In the alternate history near future of Yeovil's Dark Future universe, a demonic computer program's attempt to subvert the world's data is countered by warrior-nun Chantal Jullierat and US Cav lawman Nathan Stack. In a near-future alternate-history 20th century, the world is devastated by climate change and economic collapse. To compensate, humanity huddles into niche corporate/tribal groupings, policed by supercops called Sanctified Operators.
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The wastes of Arizona play host to a strange drama when a Frenchman named Duroc loads a demon into the computer systems of Slim's Gas n' BBQ. The evil entity quickly jumps ship into the onboard systems of a US Cav cruiser, killing one of the officers assigned to the car in the process. The second officer, Nathan Stack, decides to track the possessed car through the wastes, hijacking a motorcycle to aid his efforts.
Back at the US Cav HQ, Fort Apache, a mysterious woman with diplomatic papers and an AI-assisted Ferrari arrives, demanding aid. She identifies herself as Chantal Jullierat, and expresses an interest in the goings-on of the wastes. The Fort's systems are tracking the runaway cruiser, wondering why the two troopers assigned to it have been incommunicado. When the car seems to stop in Welcome, Arizona, Jullierat takes off in pursuit.
In Welcome, the demonic conveyance confronts and kills Father Miguel O'Prey, a former church war operative and current drunkard. In the process, the demon links itself up with the town church's altar computer, giving it access to the regional grid. It begins to move through the system.
Stack arrives in Welcome in the wake of the priest's death. After the possessed car is stopped from electrocuting the lawman by a timely spray of holy water, Nathan decides to rest and then get a drink at the local bar, where he is accosted by Gaschugger gangculters. Their impromptu trial and execution of the Cav officer is interrupted by the timely arrival of Jullierat, who saves Stack. The two compare notes.
In Fort Apache, the demon makes its move, possessing the outpost's systems as a potential gateway to the rest of the world. It begins a reign of terror, killing the Fort's commander and several others while staging things to look like elaborate accidents. The station's new commander, Rintoon, turns out to be insane, a fact initially covered-up by Lauderdale, another Cav officer and a secret member of the cult of the demon's master, the Jospehites.
Chantal tells a skeptical Stack the story of the demon she is chasing, in the process revealing her identity. In flashbacks, we see Jullierat, the daughter of a powerful corporate lawyer who is assassinated by unscrupulous rivals. The young Chantal, a genius with an aptitude for computers and ancient languages, takes refuge in the Catholic Church, entering the cloister as a Jesuit nun. She is tasked as a secret agent of the Vatican, chasing computerized threats to her religion worldwide. Eventually, the reformist Pope Georgi presents her with her greatest task: to counter the machinations of Nguyen Seth, a seemingly-immortal man involved with the Josephites.
Chantal and Nathan return to the Fort, where the demon and the madman Rintoon attempt to kill them on approach. The two split up. Stack runs off to distract the android army commanded by Lauderdale, where he is nearly killed, saved at the last minute by a cowboy with an old Winchester. Jullierat infiltrates the Fort itself, using her expertise with programming, along with the aid of some of the non-subverted staff, to exorcise the facility. After they succeed, the two briefly reunite and share a kiss, until Jullierat is called off by the Vatican to perform another secret mission.
Best part of story, including ending:
The Dark Future universe is an interesting setting, with glimpses of a bizarre, pop-culture-fueled larger world dangled before the reader. Unfortunately, the actual plot is slight. The demon in particular is annoying, with its propensity to randomly sing pop music for no good reason; rather than being frightening and otherworldly, it acts like a grade-schooler with too much power.
Best scene in story:
As mentioned, the glimpses of the alternate history (with Pope Mandela and President Charlton Heston) are interesting, and more of them would have helped the book.
Opinion about the main character:
Chantal is a fun protagonist, if somewhat of a cypher. Stack, on the other hand, is mostly a pile of tough lawman cliches, and is singularly uninteresting as a result. The chemistry between the two is very lacking.