As promised, here’s another sample of my first novel, Ronin, available on Amazon.com.
Hope you enjoy
Kurt Stryder was taking a shower when his Neural Interface tingled telling him a comm. channel had been accessed and a call was coming through to him.
“Go ahead,” he said. The NI automatically connected him to various networks wherever he was either starship, station or on a planet, whether it was comm. networks or the main computer on board effectively doing away with the need for external devices to give remote access to the same sources. Most Col Sec personnel were fitted with these NI’s and also some private citizens who could afford the cost of surgery and the device.
“Something’s happened to Bell,” General Sinclair said his voice coming through as clear as if he stood next to him in the room.
“What, same as the others?” Stryder asked almost knowing the answer, which would make his own worst fear come true.
“I’m afraid so, just like Summerfield and Watson.”
“How long have I got?” Stryder asked for he too was on the same project and now the only remaining test subject left alive.
“There’s no guarantee that what happened to them will also happen to you. They assure me they’re doing everything in their power to get to the bottom of this,” Sinclair said
“Excuse me sir if I don’t feel reassured. What I don’t understand is if we all had the procedure at the same time why have the others died at different intervals?”
“That’s something they’re looking into I can assure you. I want you to come to the main lab right away. There are some tests they want you to perform and I want you under close surveillance at all times until we get to the bottom of this.”
“Right, I’ll just finish off my shower and be right there sir.”
“There’ll be an escort waiting at your door when you’re ready, Sinclair out.”
Stryder continued with his shower now that the tell tale tingle had left him as the connection was severed.
All he could think was when would he die? He’d seen the reports of the first two deaths and they were horrible. He’d seen his fair share of death during combat and had caused enough of his own to warrant his participation in this project. This was supposed to help bring about the end of the needless death or at the very least help reduce it. He had thought that if the results of this project helped to save one life in the field then whatever they had to endure would be worth it.
Now he wasn’t so sure. It didn’t seem right to sacrifice three lives, possibly more to save only one life. The balance was off, and he had no idea how to redress it.
Finished in the shower he dried off and quickly got dressed in his uniform then went to his door to leave.
As the door opened he saw his escort, two marines from Recon Delta his old unit, the elite of Col Sec, which meant the General was taking this development seriously.
Arriving at the main lab he was met by General Sinclair and Doctor Baxter the two main men in this project. General Sinclair was in overall command whilst Doctor Baxter was in charge of the lab.
“There you are Captain,” Sinclair said as Stryder entered the lab flanked by his escort.
“Yes sir, I see you’ve beefed up the security somewhat,” Stryder replied with a sardonic smile.
“Yes I thought it about time.”
“Granted, but don’t you think it smacks of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, just a little?”
“Your opinion is so noted Captain but Baxter here doesn’t share your sense of doom. Tell him Doctor.”
Stryder turned to the doctor not daring to hope. He said, “Tell me what, Doc?”
Baxter was smaller than the other men in the lab who were all professional soldiers standing at least one point eight five metres tall with lean hard physiques that had been honed through years of hard training. However Baxter was one metre seventy tall with a thin reedy body that had rarely seen exercise. His mind though was as sharp as any blade known to man.
“Well Captain, you know as well as any on this project that what we’ve witnessed has been unprecedented and quite frankly, simply should not have happened…,” he said.
“But it did happen, sir. Three times now, the same every time. What I need to know is when is it gonna be my turn and can you prevent it?” Stryder asked.
“But that’s just it, the same every time. All three died exactly the same.”
“I understand that Doctor, what’s your point?”
“You know the basis of what we’re doing here right? We’ve injected you all with a serum which would alter you at the genetic level and enhance your immune system; to give you the ability to heal faster and to aggressively attack toxins.”
“Yes sir, I was briefed fully at the induction, we all were.”
“And you agree that no two people’s DNA is exactly the same?”
“So why would the treatment affect three people in exactly the same manner at different intervals when it has been proven that there are no toxins present in the serum?”
“I don’t know Doctor; you tell me you’re the expert. No wait, you suspect foul play. How is that possible? I thought the facility was locked down tighter than an air lock in deep space”
“It is but it’s the only explanation that fits the facts,” Sinclair said.
“So what’re we gonna do sir?” Stryder asked.
“You are going to continue with the program, leave the security of this facility to me,” Sinclair replied confidently.
“Do you have a list of suspects sir? I’d like to know so I can be aware. I don’t want to put myself into any more danger than is absolutely necessary sir,” Stryder said.
“We’re looking into it Captain,” Sinclair said.
Stryder watched as Baxter turned to the General and said, “Tell him.”
“Tell me what sir? What is it you’re keeping from me sir?” Stryder wanted to know.
Sinclair stared at Baxter for a second then turned to face Stryder. There was a battle going on inside his head, Stryder could see that. When he came to a decision he said, “Okay, we suspect that Captain Howard may have something to do with all this.”
“Howard? Isn’t he in charge of security here?”
