Read The Bridge Chronicles Trilogy Online

Authors: Gary Ballard

Tags: #noir, #speculative fiction, #hard boiled, #science fiction, #cybernetics, #scifi, #cyberpunk, #near future, #urban fantasy

The Bridge Chronicles Trilogy








BOOK 3: if [tribe] =


Gary A. Ballard




Copyright © 2008 - 2011 by Gary A. Ballard

All Rights Reserved

Books 1 & 2 originally published as a weekly serial novels on the World Wide Web at

January 2008 — August 2008

February 2009 — August 2009

Special Smashwords Edition 1.0 – July 2011


Cover photography and design by

Gary A. Ballard

Author Photography by

Gary A. Ballard

Copyright © 2011 Gary A. Ballard


Smashwords/Kindle/Nook Edition, License Notes


This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.






About The Bridge Chronicles


The books you are reading make up
The Bridge Chronicles
series. The first two novels,
Under the Amoral Bridge
The Know Circuit
, were written and published in serial format online and are available in both paperback and a variety of eBook formats. You may purchase the paperback of
Under the Amoral Bridge
at for $8 plus shipping by using the coupon code S3M97LBV when you reach checkout. The eBook version of
Under the Amoral Bridge
is still available for only $.99 cents at the Amazon Kindle Store, and Barnes & as well as many other fine eBook vendors. I will keep the original eBook at that price indefinitely, and the coupon code will not expire. This is my way of saying thank you for your support. You may also get an eBook only compilation of the first two novels, known as
The Bridge Chronicles, Books 1 & 2
for only $3.50, and all three novels are available in
The Bridge Chronicles Trilogy
eBook at the same vendors.

The Chronicles’
future beyond this novel is a bit nebulous. I have a mental outline for the next novel, and at some point in the future, I plan on moving the narrative timeline forward and publishing that original series of novels from which the world of Artemis Bridge springs. Barring some miraculous success, these books will be self-published in both paperback and eBook versions, and I hope you continue to follow them along with my career. Those of you on Twitter can find me at for regular updates and pithy one-liners.
The Bridge Chronicles
, found at will continue to have free content and updates on the status of the
Bridge Chronicles


Gary A. Ballard









The book you hold in your hand is the unintended result of over 15 years of thinking, reading, and writing. The character of Artemis Bridge and his cast of supporting characters is a latecomer to the party. At first, he was meant to function as his namesake – a bridging character whose adventures set the stage for the novel I’ve been trying to publish since around 2005. That original series of novels which I started writingblied writ in 2001 was the main attraction. Bridge was a way for me to promote my writing online, to get my name out there to hopefully influential people who might one day want to pay me for that original series of novels. But in writing Under the Amoral Bridge, I found that I really dug the character of Artemis Bridge. He was a complete bastard, someone I could never sympathize with and could never like. But he was a great character to write. And before finishing this novel, two other novels started to write themselves in the back of my mind. Once I’d had some resting time, I began work on the second Bridge novel, which has just been completed and fully published online as The Know Circuit, found at The three novels, supporting short stories and GlobalPedia pieces all form the tapestry I call The Bridge Chronicles.

Publishing the novel serially on a blog was an idea I’d toyed with before, and it’s helped me tremendously. I write more because no matter how few or how many hits the site gets, I feel an obligation to get that piece out there because someone might actually want to read it. Though I missed a few deadlines with Under, I’m happy to say that I didn’t miss a day with The Know Circuit’s publishing schedule. Now that it’s done, I intend to write the third chapter in the sequence and publish it online in the same manner as the previous two. In the interim, I will be writing at least one other Bridge short story and some supporting pieces, most of which will go online at the aforementioned web site to keep people interested.

But if the contents of this book and the sequel are available for free online, why am I self-publishing a physical edition or selling an eBook version? The most obvious reason is that I’d like to get paid for my work. It was over six months of my life, after all. Secondly, my hope is that more people will read a story of this size in a physical (or eBook) version than they will in chopped up bits on a blog. To give the non-free versions some added value, I’ve included an unpublished Bridge short story as a bonus. The story Feeding Autonomy will not appear on the web site or in a free version for the foreseeable future. Shortly before the third novel is published online, I plan to release The Know Circuit in a similar physical edition, and it will also include an unpublished Bridge short story.

