TekLabby William Shatner
Jake Cardigan tracks a deranged veteran with a taste for killing civil servants
A French diplomat is walking alone down a darkened Paris side street, when a killer emerges from the shadows. He stuns the Frenchman, cuts his body into quarters, and leaves a note that reads: “This is for Brazil!” It is the ninth murder in this fashion in the last/b>… See more details below
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Jake Cardigan tracks a deranged veteran with a taste for killing civil servants
A French diplomat is walking alone down a darkened Paris side street, when a killer emerges from the shadows. He stuns the Frenchman, cuts his body into quarters, and leaves a note that reads: “This is for Brazil!” It is the ninth murder in this fashion in the last two months—a string of round-the-world killings that strikes fear into the hearts of all those connected with the bloody Brazilian wars of the past decade. But as private eye Jake Cardigan is about to discover, the culprit is far more treacherous than the average serial killer. As he makes his way through Europe’s seamy corners, Cardigan begins to suspect that the trail of death may lead back to his old nemeses, the drug kingpins known as Teklords. As international peace teeters in the balance, Cardigan must stop the murders or risk being drawn and quartered himself. This ebook features an illustrated biography of William Shatner including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s estate.
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Book Three of the TekWar Series
By William Shatner
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1991 William Shatner
All rights reserved.
The killer was carrying two weapons. One was a stungun, the other a lazgun.
It was two weeks before Xmas in the year 2120. In the narrow alleys and passways between the towering apartment complexes along the Seine in Paris seasonal carols were being piped out of compact floating speakers shaped like tiny golden-haired angels. The hour was close to midnight and a thick fog was drifting in off the chill river. The small fluttering wings of the overhead angels were speckled with mist.
A short, thin man of forty, staggering some, was making his way along one of the twisty, foggy lanes. His expensive suit was rumpled and he kept one hand pressed against the damp plazbrix of the nearest wall as he glanced around. On his pale, perspiring face both anxiety and puzzlement showed. He appeared to be lost in the deserted passway, confused as to how to find his way home.
He slowed his pace, feet shuffling.
As he moved beneath one of the small singing angels, its mechanism suddenly expired. Song dying, it lost power and fell, hitting him on the left shoulder and then crashing to the damp pavement.
The man, mumbling to himself, halted. Squatting, he attempted to pick up the fallen angel. His fingers missed on the first scoop and, losing his balance, he went sprawling out on the ground.
The killer appeared behind him, materializing out of the thick night fog. He was young, didn't look more than twenty-one or twenty-two, tall and lean. He had short-cropped hair, a bushy moustache, and dangling from his left ear was an earring fashioned from a Brazilian coin. He was dressed in a tattered, bloodstained uniform. It was the kind that had been worn by the United Nations Combat Forces during the Brazil Wars years ago.
He carried the stungun in his left hand, the lazgun in his right.
The small man became aware of him. He'd been able to push himself up out of his sprawl and was attempting to stand.
Grunting, he managed to struggle to his feet. He swayed, started to turn.
The killer fired his stungun.
The man rose up on his toes, made a few broken, fluttering motions with his arms, then toppled forward. He hit the wet paving hard, facedown.
Easing slowly closer, the killer stood over the fallen man. He used his lazgun now, very carefully and precisely, to inscribe a huge X on the body. That, very efficiently, chopped it into four chunks.
Some of the spurting blood dotted the white wings of the broken angel, some of it splashed across the toes of the killer's boots.
Genuflecting beside the remains, he jerked a note out of a pocket in his ragged tunic. He fixed it to one of the pieces of the body, a left arm and part of the torso.
The handprinted note said—"This is for Brazil! (Signed) The Unknown Soldier."
"Jesus," observed Sid Gomez.
"Yeah, exactly," agreed Jake Cardigan.
It was thirteen days before Xmas, and an artificial snow was falling all across Greater Los Angeles, part of the seasonal special effects. Up in Tower II of the Cosmos Detective Agency Building, Walt Bascom, the chief, had been showing a holographic simcast to Jake and his partner. The computer-generated projection was based on data gathered by the agency, plus information provided by various law enforcement agencies.
