Paginations

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Excerpt from Gabriel: Zero Point – The process of augmenting Lt. Gabriel begins

Excerpt from Gabriel: Zero Point, the prequel novella to the Gabriel Trilogy. GZP is FREE (as in beer) for Kindle US, Kindle UK, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords. Free, so what’s the harm in trying it on for size?

gabrielzeropoint2-6x9The plastic was unnaturally cold against his skin as he stretched out in the capsule. It felt more metal than plastic. The glass lid perched above his head, still hinged open, blurring the designs on the ceiling panels, probably leftover from the original luxury suites. He wriggled to find a comfortable position.

“All set, Lieutenant?”

Knowles’s face appeared above him, looking down into the capsule.

“The underwear itches,” he replied. “Other than that, yeah, I suppose so.”

She smiled. “Itchy underwear will be the least of your annoyances. I forgot to tell you. The oxy fluid is ice cold. And the scout nanites will be injected prior to sedation, so you may feel some… discomfort the first few minutes.”

“Scout?”

“They pave the way for the rest of the machines. Scouting pathways, blood vessels, arteries, and the like. Just making it easier for the others. But some patients have complained of some initial pain. No worries, Lieutenant. You’ll be under sedation in a matter of moments after the process begins.”

“This gets better and better,” he growled.

Knowles’s face disappeared for a few seconds, then returned. “Tank is online. Relax, take a few deep breaths. Like I said, the fluid is ice cold and will startle your body when it enters your lungs. Go with it. In the womb, we all breathed like this. It’s natural.” She smiled. “Sort of.”

Her face disappeared and reappeared again. “The process has started,” she said as the glass lid began to slowly descend. “I’ll see you on the other side, Lieutenant Gabriel.” Just before she pulled her head back, he saw the same flicker of emotion on her face he had seen a few minutes ago. Sadness? Worry? Before he could say anything, her face was gone.

He closed his eyes as the lid connected with the capsule with a thunk. He heard air hissing, then from under him came the freezing cold fluid. His body tensed and he clenched his teeth, trying desperately to push the thought of drowning aside. The liquid poured in and cascaded over the tops of his legs, then stomach and chest. His skin puckered at the cold and he took short, sharp breaths. His fingers curled, nails pressing into his palms.

The liquid reached his mouth and he squeezed it shut, involuntarily holding his breath. He knew the process; it was the same as long-range high-acceleration ships used for inertial dampening for crewmembers in stasis. But to a human body, it was completely unnatural, regardless of what Knowles said about the womb.

abando51He was now completely submerged and shivering uncontrollably. His lungs burned for air. He opened his eyes, and the freezing liquid stabbed at his eyeballs. It was as if looking through pale blue gelatin.

His lungs could take no more, and he gasped for breath. Spasms racked his body as the fluid poured down his throat and into his airway. He spasmed several more times, and the image of being pushed under by an ocean wave flashed across his mind. He willed his body to relax, and finally the fluid filled his lungs and his body settled. One last gasp and spasm, and Gabriel was breathing liquid.

Through the rushing waterfall sound of the liquid in his ears, he heard a mechanical whirring. He felt a pinprick on his right thigh, then a matching one on his left. Six more pinpricks: one in each arm, one each on either side of his rib cage, one in the bottom of each foot. The scout injections, he thought. He imagined them like cartoon robots, running down red corridors to their jobs, leaving bread crumbs behind for others to follow. He started to smile, when he felt a burning sensation in both feet. The image of the fire ants came back to him as the same burning crept over his legs, then sides, then arms. Suddenly the burning was coursing throughout his body, and he began to panic. This wasn’t the discomfort Knowles alluded to.

The burning intensified, like miniature plasma torches being placed against his skin in a thousand places. He struggled to move, but the paralytic chemicals in the fluid had taken effect. He was immobilized, the nanites started their work on him, and he was still awake.

He grunted as the burning continued. He couldn’t even grit his teeth, and his eyes were still open, staring at blue-tinged ceiling panels. Then the sedation kicked in. His vision began to gray, but the burning increased to an unbearable level.

Gabriel screamed in silence.

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Here is where I shamelessly stump again –  Gabriel: Zero Point is FREE for Kindle USKindle UKNookiBooksKobo, and Smashwords.

