Orphaned by war and disillusioned about her life, Diana Gutierrez-Adams is on a routine military assignment when she and her team are kidnapped by a domestic militia. She learns from her captors that her cryogenically-frozen grandfather is at the center of a high-stakes plan to steal technology that will change the world for greed and great fortune.
Challenged by the conspiracy and pulled by emotions she doesn’t fully understand, Diana’s rescue mission will change her life. What happens to her is unexpected, perhaps miraculous – an adventure that embraces all her hopes for finding her true self and her place in a world dominated by powerful elites and even more powerful artificial intelligence.
Diana knew that everyone who lived in the pods as well as anyone officially connected to the government had an embedded chip that enabled monitoring technology to identify where every individual was at any time. The chips also measured the secretion of enzymes and hormones. Algorithms had been developed to predict everyone’s wants and needs based upon those secretions. Over time, the algorithms learned from human response and adjusted their predictions accordingly – without human intervention.
A Brooklyn-born, second generation American and the eldest of three boys, writing is his third career and the one about which he is most passionate. Following graduation from the US Naval Academy and active duty in the Navy, he embarked on a career in business. He began writing his blog “Who Will Lead?” in 2010 attracting over 115,000 readers. It inspired him to write his first book, an Amazon five-star rated business fable titled “The Reluctant CEO.” Currently he makes his home in Fairport, NY, a village on the Erie Canal.
Clockmaker Josef Kronecker makes more than just clocks.
In his study in Salzburg, he crafts lifesaving clockwork appendages for clients, including a famous pianist, a count who loves to dance, and his very own assistant, Anna, who suffered a harrowing attack before coming to work at Kronecker’s Timepieces.
When Josef meets Klara, a beautiful party attendee, he’s entranced and soon becomes unknowingly entrapped in a web of lies. His infatuation positions him as the victim of a royal bully, who presents an impossible challenge and requests an unthinkable sacrifice should Josef run out of time.
While Josef falls for Klara and is held to a deadline he can’t possibly make, Anna keeps the shop afloat as she faces her past trauma, proving that the number of limbs does not make a person whole, but rather the will to live.
Sustaining life is Josef’s calling, but now it’s his life on the line. As the clock ticks down, he realizes that while infatuation is a powerful thing, love is deeper and sometimes goes unseen, and it seems adopting Anna’s unwavering will to live is the way to survive.
Honest, inventive, and both heartbreaking and heartwarming, OF GILDED FLESH is a captivating story about resilience and how much we have to live for.
The clinking of tools and the orange light of candles trail from the workroom in the back of the shop. Anna enters the space through the open curtain. Expecting to see Josef hovering over Duke Brunner’s artificial heart, she’s surprised to find the clockmaker tinkering with the mechanical boy, Joop, instead. Josef inserts the Rainbow Moonstone-and-marble balls into its vacant eye sockets.
The clockmaker leans back and moves a burning candle from one side of Joop’s head to the other. “Come see,” he says.
Anna moves to Josef’s side—close to him, but not too close.
“They catch the light with such brilliance,” he says. “Thank you, Anna.”
He reaches for her hand, yet she finds herself pulling away. Piano music comes from the other side of the shop and hovers between the two of them. Josef gives a curious look.
“Pascal is here already?”
“He came by last night…and never left.”
Josef turns to her, taking in the warmth she emits like a gently burning hearth. “I see.” He turns away and disappears into the darkness of the shop.
Anna moves closer to Joop and rests her left hand beside him. She lowers herself to a stool.
“Oh, Joop. What have I done?”
The boy stares vacantly back as a tear rolls down her cheek.
“I killed a man. He was so very horrible—a demon—but who am I to pass judgement and execution? My vengeance has made me no better.”
Another tear falls.
“I’m worse, even. For I’ve gone and lain myself with a man I do not love.”
Joop’s hands slips from his lap and rests upon hers. The comforting, humanlike gesture from the unhuman boy sparks a faint grin to her lips and then a flood of tears.
Gordon Gravley has been making up stories all his life. As a child, they would take the shape of rudimentary comic books, and Super-8 movies. As he was drawn to stage-acting in high school his stories became one-act plays, and then feature-length screenplays – none of which ever saw the light of the big screen.
