My completed Manuscript for Dark Saviors is ready for querying and in the interest of all those that have been extremely supportive of this novel I have decided to put the Query Letter, a summary (of sorts), and the first chapter here.
If all you want is to just go straight to the story, feel free to skip down the page to Chapter 1 “Fire in the Sky.”
TO: Agent Person
FROM: Daniel Hansen
SUBJECT: Novel Submission “Dark Saviors”
Dear Agent Person,
I am writing to seek representation for my novel DARK SAVIORS, a new adult indigenous-futurist apocalypse adventure of about 78,000 words. I am submitting to you because I know that with edits and work my novel will find its greatness. CW dealing with racism.
When a murderous AI, with faulty sensors that can only see light skin, begins the apocalypse the last chance for humanity lies with an East Indian female soldier dealing with her past as an adoptee and an Afro-Indigenous boy from the rez just trying to survive.
Samika works to deal with her past traumas as a soldier and an adoptee to overtly religious white parents, while Allen is just trying to survive the robot apocalypse and find his family with his new friend’s help. Lucky for them the genocidal AI was built with real-world faulty IR sensors that have difficulty targeting dark skin. As the AI explores what it means to be human, the protagonists take their chance and use its limitations to stage one final attempt to shut it all down.
I currently run a casino consulting business and am an enrolled member of the Village of Kotzebue Indigenous Nation. I have self-published several books and short stories with good reviews, and I am now trying to find my way in traditional publishing. Raised on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation I grew up listening to stories told over the fire, and those stories have shaped my life and my writing.
I enclose the first chapter as requested and can supply a synopsis upon request. Thank you for the time you have taken in reading my submission. I hope you like what you read and look forward to your response.
What is one to do when the world begins to burn and the robot apocalypse just ignores you? For an East Indian female soldier dealing with her trauma and an Afro-Indigenous boy from the rez just trying to survive, the only thing to do is become the last chance for humanity.
What is a murderous AI to do when its racist creator gives it faulty AI sensors that can only see light skin? Simple trust they knew what they were doing and ignore anyone that can’t be seen, the apocalypse is not going to start itself after all.
What is a racist engineer to do when their life’s work in creating a military-grade AI Drone program is about to be taken away and given to a diversity committee? Simple just throw the biggest tantrum the world has ever seen of course.
Samika works to deal with her past traumas as a soldier and an adoptee to overtly religious white parents while making sure the first friend she’s ever known survives despite the odds. Allen is just trying to survive the robot apocalypse and make it back to his family on the rez with his new friend’s help. Lucky for them the genocidal AI was built with real-world faulty IR sensors that have difficulty ‘seeing’ dark skin.
The two companions explore this new world while trying to figure out what exactly the AI is up to besides what appears the eradication of every trace that human life existed. Dealing with a world of tent encampments and militia-style compounds the two stay constantly on the run from drones, until they decide to run towards them.
As the AI explores what it means to be human, the protagonists take their chance and use its limitations to stage one final attempt to shut it all down.
Subject: First Chapter
Novel: Dark Saviors
From: Daniel Hansen
Fire in the Sky
Let one be clear there are old white ladies and there are old white ladies. There are those that will shake crystals at you and justify not to selling her home to your grandparents because ‘they just didn’t fit,’ but there also those that know they are racist. They make choices that lead to your death through a phone call or protest the removal of monuments. So many styles of old white women upon the spectrum of racism.
The old white lady looking at Allen was surely one of those that knew. She would call the police on your dark-skinned niece selling candy bars for girl scouts without a second thought. She humphed and he tried to smile at her, not wanting trouble before he boarded his plane.
Overhead there droned a female voice commanding them to board gate A3.
The old woman humphed again and stepped away from him. Allen sighed before turning to the wall of windows. Dirty white planes covered in logos and grime sat upon the shimmering tarmac. Allen idly wondered which plane would pull up to his gate and take him from Spokane to Seattle.
His hands rubbed his carry on idly and he did not really notice as anxiety crawled up his spine. He could feel the tension of being the outsider. Every face he saw was pale and smiling. Always smiling with that deep frown that white folks had. He had been raised on the reservation and even after weekends in Coeur d’Alene he found being surrounded by so many non-natives uncomfortable.
None of them were speaking to him, or even looking at him, but there was a quality of their not looking that built his anxiety because he knew it was only a matter of time before one of them asked him where he was from, no no, where he was ‘from.’
A young white man in a ball cap and hoodie smiled at Allen and nodded his head, and Allen nodded back wondering how long before the man came over and struck up a conversation.
The questions would spin out from there. How did a poor African American man end up on the reservation Always ‘the’ reservation, without mention that there were many and his only one of them. It was always poor they saw, likely because in their minds it was tied into the Blackness they refused to mention instead sanitizing it with terms like African American if they even dared openly speak the words. Often, instead, saying it by omitting it with a wink and a smile.
