Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Empire - Chapter 4

Follow along with the Read-A-Long

03/03/2013 - Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways - - Chapter 1

04/03/2013 - Vixie's Stories - - Chapter 2

05/03/2013 - Decadent Decisions - - Chapter 3

06/03/2013 - Reviews From Beyond the Book - - Chapter 4

07/03/2013 - Great Alpha Speaks - - Excerpt - Chapter 5

09/03/2013 - The Edible Bookshelf - - Chapter 6

10/03/2013 - Independent Writers Association - - Chapter 7

11/03/2013 - Self Publish or Die - - Excerpt - Chapter 8

12/03/2013 - Natasha Larry Books - - Chapter 9

13/03/2013 - Michelle Anderson-Picarella - - Chapter 10

17/03/2013 - Sheenah Freitas - - Chapter 11

18/03/2013 - Castle Macabre - - Chapter 12

19/03/2013 - My World - - Chapter 13

20/03/2013 - Reading, Writing And More - - Chapter 14

21/03/2013 - Ami R Blackwelder - - Chapter 15

"It will be interesting to discover which will make you beg. Will it be the pain or the pleasure?"

How do you tame a man without breaking his spirit?

The galaxy is under siege from alien invaders. The Empire is the only force that stands in the gap, trading the freedom of its citizens for a tenuous security.

Amidst this chaos, Lt. Adrian Stannis is a brilliant scientist trying to stay out of the limelight. He hides on a research vessel plying the Outer Rim and finds peace of a sort with Kali Mirren, a psi-enabled humanoid. But his days of anonymity may be coming to an end. Someone has discovered his secret and is determined to make him pay for his treachery. He must finish the project he abandoned years ago, one the Council deems essential in its fight against the aliens, but things are never that simple where Adrian is concerned.

Is he more man than machine, or have years hiding behind a mountain of logic eroded his humanity? Can he learn to love and will he be able to survive the tangled web of political expediency and psychological manipulation that surrounds him?

Will Kali be able to save him from himself, or is there a mystery surrounding him that may explode in their faces?

Everyone wants to know the truth, but will it set them free?

About Elizabeth Lang:
I'm a science fiction writer who started off life as a computer programmer with a love for reading, especially science fiction, fantasy and mystery.
Being in computers, I found my writing skills deteriorating so I decided to take up writing. It became a joy to create characters, stories and worlds and writing soon became a passion I couldn't put down. As a writer, I like to explore, not only the complexity of characters but the human condition from differing points of view. That is at the heart of the Empire series, of which 'The Empire' and 'The Rebels' are the first two of a four books series.

You can connect with Elizabeth Lang at the following places:

The Empire - Chapter 4

Mornings can bring new perspectives or solutions to problems that seemed hopeless the day before. Kali wished she had one of those mornings, but today wasn’t one of them. There was a solution, but it was a ‘lesser of two evils’ kind.

She leaned hard on the buzzer, pressing several times in quick succession. The empty officer’s corridor was dignified and the gray-blue walls with the Empire crest at non-discreet intervals made her audacity seem like a capital offense. A lowly ensign shouldn’t be making a personal call on the Captain’s cabin, and certainly not this early in the morning. The door swished open and bleary eyes blinked at her.

“Mirren. This had better be good. And short.” Captain Tarn smothered a yawn and rubbed a towel over damp, wavy brown hair. “I haven’t had coffee.”

“It’s important, sir.”

He hung the towel around his neck and studied his youngest officer, noting the dark circles and the feverish brightness in her eyes. Either she had been dipping into the medical stores or she was bursting with an idea. “Let me guess, this is about Lt. Stannis?”

Kali met his eyes squarely, a cocktail of accusation and challenge in her voice. “Is he dead to you, sir?”

The Captain’s hands tugged on the ends of the towel, not liking the taste of guilt in the morning. “It might be better if he was, for his sake.”

