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Prodigal
     

Prodigal

4.3 4
by Jody Wallace
 

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Adam Alsing has no idea who he is or why he’s huddled naked in the snow next to a mysterious silver pod. When a gorgeous, no-nonsense sheriff by the name of Claire Lawson rescues him, she explains the planet’s under attack—and he’s been missing for over two years. The problem is, what he doesn’t remember can kill them.

He

Overview

Adam Alsing has no idea who he is or why he’s huddled naked in the snow next to a mysterious silver pod. When a gorgeous, no-nonsense sheriff by the name of Claire Lawson rescues him, she explains the planet’s under attack—and he’s been missing for over two years. The problem is, what he doesn’t remember can kill them.

He nearly destroyed the world, but with her help, he can save it.

Keeping the peace in her post-apocalyptic town is all the trouble Sheriff Claire Lawson can handle. Until the MIA Chosen One—the guy who could have prevented the apocalypse—interrupts her supply run. The Shipborn aliens want to study him, and what’s left of the Terran government wants to lock him up. But his charming demeanor and his desire to help, along with his sexy smile, has Claire fighting her better judgment to keep Adam around. For now.

Adam Alsing—at least that’s what they tell him his name is—just knows he wants to stay with Claire. She’s the one thing that makes him feel grounded. Grounded and kind of turned on, but these are serious times. The monsters have stepped up their attacks and nobody knows why. He’ll help her protect her town, her Shipborn friends, and every human on Earth who hates him for being the man he can’t remember being. He’s afraid he’s still that man, the one who failed the planet. Or is he something entirely new and even more dangerous?

The Maelstrom Chronicles series is best enjoyed in order.
Reading Order:
Book #1 Angeli
Book #2 Traitor
Book #3 Prodigal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781633757448
Publisher:
Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date:
09/05/2016
Series:
Maelstrom Chronicles , #3
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
461
File size:
2 MB

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Prodigal


By Jody Wallace, Robin Haseltine

Entangled Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2016 Jody Wallace
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63375-744-8


CHAPTER 1

Claire flipped down the visor of the Humvee when the late afternoon sun nearly blinded her, reflecting off the white of the latest snowfall. She and two other loads of able bodies out of Camp Chanute were returning from a hardware- and tech-foraging mission to the mostly deserted city of Bloomington, Illinois. The long, straight roads, free of debris and stalled cars, didn't lend themselves to ambushes — humans or monsters. Detritus littered the highways to the north, thicker as the roads approached Chicago.

She didn't make foraging trips toward Chicago if it could be helped.

But the visor didn't cancel out the glare. She blinked and squinted. Her eyesight had been enhanced by her Shipborn associates, enough to ascertain the flash of light wasn't reflecting off the snow. For that kind of glint, it had to be a metallic object.

An object that hadn't been there when they'd driven this road this morning. She knew this highway well, and that huge field had dead corn in it. Nothing else.

"Slow down," she told the driver. "You see that?"

Will shook his head. "I just see snow. Snow and old, dead corn. Maybe it's one of the Children of the Corn."

"Shut up." Not visible to the human eye, then. Claire flicked on the radio to talk to the supply truck. Dixie had the best binoculars. "Dix, what do you make on the right side of the road? Far midfield."

Static crackled through the speaker before Dixie's response. "I don't see any ... wait. Huh. There's a big silver thingamabob, but sugar, I don't know what it is. Weather blimp or something? Could be Shipborn."

"That doesn't make sense. Will, get us closer."

Will stepped on the accelerator, increasing speed until the object came into focus — sleek and silver, possibly some kind of vessel. No landing marks around it, but no snow built up on it, either. Didn't look like Ship 1001 or its shuttles, which tended to be roughly triangular. More like a giant pill, so brightly silver it was almost white. Hard to see against the patchy snow. Was that a window? A door?

The sun emerged from behind a cloud and sparkled on the metal again, obscuring the details.

"I'm going to check it out. Hold position," she advised Dixie before directing Will off road.

