Book One Transhuman Warrior Series
By Curtis Hox
Genre: YA Dystopian Fantasy
Simone Wellborn is a Transhuman with an attitude. She’s been genetically engineered from birth to be super smart. The problem? All that tinkering her parents paid top dollar for provided a few unexpected results, like an annoying ability to blast telekinetic energy at the worst possible times. She also has another tricky issue: strange entities possess her and, worse, transform her into something dangerous.
Simone's mother sends her to the Sterling School for reject Transhumans. While there, she meets a few other students with similar problems. They’re all Transhumans with dirty secrets. Heartthrob Hutto Toth is a charming gladiator. He annoys Simone from day one, but he’s also a Werebear who accidentally killed a boy in a glad match, and Simone can’t stand how much she likes him. There’s two-foot tall Wally Dorsey, who’s determined to pilot a personalized mech. His best friend, Beasley Gardner, is a mountain of a young girl with enough muscle to beat up any boy at school, but she’s suffers from a rage disorder. Finally, Simone meets Kimberlee Newkirk, an unassuming Succubus who fears she’ll kill the next boy she kisses.
These defective students find themselves at the center of a deadly conflict when another student, Joss Beckwith, attracts a Rogue Artificial Intelligence, the new power brokers in a society radically changed by science and technology.
The Transhuman Warrior Series tells the story of Simone and her friends as they’re transformed into highly specialized human weapons. They must challenge the increasing power of the Rogues as these enemies push into Realspace with one goal in mind: total domination.
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"Sterling is for rejects. Tranz rejects."
The words exploded out of Cooter Dawkins' mouth before his girlfriend, Simone Wellborn, could stop him.
The two of them sat across from each other in a booth at Mo's Coffee Shop, Cooter gripping a can of Dr. Pepper, Simone a mochachino topped with a mountain of whip cream.
Simone was an attractive girl with jet-black hair that stood out in two flaring pigtails. She wore baggy clothes that hid a lean but athletic body. She wasn't much more than a hundred and ten pounds, soaking wet, and Cooter was over six-feet tall, and his shoulders were so wide she had to lean to the side to see who walked in.
“Oh, great,” Simone said.
"What?" Cooter swiveled in his seat as if his life depended on it. He spilled his soda all over the sleeve of his navy-blue Ellington Preparatory letterman jacket but kept his eyes glued on the oddball walking to the counter. "Tranz."
The little Transhuman was only two feet tall. He wasn't an infant, or even a dwarf. He was proportioned well enough to look like a shrunken teenager who might do some ollies on a shrunken skateboard. He even wore shrunken clothes.
"Look at that,” Cooter said. “He's wearing a sweet pair of Bermudas, probably special ordered from Freaks-R-Us."
"Shh," Simone replied and pulled on his sleeve. "Don't let him hear you. I know who he is."
Cooter faced her. "So? What's he going to do? Ever since the Sterling freaks started coming to town, everyone has to walk on eggshells. Fuck that. Just because you're transferring there doesn't mean I have to like it."
The coffee shop wasn't a big store, but like most of the businesses in Cranton, Georgia, it was located on Jefferson Davis Road, where the stores lined up one after the other along the only strip in town. Simone liked Mo's because of the mismatched couches, the free WiFi, and the posters of pop stars all over the place. She wondered if the little Sterling student had taken a cab because he was too short to drive, and the Sterling School was several miles out of the town limits in the countryside.
"I wonder how he got here," Simone said.
"Maybe he walked," Cooter replied, then burst out laughing.
The defective Transhuman looked their way. He carried a huge can of soda in his hands, way too big for him, and it was enough to make Cooter laugh again.
"Don't get your titties in a twister, Simone. Deformed Tranz like him should stay locked away in their school for the fucked-up-and-useless."
Simone sat up straight and considered getting nasty with her jerk of a boyfriend because that two-foot tall Tranz also had a premium intellect package—at least that was what she'd heard.
Cooter continued. "Otherwise, they'll be coming to town all the time. Soon, they'll be cruising up the street, hanging out at the movie theater and game store, and probably applying for summer jobs."
And Cooter couldn't have that, she knew. Cranton was a regulated township for the privileged and wealthy, like Cooter's family, and hers. "He didn't do anything. Leave him alone, Cooter. I'm warning you—"
"Hell if I care what you do. You've been a pain ever since you got kicked out of Ellington. He's one of the Sterling freaks. And don't say a thing, not after Dustin got killed."
"It wasn't this kid who did it—"
As the little Sterling student neared their table, he almost dropped his soda. It was slick with condensation; he used his entire shirt to wipe it down. "Just want a straw. Can you get it for me?"
His voice was faint and tinny and caused Cooter to sit rigid. He glanced at the sugar counter. "Get it yourself, freak."
Simone stood and admitted to herself it had been a mistake to spite her mother by dating Ellington Prep's star quarterback. She smoothed out the oversized clothes she always wore and considered telling him off but said nothing to her boneheaded (and soon to be) ex-boyfriend. She glided to the counter, grabbed a straw, bent over, and handed it to the little guy.
