Legion is a science fantasy novel. It was originally conceived as a multi-strand novel, with heroes in different universes facing an evil known as Legion; Legion desiring nothing less than the extinction of all reality.
I liked the idea of several different heroes eventually coming together to save the multiverse. It allowed me to play with a lot of different toys at the same time; and to use slightly different writing styles. I even created a little Martian slang, for the bit set on the colony on Mars (the slang is detailed in the Appendix at the back of the book). I did not want clean, square-jawed protagonists, but characters who were very diverse, not the sort of people who you would expect to become heroes in the first place. One of the characters is a stripper from a world known as New Sparta. Another is an assassin who falls down the rabbit hole. A third is a tomato grower on Mars.
Eventually all of the main surviving heroes reunite for the showdown with Legion, one which takes place on another world. As to precisely what happens… Well, if I revealed the plot details here there wouldn’t be much point in you reading the book.
Extract from Legion
Washington Lenz was abrupted to cognition. Digits de-klaxoned the awakener. He had two deci-hours to ready himself before DutyTime commenced. It was plenty of time in which to ready himself. And he liked his duties, anyway: he grew plants.
He debunked and uprighted himself. His vestments were folded on his personal locker. He uniformed, and laved – spick and span. It was time for his early morn sustenance. Then on to DutyTime. He left his room, his Me-Space, the door shushing locked behind him.
SupaMuesli was dispensed in the canteen; Washington had a deci-hour to fill his stomach before the Shift One. Washington took a plastic bowl from the stack and held it in front of the dispenser. He pressed his thumbprint to the LockTronic pad – it light up, the light scanned. Brown fragments cascaded into the plastic. Another dispenser, another thumb press, and the Pseudo-Milk waterfalled into the bowl.
Washington took a plastic spork and sat his haunches on the plastic bench. He canteened, sporking the Does-U-Good, Keeps-U-Regular mix into his mouth. He swallowed. Then, when he had observed his ration, he put his bowl into the Autowasher.
Official sustenance level achieved, Washington had duties to attend. It was time-prompt to perform, and to earn his credits. It was time to earn his place in Martian Colony Zero-One-Zero (official nomenclature).
Washington de-ingressed the canteen. He went to the tube, a short walk to his journey end.
Along the mega-plastic tubes to the hydroponics compound, check on the green-stuff without which the colony would die. This was important stuff: Washington was the tomato man. He nurtured them, fed them with all of the official chemicals which allowed them to grow in little more than liquid.
Gene-gineered for the new world the crops should never fail. But they still had to be grown within the city. The thin Martian soil would not provide growth. Failures had there been many. Only microbes lived on Mars, Archaea below the surface of the world, deep underground where the H2O was.
Important to not let those alien lifeforms in. They were still not understood, these extremophiles of Mars. Contacts one through three had met with unknown illnesses to the xeno-explorers of Mars. No contact now with those underground spores, ones lacking DNA: a new form of ribonucleic acid in the new old life.
Such thoughts did not enter the mind of Washington Lenz as he walked through the mega-plastic tube to his workplace. All his ponderings were on Lycopersicon esculentum.
Washington Lenz was an expert on the tomato. He had read up not only every holo-book on how to hydroponically grow them, but also the history of the plant.
He knew that tomatoes were first cultivated in the Andes, in South America, back in the Old World of Earth. He knew that the name of the plant came from an Aztec word. That the Italians had called tomatoes golden apples. He knew that, at first, they had not been as popular as they would one day become: in the north of Europe the tomato had been grown as an ornamental plant, not to be eaten. People were suspicious of what had then been a small plant, not as sweet or large as it would one day become. Perhaps people had been scared of it because they knew that it was related to belladonna and such other undesirable growing things. And Washington Lenz knew that the roots and leaves of his precious tomatoes were poisonous. No processing those for the colony’s needs.
Only with the advent of tomato soup would tomatoes really become popular in Old Europe. But that was a planet away.
Washington slid his ident card into the door to the hydroponics compound; then he pressed his thumb to the LockTronic reader: a double lock. Without food the colony would die. food was more important than guns up here.
The door shushed open. Lenz ingressed himself into the long compound. The door shushed closed behind him. It would not open until much later, when Washington’s work-shift was over, and he de-ingressed the place.
The compound was a greenhouse. It had arched walls of clear plastic, five feet thick, and as strong as steel, to ward against any possible meteorite. The walls allowed the week Martian sun to filter through. But with Mars always at least two hundred klicks away from Sol the sun’s rays were not warm enough to grow tomatoes here. The compound had to be kept artificially warm: underfoot heating, the warmth going up, then reflected back off the plastic walls, warmth on Mars to precious to allow it to de-ingress into the cold outside.
Outside it was only 250 K, a nice/warm sunny Martian day.
Washington job-worked, duties fulfilling. He checked his hydroponics; fed chemicals to the plants, made sure nothing was wrong in this controlled place. There was no way that anything bad should have been able to ingress, unless Washington brought it into this place. But he had laved carefully that morning. Always lave before your work, he had been told.
But Washington Lenz eyewised black spots on the leaves of one of the tomato plants. Black spots were not friendly/nice. They should not have been there. But everything had been peachy good the last time he had checked, the day before. And the door was only supposed to shush to Washington’s ident and his thumbprint.
Washington isolated the plant, in clear anti-germ plastic film. He would study it later, in the little lab off the back of the compound. If necessary the plant would have to be destroyed. But first Washington would learnwise what was wrong. Either way, the tomato plant could not leave the compound, not if anything was wrong with it, if it had germs or – even worse – xeno-germs.
Washington did his other tasks. Duties were almost over. There was only the plant with the black spots to look at. Washington picked it up, and ingressed into his lab space.
He had no time to eyewise the plant under his microscope, though, or the other machines at his disposal. An image air-jumped before him, some hologram, he thought. Shock made him drop the tomato plant.
A hologram: something simplistic, the sort a child’s toy might produce. It did not even look tactile to Washington. Some old greybeard in scarlet/sable religio-tunics. Washington did not recognise the denomination. It was not the Church of Mars, or any of the Old World God-corps.
The hologram spoke, in Earth-style, old-fashioned, hard to comprehend. Washington had heard Old-speak like this before, in Old World flix. This hologram must be part of some holo-flix. But he could not eyewise the player. Very mysterioso.
“Washington Lenz, you are needed. The life of everybody on Mars depends on you – perhaps the lives of everybody in existence. You must discover who the traitor is in your colony, before he manages more acts of sabotage. He is part of Legion. His mission is to kill everybody in this Mars colony, even himself, if needs be.
“You must find the traitor in the midst of your community and kill him, before he kills you all. And though you may not believe this, all of reality, the entire metaverse depends on the actions of such as you, Washington Lenz. Only you have the power to recognise this aspect of LEGION when you see him, of all the many people who live, not only in this colony, but all across Mars. Only you can save not only Mars…”
The holo-vid ended then. Washington Lenz was left holding a tomato plant, pondering what on Mars was going on.
Legion is available as an e-book on the Amazon Kindle store.