Awakening: The First Tale of the Trine (Trine Series Book 1)

BOOK: Awakening: The First Tale of the Trine (Trine Series Book 1)
4.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

 

 

AWAKENING

 

The First Tale of the Trine

 

D.B. West

COPYRIGHT

This book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue were created from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual people or events is coincidental. The author acknowledges the copyrighted and trademarked status of various products within this work of fiction.

© 2016 David B. West

All Rights Reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

 

Cover by Angela Snyder

 

 

 

 

For G.M. West

 

Your love of reading was only one of your many inspirations to me. I write in your honor, to cherish your memory.

CHAPTER ONE

 

Thursday, August 2
nd
, 11:38 EST.

President Christopher Clark, Washington, D.C.

 

The table in the Situation Room was covered by a holographic projection of the quarantine zone, as well as a diagram layout of Moses Cone Hospital’s emergency department where the explosion was believed to have originated. While hospitals had always been seen as a possible target for terrorist attacks, the Pentagon was caught completely off guard by such a devastating blast in a relatively small town like Greensboro, North Carolina. Washington, D.C. looked like an anthill that had been kicked, as members of every agency were summoned and reporters scrambled for any scrap of breaking news.

As President Clark strode into the room following his press conference, his National Security Advisor, Scott Lansfield, was syncing the current reports from the rescue personnel. Scott unplugged the tablet from its input on the table, and handed it to the President as he took his seat.

“We have an update, Mr. President,” he said, waving his hand towards the images being generated by the table’s three-dimensional projectors. His voice was steady, though the President could read the anxiety in the set of his eyes and mouth. Scott sagged into his chair, turning it back towards the wall mounted screens where the rest of the Cabinet were huddled, attempting to piece together the facts their departments had gathered.

“Already?” the President asked as he picked up the small hand towel laid over his armrest. He mopped at his jowls as he looked over the report. “Has our team reviewed the entirety of the surveillance film?”

“They were able to download all of the footage leading to the blast easily, as the servers were in a separate part of the building. They rewound the film from the moment it terminated. While they’re still reviewing the last few days, everything we have found seems to indicate that all of the relevant events occurred within two minutes of the explosion.” Scott’s voice quavered, and he felt his chest tightening. He realized he was on the verge of a panic attack, and took a deep, steadying breath. Pouring a glass of water, he began patting his jacket, locating his bottle of Xanax.

President Clark winced as he looked over the report on the tablet. “Is this correct? Already two dozen confirmed dead, and over two hundred unaccounted for?” He loosened his tie and tossed it on the table. “What do we have? Has anyone taken responsibility? What exactly is on the films?”

The President stared at Scott, one of his oldest and most trusted advisors, who was now fumbling with his pill bottle. The man was always high-strung, but this situation looked to have him on the verge of collapse. He reached out to grip Scott’s shoulder reassuringly. “We’ve been through worse. Get yourself together, man. Now, tell me, who did this? What have you seen? This is too much destruction for a crock-pot bomb. Is this something new?”

Scott pointed to the screen, and tapped another tablet at the table to restart the footage. “This is definitely something new, sir. Something very, very new.”

CHAPTER TWO

 

The hospital’s surveillance footage was blocked off into four quadrants, showing the cross halls of the emergency department. With a few taps, Scott brought the back hallway to the fore, filling the screen. “They don’t have direct surveillance within the treatment rooms, obviously, but this view shows us…well, you’ll see. Watch here,” he said, pointing to one of the rooms off the hall.

A doctor wearing a white coat over khaki pants was entering the room, with a nurse behind him pushing a small cart covered with a blue paper towel. “Nothing happens for about two minutes,” Scott explained, sliding the footage forward slightly.

The President flinched as the door and surrounding wall suddenly exploded away from the room the doctor had entered. A cloud of sheetrock dust obscured the scene briefly as ceiling tiles and insulation rained down, while the camera shook violently. As the dust settled, the crumpled forms of the doctor and the nurse could be seen sprawled across the hall. “Stop, stop!” the President demanded. “What the hell is THAT?” he asked, jabbing a thick finger at the screen.

“Just watch,” Scott said. As the scene cleared, a massive canine shape rose from the rubble, shaking its great, green-furred head. It looked vaguely like a Pomeranian, with a pointed fox snout and tightly curled tail. Only this dog was almost as large as a bear, and with a roar that caused the camera to vibrate again, the creature began using its front paws to rip at a figure it had pinned to the ground.

The unfortunate man trapped under the beast was caked in dust, and appeared to have blood streaking from his bald head. The rest of the man’s body was covered in some sort of armor segments, and he was using one of his plated arms to stave off the dogs jaws. With his left arm under the beasts chin, he pushed the snapping head up and back. Cocking his right arm, he suddenly dropped his left one. As the dog’s head snapped down, the man smashed his armored fist straight into that monstrous mouth, all the way to his elbow.

The creature tried to leap back, and from the spasms in its sides, they could tell it was gagging on the man’s arm. Pushing forward, the man regained his feet in one smooth motion. Then, ripping his arm free of its maw, he hammer-fisted the furry giant to the ground. As the dog tried to regain its feet, the man picked up the door that had been torn free from the wall, and slammed it into that great green head, pummeling the animal back to the ground.

