The second entry in the Protostar series, written for National Novel Writing Month in 2014, sees Lahira challenged in ways she’d never imagined she’d have to face down. Set two years after the war between Humanity and The Orphans began in the previous novel, Lahira’s certainly in for one heck of an adventure:
Lahira Ocean is the Captain of the Messenger, a cutting-edge Cruiser defending Humanity and its allies against an alien race called The Orphans. After a hectic battle at the planet Gagarin, Lahira awakens from a two-week long coma to find two strangers carefully awaiting her recovery. The first is clearly from the upper echelons of Earth’s government who calls himself Herodotus Fork; the second is distantly familiar to Lahira as a woman named Amber, an ambassador from the Automatons, a ‘species’ of alien who are fully artificial intelligences. Neither are happy to be sitting over her hospital bed.
Lahira is suspected of being involved in an unprecedented attack on an Automaton: During the Battle of Gagarin, Lahira’s ship emitted a strange signal which seemed to corrupt the mind of an elder Automaton, and Amber has been assigned to levy judgment about what happened. Unfortunately for her, the chaos of the ensuing melee led to the Human receiving serious injuries: She was mentally connected to a computer system which shorted out. These injuries – along with others lurking deeper under the surface of her thoughts – have induced retrograde amnesia, meaning she cannot fully explain the events leading to her role in the brawl.
Ultimately, Lahira has to confront her actions during the Battle of Gagarin while recovering from her wounds. She can’t even remember the conflicts she charged into with her top crew-mates, and digging into her recent past only brings up reasons for guilt to weigh her down, making the depths of her pain medication’s buzz more and more enticing. She finds herself in theological debates with a machine who has just as much faith in God as any 25th century Human she’d ever met, in ethical arguments with spies over how wars are fought, and in romantic entanglements with those she’d never imagined she’d developed an interest in.
By the time the conspiracy unravels, the masterminds responsible for Lahira’s turmoil have presented themselves, and Lahira’s ship is assigned to guarantee Humanity’s innocence in the attack. After finding herself to be all-too-Human, can she establish her species’ friendliness to strange alien entities who appear, at least on the surface, to be vastly superior to her? How will she survive the latest round of chaos in one piece?
Protostar: An Automatic Apocalypse is available online for Amazon Kindle!