On sale Tuesday, November 11
File Size: 6314 KB
Print Length: 307 pages
Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (November 13, 2012)
William Shatner, the original face of Captain Kirk on TV’s Star Trek, displays another side of his remarkable talent with his sixth book in the TekWar series. Fall into a future world where the ubiquitous techno-drug Tek rules, and one man remains dedicated to wiping it from the face of tomorrow’s Earth.
Tek Power, the sixth book in the series, will engage with “a pleasant, dry wit” and “a well-drawn, grittily realistic future world” (Booklist).
HIS LIFE CHANGED for good and all on a stormy night in the summer of the year 2121. A vidphone call began the process.
It was a few minutes short of midnight in Secure Zone 2 of Manhattan when the phone in Richard Bascom’s tower-apartment bedroom buzzed harshly.
Out beyond the wide blanked windows of the room lightning crackled. Thunder seemed to be rolling along the rainswept pedestrian ramps and streets out there in the night.
A lanky, sandyhaired man in his middle thirties, Richard hadn’t yet fallen asleep. Sitting up in the oval bed, he said, “Lights.”
As the room filled with soft light, he nodded toward the small vidphone screen resting on the floating bedside table. “I’ll take the call.”
The rectangular screen whirred faintly as it turned to face him. But it remained blank. “Listen, old buddy,” came a slurred male voice.
Richard didn’t recognize it. “Who is this?”
“Just pay attention,” continued the unseen caller. “No matter what they try to tell you—she was murdered.”
“Who was murdered?” Swinging his legs off the bed, Richard stood up. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“Eve, old buddy. I’m talking about your loyal, loving wife.” The phone clicked off.
He frowned at the dead phone. “Jesus, has something happened to Eve?”
Turning on his heel and grabbing up his robe, he went running from the room.
The high, wide window of their apartment living room hadn’t been blanked. A sudden blaze of bluish lightning showed him the towering apartment houses out there, the rainy pedramps and the flitting skycars, as he hurried to Eve’s bedroom.
His wife went out on a dinner date with some client or other tonight, but he’d assumed she had long since come home.
She hadn’t, though. Her bedroom was empty, the oval bed neatly made, just as the servobot had left it this morning.
His frown deepening, Richard glanced around the room. He had no idea what he was expecting to see. Her memopad screen was sitting on a low table, but he had no way to access it.
“A practical joke,” he decided. “Sure, that damn call was just a practical joke.”
Eve wasn’t dead.
“That guy sounded as though he was drunk or high on something. A Tekhead maybe, who believes in his hallucinations.”
Eve wasn’t dead. Couldn’t be.
The thing to do was find out whom she’d gone to dinner with and where.
“Problem is,” he said to himself while he wandered around his wife’s silent bedroom, “Eve hasn’t been all that confiding lately.”
He had no idea where she’d gone this evening. Not only that, he wasn’t even sure which person at Larson-Dunn, the public relations outfit Eve worked for, he could call to ask for information.
“Is Terry Wollter still with L-D? Seems to me she mentioned he was fired couple months back.”
Wollter was just about the only one at the firm he knew well enough to contact at this hour.
He sat on the edge of her bed. He’d pulled the robe on over his pajamas, yet he was feeling extremely cold. He clenched his fists to keep himself from shaking.
Eve wasn’t dead.
It had to be a joke. Some damned drunk, some Tekkie with a sense of humor.
Funny how thorough the servobot had been. There was hardly a trace of Eve left in the bedroom. It was chill and smelled faintly antiseptic. The sandalwood perfume she usually wore wasn’t discernible at all.
Richard got up, slowly, and made his way into the living room. “But where is she?” he said, stopping near the window. “Where the hell is she?”
The heavy rain kept slamming down through the night. Everything out there was blurred, looking as though it might melt away at any moment.
“Okay, I’ll wait another fifteen minutes,” he decided. “Then I’ll get in touch with Wollter.”
Even if the guy no longer worked at Larson-Dunn, he ought to know somebody who could tell him where Eve had gone tonight.
Richard told himself, not for the first time, that he was going to have to work harder on his relationship with his wife. “Lately things haven’t been going—”
“Sir?” came the soft, polite voice of the apartment computer.
He turned to glance up at the grey overhead voxbox. “Yes, what?”
“There’s someone at the pedramp entrance, sir,” announced the computer.
“Two people, actually, who identify themselves as members of the Manhattan Police Service,” replied the slightly metallic voice. “I’m afraid, sir, that your wife has suffered an accident.”
JAKE CARDIGAN WAS, he decided, in pretty good shape. “For a guy who’s getting ever closer to fifty,” he added.
Twilight was slowly spreading across the Malibu Sector of Greater Los Angeles and Jake was running, alone, along a stretch of beach that led to the apartment he shared with his son. He’d done two miles out and was now heading for home.
He kept up a steady pace, not winded at all.
The surf was relatively quiet tonight, the foam came whispering in across the wet sand.
Trotting along the water’s edge, coming in Jake’s direction, was a highly polished chromeplated robot. He was holding the glowing fiberoptic leashes of two listless peppermint poodles.
