Sunday, 3 March 2013

Page Turner Book Tours Presents... The Rebels by Elizabeth Lang




Thank you for stopping by and joining us for our stop on the Read-A-Long portion of 
The Rebels by Elizabeth Lang virtual tour. We are excited to post this segment of the story and we hope you enjoy it too!


The Rebels - Chapter 2

Adrian had speculated, in a detached, scientific way, how it would feel to have his atoms energized and passed along a stream of controlled energy pulses. If only he had a scanner or some way to measure it. Would he feel his body ripped apart molecule by molecule, or would—
That had been his last, fleeting thought before stepping through the gate and breathing in a blast of arctic air. He wheezed, and Kali and Bryce made similar retching sounds nearby.

The late day sun sparkled off blinding white snow, like a carpet littered with diamonds. An ancient pine forest stretched out in spindly shadows behind them and twin, snow-capped mountains rose in the distance. Each breath filled them with the heady scent of pine and the musky, earthy odor of living things.

Adrian shivered, hunching his shoulders. His black fitted tunic with its thick weave was heavy with the authority of the Empire, but the weather didn’t seem impressed. A wash of pain muscled past the endorphin rush and he gritted his teeth, sucking in a sharp hiss. Sticky warmth coated his fingers.

“Is everyone alright?” he rasped.

“I’m fine,” said Kali, squeezing her collar together with one hand while unclipping the medical scanner from her belt. Her lips pursed as a diagram of his arm appeared on the screen and data scrolled down a gray-backed partition on the right. “It’s not a serious wound, but we need to
stop the bleeding.” The scanner snicked back into place on her belt.

“Snow? We landed in snow?” grumbled Bryce, who was the only one who found himself sunk into a foot of the downy white stuff. He stamped it viciously. “Even if hell did freeze over, did we have to come here? Couldn’t we have gone somewhere warmer?”

He winced when Kali flipped open the flap of the medical pouch and drew out a laser knife.

“Where is ‘here’?” asked Kali, slicing the torn sleeve to expose the blackened slash across the arm.

Adrian looked away from the operation, squinting as he scanned their surroundings. “We’re on Orasis Quad, a planet in the Luo System.”

A long-necked bird peered at them from a gnarled branch, whooping a welcome, or it might have been a warning for invading its territory.

“I’ve never heard of it.”

“Hopefully, neither has anyone else. It’s a Tech-4 world on the Outer Rim with a low grade source of Tri-Iridium ore.”

Bryce blew into his cupped hands. “Sounds like a boring place. Probably doesn’t even have a decent bar.”

There was something different about the air, a freshness, an energy Adrian never noticed onboard ships or under the domes on Earth; he felt naked, exposed without walls and a ceiling overhead. Such idyllic surroundings didn’t seem real after what they had just experienced.
Bryce looked around like a nervous jack-rabbit, his nose twitching. “Shouldn’t we get out of here? I mean, the soldiers were right behind us.

They could land on top of us. Or in us.” He shuddered.

A glance passed between Adrian and Kali and even without telepathy, he knew she was thinking of their close call. The image of her brave stance had burned into his memory.

“No need. The energy required to transport our signals to this sector would have overloaded the power grid. In addition, I programmed the targeting computer to erase our coordinates after we stepped through the gate. They cannot follow us and they don’t know where we are.”

“That’s brilliant!”

“Moderately.”

Rummaging through her kit, Kali pressed an injector to his neck and with a faint hiss, pressure-forced molecules passed through his skin to be absorbed into his bloodstream. The affect was instant and burning pain eased to a dull throb. Next, she played a crystal-blue beam over the
gash with an antiseptic wand and angry red flesh lightened to healing pink.

“You really had me going there,” said Bryce. There was a generous splash of admiration in his voice. “I almost believed you were going to kill yourself and that you changed the laser probe into a lethal weapon.”

“I was, and I did.” Adrian noticed Kali’s momentary glance.

“What?” Bryce’s mouth dropped open. “Tell me you’re kidding.”

“I am not in the habit of ‘kidding’.” He said the word as if it were a disgusting practice, on par with picking one’s nose in public.

“Haven’t you ever heard of bluffing?”

“I’m familiar with the concept.”

Bryce rubbed his hands together. “I think it’s time we taught you a little game called poker.”

“I don’t understand how a frivolous pastime will help in this situation.”

“It’s not about the game. It’s about learning to pretend that you have an advantage when you don’t, or pretending you don’t have one when you do.”

“You mean deception.”

“Now you’re getting it.” Bryce smiled as if he’d just got a point across to a particularly dense pupil.

“I do not lie,” said Adrian. “The Admiral believed the threat because of that fact.”

Bryce sighed while a bird chirruped a musical laugh nearby. “You don’t get it. It’s not lying. It’s called strategy so you can win.”

