William C. Tracy has a new Queer/MMF sci fi/fantasy/steampunk tale out, book two in the Dissolution Cycle: “Facets of the Nether.”
The Dissolution approaches.
Sam has saved the Assembly of Species, but at a terrible cost. Locked in his apartment, his memories gone and his best friend abducted, he is once again crippled with anxiety. Meanwhile, Enos struggles to free her brother from imprisonment, alone for the first time in her life. Her true species has been revealed, and there are hints the deadliest of her kind survived an ancient war.
But the Nether contains more secrets. A musical chime disrupts daily life, signaling changes to its very fabric. To solve this mystery, Sam must face his anxiety and confront truths about his memories and unique abilities. Only then can he save his friends from the machinations of the Life Coalition, by understanding the reality behind the Facets of the Nether.
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– The appearance of a new house of the maji is not to be as surprising as its origin. My apprentice, who firmly appeared to be of the House of Communication, is the one who is showing me these new things, at my age. Truly, the Nether is changing.
Journal of Origon Cyrysi, Kirian majus of the Houses of Communication and Power
A chime erupted through the Imperium, as if all the crystal plates in the world rang and shattered at once. Samuel van Oen held his ears and, through the window of his mentor’s apartment, watched a flight of alien birds split and scatter at the noise.
“What was that?” Sam dropped his hands from his ears as the sound stabilized into a deep, clear tone he felt in his gut. It was loud, but not as unbearable as it had been. Deep in the back of his mind, the Grand Symphony responded to the noise like a tuning fork against a plate of metal. The different rhythms fractured and multiplied at the chime, like the whole world was vibrating.
No one answered his question, as Majus Cyrysi was out again. The Kirian had spent more time in the libraries of the Spire than in teaching Sam, not that he was ever particularly good at teaching.
The tower of the House of Communication vibrated beneath Sam’s feet as the sound lessened to a background hum. The music normally playing in its halls had ceased during the explosion of sound, but now picked up fitfully, warring with the chime’s resonance. The flock of birds—with crests of orange, and three scaly wings down each side of their body—swooped in an irregular pattern, disrupted by the noise.
Sam went to the window and looked down. To one side, dust fell from the strange stone bridge that ran from the middle height of the House of Communication to the immense wall of the Nether. He’d been out on it before, as it was a curiosity of this House, and maji occasionally used it to take in the view. There were a few maji on it now—a tall Etanela and two Methiemum—looking up at the immense wall of the Nether, bathed in blues and purples like a titanic sheet of ice.
On the ground far below, people milled around in confusion. Sam guessed the bell-like sound wasn’t normal, but he’d only been in this place a little under two months. Before that, things became blurred and hazy in his mind. The presence that had rooted through his head took many of his memories. He remembered Earth, and that he had stayed with his aunt after something happened to his parents. Their faces refused to come to mind. Thinking about what happened at the Dome of the Assembly made him seek the silence of Majus Cyrysi’s apartment, and he couldn’t stop. He was obsessing about what he could have—should have—done differently. He was slowly spiraling down to a place of solitude and loneliness, and his body wouldn’t obey his deeper wish to break the cycle.
Sam jumped back from the window as someone banged on the door. A spike like an icicle in his gut went through him. Sweat pricked his forehead.
Don’t be someone new.
It could only be one of a few people, but his throat threatened to close at the thought of explaining why he was sitting here alone, staring out a window. How long ago had Majus Cyrysi left?
Sam put one eye to the peephole in the door, then sagged in relief. It was Enos. He could ask her about the sound digging its way into his head.
He opened the door and let his friend in, looking her over. There were bags under her eyes and she hadn’t combed her long black hair.
“You haven’t slept either, have you?” said Enos.
Sam let out a burst of air. It wasn’t quite a laugh. “That’s what I was going to say.” He pulled her into the room by her hand, quickly closing the door. The hall should be familiar, but it didn’t feel like the right day to go outside. Again.
“You hear that too, right? Do you know what—”
Enos shook her head. “No idea. I was about to ask you. People are running around like mad. I don’t think anyone knows.”
Then why would she think I knew? He stared at the closed door.
Enos followed his gaze, then took his other hand. “It’s been a ten-day since you left Majus Cyrysi’s apartment.” She winced as if she had a headache. Probably that irritating chime. It was like a dull drill, pressing against the back of his head.
Sam frowned. Now wasn’t the time to talk about going out. Couldn’t Enos see he had other things on his mind?
“Before this noise started I was trying to remember…remember—” He bit his lip and focused over her shoulder. It was something about Earth. He’d almost had it.
“Remember what?’ Enos asked, bringing his focus back. “Is it connected with the attack on the Assembly? Or about the new themes you hear in the Symphony? Can they help us find Inas?”
Sam shook his head. He was letting Enos down.
She won’t want to be with me anymore.
He knew it wasn’t true, but the fact beat against the inside of his head. Inas had been the other side of a scale, balancing him. Without him, everything was harder.
William C. Tracy is a North Carolina native and a lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy. He self-published his Dissolutionverse space opera books and has one epic fantasy published with a small press.
He also has a master’s in mechanical engineering, and has designed and operated heavy construction machinery. He’s trained in Wado-Ryu karate since 2003, and runs his own dojo in Raleigh. He is an avid video and board gamer, a reader, and a writer.
In his spare time, he cosplays with his wife such combinations as Steampunk Agent Carter and Jarvis, Jafar and Maleficent, and Doctor Strange and the Ancient One. They also enjoy putting their pets in handmade costumes and making them cosplay for the annual Christmas card. Get a novelette by signing up for William’s mailing list at http://williamctracy.com, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/wctracy for writing updates, cat pictures, and martial arts.
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