Middleburg's teen martial artists scramble to reunite the broken shards of the powerful and mysterious Shen ring, in an effort to locate their missing friend Raphael and avert worldwide disasterbut it won't be easy.
A pack of government agents, a secret order of Chinese kung fu masters, and a family of vengeful fallen angels stand in their way. Amid the struggle, tensions between the two teen gangs flare once again when one of the Flats kids gets jumped and put in the hospital. Zhai and Ignacio, the leaders of the rival factions, struggle to maintain peace and continue their quest for the ring shards amid the rising tide of confrontation.
Meanwhile, Middleburg's leading ladies Maggie and Dalton put their differences aside in an effort to wrest their friend Aimee from the clutches of the sultry and seductive Nephilim, Orias. But when a powerful fallen angel learns that Orias has imprisoned his father Oberon, a new supernatural menace is unleashed on Middleburg, one that threatens to bring all the conflicting factions together in one final, deadly conflagration.
The only hope is that Middleburg's missing teen hero will somehow reappear and find a way to set things rightbut he's been gone for over two months, without leaving a single clue as to his whereabouts. As the situation grows more dire, all of Middleburg wonders: where is Raphael Kain? With mighty doses of kung fu, eastern mysticism, and star-crossed love, Shadow Train is the most poignant, romantic and explosive book in The Tracks series thus far!
|Publisher:||Health Communications, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||6.80(w) x 10.10(h) x 1.50(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 18 Years|
About the Author
J. Gabriel Gates is a Michigan native and a graduate of Florida State University. He has worked as a professional actor, written several Hollywood screenplays, and coauthored the teen fantasy series The Tracks. His novels include: Dark Territory, Ghost Crown, The Sleepwalkers, and Blood Zero Sky. For more information, visit his website: www.jgabrielgates.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Charlene Keel is an author and screenwriter whose TV credits include Fantasy Island and Days of Our Lives. Her other novels include The Lodestone, Seventh Dawn of Destiny, Dark Territory: (The Tracks, Book 1), and Ghost Crown (The Tracks, Book 2) . For more information, go to www.charlenekeel.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Read an Excerpt
Ignacio stood quietly, staring at the array of demolition vehicles lined up across the street: two bulldozers and a big backhoe. His Flatliner brothers sat on the curb next to him in various postures of defeat. They always walked home from school along this route, and today the sight of big machines revving up for action had made them stop to watch. Beet was slouching and staring down at the pavement beneath his feet. Josh had his head in his hands. Benji kept fidgeting, nervously zipping and unzipping his jacket. But Emory sat perfectly still, staring intensely at the three-story apartment house that stood before him. He and his family had lived in that building since he was a baby. Now, it was about to be destroyed before his eyes.
Ignacio couldn't imagine how bad that must feelon top of the fact that Emory and his mom, dad, and little sister were still living like refugees in Beet's dad's garage.
'Don't worry, man,' Josh said, putting a hand on Emory's back. 'We'll find you a new placeeventually.'
Emory didn't respond.
'Maybe somebody'll stop it at the last minute, like in the movies,' Benji said hopefully, with a glance at Ignacio. 'Right, Nass? Maybe city hall will accept your petition after all.'
'Nah.' Ignacio shook his head. 'They rejected it on a technicality. They said the margin on the edge of the page was too big. Jerks. I watched them throw it in the trash. Nobody's going to stop it,' he f-inished, dejected.
They all stared in silence at the vacant building. The sound of an engine, then another, drifted toward them from across the street as the workmen turned the bulldozers on.
'Gentlemen, start your engines,' Benji said. Nobody laughed.
'If Raph were here, he'd know what to do,' Beet said glumly, and they all breathed a collective sigh.
For the last two and a half months, they'd searched every day for their friend and leader. They felt like they'd turned over every log in the forest and peered behind every tree trunk. They'd gotten flashlights and explored Middleburg's infamous, creepy railroad tunnels, and then traversed the slopes of the mountain through which the tunnels ran. They had hiked around Macomb Lake and ridden their bikes down country roads calling his name. They had even organized Flats residents to do a block-by-block search of the town, including Hilltop Haven. Still, Raphael Kain was nowhere to be found.
The only traces of him that remained were the shards of the treasure he'd held just before that phantom train struck him. With superstitious reverence, each of the Flatlinersand most of the Toppershad picked shards of the broken crystal ring from the spot where the explosion happened. Even though the ring's magical glow disappeared once it broke and the shards became nothing more than translucent glass, they had all wanted a piece of it. Nass knew without asking that his fellow Flatliners each carried a small fragment of that mystical ring with them everywhere they went, just as he did. As he thought of it, his hand slipped into his pocket, his fingers tracing along the jagged edge of the broken bit of -crystal.
Maybe the Shen magic contained in the crystal was responsible for Raphael's disappearance, Nass thought with a stirring of hope that felt like a ray of sunlight trying to pierce the cloudbank of his depression. Maybe it had transported Raph to another time or place, and he'd find his way home. Maybe he would come walking back into Middleburg any day now. But the prospect seemed too much to hope for. Raphael was gone. And for all they knew, he wasn't coming back.