It wasn’t until his thirties that he finally decided to take the plunge, and like a real writer he made his stories into, well…stories. And just like a real writer, his efforts garnished multiple rejection letters. Twenty years later, those efforts would culminate into his first self-published novel, Gospel for the Damned.
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Gordon moved around – California; Colorado; Alaska; Northern Arizona – before eventually settling in Seattle, Washington. Having called the Northwest his home since 1998, he doesn’t expect to be moving elsewhere anytime soon. There, he continues to make up stories, write novels, and live with his wife and son.
Agent Sabine Harper is thrilled to receive her first mission—until she learns what it is. Turns out, all she has to do is save the world from certain destruction. And she has two weeks to do it.
Sabine survives her grueling training by the Vortech Agency, but now she must protect the world from a devastating solar flare by finding seven energy stones—cerecite. If she refuses, they’ll terminate her father’s life-sustaining cancer treatments.
Sabine is transported to an isolated civilization hidden beneath a dome. She assumes the identity of the invalid prince’s caretaker and finds herself strangely attracted to the prince. But she’s perplexed by this strange island’s many mysteries. The air smells mechanical. Every blade of grass is identical. The island’s dimensions are bigger than they should be. What Vortech told her may not be true. She may not even know where she really is. And someone doesn’t want her to leave—at least not alive.
Freezing wind gusted as I stepped outside the facility. I pulled my hood over my head and followed Agent Logan through the snow.
“You ready?” he called, his frame hidden under bulky layers of clothing and a gray overcoat, a red-letter V stitched over the breast pocket.
I hesitated before answering. I’d spent half my night wondering if I’d made the right decision by staying. Finally, I’d sent off a quick message to Dad, telling him I loved him, I would come back. I was sorry about Mima June. My emotions were too raw to know what else to say.
“I’m ready,” I called back.
“You got everything?”
I straightened my backpack’s straps. If he was asking if I had all my material things, then the answer was probably not, as I was famously lousy at remembering everyday things like a toothbrush and underwear. If he was asking if I had everything in my head—all the knowledge of Champ Island, the Bering Sea, the weather patterns, the gateway cave, the dome and the little information we knew of what was under it—then the answer was yes. I hadn’t spent the last six months of my life in training for nothing.
“I’m good,” I yelled back.
He nodded, then sat on his snowmobile, pulled his goggles over his eyes, and cranked the engine. The roar mingled with the howling wind. I cast one last glance at the facility.
The stark metal building loomed against a churning white sky. A single red light flashed from the antennae reaching up into the storm, as if it were a beacon screaming for help. I wasn’t sure it had stopped storming since I’d arrived half-a-year ago. I’d had no idea what I was getting into.
My nerves on that first day had been unbearable. After joining Vortech and making the cut to elite status, they’d sent me here to the top of the world, to a tiny, unknown island north of the Russian mainland. A place filled with mysterious sphere-shaped boulders that pocked the unforgiving landscape.
That’s when I’d learned about the dome, and my Kansas way of thinking—of Earth and everything in it—had been shattered forever.
After cranking my snowmobile’s engine, I pushed the throttle. Snow spewed behind me as I sped forward and followed Logan. I allowed myself to revel in the rush of wind, the crispness of the air, and the taste of ice on my tongue, something unfamiliar after being trapped inside the facility, with only a few trips to the outside world on my survival expeditions.
We sped past the wreck of the old immigrant’s ship. Weathered wooden planks comprised its hull. In some places, the boards stuck up like the bones of a whale’s skeleton. Whatever storm had pushed it to the top of the world must’ve been massive in scope.
The ship conjured images of the pages of a book I’d read as a child. The Lost Shipwreck of Champ Island. The book opened as if I were reading it again. Black-and-white photos and their captions popping out at me. How the ship got here is still a mystery. The immigrants’ disappearance is a mystery, too. After fifty years of study, scientists are beginning to fit the puzzle pieces together. No bodies were recovered, and in extreme temperatures such as those found on Champ Island, their remains would’ve been easily preserved. Some scientists believe they may have found a cave to take shelter in, yet no evidence of such an event has been recorded.
