Authors: Jacob Gowans
Tags: #Children's Books, #Action & Adventure, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Children's eBooks, #Science Fiction; Fantasy & Scary Stories
OTHER WORKS BY JACOB
The Storyteller’s Tale
Flight From Blithmore
Copyright 2012 by Jacob
characters, events, and text within this novel and series are owned by Jacob
Gowans. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, or recorded
by any electronic or mechanical means without written permission of the author.
For information regarding permission please contact the author at
Published by Jacob
to Master Sergeant Thomas Garrett and all others whose patriotism burns
brightly within their hearts. Tom served twenty-three years in the U.S.
military and was claimed by ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Our loved ones, though
absent in death, live on in our hearts, minds, and spirits. They watch over us
and are with us in our hours of need.
was the last Psion book I wrote before I set out to
actually publish anything. I published
in 2010. I’d written
three years earlier. The
you’re about to read is
much different than that original draft. Hopefully, it’s better, too. It’s a
book I’m proud to share with you. While it has been nice not having to write
anything new for a while, I’m excited to start new adventures for these
characters. Editing a manuscript, in my opinion, is much easier than forging a
new book from scratch. Nevertheless, that’s the task I’m faced with from here
on out in Sammy’s adventures, and I look forward to it.
people have helped improve this manuscript, mainly my trusted workshoppers.
Several started the project, and six finished. I appreciate the help of
everyone, but those six deserve special mention. My greatest thanks to Britney
Rule, Britta Peterson, John Wilson, Natasha Watson, Jana Jensen, and Benjamin
Van Tassell. Also helpful at other times were Shannon Wilkinson and Caity Jones
with editing and polishing. If there’s anyone else I’ve forgotten, my apologies
always, I must also thank my wife for supporting me in this work. I am still a
full-time dentist, which means that all my writing happens in my spare time
while also juggling time with her, our three children, and other activities.
Her sacrifices make this possible. I also thank God for giving me this talent
and helping me to cultivate it. I also must thank you, Fellow Bookworm, for
your support and enthusiasm. I hope you enjoy the latest adventure.
Tuesday May 7, 2086
the choice to you. Samuel or Albert.”
me time to think, Victor, please.”
minute. And if indecision is your choice, she’ll shoot them both.”
me instead. I will give myself up, I swear it! You know I would, Victor. You
You are a better man than this!”
Commander Byron mumbled the same instant that a small alarm clock on the
nightstand next to his bed beeped. He woke up and glared through bleary eyes at
the source of the sound. Sweat matted the hair on his forehead and temples. The
clock projected a holographic text message, which hovered in the air like a
bright blue sign:
Urgent message from General Wu re: Wrobel interrogation. 0406
joints and limbs ached in protest as he got up from bed. His eyelids seemed
determined to stay closed as he rubbed his face and hair with shaky hands. He
breathed heavily through his nose as the dream began to fade from memory.
his croaking voice commanded.
room obeyed, illuminating Byron’s bedroom. It was a simple dwelling with a
small bed, a few pieces of furniture, and several pictures on the walls, all of
his family. The bright lights stabbed at the back of his eyes, but helped to
clear the mists in his brain. He reached to the end of his bed and grabbed the
robe draped across the frame, quickly pulling it on.
transmission,” he commanded his com.
wall to the right of his bed changed into a screen. A female Elite soldier
appeared. She was young, probably a new graduate of the Elite Training Center.
“Sorry to interrupt your sleep, Commander Byron.” Her voice carried all the
polish of an Elite, well-trained and eager to observe every formality. He knew
these types well. “General Wu asked me to contact you immediately. Doctor
Rivera is working with the prisoner Wrobel as we speak. Rivera believes that
breaking point will be reached in approximately forty-five minutes. The general
is unable to attend and asks that you be there to observe and report.”
commander had no difficulty keeping his eyes open now. He hadn’t believed
Wrobel could be broken. “Victor has been a captive for less than two days. I
have a hard time believing that Rivera is so close to breaking him. How sure is
he about this?”
don’t know, sir, but General Wu requested you to be present—”
am leaving now. Tell Doctor Rivera to expect me in thirty minutes.”
hurriedly changed his clothes while ordering his com to send an urgent-status
message to Major Tawhiri, requesting that he come to Beta headquarters to oversee
the facility in his absence. Once he received a reply, he headed for the roof
and left in his personal cruiser. Dark rainclouds filled the sunless sky, but
no rain spilled from them. He directed his cruiser northeast toward the
ultra-security prison and requested that guards be ready to escort him inside
as soon as he touched down.
soldiers flanked the commander as he breezed through all security checkpoints.
As soon as he stepped into the Ultramax wing, a middle-aged Asian doctor
approached him. She wore a long white coat with the NWG logo stamped on her
breast pocket. She twirled her holo-tablet in her hands as she walked forward
to greet him and gave him a nervous, anxious smile. Her smile was pleasant and
Byron?” she asked with her hand extended.
took it and gave a firm shake. “Doctor Rivera?”
Sokama. I’m working with Doctor Rivera on the interrogation of Victor Wrobel.
Rivera believes the prisoner will be at the breaking point in ten minutes or
commander gestured beyond her. “Lead the way, please. Are you new here?”
she replied. “I transferred from the Siberian Ultramax two days ago. Had to
pull every favor I had left to get here. This is my first assist on an
interrogation of this nature. I trained for it in my residency, but we don’t do
interrogations up in the tundra. All our prisoners with
any information worth extracting get sent here.”
and the doctor walked down a long corridor with cells on each side. The sounds
of the soldiers’ heavy boots hitting the walkway followed Byron, reminding him
of the many years it’d been since he had worn the uniform of the Elite. One of
the inmates tapped on the thick glass of the cell door as the commander passed.