Bascom, a modest-sized man of fifty-six, was rocking in his lucite rocker a few feet from the now empty oval projection stage. He was fiddling with something deep in the left-hand pocket of his coat, making more wrinkles and rumples in his already rumpled and wrinkled suit. "What we've just seen, gentlemen, is a re-creation of the slaying of our client's husband." He nodded toward where the simcast had unfolded. "The earlier killings in this series also—"
"Who's the client?" Jake interrupted.
"Her name is Madeleine Bouchon. I will give you a file with all the background information available to us up to this point."
"And her husband?"
"He was Joseph Bouchon, a former French diplomat who was currently—"
"But nobody actually saw Bouchon being killed?" Jake was a good-looking man, just a year from being fifty. He had a world-weary, weather-beaten look and sandy hair. "What we just watched was really a computer's pipe dream."
"Well, partially, Jake. But there was somebody up in a window who got a glimpse of the murder as it was taking place."
"And didn't bother to make any fuss or try to stop it?" Gomez looked disgusted.
"Most people seeing a serial killer at work try to remain as unobtrusive as possible," remarked the agency head. "I might have ducked under something myself after getting a gander at this guy. This killing was brutal."
Gomez, a curly-haired man some ten years younger than his partner, shrugged and settled back in his rubberoid chair. "Es verdad," he conceded.
"This killing seems to fit in with the previous eight we're attributing to this murderer," continued Bascom, rocking more slowly. "They commenced a shade less than two months ago. The first one took place, appropriately enough, in Rio de Janeiro, and from there the Unknown Soldier started moving across the world, following an itinerary that so far only he understands."
"He's hit Panama, Manhattan, Lisbon, Madrid and other choice locations," Gomez commented.
Jake was leaning against a viewall, arms folded, his back to the false snowfall. "From what I've heard, most cops around the world seem to think this pattern killer is a deranged veteran of the Brazil Wars."
"It's certainly plausible," said Bascom. "Since most of the victims, including Bouchon, had at least some sort of connection with those wars."
"This simulated killer we just got through watching is supposed to be based on what few eyewitness accounts there are, right? Not only of this latest slaying, but of some of the earlier ones, too."
Bascom nodded. "That's right, Jake."
"But the killer we saw can't be a vet, crazed or otherwise. The final 'Zil War ended nearly ten years ago."
"Si," seconded Gomez. "This Unknown Soldier we just viewed can't be much older than twenty-two or so. They didn't have any twelve-year-old soldados down there—at least not on the UN side."
Bascom said, "Most law officials assume the man is extremely youthful looking for his age. None of the witnesses, keep in mind, got an up-close look at him."
Jake shook his head. "Something's not right."
"Indeed. Mrs. Bouchon is also of the opinion that certain aspects of her spouse's murder don't smell right," the agency head told him. "She's offering us a handsome fee to prove that her late husband was not eliminated by the Unknown Soldier."
"Handsome enough to provide Jake and me with a bonus?" inquired Gomez.
Bascom studied the ceiling. "Possibly, Sid," he replied eventually. "At any rate, you two need to rush over to Paris right away and find out who really did kill Bouchon. We've got you booked to leave from the GLA Skyliner Port tonight."
"Tonight?" Jake was frowning.
"With a tricky case like this one, and an extremely anxious client, getting to the crime scene with alacrity scores big points. Sometimes bonus points."
"I figured we'd leave in the morning," said Jake. "That way I can get up to Berkeley tonight to say goodbye to Beth Kittridge."
"I can depart for Paris tonight alone, amigo," offered Gomez. "You can spend the night on fond farewells and join me over there mañana."
Bascom had begun tapping his fingertips slowly on the arm of his chair. "Ever since you joined the outfit, Jake, I've tried to accommodate your personal life," he said. "But, you know, the Cosmos Detective Agency isn't primarily dedicated to rehabilitating troubled excops who are trying to rehabilitate themselves."
"Nope, you're right," said Jake. "I don't want too many special favors. We'll both take off for Paris tonight, as scheduled."
"Bueno," Gomez said with a smile.CHAPTER 2
"Xmas," muttered Jake sourly.