"Hey, I'm Simone. He's an idiot."
Cooter snorted. "Lucky you she's so nice. I could strangle you with that straw." Again, laughter. And then to Simone: "I'm an idiot?"
Simone and the stranger from outside of town both saw that Cooter was only half kidding. He may have been the best-looking guy around and so socially acceptable and perfect it made Simone’s mother insane with annoyance, and, worse, he'd been engineered by his rich parents to be what he was: Mr. Perfect, but Simone had always known he had a mean streak. He was everything wrong with their new society: Unforgiving. And that made them worlds apart. And, damn it, she hated it when her mother was right.
Wally backed away, eyes locked on Cooter.
"How'd you get here?" Cooter asked.
Wally took another step, almost stumbled.
Cooter slid out of the booth. Simone moved to hold him back, but he pushed her aside and she stumbled backward.
Another local, a young natural girl, saw it from behind the counter, but did nothing. She obviously knew who Cooter was and didn't want to piss him off. She stood with her hands at her sides, and watched.
"Yo, turd man," Cooter said, “how did you get to town on those little stick legs?"
Wally remained calm but kept backing up, his eyes on the massive young man in front of him. They were so disparate in size that Cooter could toss him across the room.
When the door opened and a figure appeared, Cooter was only one step away from maybe giving Wally a goal-winning kick. The new man was Cooter's equal in size. But he was dressed in a black woolen robe that hid his hands and feet and made him look like some mendicant friar in need of a bath. His long hair hung in strands from his head, nearly covering his face. His skin was sallow, as if he'd never been in the sun a day in his life.
The coffee girl bumped into the espresso machine behind her and spilled a jug of milk.
Cooter paused in mid-step as if someone had used a remote to freeze him. He put his foot back where it had been, not where he'd intended it to go.
The stranger scanned the room. "Wally, get in the car." His voice was soft and broken, and very weak, as if he'd been screaming all night from the bottom of a well.
Wally seemed saddened by what was happening, paused, then turned and walked out.
"Miss Wellborn," the man said, "I'm Coach Buzzal Vaughn. We'll be seeing you later today at Sterling?"
She nodded. "Yes, sir."
That night Hutto and Wally sat by the window in Wally's fifth-floor dorm, looking across the courtyard toward the girl's wing. The RA had told them all the racket was coming from the new girl's room. They could clearly see movement through the half-open blinds. Simone seemed to be sitting on her bed, flailing her arms every few seconds.
"Cat fight," Hutto said. "Mom against daughter. God, I wish I could see that."
"Mom would win," Wally said.
Hutto had knocked on Wally's door hours ago and only planned to stay a few minutes. Hutto was surprised at how cool his room was. Someone had made a fortress for Wally. A miniature wooden ladder led to a loft with railings and several interior structures. Wally had an apartment within an apartment. Hutto could see several cushions, a bed, a mini-fridge. He even had windows and low-energy light bulbs in there.
"Home away from home," Wally said.
He'd created a secondary platform under the top of the loft so that he could sit eye-to-eye with any guests. A comfy, regular-sized loveseat meant anyone sitting would actually be a bit lower than him.
Wally couldn't decide what he liked better: Hutto or the cat fight. He kept flitting his eyes back and forth. He had the finest specimen of masculinity right in front of him, a young man bred to fight, to become a warrior hero. Beasley was great and all, and his very best friend; she'd tear down heaven for him. But she was withdrawn, sullen six days out of seven, and damn near impossible to cheer up when she decided a funk was in order. Hutto, on the other hand, always had a smile, a joke, and a story to tell.
"Did you see her mom tonight?" Hutto asked.
Wally nodded vigorously. He let his legs hang from the platform under his loft. A foam cushion underneath would catch him if he jumped off (usually he targeted the loveseat). "She kicked their asses."
"Yes she did. Do you have any idea what we saw tonight?"
Wally did, but he wasn't sure if he should say. "Psy-sorcery."
"Hell, yeah!" Hutto looked like he would have jumped to his feet if he'd had space. "I've heard my brother Nisson talk about it. He's ... been around that stuff."
"The Megamech pilot?"
"That's Almont." And then, as if on a side note he'd return to later, he said, "Nisson used to glad fight, until he got in trouble."
Wally nodded and waited, hoping for more info on Hutto's infamous brother who'd been banned from glad fighting. Everyone had wondered when Hutto would bring him up.
"The psy-sorcerers are one big fuckin' mystery, man,” Hutto said. “What do you know?"
Wally knew enough not to speculate. The fanboys could go on for hours about who was the most powerful Consortium agents: the original cy-warriors, Cybertranshuman Interfacers like Rigon Wellborn who used the vast resources of parallel processing computing systems, the same ones the SAIs used, to surf Cyberspace as disembodied persons; or the new psy-sorcerers, psychic Altertranshumans like them who somehow used their minds and bodies as weapons that channeled and summoned strange powers called entities. "The son versus the mother—"
"They're both Wellborns."