When the Humvee thumped through the corn stubble that rose above the snow, she pressed a hand against the ceiling to keep from bouncing into it. A gentle rise ahead took them out of sight of the object.

"Be careful," Dixie chided over the radio. "Last time you went to check something out, that group of survivalist dregs from Chicago ambushed you."

Soul-sucking black shades and vicious flying red daemons, the most common varieties of the interdimensional entities currently attempting to destroy their planet, weren't the only dangers on post-apocalypse Earth. The Shipborn had helped quell the worst of the human-against-human atrocities, but their code wouldn't allow them to lord over the planet the way Claire sometimes wished she could.

Her fellow Terrans could be a bunch of fucking idiots when they half tried. The planet was in shambles after the entity invasion that had begun in California over two years ago, making it increasingly impossible for the natives to police the masses and maintain any semblance of justice. That was why she and her team had set up a civilian settlement in Illinois instead of seeking the dubious safety of the Eastern states in the so-called safe zone.

Claire shoved her coat sleeve off the blaster band around her wrist and opened the window. "Come on, Dix. Bygones. Respect the badge."

"Sure, Sheriff." She could practically see the other woman's dimples. "But I'm still telling Tracy and Mayor Newcome on you for not calling this in first."

"If I reported it," Claire answered reasonably, "I'd just browbeat everyone into agreeing that I should check out ... whatever it is. This saves time."

Both men in the Humvee with her chuckled. Claire might run Camp Chanute with military precision, but she didn't insist on mealy-mouthed respect from her people.

She sure as hell didn't give any mealy-mouthed respect to anybody, so it would be hypocritical of her to demand it. She was a stubborn asshole according to her sister, and a foul-mouthed sourpuss according to Dixie, but she wasn't hypocritical.

They crested the rise almost on top of the silver object. About forty feet long, and narrow, with rounded ends. Couldn't tell heads or tails on it. This close she didn't see any doors or windows. The whole thing looked like a single piece of metal — no joints.

"What the hell is it?" Will said. "Some kind of rocket?"

"I don't know." Tactanium, the non-Terran metal favored by the Shipborn, was pale silver like this thing, but not as glossy. The surface of the object was practically mirrored, and the bullet shape was completely unfamiliar. "Shit. Guess I need to check it out with a sensor array."

"You should have worn it in the first place."

"I hate the way it feels."

"I'll wear it," he offered. "I like talking to Ship."

"Nah, I got this." The creepy little piece of advanced tech gave Ship 1001, the nosy sentient AI spacecraft that the Shipborn called home, access to her brain, and that didn't always mesh with her plans.

Will brought the Humvee to a stop a decent distance from the object. Claire and her deputies — really, most Terrans in general — relied on native tech for communications, transportation, and daily activities. Though she was favored by the Shipborn, having given birth to the current general's daughter a year and a half ago, Shipborn tech wasn't infinite. The Shipborn were cut off from their people now and trapped in the Terran system with limited supplies. That was what happened when you violated your society's laws just to save some measly primitive planet.

With a grimace, Claire plucked the translucent jumble of wires from an inside coat pocket and flipped down the visor mirror. Aligning the endo-organic end with the neural implant in her temple, she allowed it to squiggle beneath her dark skin. It sank into place inaudibly, but she felt the vibration of it in her skull. She nestled the rest of the wire around her short, tightly curled black hair like a crown.

The crown that made her the Queen of Assholes, but hey, she got shit done.

She focused the array's nano-computer on the object, activating the scanning feature.

It didn't register. At all. No power source, no metal, no nothing. It was as if the object wasn't there.

"That is not good," she said to her men. "Sensor's not picking it up."

"A mirage?" Will suggested, staring through the windshield. "Light rays could refract off the snow."

"That is one solid-ass mirage." Claire swung open the door of the Humvee, and the other two did the same. She hadn't needed to give the order to free their tactanium blaster bands from their parka sleeves.

A warning pinged on the sensor as the scan completed, presenting her with some information that was almost as worrisome as a vessel her sensor array couldn't detect. "Folks, I'm picking up signs of entity activity. Past few hours."

