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Barnes and Noble
Unwilling to be a pawn in the Admiral's dangerous game, psychic Ian Connors must find a way to escape and protect a girl he sees himself with in the future.
Set in the future on Mars.....
Ian Connors is a psychic who uses his special talent to serve the most powerful corporate syndicate on the planet, Marscorp. But a disturbing vision and a horrible loss cause Ian to doubt his loyalties to a corrupt, dictatorial admiral.
Unwilling to be a pawn in the Admiral's dangerous game, Ian must find a way to escape and protect a girl he sees himself with in the future. His only hope may lie with a new organization known as Vallar - an alliance of rebel organizations willing to fight for their survival.
Aboard the Admiral’s flagship, I enjoyed the view through the small cabin porthole. Dust drifted over the dunes and formed ripples across the rusty Mars terrain. We flew close to the surface at the rear of the fleet, heading toward a small foreign outpost just outside our territory.
My fellow psychic, Nate Forshay, had discovered it through a vision. No organization had the courage to set up an outpost this close to us in years. Something of value must be there, and most likely we would capture it.
Since it was my turn to clean up the cabin, I pulled myself away from the porthole. As I made the bunk beds, my thoughts wandered back to my own vision from last night about a girl I’d never met.
I picked up my dataviewer where I’d downloaded files of about a thousand redheads and viewed them one at a time, trying to find the one who looked like the girl. Several of them had similar faces. It would take hours to search. I flopped down on the lower bunk and sighed at a growing headache.
The rolling of the flagship caused me to doze off. As my eyes drifted shut, I found myself thinking about her again. In the vision, we had sat together on the backseat of an elevator. She had long auburn hair and fair skin. My embarrassingly skinny body had filled out a bit, so this had to be in the future.
As we sat together, she smiled and put her legs over mine and stretched. “Ah, that’s more comfortable.” She put her hands behind her head and grinned.
I tickled her ribs. She squealed and squeezed my thigh. We laughed and tickled each other, until both of us ended up on the floor.
“Ian.” She ended up under me. “It’s not fair. You’re stronger than me.”
“When I’m with you, I forget about everything.”
She brushed her fingers through the back of my hair. I softly kissed her cheeks and our lips met. She pulled back and began to say something, but I awoke to the sound of Nate banging on a door in the hallway. The interruption of that moment still made me want to smack Nate upside the head.
I returned to scanning faces on the dataviewer. A sharp pain went through my head and made me lose my place. I rubbed my temples and hoped it wasn’t turning into a migraine.
A caution buzzer sounded, breaking my concentration. Caution status meant everyone had to put on an envirosuit despite the fact that we hadn’t been attacked in five years. I peered out the porthole again.
Several kilometers ahead, dust spilled into half collapsed buildings. Pieces of debris stuck out of the surface. A row of rusty, small hills ran behind what was left of an old colony. Everything looked just as Nate described in his vision. The Admiral had predicted right – it was in the same location as the ruins of Orissa.
Before I was born, we had raided Orissa, taking every last resource and either turning the survivors into slaves or sending them to prison camps. The stories about it bothered me because Orissa never had a military. The remaining ruins didn’t look like much of a threat. Another sharp pain made my eyes burn. I rested on the bunk and put my forearm over my head.
“Ian?” Nate said, coming through the door. “Do you see the . . .” He looked me over. “Why are you not in a suit? You’re going to miss everything.”
“Why do I have to?” I sat up and shifted the dataviewer behind my back. “There isn’t much of a threat out there.”
“The Admiral said we’re following all procedures on this trip.” His blue eyes peered at me from under thin blond bangs. “What’s so fascinating about that dataviewer?”
I glanced at it casually. “Nothing, just studying for trigonometry.”
“Right.” He reached for the dataviewer.
“Hey!” I pulled it away.
He reached again. “Let me see it.”
I put it behind my back and struggled to thumb the off button. We wrestled, and Nate ended up pinning me on the bunk. Just as he was about to yank the dataviewer from me another twinge hit.
“Ouch, ouch.” I touched my forehead and winced.
He stopped and stood up. “You alright?”
“It’s just a headache.”
“I can tell you have a fever.”
“Only a small one. It’s no big deal.” I couldn’t stand the thought of being stuck in the infirmary for the rest of the trip.
His eyes shifted to the dataviewer. “You sure you’re okay?”
“Yes, and this . . .” I glanced at the dataviewer. “It’s nothing interesting.” I dragged out my words, hoping he’d get bored with me. “It’s research about a vision.”
“You finally had a vision?”
“I know it’s been awhile, but . . . .”
“Tell me already.” Nate’s eyes narrowed with frustration.
Heat crept back into my face “Don’t laugh but, it was about a girl that I’ve never met.”
Nate slowly grinned with only half his mouth and huffed. “I’d want to find out more about that too.” His expression spread into a smirk, which caused a new wave of heat to go up my neck.
Nate chuckled through pressed lips, looking up thoughtfully. "So, did you get a name?"
He reached his hand out. “Can I have a look?”
I hesitated, but figured it wouldn’t hurt and gave him the dataviewer. “Don’t tell anyone. I don’t want Admiral Beacon to find out I’m having dreams about girls instead of spying.”
