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by Terry L. Vinson
Description: Tucked cozily away within the majestic mountain ranges of Northern Wyoming, the Jasper Outpost serves as a federally mandated rehabilitation facility for superheroes gone to seed; a desolate yet picturesque rest stop on the road to recovery for specially-endowed types having fallen from grace.
Enter the Outpost's newest such clients, codenames Force, Scar, Déjà vu' and Jekyll-ene, a rag-tag grouping of second-tier crime-fighters for hire who arrive atop the blistery, chilled terrain toting similarly weighty emotional baggage.
Soon after, as a winter storm of historic proportions blankets the surrounding landscape, a fiery plane crash lights up the horizon mere miles from the post grounds, the aftermath of which results in a savage, seemingly random murder-spree within the city limits of the twin-cities bordering the facility.
As both the snowfall and body count rises to infinite heights in and around the Jasper Outpost, four flawed but powerful heroes must push aside both their personal differences and issues in order to face down a powerful, bloodthirsty entity that threatens not only the existence of two nearby towns, but perhaps the entire planet as a whole?.
eBook Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing/Double Dragon Publishing, 2010 Double Dragon eBooks
eBookwise Release Date: August 2010
6 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [560 KB]
Reading time: 323-452 min.
Prologue I: Look to the Skies
Peeking through the parka's narrow, tunneled space was much like staring through a child's spyglass, only with the added handicap of having one's tightly squinted eyes pelted by tiny specs of ice and oversized snowflakes.
Forced to avert my sights elsewhere, I look down to see my boots have practically vanished amid the growing drift now reaching past my ankles. The dizzy spells have subsided a bit, no doubt aided by the frigid night air, though there is still present a stout sense of bewilderment I could only imagine one might feel after waking from a lengthy coma.
"What...time is it?" I mutter aloud, turning to press my elbows against the warmth of the cruiser's hood, the engine humming beneath providing a faint, soothing massage to my overly chilled bones.
"Jeez, Counselor...you scared you're gonna miss a dental cleanin' or what? I'd wager it ain't no more than about three and a half minutes since the last time ya asked."
Considering the source, I ignore the good-natured ribbing. Besides, I know I'm being a pain. It's just nerves after all...natural apprehension when faced with such an otherworldly scenario. It's so much easier for them. After all, they've experienced all manner of bizarre goings-on. It's how they've made their living. I should be allowed a considerable amount of slack for enduring such madness. In reality, I should be cited and congratulated for not gouging out my own eyes by now.
"In eighteen seconds it'll be exactly twenty-three hundred hours," came the answer via an exasperated huff.
"That's eleven o'clock p.m. to us in the civilian world, right?" I respond, an admittedly pathetic attempt at humor, but at least it allows me to work off still another bout of the involuntary shakes. You'd have thought I was standing stark-naked with my bare feet submerged in the piled snow instead of wrapped snugly inside a comfortably thick, well-insulated parka.
"Sharp as a tack, Counselor...can't get one past this boy," chimes in the lone female voice, and I twist about to spot her through the fur-lined hood, which I've shaped to resemble a one-eyed binoculars of a sort.
"Nothing but the passing blizzard. Won't be for another ten minutes or so anyhow, that is if the calculations are on the bean."
"They will be," I tell her, quickly scanning the desolate, ice-capped surroundings before rejoining the others in our group stargazing efforts. As cowardly as it sounds, there is indeed a part of me, however minute, that hopes the aforementioned calculations are incorrect and that what we're expecting to appear streaking through the night sky will never materialize. That said, the larger portion of my psyche aches to witness the purest form of retribution, even to the point of contributing whatever I can to see it through.
"You sound more confident than you act, Counselor."
"Just nerves, that's all. This...kind of thing isn't exactly my specialty...unlike the rest of you."
She regards me with a wink through the wide chasm of her own parka hood and I feel a twinge of arousal, as has usually been the case whenever she and I share a personal moment not tied to some sort of charted itinerary.
"No sweat. I gotcha covered. Besides, if women's intuition counts for anything, I'm thinking this is gonna be a cakewalk."
"Lord, I hope...pray you're right. After all, I'm an advisor by trade, not a brawler."
She laughs then, and I feel a rush of warmth bathe my insides. It's a genuinely positive sensation, something that's been mighty rare these last twenty-four hours.
Moments later, someone behind me gasps, and I whip my head about in all directions, almost toppling over from dizziness in the process.
A false alarm apparently. Three minutes past eleven. Seven measly minutes to go...approximately. So many lives at stake...so much sacrifice dolled out already. It has to work. It simply...has to, as the alternative is far too grave...far too gruesome to contemplate. Thus, we not only need to win...we simply have to. Ignoring Mother Nature's wrath, I stare westward into the tar-black, stormy night and wait for the light.
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