It’s the twenty-second century, and mankind has expanded the horizons of science and technology. For those who want to go even further, Tek takes them there. The bio-digital microchip is more powerfully mind-altering than any other drug ever known. For those who become addicted, it’s out of this world—and straight into hell. And only private eye Jake Cardigan can stop it . . .
Tek Money: Jake must race against time to save his son’s life—and get the deadliest weapons in the world out of the hands of the most dangerous criminals in the universe . . .
Tek Kill: Jake and his partner, Sid Gomez, are working to clear their boss of murder charges when they uncover a far-reaching criminal conspiracy . . .
Tek Net: Sid’s ex-wife is caught in the crossfire of a bloody cartel war between Teklords, and it’s up to Jake and Sid to save her.
About 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.
Read an Excerpt
Peter Traynor was having trouble getting to where he wanted to go.
It was a hot, dry, restless night in late October of the year 2121. A raw, feverish wind was knifing across the night beach in the Malibu Sector of Greater Los Angeles, rattling the long twisty row of decorative palm trees, snatching at Traynor's sleeve, shoving him off balance.
His difficulties had grown worse ever since he set his skycar down at the seaside lot and started making his way along the dark sand. It was probably because of that damned stopover in the Venice Sector. He'd promised himself he was through with that sort of thing.
A lean, lighthaired man of forty one, Traynor stumbled as a sharp new gust of hot wind hit at him. He fell to his knees on the harsh sand, putting out both palms to save himself from toppling over completely.
One of his hands had touched the face of a dead man who was partially buried in the gritty sand. Thick blood was smeared all across the dead face, great splashes of it. As he struggled to pull away clear, Traynor managed to drag the corpse with him. He struggled, but couldn't seem to disentangle himself.
"Don't you recognize me, Pete?" asked the dead man, smiling with his bloody lips. "It's me — Flanders."
"You're five weeks dead, Flanders," he shouted at him. "I had nothing to do with it."
Crying out, Traynor rolled to his left, kicking out, crawling away from the smiling corpse.
The harsh sand slowed his progress, scraping at his clothes. The wind grew even hotter as it came swirling around him.
"What's wrong, dear?"
He hadn't noticed until now that his wife — well, actually, his former wife since November of 2120 — was standing only a few feet away. Slim and pretty in a long white dress, wearing one of her black ribbons to hold back her russet hair.
"I came here to ..." He paused, shaking his head the way you do when you're trying to come fully awake. "I have to see Jake Cardigan. He lives along here someplace, but I'm having a bad reaction to —"
"Not a very good idea, is that, Peter?" suggested his ex-wife. "You don't want, really, to talk to anyone right now, least of all a private investigator."
"I didn't quite catch what you said, Amy." He took a few shaky steps in her direction, glancing down to make sure he wasn't going to step on the corpse.
But the dead man had moved. He was sitting, cross-legged, over on a white neo-iron bench. He had his shirt pulled open wide and was probing a gaping lazgun wound in his chest with two bloody fingers.
"Leave me the hell alone, Flanders," he yelled. "I didn't know what was going to happen."
When Traynor looked again toward his wife, he was just in time to see her catch fire and begin to burn. She was soon completely surrounded by a crackling roar of bright orange flame.
"As I was saying, Peter, you're not being at all smart," she resumed. "Go home now and forget this nonsense. You don't, not at all, need a detective."
He pressed all the fingers of his right hand to his temple. "There's something I've found out — I told you a little bit about it, Amy, the last time I came to see the kids. It's worse than I thought and I've got to do something."
"No, that isn't necessary at all." The flames were taking her over, sending a high flickering torch of fire up into the dark windy night. "You're only upset because you and Dennis had a disagreement."
"I can't argue now — I'm not thinking very straight." He moved, unsteadily, closer to her. The flames that were consuming her gave off no heat. "Don't get mad and criticize me — I know I shouldn't have stopped at that Tek parlor."
Amy disintegrated, turning to dark, leafy ashes and drifting away on the wind.
