cues were redundant. The absence of a discernable thought timbre – the telepathic manifestation of the human mind – was more revealing to him than any markings.

Kami Hamura for me and the Odyssey Pinot from House Onishi for my distinguished friend, Mac said, predictably guessing Sheldon’s order.

Yes, sir.

The robot flashed a flirtatious smile which Sheldon found absurdly amusing, then vanished as quickly and unobtrusively as she’d appeared. 

I’m glad you agreed to this little vacation, Mac said.   

Me too, Sheldon answered truthfully. He’d especially appreciated that Mac hadn’t insisted on asking him how he felt.

It was Sheldon’s first mission back after six days in captivity. During his last mission, a rescue operation on a planet called Rho Massa, Sheldon and the man whose mind he’d been hired to protect had been captured by a terrorist organization

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