"'Tis the season to be jolly," remarked Gomez, "or so I hear. But you sure ain't, amigo."
"I'm not," agreed Jake.
They were flying across twilight GLA in an agency skycar, through the simulated snowfall, toward the Skyliner Port in the Ventura Sector.
"We're embarking on a trip to Paris," reminded his partner, relaxing in the passenger seat, "That should cheer you up. Or is it that you hate to leave home and loved ones at such a festive time of year?"
"C'mon, Sid, you know that what few loved ones I have are scattered hither and yon."
"Beth Kittridge is only up in NorCal, in Berkeley. That isn't all that hither."
"Her I'm going to miss," said Jake. "I really wanted to see her tonight."
"You could've told Bascom to go to hell. He'd have backed down."
"No, that's really not the way to do things. Asking for special favors—that's something you get away with when you're a young hotshot."
"Even middle-aged hotshots like us deserve a few perks."
"Once we get settled on the skyliner, I'll just call Beth on the vidphone."
"A poor substitute for an in-person encounter."
"Yeah, lately I seem to be having most of my meetings secondhand, usually over the vidphone," said Jake. "Now that my son's in England, I only see him on the damn phonescreen."
"Listen, amigo, England is only a small jump away from Paris," reminded his partner. "Once we clear up this new case in our usual speedy and impressive manner, why you can hop over and visit Dan at his posh private school in the British countryside."
"You know, I'm not at all happy about what's been going on lately," said Jake. "I didn't like Kate's moving over there three months ago and dragging Dan along."
"Ex-wives—and I ought to know—have a tendency not to behave nicely," said Gomez. "At least Kate didn't bop you on the cabeza, the way my former first wife did just prior to leaving my conjugal bed."
"I'm glad Kate's back in good health." Jake punched out a landing pattern on the dash. "It's just that I don't believe she went to London for the reasons she claims."
"OK, I grant you the notorious Bennett Sands was transferred from a prison facility in NorCal to one in the British Isles. That doesn't mean he's going to be seeing your ex-wife once again."
"Sands got switched to England because supposedly that's the best place to get fitted for an artificial arm to replace the one he lost during that Tek raid down in Mexico a few months back." Jake frowned. "Maybe that part's true, but I tend to doubt that he had to be moved."
"The hombre is a busted Teklord, Jake. He doesn't call the shots anymore."
"I wonder. Sands was rich, still has lots of money stashed here and there."
"You really think he's in England for some other reason?"
"Yeah, I do. And the fact that Kate's there too isn't a coincidence."
"Has he got enough influence left to rig a prison break?"
Jake shrugged. "If he does and wants to run off with my erstwhile wife, that's fine," he said. "But, damn it, if they involve Dan, I—"
"Calm yourself, amigo," cautioned Gomez.
Their skycar was drifting down through the snowy afternoon. "Dan's school isn't that far from the prison where they're keeping Sands," said Jake.
"Well, they've got to put schools someplace. I know that people complain—they don't want schoolkids in their neighborhood."
"Another thing. Sands' daughter is over in England too."
"She's about the same age as Dan, isn't she?"
"Year or so older."
"Ah, a year can be an enormous gap when you're that age," said Gomez, sighing. "I recall once, down in the San Diego Sector, when I was a mere sprig of eighteen. I was warned of an older woman of twenty, who possessed a lovely set of—"
"His daughter's being there isn't a coincidence either."
"Daughters like to be in the vicinity of their pops sometimes."
"Why in this instance, Sid? He can't have any visitors at a maximum security facility like the one he's in."
Gomez settled further into his seat. "I think mayhap you're making too much of the geographical proximity of these folks."
"Could be I am," acknowledged Jake. "Dan and I, though, were starting to get along better. Then Kate hauled him over there to England."
"Look on the bright side," said Gomez. "You'll probably be seeing him again in a few days."
"I don't want him getting hurt. Not, damn it, over something Kate does."
Their skycar, after slowly circling a Skyliner Port landing area twice, settled down and landed.
"Suppose we chat about something more cheerful?" suggested his partner.
"What kind of guy signs his name to his killings?"
