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The year is 2333. Deep below the surface of Mars an ancient alien secret awaits discovery...
A slumbering enemy will finally be revealed...
And Bouron Futch will risk all to bring this enemy and new knowledge to light...
Even if means pitting the entire human race against the rest the of the galaxy in all out war...
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.41(d)|
Read an Excerpt
By La Ron K. Jenkins
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 La Ron K. Jenkins
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFrom the moment he was interrupted in the shower earlier that day, Commander Bouron Futch should've known it was going to be a very, very bad day. Even after being debriefed on a top secret artifact that revealed he altered the course of Earth's history (causing the Roswell Incident of 1947 and saving Earth from total destruction in an alternate timeline) to almost freezing to death in Antarctica a few hours later, never in his wildest dreams did he think today would end up like this: on his way to Mars in an antiquated twenty-first century space shuttle with an android.
He and SheBot (a.k.a. Doctor Kayla Thornhill, a preeminent scientist who was believed to have been dead for nearly two hundred years) debated incessantly about space flight safety procedures and her shuttle's capabilities—specifically, exceeding the FTL speed limit enforced by UEC inside the Sol System. Futch warned her that the LIDAR sensor network, not to mention any one of half a dozen patrol ships, would detect the shuttle's approach to the red planet.
And since, technically, he'd left the space station and abandoned his post on Steel Haven without permission he assumed he would be placed under arrest immediately if they were caught. So he was understandably worried about the possibility.
His foreboding tone was wasted on Kayla as she explained she had been expertly avoiding UEC patrols and navigational sensor nets for more than a century.
But why, Futch wondered. And why was she being framed for the murder of Prelate Sol Beta? What did Mars have to do with all this? Futch intended to find answers to all these questions, so he listened and waited patiently.
"As a point of fact," Kayla went on doggedly, "this was the third time I have infiltrated the station in the last fifteen years."
"To what end?" Futch asked incredulously, obviously shocked to hear her make such a bold statement. "Station security has never been tipped off to your presence before?"
Kayla smiled. Futch knew it was the same know-it-all smile he'd seen just before they left the station, but couldn't clearly see it now as he was seated behind and to the left of her on the flight deck of the Venture Star—the name of her obsolete space craft.
"As you know, UEC upgrades the Laser Interferometric Detection and Ranging database constantly with profiles of known ships, spatial phenomenon, etcetera. I hack the database every now and again to delete any profiles similar to the Venture Star. This time around I also crippled the lateral sensors on vector two-eight-five, mark seven. They should be offline right about ... now."
Futch noticed that Kayla checked the chronometer readout on the control panel before her. His brow furled as realization dawned on him that it was past twenty hundred hours station time. Not only would the station crew be preoccupied with the arrival of the Zeta Reticuli, but also ...
"You created a blind spot in the sensors? But that vector will only serve for an hour, maximum."
Futch saw the young woman nodding her head in the affirmative as she expertly tapped, rotated, and selected various icons or holographs buried amid an array of readouts on the wide monochromatic holopanel that served as the shuttle's primary control and navigation console.
And grinning again too, Futch thought to himself. "Hence—"
"Hence exceeding the inner-system FTL speed limit," Kayla said, completing his statement. "We're traveling at 1.5c now, we'll be arriving at Mars—Olympus Mons orbit, to be precise—in less than thirty minutes. Normal Earth-Luna to Mars transit takes four hours. By the time they realize I've broken the speed limit—if they catch me in the act—it will be much too late to do anything about it."
Futch knew with certainty now that she obviously had this plan—whatever it was—calculated down to the millimeter. So the question was what exactly was the plan? Futch was pleasantly surprised she gave him a straight answer when he eventually asked. Kayla spun around in the pilot's chair to face him.
"My goal is to penetrate the security of Johnson-Smith Technologies HQ—the Black Spire—and stop these doppelgängers from entering our universe at the source. I promised you answers to why your station commander lied to you about Prelate Sol Beta's death, and why I tried to kill your friend, Jabbar. Help me infiltrate that building and you'll get your answers."
Futch just stared at her blankly, not saying a word. "What?" Kayla said after a moment, as if offended by his nonplussed reaction. "Putting aside the existence of these so-called 'doppelgängers' for a moment," Futch said slowly, his tone flat and his meaning obvious (he wasn't buying that part of her story just yet), "you do realize that Johnson-Smith Technologies is the biggest military contractor throughout all of the Earth colonies? The security in that tower is state-of-the-art, comparable to a fortified military base ..."
Like the one she just infiltrated? Futch thought to himself, grateful he didn't say as much out loud. What have I gotten myself into?
Futch frowned at the appearance of that damn smile again.
"As I am sure you've surmised by now, Commander, I have been planning this for a very long time."
Doctor Melanie Livingston stared at the gleaming, chrome-finished medical chamber in the center of the room. It was the same size and general shape of a funeral coffin, but it wasn't designed with a hood that swung open on hinges. No, this device was completely sealed. There was an airtight access hatch on the top at one end, so one literally had to climb over the side and slide into the chamber in the classic sleeping position.