Traynor clenched his fists, pressed them, hard, into his ribs. Would have been a hell of a lot better to have come straight here, instead of stopping for that damned Tek session. Sometimes, though, he felt a lot better, a lot braver, afterward. But tonight, something was wrong. He was having painful flashbacks, unwanted illusions, and they seemed to be getting worse.
After a moment, struggling hard, he was able to regain control of himself again. Things were okay once more and he was sure he could hold off any further hallucinations.
Traynor could remember Jake Cardigan's address now. He knew exactly where to find the beachside condo. He remembered, too, everything he had to talk over with him.
"Jake's just about the only person in Greater LA that I can trust."
Six big black candles were burning up ahead on the beach, each in a man-high golden holder. They circled a plain coffin that was resting on a metal rack.
He halted, gripping one hand tightly in the other, fighting what was happening to him. "Nothing is really there," he reminded himself. "Nothing at all. This is just another damned Tek fantasy."
The coffin didn't go away.
He'd long since recognized it. He remembered it from twenty one years ago. A closed coffin, because of the way his mother had died.
Now, slowly and silently, the coffin lid began to rise.
Traynor put his hands up over his eyes, but he discovered he could see right through them.
His mother's charred and blackened body sat up and shook its head. "You shouldn't be out so late, dear," she cautioned. "Best go right home now, darling. You don't really want to visit this detective."
"I have to, Mom. I've found out something — stumbled on it. A lot of bad things are going to happen unless —"
"You're Pete Traynor, aren't you? Is something wrong?"
About thirty feet up beyond his mother's coffin a lean teenage young man was standing, watching him.
"I'm looking for Jake Cardigan," he managed to say. "You're his son?"
"That's right, yes," answered Dan. "You don't look so well. Is there —"
"I've got to talk to him right away."
"Dad's not at home, but he should be soon. Come on over on the deck and sit down, Mr. Traynor."
The only way to get over to Dan Cardigan and the condo building that rose up behind him was by walking through the coffin.
"Don't keep on with this, son," warned his mother.
Traynor said to Dan Cardigan, "I know about the hijacking of —" That was all he got to say.
A huge roaring began in his ears. He heard cries of pain and the boom of thunder and dark, discordant music.
His mother tried to embrace him. "Poor Pete, poor baby."
Before she touched him, his brain seemed to explode inside his skull and he felt his life go spinning away on the red wind.
The bearded man was saying, "Our revels now are ended. These our actors, as I foretold you, were all spirits and are ..."
The strap on Jake Cardigan's wristwatch phone began to contract and expand against his flesh. A handsome, somewhat weatherbeaten man of almost fifty, he leaned forward in his amphitheater seat and held the small instrument close to his right ear before activating the speaker button.
Dan's voice said anxiously, "Dad, you'd better get home. There's been a death and —"
His son's voice was suddenly cut off.
Frowning, Jake tapped out his home number on the wristphone.
The pretty blonde woman in the next seat spoke a question close to his ear. "Something wrong?"
"Not sure, Bev," he answered in a whisper. "Dan called, then got cut off."
The phone at home rang again and again. Dan didn't answer.
Jake said to Bev Kendricks, "Sounds like Dan may be in trouble." After pointing a thumb at the nearest exit to the Beverly Hills Sector Shakespeare HoloTheatre, he eased up to his feet and started making his way along the dark row of seats.
Bev rose up and followed him. "Excuse me."
Down on the circular stage the hologram actors continued with The Tempest.CHAPTER 2
The skycar bounced slightly as Jake guided it through the windy night. He tapped into the homesec system at the condo he shared with his son, and asked it, "Give me a report on what's going on."
"Everything is normal, sir," came a tinny voice out of the small voxbox in the dash panel.
"Pictures, room by room," requested Jake as the skycar carried them toward his home.
"I'm sure he's okay," said Bev, who was sitting, leaning forward, in the passenger seat beside him.