For all they knew, he was dead.
Across the street, a huge backhoe inched across the apartment building's overgrown lawn, raising its big yellow bucket across the cloud-paled, late winter sun.
'I took my first steps in that apartment,' Emory said quietly, speaking for the first time all afternoon. 'It's where my sister said her first word. Don't get me wrong, it suckedbut it was the only home I've ever had.'
Nass looked over at his friend, half expecting to see tears in his eyes, but there were none. Emory's face held no expression, which was worse. He just stared across the street as the backhoe reached slowly toward the roof of the building, as if the sight made him feel nothing at all, as if he were completely numb. Nass guessed that all the Flatliners probably felt that way. He felt numb, too, ever since Raphael disappeared. Numb and empty, except for a subtle, nagging pressure in the pit of his stomach that never seemed to go away.
'I wish I had a trumpet,' Benji lamented. 'I'd play taps.' He started humming it, doing an impression of a bugle that would have been funnyif the occasion wasn't so depressing.
'Well, if it's any consolation, Emory, I'm sure they'll knock down the rest of the Flats soon,' Josh said. 'Nass's eviction is scheduled for next week, and my family has to be gone in a month.'
'Thanks,' Emory said sarcastically. 'I feel much better now.'
Just as the backhoe was about to crunch into the roof of the building, there came a roar of engines and a squeal of tires, and Nass looked over to see a shiny, black SUV whip around the corner, followed by an identical vehicle.
Reflexively, all the Flatliners scrambled to their feet, and Nass backed up from the curb onto the sidewalk. In Middleburg, only rich Topper brats had shiny, new SUVsand with Raphael gone, tension with the Flatliners' rivals was higher than ever.
But when the doors to the vehicles opened, it wasn't the Toppers who emerged. It was a bunch of muscular guys in black suits, all of them with military-style haircuts. The man who got out on the passenger side of the first vehicle took the lead, pulling some kind of official-looking badge out of his jacket pocket as he hurried up the lawn toward the apartment building.
'Stop,' he barked, and instantly the heads of all the Shao Construction workers snapped toward him. The backhoe that was about to tear into the roof of the building froze.
'Yeah! City hall! The petition worked!' Benji shouted, and he plunged excitedly across the street, toward the building.
But Nass wasn't so sure that it was city hall they were dealing with. Jack Banfield had local government sewn up pretty tight, so when he wanted something done it usually got done. If he stood to make money by having the Flats torn down, Nass doubted city hall would stand in his way. Besides, the six guys in suits who were swarming toward the building didn't seem like city bureaucrats to himthey looked more like the secret service agents who guarded the president of the United States. But the other Flatliners were already hurrying across the lawn, so Nass followed.
As soon as they were within earshot, he heard the leader of the suits talking to the Shao Construction foreman. 'This property is hereby seized by the federal government. We are placing an injunction on any redevelopment within the city of Middleburg until our investigation here is concluded.'
'Investigation into what?' the foreman asked. He didn't seem upset by this new turn of events, only confused.
'That's classified,' the man said indifferently. 'You can direct your questions to your local law-enforcement agency. But I want nothing touched, you understand? No renovation, no demolition until we've gone through every inch of this place.'
The foreman shrugged and glanced at his crew members. 'All right, no problem. But, uh, my boss ain't gonna be too pleased. He's going to ask for your name and badge number and stuff.'
'The name is Hackett,' the man said.
Nass noticed that Hackett's fellow black-suits had already pried the front door of the building open and were swarming through it into the vacant apartment house.
'And what agency are you with exactly? My boss'll want to know,' the foreman asked, and Nass could see that he was appropriately intimidated.
'Local law enforcement,' Agent Hackett reminded him. 'Direct your questions to them.'
The foreman nodded to his crew members, who shrugged and began retreating toward their trucks. As they went, he pulled out his cell phone. Calling Jack Banfield or Cheung Shao, no doubt, Nass thought. Man, he would love to see the look on their faces when they heard that the feds had come in and squashed their little real-estate deal.
'Dude, that was kick ass! High-five!' Benji said, and held his hand up for the agent to slap him one.
The man, Agent Hackett, turned toward him slowly, with an air of threatening calm. He was tall, with a salt-and-pepper crew cut and a pair of aviator sunglasses so dark it was impossible to see his eyes. He chewed a piece of gum slowly, as if, Nass thought, he enjoyed the feeling of smashing things between his teeth. He did not move to give Benji five.
'We're the ones who did the petition,' Benji blurted, obviously thinking that an explanation was in order. The man merely stared at him. 'I'm so glad you guys showed up, man. This neighborhood isn't much, but it's all we got, you know?'
'Benji . . . let's go,' Nass said. The knowing was kicking in, and over the past few months, he'd learned to trust his psychic instincts when that peculiar little feeling came over him. Right now, his instincts were telling him to get out of there. But Benji was still talking.
©2013. J. Gabriel Gates and Charlene Keel. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Shadow Train: The Tracks, Book Three. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.