Beyond the ship lay an expanse of snowy wasteland. I dodged sphere-shaped boulders, some as small as ping-pong balls, others larger than my snowmobile. A blanket of white covered their tops, as if to hide their secrets. Lines of text from the Atlas of Champ Island jumped out in my mind.
Perfect spheres don’t exist in nature. Scientists have discovered the boulders were formed by water. However, because of the extreme temperatures, there are no recorded civilizations living on Champ Island, and no conclusive evidence that the spheres were formed by human hands.
Ice crystals crunched under our snowmobile’s skis, bringing me from my thoughts. I shook my head. Sometimes this photographic memory thing was a pain. I couldn’t stay focused on anything long enough before a book page hit me out of nowhere, and my concentration got jerked from one idea to another.
A howling wind echoed through the expanse. This far away from civilization, I imagined what it would feel like to be a shipwreck victim out here alone, with the screaming wind and the numbing cold. Where would I have gone from here?
The void of white faded with the setting sun, leaving the world drenched in gray. As we approached the substation, only the blinking red lights gave any indication we were near the bunker. The roaring engines grew quieter until we shut them off, leaving me with ringing ears in the sudden silence.
Logan removed his goggles. “You good?”
“Fine,” I called back.
We got off our snowmobiles and headed for the entrance. I flexed my stiff fingers. Despite my gloves, the cold managed to seep through, straight to my bones, until numbness settled inside.
The black metal hatch loomed, a block letter ‘V’ etched into the plate. We trudged through the snow until we reached the keypad. Logan removed his gloves just long enough to press his thumb to the fingerprint pad. A red laser scanned his finger, then the pad turned green, and the hatchway opened.
Snow particles blustered around us. I stepped onto the metal grating and inside the bunker, then I walked with Logan down a metal staircase, our footsteps echoing with hollow clangs. The door sealed shut above us. Panic of being caged in weighed heavy in my chest, but I gripped the railing.
Tamara Grantham is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books and novellas, including the Olive Kennedy: Fairy World MD series, the Shine novellas, and the Twisted Ever After trilogy. Dreamthief, the first book of her Fairy World MD series, won first place for fantasy in INDIEFAB’S Book of the Year Awards, a RONE award for best New Adult Romance, and is a #1 bestseller on Amazon with over 200 five-star reviews.
Tamara holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Lamar University. She has been a featured speaker at multiple writing conferences, and she has been a panelist at Comic Con Wizard World speaking on the topic of female leads. For her first published project, she collaborated with New York-Times bestselling author, William Bernhardt, in writing the Shine series.
Born and raised in Texas, Tamara now lives with her husband and five children in Wichita, Kansas. She rarely has any free time, but when the stars align and she gets a moment to relax, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, taking nature walks–which fuel her inspiration for creating fantastical worlds–and watching every Star Wars or Star Trek movie ever made. You can find her online at www.TamaraGrantham.com.
Kat is at loose ends after her husband ditched her and their daughter followed suit. When a lost time traveler appears in her Pennsylvania kitchen, she grasps at the chance to give her life meaning by helping the woman find her way home. But a mysterious stranger insists they are together for a purpose. Slipping through a portal to an 1825 Polish village, Kat meets her own ancestors and discovers how her own mistakes derailed her life. Can she bring her new understanding of forgiveness and unconditional love back to the present and heal her family before it’s too late?
The winter Regina arrived, I had a lot on my mind. My part-time job at the public library was going nowhere. My husband had left me over a crazy misunderstanding, and our 19-year-old daughter, who had always favored him, blamed me and followed him out the door. Lonely and confused by the turn my life had taken, I stumbled into the kitchen that morning and found the back door standing open, letting in a few flakes of snow.
Get a grip. I slammed the door closed. A whimper came from behind me. I whirled around to see an old woman in a long brown skirt, loose white blouse, and a muslin headscarf. She stood beside my kitchen table, shivering. A scream escaped my throat and then hers, both of us yelling like a crazy banshee duet.
“Who the hell are you?”