Regular viewers of the web site ( will be treated to additional material that is not available in print, such as GlobalPedia 2028. These pieces are meant to give some additional history to the world. News related to the Bridge series will also be posted to that site, as well as my personal blog at It’s important to me that I give every channel something unique, my way of rewarding the people who become fans of The Bridge Chronicles.

And what about that original unpublished series? It’s still out there, waiting to be rewritten in light of changes to the setting I’ve made in The Bridge Chronicles. Many of the important historical events of that series are the central focus of the Bridge novels. At least two characters besides Bridge are integral to the second series. Whether that series will be published the same way as the Bridge novels is dependent on the success of this publishing model. Stay tuned to the web site in the future. When I know, you’ll know.

So, I kept the introduction to less than 1,000 words, and you’re probably ready for that Bridge fellow to take over. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for you aneart for purchase of this book. I hope you enjoy it.




Dedicated to my beloved wife for all the support and understanding.




The following is a short story that takes place months before the event depicted in this novel.





December 27, 2027

12:13 a.m.


“They said you were the guy to talk to about special requests.” Bridge put on as devious a grin as he could, but the revulsion he felt when listening to this weedy frat boy talk was difficult to tamp down. Bridge had done his usual due diligence on potential clients. The little douche sitting across the circular booth was named

Conner Archer, eldest son of some upper middle manager at Chronosoft, Inc. His daddy made good bank in software, and as a result, the kid got to fuck off at UCLA with as much beer, weed, Trip and whatever else he could shove down his rapacious gullet without fear of expulsion. Bridge hated everything about the kid; his spiky blond hair, his weasel grin, the erratic way he waved his hands around as he ran his mouth. The two kids to either side were just as irritating. One was a muscular jock type, a track and field kid whose father was an account executive at Chronosoft’s local news division. The third kid was a wannabe. His parents were struggling middle class, and the only way he’d managed to make it into both UCLA and the frat was because his daddy was an alumnus. He seemed to be trying way too hard to impress his more well-heeled brothers.

Bridge went through the usual routine. He asked if they were cops, or if they were wired, even though his white noise generator would have killed any attempts to eavesdrop on the conversation. Then he explained his services. “You need something, I know somebody got that something. You stand over here looking for something and the guy with that something is across the river over there. I’m the Bridge between you.”

“your="#000What river?” asked the middle-class kid, Brett.

“It’s metaphorical. Try to keep up. For a nominal fee, I will find you that guy and hook you up. I don’t make judgements and I don’t ask questions. I don’t touch nothing and I don’t know nothing. I’m all about the connection, the circuit. You tell me, I tell him and nobody else. Now, what is this special request?”

“We want some Sluv,” Archer said with a devious grin. “A whole bunch.”

Bridge nodded. Sluv, the new nanotech designer date rape drug. Forget Roofies, or Spanish fly or any of that other shit, Sluv was the new hotness. Spanish fly was dangerous in the hands of complete imbeciles like these and results couldn’t be guaranteed. Roofies made the girls comatose. The old standby of getting chicks drunk too often led to passed out broads or Woo Girls throwing up all over the intended rapist. Sluv, though, Sluv were a sure thing. It messed with both the decision-making and memory centers of the brain. The victim became almost hypnotically suggestible; tell the chicks to blow an entire football team and they would do it without resistance. The drug altered their memories of the events, making them believe every act they’d taken had been their choice. It even played well with alcohol and other drugs, almost eliminating the danger of an adverse reaction. It flushed itself from the system in 24-hours, making it untraceable. If the rapist could afford the premium, he could have his way with whomever he wanted and get away clean.

The chestnut-haired twerp next to Archer, Sal Pearson, explained their request. “We got this big-time New Year’s Eve Party coming up,” he rubbed his hands together, “and we got some major hottie action invited. We want to make sure the brothers get their pick of the litter, know what I mean?”

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