“In the same way using violence and coercion is considered a strategy.”

“Yes. I mean…no. Never mind.”

“I already have.”

“At least it worked, however it worked. Now how about getting us out of here?”

That was a very good question, one to which Adrian only had a vague answer. He looked off in the distance, seeking inspiration instead of the expectant, trusting eyes that stirred rocks in the pit of his stomach.

Stick to what you’re good at, Lieutenant. Science, numbers, computers, anything that doesn’t deal with the living.

The Admiral was right. He had no business taking care of others, to make them pay for his mistakes.

A rustle of wind found his open collar and flapped it aside, exposing bare flesh to the biting cold. He was finally free of the Empire, and despite his best laid plans, it felt as if a vital chord had snapped and he was cast adrift into the void. He was finally and completely, alone, and it
sent a shiver deep into his bones, burying itself in his marrow.

You are not alone, Adrian. Kali’s words were a warm wave flowing into his mind, surprisingly forceful yet it eased gently around the hard core of stone at his center.

Her mental presence glowed with the brilliance of the sun through a wispy cloud, her image coalescing, and she wore, not the severe black uniform, but a silky cream robe that swirled around her ankles. Golden specks danced in her eyes and his breath hitched; he knew they had always been there if only he let himself see them.

You will never be alone again.

The next breath triggered a shudder of darkness, emanating from the pit where he buried his deepest, darkest secrets; the despair and soultearing agony of a man who had always been a puppet for others.

No.” His hands clenched, crushing her smaller ones. He let go in surprise, but her hand laced with his.

“Adrian.” Her smoky voice touched his ears and echoed in his mind, crisp as a bell.

He shook his head firmly. “I cannot.”

There was something wrong with him; he was certain of it now, ever since Dr. Rayburn came back into his life, reminding him of a chapter that had been locked away from him since childhood. That the Empire locked away; taking his memories as easily as tearing a sheet of paper.

Now he was frozen by emotions that threatened to rip apart the thin fabric of his self-control, leaving it a tattered joke. He could not let them win. For the sake of the others, he could not lose his greatest advantage.

“I’m alright.” He tried to sound convincing but the words were hollow and he kept his eyes averted.

The Empire had conditioned him to serve and he had unknowingly fought it all his life. How many times had they hauled him back in? How many times did they have to reprogram the machine until it obeyed? A grim smile thinned his lips. Not enough times.

No wonder the Admiral was fuming. It wasn’t just his insolence that infuriated her, it was something far more profound. The tool was not functioning within acceptable parameters. His hand tensed, curling but not to the point of a fist.

The others must never know. He didn’t want to slam the door to Kali’s presence, but if she remained any longer, her perceptive mind would begin to ask questions he preferred to leave unanswered.

With a firm tug, Adrian extracted his hands from her grip and assumed the clinical hardness he was able to slip on like a mask. “We need to find shelter before nightfall.”

There was hesitation as her eyes searched his. “Where are we going?” she finally asked.

“To Pekanus. It’s a small town approximately five kilometers from here, on the other side of the forest.”

“Finally,” said an exuberant Bryce. “I hope this place has a bar.”