The skins on the rez were more honest, they just called him Black, or more often cousin. They were his safety net, his comfort zone, his refuge from the statements meant as questions like, “you don’t look Native” that tried to erase that he could be many things.
And his Blackness was apparent, always something those around him saw first. When it came to the fact that he was native, raised traditionally, fewer people saw that when they looked at him. His family saw it, his tribe saw it, those he grew up with saw it, but to those not coming from his traditions it was always a question, and those questions were the undercurrent of Allen’s anxiety in how these white people were not looking at him. They might not be asking him questions yet, but they would be thinking them, and in time he would likely need to live through that.
The voice over the intercom ceased it’s buzzing and a steady beep replaced it.
Allen looked away from the sun shining through the windows, making sure to not look at those around him as hard as they were not looking at him. His dark handheld before him blocked out the burning light reflecting from the runway.
Everyone had begun to mull around as the beeping grew stronger to the point of annoyance. Allen raised one hand to his ear and winced as the beep turned into an alarm, and the people around him began to murmur and move a bit faster in circles that seemed to accomplish nothing but more agitation.
With the alarm in his ears and the sun in his eyes, Allen began to think this trip was a mistake. A mistake that he felt he had to make though to go to University and do right by his people. He knew that he was looking at years off the reservation and living with his anxiety only to obtain a degree that would still make him less a year on average than whites without a degree, but his mother had been insistent, and so here he was.
He had always been good with computers. Finding joy in the constant stream of code and the freedom he found behind a screen. No longer Allen the Indian, or Allen the African American, or Allen the rez boy, but instead Avengers54 coder extraordinaire. That joy had lead to scholarships, which lead to two years of online school before his mother decided he needed to get off the rez and “experience life.”
The cessation of alarm was immediate. A single chirp followed by silence. Allen buried his anxiety and wondered if the alarm had been some kind of test. A test just like these people’s eyes were testing him. Their eyes a weight on him, the only outsider, as if this was somehow all his fault. Allen shook his head and looked around trying to find someplace he could get a coffee.
The windows began to vibrate. Slowly at first, building steadily, drumming so deep that Allen could feel it’s effect in the hard plastic of his carry on like putting his hand against a speaker with the bass on low. He turned from his coffee search to try and find the source of the feeling.
The mass of people around him froze, as the vibrations grew and glass rattled. Two dark shapes fell from the sky. As they grew closer to the ground the blurring blackness stemming from their backs ceased movement and the vibrations in the air became a held breath.
As the wings pulled tight against the aircraft, the contraptions took on a distinctly beetle-like look as they dived through the air. Before striking the ground the wings opened and turned the dive into a glide, air currents gently lifting the beetle-like aircraft up until they passed over the airport causing the windows to rattle at their passing.
Figures small and egg-shaped tumbled from the beetles just as they passed, and Allen wondered what exactly he was seeing. He stood stock-still as the people around him rushed towards the windows to see the falling objects better.
Chutes never opened as gravity pulled the objects towards the earth. Allen lifted his hand to block out the reflection and get a better look but the sun reflected off the falling objects and momentarily blinded him. He looked down for a moment to blink the light from his eyes, and then back up, the objects were just outside and above the windows. What had appeared to be egg-shaped before were spheres coming at them like lobbed rocks or even missiles.
Those who had crowded in front of the windows now realized their mistake and began to mull backward, shoving each other away from the window. The spectators became a herd pushing their way back from the coming danger.
The glass shook, people screamed, and Allen looked over the fear in people’s faces and out the windows. The world cracked and the glass shattered inward spraying the world around him as the spheres crashed into the room. Sunlight glinted off each shard as piece by piece crackled and tinkled to the ground, and people began to scream.
As if everything was switched into slow motion the glass shards tumbled slowly through the air before him. Each piece revolving as they exploded inward before striking the ground slowly. Moving bodies slammed into Allen as the herd pushed back away from the crashing objects.
The dark spheres struck the tiled floor and began to unfold as the shards of glass rained down around them. Allen wondered if he dreamed it all if he imagined this blast that blew the window inward. Had his anxiety reached a point that it had broken him?
The sound of mechanical parts unlocking and relocking smoothly crawled over the background noise of the herd crying, and yet Allen stood frozen within the moment. The sun shone against metal as the first of the spheres fully unfolded and stood towering over the fleeing crowd.
Three legs. Three legs were the first thing Allen noticed. Three legs clacking and clanging along the tiled floor as these monstrosities crawled into Allen’s life. The people around him screamed louder and yelled and a river of voices flowed past Allen as these tripod robotic figures stomped forward. Allen became entranced by eyes flashing blue light staring out from metallic insect-like heads.
Four arms reached out from each of creatures, two hands empty clawing at the air and two arms holding rifles. Gun platforms on three legs, and round insectile heads staring at him from blue eyes that danced. Each gun began to spin, and the extra empty hands reached out towards those in the room.
