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Authors: Sherry Ficklin,Tyler Jolley

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THE LOST IMPEAIALS BOOK ONE

S
HERRY
D. F
ICKLIN
&
T
YLER
H. J
OLLEY

 

S
PENCER
H
ILL
P
RESS

Copyright © 2013 by Sherry D. Ficklin and Tyler Jolley

Sale of the paperback edition of this book without its cover is unauthorized.

Spencer Hill Press

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. Contact: Spencer Hill Press, PO Box 247, Contoocook, NH 03229, USA Please visit our website at
www.spencerhillpress.com

First Edition: November 2013.

Sherry D. Ficklin and Tyler Jolley
Extracted: a novel / by Sherry D. Ficklin and Tyler Jolley – 1st ed.
p.cm.
Summary:
Two siblings stolen from history fight on opposing sides of a war to control time and space while never knowing who they were until they meet in a battle and the past comes rushing back. Now, they must decide which side they are going to fight for or risk losing each other again.

The authors acknowledge the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this fiction: AC/DC, Band-Aid, Barbie, Disneyland, Dumpster, Frisbee, Pinocchio, Subway, Taser, Tinkertoy

Cover design by Lisa Amowitz
Interior layout by Marie Romero

ISBN 978-1-937053-68-0 (paperback)
ISBN 978-1-937053-69-7 (e-book)

Printed in the United States of America

To Jeena & Jeremy,
With all our love.

O
NE
L
EX

We’ve never formally been introduced to the students from the Tesla Institute, mostly because every time we meet things go from zero to face punch too quickly for small talk. I scan the crowd below for any hint that the Tesla kids are around, but all is clear. Hopefully, they show. I have to admit, I enjoy the excitement. And this World’s Fair thing is the dullest mission I’ve ever done.

I look back down at the wrinkled photo of VonWeitter, the designer of the solar panel device Claymore sent us here to steal. Hopefully we can use it to keep the lights on at the Tower. The constantly flickering gas lamps are a pretty big fire hazard, as it turns out.

Out the corner of my eye, I see Stein lean forward and shift closer to me. She’s so close I can smell her; the scent’s like rain and fresh cotton and it’s distracting. Just like her. I smirk, shove the photo in my vest pocket, and retrieve the candy bar I’d gotten for her. She smiles when she sees it and my heart goes double-time.

“What are you thinking about, Stein?” I ask, breaking off a chunk of chocolate and offering it to her. After bending forward, she takes it with her teeth.

She tips back her black satin top hat, a look in her eye—challenging me. I can almost read her mind. Do I really want to sit here and talk about our feelings? Dude, she is turning me into such a chick. I decide to let it drop.

Stein leans back on her hands. “This is so good. Where did you get it?”

I swing my legs over the rafter. “There’s a clown selling it outside the exhibit hall. I got a five-finger discount.”

She looks pleased, which makes me glad I risked the lift. We don’t get many small indulgences like chocolate back home, so anytime I have the chance to get her something, I take it. I break off a square and take a bite.

I wish we kept some chocolate back at the Hollows, but most of us can’t sit still for three seconds—I can’t imagine how bad it would be if we were hyped up on sugar all the time. I get this image of my best friend, Nobel, in my mind, vibrating across the floor like a belt sander, candy bar in one hand, soda in the other. It makes me snicker and Stein shoots me a confused look. I just grin and ease to my feet. I hand the rest of the candy over to her, stretch, then sit back down.

The metal crossbeams of the ceiling are even less comfortable than they look. Of course, I doubt the designers imagined people would be squatting up in the rafters. I fidget every so often, trying to prevent permanent rivet dents forming on my butt, and keep my mind off my cramped position and on the mission. Below us, Nobel fights with a huge spool of pink cotton candy. He’s desperately trying to get a bite without the fluff sticking to his face—and he’s failing miserably.