“I’m sure you will find one,” said Adrian.

~~~

High Admiral Andrew Tennyson arched, stretching a tight lower back. He logged off and pushed the monitor arm away, taking the rare luxury of loosening his collar as he leaned back.

His office was less ornate than some others on the Fleet Council, but what it lacked in lush d├ęcor, it made up in the latest technology. Screens spanned two walls, curved slightly inward. A bank of monitors lined the third, each with a direct connection to a vital Empire command point.
The intercom buzzed. Third light meant his personal assistant.

Tennyson answered, “What is it, Taylor?”

The young man appeared, wearing the freshly pressed uniform of an ensign. “It’s High Admiral van Reutensberg on secure channel fifteen, sir.” The carefully schooled voice told Tennyson that his nemesis was not in a good mood; hardly news. He suppressed a scowl and refastened his collar. “Patch her through.”

“If you say so, sir.” Taylor had an intense dislike for the High Admiral, a feeling they both shared.

The silver-haired woman glared, her eyes burning through the screen at him. “Is this your doing, Tennyson?” she spat out.

Tennyson’s lips thinned. “What are you talking about, van Reutensberg?”

She leaned towards the screen, one hand gripping the edge of her desk, as if she were trying to crush it. “Stannis escaped.”

“What?” Tennyson reacted before he could control himself.

“Don’t tell me you didn’t order it.”

Tennyson’s fist clenched under his desk and his mind raced.

“Don’t be a fool, van Reutensberg. Why would I do such a thing? The Empire needs him.”

“Someone had to help him. He couldn’t escape without the transceiver.”

“Where’s the psychostrategist?”

“Your psychostrategist is missing.” The insinuation was clear.

He stared at her angry image, drawing out the silence, making her wait.

Would the Psychostrategist’s Guild be behind this? They were mercenary to a fault, but the secrecy of their order raised many troubling questions. It was an independent organization that was far too independent for his liking.

“Don’t try to push your failure on me, Gwen. This is the second time you’ve let Stannis fool you. Maybe we should have let someone else oversee the project.”

Static crackled across the screen like a bolt of lightning. “You were the one who argued for a reduced sentence for Stannis,” she spat out.

“Now he has sympathizers. They must have helped him.”

She must be talking about the Tellaran, Kali Mirren. Anita said Stannis had developed personal attachments. It was surprising given the scientist’s personality, and he had dismissed the relevance at the time.

Would Anita—no. She would never compromise the security of the Empire regardless of her personal feelings; else she would not be on the Fleet Council.

But Gwen would have no qualms about making the insinuations to weaken his position with the others. Anita’s vote was one of the few on the Council he could still depend on. If she was pushed off, his position was tenuous at best.

“There will be a full investigation,” he threatened.

“There had better be.”

“What is the status of the jump gate? Is it complete? Did he sabotage it before he left?”

Van Reutensberg paused at the abrupt change in topic and he could see the wheels turning.

“I have people assessing the damage.”

There was only one reason why she would be delaying the truth. “How did Stannis escape a secure facility half a mile underground, surrounded by guards and the best security system in the Empire?”

The icy flash in her eyes gave the answer long before the words came out.

“He used the jump gate.”

Tennyson steepled his fingers and regarded her with cold calculation. “So he did it after all. He built a working jump gate and we can finally reach the Andromedan galaxy.”

“That does not excuse his actions. I will hunt him down and he will pay for what he's done.”

“I have no doubts you will, but remember…” He leaned forward. “He built the jump gate, something no one else has been able to do. We need him alive and his mind functioning.”

~~~

A battered old cargo vessel settled on the dirt with a flumph of dirty exhaust, a loud thump, and a weary creak as the landing gear sagged under the weight. Metal scratched, latches slid back, and the ship sucked in a rush of frosty air as the hatch swung open. The gangplank extended,
levering down and flakes of heat-resistant green coating drifted loose from the outer hull.
Drel Argus exited the cargo ship, his broad muscular shoulders filling the doorway and a shabby rucksack slung over his right shoulder. Dark shades hid his eyes as he surveyed the bustling spaceport. In black denim jeans, with a ribbed, dark brown leather jacket over a tight khaki t-shirt and a rough, unshaven face, he looked like a typical border mercenary. The only thing missing was the gun belt strapped to his waist. Unfortunately, Orasis had pretensions of civility, and weapons were not allowed except in designated areas.

It wasn’t much of a spaceport. Only a single terminal and a baker’s dozen of landing platforms forming a ragged line down an open field.

Glaring light panels on both sides lit up the compound. A carpet of snow lay just beyond the mesh fence ringing the perimeter. It glowed faint orange, indicating an energy barrier.

He rubbed his cheek, scratching two day-old stubble. Six security guards that he could see, two exits, a single customs checkpoint, no automated defense system, a few cameras in sensitive areas, and civilians milling around looking lost. With a handful of picked men, he could raze
the place. Argus shook his head at the cobweb of instincts and memories that ensnared his mind. That life was far behind him now, and he was determined to keep it that way, as long as he was left alone.

A growing line snaked from one of the exits. Several public transports, their hulls brightly announcing discounted rates, had just arrived. Good timing for him. It was much easier to escape notice in a forest of people.

Lifting a wide-brimmed hat, he combed his fingers through stiff sunburnt hair. It was even less respectable after he was done. He scowled at the stranger staring back from the reflective surface of a dormant information screen embedded into a faux brick wall.

A shadow played across his face, a passenger transport easing in for a landing, this one with official markings. His stomach tightened as he watched a whoosh of downward thrust as it settled on a raised high-security pad at the far end of the compound. A reflective energy screen
snapped into place, preventing the curious from seeing who had arrived.

He stepped onto the gangplank. It was nothing to do with him. People interested in him didn’t usually have VIP passes, only a gun, or a knife for his back. Keeping his head down, he angled the hat lower to shade his face and headed for the checkpoint. He felt naked without his sidearm, currently hidden inside a secured case in his ruck, impervious to all scanning equipment. The screener cost him a great deal, namely one dead bounty hunter, but the man wouldn’t need it any more. He made a straight line for the customs station, easing behind an elderly couple pushing a hover cart loaded with matching green and rust-colored luggage. The cart stuttered every few meters, holding up the line.