“Pause for a moment,” the President said, awestruck. “Rewind to just before this guy punched that…thing.” Scott took the footage back slightly while the President swiped at his neck with his towel. “All right,” the President said. “First, I have to ask. You have confirmed that this is legitimate, this isn’t some fancy pre-arranged hack?”

Scott just raised an eyebrow at the President. “If this was movie night, I would have picked
Dirty Dancing
for us. I’m afraid this particular film has an unhappy ending. But yes, an elaborate cover up was our first thought as well. Our IT experts are certain, however, that this is what actually occurred.”

“All right,” the President replied. “Now, turn it on in slow motion.” He watched as the scene proceeded frame by frame. “There, stop!” he exclaimed, pointing to where the door to the room had previously stood. The camera recording the hall had gotten slightly skewed, but a figure dressed in a hospital gown could clearly be seen edging out of the room, then bolting down the hall, out of frame. “Did any outside surveillance pick up that man anywhere else?” he asked.

Scott looked over to his aide, and after a moment, they pulled up the outside surveillance to the emergency room entrance on a secondary screen. They synced up the time stamps, and at exactly thirty-four seconds after fleeing the room, the same gowned figure could be seen slamming between the sliding glass doors, prying them open. His arms were gesticulating wildly, and soon people in the emergency department started streaming out past him, fleeing into the parking lot. He disappeared from the frame, and a few moments later the outside surveillance blinked out.

“That was the explosion,” Scott explained unnecessarily.

“Get the admittance logs, find out who he was, and get me everything you can find on him. If he survived that blast, I want to know what he saw in that room,” the President ordered the aide.

Scott raised an eyebrow, and a smile flickered briefly across his lips. After a few quick taps, he passed his tablet over to the President. “There’s a reason you keep me around, you know,” he said wryly.

“Of course,” President Clark grunted, beginning to scroll through the device’s information. He laid the tablet down after a moment, and went back to the hospital surveillance footage. “We’ll get to him in a moment. First…” He looked at the screen where the strangely armored man had battered the monstrous dog with a door. “Was there anything else on this footage before the blast?” he asked.

Scott nodded as he resumed the recording. It picked up just as the door settled over the crumpled canine figure. Yet another figure stepped through the hole blasted in the hospital wall. This person was at least a foot shorter than the bald man, dressed similarly in blue tinted armor, and appearing on the surveillance film to have a shock of disheveled white hair. The tall, bloody bald man turned towards the smaller figure, just as the white-haired person lunged, snatching his leg from under him. Moving so quickly that the frame seemed to skip, his other hand slashed over, grabbing the bald man’s face. With the tall man off balance, the smaller one took him to the ground, slamming his bald head into the floor with such force the tile around the impact exploded. Dropping his knees onto the taller man’s arms, pinning him, the white-haired man grimly drew a short curved blade from a sheath at his back. The bald man gave a great spasm as the small figure buried the knife into his throat.

In the background, the dog was regaining its feet with a great effort, throwing off the door with a shake of its shaggy head. The animal suddenly focused on the room from which they had all emerged, ignoring the gruesome stabbing. The creature gathered himself, leaping upon the smaller man and knocking him away from the figure he had downed, just as this footage, too, blinked out.

“That’s all we have right now,” Scott said. “The explosion vaporized the emergency department, and from what we can see from outside surveillance, the four stories above it collapsed.”

The President was silent, staring at the snow on the screen. Finally, he picked the tablet back up and asked, “Do we know what happened to the patient that ran out of that room?”

“Actually, yes,” Scott said. He consulted the aide next to him, and a moment later, the parking lot camera feed showed the dark-skinned man in the flimsy cloth gown running from the emergency room amidst a panicked crowd. A few seconds later, this footage, too, blinked out.

“First responders found him about a block away from the hospital. He flagged them down, and was later taken over to a makeshift medical camp that has been set up. There was some glass in his back, but the report I received indicated his injuries are non-life-threatening,” Scott said.

“Make sure to get some of our men to him for protection, and debrief him as soon as he is able. We need to know what he saw,” the President ordered. “Now, can anyone tell me what in the hell we’re looking at?” he demanded, rewinding the footage again.

Scott turned towards the holographic map on the table, and waved a hand over it. “The National Guard has quarantined ten blocks in every direction. Currently the locals are conducting the rescue efforts, but our men have been inserted into the recovery crews. Their orders are to find evidence of anything unusual and report back immediately.”

“You didn’t tell them how unusual, did you?” demanded the President.

“No, not the men on the ground. We have informed our senior staff overseeing this operation that they’re looking for what we presume will be two unusual corpses in armor, and possibly the body of a large animal. They didn’t ask too many questions, and we made it clear that they should play this one close to their chests.”

“Who else has this footage?” the President asked.

“No one, yet, to our knowledge. Our men were very careful to isolate the servers and get it to us without the media getting wind of it. I don’t know how long we can keep this under our hats, however.”

