Ghost in the Mythe, Book 3 of the Guardians of the Pattern series, is nearing completion, and is on track for a June release. Chinchbug did up an awesome cover for it, and here it is:
And just to whet your appetite, here's another little taste:
It didn’t seem like very long before the flickering shades of Cameron’s concern filtered down through the depths. He felt it as a gentle tug on the thread he’d left connected to the place where his body rested.
It hadn’t been nearly long enough, not for Miko, but he forced himself to follow the currents back up. When he opened his eyes, he found Cameron sitting on one of the couches that lined two of the walls of Miko’s office.
Cameron looked tired. Dark smudges shadowed hard, brown eyes, and his usually neat auburn hair was tousled, as if he’d been running his fingers through it. The realization that he had no idea how much time had passed while he’d been drifting sent a twist of guilt through Miko’s stomach.
The moment Miko’s eyes opened, Cameron leaned forward. “Are you all right?” he asked quickly.
Miko blinked as the lights of the office and the intensity of Cameron’s concern jerked him fully out of the mythe. The transition into reality was sharp and cold, leaving his body shivering and his mind reeling.
He dipped mental fingers back into the net and flicked on the voice synth unit. Miko forced an apologetic smile and said, “Drifting.”
The synthetic voice coming from the speakers on the walls was flat. Miko rarely bothered using the inflections the software was capable of. He’d never got the hang of making the voice match what he wanted people to think he felt, and it was far too easy to be misinterpreted.
Miko’s own voice was gone, taken from him when he’d first touched the raw mythe during a routine passenger run gone horribly wrong. The ship he’d been on had been thrust into jump space unexpectedly, and Miko had been the only survivor.
He still wasn’t sure that survived was an accurate description of what had happened to him. Warped, perhaps. Changed, for certain. But survived?
Hardly. Not when all he wanted was to drift back into the mythe.
“I’m fine,” he added, realizing belatedly that Cameron needed that reassurance.
“You’ve been gone a long time. I got here just before dinner to meet with you. It’s nearly midnight now. Another hour or so and I was going to carry you down to the infirmary.”
Miko checked the net. Cameron was right — he’d been gone for hours that had felt like mere minutes. He bit his lip and looked away. He’d done it again — worried Cameron without meaning to.
“You were gone long enough to have me worried.”
He wasn’t sure how to respond to that. The same words could mean so many different things. Delving deeply enough into someone else’s mythe-shadow to discern an emotional context that didn’t always make sense to him was both exhausting and painful. Miko found it so uncomfortable that he’d given up trying, except where Cameron was concerned.
In the back of his mind, the soft colors and textures of the mythe beckoned, and he reached for them, entranced by the songs that touched the edges of his awareness.
“Miko!” Cameron’s voice penetrated his thoughts, his mythe-shadow flaring hot and spiky with fear. It hurt, and Miko flinched.
“You went away again. I thought…” Cameron shook his head. “Never mind what I thought. Do I need to help you to bed?”
Miko had never seen the point of bed — he’d just as soon sleep here — but part of Cameron’s definition of normal included sleeping in a bed at night and eating his meals in the Institute’s communal dining room.
“I’m not sleepy,” Miko said, struggling to focus his full attention on Cameron. “I’m sorry I missed the meeting. What did you need?”
“It’s midnight, Miko.”
Miko cocked his head and frowned, unsure what the connection was.
Cameron let out an exasperated sigh. “I have to be up early, so we’ll make this brief. I’m meeting with the Command Council tomorrow to report on our progress in locating the missing psions. Have you found anything more? Anything I can legally use, I mean?”
“Anything your net could show you? No.”
Cameron leaned forward again, his expression eager. “Anything it couldn’t?”
“Echoes and shadows. Whispers in the mythe.”
“Nothing solid, then.”
“Connections… but… deep inside of data structures that exist mostly in the mythe. Your net only sees the simplest of the shapes and patterns. The tip of the iceberg. Your Command Council… they want things that human senses understand… surveillance vids and tracking logs. You can’t put the color of a thread or the flavor of a whisper in your report.”
“No. I can’t.” Cameron’s mythe-shadow shimmered with the colors of disappointment.
“I’m sorry.” Miko forced a smile. “I’ll keep trying.” He hated letting Cameron down. He did his best to please the man who had been his savior. Cameron had sacrificed much to free Miko from the hell of slavery: career, livelihood, reputation… all those things that Miko couldn’t quite grasp the importance of.
All the same, he did his best to go through the motions of being human so that Cameron would believe he was normal. And happy. Even though Miko knew he never would be.
He loved Cameron for wanting those things for him.
And he hated him for it, too.