On The Good Ship Caligula [The Exceptionals Book 3]
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by Teel James Glenn
Category: Science Fiction/Suspense/Thriller EPIC eBook Award Finalist
Description: When the Exceptionals uncover a deadly gladiatorial combat that has been televised worldwide, they make an even more horrifying discovery: one of their own, the techninja Temper, is a participant and fighting for her life. Conner Le-Shott is convicted of murder and then escapes jail only to find himself embroiled in the deadly games. He meets the young girl, Jester, who badly needs his help and finds his interest is more than professional. Can the Bodyguard discover where the games are and stop mad man Caligula's plans for world nuclear destruction before Le'Schott loses his life--or his heart?
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: June 2009
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [336 KB]
Reading time: 198-277 min.
?I?m enjoying the escapism Mr. Glenn?s world offers and I?m a little surprised that I am. Mr. Glenn has created over-the-top super human heroes meshing natural abilities with technologies from some modern Six Million Man world and it WORKS. Not my normal reading choices, but I?m now looking forward to each new story. The Exeptionals is pure entertaining escapism. It?s the good guys against the bad guys and let the bodies fall where they will. It?s fantastical over the top situations that could just be a teeniest bit futuristically real. Yes, I want more.? ChrisChat Reviews
The prisoner was big. Tall at two meters, he was also heavily muscled as only a man who has twenty-three hours a day of solitary confinement and thus unlimited time to work out can be. He had broad shoulders with cabled muscles writhing under the skin; yet whenever he moved, he still had the grace of a tiger ready to pounce.
He wore only a 'wife beater' t-shirt, loose pajama-like orange pants, and cloth slippers so the numerous prison tattoos that decorated his body and marked his journey through the Criminal Justice System were clearly visible: "Visit Pelican Bay and rot", "Semper Fi my ass!" "Back off or die!" and among other images, the head and shoulders of a playing card joker on his left chest, over his heart. He had a skull and cross bones crudely marked at the base of his shaven skull.
His mustached face was pressed against the Plexisteel window where he could watch the large Tri-V screen mounted at the end of the cellblock corridor. His hands were thrust through a hole in the door where wrist restraints had been fastened.
On the tri-v monitor, a live Cube network broadcast showed a robbery in progress in New York, while the announcer droned on about what was being shown. The images were from a bank security camera and showed a group of cowering civilians surrounded by five armed and masked men in paramilitary uniforms.
Suddenly, a wall of the bank seemed to dissolve and three extraordinary figures charged in through the hole. One was tall, dressed in blue and red leathers reminiscent of a motorcycle thrill show performer. He had a mullet and wore sunglasses. The second figure was a buxom female dressed in a scarlet bustier and robes. The last figure was dressed all in gold and his clearly visible face was turned toward the camera, and whenever he could manage it, a smile crossed his features. The three spectacular figures fired their side arms in the same split second and, as if in a scene from an old cowboy film, shot the guns out of the hands of the masked men.
The other prisoners in the cellblock, their faces likewise pressed against their windows, all booed as the three colorful figures proceeded to lay about the bank robbers barehanded and subdue them.
The oddest thing about the whole affair was perhaps that out of the three costumed figures, only the one in gold seemed to have a face. The other two seemed to have their features blurred like an old photo that had been smudged.
"And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen," the Tri-V announcer proclaimed. "Goldstrike, Lastshot and Skorpion, New York's own Bodyguard, proving once again that our government money is well spent."
The inmates howled in protest, all but drowning out the shouted orders from a guard captain standing with two burly guards in front of the bald prisoner's cell.
"Stand back away from the door, prisoner Le'Schott."
The two hundred seventy pound prisoner complied, stepping three feet back into his tiny cell.
"Open number thirty!" the Captain called out. There was an echoed clank and the mechanism that held the door closed, released.
"Out!" the officer ordered.
When Le'Schott stepped through the door, a net hood was placed over his head. It was a spit guard. He grinned wolfishly at the precaution.
"'Fraid I'll blow you a kiss, Conrack?" the prisoner said to the officer.
"Save your smart ass remarks for the Exceptional who is waiting for you." The uniformed Conrack stepped behind the trio and nodded to the two guards who took up positions at the elbows of the shackled giant. "You can tell him how a decorated marine can go so bad, kill a prisoner in his custody and then weeks later steal a government payroll like a common rat."