I chuckle, wad up the empty chocolate wrapper, and chuck it, nailing him right in the temple. He looks up. I wave.

He flips me off.

“Did you dip this in gear oil or did you just forget to wash the grease off your fingers first?” Stein asks around the last bite of candy.

“Wash? No. Wipe on pants? Yes.”

Most girls might be grossed out, but she just snickers. I look down at my hands. They are dirty enough that I can make out the dark recessions of my fingerprints. Guess just wiping them off didn’t get them as clean as I thought. Not really my fault, considering that Nobel’s device, the one that will lower me to the floor, is leaking oil.

I run my already messy hands over the machine again. Two pressure gauges are set between three large pistons with a couple of hydraulic hoses crawling out the sides. It looks like it’s made of old car parts and, knowing Nobel, that’s exactly what it is. But Stein isn’t great with mechanical things, and I can tell from her expression that she doesn’t quite trust the device.

Stein sighs. She looks half-bored, half-nervous.

I stare at her for a second, struck by how pretty she looks in the dim glow of the lights beneath us. Most of us are scarred and worn. Not Stein, though. She’s always flawless. She smiles at me as if she can read my mind, so I reach over and tug on a loose strand of her dark hair.

Turning away, I sweep a glance over the massive room. Half an hour ago it was filled with people listening to the lectures and viewing gizmos, but now it’s waned to a handful of people milling about. Most of them are part of my crew.

Where would I be right now if Claymore hadn’t found me? I might have been one of those men down there, wearing a fancy suit. Or maybe I would have been a scientist or an inventor. I’m not a brain like Nobel, but I’m good with my hands, and I’m quick on my feet. Whatever I could have been would never make me as happy as I am right now as one of the Hollows. I really can’t remember my past—none of us can—so all we have is the present.

And the present doesn’t suck.

The first trip through the time stream is like being born again, or at least that’s the sales pitch. Not sure if I buy it. Gloves says it’s the stream’s way of making us new, of transitioning us into our new lives. It feels more like a cost—the price we have to pay for our abilities. I have scars on my neck and jawbone, probably from some kind of tragedy or abuse in my old life. Sometimes I’m curious about it. I’ve even asked Gloves a couple of times, but he always brushed it off and eventually I gave up asking. I haven’t thought about it in a long time; I’m not sure why I’m thinking about it now except something is stirring in my gut, a feeling that something is about to go very wrong.

Next to me, Stein is frozen and silent, breathing in the noisy air and the rush of people below us. I can’t help wondering if she feels it too, this unease, though I’d never ask and she’d never admit it.

Nobel whistles, and my eyes shoot down. He tosses the remnants of his cotton candy into the trash and slides his grimy surgeon’s mask over his nose and mouth. He whistles again, this time a sharp, quick noise. I follow his motions to a man carrying a large roll of papers through the dwindling crowd. VonWeitter.

With a nod to Stein, I lower myself into position and scan the crowd. Sweat drips into my eye, and I blink. I can see my fellow Hollows close in like the pulling on a purse string.

I get into position and Stein yanks on the start cord. The machine lets out a quiet belch and dies. She tries again while I stare at her with furrowed eyebrows. This has to work or we’re screwed. She pulls the cord again and the machine finally coughs grey smoke and purrs to life.

Below us, the other Hollows quickly usher the bystanders to the exits. Within minutes, only Nobel and VonWeitter remain in the exhibit hall.

“Ready,” Stein whispers.

I nod, handing her my ratty old jester’s hat, and hook the end of the cable to the harness at the small of my back. Leaning forward, I descend to the floor like a giant spider going after a meal, the machine slowly unspooling above me. VonWeitter is right below me. I land behind him, knocking him out cold. Nobel darts over and grabs the plans. Slipping out of the harness, I attach it to VonWeitter, and then give Stein a thumbs-up. She puts the machine in reverse, I bear-hug the unconscious man, and we rise to the ceiling.

