Across the Wasteland [The Exceptionals Book 2]
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by Teel James Glenn
Category: Science Fiction/Suspense/Thriller
Description: In the near tomorrow, narco-Terrorists and ultra criminals with world conquering agendas prompt the governments of the world to create The Exceptionals, various groups of bio-enhanced bounty hunters, who could go anywhere in the name of justice and the law. In this sequel to The Exceptionals: The Measure of a Man, Lastshot and the alluring and deadly Skorpion are stranded in the nuclear wasteland that once was Chechnya. With them is a shuttlecraft of innocents and the deadly and mysterious prisoner Rokk, a rogue Exceptional. They are pursued by Russian criminals, cannibalistic natives and mutated monsters through a horror blighted countryside where their powers are useless. They have only one chance for survival: the prisoner. Will Rokk save them or leave them to die and take his only chance for freedom?
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: November 2008
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [347 KB]
Reading time: 202-283 min.
?Across the Wasteland? is a much stronger and more involving read. The Exceptionals characters, mostly Lastshot and Skorpion, were easier to believe and accept. They are the new heroes of a very disturbing future. This time around Mr. Glenn has produced one storyline and has run with it to my satisfaction. So, what?s so great about it being to my satisfaction? I?m no longer going to read Book 3 because I?m curious or because I?ve accepted the review request?I?m reading Book 3 because I want to revisit this series. Well done, Mr. Glenn.?
"In this near-future adventure, we find The Exceptionals (government sponsored, bio-enhanced bounty hunters) Lastshot and Skorpion stranded in the hellish nuclear-wasteland which was once Chechnya--now populated by criminals, monsters, and cannibalistic natives--onboard their downed shuttlecraft is a group of "innocents," and the prisoner Rokk, a rogue Exceptional. Now the name of the game is survival. Overall I enjoyed both the story and the writing style. If you're a fan of the gritty action-adventure genre, then this is definitely the one for you. I give it a four out of five." Reviewed for MilSciFi.com by William Kriegherren
"Och! Don't be a Nancy, Lastshot," the Highlander said. "It's your embassy after all. You only live once." The Scottish Exceptional was crouched behind an air conditioner vent on a North London roof. It was a cold windy night, pouring down rain that was at the edge of being sleet.
"I could dispute that," the hulking figure crouched beside the Highlander whispered. His accent was American with a decided southern drawl.
"Which count?" The Scotsman smiled.
"This from a guy who wears a skirt for formal occasions?"
"It's a kilt!"
The two men were in their unique full dress battle uniforms. The Highlander's battle dress was all in dark green with plaid accents and a close fitting helmet-cum-mask with built in night goggles. His body armor made his broad chest seem even broader and his military status a certainty.
In contrast, his companion looked like he had just come from a motorcycle thrill show. He wore his salt and pepper hair in a retro mullet and what appeared to be aviator sunglasses. His B.D.U. consisted of midnight blue leathers with red and white highlights and dark red Jackboots with tooled American eagles on them that gave them the aspect of cowboy boots. He had a holstered smart carbine on his right hip in a tooled leather holster and a bowie knife in a boot sheath.
"I'll kick your ass tomorrow, Jeremy," the American said with a deadpan expression. "But right now, I need to get my hair out of this crappy English weather before it gets all frizzy."
Both men smiled as they moved out of the shelter of the vent toward a skylight in the center of the roof. They each carried a coil of rope that they had already secured to a roof abutment.
Lastshot stood for a moment staring, apparently at the pebbled surface of the roof at his feet. In fact, he gave a mental command to his neural linked glasses that switched their mode from normal vision to thermal/infrared imaging. The black surface of the roof gravel suddenly became alive with dancing heat traces, that even in the driving rain, retained enough of their point of origin's shape for him to identify the body shapes of the hostages and hostage takers below. The images showed large clusters of bodies at the walls of the room below and a single figure near the center.
A microphone descended from the left earpiece of the American's glasses and he spoke into it in a quiet calm voice. "Bad Wolf to Little Red. Going Tarzan anytime you say so."
"Swing on your vine in ten, from my mark," a voice answered from his earpiece. "Little Red out and mark."
Lastshot gave a mental command to the implants in his system to boost his adrenaline levels. At the same time, he stabilized his heart rhythm, and then counted down in his head. He clipped the rope to his belt harness and then, on ten, jumped forward. He detonated the charges he had pre-placed on the two-inch thick air-gel skylight and went over the lip of the opening, slamming his two hundred and eighty pounds through the mock-glass just as a flash bang grenade went off below. * * * *
The building on which The Highlander and Lastshot were perched was the United States Embassy on the outskirts of London.
It had begun life as an Edwardian townhouse and had been added to over time, until it was a complex of buildings in its own compound, surrounded by a smart fence.
A dozen well-armed and well-trained marines and a rotating squad of the Diplomatic Protective Service personnel also protected it.
That afternoon, just after teatime, the entire protective 'net' had been neutralized--slaughtered to a man by an invading force of three.
They called themselves the Furies after the Erinyes of ancient Greece: Alecto the Unceasing, Megaera the Grudging and Tisiphene the Avenger of Murders.