“Yes and we have to handle this carefully. If he has ties to the Alliance then we need to find out but without alerting him to the fact we’re on to him. We’ll have to keep him under close surveillance but without his knowledge. If he is our man and he gets wind that we’re on to him, there’s no telling what he might do.”
“One thought has occurred to me sir, why is he going to so much trouble when this project clearly doesn’t work?” Stryder asked.
“Excuse me?” Baxter replied indignantly staring at the taller man as if he had insulted him.
“Well sir, If this serum is supposed to increase our immune system, to make us more able to fight off toxins, how is he killing us off, one by one? All the testing we’ve undergone so far has been to see if it affected us on a physical level. As far as I could see our immune system has not been tested yet,” Stryder explained with no trace of malice.
Baxter’s expression softened somewhat. He said, “That again is somewhat of a mystery. You were right in pointing out about the testing, we had to ensure that the serum had no debilitating effects on your abilities to perform as a soldier, in fact, in your case Captain, it had quite the opposite effect, it actually increased your strength and stamina. I’m sure you’re aware of that, your endurance levels have increased by twenty five per cent.”
Stryder showed mild surprise mixed with a little bewilderment.
“To be honest Doc, I thought you were taking it easy on me, well on us actually, I never realised it was just me, we never tested together. I just put it down to my training in Recon Delta being harder than what you put us through.” He paused then asked, “But why me?”
Baxter had no answer for him other than a shake of his head. When he spoke his voice displayed his frustration.
“There are so many variables that we’ve encountered that were, to be honest, unexpected. Each test subject has had a different reaction to the serum, however small; it was different. You, it seems Captain, are the only one to exhibit any positive reaction to the serum. It seems the serum did not affect the immune system of the first three. In fact, once the autopsy results are in on Bell I’m sure it will confirm my earlier findings that their immune system actually saw the serum as a threat and destroyed it.”
“How is that possible sir, and what does it mean for me? Am I in danger from it?” Stryder asked.
“On the contrary, it seems it’s increased your metabolism now all we need to do us to get it to increase your immune system. We need to get it to attach itself onto your DNA to affect your immune system genetically otherwise it could be perceived as a threat by your body’s defences and be destroyed by the very thing it seeks to improve.”
“And how on earth do you intend to do that?”
“I’ve developed a nano serum, billions of tiny robots programmed to attach the serum to the specific strand of your DNA. We just inject it into your bloodstream and they get to work. We should see results within a very short time.”
“Billions of tiny robots, Doc? I’m no scientist but how have you programmed so many in such a short space of time?”
“We’ve been working on nano bots for many years. They’re used extensively throughout the medical profession as I’m sure you’re aware. Programming them was relatively easy, they work in series you see, if you programme one, it passes that data along to the rest almost instantaneously.”
“When are you planning on—” Stryder stopped short when he saw Baxter reach for a syringe.
“Right now Captain, roll up your sleeve please.”
Before he knew it the injection had been administered and he was pulling down his sleeve again.
“How soon Doc before you know? What can I expect?” he asked, unsure of what happened next.
“Not sure really, but the nano bots should get to work immediately, as to if you’ll feel anything, I shouldn’t expect so. Remember this is taking place at the genetic level, the changes should go unnoticed until the immune system is threatened.”
“So what you’re saying, basically, is that I won’t know if it’s worked until I get injured?” Stryder asked.
“Well, I suppose that’s somewhat true, yes,” Baxter replied seeming a little unsure.
“You don’t sound too confident Doc.” Sinclair said.
“We’re not dealing with absolutes here, we’re into uncharted waters. This has never been attempted before and quite frankly until we get some sort of results, until we can test this, I don’t know what to expect.”
“Forgive me Doc if I don’t feel reassured.” Stryder said.
“If it works though, just think of the potential. Think of the lives we’ll be able to save.”
“Going back to my earlier question about Howard sir, why is he going to so much trouble to kill us all off? Does he know something about this that we don’t or is the Alliance so afraid that we may be on to something that they’re desperate to stop us at any cost?”
“It’s no secret that they are desperate to prevent us gaining any sort of advantage over them and if they can’t duplicate our research then the safest thing to do is either discredit it or destroy it,” Sinclair said.
“If he’s in charge of security won’t he be pissed off that you brought in Recon Delta to take over?”
“Oh I do hope so,” Sinclair said with a smug smirk.
“I get it, you want to rattle his cage and force him to make a mistake.”
“Of course,” Sinclair said.
“So, not only am I a guinea pig, but I’m bait now as well?” Stryder said.
Baxter looked from him over to Sinclair then down to the floor unable to maintain eye contact with him. The General though, had no trouble at all looking at him.
“Don’t feel guilty Doc, I’m first and always a soldier, this comes with the territory,” Stryder said never taking his eyes off Sinclair.
“You got that right Captain; this is what you signed on for,” Sinclair said coldly.
“”Yeh! The life in Recon Delta, it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.” said Stryder.
Hope you enjoyed this sample, more coming soon. Please leave any comments or feedback
See you soon