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"Everyone's favorite starship captain has boldly gone where he has never ventured before!"--Wall Street Journal.. William Shatner now turns his talent to a stunning novel of future shock--drug wars in the Los Angeles of the 21st century.
He didn't know he was about to come back to life.
Up in the orbiting penal colony he slept, unaware of anything. Time had passed, days and weeks and then months and years, and he kept sleeping that long sleep. Suspended in a coffinlike plastic cubicle in the great orbiting prison that passed endlessly around the Earth, passing over Greater Los Angeles again and again.
Today that was all going to change, but Jake Cardigan didn't know anything about it. Not yet.
The gleaming, broad-shouldered robot was wearing a spotless white suit, and his chrome face and skull were freshly polished. He came striding purposefully through the crowds of wayfarers on the clearplas colored ramps that interlaced within the vast seethru domes of the Greater Los Angeles Spaceport.
It was a hot, hazy morning in the spring of the year 2120 and the sectors of GLA that rose up around the port already had a blurred, sooty-orange hue. The fuzzy sky was full of motion. Aircabs, skycruisers, airvans and skybuses all flickered through the blur, sleek monorail trains went whizzing silently by at a dozen different levels, and both the crisscrossing pedestrian ramps and the sharply curving motorways were crowded. All the drone and roar of it was kept out of the domes of the spaceport.
A sudden barking broke out two ramps above the hurrying robot. One of the small mechanical sensor-dogs had spotted some sort of smuggler, a slim dark young man, and started to chase him. They went zigzagging along a green-tinted ramp right overhead, toppling some travelers and leaving assorted sounds of surprise and outrage in their wake.
The robot ignored the chase, pushing his way around the spacetourists who'd paused to gaze upward and rubberneck.
A skinny ten-year-old Japanese boy, just home from a Moon camp according to his pullover shirt, bumped into the white-suited robot and steadied himself with candy- smudged fingers.
The robot lifted him out of his way with both chrome hands, then brushed the small sticky smears from his breast pocket.
Gradually the crowds thinned and the colors of the walls and ramps dimmed and eventually everything was gray and the robot was in a less frequented section of the port. A human porter, a fake-legged veteran of the Brazil Wars, recognized the robot as they passed each other on a gray ramp. "Going up to the Freezer again, huh?"
"Obviously," answered the mechanical man in his deep metallic voice.
"Hell of a place to visit."
"Yet better to visit it than remain there."
"Yeah, I guess." The porter gave a shivering shrug, got a fresh grip on the handle of the luggage cart he was guiding and continued on.
The access door the robot wanted had a pale green light screen suspended over it. The screen blanked as the white-suited robot approached. Then words appeared—SHUTTLE FLIGHT 16 TO PENAL COLONY NOW READY FOR BOARDING. ALL PRISONERS SAFELY LOADED. NO DANGER TO PASSENGERS.
The robot brushed again at the place where the boy had touched him, made a sound in his metal throat that resembled, slightly, a laugh. Spreading the chrome palm of his left hand open wide, he touched the thumb with his right forefinger. The palm hummed faintly for exactly four seconds, then a slip of bright yellow paper came whirring out of a thin slot in his hand.
Jerking it free, the robot handed it to the gray-uniformed young woman who'd appeared in the open access doorway.
She took the special ticket a bit gingerly, scanned it. "Oh, you're Winger (M6)/SCPS-31 PB," she said, checking his name off the short passenger list.
"We met on a shuttle flight up to the Freezer just eleven months ago," he reminded her.
"You ought to make a better effort to memorize passengers. Especially those who work for the Southern California Parole Authority."
The shuttle attendant said, "Yes, I should've remembered the suit."
Winger brushed at his coat yet again. "If you'll stand aside," he suggested, "I'll see about getting aboard."
She pushed herself back against the wall, gesturing him into the boarding tunnel.
The prisonbound shuttle roared and vibrated as it went climbing up through the blurred orange morning and away from Greater Los Angeles.
Winger recrossed his metal legs and glanced casually around the gray cabin. There were only three other passengers sharing this section with him. All going up to visit prisoners, judging from the forlorn look of them. "Very one-sided experience," he remarked to himself inside his metal skull.
Back in the rear section, safely locked behind a dirt-smeared sheet of tough plastiglass, sat five new prisoners heading up to the Freezer. Among them were a cyborg veteran of the Brazil Wars who'd been rated an incurable thief and sentenced to fifty years in suspended animation; a lank black man convicted of smuggling the illegal electronic brain stimulant called Tek and given a twenty-five-year sentence; a twice-convicted Hispanic rapist set to do five years; a plump thirty-one-year-old blonde woman convicted of unlicensed prostitution and given four years; a youthful telekinetic thief arrested for a series of shopliftings at the Malibu Sector Underwater Mall and sentenced to seven.
Winger had data on the whole lot, but none of them especially interested him. Making that sound that wasn't exactly a laugh, he turned away from the prisoners.
