The Lost Colony Series: Omnibus Edition: All Four Volumes in One
Sometimes the darkness we fear is our own…
Despite his reputation as a brilliant and dedicated space engineer, John Rees is certain he is not the man everyone thinks he is. Haunted by the death of his father and one fatal decision that questions his morality, he doubts he will have a chance to redeem himself for a past he cannot escape.
But when 100 colonists go missing on an alien planet, he sees his chance to prove once and for all that one decision doesn’t create a monster. With only a skeleton crew chosen to lead the rescue mission, and John not making the cut, he struggles to find any way possible to help save them.
Can John find a way to get on board the vessel bound to find the lost colony, or will he be forced to watch from the sidelines as his destiny is snatched from him?
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Invasion of the Fractals.
The Fractal Universe.
The sword is mightier than the pen, but only when it's wielded by men. In God's right hand, the sword is righteousness, honor and courage and never strikes an innocent man down. For true power is not the power to destroy, but the power to lift up and heal. --- Merlin the White Dragonfire.
History is strewn with bodies of the weak and the strong; the high and the mighty; and the weak and the lost. History is much like death it only marks the passing of time, not the creation of it. True time lifts its locks of silver, its caress of gold, its touch of the moment and like the mighty serpent of Creation that winds through all worlds and places, it shelters all beneath its shadow. --- Boggle the Clown.
A better adjective for the old school building portable should have been the Barn, for it smelled more and more like that as the hot days continued to ply at our minds and bodies in the midst of an air conditioning disaster.
I could have let in a fractal breeze to cool off the building, but I was afraid of revealing my power here now because of the recent attack. Maybe Gerald was smarter than I had thought when he said I wasn't giving myself enough credit. He was actually telling me I was being stupid and arrogant...just like Patti...for ignoring the fact that what I did was having a ripple effect in time and space and in the Fractal Universe.
A new law was forming in the back of my mind. What goes up must come down, or in the Fractal Universe, what side steps in and out, will also open paths in and out.
I first became aware of this anomaly about three years ago, but had no name or description for it at the time.
It was shortly after I had performed my first side step into the Fractal Universe. I was so full of myself for the vision of reality I had unleashed and experienced I had ignored the shadow movements about me. True, they weren't exactly hobbling up to me, poking their prickly heads in my face and saying "boo!" but they were there on the edges of my consciousness. I just pretended it was just a side effect, a temporary thing, but something as major as damage to the sidelines between our universes.
I remember reading in the newspaper the next day about a local drug store, a Walgreen's I think, that had a break in, but had set off no alarms, and no cash had been taken, nor any merchandise disturbed, except for in the aisle of balloons. All the balloons were missing.
Only a freaking child would break into a ten million dollar store to steal balloons! I had thought at the time, laughed, then turned off my TV and gone to work, the incident bothering the back of my mind, but relegated to the dustbins of further insight somewhere in some kind of hoary future, cobwebbed with time.
But the two that Senator Murphy had sent to attack me, it turned out where not from him. The bodies of two men, who looked exactly like those two had been found several days later in the field outside the school, rotting there, crows having a time of their life pecking their flesh off. It was by accident they had discovered. A couple of the kids had tossed a Frisbee and it had overshot the back fence. They had climbed over to retrieve it and found the bodies.
They would have bragging rights for weeks about the discovery, but nightmares for much longer.
The FBI and Homeland Security both sent teams to investigate, and shortly after that they came to our school and began interrogating teachers and students. That was when the Tall Man pulled out his deck of cards and laid down a joker.
They vanished as quickly as their investigation had begun. The news media shut down and retractions were announced, saying it was all a hoax. Both boys woke up the next day with memories of the incident wiped from their minds, if not their dreams. There was nothing the Tall Man could do about that without possibly hurting them permanently.
"Chesterton, this is serious business." He told me over a box of doughnuts and coffee. I had been retrieved from school during my second period class to meet with him. Patti covered for me while I side stepped from there to here, where I presently sat.
"Tell me about it." I said between bites of a cinnamon roll and sips of coffee.
He nodded, as if I had just expounded the most profound words of all time, then set his half eaten chocolate doughnut down, wiped his hands, then touched the folder between us. It was labeled: INVASION. In very, very big letters. Bold and black.
He flipped it open.
Gerald Butler stood in the doorway of my room, searching it with his eyes.
"Before you go side stepping out of here in anger because we've been watching you, look at what's behind him."
"Mind Reader." I snapped at him, side stepping back into my chair just moments after slipping away. I took the photo in my hands and eyed it closely. I brought it closer to my eyes. It couldn't be. And then memories came flooding back. Memories that I had buried in the hoary cobwebbed depths of my mind for future reference. Well, the future was here and now.
I set it down, my face hot and flushed. "I hate people watching me! It makes me feel like Big Brother is alive and well and seated in my backyard."
"He is. But it's not him you got to worry about." He tapped the blurry forms behind Gerald. "The fact that he didn't even notice makes me even more nervous. Neither one of you spotted these things."
