Preview Chapters to Book 5 of The Hannaria Series (Sci-fi) Published December 2012
Discovering Wynn being tortured by Glaven, Michael Dermott makes an attempt to rescue him. Rica and Alex learn more secrets of their families' pasts as Rica's abilities continue to develop.
Introduction by Michael Dermott
Ectotech Labs, Mars
December 26th, 2300
“Hello?” I asked into my DMR, trying to keep my voice quiet as I peered through the slots of a ventilation duct. “Jernard, are you there?”
“You’re grounded, young man,” a voice replied, but it was Paronis. “It’s all right, Michael. Jernard isn’t available at the moment, but you can talk to me. Rhaynan is here, too.”
“What happened? Is he all right?”
“He’s fine. What about you? We were worried those creatures had taken you.”
There was a lot I needed to explain, but we didn’t have time.
“I’m all right, but I’ve stumbled upon something I think you should know about,” I replied, but I had to stop talking and turn the DMR’s speaker down as one of Glaven’s guards walked out of a room and then past me.
“—just stumble upon things minding your own business,” Paronis replied in an annoyed tone when I turned the speaker back up. “Michael? Are you—“
“I’m on Mars,” I interrupted, trying to hurry before the guard came back again. “There’s something going on at Ectotech that I don’t think the McFerrins or any of you knew about. I’m going to need some help.”
“Why? What’s going on?”
“I think I may have found Wynn. I—“
The stream suddenly disconnected, and I couldn’t get it to reconnect. I checked all my settings, but my DMR was fine. It was something on their end. I waited a few minutes for them to try contacting me back, but nothing happened.
That left only one other person’s DMR address I knew was secure. The problem was Rica no longer had any reason to trust me. I swallowed hard as the stream connected, but my throat went dry the moment I realized Rebecca had answered instead.
“What is it now, Mr. Dermott?” she asked, and there was a frigid edge to her voice I’d never heard before. “Calling to inform us you’re not dead again?”
“Rebecca, I—“ I stammered, but then I realized the possibility she was going to end the stream at any moment. “I found Wynn. Please, just let Yonus know he’s on Mars—Ectotech’s main lab building. I have a few cameras if he needs me to set up some surveillance, but we need to hurry. I think Glaven is torturing him.”
Her eyes grew wide at first, but then skepticism eased into her expression. She shook her head at me like she thought I was lying.
“Glaven was just captured on Hannaria a few hours ago. He tried to kill Jernard at the confirmation meeting. How in the world could he be two places—“
“One or even both of them could be a clone, Rebecca—but I can’t get close enough to tell the difference without this guy sensing me, too. Now, please—I need to talk to—“
The stream cut out, and for a moment I wondered if Rebecca had disconnected it. I looked at my settings again, and this time it was on my end. My access was being blocked by the building’s communication system.
Someone now knew I was there.
Introduction by Wynn
“It’s a machine, but it’s alive. Don’t—“
Someone nudged me in the ribcage, and I opened my eyes.
“I think I traded marrying an alien for marrying a narcoleptic,” Allison said, smiling as I glanced around to see if anyone had heard her. “It’s all right, Wynn. You just dozed off again.”
I nodded, trying to make sense of the fading images in my mind as I stared at her. As she intertwined her fingers with mine, my hand felt calloused against the wrinkled softness of hers. For some reason, this bothered me.
“We’re both old?” I asked, but this made her laugh and lean into me.
“Speak for yourself! The last I heard, eighty is supposed to be the new fifty. Of course, that doesn’t exactly do you any good…”
She was joking, but her expression turned concerned after a few seconds.
“I know who you are—and that I love you,” I started, unsure how to explain that I had no idea how we had gotten to that moment. “I think I just need a minute to catch up to everything else.”
Her eyebrows furrowed.
“You warned me this could happen to you,” she replied, squeezing my hand like she was afraid I might slip away from her. “What do you remember last?”
I thought a moment, trying to reach for anything I knew was solid.
“I remember being at the base in Phoenix—back when we first met and were dating.”
Her eyes got wide, but she recovered quickly and forced a smile.
“Well, that was awhile ago—about sixty years or so,” she explained, but she stood up from the porch swing and released her grip on me. “I’m just going into the house to get your DMR. Please don’t leave, all right?”
I nodded. The way my body ached when I moved, I wasn’t sure how far I could get.
“I won’t go anywhere—promise.”
While she was gone, I studied my hands then looked out at the small flat lawn in front of me. Every blade of grass was precision-cut to the same height—just like the neighbor’s lawn across the street. The sun was bright but mild. The entire street was quiet—not even any sounds of birds or dogs. There was a time when I could hear what was going on inside nearby houses, but now I couldn’t. Maybe that was age…or maybe it was just part of being human. It felt like it had been too long for me to know the difference.
