Read Fractured Mind Episode One (A Galactic Coalition Academy Series) Online

Authors: Odette C. Bell

Tags: #space opera, #sci fi action adventure, #space opera romance, #sci fi action adventure romance, #science fiction action romance, #science fiction romance adventure

Fractured Mind Episode One (A Galactic Coalition Academy Series) (15 page)

BOOK: Fractured Mind Episode One (A Galactic Coalition Academy Series)
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He paled. It felt as if his cheeks became so
cold and stiff they'd never move again. If he tried to speak, let
alone smile, he could shatter his face and it would fall to his
feet.

“There are enemies within the
Coalition?”

Slowly she met his gaze. “There have always
been enemies within the Coalition. Especially now. Especially as we
quicken towards the final battle.”

His stomach lurched. “The final battle?”

She would not blink, would not drop his
gaze. In fact, it became all the more intense as she took a step
towards him, her boots resounding against the metal floor. “There
is an enemy beyond our space.”

He jerked his head back and shook it at her
confusing statement. “What on earth does that mean? Beyond our
space?”

“Outside this universe,” she now spoke so
stiffly it half sounded as if her words could shatter like glass.
“It's coming,” she added in a harsh breath. “It's coming.”

Nerves. Fear. True fright. They came upon
him all at once, dousing his back as if somebody had thrown him
into the ocean.

He began to shake his head again.

The admiral shook her own. Once. Stiffly.
“None of that matters right now. The only thing that matters is you
getting out of here and figuring out what's going on,
lieutenant.”

“I'm not going to leave you behind,” he
began.

She brought up a stiff hand and
practically stuck it straight in his face. “You are. You will. I
have to stay behind, have to do what I can. But you have to follow
this route—” she brought up her WD, typed something into it, and
sent it to his wrist device. “—and get the hell out of here,” she
spoke through a clenched jaw, her lips barely parting, her teeth
nothing more than white flashes that accentuated her hard, stiff
words. “We don't have much time, lieutenant. The Corthanx Traders
will eventually figure out these tunnels exist, especially when
they realize I've suddenly disappeared. You have to get out of
here, and you have to find out what's going on.”

He wanted to protest. There was still more
he had to know. Still more she had to answer. Though she'd already
told him how this had happened, he still couldn't understand it,
still couldn't understand how the Academy, let alone Admiral
Forest, could let this happen.

As he stared into her determined gaze, he
realized she wasn't going to give in. She pointed a stiff finger
towards the tunnel behind them. “Follow that. I've sent you the
map. Now get the hell out of this city. Figure out what's going on,
and keep in contact.”

“What?” His brow dug deep against his
eyes.

She brought a hand up and tapped her WD.
“Figure out what's going on and contact the correct authorities.
Also keep in contact with me.”

“How? The communications system is
down.”

She shook her head. “I managed to make an
independent connection between your WD and mine. Theoretically,
when you try to contact me, I should be able to find a way to
bypass the jam on the system.”

He shook his head, barely understanding a
single word. “But, admiral—”

“Just go,” she said, words like hisses. “We
don't have much time.” She turned her head and focused her gaze
back through the tunnel.

As if to prove her point, he suddenly heard
a thump that reverberated all the way through the floor. It seemed
to sink hard into his heart, seemed to clutch two hands around the
muscle and shake it.

He took a snapped step back, cheeks paling
and feeling as cold as the heart of a glacier. “Admiral—”

“Just go, lieutenant.”

Though he began to shake his head, another
bang reverberated down the corridor. Before he knew what he was
doing, he turned on his foot and speed forward.

“Go,” the admiral called one last time
before her voice cut out.

The lieutenant turned over his shoulder and
stared at her until he was out of sight.

He shifted his head forward and pumped his
arms at his sides, pushing his muscles as fast as they would
go.

No, this couldn't be happening. Events were
spiraling out of control like a burnt up cruiser freefalling
through the atmosphere.

