Author: Pembroke Sinclair
Genre: Sci Fi
Publisher: eTreasures Publishing
Date of Publication: November 5, 2009
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JD does not have a past--at least not one that she can remember--and that makes living life on Mars challenging.
With nowhere to go, she is sent to the local military academy where she is trained to become a member of the elite secret police. While there, she becomes a pawn in Roger’s struggle for military dominance and Chris’s rebellion to overthrow the military regime.
She supposedly holds a secret that will change the face of the soldier, but, unfortunately, she doesn’t know what that secret is. Her only desire is to find the truth of her existence, and finds herself thrust into a realm where the truth of her past and present is more horrific than she ever imagined.
JD stared out the cockpit at the blackness beyond, wondering how she had gotten into this situation. So much had happened in the short time she had been awake, and she didn’t understand half of it. Where had she gone wrong? She reached out and placed her hand on the glass. The coolness migrated from her fingertips to her wrist, and she leaned forward and placed her forehead next to her hand. She closed her eyes, and the tears dropped onto her cheeks.
The door slid open and shut silently, but JD didn’t realize anyone was there until they placed a hand on her shoulder. She turned to look upon Alex. He stood just a few inches taller than JD, and was a very muscular man. He had jet-black hair cropped close, ice blue eyes, and a square jaw. His mouth was normally cocked to one side in a half grin and there was a sparkle to his eyes, but as she looked at him, his lips were turned downward in a frown and his eyes were glassy and red.
“We’re here,” he spoke softly.
JD wiped the tears away from her cheeks as Alex slid an arm around her waist. She wrapped her arm around his shoulder, and the pair hobbled their way down the loading ramp. As they made their way to the bottom, the light temporarily blinded them both. When she was able to focus, JD was astonished by the towering white city before her. Huge buildings with pillars, reminiscent of the Greek and Roman temples, rose thousands of feet into the blue sky and stretched out to the right and left as far as the eye could see, surrounding them in all directions. She noticed that Maxx and Dale were a few feet in front with a stretcher suspended between them. Her breath caught as she noticed Chris. His breathing was shallow and the skin that wasn’t covered with cuts and bruises was a pasty white.
They continued forward onto the marble landing pad when a group of women dressed brightly in red togas emerged from the building. Ten of them lined either side of the walkway and stood at attention with spears clutched between their hands. A woman in a radiant white gown with a gold sash and flowing cape followed them. Alex and JD made their way to the woman. It wasn’t until after he had kissed her knuckles that JD recognized who she was.
“JD,” Lady Celia spoke, “you look like utter hell.”
Celia had long black hair that fell to her waist. She was slender with a dark complexion, and had dark red lips that sat on a perfectly oval face. Her brown eyes sparkled with sympathy as she looked JD up and down.
“Please, get them inside. The doctor will be with them shortly.” She waved her hand and ushered the group in.
They made their way through the foyer into a large square room adorned with pillars and statues and furnished with chaise lounges and plants. It was painted white, but had accents of gold. The lady stopped and directed Maxx and Dale to take Chris into a room off to the right, then proceeded toward Alex and JD.
“You can put her in the room next to Chris’s. I have summoned a doctor, and she should be here at any moment.”
Alex nodded and proceeded to take JD to her room. She stopped him before they got to the door and requested that she be taken into Chris’s room. Alex obliged, and Maxx left the room to drag in one of the lounge chairs. Alex set her gently down on the cushions, and they all stared at the unconscious man before them.
No one spoke; no one knew what to say. They just stared in silence until the doctor burst into the room.
She was an older woman with graying hair and lines that curved from the outside of her eyes and mouth. She glanced at Chris briefly and muttered a “My God” before grabbing her stethoscope and beginning the examination. After a few moments, she turned to Alex and Celia.
“We have got to get him to the hospital. I don’t have the equipment here to do anything for him.”
Alex shook his head. “We can’t do that, ma’am. If you let us know what you need, we can send someone to get it.”
The doctor furrowed her brow. “He could have internal bleeding, and the only way I would be able to catch it is by doing a series of tests. You have to let me take him to the hospital.”
Alex took a deep breath and covered his mouth with his hands. He stood silently for a moment, then dropped his hands and sighed again. “It’s too dangerous. Please do the best you can for him here.”
The doctor set her jaw and folded her arms across her chest. “I will not be responsible for him if he dies. If anything happens, let it be on your head.”
Alex nodded. “Fine. Whatever you say. Just, please, help him.”
She turned back to Chris and finished her examination. She jotted down a quick list of supplies she needed from the hospital and handed it to Lady Celia. Alex followed her out of the room, and the doctor turned her attention toward JD. She knelt on the floor in front of her and opened her bag.