One of the visitors had brushed against Winger as they were disembarking and gotten tears and some sort of magenta eyelid stain on the right sleeve of his coat. He was still rubbing at it as he entered the A-C section of the Administration Offices of the prison colony.
He walked rapidly across the gray, ribbed flooring to the large half-circle gunmetal desk at the oval room's center. He seated himself in the steel visitors' chair and waited, drumming chrome fingers on both chair arms, while the recog camera that was mounted on the desk looked him over.
"Winger (M6)/SCPS-30 PB," said the desk's voxbox after he'd been recognized. "What can we do for—"
"My name is Winger (M6)/SCPS-31 PB," he corrected as he unzipped his jacket and then unzipped his paisley shirt.
"Noted. And what can we do for you today?"
"I have a Special Parole Release order plus all the standard Parole Forms required." He touched three spots on his bare chrome chest and forms of various shades and shapes started whirring out of a thin slot. When he had the sufficient amount, the robot spread them out atop the desk and closed his shirt and coat. "I'm requesting the release of Prisoner # 19,587: Cardigan, Jake."
The recog camera read the assortment of official forms, voxbox muttering slightly. "All seem to be in order."
"As always," said Winger, allowing some impatience to show. "Now will you, please, initiate the Resurrect Processing?"
"Cardigan, Jake," said the desk. "His sentence of fifteen years wasn't supposed to be up for another eleven years, was it?"
"It's up today, right now," said the robot. "Therefore, I'd appreciate your acting on my request for his immediate reactivation."
"Of course, Winger (M6)/SCPS-30 PB." The desk made three low chime sounds. "Resurrection Processing for Prisoner #19,587 has been formally requested and will begin shortly."
Winger didn't bother to correct the desk about his name the second time. "I'll go wait in the Resurrect Wing," he said and rose.
The robot left the room and entered a long, curving, gray corridor. Before he'd covered even half its length a side door came hissing open.
A frail, dark-haired man whose skin was nearly the same shade as the gray walls came rolling into the corridor, riding in a dark metal servochair. "I want to talk to you, Winger," he said. "About why you're taking Jake Cardigan away from here."CHAPTER 2
Winger watched the chair come rolling quietly toward him. "Dr. Goodhill," he said. "You're looking well."
Goodhill touched a control panel at the side of his chair, causing it to brake to a halt. "Spare me the bullshit," he said in his thin, weary voice. "I'm dying and that's obvious. I won't even be in this hole much longer."
"One more example of the folly of using inferior materials to build with." Tapping his metal chest, the big gleaming robot squatted beside the dying doctor. "How long before you retire?"
"Fairly soon. This began as a sort of retirement—I came up to the Freezer as an Admissions Therapist when I realized I couldn't hold down my job with the Southern California State Police any—"
"I have access to your bio, Doc," cut in Winger, "if that's all you wanted to chat about."
Wheezing slightly, the frail psychiatrist touched the controls again. A jointed metal auxiliary arm snaked up from the side of his chair to dangle a sheet of pale blue paper in front of the crouching robot's face. "Why's Jake being released?" asked Goodhill.
"I happen to be, as you well know, only a functionary," replied Winger. "I deliver special prisoners up here. I also come to spring certain ones who've been granted an early resurrect."
"Does this mean he's been cleared?"
The robot didn't immediately reply. Instead he shut his chrome eyelids and a faint murmuring hum came spilling out of his skull. "Ah, yes. You and Prisoner #19,587 were once colleagues," he said fourteen seconds later. Letting his eyes snap open, he looked into the therapist's gray face. "In better times you were both dedicated lawmen together—and now look what you've both come to."
"I've always been certain that Jake was framed on those Tek-dealing charges."
"You're really starting to sound like your patients, each and every one of whom swears he's innocent as a lamb."
"He was a good cop—for a hell of a long time. I never believed any of that crap about his being tied in with the Tek runners."
"Remind me to print you up a transcript of his trial sometime." The robot rose up to his full height and frowned down at Goodhill. "After reading over that with an open mind, you won't have any doubts about his guilt."
"I've already read the damn transcript. Once down there, twice since I've been working up here in the Freezer. And it still doesn't convince me," said the doctor. "When I was alerted that you'd come to revive Jake Cardigan, I thought maybe our esteemed SoCal law system had finally gotten its head out of its—"
"That hasn't happened, Doc. To the best of my knowledge his premature release has nothing to do with any new findings having to do with his guilt or innocence." The robot shrugged his wide shoulders. "But, say, since you're so interested in him—why not come along with me? That way you can be right there on the spot when Prisoner #19,587 returns to the world of the living, Doc. He'd certainly like to see a friendly face upon—"
"I know what I look like now," said Dr. Goodhill, anger giving strength to his voice. "I wouldn't want Jake to see me."
The robot nodded. "Then if that's all ...?"
"Yeah—thanks for the information."
"I was built to serve." The robot remained, unmoving, waiting until the chair had taken the frail man out of the corridor and away. Then he made his laughing noise and continued on his way.CHAPTER 3
Light replaced darkness. VERY gradually at first, then with an almost explosive brightness.
