UNEDITED (This is book 2. Book 1 is on Amazon now and in KU. This is the first half of Ch 1)
The transport ship Dynastic had nearly cleared Space Station Horus’s outer limits when the ship started to slow at the sign of approaching Horus fighter crafts. An announcement rang out that all personnel were to remain in their rooms as Project Destiny soldiers came aboard and searched for two stowaways. Never one to jump to conclusions, Marick’s first hope was that this was a random check performed on all transport ships traveling between space stations. They were transporting miners to a prison station, after all, and it seemed that those in charge would want to be careful of just who was on board.
All of that was thrown from his mind, however, when the overhead speakers further announced, “We are being hailed in regards to a certain PD soldier Stealth, a.k.a. Marick Carter, and a hacker known as Alice, leader of the Looking Glass terrorist team.”
“A.k.a. Alicia,” Marick said, turning to his wife. She was still in bed and had been catching up on some well-deserved rest. Impersonating a PD recruit and challenging New Origins itself in an attempt to save Marick was a feat worth celebrating.
Following their narrow escape from Nightshade and the Taipans, they had been quickly shown to their quarters. A man named Antwon checked in on them from time to time and bring them food and water. Feeling like a prisoner while on their way to a prison station wasn’t great, but at the same time, this was their only way out of there. After their near-death experience of having almost floated off into space, the criminal leader of Os Dragoes had helped them escape to Ramiel. Space Station Horus had gone on lockdown and the space elevator would’ve been shut off. It wasn’t as if they could hop a fence and run off to hide. Out there, if they were to ‘hop a fence,’ they’d be left floating in space until they died.
Alicia, who had now begun referring to herself as such again, stirred, smiled, and rubbed her eyes as she sat up. When she opened her eyes again, a look of realization hit as the smile vanished.
“Damn, did they just say—”
“Yes,” Marick replied, handing her a glass of water and an energy bar. “We need a plan, fast.”
“You heard?” a voice said from the door as it slid open.
Alicia pulled back, instinctively covering herself with the sheets even though she was wearing a pair of shorts and a tank top given to her by the same man who now stood in the doorway.
“Apologies for not knocking or announcing myself, but I’m sure you heard.”
Marick nodded hesitantly, wondering on which side of this the man fell.
Antwon grinned, then motioned for them to follow. “First things first,” he said when he saw they weren’t moving. “You’ve been under our protection since Veles handed you over, and you’ll continue to be. He’s our man, through and through. Well, rather, we’re his men and women. Here’s what we need to do—figure out where to store you while they scan the place without letting the captain in on your presence.”
“You’re with Veles?” Alicia asked. “Wouldn’t that make you one of the prison escapees?”
The man shrugged. “Overall, we benefit by having people on station and off. Enough of the prisoners of Ramiel are with us that we need a sort of emissary. That would be moi.”
A glance through the ship’s windows showed that the fighters were already docking. Not much time.
“Too much worry on your faces,” Antwon said, gesturing in the other direction through the window. “See there?”
Marick looked first and then stepped back for Alicia to take a glance as relief flooded over him. “We’re not the only one being checked.”
“Which means,” Alicia added, turning back to them, “they have no idea where we are.”
“And I’m going to keep it that way,” Antwon replied with a wink.
They darted along the main passage, but hearing a clanking sound ahead, Antwon cursed under his breath and moved to the left, going past a hold where a soldier was already questioning several miners who would be using the new space station as a jumping-off port to asteroids farther out.
“You have somewhere in mind?” Marick asked in a whisper, and Antwon simply nodded, motioning them down a level. They descended into a hole via a staircase, then moved along a line of cargo to what appeared to be a regular wall.
“In here,” Antwon said, placing his hand against the wall. Biometrics read his palm and then what had seemingly been a wall was suddenly a door. “Smuggling. Sometimes the corporations can be stingy, and a bit of black market trading on the side is needed to make ends meet.”
Voices came from not far off so Antwon quickly shooed them in and gave a confident wave before closing them in darkness. The space they were in was the size of a small closet and quite dark, but it was light enough to see the shapes of various boxes that likely contained more smuggled goods.
Marick first heard his own breathing and then Alicia’s. Could he really be here with her—the woman he had thought of as Alice the hacker, his the target not so long ago? How ironic if he made it to this point only to be yanked away from her.
He wouldn’t let it happen. He couldn’t.
As the enemy approached, he felt his blood boiling and his muscles tensing. He was overcome with the urge to bust through the door and smash their skulls in, destroying them in every way for ever thinking they could take him from Alicia or for causing them to be in this situation in the first place.
New Origins had taken almost everything from him that ever mattered, and they would pay. His senses became more intensified and he could smell them out there, sense their movement and hear the sounds of their beating hearts. He wanted blood, and by God, he would have it.
He took a step forward, prepared to do whatever it took to end this right there, even if it meant losing his life. He still wore the exoskeleton with its teleporter, and Alicia had her force field. Perhaps there was a way they could survive this after all.
Alicia’s hand gently touched his arm, and it was like a floodgate had let out all the rage and hatred. He turned to her, blinking, and put a hand to his brow at the realization that he had been about to do something incredibly foolish. Acting out at that point would have put the whole ship at risk. And going against a group of PD soldiers who might be trained to his level? Not smart.
FROM JUSTIN >>> I hope you all have been enjoying book 1! Here’s the start of book 2, taking off shortly after book 1 ended. I like doing it this way, because there have been a few series I read where I LOVED book 1, but then book 2 starts like 5 years later and the protagonist is a totally different person, one I’m less interested in following.
How about you and these books – what made you want to check out book 2? The cover? The characters? Something else from book 1?
What promises did you feel book 1 made, that you hope are paid off by the end of the books? I’d love to hear from you! Join us at The Sloan Zone (Facebook) to discuss 🙂
And while you’re here, don’t forget about the new Scott Moon and Richard Fox collaboration: THE DOTARI SALVATION. I’m hearing great things!