She jumped back, knocking over a chair. Selene, my old gray kitty, meowed loudly and ran from the room.
“What do you want?” I shouted as she scuttled over to a corner, clutching a piece of cheese. Her wide eyes looked so terrified I felt for a second as if I were the intruder, not she. Her face was wrinkled parchment and her hair around the edges of her headscarf was gray, but her round cheeks, those small brown eyes above a long straight nose: I had seen them before. On my grandmother’s face. A woman who raised me from the age of ten. A woman who had died over thirty years before. It was her. And not her. A queasy little wave traveled through my stomach.
“Who are you?” I said again, my voice shaking. I wondered if she was some sort of hallucination brought on by lack of sleep. My hands groped for the back of a chair.
She licked dry lips and held out both trembling hands, still clutching the cheese. “Przepraszam, Pani, she pleaded. “Prosze mi wybaczyc!”
A wash of pity flooded my heart. Her voice was soft and hoarse, and though I didn’t
understand her words, I knew their rhythm, the pattern of her sentence, the rise and fall and cadence. She spoke Polish like my Babcia, and my mind responded with words from my childhood to ask what she was doing.
“Co ty robisz?”
The old woman’s lips trembled. “Pani, mi wybaczyc,” she whispered and waved the cheese in her hands, still begging forgiveness as her gaze darted around the room as if she was expecting punishment to come from some corner.
I didn’t know how to say, Relax, it’s okay, so I grabbed another phrase from my childhood, the one that meant Hello. “Dzien dobry. My name is Kat. Katherine.” I pointed at my chest, where my heart thumped a jagged rhythm. “Katarzyna.”
She nodded and positioned her feet on the floor as if ready to run.
Linda C. Wisniewski is a former librarian and journalist. Her work has been published widely in literary magazines and anthologies, and on her blog, www.lindawis.com. She is the author of a memoir, Off Kilter: A Woman’s Journey to Peace with Scoliosis, Her Mother and Her Polish Heritage. Linda lives with her husband in Bucks County, PA.
I’m thrilled to share this gorgeous cover for upcoming new release, Technopaladin by Elizabeth Corrigan!
Technopaladin by Elizabeth Corrigan Genre: YA Sci-Fi/ Fantasy Expected Publication Date: May 2021
Clarity’s paladin order forbids her from entering the Azure District, the one location in her high tech city that refuses paladin rule and technology. When she receives an illicit invitation to violate the prohibition, spurred on by rumors of suffering in the district, she passes through the crumbling brick entryway into no-man’s land. Within, she finds the residents lack not only the ocular implants and three dimensional computers she takes for granted, but also medicine to fight a disease infecting the children.
Clarity knows her order isn’t perfect—after all, they stole her from her parents when she was a small child to raise her with their values—but she cannot believe they know what’s going on in the Azure District. When she confronts the head of the order, he refuses to aid people who have rejected his help in the past, even the children. Unwilling to take no for an answer, Clarity enlists the help of the leader’s son Cass and takes matters into her own hands.
Desperate both to cure the children and keep her place in the order that is her only home, Clarity engages in increasingly questionable behavior—deleting official records, lying to her friends, and manipulating people who can help her. As the nefarious nature of her actions tarnishes the purity of her cause, she must determine what it truly means to be a paladin, in both name and action.
Elizabeth Corrigan has degrees in English and psychology and has spent several years working as a data analyst in various branches of the healthcare industry. When she’s not hard at work on her next novel, Elizabeth enjoys playing tabletop role-playing games and cooperative card games. She refuses to watch most internet videos and is pathologically afraid of bees. She lives in Maryland with two cats and a very active iphone.
Imagine a secret, hidden city that gives a second chance at life for those selected to come: felons, deformed outcasts, those on the fringe of the Outside World. Everyone gets a job, a place to live; but you are bound to the city forever. You can never leave.
Its citizens are ruled by a monstrous figure called the “Man” who resembles a giant demented spider from the lifelike robotic limbs attached to his body. Everyone follows the man blindly, working hard to make their Promised Land stronger, too scared to defy him and be discarded to the Empty Zones.
