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Two presumed-dead genetically augmented soldiers search for the truth of their origins... and discover far more than they ever imagined.

In 2018, a revolutionary medical breakthrough was achieved by a Dr. Richard Garrett, of CellWorx Laboratories: the creation of the Accelerated Regeneration Compound (ARC), a serum that stimulates regrowth of human tissue. Initially promoted as the pinnacle of therapeutic medicine, further testing over the next two years revealed even more capabilities—including the potential restoration of whole organs and limbs. Very soon, the United States government (by this time controlled by the nascent, reactionary Vanguard Party) took notice, approaching Dr. Garrett with an offer of further support and funding, including volunteer human test subjects, in exchange for closer ties with the Department of Defense. In 2031, this partnership bore fruit, in the form of the top-secret “Project Golem”: Five genetically augmented soldiers, imbued with ARC, and possessing strength, speed and agility of a kind not seen anywhere else in the world. The U.S. government hailed them as the premier weapons in its covert arsenal, and the future of modern warfare... and more were soon to come off the line…

Twenty years later, the world is finally beginning to recover from the effects of what has come to be known simply as the “Turmoil” (2035-2047): a near-apocalyptic time of terrorist attacks, brushfire wars, economic collapse, industrial accidents, and internal disorder and uprisings across the globe. The United States, freed from the heavy hand of the Vanguard Party after the nuclear devastation of Seattle in 2046, is leading the way, albeit slowly. Many areas of the country are badly damaged from riots, local civil wars and the general breakdown of infrastructure. Some, like the Puget Sound region, may never recover, and have been cordoned off, or otherwise abandoned. Here and there, rumors circulate of “giants in black” who may have helped in crushing the outbreaks of terrorism, rebellions and general lawlessness that plagued the U.S. and the globe for more than a decade—and then suddenly disappeared, hidden or dead. To the average citizen, however, these "giants"don’t exist…and if anything like them ever did, they are long gone, and best forgotten.

To the rest of the world, Greg and Leah may as well be dead. Cut off from the Project after the Seattle bomb, they have spent the past five years in hiding. In that time, they have been seeking out other surviving Golems, trying to bring them together in a community all their own, secret from the world. None of them recall much of their time in the Project, and nothing of their lives before—if those even existed. What memories they have are fragmented, often coming in dreams, and reveal little when they do.

Now, however, Greg and Leah are setting out on a journey to find answers. But the truths behind their existence go far deeper than they could ever believe, and will take them places they never expected. And there are some in the covert world they left behind who will kill to keep these truths buried…

Mark Ciccone is a science fiction and alternate history writer, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. His previous works (For State and Country, Obsidian and Steel, Dillinger in Charleston) can be found in ebook form on Amazon Kindle, and may be found on physical shelves before too much longer. A lover of reading in general, and sci-fi and history of all kinds in particular, he was first introduced to writing for pleasure and publication in 2010, with the online competition NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Since then, he has competed in and won NaNoWriMo every year, and hardly a day passes for him without some kind of writing work.

Alongside his daily writing sessions, Mark is currently working towards his PhD in American History (Civil War & Reconstruction, a favorite period for his current and future alternate history work) at UW-Milwaukee, which leaves next to no time for a social life: the traditional bane of academics and authors alike. Nonetheless, he always makes room for at least an hour of reading a day, and the occasional relaxing smelly-sock tug-of-war with Maddie, the family dog.

Just as that thought crossed his mind, the overhead lights flickered, then went out. The guard stiffened, then relaxed when he saw other lights from the city through a conference room window. Even with the “Second Reconstruction” finally up and running after four years, the power grid in D.C.—and nationwide—was still spotty at best. The emergency generator automatically kicked in after thirty seconds, unless the blackout ended before then.

A faint pop sounded from somewhere above him. Clicking on the flashlight at his belt buckle, he stepped closer to the window, waiting. Then he frowned, peering harder at the outside lights. The glow seemed too close for a local failure. Looking past the fence, he saw one or two old streetlights on, down the road. If they were still burning…He looked down at the luminous dials on his watch: 03:20. The generator should have kicked in almost a full minute ago.        

Spinning on his heel, the guard speed-walked back to the door. Taking the stairs two or three at a time, he rapped out: “03:19—Blackout of unexplained nature; generators unresponsive. Moving to—”

He caught himself. If both the grid and the generator were out, the servers would be, too, which meant no wi-fi, and all hardline links had been removed in the original security set-up, to avoid possible cyberattacks. He grabbed for the backup walkie on his shirtfront. It didn’t have much range, but his company maintained another security post maybe three blocks away, and the blackout didn’t look to have extended that far.                                                          

Reaching the first floor, he saw the lights were all down as well. He headed toward the main office, thumbing the Transmit button  as he walked. “ProShield ID number 7556-80. Unexplained blackout taking place at my location; generator unresponsive. Please advise.”          

The only answer was a harsh buzz of static. That was scary. The radio was practically clear-channel, and there were plenty of other users within range. He should be able to hear faint voices or codes, even if he couldn’t reach or recognize them. What the hell’s going on?


Signs of Progress

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Hello, everyone!

Apologies for the delay; end-of-year classwork and many other Outside World events have been coming together the past couple of weeks to block me from updating.

I'm pleased to report that Discarded now stands at 10% funded; tremendous thanks to those who pushed it past this early yet important milestone! As of this past weekend, the pitch video and updates for this project,…

One Week In

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Hello all pledgers, potential and confirmed!

It's the first week into this project, so naturally some news is in order. So far, although the pledge levels haven't quite been what I'd hoped for at the start, I'm immensely pleased at the views and responses coming in so far as to the video and the draft excerpt, and even more towards Emily, Matt and Kevin Bragg, the three who've helped kick off this…

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