“Bon soir,” greeted the bot as he and the two dogs passed Jake.
“Evening. Where’s the third one?”
“Un peu mal,” replied the robot.
Nodding sympathetically, Jake continued on his run.
Up ahead on his right loomed a brightly illuminated beach house, only a few months old, built of glittering metal struts and large curved panels of tinted plastiglass. Out on the glowing neowood sundeck about thirty people were gathered, talking and drinking. On the small holostage at the far side of the deck a projected string quartet was playing chamber music that didn’t match the look of the party.
Spotting Jake passing, a plump pretty blonde in a tight yellow slaxsuit hurried over to the beachside railing and waved. “Jake, hey,” she called. “Didn’t you get my invitation, hon?”
He slowed his pace but didn’t stop completely. “Can’t make the festivities, Maggie,” he shouted. “Sorry.”
“We’re going to have fun.” Maggie brought up her clenched fist from her side and opened it for a few seconds. She was holding what looked to be a Tek chip.
Sudden anger hit Jake, but he only gave her a thin grin and a farewell wave. “So I see.” Kicking up his pace, he soon left the party behind.
He’d been jogging along for about another ten minutes when he heard a muffled cry from up near an unlit beach house some three hundred feet inland from him.
Jake slowed again, then halted to scan the shadows beneath the place.
It was one of several plastiglass and simulated redwood stilthouses that had been built along here back in the early 2100s.
Nodding to himself, Jake sprinted up across the sand. “What are you lads up to?” he called.
He’d spotted two bulky figures struggling with a smaller, slimmer figure.
Two large thickset young men were assaulting an auburnhaired young woman. The largest had an arm-lock on her and was trying to get her shoulder bag free of her grasp.
“Keep on jogging, asshole,” the other lout advised Jake. Letting go of the struggling woman’s arm, he spun to glower at him.
Jake kicked out, hard, connecting with his kneecap. He followed that with three jabs to the young man’s fat chin.
The lunk made a few unhappy grunting noises before dropping to the sandy ground.
Jake took hold of the second lout by the back of his laminated shirt and yanked. Spinning him around, he delivered two effective punches to his sagging midsection and another to his left temple as he doubled up.
The huge youth said, “Oof—ung,” and then toppled to his knees.
When Jake booted him in the backside, he fell all the way over and spilled out next to his unconscious companion.
Jake turned to the young woman. “Did they—Hey! Alicia Bower.”
“Hi, Jake.” She brushed at the front of her skirt as she moved nearer to him. “Excuse me for barging in on you like this.”
He walked her a few yards downhill toward the darkening sea.
He asked, “You were coming to see me?”
Alicia nodded, smiling faintly. “I happened to be flying over Malibu, trying out my new skyvan, when I remembered that you lived in the vicinity,” she explained. “So I decided to set down at a public lot up the way.” She indicated its direction with a half swing of her left shoulder. “I was strolling over to pay you a visit when I got jumped by those two burly muggers.”
She held up her right hand. “Yes, honestly,” she assured him. “I haven’t, afterall, seen you since you extricated me from that mess in Farmland and helped me get my brains unscrambled.”
Jake looked her slowly up and down. “You don’t, you know, need an elaborate excuse to pay me a visit,” he told her. “You didn’t rig this show, did you?”
“No, most certainly not.” She held out her slim right arm. “I wouldn’t pay those goons to give me these bruises, would I?”
He glanced up into the thickening dark around the stilthouse. The pair of attackers had revived and were stumbling rapidly away in the opposite direction. He ignored them, saying to the young woman, “Okay, I believe you—for now. How have you been?”
“Isn’t the complete phrase ‘How have you been, little girl?’” Anger tinged her voice. “I’m twenty-seven and, as you should know, not particularly innocent.”
“I often ask my friends how they’ve been,” he said. “Even those who aren’t little girls. In this part of the country that sort of inquiry isn’t an insult.”
“Allright, sorry. I’m still somewhat edgy around you,” Alicia admitted. “But after what we went through together—I don’t know, I thought I’d hear from you after you got me safely home.”
“Sometimes I send out cheery faxgrams to my former clients during the holiday season.”
She rested her fists on her narrow hips. “I’m not easily dissuaded,” she informed him. “Maybe you didn’t get the impression when you were springing me from that booby hatch back in Farmland, but I’m damned stubborn.” She paused to take a slow breath in. “Would you like to go to dinner with me?”
“No, damn it,” she said impatiently. “Now, tonight. That’s one of the things I dropped by to ask you.”
He grinned, nodding. “Sure,” he said. “There’s a pretty good seafood café about a half mile back along the beach. We can hike there if you’re up to it.”
“Of course I am. It sounds fine.” She took hold of his arm and they started walking. “Don’t you stay friendly with people you’ve met while working on a case?”
He watched the dark ocean. Far out the colored lights of a lone hoverboat were flashing. “Once in a while.”
Tek Power is available here
The Tek War novels are available now from Open Road Media