Saturday, March 2, 2013

Excerpt: The Rebels




Thank you for stopping by and joining us for our stop on the Read-A-Long portion of The Rebels by Elizabeth Lang virtual tour. We are excited to post this segment of the story and we hope you enjoy it too!

The Rebels - Chapter 1

“Let’s get out of this hell hole!” Bryce bellowed. Fear bubbled in his stomach, flooding his mouth with the rank taste of yesterday’s vomit. Heimagined faceless soldiers charging through the hallways like dark specters of death. One of them had a phaser burst with his name on it—he just knew it.

The jump gate flared, beckoning from the top of the platform, its undulating ripples of energy like a temptress luring him closer. He took a step, wincing at the traitorous clank when his feet hit the metal ramp. He felt like one of those legendary rats trampling each other as they abandoned a sinking ship, except that he was the only one running.

Banks of instrument panels winked red, signaling some dark secret. He hoped it wasn’t his obituary.

Cupping his hands to his mouth and bellowing above the intermittent whoosh of the energy coils, he cried, “The Admiral is coming! What are we waiting for? Let’s get out of here!”

The object of his warnings finally raised his head, tearing his attention from the small, wafer-thin device in his hands. Lieutenant Adrian Stannis looked at him blankly, a pale-faced ghost with hazel eyes that pierced right through him. The man might be his boss and a genius, but sometimes, he didn’t have much sense.

The woman beside him wasn’t any better. Kali Mirren seemed frozen, her smoky gray eyes filled with concern and her forehead etched like crushed velvet. With raven hair that cascaded past her shoulders and wine-red lips, she made her black uniform look sensual instead of intimidating.