He felt pain. It throbbed in his head, went shooting through his entire body. Air, rasping and raw, came rushing into his lungs.
Jake Cardigan gave a convulsive jerk, groped out with his left hand. Everything turned cold all around him and he began to shiver.
A chill metal hand slid under his buttocks. The hand held a rough sponge.
"Mess," croaked a metallic voice. "You made a mess."
Jake got his eyes all the way open and the harsh light overhead made him flinch.
"Sorry," he mumbled to the gunmetal robot that was swabbing the white metal table Jake found himself sprawled on. All sorts of wires and tubes were dangling down over him, and Jake had the feeling that most of them had recently been attached to him. , "Mess," croaked the robot again as it finished its cleaning of the table.
"Voiding of whatever may be left in the bowels and bladder is a common resurrection phenomenon, Cardigan," explained someone back out of his range of vision. "No need to be embarrassed at all."
Jake didn't yet have much curiosity to spare, so he didn't even try to look around and identify the speaker. He had several other things to concentrate on. He was having trouble breathing—the process didn't seem to be automatic anymore. He had to force himself to breathe in and out. He continued to experience a great deal of pain, especially in his head and across his chest. There was cold, too. This small metal-walled room where he'd awakened was chill. He couldn't get control of his shivering or make it stop.
The big dark robot took hold of his arm, yanked him up to a sitting position. He sprayed Jake up and down with some harsh-smelling medicinal mist that came squirting out of his right forefinger. "Stand up," he suggested.
"Give me ... give me a minute." Being pulled abruptly to this new position had made him dizzy. The gray walls were flickering and the floor was swaying.
Jake sat hunched forward, elbows resting on his bare knees, and watched his naked feet for a few seconds.
"Schedule," said the big robot. "Sufficient time's been devoted to this reanimation."
"That's all right," said the other speaker. "I can look after the prisoner now—forgive me, the former prisoner."
Frowning, Jake struggled to remember something. "Yeah, they say you're not supposed to dream in the Freezer," he said, mostly to himself. "Except ... I'm pretty sure I did have dreams." The gunmetal robot was moving away from him, lumbering by a plastiglass coffin that sat empty on the chill floor. That must be the box Jake had slept in for fifteen years. The robot left the room. "I dreamt about—what? My childhood ... yeah, my father especially. Police work. Women ... several of them. But there was one ... dark-haired young woman. Now who the hell was she?"
Behind him someone made a metallic throat-clearing noise. "If you're completely finished with your reveries, Cardigan, you can get yourself dressed."
Jake got his head to turn. There was a chrome robot, decked out in a fresh white suit, sitting in the small room's only chair. A black chair. Legs crossed, the robot was watching him. "Winger?" he said.
"None other." Nodding his head slightly, the robot got up. "Garments." He stepped closer, holding out a large seethru plyosack.
"That they are," agreed Jake, making no move to take the sack of clothing.
"We have a shuttle to catch," urged the robot, "not to mention considerable paperwork to get through before we can leave. I suggest you commence dressing."
"Okay, sure, I'll give it a try." Jake looked down at the floor. After taking a deep breath, he boosted himself off the metal cot. About a second or so after his bare feet touched the floor he became woozy again. The floor teetered and flipped Jake over. He hit it with both knees, put out a hand to keep from toppling over completely. His stomach made rude noises.
The white-suited robot offered no help. "It will take you perhaps as long as an hour to regain full control of your body again."
Gritting his teeth, Jake pushed with the palms of both hands. He closed his eyes for a few seconds, shoved, succeeded in getting himself upright. He was a man in his late forties, of middle height, with sandy hair. He was close to being handsome, but in a weather-beaten sort of way. Right now he was pale and the various scars and wounds he'd collected stood out on his body. "I'm remembering you now, Winger," he said. "We never much got along when I was a cop."
"Chiefly because you have an unreasoning bias against mechanical beings—from servos to androids," said the robot. "That accounts for it."
"You're also a mean, uncaring son of a bitch," said Jake. "That accounts for it, too."
Winger made his laughing noise. "Exactly. Which is why I'm the one who's here to greet you on awakening and you're the one who's been napping in a prison coffin."
Jake opened the sack of clothes. "So it's fifteen years later, huh?" "Not exactly, no. Actually it's only been four."
Excerpted from TekWar by William Shatner. Copyright © 1989 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.
Posted June 28, 2000
Immersed in the not so distant future, this book follows Jake Cardigan a detective with the Cosmos Detective Agency. This book and the many that follow in it's lead are brilliant works of art by a truly gifted writer. Each book will have you begging for the next.
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Map and rules-Result one. Camp-Result two. Bios-Result three. Beach-Four. Freshwater spring-Result five. Training hollow-Result five. Jungle-Result six plus. &star &hearts . BeachClan is a Clan who lived by the ocean. We live on a tropical island. Our camp is high enough to escape high tide. The only source of freshwater is a small spring. We eat fish from the beach and hunt in the jungle. We can see under the ocean and fish in it very well. Rules- No swearing. No godmodding. Have fun!!
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Posted December 13, 2012
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