Authors: Diego Valenzuela
Tags: #Science Fiction
The Unfinished World
Book Two of “The Armor of God”
“The Unfinished World”
Copyright © 2015 by Diego Valenzuela.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, contact the author.
Email: [email protected]
Cover & Logo Design by: Álvaro de Cossio
Edited by: Gabriella West
“Triquetra” Art by: cinemacookie
Special Font: Trajan Pro
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
First Printing, 2015
Boy howdy, here we are again.
It will be a challenge to write something interesting here and not just copy/paste the cheesy paragraphs I wrote for the first book, but I’m a trooper so let’s give it a shot.
If I actually had the grapes to go ahead and finish this sequel after just one year, as I had planned, it was because I was happy with the response I got from readers. Thus, I want to thank you all first. You guys are rad, and if I could, I’d throw a delightful tea party for the twelve of you. Really, I would.
Everyone in my family would deserve to be mentioned just for being there, but I’m glad I can be thankful for so much more than that. Seeing both of my parents—who had never read a sci-fi novel in their lives—become so engaged by the first book made me feel very accomplished and happy.
Santiago, who once more proved to be an alpha reader the likes of which had never been seen; Rodrigo, whose enthusiasm for book one also convinced me that I had something very special; Mariana, who kept pestering me to hurry up so she could get her fix.
María A. Escandón, Piers Anthony, Jake Gray, and every other author who read the first book and gave me a fellow writer’s perspective about it. Rodrigo Xoconostle, whose insights given over pizza and beer helped shape the second and third acts of this book. Of course, my great pals Densho and Draven, for all their help in marketing the first novel and getting my name out there.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t send a particularly heartfelt nod to everyone at my day job, especially my boss/teacher Gio; a writer isn’t always the best fit for the corporate world, and I’ll be darned if she hasn’t been patient and extremely understanding. Thanks a lot for the wings!
Humberto Cervera, another alpha reader hall of famer. And just so there’s no jealous rage and high school drama, thanks to all my Tightans and friends who read, enjoyed, and even discussed the first novel: Jesús, Oliver, Jorge, Chori, Javier, Chobs, Pepe, Santi, and all the others. If I missed anyone I swear it’s because of “my problem”.
To designer extraordinaire Álvaro de Cossio for all the services rendered between books. The promo material makes this humble trilogy look like a goddamn blockbuster, and you’re to thank.
And while I’m at it, I’d also love to acknowledge my hard-working and very talented editor Gabriella West. We make a good team, Gabby, hope to keep it up for a while.
A very special thank you to the Espinosa family for giving me the chance to stay in their unspeakably beautiful ranch to get some work done away from the city. That weekend in solitude was not only productive, but also detox for the soul.
My ragtag team of awesome alpha readers: future best-selling author and definite vampire Beatrix Harper, Bea Rivera, Gina, Ana, and all the others. Thank you for looking past the typos and unedited passages to see the story that existed beyond.
Lots of love to anyone whom I could identify as a fan through social media. Nay Varsie, Peter LeTarte, Matt Finney, Ted Clubber Lang, et al. You have no idea how much a stranger’s enthusiasm means for a writer.
My most sincere thank you to you all. Enjoy what’s coming next.
The Unfinished World
Book Two of “The Armor of God”
[code]:[amid rebirth and everything]
For Roy, Santiago, Mariana.
Wherein Hope Remains
In a world ravaged
, lengths beneath a lifeless crust, there were scattered lights. These shed a little spark of hope to the gray corridors and chambers that had grown lonely with every inevitable passing, but not on the few remaining men and women left behind by the fortunate dead.
The Subject had long forgotten his name. He knew it was just part of the process, and he didn’t mind; he had volunteered to be part of it, so losing himself in the name of hope was something he had made peace with. After all, what exactly was the alternative? Stay in a room, full of painful memories gathered during a long and painful life, and wait to join all the others, wherever they were?
He had learned that once, long ago, death had a different meaning to his people, but now the concept had become a contradiction. One would think that, in these final times, human life would have become much more precious. Yet, it hadn’t. Death had been wandering the world and these halls for far too long, and now felt like a welcome guest.
No one mourned, and neither did he.
Maybe the process had begun to rid him of the most basic human traits as well. He still wasn’t sure what it was he would become, but it would definitely be categorized as sub-human. Maybe even inhuman.
But that was not a problem to him; it was for the greater good, even if someone else’s.
A part of him was glad his life was soon to end; he no longer had the ability to freely move about the facility, even within its modest limits. What little liberty he had left had been taken away, and it was because of his body’s new limitations. The disease had begun to corrode his flesh, starting with his lungs. Now, he could only walk a few hundred paces before he had to stop and catch his breath.
This was no life, even by the dead world’s standards.
He put his gnarled, graying hand on the wall and heaved, hoping he wouldn’t pass out again. Once already he had been found by one of the scientists, collapsed on the floor, barely able to stand on his own. It was then that it was recommended that he remain in bed, but he refused. As long as he had some strength in his body, and some sentience in his mind, he would make use of both. It was all he had left.
“You’ve been expected,” said the doctor in her sweet voice. He hadn’t even heard her walk up next to him. Had he been losing his hearing as well?
She took his hand, and he couldn’t even feel her touch through his thick, stone-like skin.
“You’re in pain,” she said. “Maybe you’re ready to go down like the others?”
“No,” he said, and his voice was barely recognizable, even to him. “Not yet.”
“It would take one moment. You’d go to sleep, and your role would be fulfilled. You would be at peace.”
“No. Not yet,” he repeated.
“I understand,” she said and smiled at the monster. “Let me help you go down to the labs, at least.”
To this, he conceded. She had grown used to the other subjects like him, and was not disgusted at all by his thick, heavy limb. And if his smell bothered her, she didn’t let him know.
He had a certain degree of love for this woman. She was smart and she was kind. Most of all, she was working hard, keeping hope alive.
Yes, for someone else.
She shouldered the considerable weight of his arm all the way to the main laboratory.
The doctor strapped Number Sixty-Five to the table, and saw how he fell into a deep asleep almost immediately. The poor man had gone too long carrying the strain; it was a miracle he could still talk and think, and she knew that it would not last much longer.