Now, if only she would have better taste in men.

~~~

Kali touched Adrian’s arm and he blinked. The taut, finely-textured skin over his cheekbones relaxed slightly under her warm gaze. He long gave up trying to understand her effect on him, accepting it as inevitable, like a touch of serendipity.

She said, “We must leave before they get here. It’s our only chance to escape.”

He nodded, his sluggish mind clawing its way back from the clutches of a nightmare. “We must.”

Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Bryce taking another step. The young man looked ready to bolt through the gate. Adrian was surprised he hadn’t already.

“I’m going,” the young man threatened. “I’m not waiting around to get caught.”

It was a sound idea, if not yet achievable. “The gate is charged but no coordinates have been set. Stepping through would simply return you to the location of origin.”

“Oh great. A one way trip to nowhere, like most of this year. Can you set the coordinates? Please? I’d like to get out of here before they shoot us.”

After the brutality of this past year, being shot was the least of Adrian’s worries. “They will not shoot us.”

“Oh yeah, they’re just going to put us in a cell and throw away the key. That makes me feel much better.”

Adrian scowled, wondering if irrational outbursts were always necessary or if this was simply a character flaw. “Your attitude is not helping.”

“Well, neither are you at the moment. We should be leaving, not staring at whatever that thing is. Do you like being a bull’s-eye? Because that’s what’s going to happen when the soldiers get here.”

At the mention of the thing’, an icy shudder rippled through him. The transceiver reclaimed Adrian’s attention, mesmerizing him with its blanklyv staring screen. He squeezed it tighter, needing to feel the cruel edges digging into his palm.

It took all his self-control to stop from tearing into the back of his neck and ripping out the implant at the base of his brain. Even now, its insidious signals tugged at him like the strings of a marionette.

“Whatever it is, let it go,” urged Kali, her voice gentle but insistent. “You can deal with it later.”

If only he could. She didn’t understand about the implant; he hadn’t told her yet.

Moist, velvety lips sealed his in a quick kiss. He blinked, his free hand wrapping around her waist. It was an automatic reaction, like breathing.

Kali leaned back, her eyes searching his. “I’m sorry, but you were zoning out. I had to bring you back.”

He brushed her cheek lightly, caught up in the fresh hint of jasmine drifting towards him—it cleared his head quite effectively. His throat was scratchy. “I’m not sorry.”

An amused smile crinkled the corners of Kali’s eyes and for a moment he was afraid that she was going to hug him. It wasn’t an entirely unpleasant idea, but the timing was unfortunate. With a decisive rip, the snaps of his lab coat popped as he tore open the fastenings and buried the transceiver deep into the recesses of his uniform. He zipped the tunic up to the neck and tapped the flat bulge of the transceiver. Out of sight, out of mind, but no longer out of his control.

A barked order snapped his head towards the entrance, followed by the high-pitched zing of a phaser rifle.

“They’re here!” Bryce screamed.

Adrian grimaced. Of course. Nothing is ever that simple. He was becoming quite the expert on irony, though hardly by choice.

A glint of madness threatened to snap the thin fabric of his sanity and his fists clenched, wrestling with the simmering anger beneath.

The door’s control panel crackled and exploded in a shower of sparks as the stench of white-hot metal and melted energy cables permeated the room.

He thrust Kali towards the ramp. “Quick. To the gate while I set the coordinates.”

“I’m not going without you.”

“I’ll be right behind you, but I have to retrieve an equipment parcel. We need it if we are to survive.”

“Alright. But don’t take too long.”

She dashed to the ramp as he swiped the navigation pad and the screen lit up in hashed green lines, mapping the universe in deceptively ordered patterns. Numbers danced with each press of his fingers, a long sequence of coordinates in a faraway sector. He locked the targeting
computer and pressed a winking green button.

The laboratory dimmed and the gate blazed in brilliant waves of amber, forming a perfect logarithmic spiral that filled him with a brief swell of satisfaction. It was a brilliant piece of technology, a mathematically beautiful construct that raised humanity’s understanding of quantum physics to a new level.

He raced to a long row of neatly labeled supply cabinets. The spirits of unfinished projects clamored for his attention and hidden inside one of them was a bronze leather satchel he prepared days earlier.

An explosion rocked the lab and metal screeched in protest as gloved fingers forced the sliding doors open. He dove under a desk just as black-helmeted soldiers poured through the opening, followed by High Admiral Gwen van Reutensberg and her cybernetic guardian, Spencer.

The jump gate seemed impossibly far away. It might as well be in the next room, but at least Kali and Bryce could escape. Adrian gestured sharply, urging them to leave.

Kali shook her head imperceptibly, her jaw square, set with the irrational obstinacy that exasperated him at times.

