“Arrival” is a story that bridges Ted Cross’ first two novels--The Immortality Game and The Shard—and it shares characters that appear in both novels. How does a cyberpunk thriller sit within the same universe as a traditional epic fantasy?
It started with a red moon. Made of an element not found in Earth’s solar system, this moon circled one of the nearest habitable planets to Earth. One of the effects of this unusual element is that people on Earth, depending on their level of attunement to the element’s power, can sometimes have visions of life on the moon’s world. Thus many tales and legends of Earth were not actually made up, but were instead visions or dreams that some people had. Those who are strongly attuned—Professor Tolkien, for example—have visions in much greater detail. His elves and other fantastical creatures are not exactly like those on the far planet, but they are close enough.
In The Immortality Game we meet a group of scientists that loves playing a virtual reality fantasy game and plans on being the first colonists to a recently discovered habitable world. They have no idea that when they arrive on that world they will find a real-life version of their favorite game, or that those very tales that they loved so much are in fact based upon life on this world.
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By Ted A. Cross
Zoya first heard a faint beeping sound that slowly grew louder as her mind struggled toward consciousness. She considered opening her eyes to search out the source of the annoying beep, but reconsidered when she realized how oddly her body felt. In her mind she reached out to her limbs, her stomach, her beating heart, trying to understand what was different. Her body felt pristine and full of energy, making her feel as if she had been exhausted for years without her truly knowing it. She couldn’t recall ever feeling so refreshed.
Now she opened her eyes and blinked in what at first seemed the harsh glare of white lights, though after a few moments her eyes adjusted and the lights turned out to be standard panel lighting in the ceiling. A few inches above her face, a cocoon of thick glass was hazy with the mist of her breath. She reached up to touch the glass as if she wasn’t certain it was really there. A green light above the glass near her head blinked in time with the beeping noise. The glass coffin—as she decided to think of it—smelled faintly of chemicals.
She pushed up on the glass and was surprised to hear a mechanical whirring as the glass rose up and to the left along one edge, finally coming to rest in a perpendicular position. At the same time, she felt something detach itself from the slot interface behind her left ear. Zoya coughed and pushed herself to a sitting position. Good God, she thought. What the hell is this place?...