“Then I suggest you light a fire under your teams’ asses, and recover those three bodies. Find them for me, gentlemen, and let’s figure out what in the hell we are dealing with here.” The President poured a glass of water, then picked up the tablet Scott had given him a moment ago. “Give me the short version on our witness,” he said.

“That man is retired Marine Corps Sergeant Delmont Jeffries,” Scott began. “He served as a patrol leader for four years in Afghanistan. He was highly decorated, and honorably discharged in 2008. He attempted to reenlist, but unfortunately couldn’t get medical clearance.”

“Why not?” President Clark asked, pausing over the hospital admission report.

“Psychological issues. He was wounded in several skirmishes, and lost over a dozen men. About six months prior to his discharge, he had been assigned a new team and was on patrol around Panjwai. One of their Strykers hit an IED, and they came under fire from a Taliban ambush. Sergeant Jeffries told his unit, per the reports, ‘
I’ll be goddamned if I’m writing a letter to anymore of your mommas
” and ordered them to provide covering fire. He then flanked the hostiles, and charged them alone. He was shot twice, suffered several shrapnel wounds, and killed seventeen Taliban fighters. Every man in his last patrol group made it home.”

“So why couldn’t he reenlist?” the President asked. “Sounds like that’s just the kind of man we need more of in the ranks!”

“Unfortunately, sir, his superiors…while they were quite proud of his accomplishments, they were understandably concerned. Sergeant Jeffries had begun to express extreme survivor’s guilt, combined with what was termed ‘delusional narcissism.’  He had begun to think, and to act, as though he couldn’t be killed. While his service was exemplary, he was deemed unfit for further duty, and discharged with full benefits.”

“These records seem to indicate that he was admitted to the hospital earlier today after a motorcycle accident,” the President remarked.

“Correct, sir. He was apparently on his way to his job at a local law office when he was struck. It’s quite a testimony to his resilience that he was spry enough to flee the hospital after something like that.”

“No one should ever doubt a Marine, Scott…Wait, what is this?” the President asked.

“Ah, yes,” Scott said, moving to see which file the President was reviewing. “As you can see, Sergeant Jeffries is a fascinating case study. So much so that he attracted the attention of Dr. Chamblee, head of Project 6S.

“What the hell is Project 6S?” the President demanded, as he scanned the notes.

“Project Sixth Sense. It was a small study DARPA recently funded. Dr. Chamblee was an Army Captain that served during the first Gulf War as a field surgeon, then was stationed in Germany as a staff doctor. While in the service, he did a lot of research on soldiers’ survivability in a variety of combat situations, eventually releasing his findings in a study called, ‘The Biometrics of Combat Survival.’ Basically, what he found was…” Scott trailed off at the President’s withering stare.

“The short version, Scott. I’m dealing with one of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil since 9/11. How is any of this relevant?”

Scott cleared his throat, and flushed slightly. “Sorry, sir. I’ve only just been made aware of this study, as it was cross-referenced from Sergeant Jeffries’s service records. Dr. Chamblee had interviewed the medics attending the Sergeant after his heroics at Panjwai. He was critically injured in the exchange, but did not collapse until after the entire zone was secured. He went into cardiac arrest while being transferred to the field hospital, and the medic hooked him up to an AED. At the first shock, he reportedly regained consciousness immediately, and refused any additional care until the surgeon gave him a direct order to submit to an exam. The surgeon’s report indicated that while the Sergeant’s kit and his skin showed clear signs of recent ballistic damage, there was no significant physical injury. All they could find were superficial wounds corresponding with the damage to his gear, all of which appeared to be well healed. The surgeon determined that Sergeant Jeffries had simply collapsed from exhaustion, and he was sent back to his unit after being given fluids and time to rest.

“That sounds like a perfectly reasonable conclusion,” the President said, exasperated.

“It would have been,” Scott replied. “Except that the first responders confirmed that upon their arrival, the Sergeant was found to have two entrance and exit wounds in his torso, as well as severe soft tissue damage to his lower extremities. The damage to his gear and the blood patterns confirmed that he had suffered at least two gunshots that exited his upper back. The medic who administered the AED claims that as soon as they activated it, the Sergeant…recovered. The wounds were gone.”

“If that’s true, then why wasn’t this followed up on?”

“It was a combat zone, sir. The surgeon had other priorities, and the medics had already returned to the field. The surgeon chalked it up to an error on the part of the medics, and the medics were unaware of the surgeon’s findings later on. As for the Sergeant, Dr. Chamblee requested that he be allowed to examine him personally and interview him. Unfortunately, all of this came to light years later, and he had been discharged by this time. As Dr. Chamblee had no concrete findings, his funding was cut and he was reassigned to other projects. None of this would likely ever have come back into the light, except…”

BOOK: Awakening: The First Tale of the Trine (Trine Series Book 1)
4.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Highland Solution by Ceci Giltenan
B000FC1MHI EBOK by Delinsky, Barbara
Dangerous trio 1 by Jana Leigh
Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda
So B. It by Sarah Weeks
A Picture of Guilt by Libby Fischer Hellmann
Daughters-in-Law by Joanna Trollope
Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters
Keen by Viola Grace