Her unyielding mental voice entered his head. I will not leave you, Adrian.

He grimaced.

“Don’t move!” a stocky sergeant hollered, pointing his rifle at them. Bryce stuck his hands up while Kali hesitated, trying not to look at Adrian and give his position away.

“Find him,” the Admiral commanded.

Spencer tapped the side of his ocular implant, bathing his right eye in a cherry-red glow. He bared his teeth in a half-metallic scowl and shook his head in disgust. “There’s a lot of interference in this room, ma’am. I’ll have to do a visual scan.”

“I want him found. I don’t care how you do it.”

The ventilation system sputtered with the raspy breaths of an asthma patient and overhead lights flickered as shadows claimed the corners.

Adrian’s breath quickened, his heart threatening to beat free of his chest. If only he had more time to prepare. There was never enough time.

Produce. Think. Solve. The drive was always there, that itching, relentless need nibbling at the back of his mind.

He scanned the room, going over the inventory list in his mind. Optical cables, Ventasi spheres, polished ferra-cylinders, there was nothing

here, nothing that could be used as a weapon.

…except his mind.

The scuff of boots neared; the sharp, commanding steps of an Admiral on the parade ground, each clack ricocheting off the walls.

Adrian’s jaw tensed and his lips thinned, pulling back momentarily to reveal a flash of white. The Admiral had reduced him to a human tool, keeping him controlled with the very technology he loved. One day, he would show them all that intelligence could win over brute strength.
Slipping a laser probe from his breast pocket, he twisted the top open. It was a crazy idea, but under the circumstances, even insanity was better than nothing. Insanity and a thorough psych evaluation after this was finished. He was a scientist; careful, considered thought was his milieu,
not hasty decisions forced by the threat of having rifles shoved in his face.

The Admiral pointed a bony finger at Kali and demanded, “Where is Stannis?”

It had been much easier when he wasn’t responsible for the life of others.

“He’s gone,” said Kali. “He already went through the gate.”

“You’re lying. He wouldn’t leave without you.”

“We were about to follow when you arrived.”

Adrian heard the nervousness in Kali’s voice, the familiar dryness that made words stick in your throat. She was trying to save him; trying to buy him time.

“Spencer, take a team and go after him. The rest of you search the lab,” said the Admiral.

Kali stood forward, spreading her arms in a defiant barrier. She seemed taller, as if her bones were absorbing the power from the gate.

Adrian wanted to pick her up, throw her over his shoulders and dash through the portal. The primitive impulse shocked him. He leaned back into the shadows.

“Shoot her,” said the Admiral.

“No!” Adrian jumped up, knocking a stool over with a clatter.

A startled soldier squeezed off a burst as Adrian jerked back and hissed when a phaser tracer tore a slice into his right arm just above the elbow. He grimaced, clamping a hand over the wound as blood squeezed through his fingers and bloomed down his sleeve. There was no pain yet, just a flash of shock, the reality of his situation puncturing his orderly world. This wasn’t a battle of wit and words and never had been.

“You fool!” The Admiral knocked the gun from the soldier’s hands, sending it crashing against the wall. “I want him alive.” She turned to Adrian.

“Stannis, you cannot escape the Empire.”

“That remains to be seen, Admiral.”

Her lips curled in a faint sneer. “Then you’re a fool as well as a traitor and you will pay for your insolence.”

Spencer circled like a mechanical predator ready to pounce. There was a slight creak when he came near that sent an involuntary shiver up Adrian’s spine.

Adrian faced her as he had always done these past few months, with the dispassionate certainty—though some would call it arrogance—that logic and reason was on his side. “A traitor by your definition has little to do with loyalty to the Empire. You want obedience to your personal vision.”

“They are the same.”

“Then perhaps you should change the definition.”

A movement caught his attention and he saw Kali taking a step down the ramp.

He was running out of time.

The Admiral slammed her fist on the workbench, beakers and circuit frames rattled like nervous bystanders. “You’re one of them.” Her lips curled in disgust at the last word. “A rebel traitor.”

His back stiffened. It was worse than being called a club-wielding barbarian. “I’m not a rebel, although you make it an appealing alternative.”

“I will deal with you the way I deal with all traitors. Swiftly and decisively.”

“You need me alive, Admiral. I can hardly be of use if I’m dead.”

“There are other ways to ensure your cooperation. Ways you should remember.”

“And yet here we are, Admiral, and I assure you that cooperation is the farthest thing from my mind.”

“You brought this on yourself when you sabotaged the Neutron Wave project. It was not your decision to make.”

“Nor yours, Admiral.”

“My rank gives me the right.”

If he was being honest with himself, which he invariably was, Adrian had to admit that he didn’t know why he kept on resisting when he had no hope of winning. Perhaps it was a flaw of being human, that irrational hope that made them all believe that the impossible was possible simply