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Excerpt from Gabriel’s Revenge, Book 3: Spy Ship Brings Data…and Questions

“NAFN Richard Marcinko, this is Corporal Lewis Grienke aboard the MDF packetship Shadow. Coded message for Commander Gabriel. Please respond.”

Gabriel turned to McTiernan with his eyebrows raised. “There’s a man in that thing?”

McTiernan nodded. “Yes, we were as surprised as you. Damned thing is less than five feet across. Must have been like flying in a coffin.”

An image of the drop capsules screaming through the atmosphere of Poliahu flashed across Gabriel’s mind. “Been there, done that.” He squinted at the image on the screen. “Have you responded?”

“Yes, Ensign Giroux confirmed the receipt of the tight-beam with our own. The corporal is asking for you personally and will not release the message without your code.”

Gabriel shook his head. “I have no idea what code he’s speaking of, but I guess you’d better get me on the line with him.”

McTiernan waved his hand to Giroux and the communications officer opened a channel. “The packetship is still half a million miles or so away, so there’s a three second lag each way.”

The overhead speaker beeped with the opening of the comm link.

“Corporal Grienke, this is Commander Evan Gabriel. I received your transmission, but I do not have a code.”

After a few seconds, the overhead speaker crackled. “Thank you sir, voice code received and accepted.”

Gabriel glanced at McTiernan, who merely shrugged his shoulders. “Didn’t think it would be that simple,” Gabriel said in a low tone.

“He found us, Commander,” McTiernan replied. “He probably isn’t too worried about imposters at this point.”

Gabriel nodded. “Go ahead with your transmission, Corporal.”

Before the voice returned, Giroux called out. “Captain, I’m receiving a data stream overlaid on the transmission. It’s clean. Shall I put it up?”

“Go ahead, Ensign, same screen.”

The image of the ship and its statistics disappeared, replaced by a schematic of the solar system. The Ryokou wormhole was a green square, surrounded by several red threat dots, with Mars a flashing yellow circle. Numbers scrolled down one side of the screen showing distances, estimated armament, positioning, open corridors, and other tactical data.

“Commander, I have a message from Major Andon,” Grienke’s voice continued. “He sends his regards and his congratulations for a mission well done on Eden, but has a significant warning to pass along. And yes sir, he used the word significant. You should be seeing the data I collected on my flight out. It was… tight… getting through undetected, as the wormhole approach is littered with Chinese fighters. I’m sure they didn’t see this packetship, but they probably picked up my wormhole transit. I fully expect them to know you’re on the way. Major Andon’s warning is that these fighters have orders to shoot the Marcinko on sight, no questions asked.”

Several seconds passed in silence. Gabriel squeezed the railing hard enough to make his knuckles go white. “Just like Eden,” he said under his breath.

Grienke went on. “I’ve sent you the data on the wormhole area. I’m also sending you data on the Mars blockade ships as best as we can detect. The bulk of the Chinese ships are at Ryokou, only a handful around Mars. They seem to be putting quite an effort into blocking your entry into the system. Major Andon has also enclosed data on the situation on the ground, which is a second packet I’m sending you.”

Giroux raised his hand. “Received, Captain.”

“Corporal, stand by to be picked up,” said McTiernan.

A few seconds ticked by as the light speed transmission went out and was answered.

“Ah, sir, I’m supposed to continue on to Calypso to be attached to the MDF training force. This mission sort of dovetailed with my schedule, blockade or not. Lucky me, right?” A small laugh came through the speaker. “And while it’s a bit tighter quarters than I expected, I’d rather keep going than join you in a firefight. No offense, Captain.”

“None taken, Corporal,” McTiernan replied. “Safe travels, and thank you for the information.”

“Thank you, sir, and good luck. Shadow out.”

McTiernan shifted in his command chair to face Gabriel. “What is it with the Chinese connection?”

Gabriel shook his head, still staring at the solar system schematic. “Wish I knew, Captain. But I get the feeling we’ll find out soon enough.”

***

GABRIEL’S REVENGE is the finale of the top-rated science fiction/adventure Gabriel trilogy. Enjoy the scene, like the genre? All three are available for all major ebook platforms, and now paperback: http://steveumstead.com/my-books/

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Excerpt from Gabriel’s Redemption, Book 1: Back Office Troubles

When Santander arrived, Gurnett and two other security men had two plant workers seated in chairs in a back office. One of the security men was training an odd-looking handgun at them. As Santander approached, one of the plant workers stood up and pointed. “That’s him, that’s the guy who set me up for this!” he yelled.