He jerked up his WD, manipulating it as he
never stopped running, his boots pounding over the floor, every
step echoing around him like the thump of a hammer against an
anvil.

There were far too many questions vying for
his attention, but no matter what he thought about, no matter how
often his mind tried to jerk back to the admiral's insistence, his
thoughts always skipped back to Sarah.

Sarah. That hologram had resembled her
perfectly.

What the hell was going on?

He sprinted around another corner, jerking
up his WD to check his route.

At one point he almost took the wrong turn,
but stopped just in time, boots screeching against the floor as he
grabbed a lip of metal and shifted direction.

Perhaps the admiral had overstated things
when she'd said taking the wrong route would end up tripping some
security system and getting him transported to the brig. Perhaps
she hadn't.

He couldn't afford to take any risks. He
had absolutely no idea what was happening in the rest of the
academy. The sinking feeling in his gut told him it couldn't be
good. The Corthanx Traders had been too smart in their attack, too
well prepared.

Even if the Sora program had failed somehow
they would still have a stranglehold on the Academy's main
computers. For all Karax knew, the traders could've rounded up
every last member of staff and every last student by now. They were
too powerful to underestimate. So there was every possibility that
he was the last member of the Academy left on the run. It would be
up to him to make it out and raise the alarm.

... Then what? Would the Coalition forces on
the rest of the planet push their way into the Academy and take the
grounds back? At what cost? Sure, he didn't know that much about
the traders, but he could guess that if they had hostages, they
wouldn't shy away from killing them to make a point.

The tunnel system was long. Had to be. Not
only did it wind its way through Academy grounds, but according to
the admiral and his wrist device, eventually it would take him
underneath the city and far out to some secluded section of
forest.

It would take hours at his top sprint to
make it that far, and he knew he didn't have hours. Fortunately,
however, he soon came across some kind of transport substation,
within which was a special kind of hover bike.

He wasted no time in pulling it out of its
recess, vaulting on top, and revving the engine.

Then Lieutenant Karax hunched over the
handlebars, sweaty brow pressing close to the sleek metal, a single
expletive splitting from his lips as he gunned the bike and shot
forward.

The Academy had been attacked.

He'd left the admiral behind.

The traders would have tens of thousands of
hostages. And somewhere, somewhere out there was Sarah
Sinclair.

He had to get to her before it was too
late.

...

Admiral Forest

She didn't make a single movement until
Lieutenant Karax was well and truly out of sight, the faint
reverberating thumps of his footfall no longer audible.

When it was clear she was on her own she
moved.

Admiral Forest sat down. She reached past
the collar of her uniform and drew out the device.

She waved a hand over it.

Her expression was now blank.

She tilted her head to the side, hand now
stuck in the air as the device turned on.

The small flat disc of metal had sat close
to her skin under her top – indiscernible from the outside. Now it
bulged as it turned on, the metal warping in and out as if
something was breathing from deep within it.

Her expression remained blank. Her hand
still hovered in the air.

Her mind was blank, all thoughts far away.
Held back. By a wall.

The device stopped bulging and settled down
into a single form.

A small, perfect metal cube.

It let out a beam of blue light from its
top. The beam of light was as thin as a pin, yet strong enough that
it pushed all the way to the ceiling above.

Her body was hunched over, muscles locked in
the same position, never moving.

“What now?” she asked in a raspy tone.

“Wait,” the device instructed her, its
strange far-off tone issuing from nowhere in particular.

“Until?”

“Until we find out what will happen
next.”

With that promise echoing in her dead mind,
the admiral rested back on her haunches. She sat down, crossed her
legs, settled her hands on her lap, and locked her far-off gaze on
the wall.

And she waited.

As instructed, to see what would happen
next.

Chapter 8

Corthanx Traders

“We do not know how this happened. We do not
know how this happened,” one of the traders said as he knelt in a
supplicating position, one knee pressed into the floor, his robes
spilled around his small legs, his hands lifted up in
reverence.