because it hadn’t happened yet.

“That is where we disagree. My lack of cooperation is not an indication of betrayal, but a rejection of a system which takes away my freedom.”

A superior snarl curled her lips. “Spoken like a man who has never been responsible for the lives of others. Some freedoms must be sacrificed so that others may live; that’s a reality that was forced on us. Stick to what you’re good at, Lieutenant: science, numbers, computers,
anything that doesn’t deal with the living.”

He sighed at the inevitability of the outcome. “Do what you must, Admiral, and I will do what I must.”

“Spencer, secure him.”

The cybernetic soldier advanced, his half-robotic face like a metal skull with the flesh eaten away. This marriage of man and technology made Adrian’s skin crawl and he forced himself not to flinch when the sharp metallic tang reached his nostrils. This man had been the Admiral’s enforcer, carrying out her sentences with detached savagery.

Adrian backed up, pressing a blood-stained probe to his temple. “Stand back.”

Spencer scoffed. “What do you plan to do? Probe yourself to death?”

“In other hands this might be a harmless laser probe, but you know what I’m capable of, Admiral. Did you think that I wouldn’t prepare for this moment?”

“He’s bluffing,” said Spencer.

“Are you willing to take that chance? I’ve scrambled the project computers. Any attempts to access the information will hard-wipe the memory banks and I’m the only one with the access key. Let us go and I will give you the sequence to unlock it. Try to take me, and I will destroy myself and you will lose the jump gate.”

“Kill yourself and you have nothing,” said the Admiral.

“If I stay, I have even less. Let us go and you will have your jump gate.”

“Give me the code and you can leave.”

“I will give you the code when I step through the gate and not a moment sooner.” He moved cautiously, keeping his distance from Spencer even as the circle of soldiers tightened the noose around him.

A murderous gleam glittered in van Reutensberg’s eyes but she motioned her men to stay back. “You will pay for this treachery if it’s the last thing I do. No place will be safe for you. We will hunt you down.”

“I’m an insignificant cog in your military machine, Admiral. Soon, with the jump gates, you will be able to reach into the Andromedan galaxy and destroy your true enemies. That is my legacy to the Empire you claim I have betrayed.” He stood beside Kali and Bryce, buoyed by the only
people in this galaxy he trusted.

“That’s not a decision you get to make,” said van Reutensberg.

That is why I’m leaving.” He tossed the data key to her. “This will unlock your computers.” Spreading his arms, he stepped back, sweeping Kali and Bryce with him. Their forms disappeared, melting into the rippling surface.

“Quick! Follow them!” shouted the Admiral.

Spencer sprang forward as the lights fluttered one last time and plunged them into sepulchral darkness.


Also Elizabeth Lang has shared with us an exclusive picture from The Empire Series



To read more of the Read-A-Long please follow the tour schedule…

03/03/2013 - Vixie's Stories -

04/03/2013 - Decadent Decisions -

05/03/2013 - Independent Writers Association -

06/03/2013 - Self Publish or Die -

10/03/2013 - Reviews From Beyond the Book -

11/03/2013 - Great Alpha Speaks -

12/03/2013 - The Kat Daughtry -

13/03/2013 - Sheenah Freitas -

14/03/2013 - Natasha Larry Books -

27/03/2013 - Castle Macabre -

28/03/2013 - My World -

29/03/2013 - The Cro's Nest -

30/03/2013 - Tink's Place -

31/03/2013 - Reading, Writing And More -

Page Turner Book Tours and Elizabeth Lang have teamed together to set up an amazing contest, be sure to enter today for your chance to win a Nook!!


Thank you for joining us and Page Turner Book Tours and Elizabeth Lang today on our stop.



About Elizabeth Lang:
 
I'm a science fiction writer who started off life as a computer programmer with a love for reading, especially science fiction, fantasy and mystery.
 
Being in computers, I found my writing skills deteriorating so I decided to take up writing. It became a joy to create characters, stories and worlds and writing soon became a passion I couldn't put down. As a writer, I like to explore, not only the complexity of characters but the human condition from differing points of view. That is at the heart of the Empire series, of which 'The Empire' and 'The Rebels' are the first two of a four books series.

You can connect with Elizabeth Lang at the following places:



About Page Turner Book Tours:

Page Turner Book Tours is fronted by the face behind Read2Review Kate. Page Turner Book Tours has been put together to help promote authors and give something back to the writing world. Kate has put together a team of incredibly talented people to help with the project by incorporating their individual skills into making new, fresh and exciting promotional plans that we hope you agree are amazing. If you would like to book a tour with Page Turner Book Tours please check out their tour packages. If you would like to become a tour host with Page Turner Book Tours please check out their Tour Host page. You wont be disappointed!