by Erik J Kreffel
Trade Paperback: $18.95 (Amazon) - E-Book: $5.00 (Lulu)
2144. Three caches of enigmatic jewels are discovered in Asia, artifacts from an extraterrestrial crash that bear a disturbing capability to alter time. Special Agents James Gilmour and Greg Mason must overcome distrust of their assignment and travel through time and space to prevent the Russian-led Confederation of Independent States from assembling a temporal superweapon from these jewels to conquer not just the world, but history itself.
The Confederation, however, has other plans. It possesses Strela, a new class of missiles, thanks to the jewels, that can bring the spacecraft’s secrets home to Russia. A new World War—and World Order—appears imminent. If Gilmour succeeds, no one will know. If he fails, no one will be around to know....
“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t put a bullet through your skull, Yastanni!” Special Agent James Gilmour spat, leveling his sidearm against the temple of Doctor Nouhri Yastanni, who cowered on the bedroom floor of his four-star Parisian hotel.
His head held taut by Gilmour’s partner, Special Agent Greg Mason, Yastanni answered in his thick Iranian accent, “What’re you doing in my room?! I’m here for the trade show! My government will be very displeas—”
“We don’t care about your leisure activities while you’re in town!” Drawing his face closer to the stunned man, Mason produced a palm-size black canister. “Look familiar? Where and how did you receive these neutronic particles? Why do you have this canister, which was reported missing from the Sudbury Quantum Laboratory last month?!”
Shivering under the combined grasp of Gilmour and Mason, Yastanni’s mouth contorted, forcing out the weak words, “I’ve...I’ve been producing them for the past sixteen months...since I’ve...received seed particles and schematics for a neutronic device from a mole code named HADRON in North America....”
Gilmour nuzzled the barrel of his pistol into Yastanni’s sallow skin. “And...?”
“The neutronic particles are being funneled to the Confederation government in Russia...they’ve paid me one hundred million euros for every batch of particles I can produce that will yield a neutronic warhead—”
“Who is HADRON’s handler?! What is HADRON’s location?!”
“I—I don’t know...contact was arranged by someone in the Confederation—”
Gritting his teeth, Gilmour fought against every fiber of his being not to strike Yastanni in the gut. “You’d better hope you have a good advocate, Doctor...you’re gonna need one now. Have you got all that, Mason?”
“Every second,” Mason said, removing a circular device adjacent to his left eye; it was a webeye, which had recorded in its blue iris the proceedings of Yastanni’s capture for his prosecution. “He’s going down.”
The agents pulled Yastanni to his feet and smoothed out the wrinkles in his suit jacket and trousers, making him presentable again. Yastanni started to straighten his tie, but Gilmour slapped his hands away.
“I think that’s good enough.”
“Ready for your day in the World Court?” Mason taunted. “You’d better clear your schedule for the next few years....”
“Hey, Chief! We’ve got Nouhri! Web A.D. Leeds!” Gilmour shouted, craning his head back.
“Already on it,” acknowledged Section Manager “Chief” Grant Louris, the pair’s immediate supervisor. He left his observing post at the room’s threshold and walked into the corridor brandishing a holobook—a multi-purpose holographic ledger—in his left hand.
Keeping Yastanni in line with his pistol between the doctor’s shoulder blades, Gilmour wore a triumphant smile. “Thanks, Doctor...you just made our sweat all worthwhile.” He glanced to Mason. “I think he’s sorry, don’t you?”
Mason clapped Yastanni’s arm and pulled him forward. “Sorry he got busted!”
Racing out the hotel, Gilmour, Mason, Chief and a squad of Parisian gendarmes headed towards an idling paddy wagon, scurrying before the webmedia converged with their skycraft to witness the catch.
“Keep your head down!” Gilmour barked. A sack had been placed over Yastanni’s head, but he was still lit by the sodium lights from the hotel front despite the agent’s best efforts.