“What will they do to him if he doesn’t cooperate?”

Tarn sighed tiredly. Kali wasn’t the only one who had been spending sleepless nights. “He will cooperate or they will destroy his mind.”

“That would be worse than death for him.”

Tarn blew out a violent breath and his face came closer to hers as he emphasized, “Don’t you think I know that? But there’s nothing either one of us can do.”

“You’re wrong.”


Captain Tarn abhorred visiting the Security Section of his own ship . It was where his vile First Officer held court and abused his crew. Tarn understood the need for discipline, but he didn’t approve of the sadistic pleasure Barker and his people took in it. A contingent of his own blackclad guards waited behind him, phaser rifles gripped in ready hands. He paused at the door to the interrogation room. The metal barrier kept screams from escaping to the rest of the ship. Abandon hope all who enter here.

A shudder passed through him, leaving behind an aftertaste of old fears and disgust. He remembered his own run-ins with Security people in his younger days, before he learned how to play the game. What would he find? Most people were never the same after sessions with the retraining therapists. The psychological scars remained long after the physical ones healed.

Adrian had been with them for eight full days.

Tarn didn’t bother announcing his entrance. His personal override gave him access to every corner of this ship and he fully intended to exercise his power in that room.

“Stay here. Wait for my signal.” Tarn’s orders were terse as he pressed the flat of his hand to the ident-pad. The door slid open and Tarn gagged at the stench of humanity that rushed out to meet him. He steeled himself and entered, keeping the shock from showing as moans of
pleasure, not of pain, greeted his ears.

This brilliant genius of a man was a pitiful writhing figure sliding in a soup of his own waste. A conditioning unit imprisoned his head as Barker’s hands—

Tarn screamed in fury, “Stop it! ALL OF YOU!”

The First Officer continued working on Adrian’s wriggling body as he turned to face the Captain. “We are under Fleet Admiral Verel’s orders.”

On the other side of the platform, the Therapist snapped to attention, hoping to be regarded as a minor participant, not worthy to be included in the Captain’s fury.

“I know what his orders are,” said Tarn, his face red with anger. “You are relieved of your duties in this matter.”

Barker lifted his hands from Adrian’s body and slowly wiped them on a red-stained cloth. “You have no right to do that. Not where Security is concerned.”

Tarn raised his hand as if ready to strike one or both of them. His murderous glares gave every indication of violence to come. “On the contrary, I think you’ll find I have every right.” He struck his hand on the door control. Guards rushed in, a black wave crashing through a suddenly
opened barrier, their weapons ready. All of them had experienced the ‘wrath of Barker’ before and none of them would be upset if they had to shoot him.

Tarn’s words were a whip of authority. “I am relieving you of authority, First Officer. And charging you with acting according to personal interests, not that of the Empire.”

“That’s ridiculous!” shouted Barker, throwing the cloth on the table. “I’m only following the Fleet Admiral’s orders. Breaking this prisoner so he can serve the Empire.”

“And have you?” asked the Captain, a dangerous, challenging edge to his tone.

The Empire was not kind with failure; they both knew it. A note of defensiveness crept into Barker’s voice. “No but we’re close.”

Without the hands feeding the needs of his body, Adrian was still moaning. A fact that made Tarn even more determined to punish his First Officer.

“I highly doubt that.” The tone of contempt was a slap to the face. “You’ve had him eight days.”
He read the numbers on the life sensor panel. “And you’ve increased the drugs to a dangerous level, something the Fleet Admiral expressly said not to do. You were not to endanger the prisoner’s mind or did you forget to read that part of his orders?”

The Therapist’s voice rose in nervousness, “I was watching carefully, sir. I would never…” His fingers edged towards the computer with a fools desire to erase some incriminating information.