"Yeah, probably," he conceded, watching the monitor screen as it took him on a tour of the apartment. "It's just that — well, people that I'm fond of have a tendency to get hurt."
"That's nonsense. Beth Kittridge was killed by the Teklords to keep her from testifying, Jake," the blonde detective assured him. "It had not a damned thing to do with you."
"I could've stopped it, if I hadn't let them sidetrack me."
She put a hand on his. "Been quite a while since that happened. You've got to work harder at forgetting it."
"No sign of any trouble anywhere," he said, watching the screen. "But, damn it, no sign of Dan either."
"We'll be there in a few more minutes. Relax, talk about the play."
"I like real actors better than holos," said Jake. "And I thought the guy playing Caliban was too cute to — what the hell is this?"
The skycar was gliding down toward the landing area next to the condo building. There was a lot of extra illumination down there and it showed two large, squat SoCal Police skyvans sitting at the lot edge. There were at least a dozen uniformed cops and a couple of scene-of-the-crime robots scattered across the beach that fronted the building. And sprawled at the water's edge, where the surf was licking at it, was a spread-eagled body.
"Is that Dan?" Jake leaned close to the sidewindow, scowling down into the approaching glare.
"Too tall, not enough hair," said Bev. "Take it easy."
As the sky car started to settle down for a landing in its usual spot, a grating beep noise started coming out of one of the dash voxboxes. "Police emergency," announced a deep, rough voice. "Police emergency. No landings allowed in this area."
"I live here!" Jake took over the landing manually and set the craft down, ignoring the beep and the repeated warnings.
A thickset uniformed officer came running to the car door as Jake opened it and stepped out. "Where the hell," said Jake, "is my son and —"
"Hands up over your head, mister, quick!" ordered the cop, leveling a stungun at Jake. "Suppose you tell me why you disregarded an official warning and landed —"
"Rudy?" Bev got, very carefully, out on her side. "It's me, Bev Kendrick."
The cop glanced over at her, lowering his gun a few inches. "What's a legit private eye like you doing here?"
"This is Jake Cardigan's place and I happen to be with him tonight." She walked around the front of the maroon skycar.
"Cardigan? I've heard of him — excon, onetime Tekrunner."
Jake took a few steps closer to the man. "Where's my son?"
"You don't understand the procedure, Cardigan," said Rudy, the gunbarrel swinging up again. "Maybe too much Tek has cooked your goddamn brains. We ask the questions, friend, and you answer them. Right now we've got a dead man just about in your front yard. So suppose —"
"Rudy, ease off," advised Bev, touching his arm with a warning tap. "I really don't think you want to annoy Jake just now."
Looking away from the angry officer, Jake spotted Dan now. A lean black cop was holding on to the front of Dan's shirt, shaking him. They were down at the edge of the night sea.
Jake gave a quick shake of his head, turned away from Rudy and started down across the dark sand. "Get your damn hands off him, Drexler," he called.
Detective Lieutenant Len Drexler turned and glowered in Jake's direction. He made a low snorting noise and let go of the young man. "We have what looks like a Tek killing here, Cardigan," he said evenly. "Your kid is pretty certainly involved in —"
"Dan's not involved in a damn thing." Jake grabbed hold of the front of the detective's jacket. "And even if he is, you'd better not rough him up. Now, without any further bullshit, tell me exactly what's going on."
Drexler jerked back, freeing himself from Jake's grasp. "You're excited," he decided, "so I'll excuse your manhandling me, Cardigan." He moved nearer to the corpse. "This guy's a Tekhead, a heavy user — and it's my guess somebody slipped him a sizzler. You probably know what that is, since you used to work in the Tek trade. A sizzler is one of those special Tek chips thought up by your Teklord cronies to take care of users they want to get rid of. Initially it acts like your ordinary chip, giving the bastard whatever fantasies he orders up on his damn Brainbox." Frowning, the officer kicked the dead man in the side. "Later on, though, usually in a matter of hours, the victim's brain starts to short out and crash. Before that there are all sorts of uncontrollable hallucinations. Witnesses say they heard this guy yelling and howling all along this stretch of beach while on his way to pay you a social call." He kicked at the body again. "Jesus, you can practically smell the fried brains."