The silver-haired woman pointed a bent finger at the steering panel. “The brake is the button on the right.”

Argus felt like pushing the cart for them just to get the couple moving faster. The woman’s voice had that nagging quality that grated on already raw nerves.

“I know, Gladys,” said the husband, exasperated, and pushing every button he could find.

“Could you help us, please?” Gladys asked, as only elderly women could, with the pleading, innocent demeanor of someone who expected all decent people to help those in need. She was looking right at him.

His dark brown eyes drilled into hers. Only a fool would look for help from someone like him. Argus glanced to the guard at the customs gate.

The old woman might be irritating, but she was the kind of distraction he could use. He nodded, forcing a sliver of a smile to crack his face—it was a wonder he remembered how. “Of course.”

Gladys kept up a constant stream of chatter, asking him questions to which he grunted noncommittally. The security guard at the gate glanced at them, lazily scratched an itch, and barely looked at the information flashing across his screen when they slotted in their ident markers. They passed through safely and Argus sighed with relief when Gladys, her husband and their matching luggage disappeared inside a yellow bubble taxi.

Outside the spaceport, stepping off the road, Argus looked up at the overcast sky and felt…nothing.

Another day on another dreary planet. How many days did he have left before they caught up with him? He moved off quickly before someone else gave him the answer.

Also Elizabeth Lang has shared with us an exclusive picture from The Empire Series...


To read more of the Read-A-Long please follow the tour schedule…

02/03/2013 - The Edible Bookshelf -
http://www.theediblebookshelf.blogspot.com/ - Chapter 1

03/03/2013 - Vixie's Stories -
http://vickiejohnstone.blogspot.co.uk/ - Chapter 2

04/03/2013 - Decadent Decisions -
http://wlynnchantale-decadentdecisions.blogspot.com - Chapter 3

05/03/2013 - Independent Writers Association -
http://iwassociation.com - Chapter 4

06/03/2013 - Self Publish or Die -
www.selfpublishordie.com- Chapter 5

10/03/2013 - Reviews From Beyond the Book -
www.reviewsfrombeyondthebook.blogspot.com - Chapter 6

11/03/2013 - Great Alpha Speaks -
http://atrussell.com/Blog/ - Chapter 7

12/03/2013 - The Kat Daughtry -
http://thekatdaughtry.wordpress.com/ - Chapter 8

13/03/2013 - SheenahFreitas -
http://sheenahfreitas.com - Chapter 9

14/03/2013 - Natasha Larry Books -
http://natashalarrybooks.com - Chapter 10

27/03/2013 - Castle Macabre -
http://castlemacabre.blogspot.com - Chapter 11

28/03/2013 - My World -
http://stephsgrn.blogspot.co.uk/ - Chapter 12

29/03/2013 - The Cro's Nest -
http://p45crok.wordpress.com - Chapter 13

30/03/2013 - Tink's Place -
http://myblog2point0.blogspot.com/ - Chapter 14

31/03/2013 - Reading, Writing And More -
http://stephsgrn.wordpress.com/ - Chapter 15


Page Turner Book Tours and Elizabeth Lang have teamed together to set up an amazing contest, be sure to enter today for your chance to win a KOBO MINI!!


Thank you for joining us and Page Turner Book Tours and Elizabeth Lang today on our stop.

About Elizabeth Lang


I am a science fiction writer who started off life as a computer programmer with a love for reading, especially science fiction, fantasy and mystery.

Being in computers, I found my writing skills deteriorating, so I decided to take up writing. It became a joy to create characters, stories and worlds, and writing soon became a passion I couldn't put down. As a writer, I like to explore not only the complexity of characters but the human condition from differing points of view. That is at the heart of the Empire series, of which The Empire and The Rebels are the first two of a four book series.

You can connect with Elizabeth Lang at the following places: 


About Page Turner Book Tours

Page Turner Book Tours is fronted by the face behind Read2Review, Kate. Page Turner Book Tours has been put together to help promote authors and give something back to the writing world. Kate has put together a team of incredibly talented people to help with the project by incorporating their individual skills into making new, fresh and exciting promotional plans that we hope you agree are amazing. If you would like to book a tour with Page Turner Book Tours please check out their tour packages. If you would like to become a tour host with Page Turner Book Tours please check out their Tour Host page. You won’t be disappointed!







4 comments:

  1. Thank you for hosting the next excerpt for The Rebels.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello Elizabeth,
    I hope we learn more about Bryce. He seems to be a wild card.
    Yours truly,
    Annette

    ReplyDelete
  3. Agreed, Annette. I liked Bryce in THE EMPIRE and thought his character might develop in interesting ways in future books.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm glad you like Bryce, Annette and Mary. He's a fun side character.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting - have a kitty cool day! :)