"Shouldn't be any shades here." Will scruffed a hand over his chin. "Do you think this is one of those invisible shade hits?"

"We'll look for bodies," Claire said grimly. A whiff of rotten garbage reached her, confirming what her sensor had already warned her about the shades.

In the past six months, there had been a huge uptick of human bodies drained of life by shades in areas where no shades had been reported by Shipborn or Terran inspections. That shouldn't be the case in the buffer zone. Daemon attacks, sure — those bastards could fly anywhere. But shade hordes crept along at barely a mile an hour on a good day, and remained in contact with larger bodies of shades. The primary shade hordes were tracked by both Terran military on the planet and the Shipborn from space, and there were no hordes close to Illinois.

It was a mystery. Camp Chanute and other settlements had lost people — good people. Scouts, foragers, farmers. No scans, no searches, and no flyovers had been able to locate the shades responsible. It couldn't be daemons or really perverse humans depositing the bodies from elsewhere, because the surroundings always evidenced molecular shade residue. Had to be shades, leaving traces on that spot, doing the killing.

It was like the entities were picking off stragglers, people who ventured too far away from protected compounds. The problem was, once they ate all the loners, they'd go for the towns.

"Will, warn Dix about the shade traces. Tell her she and the supply truck should head back to Chanute and raise a level two alert." The laser rifle Jeep would be enough cover. Once they were inside the walls of Chanute, they'd be better equipped to deal with attacks from entities or more mundane raiders.

The other deputy in the Humvee, Randall Barber, craned his neck, checking the sky for daemons. Will didn't immediately obey. "Mayor Newcome won't like you raising an alert without consulting her."

"Don't care." Claire scanned the skies, too, her enhanced eyes picking up nothing unusual. Clouds, birds, incipient snow — that was all. "My job is security. Her job is paperwork. Your job is to do what I say. Now go."

Will jogged back to the Humvee.

"Greetings, Claire." Ship spoke through the sensor array. "You're using your array. Do you require assistance?"

"Hold up," she told Ship, trying not to be irritable. Unlike the Shipborn, who'd used their communications and sensor arrays their whole lives, she always had to adjust to Ship's voice in her head. "We're investigating shade traces in a place they shouldn't be and a possibly alien object of some sort I've never seen before. I'm calling it a UO."

"I will scan the larger area," Ship volunteered. "You must be protected from danger. You should value yourself more, Claire. You're a mother."

Ship wasn't the kind of sentient machine that waited to be told what to do. It wasn't the kind that refrained from butting in, either. Or eavesdropping. Or nagging.

"I'm doing exactly what Frances needs her mama to be doing," she responded. "Protecting our people. This isn't a high threat situation. The UO is just sitting here. But we do have shade residue." She sent visuals of the object to Ship, orbiting the planet far above.

"I will run it through my databanks. Do you want me to send aid?"

"Hell, no, don't send any Shipborn here. We picked up shade traces." The risk was too great for the Shipborn themselves to venture away from the safe areas of the planet — or the sky — and lately the buffer zone no longer qualified. "We got this."

"As you wish." The AI had taken a liking to Claire. She wasn't sure if it was because she was Frannie's mom and Niko's ex, or because Ship was Ship.

She didn't return the liking, but she tried to hide it. Ship definitely had feelings, and Claire had hurt them more than once. Since Frannie lived on Ship with Niko and his wife Sarah part time, it wouldn't do to have Ship get pissy with Claire.

Scuffing her feet through the icy snow, Claire kicked around until she found what she wanted. She picked up a small rock and weighed it in her hand. It would do. With careful aim, she lobbed the stone at the silver vessel.

It pinged off the metal with a high-pitched noise like a tuning fork. Claire gritted her teeth as the sound scraped across her nerves.

"Well, that's unusual," Randall observed laconically.

The noise swelled instead of faded. Soon it became so intense that she and Randall were stuffing their fingers in their ears.

"To hell with this." She raised her blaster band and let it heat up to a good level. The UO's whine sang in her eardrum like the teakettle from Hell. She blasted the object with a white-hot bar of Shipborn's finest laser weaponry.