After ten years as an advertising executive, Graham Weatherend receives an order to test a new client, Pow! Sodas. After one sip of the orange flavor, he becomes addicted, the sodas causing wild mood swings that finally wake him up to the prison he calls reality.
A dynamic mash-up of 1984 meets LOST, ORANGE CITY is a lurid, dystopian first book in a series that will continue with the explosive sequel LEMONWORLD.
At six on the dot, the gloved cellular let out a piercing ring. A timer turned on, ticking down with each buzz. E wouldn’t have long to remain idle. The entire pod apartment vibrated, and his capsule bed slid open. The white ceiling drew his attention, the walls devoid of color, a minimalist’s fantasy—nothing like a home.
Shades of the dream from last night still lingered. His knuckles painted with blood as he beat a shadow. The voice of the shadow belonging to a ten-year-old boy. The boy’s cries stabbing E’s ears. He shook that dream away.
He removed the intravenous tube that connected him to his bed and switched off the cooling mist which allowed him to slumber for days. He stretched his old bones, his hair standing up in a state of white shock like it had since he was a young man. Swinging his thick legs over the side of the bed, he yawned at the morning before finally answering his cell.
“I’ll be right there,” he coughed into the digital eye on his gloved palm.
He removed the glove and pushed a button on the side of the bed. Doors opening along the wall revealed a sliver of a kitchen with a piping pot of subpar and gritty coffee brewing on the counter— the best offered to the Scouts— and two sizzling poached eggs from a suspect source. He scarfed down the eggs and pushed another button to raise the shades along the lone wall facing east. The heart of The City hovered in the near distance, its new buildings staggering on one end like giant colorful stalagmites. Sipping his black coffee, he watched it in motion as he did every morning.
Between the Scouts and the rest of The City lay a half a mile of ice water. The City was made up of many Regions, his situated on the outskirts. Sometimes he wondered what it would be like to fall into those frosty waters and drift off to wherever it might choose to take him, no longer having to shuttle between The City and the faraway Outside World anymore. But instead of a dramatic suicide, he suited up and headed through the tunnel with a suitcase in hand like he had for twenty years. He’d convinced himself long ago that living here was better than rotting in prison like he would’ve been if they hadn’t selected him. At least he was still able to get lost in a bottle of whiskey or feel the sun against his cheek during the few instances it was allowed to peek through the chronic clouds. Even though The City was far from ideal, the Outside World remained definitely worse. It reminded him too often of the man he used to be and of the terrible sins he’d committed. These thoughts returned at the beginning of every week while he geared up for another one, as he wondered if one day the Man in the Eye might give him a promotion and he wouldn’t have to be a Scout anymore.
That way, he’d never have to return to the Outside World.
Then, he could possibly be at peace, like all The City’s inhabitants wished.
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE ANCESTOR, THE MENTOR, THE DESIRE CARD and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the Prix du Polar. His first YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN is forthcoming in 2021 along with a sci-fi novel ORANGE CITY. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in The Millions, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, LitReactor, Monkeybicycle, Fiction Writers Review, Cagibi, Necessary Fiction, the anthology Dirty Boulevard, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at LeeMatthewGoldberg.com
Jeremiah Ward was just another convict, a disgraced investigator who once worked the Martian beat, now serving his sentence in a mining colony on Mercury. When a member of a powerful faction goes missing on Titan, Ward is given an opportunity he cannot pass up. In exchange for investigating the disappearance of this figure, he gets a clean slate and a second chance.
But, the deeper Ward digs the more secrets he finds. Instead of investigating a missing person’s case he becomes embroiled in a centuries-old conspiracy and Ward comes to realize his one shot at redemption may cost him his life.
They stood two by two. In standard squad formation, moving onto their target area.
In front, Bern and Valeri stood, there arms held squarely at their sides. Durand could see that their hands were twitching. Valeri was attempting to hide it by crossing her arms and tapping out the rhythm of some unheard melody against her bicep. Bern however couldn’t decide what to do with his hands, and kept wiping them against his trouser legs.