The Captain turned on him with a rage that made the Therapist cringe and take a step back. “If there is any damage to his mind…” Tarn’s eyes flashed with fury. “…your career is over. Flush the drugs from his system. Now.” He tore the conditioning unit from its hinges, sending pieces
flying, and threw it on the ground with a crash as the Therapist rushed over to the panel and shoved the med tech out of the way. He worked frantically to follow the Captain’s orders.

Barker was livid. “You can’t get away with this, Captain.”

“I’m glad you still recognize my rank,” Tarn said with icy sarcasm. “Restrain him.” He would have preferred tying him up and throwing the detestable man out of the airlock—he suspected the entire crew would be falling all over themselves to help—but unfortunately, that would be an infraction.

The guards gladly followed his orders and bound the First Officer’s hands behind him with the same manacles he used for Adrian. Barker considered struggling but the look on the guards’ faces told him they were only looking for an excuse to hit him in the line of duty.

Captain Tarn said, “Command does not look favorably on people who fail or who act in their own interests to the detriment of the Empire.”

Barker spat out, “And you think you can do better? What happens when you hand him over and he hasn’t agreed to cooperate?”

There was a hard, resolute look on Tarn’s face. “He’s going to.” He gestured to the guards. “Take him to the brig. Keep two guards on him.”

Tarn’s steps were labored as he approached the bound man. Brushing back hair plastered to Adrian’s face by salty layers of drying sweat, he said, “I’m sorry I let this happen. You didn’t deserve this.”

He grimaced as he lifted Adrian’s eyelids; the man was barely conscious. He rummaged through the colored vials in the drug cabinet, reading the labels on the sides until he found the right one, and injected a stimulant into Adrian’s arm.

Adrian’s eyes fluttered and he gasped as liquid energy forced him back to consciousness. He groaned as his awakened body registered the abuse that made every breath an agony.

“Stannis.” Tarn said the name gently.

The bound man’s head moved weakly from side to side.

“Lt. Stannis.” Tarn’s voice became one of command. “You will hear me.”

Adrian’s eyes opened slowly, blinking at the bright lights overhead. He rasped, “Cap-tain.”
Tarn no longer noticed the smells; the stench of his own guilt filled his nostrils. He touched the restraints, sticky with the prisoner’s blood. “I shouldn’t have let this happen. You were right. I was a hypocrite. More concerned about my own career.” He owed this man, but there was little he could do to save him. “Kali Mirren has requested a transfer to the C.S.S. Trykor.”

Exhaustion seemed to rob the scientist of the ability to remain emotionless. He gasped, “No!”

“It’s too late. She’s offered the services of her psi abilities and the Fleet Admiral is interested. What do you think will happen to her if you refuse to cooperate?”

The struggle in his eyes was painful to witness. “I…don’t understand.”

“I think you do,” said Tarn, hating himself. “She requested the transfer because she wants to help you. She doesn’t realize she’s giving them a hostage.”


Finally freed from the manipulative drugs, Adrian’s mind was work ing again. He almost wished it didn’t as fuzzy details of the past week crystallized into a sharply focused nightmare. His stomach wrenched painfully and he groaned because there was nothing left to throw up.

A knife of despair plunged through his defenses as the captain’s words ripped out his insides. Kali had been a thin lifeline in the nightmare that threatened to drown him, but now…

He wrestled with the emotions that arose when he thought of Kali. He wanted her, needed her, but he couldn’t put her in more danger. “She…”

The words tasted bitter. “Means…nothing.”

“You know they will use her to pressure you, and you know what that means.”

I feel nothing. Sentiment is weakness. “She is…nothing…” Each word tore through him, a jagged blade twisting inside. “She…”

“You won’t mind if I give her to Barker then? I believe she’s on her shift.”

No! Adrian froze in shock.

Tarn headed slowly to the door, silently willing the stubborn man to answer. For a moment, he wondered if Kali had misjudged Adrian.

A hoarse voice whispered behind him, painful surrender in a single word, “Wait.”

Captain Tarn’s head bent in anguish.

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