Even with his feet shackled to each other and then to his hands, Le'Schott moved like a tiger, flowing rather than shuffling along the corridor. He seemed to tower over the three men by his sheer physical presence more than his height--he was only a few inches taller than the tallest of them. His voice had a soft southern drawl to it when he spoke, yet it carried a quality that commanded. "I simply got sick of listening to idiot politicians who knew nothing of what it's really like out there," Le'Schott said. "So I just redistributed the wealth to the frontline troops."
"And killed two Shore Patrol guards in the process." The Captain's tone was dripping with hate and disgust. He held a three-foot stun baton in his right hand and brandished it, looking for an excuse to apply the twenty thousand volts to the bald man's back.
"They were Navy," Le'Schott said simply in explanation.
"And the prisoner they say you killed?"
"Hey--you know prisoners are expendable?" Le'Schott smiled.
Conrack's hand tightened on the baton's handle. "You make a scene in front of that government man and I swear I'll make your miserable life a living hell."
The prisoner threw a brittle laugh at the officer. "Been there, done that, dog breath."
"Shut up, con, and keep moving."
The entourage moved through the sterile maximum-security cellblock of the federal prison at Fort Madison, Iowa. It was located on bottomland on the west bank of the Mississippi River and was a retro fitted facility built in the eighteen thirties. Fashioned of red sandstone and granite, it made the corridors within the facility feel like a dungeon, no matter how brightly lit they were.
The rows of cells in Cell House Twenty were metal doors painted a dull grey with small Plexiglas windows. The faces pressed against those windows were of every race and color, made uniform by their expressions of hatred and madness. The cellblock was isolated from the four pods of general population, saved for the worst of the worst in the eleven-acre institution.
"Into Exam room six," Conrack ordered.
Le'Schott moved along, the chains making a gentle clank with each tiny step along the concrete floor. The bald man's green eyes were focused and bright, even through the net's veil. He hummed the theme from an old 2-D John Wayne movie while he walked, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings.
"Stop humming that crap," the captain commanded.
"Chisum is a classic, you troglodyte," Le'Schott said, "not that you'd get it."
"Shut up!" The officer jammed the stun prod into the prisoner's kidneys and pressed the trigger button.
Le'Schott grunted and dropped to his knees as a half charge cramped his muscles with a jolt of manmade lightening.
The prisoners in the cells on either side of the corridor hooted and hollered, slamming fists and heads into the windows in reaction to the attack.
Le'Schott fell forward onto his chained hands. The two guards bent to grab him under his armpits, intending to pull him back to his feet. The prisoner chose that moment to grab the two men tightly, locking their arms to his body. He used the purchase to mule kick backward and caught the captain unaware. He twisted his legs and wrapped his ankle chains around the officer's neck and torqued his body to throw the man into a cell door. Conrack dropped senseless, a gash across his forehead flooding his face with blood.
The two men holding Le'Schott struggled to pull free but the muscular prisoner jumped first left then right, bringing his heels down on the inner knees of the guards. This dropped both men in agony, unable to respond, while Le'Schott stood, ripped off his spit guard and worked the muscles of his throat in an odd way. After a moment, he was able to regurgitate a small key by means of retro- peristalsis.
He quickly unlocked the wrist and ankle cuffs and then his restraint collar, making a satisfied "hmm!" sound when his throat was free.
One of the guards attempted to hit the panic alarm button on his belt, but Le'Schott hit him with an open palm blow to the temple and rendered him unconscious.
The caged convicts were riotous with screams of encouragement now, with suggestions like "Kill them now!", "Wring their necks," and the like.
The bald escapee grabbed the stun baton and cranked the power setting to full. He located the box high up on the wall of the corridor where power for the doors and alarms for the block were located. He weighed the baton in his hand in preparation to toss it when the door to the interview room, twenty feet away from him, opened and the 'government man'--The Exceptional, stepped into the hall.
It was Firststrike of the New York based Exceptional team, the Bodyguard. Dressed in a black and grey form-fitting outfit, he was just a head shorter than Le'Schott. He was lean, with short-cropped brown hair, and a Fu Manchu mustache like Le'Schott's. This, combined with a silver eye-patch over his left eye, gave him a piratical appearance.
"Hold it right there, Big Boy," the Exceptional said, "and save yourself a world of pain."
The shaven headed giant just laughed and said, "Bring it on, Cyclops, and welcome to my world!"