Publisher: Breathless Press
Format: eBook only
Release Date: November 2, 2012
ISBN #: 978-1-77101-838-8
No. pages: Approx 255
No. Words: 66K (65,000 words)
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ALL IN THE GAME
A Science Fiction Romance
Shauna Evans, a romance author with problems maintaining relationships with men, agrees to help a family friend of her literary agent write a video game to appeal to the women’s market. Shauna owes her agent, and it will only take a few days. She soon discovers that the friend, Donlyn Kennedy, isn’t the nerd she imagined. He's a serious physicist and mathematician doing research for NASA, and the game is part of experiments he is conducting with new virtual reality and artificial intelligence technologies.
When Shauna and Don test the game in a simulator, they are transported physically into the imaginary game world, far in the future in a distant galaxy, where they exist as lead characters in the video game. The only way back to their reality is to work cooperatively to win the game from the inside. A daunting task when they find themselves as leaders on opposite sides of a military conflict and an alien invasion.
Shauna must battle the personality of game character, Commander Shauna, with whom she shares a body and consciousness, to keep from losing her own identify and becoming absorbed into the game character.
Okay. Here goes. I lowered the stereoscopic eyepiece.
Awesome! Now it seemed as though I huddled on the cliff. Cool moist air dampened my cheeks. I put down one hand to balance myself on the soft ground, and dirt and wet grass stuck to my palm.
As I watched the shoreline, flat, sleek submarine tanks forced their way to the surface of the sea like huge alligators, and then sprouted wheels and glided onto the beach. The low rumble of their engines hummed in my ears, and the ground vibrated.
This virtual reality technology is amazing.
Unexpectedly, my eyepiece filled with jagged blue lights slashing back and forth across my line of vision. "Oh!"
Before the cry of surprise left of my mouth, the blue lightning dimmed into wiggly lines of static. After that, everything turned gray. Staring into the colorless fog, I shifted in the seat. "Don, did you see that? Everything flashed blue and my eyepiece went blank."
Don's voice came from beside me, not through the helmet speakers. "I saw it, but that's not part of the game. There must be a malfunction somewhere."
I reached up to lift the eyepiece and stopped. "No, wait. My picture's coming back. I think—"
Zing. A projectile skimmed through the air inches above my head.
"Yikes." I tried to throw myself prone, but something wedged against my side kept me from dropping. The arm of the seat. Between the sounds of laser fire and distance cries, I still heard the faint grinding of the simulator's air conditioner. "Don?"
"I'm right next to you." He patted my arm, but his voice sounded unsteady. Not reassuring in the least. "There's something strange going on. I don't know what."
Smoke burned my eyes, making them water, and clogged my chest. I coughed.
Zing. Zing. More bolts of pure energy whizzed past, so close they seemed to disturb the air and ruffle my hair. Unable to feel Don's hand anymore, I hunkered lower.
"This is too real."
Another explosion threw me to the ground, the impact forcing the air out of my lungs. I collapsed face down in the wet grass. Red spots danced in my eyes. Adrenaline tingled through my body. Ugh. I spit out a bug.
Warning bells sounded in my head. Danger. Danger. I have to get out of here.
I scrambled to my feet, then ran, moving from bush to tree to rock, taking cover wherever I could. The weight of my body armor slowed me, my boots stuck in the soft earth and sucked me down. I felt like a sitting duck. A target. The lightweight assault weapons I carried were no match against lasers, sonic blasters, and plasma cannons.
As I dodged between trees and brush, a hand shot out of nowhere and grabbed my ankle.
"Eek!" Shrieking, I plunged into a trench and slid to the bottom on my butt.
"Shh. You'll give us away," Don whispered. "This isn't the way I programmed the game. I need some time to figure it out what's wrong."
"Don?" I blinked my eyes, and my jaw slackened into flycatcher mode for a moment. The man beside me had to be Don, but he looked…different. With his hair buzzed, his face seemed leaner, more masculine, the stubbornness and strength in his jaw more prominent. In the camouflage uniform, he looked muscular and strong. And no thick glasses.
This was Dangerous Don, the-Delicious-and-Dreamy. The game character. But he seemed so real. I touched his hand.
Warm textured flesh. He was real.
I jerked my hand away and hollered. "What the hell is going on?"
"I don't know. But you don't have to shout."
His voice sounded the same. Cool, analytical, and distant, as though he was lost in thought. Still all genius, all physicist. Deeper in tone, perhaps, but Don's voice without a doubt.
I shook my head to clear it. Where am I? Who am I? My heart thumped against my rib cage like a trapped bird. Shauna. I'm Shauna.
But which Shauna?
None as yet