by Gary Inbinder
It’s year 5112 in the Republican Federation of New Earth. The residents of New Earth are descendants of colonists who fled a dying solar system. The New Earth Republic is in trouble: Algolians from the Andromeda Galaxy threaten unending war; drug dealers and corrupt politicians run the inner cities; humans, androids and cyborgs can’t get enough bread, circuses and Algolian happy dust.
Recently decorated and promoted, Republican Guard hero Lieutenant Ludwig (“Luddy”) enjoys an all expenses paid furlough at a seaside resort, before reporting for temporary assignment to the Internal Security Police (I.S.P). Looking for excitement, Luddy starts a romance with Aurelia Finn. The fun ends when he learns that Aurelia is his I.S.P. contact. Claiming his parents are traitors, Aurelia orders Luddy to kill them.
Aurelia’s father, Consul Finn, plots to overthrow the Republic and rule as Emperor. He wants Aurelia to marry Luddy for political reasons. He also wants Luddy kept in the dark about his parents’ relationship to Finn’s rival, Consul Cato.
Aurelia is ambivalent: she loves Luddy, while remaining loyal to Finn, and she has a secret. Aurelia is a highly advanced android, the only one of her kind. Incredibly strong and intelligent, she has human memories and emotions, and is capable of bearing children. Luddy believes Aurelia is human, and he holds a low opinion of “droids.”
Luddy and Aurelia question their roles in Finn’s power game. Cato contacts Luddy through an android agent. The agent guides Luddy to Cato’s alternate world fortress. Cato gives Luddy a powerful object, a Gold Aureus, an ancient old Earth coin. The face on the coin is the Emperor Ludovicus; the resemblance to Luddy is striking. Luddy also learns the Ludovicus legend; he may be the reincarnation of the ancient hero, destined to rule the galaxy.
Following Luddy’s return from the alternate world, Aurelia takes him to a Finn fortress for observation. Believing that Luddy has been drugged and psychologically programmed by Cato, Finn orders Aurelia to either de-program Luddy or kill him. Instead, Aurelia rescues Luddy, taking him to a Cato safe house.
Now in open rebellion against Finn, Luddy and Aurelia join forces with Cato’s female android agents, the cyborg head of I.S.P. security, and members of the powerful Dax family. Wearing the Aureus around his neck, Luddy receives a mark on his chest. Drawing power from the Aureus, Luddy’s strength becomes superhuman; his telekinetic energy enables him to transport anywhere, with the speed of thought.
Luddy, Aurelia and their companions hide in the mountains near the Capital City of New Earth, plotting the overthrow of Consul Finn. Aurelia reveals her android identity to Luddy. In love with Aurelia, Luddy accepts her for what she is.
Cato tells Luddy about his true parentage. Luddy is the son of Republican Field Marshal Karl Magnus and the Algolian Princess Aquilia, both murdered by Consul Finn. Cato saved the infant Luddy, giving him to a couple of retainers to bring up as their son. Armed with knowledge of his royal parentage, Luddy, in disguise, pays a blockade runner to take him to Algol 1. He meets with his aunt, Queen Artemisia, and they agree to peace terms.
After Luddy’s return from Algol 1, he and Aurelia plan to enter the arena as a pair of masked gladiators. Luddy and Aurelia’s allies solidify support among the Senate, the Republican Guard and the I.S.P. At the games in the Coliseum, Luddy and Aurelia defeat a quartet of human criminals, Finn’s combat android champions, and a pair of cyber-beasts. Following their victory, Luddy and Aurelia unmask; joined by Cato they denounce Finn as a usurper, and assassin of Luddy’s parents.
Finn plays his last trump; he calls upon the Spear of Fate, an old Earth relic drawing power from the same source as Luddy’s coin. Using the power of the Aureus, Luddy catches the spear. Cato offers Luddy the crown, and he is declared Emperor by popular acclamation. Luddy and Aurelia’s followers arrest the defeated Finn.
Suspecting that Finn’s spear is a copy, Luddy has the ex-Consul brought to him for questioning. In exchange for a comfortable exile, Finn reveals the secret of the spears. According to legend, whoever controls the Spear of Fate will rule the galaxy. Years earlier, Finn and Cato fought a duel at the Temple of Vesta. Finn won the duel, wounding Cato. Taking the spear, Finn hid it in a Temple vault. Cato later bribed the Head Vestal Virgin, and took the spear, hiding it in his alternate world fortress. Now that Finn is defeated, Luddy believes Cato has returned the spear to the Temple.
Aided by the Head Vestal Virgin, Luddy gains access to the vault containing the spear. Luddy tests the legend by having the spears analyzed and challenging the exiled Finn to a duel. Luddy defeats Finn but spares his life.
Back in Capital City, Cato, the newly appointed Pontifex Maximus, crowns Ludwig and Aurelia in an old earth ceremony. Following the coronation, the Emperor and Empress join their friends for a weekend at a mountain ski lodge. Luddy tells Aurelia the truth he’s learned about the coin and the spears: they’re modern hi-tech copies.
At the time of Luddy’s birth, his father and Cato planned to use the legend, and the objects, to gain control of the government and establish a New Imperium. The objects are nanotech cybernetic computers containing Luddy’s DNA. Technology has transformed Luddy into a super-cyborg; he and super-android Aurelia are the post-human Adam and Eve.
Copyright © 2007 by Gary Inbinder