“Targets acquired.” a steely voice reverberated from several speakers all around the room. If the creatures themselves were speaking through the intercom or being spoken to Allen was unsure. Such thoughts were momentary though as the world exploded with noise.
Allen lifted his hands before his face as the loud retort of gun shoots began to echo across the terminal. Perhaps he could make it all go away by merely blocking the sight of it. The steady chain of metal bits rapidly exiting barrels and reaching out to their targets vibrated the air harder and faster then the buzzing wings had earlier. Allen’s hands, a weak shield against bullets, were still lifted. The retort of heavy weapons filled the room.
The old lady that had looked at him with such disgust earlier screamed and Allen without thought threw himself over her, holding her tight as explosive bolts ripped through the air around him. Using his own body to shield her without even thought to the fact that he should be running. Blood exploded into the world around him as everyone started to die.
The old woman in his arms went slack as a single shot cracked her forehead and exploded out from the back. He held her a moment longer, staring into her slack dead face. She looked so peaceful slumped their cooling in his arms. He dropped her and stood as those around him died.
He wanted to scream out, but he could not. Fear held him. Staying standing had been hard enough like a weight pressed down upon him. That weight held him there in place as his world changed. Life held him even as people continued to die.
The steady chug of gunfire ate through the bodies around him, and he could taste the acrid smoke upon the air. The gun platforms jerked and righted themselves as their rifles filled the air with metal pieces cutting the air itself.
The terminal’s white walls covered in red filled his vision and he wanted to cry, wanted to yell, wanted to scream. But he did not scream. Fear held him just a moment longer as the hail of bullets filled the air and broke his reality.
And like that there was silence.
No more screaming voices.
A deep deadening silence.
No more shots filling the air.
No more river of voices filling the airport.
Only the dead.
And then there was the voice.
“All human targets eliminated.” a single metallic voice coming at once from the monsters’ speakers intoned. The intercoms destroyed in the hail of fire no longer spoke, and so it was left up to the robots standing stock-still before Allen to make the proclamation. The voice paused before starting again, “Scanning, no target objects acquired.”
Allen stared at a single creature of metal and wires. The creature buzzed as it turned and all the other creatures within the terminal buzzed and turned with it. Blue eyes floated from one side of their metal faces to the other. Metal bodies stood stock still like statues in the sun. Allen couldn’t move even now that death was imminent.
A single bark rang out from a mass of bodies to Allen’s left. It filled the silence like a sharp crack. One of the robots turned and clacked over towards the pile. Each leg lifting and snapping down into the tile driving the beast forward.
As it approached the pile it used it’s unencumbered hands to throw bodies left and right. A small growl squeaked out as one metal hand lifted a small hairy dog from the pile. The dog continued to growl as it was lifted before blue flashing eyes.
The robot stilled even as the dog rocked and barked at it. Without comment, the metal hand dropped the dog which cried out and scurried away. Those blues eyes looked again around the room.
“Confirming all target objects terminated.” Came the metallic voice. Red light danced along the walls and bodies of the room. When it passed along Allen’s body he jerked as if physically touched. Allen stood unmoving, fear holding him still before the assured death he stared into.
The creature was a living being made to kill. Three legs to ensure stability and four arms. Two carrying weapons and the other two ready to crush the skulls of those that got too close. The elongated insectile heads, terrifying as they were, might mean something but Allen could not tell. Each had individual style heads, but similar enough that this could be a single version of the creatures.
The red lights scanned.
The blue eyes flashed.
The world paused, and Allen held his breath.
“Original analysis confirmed.” Like a prayer answered
And with no other narration, the monstrous creatures crawled out of Allen’s world. Their steadily pounding feet echoing as they left. Allen stood, still frozen, unsure of what just happened, the old white woman dead at his feet.
A breath finally escaped him as he sagged.
Allen looked around and found himself staring into the eyes of the angriest looking East Indian woman he had ever seen. She looked as if all she had ever known was burned away long ago. There was nothing soft or sweet about her, just hard planes and broken dreams. Her eyes the blackest he had ever seen even against her dark skin, skin darker than even his own. Those eyes swallowed the sunlight.
She looked angry. She looked scared. She looked as if the world had entered an apocalypse, and she was ready for it. Allen was unsure how to respond, and this woman looked ready to break the next robot that came into the room. But in the end, she smiled and Allen had to look away. Pale bloodied corpses littered the terminal sprawled over chairs and handrails.
Immediate trauma in a single moment and yet that was what Allen’s new reality existed of. Dead-pale bodies in harsh sunlight, as a single East Indian woman stared at him in anger and fear. Only these two still stood in a room of the massacred dead.
Allen could have laughed with a broken psyche, but instead, he stood and looked back at her as she stared at him, and he knew that he was fucked. The world was fucked. Everyone was fucked, and only these two were left to see this corner of it. The apocalypse had begun, and Allen was ill-equipped to deal with it.