“Well, at least yours is a bit more manageable.”
The doctor turned JD’s head from side to side, and pulled some cotton balls and alcohol out of her bag. She dabbed the ball until it was wet, then placed it on the side of JD’s head. JD flinched and jerked away as the liquid burned into her skin, but the doctor didn’t give up.
“Sorry, I’m sure that stings a bit.” She dabbed at the wound again before letting out an “Oh,” and reaching for something else in her bag. “I didn’t think it was that deep, but after cleaning out the dirt, it’s a bit more substantial.”
She instructed JD to lie down on the chaise lounge, and she took a seat next to her. The doctor explained that she needed to put in a few stitches, but she was first going to apply a numbing agent. JD listened without hearing, her gaze focused on Chris. She saw out of the corner of her eye the flash of the doctor’s needle and the black thread as it sutured the wound, but she had no realization of what was going on. Scissors clicked next to her ear.
“OK, that should take care of that,” the doctor’s voice spoke next to her head, and JD felt her pat her shoulder. “Could I please get you to sit up and take off your shirt for me?”
Mechanically, JD did as she was instructed. She was pulled out of her daze by a sharp pain in her side, and turned to watch as the doctor gently prodded her ribs. She noticed for the first time that a deep purple bruise covered her right side.
“Sorry,” the doctor murmured and poked softer. She folded her arms across her chest and shook her head. “I’m guessing a couple of them are cracked, but I don’t have the luxury of an X-ray. Is your breathing all right?”
JD met the woman’s gaze and nodded slowly. “It hurts a little, but I can manage.”
The doctor shrugged. “All right.” She reached into her bag and pulled out two bottles. She pointed one in JD’s direction. “This one is an antibiotic. You need to take it three times a day until gone.” She pointed the other one at her. “This one is a pain killer. Take them every four hours as needed for pain, but don’t exceed six in a twenty-four hour period.” She handed over the bottles. “I’ve done all I can for you right now. I suggest going next door to your room and taking a shower before anything else gets infected.”
JD was about to obey the doctor’s orders when Celia and Alex entered the room. They were followed by a few of the guards in the red robes who were dragging in equipment. The doctor jumped to her feet and instructed the group on where everything needed to go. JD waited until Chris had been hooked up to an IV, breathing machine, and heart monitor and the doctor began to clean and dress his wounds before slipping out.
She found her room, which was small and decorated with a bed that had gold head and footboards, a few pillows, and a chest at the end. She made her way into the bathroom, which was decorated in blue and white tiles, and almost didn’t recognize herself in the mirror. Her left temple was twice its normal size, black with a bruise and speckled with dried blood. Both eyes were swollen and bruised, her lips were cut and fat, and crusted blood lined both nostrils. The areas on her face that weren’t covered with contusions or blood were smeared with gray dirt. Her hair was either matted with blood or twisted in a rat’s nests. Her clothes were shredded and caked with filth.
As she stepped into the open shower, the water streamed on from jets in two of the walls and the ceiling. Lowering her head, she let the hot water massage the back of her neck. The black and red water swirled in the drain, and she waited for it to be mostly clear before using shampoo and soap.
When she finished, she stepped out of the shower and wrapped herself in a towel. She made her way back into the bedroom and noticed a change of clothes and a gold tray with a water pitcher, cheese, grapes, and sausage on the chest. She pulled on the billowy pleated tank top and skirt, grabbed the tray, and proceeded next door to Chris’s room.
The room was empty and silent, except for the occasional hiss of the breathing machine and the almost inaudible beep of the heart monitor. JD made her way to the chaise lounge and set the tray down. She downed half of the water and the majority of cheese and sausage before leaning back on the chair. She stared at Chris’s motionless body and the tears flowed from her eyes. JD had no idea how long she sat like that, or how many tears she cried, but exhaustion eventually took over, and she fell asleep.
Whispered voices broke through her unconscious and brought her out of her sleep. She cracked open one eye and noticed that Celia and the doctor were speaking next to Chris’s bed; the doctor was right in the middle of changing out the IV bag.
“You do know what kind of danger you are putting Feiss in, don’t you?” the doctor hissed as she hung the new bag on the pole.
“Of course I do, but what was I supposed to do? You know how much Alex has done for us. I couldn’t just turn him away.”
“They’ll be looking for them. It’s best if they don’t linger for long.”
Celia wrapped her arms around her chest and nodded.
“They may have to leave him here.”
Involuntarily, JD sucked in a deep breath. Both women turned to face her.
