Mood Boards: Basilica City —
The World of “Chasing Sisyphus”
Seedy. Magnificent. Dangerous.
Those grimy big city vibes. The neon jungle with glass and concrete peaks like mountains over the horizon. Electric blue and magenta dreams, red and orange and that awful green that would make you sick if it didn’t signal a safe door you could walk through to get off the streets.
The urban sprawl is split in half by the Legion River, named after the brave Nova Legion troops who fought in the Zaddash War. During the day, it’s for tourists and pleasure cruisers. Late nights and early mornings, barges transport cargo to and from the resource towns in Outer Basilica. Trains run too — depends how you like to travel.
On the south side is the Memorial District. At least that’s what they called it before the city ripped itself apart. Now it’s lovingly known as “junkie town”, reeking of puke and piss and garbage. No place for a beautiful woman and respectable guy built like a brick shithouse.
The capital of Planet Basilica thrives under the thumb of high society. Home to the finest healthcare in the galaxy, attracting the wealthy as well as the merely affluent from all over. Spend your money, steal someone else’s money, it doesn’t matter.
In Basilica City, you play your cards right and you can have whatever you want.
But play them too right and someone will want you dead.
Chasing Sisyphus excerpt:
He couldn’t make out her face, but he sure noticed her tight silhouette as she walked by the Nova Legion statue. She seemed a little upmarket for the scene and, come to think of it, he didn’t remember seeing her leave. She was probably still there, waiting under the streetlamp like a femme fatale in those movies Keats kept on mute at his desk on a tiny TV.
Somewhere nearby, a door shut. At any other time, it would have been another pip of noise in a filthy district. But it was too quiet around here. Too few people to make a sound like that seem normal. Anywhere else, it would be the sound you shut out. Here, to Rhys, it was a dog whistle.
“Keats, I heard something,” he said. “Gonna go check it out.”
“Not a good idea, Carver. There’s a chase at the north end. Cap’s called the cars in. You got no backup.”
“Don’t need it. If the kid’s still here, he’s alone.”
“You’ll be in deep shit if the boss finds out. How do you even know it’s him?”
“We’ve been watching this guy for weeks. I got a feeling he’s onto us. Or, if not us, then someone else who wants him out of action.”
“Keats, I just know, all right? I’m going in. You got eyes on me or not?”
“Jeez! All right…where you heading?”
“Building two thirty-four on the corner. Going in via the south entrance.”
“CCTV’s busted on the west side, but I got eyes on the north exit. Actually, building report says the east and west fire escapes are busted, too. You keep the south door covered and your boy ain’t going nowhere.”
Weapon in hand, Rhys crept inside and shut the door behind him. It was dark. The only light came in from the street through gap-tooth blinds and dusty windows. It took a second to adjust.
Broken floor tiles and peeling wallpaper lined the foyer. A lamp hung from a wall, still intact. This might have been a nice place once, before the city’s worst years. Now it stood waiting for the official condemnation that would put it out of its misery. Like the rest of this district.
The stairs creaked under his weight, the ceiling creaked above him.
“Keats, we got residents here?”
“Negative. Power and water were cut off twelve years ago. Why, you see something?”
Gunshots exploded above. No time to answer. Rhys popped the safety and legged it up the stairs.
* * * *
Adria hadn’t counted on the tripwire. This kid knew someone would follow him home one day. He’d strung a line of empty soup cans across the apartment hallway. When she kicked that out, a hefty serving of iced water came down squarely on her head. Gooseflesh prickled her neck and shoulders. The muscles in her jaw seized in the cold. Against the shock, she scrambled to her feet, fired up to catch the stomping and crashing in the other room before it got away.
A figure ran past the doorway.
“Stop!” she yelled.
It rounded the corner. Adria gave chase.
She scanned the room. It was dim at best, thanks to the streetlights from outside, but she saw enough. Computer equipment and various peripherals lay strewn across the floor, some still plugged into a transportable battery in the corner, emitting tiny lights and numbers.
A window slammed shut. The glass shattered. Shards crunched and ground beneath Adria’s boots as she hurried in pursuit of her fleeing target.
When she stepped out onto the fire escape, two hands rammed her into the ladder. The whole balcony shuddered from the collision. Pain flared down her shoulder, but she kept her grip on the gun. She held it up with her good arm and fired.
She stumbled backward, clutching her burning shoulder, but the railing crumbled under her weight. Adria grabbed what was left of it with both hands as her footing slipped away.
It looked like a four-storey drop. Maybe five if she’d miscounted. Her legs dangled over thin air while from below came the clatter of broken pieces of railing, along with her gun, as they hit the concrete.
Overhead, her target stomped away on the rungs and disappeared onto the roof.
Adria’s shoulder raged. She tried to pull herself up, but couldn’t take the weight with just one good arm. Her feet kicked out, searching for a foothold, but the grill beneath had long withered away to slivers of rust and sharp edges.
Water and sweat dripped into her eyes. She swiped them helplessly on her sleeves and winced as rough seams grazed the skin. The railing creaked in her clammy grip. She could always let go. If she timed her landing right, maybe she’d get away with a broken ankle and a tetanus shot. Surely it only looked like a long way down.
Then she heard a gunshot from inside the apartment.
Chasing Sisyphus blurb:
Bounty hunter Adria Yuan is hot on the trail of her final hit: a notorious hacker wanted by the city’s elite. With the reward, she can pay for her brother’s surgery and finally get out of Basilica City. Trouble is, her line of work’s not exactly legal, and she’s barely staying ahead of the cops who want her target, too.
Detective Rhys Carver may be a little unorthodox, but he’s a good cop. Born and bred in Basilica, he does his part to keep his city clean. As clean as it gets, at least. And with Adria suddenly in his sights, it’s going to take more than falling in love for him to let her go.
As the pair close in on their mark, they are unwittingly drawn into a high profile conspiracy that could thrust the whole of Basilica into chaos. Can Adria and Rhys set aside their differences, and their desires, to save the only home they know?
About JL Peridot
JL Peridot loves the city lights at night, especially when it’s raining and there’s a Gunship song on the stereo. She writes romance and erotica from her home in sunny Australia, where she spends way too much time browsing #synthwave on Instagram.
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