Damned if she could figure out how to open it, though. A clear square portal on the hatch allowed her to look inside the chamber, where she assumed the occupant's face would be seen, if one was lying inside. Upon closer inspection, she realized the glass wasn't glass at all, but made of the same silver material that the chamber was composed of. Some kind of programmable matter interface, she figured, that could be tuned to be either transparent or opaque.
Melanie recalled that PMI technology was a fairly new advance, only a few decades old in terms of practical use—akin to contemporary programmable fabrics such as those used in military uniforms. What was this technology doing on board a third-generation space shuttle that had to be reaching the three-hundred-year mark?
"It's my regeneration chamber," a voice said from behind her.
Melanie turned around with a start to see Kayla approaching with a bundle of dark gray garments in her hands. It was the matching top-half of the trousers and boots ensemble Kayla gave her shortly after they boarded the Venture Star to replace that ridiculous cocktail dress she was wearing when they left the station.
She eagerly took the jacket and thick undershirt with the raised collar; she put the shirt on quickly, then the jacket. The entire outfit was a simple civilian version of the standard UEC officer's uniform, minus the rank insignias, departmental patches and white piping accents.
"Regeneration?" Melanie asked as she zipped up the jacket, grateful not to be standing around in her lacey black bra anymore. "You sleep here?"
"Technically I don't sleep, but that's as good a label as any for this contraption. Part bedroom, bathroom, and birthing chamber, literally as it turns out." Kayla's typical smirk and bright blue eyes seemed to dim for just the briefest of moments.
"Are you all right?"
Kayla stared intently at the regeneration chamber. If Melanie didn't know any better, she would say she was staring through it and, for a microsecond, Melanie thought she saw tears bulging at the corners of the young woman's eyes.
"Sorry, it's been a long time since I've had anyone aboard with me. I'm not accustomed to talking about the chamber." She took a deep breath and circled the coffin-like machine with arms spread wide, palms up, as if presenting the chamber as a major product for sale.
Kayla explained she normally regenerated weekly but could go for extended periods without regeneration if necessary. Unlike the human body, her android body did not get better or improve with more work or usage; her body had to be constantly repaired and upgraded.
"Fascinating," Melanie said, genuinely intrigued, recalling the fantastic tale shared with her and Prelate Sol Alpha about Kayla's android origins. "Your husband, Max? He designed this?"
"No, our adopted grandparents, Robert and Rose did. As I said, it has been a long time since I've had anyone else aboard to talk to. Everything I know about this ship and its systems, however, I learned mostly from Max after the incident at the hospital where my original human body died. Then we left the system. It took five months to reach Alpha Centauri back in those days."
"You got this ship up to ten times the speed of light?" Futch said as he walked into the room, the tone of his voice betraying how impressed he was about what he'd just overheard. "That's amazing considering what few civilian starships there were at that time, and even those were limited to a maximum of 5c."
"Max thought so too," Kayla said, beaming a proud smile. Futch seemed to ignore her and Melanie for a moment as he looked around the room inquisitively. He seemed agitated all of a sudden. "Wait, wasn't this a storage room? Where did this coffin come from?"
Kayla was about to speak when the ship's PA system suddenly activated and issued a series of short grating beeps. Melanie stared as Kayla's eyes pulsed electric-blue in synch with the beeps.
"We've almost reached our destination," Kayla reported after her eyes returned to their normal color. "I've got to change clothes. Please meet me in the cargo bay in ten minutes."
Chapter TwoSteel Haven's chief medical officer, Doctor Pastor Stackhouse, intuitively ducked without looking as he walked through the wide doorway of the outgoing patients' private waiting room, engrossed in reading a holographic data pad. Several members of the crew were still suffering the ill-effects of space sickness despite the genetically engineered virus he'd created a few hours ago to cure those aboard the station who suffered from proximate contact with the Zeta Reticuli, but to a much lesser extent.
Lieutenant Carol Mahserdjian and civilian medical specialist Donna Wasylchak, a member of his own staff, were thus waiting for his authorization to return to duty.
"Thank you for waiting," he said quietly as he walked up to them, reading the last of the glowing text on the HDP. He looked at them after a few moments and sighed as if perturbed by what he just read. "You're both fine," he said finally.
Lieutenant Mahserdjian and Donna stared at him skeptically.
"You are certain?" Mahserdjian asked nervously.
The tall, black, Mars-born man grinned looking down at them, saying, "The gospel truth, son." He tapped on the HDP again and performed a cursory medical scan on both of them, scanning left to right across the abdomen respectively. "The virus took a little longer to metabolize in your systems as you two have—had—slightly more genetic codes to rewrite than others susceptible to the psiogenic field the Zeta Reticuli emit. Your ancestral lineage—a great-great-great-grandparent, most likely from your mother's side of the family—must have undergone multiple abduction experiences."
He double-checked the readouts on the HDP, and nodded as if satisfied by what he read. "But you both are fine to return to duty. You may experience lingering feelings of nausea or other emotional anxiety, however, the intensity of these experiences should wane over the next several hours. If they don't, relieve yourself of duty and return to medical immediately."