“JD, you’re awake.” Celia moved away from the doctor and sat on the edge of the chair.
The doctor finished what she was doing before scowling at Celia and leaving the room.
“How’s he doing?” JD pushed herself up into a sitting position.
Celia licked her lips and averted her gaze to her lap. She took a deep breath and held it for a second. “The doctor isn’t too optimistic about Chris’s recovery.”
JD looked at Chris; Celia’s voice still drifted into her ears but it sounded far off.
“She says he has sustained massive head trauma, and it is a possibility he may not come out of the coma.” Her voice trailed off. “I'm sorry,” she whispered.
JD didn’t know how to respond. She stared, silently. What was she going to do if Chris didn’t wake up? What would happen to her? So few people had been involved in her life, and he was the only one who had been there from the beginning. He was the only one who knew everything about her.
“Oh, JD,” Celia’s voice brought her out of her daze. “We’ve got to do something about your hair.” She stood from the chair and disappeared into the bathroom. When she returned, she had a comb and began to work on JD’s knots.
The small tugs caused JD’s headache to return, but she didn’t say a word.
“What happened to you guys?” Celia’s question was quiet, cautious.
JD averted her gaze to the floor and shook her head. “We broke one of Roger’s rules.”
The tears sprang back into JD’s eyes, but she wiped them away before they fell. “I don’t know.”
“Not like it makes that much difference when you’re dealing with Roger.”
“What did the doctor mean when she said we were putting Feiss in danger?”
Celia sighed. “Feiss is the capital of the Andromeda galaxy and publicly independent. We have no affiliation with Mars’ militia, and are free to trade with whomever we chose. I rule over a few, small, sparsely populated planets, and the Independents pride themselves on staying out of the rest of the universes’ problems. Of course, most of the reason for that is because we don’t have a large army.” She finished working the knots out of JD’s hair and sat down next to her. “By hiding you here, we are no longer staying neutral in the affairs of the galaxy.”
“What will they do to you if they find us?”
Celia shrugged her shoulders. JD noticed her eyes move to look at something or someone behind her. She stood up quickly and walked to the door where she conversed briefly with one of the guards in a red toga. She turned back to JD, apologized, and exited the room.
JD stared at Chris for another moment before deciding to find the other guys. She stood slowly from the chaise and after checking the other rooms, made her way outside. The sunlight was brilliant, but before she was temporarily blinded, she caught the silhouette of the ship in the distance. She waited for her eyes to adjust, then stared at the ship, which was one hundred yards long with a tapered front that curved down like a beak; the cockpit was behind and on top of the curve, completing the look of the bird’s head. The back fanned out like a tail, while the wings extended out on either side. It stood on two landing gears that had bases that spread out like toes and curved down to points like talons. The door was open and the ramp extended under the left wing; she walked up it slowly, mesmerized by the bottom of the wing. She stretched up and touched it; the metal was smooth and cool on her palm, and she noticed that there weren’t any seams of any kind on the ship. Intrigued and bewildered, she walked down the ramp and around the ship, looking for some indication of how it was put together, but found nothing. As she came out from under the ship, McKinnon was standing at the base of the ramp with his arms crossed.
He was an older man, somewhere in his fifties, with graying hair buzzed into a spike. He had a tanned wrinkled face, and pale blue eyes set deep under a prominent brow ridge with thick eyebrows. His nose was wide and crooked, and he had full lips, which smiled slightly at her. He had a square jaw with a cleft chin, and a slender body that stood a head taller than JD.
“Shouldn’t you be in bed?”
JD limped over to him. “Probably. I was wondering where everyone was.”
He nodded toward the inside of the ship. “They’re trying to figure what to do next.”
She made her way up the ramp and found Alex, Dale, and Maxx in a circle. Dale was in his late twenties and was a few inches shorter than JD. His block-like body was pure muscle and stood in contrast to his round smooth baby-face. His red hair was shaved close to his scalp, and his green eyes twinkled as they moved to take in his surroundings. His thin red lips curled into a tiny smile as she entered the room.
Maxx was a very dark black man with a slender yet muscular physique. He looked to be in his late forties and stood a few inches taller than McKinnon. Like Dale, his hair was shaved close to his scalp. He had dark brown eyes, a thin face with high cheekbones, and full lips under a pointy nose. They had been speaking in hushed tones, contemplating what their next move would be, but they went silent as she entered. Alex turned, his eyes wide with surprise.
“Is everything OK?” He took a step toward her.
She nodded, and lowered herself into one of the bench seats that lined the wall. She took a moment to catch her breath.