The hologram before him did not flicker. It
was still perfect, like all holographic technology they had managed
to secure from the Ornax.

The snarling face of the alien stared down
at him, its numerous lips pulling back from its numerous mouths.
“Unacceptable. This was the perfect plan. How- how did you
fail?”

“We have not failed,” said the trader, still
keeping his hands held up in reverence, even though they started to
shake. Sweat slicked between his fingers, pooled over his palms,
and threatened to wash down his wrists. He knew better than to let
his hands drop. Knew far better than to let his fear show. He was
thankful for the cloak that pushed all the way over his face and
hid his expression, for he could not hide his fear.

They had not factored this into their
calculations. It was not possible.

“Fix Sora,” the alien said, its myriad
mouths snapping open, the words punching out of them like
bullets.

Though the trader began to shake, he hid it
with a vehement nod. “We have already managed to push past the
jamming signal. Soon we will fix the program. The signal will be
fixed,” he said, words halting as his voice trembled with fear.
Though he could hide the shake in his body by hunching further into
his cloak, he could not keep his tone still. And the alien picked
up on it.

There was a single moment of reverberating
silence. It was the most terrifying experience the trader had ever
endured – waiting there as the alien watched him.

“You will locate the original source. You
will retrieve it. And this mistake will never happen again.”

“We already have agents searching for her,
but it is hard. We cannot access the Earth security net. Though we
have almost complete access to the Academy's computers, we cannot
access Earth's civilian law enforcement agencies. The systems are
separated.”

“Unacceptable. You will find her by whatever
means possible,” the alien snapped, all those myriad lips moving
around all those myriad mouths.

The trader gathered the gumption to lift
his head and stare beyond the edge of his cloak at the alien's
face. He always shuddered. He'd never seen a sight more terrifying.
In the history of his own culture, the many mouthed Ornax of the
Corthanx clan were known as the most devastating demons of
all.

“We will not listen to your excuses. We will
not wait. Locate the original source and complete this plan. We
must gain access to every Academy system. Do you understand? Will
you follow?”

“Yes, I understand. Yes, I will follow.”
Finally the trader let his hands drop, though he did not let them
loosen and rest by his side. Instead he clutched them together and
pressed his fingers through one another until his hands were formed
in prayer. He nodded his head low, his cloak pushing hard over his
eyes. “Your demands will be met, my lord.”

“Yes, they will, or you and your people will
be wiped from the face of this galaxy.” With that, the holographic
transmission ended.

For a few seconds the trader did nothing. He
held his hands in prayer and he prayed as though his life depended
on it.

He closed his eyes, squeezing them as
tightly shut as he could, and he ground his teeth together, his
hooked fangs snagging through one another as his jaw shifted from
side-to-side.

He prayed for his people, prayed that they
would live through this.

When he was done, he opened his hands,
stood, and pushed forward.

Though the Sora program was currently
inoperable, his people were working on it, and soon whatever
jamming signal that had interrupted it, would be overcome.

But then he would have to locate the
original source....

It was inconceivable that she was on this
planet. He did not understand how this could have occurred. The
last he had checked, the source and all other sources were locked
within the Corthanx prefecture, deep in the second pocket in
space.

And yet Sora, the most important of the true
intelligence holograms, had somehow escaped.

Escaped, and begun a life anew within the
Coalition Academy, of all places.

He was still trying to piece together
exactly what had happened, but it was hard, especially considering
he had to put up with the alien's anger.

The trader was usually a methodical soul, as
were most of his race. He wanted to sift through this problem and
find out exactly what had happened, leave no stone unturned, as the
humans would put it.

But he simply didn't have the time. So he
pushed into a half run, shoes slapping over the polished floor.

The corridor was marked by battle, the floor
broken and cracked, the walls covered in gouge marks with great
black swathes of scorched paint.

BOOK: Fractured Mind Episode One (A Galactic Coalition Academy Series)
9.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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