The trio hoisted Yastanni aboard the paddy wagon, but instead of a waiting celebration, another agent, Tommy Bell, pulled the trio aside at the wagon’s rear doors. “Agents! A.D. Leeds is recalling you immediately! He’s scrambling a jumpjet to take you back to D.C. this evening.”
“What?!” Gilmour flashed an indignant look to Louris, but Chief merely shrugged.
Mason not so subtly dismissed the greenhorn’s message. “Agent, we’re going to Brussels to arraign Yastanni. Those’re the laurels, got it?”
“I’m sorry, sir. A.D. Leeds has invoked Clause 452.”
452...that was an immediate recall back to the Intelligence and Investigation Agency’s HQ, with grounds for permanent dismissal from the Agency if disregarded. Whatever the hell was going on, Gilmour thought, Leeds wasn’t fooling around. The only thing he could think of that rated so high in the IIA’s protocols was an international incident on par with Congress declaring war.
Gilmour shook his head and sighed. “Talk about a whimper.”
“I’m sure there will be others that’ll be a bang,” Louris said, the weariness in his voice betraying his decades of service to the IIA. “Agent Bell, web A.D. Leeds our acknowledgement. Boys, looks like we’re going home.”
Fighting off the flight lag back to Washington, Gilmour and Mason put on their best professional countenances and swiftly made their way through the IIA’s stuffy basement corridors—a relic of the defunct Federal Bureau of Investigation—and towards the Level Three Conference Room, where they expected Leeds to be waiting for them. Instead, Agent Bell diverted the pair to the office of Leeds’ secretary.
Harold Leeds and his secretary were inside, as was a slight figure, an Ivy League professor-like look to him. Tension oozed from the place, making Gilmour pause.
“Agent, why are we going here?”
“A.D. Leeds’ orders, sir.” Bell gestured the pair inside, then locked the door.
Gilmour and Mason noticed that Leeds didn’t appear particularly pleased by this older man in his battered tweed coat and tie; he had all the hallmarks of someone who normally disdained the work of the intelligence community, let alone be seen wandering the Agency’s recesses.
“Doctor,” Leeds said, “these are my top agents in the Global Intelligence Directorate of the Washington Bureau, James Gilmour and Gregory Mason.”
The visitor, his once-red hair flecked with silvery strands, extended his hand. “Pleased to meet you. I’m Doctor Richard de Lis, of the theoretical studies laboratory in Ottawa. I have been sent here specifically on orders from Solicitor General Rauchambau and Secretary of Defense McKennitt to secure both of you.”
Gilmour shook de Lis’ hand. “Why us?”
“There is a situation in Ottawa demanding the critical attention of the IIA—”
“Just a moment,” Mason interrupted. “I don’t think you realize the severity of the situation my partner and I are currently embroiled in. We’ve invested years in uncovering the ties the Confederation has with illicit neutronic technology trafficking—”
“I understand, but this operation has been declared a Presidential Priority, trumping all else,” de Lis declared. “Your presence has been requested from the highest echelons, agents. As of now, all other assignments you have are on hold. Without you at my disposal, the balance of power in the world could be lost to the Confederation or the Central Asian Conglomerates. And I don’t mean temporarily.” Beneath the doctor’s near-stoic demeanor was a twinge of fear. “I mean forever.”
JAUNT is available either as a trade paperback for $18.95 (Amazon), or as an eBook for $5.00 (Lulu).
Discovery Showcase Information
There are currently six excerpts in the queue. Here are the upcoming works, in the order in which they may appear:
- The Zambinos of Blue Hill: The Proving
- Tamar Black - Djinnx'd
- Prophecy of Hope
(If I run out of works to showcase, I may just put up one of my own unpublished novels!)
By the way, if you haven't already voted in my poll concerning the future of these Discovery Showcases, please do so! You'll find it in the upper left corner.
As always, constructive comments are welcome and encouraged!