The handgun butt smashed into the worker’s stomach, and he sat back down hard, gasping for breath.

Gurnett shook his head and looked back at Santander. “Never learn, do they?”

“No, I suppose not,” he replied, avoiding Gurnett’s face. “So what’s the situation?” he asked the non-gasping individual.

The second worker gulped nervously, looking alternately at the other worker, who was just now catching his breath, and his questioner. “You’re the security chief? You runs things here, right?” he asked.

“Correct,” said Santander, crossing his arms.

“Dural has been pocketing vials, skimming from the top of our production. I walked in on him today. I gave him a chance to explain, but he just threw your name back at me, saying you know all about it, and then accused me of stealing production equipment!”

“So you’re Rechichi?” he asked. “How long have you been here? What’s your position?”

“Four months, sir. I handle post-processing for most of the final compounds, prior to packaging. Same as Dural.” Apparently unsure of where this conversation was going, beads of sweat began to appear on his upper lip.

“And Dural?” Santander asked Gurnett.

“Two years. One of our best men,” he answered.

Rechichi was now sweating profusely, wiping his brow with the sleeve of his shirt. “I’m not lying!”

“No, I don’t think you are,” Santander replied evenly. “Wrong place at the wrong time, I suppose.”

He held his hand out to the security officer, who passed over the handgun. “Codes,” he said. The security officer flashed arming codes for the weapon to Santander’s neuretics, and the handgun powered up.

“Wait!” screamed Rechichi, holding his hands up, palms out, in protest. “You can’t do this!”

Santander raised the weapon, the tingle in the grip indicating it was armed and fully charged. “Of course I can. I run things here, remember?” And he fired.

The handgun wasn’t silenced, so a loud piercing clangggg filled the small office. The depleted uranium pellet shot from the barrel, accelerated by magnetic fields to over six thousand miles per hour, and smashed through the plant worker’s skull. The entry wound was tiny, matching the pellet’s 3 millimeter diameter, but the resulting exit wound wasn’t nearly as neat. The back of Rechichi’s head exploded onto the wall behind him, and his body flew backwards out of the chair, onto a large plastic sheet. A small hole was visible in the back wall, now dripping with brain matter and blood.

Damn, Thao, what the hell is this thing?” Santander asked the security man, looking in wonderment at the weapon.

The security man who had given Santander the gun smiled. “Miniature railgun, sir. Made by Strittmaier out of New Berlin. Newest tech on the market. Undetectable to electronic or neuretic scans too. Cost me a month’s pay to afford it.”

Santander nodded. “I like it. No recoil, that’s fantastic.” He turned it over in his hands a few times. “A little loud though. Gurnett, look into getting some of these. And reimburse Thao for having to buy his own.”

Thao beamed. “Thank you sir.”

Santander looked over at Dural, whose wheezing had completely stopped. Even his breathing had stopped as he stared behind him at the carnage that was his coworker.

“Dural,” Santander said.

Dural’s head snapped back. “Yes, uh, sorry. Thanks Mr. Santander. He just walked in on me, he shouldn’t even have been on shift. Won’t happen again, I know you need those vials, and I’ll keep them coming.”

“I do need those vials. What I don’t need are morons working for me.” He raised the pistol again, and fired twice into Dural’s chest. The body toppled over to rest near Rechichi, two holes blown clean through his chest, the chair back, and the wall. The dual clangs reverberated off the ceiling and walls.

“Hot damn, I love this thing!” he exclaimed, handing it back to Thao. “Gurnett, you gotta get me one. First on the list, hear me?”

Gurnett nodded. “Absolutely. Sorry again to bother you.”

“Not a problem, I needed a little release,” Santander answered. “Nice touch with the plastic sheeting, makes cleanup a lot easier.”

He strode from the room, whistling.

***

GABRIEL’S REDEMPTION is Book 1 of the top-rated science fiction/adventure Gabriel trilogy. Enjoy the scene, like the genre? All three are available for all major ebook platforms, and now paperback: http://steveumstead.com/my-books/

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