Byron glanced at the inmate, who immediately made a crude gesture and cackled
you been following the protocol General Wu ordered?” Byron asked the doctor for
no other reason than to break the silence.
have seen to it myself that the protocol is being followed perfectly. I think
you will find my performance impeccable. I don’t want to waste this
inmate slammed himself against his cell door, startling Sokama and causing
Byron’s head to jerk in that direction. The man licked the small glass window,
winked at the doctor, and then pounded the door several more times with his
fists, head, and feet.
one of the Thirteens we keep here,” Byron told her.
we keep all known Thirteens in this facility?” Sokama asked. “We only ever had
one in Siberia, and she was transferred to this place soon after her arrival.”
shook his head. “Not all known Thirteens. Only the ones who act on their
there a difference?” Sokama asked.
read a study—”
data was faulty. I read the same study you were about to reference.”
reached Wrobel’s interrogation room. The Elite stepped forward and used their
keys to simultaneously release the locks. This granted Byron and Sokama access
to the antechamber. Sokama and Byron then opened the remaining door using their
own access codes. As the commander and the doctor went inside, the Elite stayed
behind to stand guard in the antechamber.
sat on a chair with his legs and arms securely bound via thick, weighted
magnetic cuffs. Despite seeing the former commander only twenty-four hours ago,
Byron hardly recognized the man who had once been a close friend. Wrobel’s
unshaven face had a slight yellow tinge to it. Dried tears and sweat had left
white salt spots on his skin. His eyes never focused on anything for more than
two or three seconds before closing or shifting in a jerky, animal-like way.
Saliva dripped from his lips onto his exposed chest while rivulets of sweat
traveled from his freshly-shaved scalp down the sides of his face. His breath
came in long, drawn inhalations followed by ragged gasps as though his brain
occasionally had to remind him to suck in the oxygen.
dotted his chest and head. Five monitors stood around him like robotic guards.
One displayed brain wave patterns, another was for vitals, and the rest
provided other information Byron didn’t quite remember from his training
decades ago. Four special cameras pointed at Wrobel so that a hologram of the
interrogation could be recreated to perfection. Dr. Rivera, a portly, balding
man of thirty-five or forty, occupied one of the chairs in the room. He was
scribbling down notes onto his holo-tab and barely looked up when Byron entered
a seat, please, Commander,” Dr. Rivera muttered, pointing vaguely to the open
chairs around him. “I’m finishing some notes.”
is the status of your interrogation?” Byron asked.
a few minutes I’m going to give him carefully titrated doses of
verit-arbiturates. They should do the trick.”
Why not brain scanners?
not mentally sound. We tried scanners . . . twice. On Wu’s orders. He’d give us
five answers for the same question and the scanners thought he was telling the
truth each time.”
Dr. Rivera prepared the I.V. drips, Dr. Sokama recorded the displays from the
machines and checked the cuffs to make certain everything was as secure as
possible. When Rivera finished his work, he and Sokama put a catheter line into
Wrobel’s arm and monitored his body’s reaction. The two doctors spoke to each
other continuously during the process, often in terms Byron didn’t fully
seemed only faintly aware of the events happening around him. He glanced around
the room several times, occasionally resting his gaze on Byron for a few
seconds and smiling semi-lucidly. It unnerved Byron to think that only two days
ago Victor had kidnapped his son and Sammy in a masterful stroke planned weeks
or even months beforehand. Even now, at Alpha headquarters, some of the best
programmers in the world were trying to undo the damage Wrobel had inflicted
upon their security and information systems.
Rivera returned to his chair while Dr. Sokama stood by the door. The commander
offered her his seat, but she politely declined, still smiling in that nervous
way of hers.
his eyes fixed not on Wrobel, but on his holo-tablet, Rivera announced, “You
may begin your questioning, Commander.”
Byron moved his chair so he sat closer to Wrobel and could look directly at the
prisoner’s face. “Victor, can you hear me?”
responded by sluggishly rolling his eyes up to meet Byron’s. The same black
deadness was there that Byron had seen when they spoke via a video link between
their coms—when Wrobel had asked the commander to choose between Albert’s life
is your full name?” Byron asked.
did you begin working with the CAG?”
chest rose and fell multiple times. “It was the best of times. It was the worst
glanced back at Dr. Rivera, who motioned for him to be patient. “Victor, what
is the name of the person to whom you reported?”
pope,” Wrobel answered in the same monotone voice as before. When he fell
silent, the only sound in the room was the beeping of the machines monitoring
Wrobel’s vital signs. Commander Byron glanced over to the door where Dr. Sokama
observed with an expression of fierce curiosity.
five beeps, Dr. Rivera broke the silence. “Let me tinker with the dosage for a
moment, Commander.” The commander watched as Dr. Rivera put the order into the
computer controlling Wrobel’s I.V. line. Wrobel responded by taking a deep
breath. The sweat continued to trickle down his face. “His brain wave patterns
and pulse both show drops within breaking range, Commander,” Rivera reported.
“I’d recommend pressing him.”
locked his eyes on Wrobel, watching the jaw muscles twitch without any sort of
rhythm. “Do you hear me, Victor?”
came the reply through half-closed eyes.
will ask you questions, and you will give me answers.”
head rolled to one side and his eyes shut completely. He looked serene and
worry, he’s still conscious,” Dr. Rivera informed Byron.
gave you orders, Victor?”
quivering in Wrobel’s jaw spread to his neck and shoulders, then down his arms
until his whole body quaked.
really fighting it.” Dr. Rivera’s face betrayed his fascination with the
situation. “He should be compliant by now.”
opened his mouth and gasped. “F—f—f—f—Frodo B—”
me!” Byron shouted. It was so sudden and uncharacteristic of him that Dr.
Rivera’s legs jerked and smacked into the table.