Maialen Tate is much more than Gideon’s love interest in Phantom Harvest. She’s my vehicle for exploring the potential of biometric and prosthetics technologies. Maialen is a powerful empath who has voluntarily been fitted with high-tech implants. Her eyes, parts of her brain and her finger tips have been replaced, allowing her to merge with any technology. Ironically, she is also limited by the very technology she has embraced. If Maialen loses control and lets too much power escape, the system in her brain shuts down. This could result in permanent brain damage.
Most of the Mutant World view Maialen’s kind with fear and awe. They are the penetrating eyes of the Mutant Guild. The dangers of Maialen’s power do keep her isolated. Even the slightest touch of her skin will destroy the mind of most mutants. That same touch will easily kill a human.
The limo pulled away from the curb, and they glided through the stylish streets of the Ashford Heights. Blocks of tall skyscrapers molded with glass and stainless steels were laid out in perfect symmetry. Chic restaurants and little bistros were staggered among them, catering to the whims of the wealthy.
Maialen stared out the window and watched as the buildings began to degrade. Angry graffiti written in neon paint told stories of the miserable “have nots” for whom New Athens wasn’t a home, but rather a prison. In their neighborhood, the sky wasn’t clear with a gorgeous view of the twin suns. Technology didn’t line the streets to carefully sanitize the air. This was New Athens as it really was…gritty and mutated.
“You sure you won’t change your mind?”
Maialen shook her head and gave Norm a confident smile. “Tell me about the Outskirts. Will we see any of it as we travel? How long will it take to get to Hawthorne?”
“You better hope we don’t see any of the Outskirts on this trip.” Norm stuffed a hand inside his parka and pulled out his stash of cigars. “It’s a dangerous place and home to the more maladjusted mutants of our society.” Norm chuckled at a private memory and stuffed his precious cigars back inside his pocket. “If all goes well on this trip, you’ll sleep through the night, and come morning we’ll be in Hawthorne.”
Maialen felt her fear rise again and quickly tucked the anxiety away before Norm could see it clouding her face. She’d promised to help Pete and no matter the risk, she was determined to be there for him. A tingling sensation began on the back of her hand and ran up the length of her arm when she thought of Pete. Her fingers stroked the unsettled energy upon her forearm as she reached her senses out. Something, elusive and painful, was changing in Pete’s world. Maialen let out a frustrated breath. She couldn’t see anymore.