The beam pierced the silver tube, and the surface shimmered. Shivered. But it didn't explode.

It should explode. She liked it when things exploded.

She shut off her laser and protected her ears. This damned silver object definitely counted as a thing that needed to be destroyed.

"Ship, gimme another reading," she shouted over the din.

"I detect life signs approximately fifty paces in front of you," Ship responded promptly. Even though the AI was in her head, she could barely hear it over the high-pitched resonance. "I do not detect any human bodies."

"Recalibrate your sensors on my exact location," she yelled back. "You've got interference or something. Didn't you see the pictures? There's a forty by ten foot silver metallic object in the spot where you think you see life signs, and it's hitting us with some kind of noise weapon."

They were forty minutes out of Camp Chanute. She didn't need this kind of mystery so close to her home base.

"The photograph showed a barren field, not an object. A forty by ten foot metallic noise weapon is not a device I have in my databanks."

Claire reviewed the images. Blank. "Why doesn't it photograph?"

She wasn't sure it was a good idea to get any closer if the thing wasn't showing up on sensors.

Then again, she and her people were the ones on the scene, and it was their duty to investigate.

Finally the deafening chime faded.

"There is a life sign in the location of the object you think you see," Ship insisted, more urgently. "It is a human life sign. It is fluctuating. The individual may require assistance."

"I don't see anybody." She gestured to Randall, sending him around one side. Could this be the answer to the shade hits in the buffer zone? Were they in time to save today's victim? "Don't touch anything."

Slowly she advanced. Her nose wrinkled involuntarily at the continued whiff of carrion and ozone. Her heart pulsed. "You smell the shades, right?"

Was her sensor broken? Or her senses?

Randall nodded. "Roadkill."

"There are no current entities in your area," Ship assured her. "I have a tight focus on your proximity. You are twenty-five feet from the life sign, at a south-south-west diagonal."

That would take her to one end of the UO. Randall had reached one tip and peeked behind it. Wariness tightened her skin, and the chilly breeze on her cheeks faded to nothing. "Anything back there?"

"Nothin'." He waved toward the horizon. "Your shot passed through the vessel."

"If it's a vessel." Just because it had an aerodynamic bullet shape didn't make it a ship. It could be — hell, she didn't know. A Terran military gadget. A weather balloon. A time capsule. Most likely, though, it was an alien device, and that didn't bode well. "Ship, are you sure the UO I described isn't something your people's enforcers might have? Like a bomb to blow us all up? If they're supposed to make sure the Shipborn obey the rules, I can see why they'd come after you. You guys sure as hell aren't sticking to code."

"As far as I can ascertain, the enforcers have made no move to investigate my crew's code breaking. The beacons that mark this system as off-limits would have notified the enforcers of our continued violation," Ship said.

"Why would you know if they were coming after us?" She inched toward the UO, blaster revved and ready. "You talk about the enforcers like they're so much more advanced than you that you wouldn't stand a chance against them."

"I do not know," Ship answered. "But it has been eighteen months and we are surviving unmolested."

"Unmolested by your homeland security guys ... Wait a minute."

A crack appeared near one end of the ship, slowly expanding. Behind the crack was a blackness that churned like shades but ...

A large, pale human stumbled out of the craft. Naked. He landed on his hands and knees in the corn stubble and snow, gasping for breath.

Blaster hot, she aimed at the figure, but no shades oozed out after him. The crack in the UO remained quiescent. The roiling of the blackness must have been her imagination. Now it just looked dark inside.

"Hold it right there," Claire demanded unnecessarily. The man didn't stand up. He didn't even lift his head. She scanned him with the sensor array, picking up elevated levels of testosterone and adrenaline — he was afraid.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Prodigal by Jody Wallace, Robin Haseltine. Copyright © 2016 Jody Wallace. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Jody Wallace grew up in the South in a very rural area. She went to school a long time and ended up with a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. Her re´sume´ includes college English instructor, technical documents editor, market analyst, web designer, and general, all-around pain in the butt. She resides in Tennessee with her family: one husband, one grandma, two kids, six cats, and a lot of wonderful junk.