"Well, you wouldn't have either without this..."
"Camera. Nano camera. It's embedded in the ceiling of your room. A special spray paint that we can activate at any given time and can provide any angle we desire."
"Tech that advanced?"
"Watching my kids?"
"No. You, Chesterton."
"Although we have a great deal of insights into what you do, we still don't know how yet. We need to know how."
I sighed. I had let them in. My lighthearted soul had just got rung out and hung up to dry. If Patti had been there at that moment, she would have smacked me on the side of t he head and kissed me at the same time. At least that's my vision of what might occur. Probably not the reality. I don't want you to start thinking I'm a masochist, or she's sadistic. Quite the contrary. I am hard headed and stubborn at times, but usually for a good reason. She's just straightforward enough to see through my prima donna moments and quick to correct them. How lucky can a guy get?
"So how do we stop this?"
I gave him a surprised look. "You're the Tall Man. The guy beneath the President. Literally." And he was. This office was buried deep beneath the White House so the President had instant access to its resources at his disposal, as well as the safest place on the planet to bail out to, should such a thing become necessary.
Suddenly, my cinnamon roll was looking pretty bleak and tasteless. I felt like my favorite peak had somehow managed to bite my ass and feed it to me for breakfast.
He reached across the table and patted my hand. "It's not that bad, Chesterton."
"Yes. It is." I disagreed.
"Yes. You're right." He agreed, which just sent me deeper into the craphouse of my regrets.
I looked up. "We need friends in high places."
"We have them."
I brightened. "You do?"
He didn't reply. His eyes never left mine.
I boggled for a moment, and then recovered my senses. "Patti's gonna hate me."
This brings us back to my present plight, a portable school building that even a horse would be disgusted with and an angry mob of forty adolescents who yearned for happier times. I sent out for the tenth round of A & W frosted mugs and fries and when done, I side stepped them to the front door, and knocked on it.
Morris opened it, glanced around. "Mister K, no one's there."
"How about our drinks and fries, Morris?"
He looked down. "Uh, sure, they're here."
"Please bring them in."
He did so.
We spent the next ten minutes luxuriating in the greasy depths of salty potatoes and frosty mugs of root beer...not actually mugs, really just cartons heaped with shaved ice, but who's complaining?
Finally, the last bell of the day rang and the kids plowed out of the room, leaving cartons and containers littering the room. And surprises only Shondel and Morris remained.
Morris gave me a shy look. "I'd like to help, Mister K."
He gave Shondel a sweet smile. She gave him one back. Who could have seen this coming?
In ten minutes my room smelled like an angelic barn once more, and the two kids departed, each absorbed in the other's talk as they stepped outside and left.
I sat down behind my desk and considered the small miracle that had happened. Every once in awhile all the hard work actually pays off and a kid or two will rise above the herd mentality and become more than they can be. Real human beings. Likable and lovable. A teacher's only reward, besides the low paychecks and long, long sweaty hours is having a child or two actually get it. Actually understand there's more to life than "Me!" When that happens, it's a time to celebrate, kick up the heels and relax. But only for a few moments, because next we have to start filling out all the administrative paperwork, replying to all the parents... (Maybe two or three if we're lucky)...who want to help, and get prepared for the next day's round of Herculean labors.
It was at that zenith of expectations that my door opened unexpectedly and Gerald stepped inside. "So soon?"
"Always too soon and too late." He replied sadly, and then flung the door open.
Across the school grounds, which were becoming shrouded in shadow from the setting sun. It was late, almost seven. Wow! Time flies when you're having fun. But across that expanse of ground was rushing a horde of demonic fractals, horned and four legged, with mean looking teeth and eyeballs to match.
I stood up, and brushed my hands off.
"You sure know how to get a guy's attention."
He grinned. "Yeah. Just like a first date, ain't it?"
I gave him a shocked look. "Hey! Let's keep this strictly personal between us."
He laughed and I stepped outside with him, reaching into side space for the nearest weapon I kept there, a huge blade with smaller blades that roared like miniature buzz saws, because they were and he and I rushed the oncoming horde, like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid rushing to their death.
Except I had no desire whatsoever to die here and now. Least not before I had another Sweetkins Fried Chicken Breast.
We both roared at the top of our lungs, ran like proud knights, which we were and began slicing and pounding into the horde.
Will Chesterton K and his new found friend, Gerald Butler be able to hack and slash and pound their way through the horde of fractal monsters? Will Chesterton get to finish his cinnamon role? Will Gerald still be alive to insult his new friend yet again?
Come back on November 20th to find out.
I am now reverting to posting just once a month now to free up time to do more publishing and writing. Thanks for your reads and visits so far. Looking forward to more of same in the future.
Meanwhile, side step into happiness!
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John Pirillo"Writing fuels the heart and soul!" Science Fiction, Fantasy and Adventure Tales to Take Your Breath Away!