“What are we going to do?” she asked when she could breathe normally.
“We’re going to leave. We can’t stay and endanger Celia and her people.”
She felt a lump develop in her throat. “What about Chris?” The question came out as a whisper.
Alex turned his gaze from her face and looked at his men, they averted their gaze to the floor. “We can’t leave him here.”
“That might kill him.”
Alex took a deep breath, and swallowed hard. “That might be out of our hands now. We’re going to try and leave in two hours.”
It took a moment for Alex’s words to sink in, but when they did, JD felt an overwhelming desire to be back with Chris. She forced herself up from the seat and made her way back into Chris’s room. She crawled into the bed and laid her head on his chest, wrapping her arm around his waist. She tried to imagine what the world would be like if Chris was dead. The tears started to flow again, and she shook the thoughts out of her head. Inadvertently, she drifted back to sleep.
She dreamed she was sitting in Chris’s room, as he lay connected to his respirator and IV, while Alex stood behind her with Lady Celia, McKinnon, and Roger, whispering quietly amongst themselves and pointing at Chris. She couldn’t understand what they were saying, and she didn’t understand why Roger was there, but the whispers kept getting louder and louder until it was static that filled the room. She covered her ears and stared at Chris; his skin was ghostly white and tight against his bones. He was sitting up, eyes wide in horror. His mouth was moving, but she couldn’t hear what he was saying, so she placed her ear next to his mouth; he kept repeating, “I still have time. You can’t do this. I still have time.” His attention never drifted from the group on the other side of the room. JD moved to ask what he meant, only to find that he had melted into a skeleton. As she pulled away, her eyes popped open.
Chris was sitting up in his bed, his swollen eyes prevented him from staring wild-eyed, but he was repeating the same phrase she had heard in her dream.
She pushed herself up into a sitting position and began shaking his shoulders gently, his body jerked and his head turned toward her, his brown eyes twinkled through tiny slits, and he croaked out her name. She squeezed him, tears dripping down her face, then she laid him back down, explaining to him that she would be right back before she made her way out of the room as fast as she could. She found the boys where she had left them and told them what had happened. They made it back to the room before she did. Chris’s hands were extended and grabbing at the air; he was whimpering and wondering if anyone was there.
Alex grabbed his hands and assured him that he wasn’t alone.
“Are we safe? Did you get her far enough from Roger?” There was a sense of urgency in his voice.
Alex placed a hand on his shoulder. “We’re safe. You don’t need to worry about that now.”
“I’ve taken every precaution to ensure your protection while you’re under my care,” Celia spoke in the same low tone.
“Is that you Celia?” Chris tried to raise his head. “I can’t see you. Where are you?”
“I’m right here,” she moved around the bed and took his hand.
At that moment, the doctor burst into the room and began to examine Chris. When she finished, she turned to the group and explained that everything seemed to be in order. She still didn’t recommend him traveling, but she also knew that they couldn’t leave him there. They tried to figure out how he would be the safest on the journey. When they figured out the best solution, they left the room to finish the preparations for leaving. JD curled back into the bed with Chris and snuggled next to him. He moved so that his cheek rested on the top of her head, and they stayed like that until it was time to leave.
Dale, Alex, and Maxx secured Chris into the ship before takeoff. Lady Celia had followed them into the room, and JD watched her kneel next to the bed and whisper something in his ear. As she walked past, she kissed JD on the cheek, and headed down the ramp. The rest of the group secured themselves in their seats and braced for takeoff. The pressure increased on JD’s chest as they attempted to break the gravitational pull, then disappeared as they entered space.
The crew left the cockpit and headed to other parts of the ship to take care of their duties. JD stayed behind and stared out at the blackness. They were headed to the planet of Simmstiniga, a backwater mining world that owed allegiance to Alex. Chris assured her that they would be safe there for a while, but JD found it hard to believe that was true. Her mind kept drifting back to the past year and how everything she thought was safe fell apart.
About the Author:
In 2009, eTreasures Publishing published my first novel, a sci fi adventure story. Since then, they have published my two YA zombie novels, my religious zombie novella, two children’s picture books, and two novellas with romantic elements. I have an urban fantasy novel about dragons and a vampire novelette that was published by MuseItUp Publishing.
Musa Publishing has published my novelette with romantic elements and a collection of short stories. I have a middle grade urban fantasy novel that was published by Little Devil Books.
My nonfiction book about slasher films was published by Scarecrow Press.
I write under several different pen names. For my children’s titles, I write under J.D. Pooker, and for my YA and adult novels, I write under Pembroke Sinclair. My nonfiction work is done under my real name.