“Of course I won’t, but how are you going to find her?” He stared at the small screen. “Hmm, they look a bit older than you.” Nate handed the dataviewer back. “At least come to the bridge for a few minutes. If you don’t, they’re going to start asking questions.” He grabbed his suit out of the closet and hurried into it.
“Okay, but this is so unnecessary.” I pulled myself into the stiff envirosuit. Although they had made them more comfortable over the years and improved the dark blue mesh material, I still didn’t like them.
Nate finished first and helped me check over the batteries and oxygen packs.
We carried our helmets and walked down a narrow hall toward the front of the flagship, passing through the cabin section. Voices blended together from people working in the tactical and weapons rooms. Being inside the envirosuit felt like stepping into an oven, so I turned down the temperature on the wrist control.
Even though neither Nate nor I held an officer rank, a guard saluted us as we entered the bridge because we held the title of “elite”, which was given to people with valuable talents. We were the youngest elites, and only a few people knew why.
Admiral James Beacon stood behind the pilot and navigator looking over one of the monitors. He wore a black beret over his bleached blond hair and a brown goatee with a few gray specks surrounded his chin and mouth. “Come closer for a better view.” Beacon motioned with two fingers.
We stepped to his right as the pilot raised the altitude of the flagship above the peaks of the hills. The navigator adjusted a long range monitor. Two buildings, tucked in the center of a group of hills, came into focus. I guessed they chose that spot to give themselves some cover, but that particular square arrangement of hills had helped my friend locate their position from his vision.
“That’s it,” Nate said. “If only I could’ve figured out who set it up.”
Beacon’s dark eyes widened. “We’ll find out soon.” He turned to me. “How about you, Connors? How are your visions coming along?”
A few beads of sweat ran down my cheeks. “I’m still trying, sir.”
“Good, just concentrate on possible targets or any secrets these organizations might be keeping from us.”
Nate gave a tiny grin and stared with narrow teasing eyes full of temptation to tell the Admiral about my vision of the girl, but I knew he would keep his word. At least his vision was useful while my dreams did whatever they wanted. Nate always said you have to take control of the vision.
Only problem was I didn’t know what he meant. Everything he did came so easy to him. He had graduated first in his class and was captain of the track team. Now he majored in psychiatry and was acing everything – as usual.
Outside, an awesome variety of Marc vessels converged on the small settlement, displaying the Marscorp logo of a galloping stallion on their hulls.
I spotted a few not in my model collection back home. Midrange vessels with both hover and flight capabilities headed for the center with missiles hanging under their bellies. A midrange could carry five to twenty people, depending on its size and specialization. Laser cannons in the front and on the roofs rotated toward one of the foreign vessels parked on the surface.
“Are they going to fire, sir?” I asked.
“Hard to say,” Beacon said. “We gave them the option of joining us, but they didn’t respond.”
“But there’s no real threat here. Is there, sir?”
“It looks easy enough so far, but one can never be sure.”
Short range jets called scouters circled the area while a large transport lingered at the back, full of soldiers. Laser shots blasted out of one of the cannons. My heart kicked up a notch anticipating an explosion, but instead the laser struck the ground near a small foreign vessel trying to escape. Soil went flying up into the atmosphere.
Did we have to do this today? My body was damp with sweat. Again, I adjusted the temperature of my envirosuit.
Plumes of dust rose around the side of the largest building. A bulky, scratched-up foreign transport with no markings undocked, lumbering away right before our large fleet surrounded the outpost.
“It’s a shame these rogues continue to struggle when they could just join us,” Beacon said. “It’s also strange anyone would have the nerve to set up a post by these ruins. Nate, if you could discover the reasons through a vision?”
“Yes, sir,” Nate said.
Light flashed near the buildings and the floor of the flagship vibrated. More dust and debris went up in front of the post.
“Did they just shoot at us?” Beacon wrinkled his nose.
“Yes, sir,” said the pilot. “One shot from a small jet flying erratically.”
Beacon pressed several buttons on the console and sent out a signal. A vibration rippled through the ship as the weapons officer shot at the vessel. The foreign jet went down like a fly among a swarm of hawks. Another shot tore into the old transport. It burst into a ball of flames.
My vision blurred from the relentless migraine. A mix of screams came and vanished in an instant. “But, why the transport? Maybe it could’ve been captured instead.”
“They’re ignoring our messages and are too close to our territory, so I decided to send a message.”
I could’ve said more, but questioning superiors usually led to an additional assignment in order to increase my understanding of the Marc way. With exams next week, that was the last thing I needed.
My stomach tensed and I fought back a growing queasiness. Whenever a large group of people experienced the same emotion all at once, it hit me hard despite my efforts to try and block it. I didn’t want to see anymore and wished I was back home swimming or playing soccer.
Most of our vessels landed around the abandoned outpost. Officers reported over the radio that the post had large tanks filled with water, wells and oxygen processors. The foreigners set it up, not to spy on us, but to get water.
A wave of dizziness made me want to rip off my suit. “Sir, can I be dismissed? I have to study for a test tomorrow.”
Beacon chuckled. “Maybe I’ll bring you two on something a bit more exciting next time.” He glanced toward the door. “Dismissed.”
“Thank you, sir.” I spun around too fast and stumbled toward a bridge exit that floated before me.
“Ian?” Nate’s voice echoed.
I unzipped the suit, trying to escape the heat. Darkness grew around the edges of my vision.
“Nate,” I whispered before everything went black.