"Thank you, Doctor," they both said and then looked at each other suddenly, mildly amused by their identical verbal response.
"Donna, I'm going to need you at medical checkpoint five when you're ready."
"Of course, sir."
Stackhouse gave them another reassuring nod, then turned and left. Donna sighed, relieved, as Lieutenant Mahserdjian nervously rubbed the back of his neck. Where Donna was clearly put at ease by the official medical report from the CMO, Mahserdjian seemed even more agitated than before.
"Lieutenant, you OK?" Donna asked casually. "This doesn't get you out of your standard medical exam," she quipped, clearly making a joke referencing their first encounter earlier that day, but Mahserdjian hardly spared her a glance.
"I'm sorry," he said when he finally looked her in the eye. "It's the damn Zeta Reticuli. I am not surprised at all our slow recovery was due to some extensive genetic link with former abductees." He sounded upset, mad even. "I could take the butt of a MASER rifle and just bash their big brains in!"
"Lieutenant!" Donna snapped, disgusted. "That kind of talk is not acceptable."
Mahserdjian bowed his head in shame, grimacing slightly as he forcefully wrung his hands together, as if trying to stop them from lashing out on their own to do harm. Donna implored him to calm down and pulled her own HDP from the holster on her right hip to scan him again.
"Your heart rate and blood pressure are increasing," she said, holding the HDP near his chest then slowly moving it up the side of his body to the crown of his head. The HDP beeped and Donna nodded, as if a pet theory of hers had just been confirmed. She silently read the statistical information on the small translucent display and frowned disapprovingly. "Damn aliens. Your vasopressin levels are also rising."
Mahserdjian looked at her with surprise, as if Donna had used a much more colorful metaphor to describe the new visitors to the station. "I beg your pardon?" He actually laughed as he spoke. "It's OK for you to curse them, but I can't 'bash their brains in'?"
Donna melted his anger even further with a coy smile that would make most men feel like they'd won a lottery worth a million credits. "Sorry." She chuckled as she put away the HDP. "Vasopressin is a neurotransmitter. The fact that your levels are elevated shows further evidence of the Zeta Reticuli's psiogenic field at work. Your feelings of aggression are being caused by the stimulation of the anterior hypothalamus, an area of the brain that produces vasopressin, among other hormones, that's apparently susceptible to their nearby presence. When that region is overactive, extremes in emotions are often felt. It's probably how they were able to manipulate abductees into a state of shocked paralysis in order to kidnap them in the middle of the night and conduct their medical experiments."
Mahserdjian nodded in the affirmative, acknowledging and understanding the explanation as to why he was feeling the way he was, but said nothing further. An uncomfortable silence fell over them. Donna noticed how he kept avoiding direct eye contact with her.
She knew he found her attractive—most men did, with her classic features. Pushing 1.7 meters in height, deep brown eyes and flowing hair, narrow waist and hips, what heterosexual man wouldn't?
Donna could tell he liked her from their first meeting in the interrogation room with that mysterious female prisoner, but what he didn't know is that she shared the very same feelings about him. He was tall, handsome, skin like coffee and cream, and those dark dreamy bedroom eyes. She loved his Middle Eastern accent too.
"You got a problem looking a woman in the eye, Lieutenant?"
"Such a beautiful woman," he said quickly, with a bashful smile. "Well, yes."
Donna laughed out loud and playfully slapped him across the arm.
"Did I actually say that?" Mahserdjian groaned, embarrassed. "What a fool I am," he said, chiding himself. "You must get that all the time."
"Yes, yes I do," Donna said, smiling all the while. "You'd be surprised the calming effect a beautiful woman's smile has on a man."
Her smile was gorgeous, and the way she unconsciously tucked a strand of hair behind her left ear made Mahserdjian's pulse race. She smoothly reached for his arm again and gently squeezed his bicep, then forearm, pretending to be impressed with the dense muscle tone she felt there when all the while she was surreptitiously checking his pulse. "Nice. Isn't that better?"
Mahserdjian smiled; he knew exactly what she was up to. "Yes, I do feel much better now, thank you." She let his arm go just a tad too quickly, as if she were no longer interested in maintaining physical contact. "How's my pulse rate checking out?"
Donna blinked, confused, then laughed out loud again, this time averting her eyes in embarrassment and unconsciously tucked another strand of loose hair behind her ear. "Can't get anything past you." She giggled, then, surprisingly, grabbed his arm again, stroking it playfully. "I guess I've always been a sucker for an intelligent—and obviously fit man—in uniform. Too bad there aren't that many of them around here ..."
Excerpted from CONTINUUM by La Ron K. Jenkins Copyright © 2013 by La Ron K. Jenkins. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Much wow! Such amaze!
This latest novel from LaRon Jenkins builds nicely on the first book. You could just read this second release and still enjoy the action and the characters, but I believe you would have a more rounded understanding of the situation and the people if you read the first book Continuum. LaRons first book had so much detail and action packed into it, it took me a while to get through. The second book kept me reading well into the night as the action continued right till the last page. Well done LaRon. I look forward to the next book. Capt A. J. Kirk