Ottavio, an experimentally modified Agent, discovers his employers, the giant Houston Corp, are anything but the benevolent Entity they claim to be. His bid for freedom throws him into the hands of the Vigils and into a world he never knew existed.
Ryan, an Acolyte of the Vigils, seeks to free himself from the archaic shackles that the brotherhood imposes and commits an act of terrorism for Father Abraham, a relic that leads the nefarious Directors.
Both seek freedom. Both will face what it means to be human.
This is the full first book of the Adaptation Series.
At a stage early on in its existence, Man decided he would be different from the rest of the animal kingdom. He was made of the same stuff, for sure, but his animalistic motivations would be forced to contend with new powers of logic, emotion and free will.
No longer was he content with ignorance, he sought truths. Fed up with barbarity, he sought society.
His base desires have deeper roots, however, and continue to abuse his motivations for their own purposes. History, it seems, is merely a landscape pitted with the outcomes of the constant struggle between the divine and the base.
In the sparkling streets of Newport, Rhode Island, a figure stood silently and watched as busy people bustled by. There was always motion. Motley crowds of individuals did important things and went to places urgently to perform more important things.
There was a hum. If you took away the cars, the buzzing lights, and all the other man made paraphernalia that filled the world, there would still be that hum.
Low toned, omnipresent, it sat just under the range of hearing, almost to the point of being felt.
It was the sound of humanity, of civilization. It had been around for thousands of years, and still it had not changed.
From the ancient Egyptians working the fields, through to the Spanish explorers crossing great seas, across nations and cultures, the hum remained unchanged.
It rippled. It bobbed. It carried on as the people that made it continued to do exactly what it was that they did, this and that.
Ryan was unnoticed in the throng. In his gray pants and black jersey he was neither threatening nor appealing. He did not look wealthy enough to rob, nor was he overly attractive.
His brown hair was cropped just so, not in the latest fashion, nor in some outmoded way. He stood against a wall, covered heavily in graffiti, and it only complemented his unimportance, hiding him in full view from the others walking, running, strutting by.
He closed his eyes and listened closely. The hum was being throttled by the ungraceful mechanical whirring and electronic noise surrounding him.
Cars honked, phones squealed, neon signs buzzed like gnats. Overhead a maglev shuttle clattered and clanked along its magnetic supports as it ferried those within to somewhere better.
There was life in Newport. Human life. It was one of the few spots in America that had been untouched by the ravages of the Hanean War. The people of the town had not been unaffected, of course.
Every citizen had family and friends lost in the disaster. Not that a casual observer would notice. In the years following the bombs, chemical and radioactive warfare, the wounds healed, the media reported less and less about the atrocities, and it became easier for the individual to go back to his life.
Life. It was and continues to be the great conundrum. It is a fallacy to believe that all things natural are beneficial and benign, and therefore anything artificial is, by default, an evil.
But life is indeed unnatural. By rights it should never have happened. Religions have grappled loosely with it, scientists have tried to put it down to statistics, but nothing comes close to explaining how it came to be.
But still it exists. Beyond any doubt.
The conundrum lies in the observations of natural systems. A rock, strong and sturdy, will eventually be eroded to dust and be strewn across the ground without so much as a hole to remember it.
A river may bubble along for eons only to dry out, leaving a cracked bed. A gigantic star will consume all of its fuel and gradually sputter out.
Little by little a system wears against the onslaught of other systems, bashed, beaten, ground and pulverized down to nothingness, swallowed and reformed.
But life fights against nature. Gravity pulls it down, so it gets up again. The sun sears its skin, so it tans. In freezing cold climates under sheets of ice moss will grow. Next to volcanic vents deep under a crushing weight of water bacteria will thrive. Chip a stone and it will remain so, but cut a finger and it will stubbornly heal.
Death is not the opposite of life, only a stepping stone in a perpetual, mind boggling cycle. Without death there could be no life, no way for the battered being to make way for the next soldier.
No, Entropy is the true antagonist, a vile evil that life does battle with every moment of every day. It is an insidious evil that comes in many names. 'Chaos' it is called, and 'Disorder'. But, by far, the most popular name of this evil is 'Nature'.
Nature is a monster. It beats us, burns us, suffocates and kills us, yet spitefully we survive, struggling and fighting against the gaping maw of nothingness.
Some call it 'Mother', but what mother denies her children? What mother would sooner see them rot than grow?
And so Ryan listened. He listened to a girl chatter on a telephone about nothing in particular. He listened to a car sounding its horn angrily and the driver cursing profanities at the pedestrians passing in front of him.
A knock to his shoulder and a muttered apology from nobody in particular brought him out of his thoughts.
“These people have indeed lost their way,” he said to himself, “They have grown complacent. They do not hear the whistling of the wind coming to claim their souls, but instead have glutted themselves with indulgences.”
A dog scampered past, paused to sniff his feet, and then continued along. He watched as it was swallowed by a sea of legs.
His shoulders slumped as a heavy weight lowered upon them. For a while he stood, desperately trying to avoid the conclusion that was dancing in his mind.
He sighed deeply, far too deeply for a teenager, “And so the struggle must be reignited.”
He shoved his hands into his pockets and walked along with the crowd until he came to the shuttle station at Memorial Boulevard.
A short while later he had climbed the stairs, looking out over the sea of people waiting impatiently to climb into a pod-shuttle.
A stranger amongst the strange, he blended perfectly on the outside. Inside, however, he was churning. So many people. So many sad, unhappy faces.
From high up on the stairs, the view of the water to the West would have been inspiring, if anybody had cared to look at it.
A janitor dressed in a drab orange wandered around aimlessly, picking up this and that off the floor.
Ryan laughed softly to himself, watching as the crowd dropped their waste, and the janitor picked it up and put it in his little bag. He did not laugh out of spite, rather at the irony: The lowliest among them was the also most worthy, for it was he who acted most against entropy.
To his right was a dull door leading to the magnetic levitation control facility. The handle would not budge.