Like their ancient counterparts, they were dedicated to vengeance: In the year 2025, a Chechen separatist group took control of an old Soviet missile silo and fired a low yield nuclear/ballistic missile into the ionosphere in an attempt to knock observation satellites out of orbit which, they were convinced, were spying on them. The UN/EU mistook it for an attempt at an attack on Europe and had the U.S. designed nuclear 'Ragnarok' Missile intercept the Soviet missile. It collided in a low level nuclear blast that set up an electromagnetic pulse which blew a hole in the ozone layer, turning 1,000 square miles into a Wasteland where no electrical devices could work and where the solar radiation levels, unimpeded by an ozone layer, could be deadly. It was the source for the fanatic anger of the Furies, though to be truthful, it was only an excuse, not a cause.
"Thousands of people died," the tallest of the trio proclaimed, over the live tri-v hook up. "Because the Chechen Wasteland was created by the United States and its puppet the United Nations!" The woman reached out to grasp one of the cowering hostages, a girl in a maid's uniform, and lifted her by her hair.
Tisiphene was almost eight feet tall, her body bloated and warped by steroids and mutagenic compounds. Her dark blue bodysuit was ribbed with a plastisteel-reinforced exoskeleton, which multiplied her muscle force ratio by a factor of ten. Her hair was a wild mass of darkness, her mad eyes whirling pools of chaos completely surrounded by white.
When the giant woman spoke, her voice was oddly like the high-pitched whine of a plaintive child. "There is need for vengeance and the world must know!"
The terrified servant was lifted so that her tiny feet dangled a yard off the floor; she whimpered with fear so complete that she could not even raise her arms to claw at the massive fist that suspended her. The girl's name was Julie Morris. She was nineteen and in her heart she knew she was going to die.
Julie was at university studying English literature; she worked part time at the American Embassy because she wanted to summer in the United States, and she was sure it would make getting a visa easier. She wanted so much to see the Alamo in Texas and maybe meet a cowboy.
Julie liked cowboys.
"This innocent, like so many in my homeland of the Chechen people," Tisiphene said to the digi-cam, "whose death was caused by those interfering nations--" the behemoth Fury reached across the girl's body with her right hand to 'palm' Julie's face. Then the Fury closed her hand in a causal display of strength, with a gesture like a baker kneading bread dough, and pulped the head of the squealing girl who liked cowboys. The sound was like a stick snapping.
"It is a needless death," Tisiphene said with her child voice showing no emotion. She dropped the bloody corpse to the floor. It made a sound like a wet towel slapped on a countertop. "It can be the last death if one hundred billion Euros are placed in the account of the United Front for the Destruction of America."
Most of the hostages who witnessed the casual horror of the helpless girl's death became violently sick, and the conference room was soon thick with the smell of death and decay. * * * *
While the college girl was being slaughtered in the conference room above, a redheaded, voluptuous woman was moving like a wraith beneath the Embassy. She was in the labyrinth of steam tunnels that connected many old buildings in England, long since unused for even electrical conduits.
The woman was too full figured for the current meth-freak chic fashion styles, but with a classically beautiful face that was oddly enhanced, rather than marred, by a blue tattoo on it. The tattoo was of a scorpion that appeared to crawl down the left side, its stinger curled over her left eye and the pincers extended all the way to her firm jaw. Her public identity and Exceptional codename was Skorpion, though privately she answered to Rivette.
She was attired in her 'working' clothes, which consisted of a deep maroon leather bodice, scarlet full-sleeved shirt, a wide leather gear belt and loose maroon breeches tucked into high soft boots. Over all, she wore a calf length sleeveless robe of butter soft deep red leather, incised like her bodice, with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Skorpion had added light enhancement goggles to her normal battle dress as she walked though the pitch-black tunnels. She had an earpiece in and a throat mike that broadcast sub-ether. "Little Red to Bad Wolf," she whispered, "I'm twenty feet from the old dumbwaiter."
She had a live feed of the Fury's broadcast on one of the goggle lenses, and was forced to watch while Julie Morris was so callously murdered.
"I need an E.T.A., Little Red." The voice crackled through the ear link and Skorpion could hear the barely contained anger in her partner's voice.
"I have to squeeze my butt up this shaft, Bad Wolf," she said, "and I'm not Tori." She referred to their very slim Exceptional teammate, Tori Yagu, who went by the codename of Temper.
"More to love, Red," Lastshot said, his voice tense, but not strained. "Just do what you can."
Skorpion, despite the situation, cracked a smile. She forced her way into the dumbwaiter shaft and began to pull herself up, past two sub basements and a basement level to the first floor.
All the while, she watched the live feed and listened to the ravings as the Fury made her demands in detail.
After what seemed like forever, the redheaded Exceptional could hear through the door of the dumbwaiter that she had reached the first floor. It had actually been less than a minute.
Skorpion knew from blueprints she had reviewed, that the pantry on the other side of the door led directly into the dining and conference room where the majority of the hostages were being held. She unclipped a flash-bang grenade from her gear-belt.
"Swing on your vine on ten from my mark," she whispered, "Little Red out and mark!"
She counted down, kicked out the door and tossed the grenade.