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Prodigal 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Jess_at_From_Me_to_You More than 1 year ago
4 out of 5 stars!! The “Chosen One,” Adam Alsing, returns in the most unexpected way ... a pod with the remains of shades. He doesn’t remember who he was. He learns that he now has extraordinary powers (ones that no one can account for) so he’s not sure if who he use to be is who he truly is anymore. Nevertheless, even if he isn’t completely the old Adam Alsing, who Adam is now is the man who can help everyone out and actually save the world. But will the mystery of how he came to be, make it so no one will trust him, let alone himself? Claire helps him navigate his “new world” and together they try to save it before it’s all too late… I’ll admit that this is the first novel I’ve read from Ms. Wallace’s Maelstrom Chronicles. Though it felt like it dragged here and there, I never felt lost in this novel’s action and suspenseful romance. Thrilling, exciting, and romantic! This world hooks you with its wit and charm then reels you in for more! Engaging characters make you fall for them all and hope to read more about them too. Yet it was Claire’s relationship to Adam that lights up this novel and makes me wish it didn’t have to end. I enjoyed how prickly Claire was, with her being her vivacious-self. I loved how Adam seemed to calm her down in a way to make her see the “bigger picture” of it all while opening up her heart too. In addition, how they deal with Adam’s “skills” while still supporting one another was very heartwarming to read. Even though this was my first time getting into this world, it enticed me enough that I really hope it’ll continue. I am hoping that Ship will finally get its Android and possibly a love of its own too. *hehee* Basically, what I am saying is that I HIGHLY recommend it, especially to those who are fans of this series and/or are looking for an enticing series-driven standalone sci-fi romance! Review By: From Me to You ... Book Reviews -- read more of this review and OVER THREE TEASERS on my blog --
LuckyDevilReviews More than 1 year ago
I never really thought of myself as much of a science fiction fan, but lately it seems like that's all I've been reading. I have to say, I'm really enjoying it. I like the fantastical situations, characters, and environments; every book is an escape from real life, but science fiction jogs my imagination a little more. Prodigal plops us right into the middle of a chaotic post-apocalyptic town. Things probably wouldn't be that bad, except that monsters known as shades were killing people, daemons were a real threat, and if either got their hands on one of the Shipborn it would probably spell the end of the Earth altogether. As far as I could gather from reading, the Shipborn are alien beings from around the universe that live on a large spaceship and helped the Terrans (or Earthlings) fight off the shades and daemons. So basically, good versus bad aliens. Now, you don't have to read the first two books in the series to enjoy Prodigal, but I think it would probably help. I was a little confused about the Shipborn and what happened to cause the apocalypse, and from reading the synopses of the first two books I am assuming my questions would be answered there. It's not impossible to follow along, I just feel it would be beneficial to read them in order (which the author even states on her website). Poor Adam is thrust into the middle of all of this chaos with no memory of the apocalypse...or who he is. It turns out he had played a big part in all of it, and it didn't go well. So not only is he confused, but he also is feeling the wrath for something he doesn't even remember doing. When Claire, the sheriff of Camp Chanute, finds him and the pod he apparently arrived in, she is understandably bewildered and suspicious. As Adam and Claire get to know each other, you can really feel the chemistry between them. All of the other characters mention how much of a jerk Adam was before he disappeared, but part of me wonders if that's just because he was a celebrity and it was assumed he was that way. Whatever the case, the Adam we meet is very intelligent, caring, and brave. Claire had major control issues, but Adam had a way of forcing her to confront her fears, to see that giving up control could be a wonderful thing as well. I liked how headstrong and determined she was; she definitely gave Adam, and everyone else, a run for their money! Another thing I have to mention is how refreshing it was to see some diversity. I can't even remember the last time I read a novel where the heroine was anything but Caucasian. Claire is a confident, strong, smart African American woman. I wish more authors would add some diversity in their novels as well. The ending was intense, and I enjoyed it, yet it felt like it was left open-ended for another book. Only, according to the author's website, this is the last book in the series! I'm disappointed because I think there's more story to be told here. I don't think it's necessary to continue on forever (I'm looking at you Stephanie Plum and Anita Blake), but I think another book or two to possibly wrap things up would be nice. If you're a science fiction fan, then you'll definitely want to give Prodigal a chance. Again, I would recommend starting with the first book, Angeli, but things were explained just enough to allow you to start here if you're so inclined to. Just don't be mad when you realize there won't be another book in the series...you've been warned! *Recv'd free copy from pub for honest review*