Stein is ready on the rafters with an ether-soaked rag in her hand as his eyes begin to flutter open. He doesn’t even get out a confused word before she’s on him.

Pressing the rag to his face, Stein smiles. “Do you believe in the Ether Bunny?”

In seconds he’s out again, lolling like a rag doll and heavy as sin. We tie him to one of the steel crossbeams. I grab an ace of spades from my pocket and tuck it in the pocket of his wool jacket. I have to leave my calling card, just in case the Tesla crowd shows up.

Stein winks, tucks her hair into her top hat, and takes off like a squirrel along the beam. I don’t have to ask where she’s going. Her job now is to secure the meeting place so we can rift out unnoticed. We picked a theater in the heart of the Fair as our exit point. It should be emptying out after the last show, and it will be the perfect place to take a headcount and then get back to base.

I unclamp Nobel’s machine and scale along the beams until I make it to the edge of the building. Nobel reaches a hand up, helping me down the last few feet. After a quick glance over the plans to make sure we have the right blueprints, Nobel motions to the others to join us. Once we’re all together, he throws an arm around my shoulders. We head for the vestibule in front of the exhibit hall. Posters cover the walls. Flyers and trash litter the ground.

“Not bad, Lex,” Nobel says. “Maybe next time you could move a little slower.”

I shrug him off. “Whatever, dude. Your machine decided to take a lunch break. I thought Stein was going to have to punch it.”

“Was it my machine?” Nobel asks in a high-pitched voice. “Or were you just distracted by your girlfriend’s assets?”

I just roll my eyes, partly proud and partly irritated that he was mostly right. “I dare you to say that to her face.”

He holds up his hands in surrender. “Let’s blow this joint before VonWeitter wakes up.”

We are halfway to the theater when a familiar sound makes me pause. It’s a sound I recognize from too many sparring sessions with Stein—the sound of a body being hurled through wood.

Without a word, we break into a run. My pulse races as we head for the fight, cutting through the crowd of people.

That sound can only mean one thing.

The Tesla brats are here.

Nobel trips over some kid’s toy and stumbles. The gnawing feeling in my stomach is getting worse. It’s the unsettling mix of nerves and excitement. The cold air rushes over me as we reach the docks just in time to see a redheaded girl throw Stein into a snack shack. I don’t have time to wonder why she’s on the wharf—I just run for her. She’s still on her back as the Tesla girl reaches down and picks up a large chunk of door, hoisting it over one shoulder like a baseball bat.

“Stein!” I yell, ready to lunge, but before the Tesla girl can take a swing, Stein rears up and kicks out, catching the other girl in the knee and sending her rolling across the dock.

“The theater is compromised!” Stein gasps, holding her chest as she climbs out of the splintered wall. She’s moving slowly, hurt but not too badly from the looks of it. I want to rush to her side, but she levels a gaze at me and points toward the theater. People are screaming, and in the distance, the whistle of a fire truck cuts through the frenzy. I turn toward the theater, realizing that the smoke billowing up from the building is our signal that the fight has begun.

Stein screams behind me, and before I can turn around, someone has me in a sleeper hold and drags me to the end of the dock. I spot Nobel just as a Tesla kid pushes him to the ground. Whoever has me flips me over, a foot pressing into my ribs. I’ll say this about the Tesla kids—they can fight. Though not as scrappy as us, they’re obviously trained. But we aren’t above cheating.

I grab his foot as he tries to kick me again, and use the force of his weight against him. He slams into the ground. He’s down long enough for me to get up—mistake number one. Me on my feet isn’t something he wants to mess with. I lunge toward him, and he counters, punching me so hard I stumble. Footsteps pound against the wharf, and he looks away—mistake number two. I use the small lapse in his concentration to my advantage. Head-butt to the nose. Judging by the loud crack and the expletive that follows, I must have broken something. While the guy is disorientated, I uppercut him.

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