Durand and Chayond were fortunate that way. In their hands, the equipment bags hung. Though relatively light, they were just burdensome enough to require both hands to carry them. They did not have to worry about idle hands or telltale signs of nervousness as they waited for the elevator to finish descending.
“Remember, no talking,” said Valeri, reminding them as the elevator came to a stop. The doors slid open to admit them to the station’s main hub. Bern nodded forward, and the four stepped out onto the platform.
Evening was now upon them, with several bright lights shining down from the station’s vaulted ceiling. Through the station’s dome, a thick grey haze was just visible. The faint traces of light reflected off of Saturn’s disc turned what would have been the black night into a deep, murky twilight.
The four of them were quickly swallowed up by the din of chatter, footsteps, and the sounds of a computerized voice making announcements in Anglish, Franz, Deutsch, Chin and Swahili.
The station was filled with hundreds of locals milling about, moving from one transit lane to another. Few paid them any attention as they walked through the crowds. Why should they? To onlookers, the group’s blue and orange coveralls designated them as maintenance staff. To all recording devices and sensors in the area, their ID tags also designed them as such.
Still, Chayond felt a tinge of panic every time the bag he carried rattled. None of their party would fare too well if they were stopped for inspection. Chayond felt himself looking at the few Gendarmes mixed in with the commuters out of the corner of his eye. If Bern saw him, she would certainly backhand him across the face. Of course, she would wait until they were no longer in public before doing so.
It seemed to take a terribly long time to cross the main floor. At the far end, they began to descend a flight of stairs, and Chayond felt a little better. The bag was rattling louder, luckily it was being drowned out by the whooshing noise of hypertrains coming and going inside their tubes. The dull, monotone computerized voice continued to announce the arrival and departure of trains, though it was becoming more difficult to hear. The noise was like a cushion that began to cloak their every move.
Valerni motioned to their left as they reached the bottom of the stairs. Commuter traffic continued to pour around them, which made maintaining their tight formation somewhat difficult. Still, they held in their two-by-two stance, moving towards the left track – and to the small door that led to the maintenance tunnel. No one followed them there. All the commuter traffic was drawn to the tubes and left what appeared to be a maintenance crew alone.
As soon as they were through the hatch, the noise stopped. The busy station was now sealed behind the pressure door. The only sounds now the gentle hissing of the tunnel’s pressure controls. of course, Valeri’s commanding voice. Checking her chrono, she made a quick consult of their timetable.
“We’re on schedule,” she said. “Let’s keep it that way. Move out.”
The four collapsed into a single line, moving down the tight tunnel as quickly as they could. Durand threw the strap of his bag over his shoulder and Chayond did the same. Their steps became fast and heavy, their work boots striking hard against the metal grates that lined the floor. Heavy pipes and ducts controlling the settlements flow of fresh water and air whizzed by their heads. The high pressure and heat combined to make the going very uncomfortable.
Yet still, they moved. Rigid discipline and a clear purpose driving them onward. Until they reached their destination and set up, they could not relax.
When they finally came to the hatch that would admit them onto the platform that they wanted, they had all broken a good sweat. Only Valeri appeared to not be out of breath.
“Alright, pay attention because we don’t have time to dither.” Reaching into the pocket of her coveralls, she retrieved a small handheld. She held the transparent device up. Displayed on it was a single-frame. A man’s face.
“This is David Lee,” Valeri said. “He’s the Formist the Chandrasekhar’s sent on ahead to do their dirty work. Our intel says he’ll be travelling alone by the time he gets to the line. So that’s when we take him down.”
She tapped the screen. Lee’s image was replaced by a video feed of him standing with a woman. They stood close to each other, a degree of intimacy clearly implied by their body language.
“This is our contact. She is the one who provided us with Lee’s itinerary. According to her, Lee will be here at the time indicated, and he will be alone. However, if we find that they are together, then something’s gone wrong and we’ll need to take them both down. There can’t be any suspicion on her.”
“Who is she?” Durand asked.
Valeri shrugged. “Didn’t ask. neither should you. All you need to know is, she’s not our target. If it comes down to it, we take them both down. we leave her behind for the authorities to collect. Any other stupid questions?”
Durand was sufficiently shamed and shut up. Bern though had some thoughts on that score and offered them freely.