Jake put an arm around his son's shoulders. "You okay?"
"Sure, sorry about the phone. These cops got here while I was in the middle of my call to you," explained Dan. "Wouldn't let me finish or answer when you tried to phone back."
"You know anything about him?"
"It's Peter Traynor," answered Dan. "He tried to see you a couple of times about a year or so ago. I recognized him when I came out to see what the noise was about."
"Traynor?" Jake's brow wrinkled as he knelt beside the dead man. The lean face was twisted in agony even now. "Yeah, it's Traynor sure enough. Looks like he went further down the chutes since I saw him last."
"Isn't Peter Traynor an old Tekkie buddy of yours, Cardigan?" Drexler squatted in the damp sand beside Jake. "What was he coming to see you about? Picking up a new supply of Tek chips maybe?"
Jake, slowly, rose to his feet, pulling the black cop up with him by the collar. "Let's establish something for good and all, Drexler," he said. "I don't use Tek and haven't for years. And, as you and all your gang know damn well, I was never a dealer. That whole charge was a frame and it's been cleaned off my record. If you're trying to pass yourself off as even a halfway competent cop, you ought to keep up with what's going on."
"C'mon, Cardigan, everybody knows that Bascom bribed the right people to get your record fancied up," Drexler told him, laughing. "The Cosmos Detective Agency is powerful enough in Greater LA to do things like that. Now, if I had a little more influence myself, I'd do an investigation of Walt Bascom and some of his trickier operatives. Notably you and that greaser partner of yours, Sid Gomez."
"No, Jake." Bev caught hold of his arm and yanked him back just as Jake was about to swing on the lieutenant.
Drexler took a few steps back. "Sorry I called your partner names, Cardigan," he said in a murmuring voice. "Now, what can you tell me about Traynor and why he was coming to call on you?"
"I met Traynor for the first time years ago, before I went to prison," said Jake. "Yeah, and I did run into the guy in some of the Tek parlors that we were both frequenting. I saw him again about a year or more ago, when he came by to ask me to help him out with some trouble he was having with his ex-wife." Jake shook his head. "I knew the guy was still on Tek and I didn't want to get involved with him or his problems. I gave him the name of a divorce attorney in the Glendale Sector. As I recall, he came back a few times more to try to see me when I wasn't here."
"Twice." Dan held up two fingers.
"Tell me about tonight," urged the police detective. "Why was he coming here? What'd he want?"
"That I don't know." He let his right hand drop to his side and Bev took hold of it. "He didn't vidphone in advance, if that's what you're asking. I had no idea he was going to show up."
Drexler pointed at Dan. "Maybe the kid knows."
"He didn't call here at all," said Dan. "And we sure didn't have much in the way of a conversation when he did show up. I heard him out here, he was shouting and I thought he was with someone." He shook his head. "When I came out, he was alone and he looked very upset and disheveled. I figured he'd fallen in the sand a few times. I said a few words to him and — well, that was when he died. I thought he had some kind of seizure."
"Yeah, a rigged seizure." Drexler's frown deepened and he scratched at his ribs. "We'll drop the questions for now, Cardigan, even though I got a feeling you do know what Traynor was up to tonight."
"Just so your feelings don't inspire you to bother my son again."
"I got a robot forensic team due any minute," the lieutenant told them. "Why don't you and Bev and the kid take a hike along the beach? Stay away a couple hours. I'd truly appreciate that."
Jake said, "Okay, we'll keep off. But remember that Traynor never got inside my place. I don't want you or your goons in there either."
"Got something to hide?"
Before Jake could reply, Bev tugged him out of range of the policeman. "Let's take that walk," she advised. "Come on along, Dan."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The TekWar Series Books 7–9"
Copyright © 2018 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc..
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.
Table of Contents
A Biography of William Shatner,