For anyone who wants a preview of the first 500 words or so of “Imprinted” before it comes out tomorrow…
Jeneta Aboderin fought a losing battle with stage fright while she waited for Isaac Vainio to hurry up and introduce her.
At first glance, Isaac looked more like a schoolteacher than one of the world’s most powerful libriomancers. A skinny white dude in his mid-to-late twenties, he wore a short-sleeved dress shirt and a blue necktie printed to look like a library due date card. He ran one hand through his blond hair, adjusted his plastic-rimmed glasses, and said, “Johannes Gutenberg’s work with libriomancy began with two assumptions. The first was that all people have some capacity for magic. Most simply aren’t powerful enough to produce real-world magical effects. What was needed was a way to combine those slivers of power into something larger.”
Jeneta swiped a finger over her e-reader, skimming a scene from a 2014 science fiction novel about interstellar colonization called New Destiny. Another part of her brain recited what she’d say when it was her turn to go out there.
A young Japanese woman stepped to Jeneta’s left. “You’re nervous?”
Jeneta jumped. Kiyoko Itô’s hand shot out to catch the e-reader as it slipped from Jeneta’s grip.
“Thanks,” Jeneta said tightly. “A little bit, yeah.”
They waited in a curtained-off area to one side of the main stage, which had been set up in front of New Millennium’s ten-story Rosalind Franklin Research Tower.
Kiyoko frowned. “You’ve already completed the most difficult magic, creating the Mars shuttle. All that’s left is, as Isaac put it, to upgrade the stereo system.”
“I didn’t have an audience when I made the Venture.” Jeneta gestured at the blue curtains, indicating the audience beyond. “Two U.S. senators, a NASA astronaut, several millionaires, and who knows how many reporters. Not to mention my father.”
“There are twenty-three reporters, along with their camera crews, sound techs, and other assistants.”
Leave it to a living computer to keep track of numbers. Kiyoko was one of New Millennium’s many magical residents. She was one of thirty-some psychically-linked clones sharing a single mind and consciousness. She’d been brought into this world through libriomancy, using a book called All of One, by Shunrō Kuronuma. Gold wires embedded in her bare scalp came together in the back to form a thin, glittering braid that disappeared beneath her white jacket.
Kiyoko had originally been created to be a servant, bodyguard, and on occasion, a killer. Isaac and others at New Millennium had helped to free her, giving her a home and a fresh start. Just as they’d done for Jeneta.
“From what I’ve observed of your magic,” Kiyoko continued, “you’re fully capable of completing this spell.”
“That’s not what I’m worried about.” Jeneta tugged one of her dreadlocks and nervously twisted the loose hairs at the end.
“Are you afraid because you’re a child?” asked Kiyoko. “Or because of your history of magical trauma?”
“Blunt, much?” She hunched her shoulders. “I’m seventeen.”
“I apologize. I didn’t mean to offend.” Kiyoko paused. “Isaac chose you to represent New Millennium. He has great faith in you.”
Jeneta smiled and didn’t argue. It wasn’t about faith. It was about proving to the world that Jeneta and New Millennium were safe.
Continued in “Imprinted,” coming January 9, 2019
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