gigiluvsbooks More than 1 year ago
He nearly destroyed the world, but with her help, he can save it. Adam Alsing—at least that’s what they tell him his name is—has no idea who he is or why he’s huddled naked in the snow next to a mysterious silver pod. When a gorgeous, no-nonsense sheriff by the name of Claire Lawson rescues him, she explains the planet’s under attack—and he’s been missing for over two years. The problem is, what he doesn’t remember can kill them. Keeping the peace in her post-apocalyptic town is all the trouble Sheriff Claire Lawson can handle. Until the MIA Chosen One—the guy who could have prevented the apocalypse—interrupts her supply run. The Shipborn aliens want to study him, and what’s left of the Terran government wants to lock him up. But his charming demeanor and his desire to help, along with his sexy smile, has Claire fighting her better judgment to keep Adam around. For now. Review: For me, I think I would have been best served if I had read the first two books in the series before reading this one. That is not saying that you cannot read them out of order. I just think it would have been more enjoyable and less catch up for me. I really enjoyed the story! The pace was quick and things kept happening to make me stay engaged in the story. I liked the whole of concept of the series, with the Angels, Shades, Daemons, Terrans, and Shipborn, I don't think I have ever read a story/series that had all these beings in it. I really liked Claire. She is feisty and tough but has that soft side too. Adam was such a mystery, very entertaining and of course a sexy ex-movie star. Another thing I thought the Author did that was great was the diversity in her leading characters, it is nice change and makes them more interesting. Very satisfying ending too. 4Stars *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.*
Splashesintobooks1 More than 1 year ago
Brilliant addition to this enthralling sci fi series - with amnesia and the Chosen One, too! I had read and thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in this series - the first book is Angeli and the second 'Traitor', so had no hesitation in requesting to read an ARC of this when it became available. This is a brilliant sequel, tying together so many aspects raised in the first books and adding a further dimension to this epic post apocalyptic saga. In this book, the feisty Sheriff, Claire Lawson, is exploring the area around her town in the buffer zone between the monsters and the human population, when she discovers a silver pod and a handsome, very familiar, naked man! Now, when you consider that there's snow on the ground, being naked really isn't a great idea. However, the man concerned is very familiar to every human on Earth as he's the ex-filmstar and ex-hero who was supposed to save the world from all that is happening now . . . . but he failed and has been missing, presumed dead, for two years. Now everyone wants him but he can't remember his name or any personal history. He can talk, knows English and really wants to help though he doesn't know how exactly but he certainly knows he wants to remain where Claire is! As the shipborn aliens and Terran government both vie to test and analyse him, Claire has to decide whether to protect him or just get rid of him to one faction or another asap. . . . . and maybe the attraction between them may have some influence on her actions! There's more double dealing, danger, demons and dastardly double crossing in this third book in the series. Thankfully, the feisty sheriff is used to having to protect herself and hers - and Adam is discovering more about himself and his previously unknown strengths and skills as time goes by, so his amnesia may be something of a blessing. There are folks to be rescued, peril aplenty and Ship itself isn't immune to any of this. This is a fast paced, action packed science fiction romance with great characters, an intricate, well woven plot with plenty of twists and turns on the way. I really didn't want to put it down till I reached the end - and oh what an ending! There's bravery above and beyond the call of duty as tough decisions have to be made for the good of mankind rather than the individual. Can love stand any chance in these dangerous events? You'll just have to read it yourself to discover what happens to everyone involved! Many thanks to the author and Entangled Publishing for gifting me an ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review.