“Probably some just whore from the Yellow Light District. Point is, she’s a fucking patriot and gave us this information. So she’ll understand, I’m sure.”
All heads in the group nodded. A rumble shook the tube, indicating that a hypertrain was going by. It was nothing more than a passing tremor. No sound made it through the sealed pressure doors.
“That’ll be the 2115 to Cassini now,” she said, smiling. “Our Dr. Lee will be making the next one. Better suit up.”
Durand dropped his equipment bag on the ground, kneeling down to open it. Chayond did the same, placing his bag on the floor and separating the tabs on the seal. As Durand began removing their change of clothes, the others began to disrobe. The suits Durand passed out looked like something reptilian, scaly surfaces the same color as mercury. They were thin, no heavier than a stack of thermal blankets, with hoods at the top and small terminals on the left arms.
Valeri and Bern quickly became half-naked, their sweating frames glistening from the tube’s lighting. Quickly, they pulled the silver skins over their coveralls and began doing up all the clasps, sealing the suits around themselves and firing up the cells that powered them.
Durand tossed a suit aside for himself before handing one over to Chayond, who hesitated. His head was swimming from all the heat, the run had left him drained and full of endorphins. Still, he was aware enough to feel damn apprehensive. Accepting the suit seemed like a terrible step, one from which there was no turning back.
Durand noticed his hesitation. “Hey, you good?” he asked. Chayond glanced quickly in Valeri direction. She looked up from her suit to shoot him a look of disapproval and he quickly averted his eyes.
“Yeah, I’m good,” he replied, taking the suit in hand and unzipping his coveralls. Somehow, one look from Vslero was enough to silence any doubts, or enough to scare him into compliance.
A moment later, all four members of the team were suited up in their new vestments. Everything from their necks down was now covered in specialized material. Valeri pulled the last piece into place, pulling the hood up and covering her hair.
“Remember,” she admonished. “Make sure your sticks are charged just right. Too much, and his implants might rupture. that’s the last thing we want.”
All heads nodded again. Chayond interpreted the mention of the sticks as an order to distribute them. Reaching down into the bag, he began pulling them out, one by one. Four slender truncheons, a small console on one side, contained a power indicator, an electrical port, and a few controls. He handed the first to Valeri, passed out the second and third, kept the fourth for himself.
Each team member inspected the sticks to ensure that they were set at exactly the right power level before sliding them neatly into the waistband of their outfits. Each stick connected with the suit’s internal power supply.
“Alright, let’s power them up,” ordered Valeri. “Let’s see if these things were worth the price.”
“Doubt that,” Bern said sarcastically. “ they still better work.”
As one, Bern, Durand and Chayond pulled the hoods up over their heads and engaged the suit’s power supply. Three low-frequency squeals sounded out in the tube, and where three men with silver skins stood, suddenly there were just three faces. The rest of their heads, like their bodies, were now cloaked in advanced stealth fields.
Valeri smiled. “Not bad.” She pulled her mask into place over her mouth and eyes and put her finger to the terminal on her arm. It took less than a second before she completely disappeared from view.
“How do I look?” she asked, her voice filtered and modulated by the mask.
“Like nothing at all,” replied Durand.
“Good.” She suddenly reappeared, removing the mask and hood. “Then be ready. If the target escapes, we may not get another chance. So make this one count.”
To be entered to win a signed copy of The Cronian Incident Enter HERE!
Growing up in the 80s and 90s Matthew Williams was born in to science fiction. He enjoyed many of the infamous SF franchises of the time and read many of sci-fi’s most influential works. As an adult, Matt marvelled at those SF novels which stood the test of time, while making valuable observations of the human condition, and he decided to create his own novels.
As a professional writer for Universe Today, Matt is well-versed in many nerdy topics ranging from: spaceflight to terraforming, Earth sciences to physics, and the future of human space exploration. He has interviewed many of today’s top scientific minds and NASA personnel, and been a featured speaker at astronomy societies. His articles have appeared in such publications as Business Insider, Science Alert, Phys.org, HeroX, Pionic, Gizmodo, Futurism and IO9.