When Allison returned, she held my DMR out to me with a photo displayed on the screen. We were in the center of it, and seeing how I’d aged made me rub my face and forehead. To our right were our daughter Stephanie and her husband Adam. To our left was our grandson Alex—now grown—with a young woman I recognized as Bren’s daughter Rica. They were holding a boy between them that looked around two or three. This shouldn’t have been possible. Had they taken the formula, too?
“Does this help any?” Allison asked, and I forced a smile and nodded just to keep from worrying her. “Alex said he and Rica might come over with Jeremy later today. If you need to rest, I can call and tell them to—“
I shook my head.
“No, I want to see them. It’ll probably help, too.”
She nodded, but she stared at me with an odd expression as she hesitated at the door.
“I’ll get dinner started then. Come back inside whenever you’re ready, and we can talk if you want.”
I swept through more photos for several minutes, but instead of triggering memories they just confused me more. I seemed to have a good life—a happy life—but the more I learned the more unexplained pain and grief began to build up inside me. There were also people I was expecting to see but were missing. I laid the DMR on the cushion beside me.
“Hey, where are Jernard and Rhaynan?” I shouted, leaning back and then forward in the swing so I’d have enough momentum to stand up. “I can’t seem to find any photos of them! I didn’t see Andrew or my cousins either—not that I could ever tell Ashner and Paronis apart, but still…”
Allison met me at the door just as I reached it, but she wiped her eyes and shook her head at me.
“They were all killed over forty years ago—EIP attack on the base,” she said, and her face cringed in response to my reaction. “You erased everything you had about them—just in case we were ever searched. None of it is coming back for you this time, is it?”
I shook my head, now wondering how many times we’d had this conversation. I still needed answers, though—at least all the major ones.
“But why do Alex and Rica look older? They should both still be kids right now. It doesn’t make—“
“You gave them the formula to protect them,” she interrupted, and her tone became more frustrated. “After the war ended, the EIP started regular searches for suspected Hannarians and placed them into camps. You saved our family and everyone else you could, but that’s all over now. There’s no danger to us here…”
Her voice trailed off, and when I opened the door she hugged me and wouldn’t let go. I put my arms around her, having no idea what to do or say next. I needed to focus for her—for all of them. I had always wanted to grow old with Allison, but I didn’t want it to be like this.
“I’m sorry that this is hurting you,” I said, and this caused her to release then look up at me. “I’ll figure everything out again. Just give me some time to—“
Something flickered in my vision, and I caught a glimpse of a man standing in a room with his back toward me. He had dark brown and white hair, but from behind it looked almost like a rough checkerboard pattern. I knew this was important, but I couldn’t remember why. I blinked, and I was back in the house again with Allison.
“Wynn, what’s wrong?”
“You’re not real,” I replied, trying to ignore the hurt on her face as I pushed her back from me. “None of this is real!”
I closed my eyes tight as memories started to flood back to me, and there was a loud hum of something powering down. When I opened my eyes again, I looked down to see I was bound upright to a wall by millions of tiny black tendrils. As I struggled to break free, they tightened around me until I no longer had any room to move and could barely breathe.
“They’ve discovered your replacement on Covanias,” the man in front of me said in Hannarian, but he didn’t turn around. “I’m not ready for them to come looking for you yet, so that presents a problem. If you’ll willingly allow me to take what I need from you, this could be a whole lot easier for both of us. I don’t want to kill you, Wynn—or destroy your sanity. I think it’s unnecessary under the circumstances, but I’ll leave the decision up to you.”
“I’m not going to tell you anything,” I replied, but this caused him to sigh as he turned around to face me. “Who are you?”
“It doesn’t really matter now, does it?” he asked, and a jolt of pain shot through me as the machine started to hum again. “Even if you somehow manage to survive this, you won’t remember me anyway.”
About the Author:
Sci-fi novelist Patricia Gilliam is the author of The Hannaria Series: Out of the Gray (2009), Legacy (2009), No Good Deed Goes Unpunished (2010), and Something Like the Truth (2012). She has also written over 1,000 non-fiction articles and 40 fiction short stories since 2006. Outside of writing, she operates a broadcast camera for the Christian television show "Power of the Word" in the Knoxville, TN area. She and her husband Cory have been married since May 2005. They have two dachshunds (J.D. and Turk) and adopted a retired racing greyhound named Lucius Malfoy ("Mal") in 2009.
Book 5 in The Hannaria Series, Where the Oasis Blooms, will be available in ebook and paperback format in early 2013.
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