Kaya Cade is in a rut. She’s bored at her job but needs it to pay her rent – growing up sucks. She could turn to ‘legitimate businessman’ Stanley Greif, or even her family, for help, but those things would also suck. But now what really sucks – the real icing on the mycotoxin cake – is that she’s now a witness to a murder. Normally she could handle something like this, being somewhat accustomed to unsavory types, but this killer isn’t normal. It’s stronger, faster, tougher than any human. It wears a cloak of invisibility, moves with fae-like agility, and seems determined to end her for no other reason than this: None who glimpse the hidden people leave with their sight.

Desperate for help, she soon runs into an old childhood friend now living in a lighthouse on top of a hill. Together they enter a world where fantasy is becoming reality. Where shadowy organizations seek to control dreams, twist them into nightmares, and where future gods lie teething. And all that stand between mankind and oblivion are a few girls.

Way back in about 2014 or 15 (something like that) I published a story on Kindle called ‘Jen Air’. I got some good feedback about it, but really it was a first draft; written in a short amount of time and very rushed in the second half. However, there were the seeds of some good ideas so I’ve kept sporadically working on it, developing the world, characters, and themes more. ‘Irongate’ I feel is the story I really wanted, complete with action, character-driven humor, and a few emotional moments that hopefully aren’t too maudlin. Below is a little bit of backstory (may contain some spoilers):

In the world of Irongate the Mega-Corporation, Meridiem, has a hand in almost every aspect of people’s lives. So vast is their influence they even employ private armies to protect their interests, while their profits are maximized by a predictive AI called Pythia. Not so long ago they purchased a research and development firm called Stag Corp, whose mission was to turn dreams into reality. Meridiem were particularly interested in their advancements in synthetic biology – the ability to program a genetic code using a Mother Machine then plant that code into a living cell. In theory, any life-form you can imagine could be made this way and the applications of such power, for good or ill, limitless. Inevitably something went wrong – Alvin Stag pushed the project forward too quickly and wasn’t able to control his creations. Meridiem scrapped the project and forced Stag Corp to start again from scratch.

But the real genius behind Project ELF (Engineered Life Forms), the man who designed the Mother Machine and the synthetic cells, was Jonathan Airhart. Meridiem took note of this man’s talent and recruited him for another project along with his spouse Ada – an archaeologist and historian. The project was in Antarctica but it’s nature only revealed to a very few. Inevitably, something went wrong, and the two were never heard from again. They left behind a daughter, Jennifer, in the care of her uncle. They did all they could to learn Jonathan and Ada’s fate, using both conventional and unconventional means, but were unsuccessful in learning anything. Jennifer retreated from the world, leaving her uncle and the rest of her family, to live in a lighthouse near Irongate, busying herself by tinkering with machines and carrying out all sorts of experiment, but still troubled by not knowing the truth. Doctor Jana Sarkis, who had been a junior researcher when her father worked for Stag Corp, is the only human Jennifer regularly has contact with.

All this happened in Jenn’s teens. As Jennifer retreated further from the world her childhood friend, Kaya Cade, grew more distant from her as well. She had always been troubled by a less than pleasant home life. Kaya’s father was a former prize-fighter and ‘debt collector’. Her mother was devoutly religious, but prayers did little to protect either of them from the old man’s abuse. Kaya left home as soon as she could, but by then had already fallen in with people who encouraged the worst sides of her nature – her impulsiveness and aggression. To support herself, Kaya went to Stan Greif, owner of The Mill (a nightclub) but with many other side interests. He had her trained in the art of thievery. But growing out of her teens Kaya began to fear she was on a similar path to her father, so is attempting to make changes in her life. It’s not exactly easy.

As our story begins proper Stag Corp and Meridiem are set to reveal their latest creation – an atmospheric purifier they say will take care of any harmful gases and other pollutants. Some have doubts, believing it will do more harm than good, but the corporations seem determined to garner some goodwill. However, they are not the only ones sensing opportunity. Another foe stirs from a decade of slumber, determined to ring out the old and bring her own dream into reality – a world in which every creature exists to serve just one being; Titania.