The Skyliner Port was a large oval structure with four tiers circling a four-story-high centrum. Because of the holiday season, festive sounds, smells, and colors were being pumped through various outlets. Jingling bells could be heard, mingled with the voices of youthful carolers. The scents of hot eggnog and blazing yule logs were thick all around, and zigzags of green and red light were crackling high overhead.
Walking alongside Jake as they made their way toward a ticket kiosk, Gomez kept busy rating the row of soliciting charity robots who were ringing bells, rattling tambourines, and shaking money tins. "Legit, legit, bunco, bunco," he ticked off. "Bunco, legit, borderline, bunco."
Jake grinned. "I notice you didn't contribute to any of them, not even the legit ones."
"By the time I settle my current missus' Xmas bills, I'll have to head down here with a tambourine of my own, amigo."
The skyport was crowded. Visitors were arriving and departing, many of them laden with brightly wrapped bundles of Xmas gifts.
Just beyond a tall decorative palm tree that had been festooned with Xmas ornaments stood a plastiglass kiosk. Jake strode up to an empty slot to pick up their Paris tickets.
Gomez waited nearby, hands in pockets, and glanced around. "What's wrong, chiquita?" he asked, noticing a forlorn girl of about fifteen with two large suitcases standing next to a water-vending machine.
"Oh, nothing, really." She was pretty and dark-haired. "Someone was supposed to meet me and they're late."
"Maybe I can help you find—Chihuahua!"
The girl gasped, pressing her left hand to her breasts. "What's happening?"
One of her suitcases had risen up off the floor. After hesitating for a few seconds at knee level, it went flying up toward the domed ceiling.
"Telek," realized Gomez, staring upward.
Jake, tickets in hand, came running over. "He's up on Level 3," he said, pointing. "I just spotted him catching the suitcase. You go up that ramp, I'll use this one."
"We'll retrieve your bag, linda," promised the curly-haired detective. Pivoting, he started dodging through the crowd.
Jake went sprinting up the ramp, weaving through travelers and porterbots.
The telekinetic thief, who'd used his psi powers to levitate the suitcase from the first level up to the third, was elbowing his way toward an exit door by the time Jake caught up to him.
"Let's have the suitcase," called Jake, closing in.
"Skarf yourself," the telek replied. He was a gaunt young man, wearing somebody else's dirty white suit. About thirty years old, he had a grinning skull tattooed on his forehead in livid purple.
He lunged suddenly, pushed through the white metal door of the men's room.
The first thing Jake noticed was that the robot attendant was lying flat out on his back on the white plaztile floor. A thread of gray, acrid smoke was drifting up from his dented skull.
The telek, smiling, was by the far wall. He was sitting on the stolen suitcase.
Standing beside him was a large, thick man in a sea-blue suit. He had a gun in his right hand. "Figured you'd take the bait, Cardigan," he said, chuckling.CHAPTER 3
The big man with the lazgun said, "We don't necessarily have to kill you, Cardigan."
"That's comforting." He came a few steps farther into the room. "Who the hell are you?" "Just a messenger boy."
The telek, sitting hunched on the suitcase, snickered.
The big man continued. "The message is this—you and your greaser partner don't want to go to Paris. No, shit, no. You guys want to stay right here in GLA where it's safe."
"Who's sending me this advice?" He took another step ahead, coming nearer to the sprawled white-enameled robot.
Excerpted from TekLab by William Shatner. Copyright © 1991 William Shatner. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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
William Shatner (b. 1931) is a Canadian actor, author, and film director, known for his irreverent charm and his star turn as Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek television series, as well as many other roles. Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Shatner was cast in Star Trek as the courageous, unpredictable Captain James T. Kirk in 1966. The show became a cult hit in syndication, leading to a number of spin-offs and movies. Shatner starred in seven Star Trek films beginning with Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979. He later played leading roles on the television series T.J. Hooker (1982–86) and Boston Legal (2004–08). Shatner has also published a number of novels, most notably TekWar (1989), a science-fiction thriller that inspired eight sequels as well as video games and a television series. When he isn’t working, Shatner and his wife, Elizabeth, divide their time between Southern California and Kentucky.
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