Wally knew who the Association members were, of course, but he didn't correct Hutto. "What a family."
"Reminds me of mine." Hutto leaned forward after catching more movement in the far window. "They're really going at it. Looks like her mom is yelling back now. Listen." They could both hear the yelling, nothing distinct, just enough edge to be of interest.
"The new girl really messed up," Wally said.
"But mom saved the day." Hutto smiled, while he watched, as if he was hoping he might spy them naked. "And, boy, is mom hot."
"I mean hot in the way she moved. Did you see it? And the way she jumped in and just smashed that evil shit. She could fight in the open leagues."
"Not while she's Consortium—"
"Just saying. Women like that get me going."
"You're a dog."
Hutto leaned back and ran his fingers through his surfer-boy hair. "You have no idea. My dad said I pull more tail than any of my brothers." Hutto beamed, his face barely scarred, his nose already healed from Beasley's punch.
Wally couldn't help but look at him with open admiration. He was everything Wally wasn't.
Hutto saw it. "Shit, man. Sorry. You, uh, never been with a girl, right?" Wally shook his head. "I'm an idiot." As if he hadn't just spotlighted Wally's deficiency, he said, "What about Simone? I bet she's as hot as her mother under all those clothes."
Wally nodded. "She's scary, though."
Hutto nodded as well. "Like her mom." He edged forward on the loveseat, as if he had a secret to tell. "And what about us? They've enlisted us in some secret program. Are we going to learn that shit?"
Wally had no idea what they would teach Hutto. "Don't you have a rage problem?"
"I got it under control. Only let it out once or twice. Not pretty at all. A kid got killed." The charm extinguished, replaced by something darker.
Wally knew about the Ellington prep kid, a friend of Cooter Dawkins, and one of the reasons Cooter hated Sterling. Wally thought about mentioning that fact to Hutto, but he didn't want Hutto to feel any worse than he did.
"If I didn't have this problem,” Hutto said, “I could be with my family, still training. And that kid would still be alive."
Wally stammered a few insensible words, but eventually said, "You know, all of us are really supposed to be the same. I don't know much about it. But some people say the variety of Alters—Channelers, Summoners, Melders, Animators, Ragers, and Pscyheads, and all the rest—just haven't learned to use their minds properly. I studied this a little because I think I've got the mind thing down. It's my gift."
Hutto looked up. "Controlling machines?"
Wally looked over at the old-fashioned chronometer on a shelf. It was no bigger than a toaster, but he'd lugged it with him to school because it was the first device he'd mastered. "I've always been able to do it."
"You just command them?"
"It's more like becoming them." The clock hadn't been wound in years. He never used it for the time. It's gears were so precisely fabricated that moving along them eased his mind. "Pick a time."
"Huh?" Hutto scrunched is face up in the eternal mask of the confused. "Like lunchtime?"
"No," Wally said with practiced ease. Dealing with guys like Hutto with an intellect package that, apparently, had never expressed in smarts was rare, and Wally knew better than to front an attitude. "Like, on a phone."
"Oh, okay. Midnight."
Wally stared at the old chronometer inside its wood frame with its two hands and the thousands of moving pieces inside. He dove in.
What Hutto saw was the little guy stare at the old clock. But the prickly sensation along his arms and neck told him Wally was doing something to it. Hutto rubbed his forearms and mumbled under his breath. He'd felt the same thing in the clinic, as well, and had had about enough of that stuff for the night, although the memory of Simone's mom in that super-hot silver Bodyglove caused another sort of excitement.
He forgot her when he saw the hands on the clock move. They began winding forward, clicking through the minutes and the hours, faster and faster. He could barely see Wally's eyes, but he saw them staring wide open at the thing.
"Oh, fuck, more freaky shit at Sterling."
The hands stopped at twelve o'clock.
Wally turned, smiling, as if he'd just knocked a guy out with a clean cross.
"Aren't you full of surprises?" Hutto said. He returned to the edge of his seat, the expected enthusiasm bursting again. "I got a trick I can teach you. You know how to unhook a bra strap?”
About Curtis Hox
A little about me: I’ve written six unpublished contemporary, literary science fantasy novels in the last decade, all of which I finished and promptly put away.
I didn’t even let my wife read one until this year. (I know, ultra critical and self defeating as hell, but that’s me.) I did rounds of agent hunting with little luck, and since everyone is talking about epublishing, I thought I’d give it a try by writing a series of three YA novels with all the juicy stuff I love from Sci Fi and Fantasy and just have fun with it.
I’m also forcing myself to be open to everything that goes along with the business side of marketing without griping, “Frack it! I just want to write.” So this site will, at first, probably be a bit about process, plus be a place for me to explore ideas related to my projects. Then, if all goes well, a way to market my novels.
As of now, we’ve soft launched Bleedover, a contemporary science fantasy novel I wrote a few years ago. We’re using it to learn the marketing side, while I finish working with an editor on the first three books in my Transhuman Warrior Series, the fun YA novels I wrote last summer. These have all been drafted, with covers.