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Authors: Steve Umstead

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Gabriel's Redemption

BOOK: Gabriel's Redemption
6.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Copyright Page

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34



Sneak Preview of Gabriel's Return

An Independent Author's Plea

Gabriel’s Redemption

by Steve Umstead

Copyright © 2011 All rights reserved.

Cover design by Josh Powers & Steve Umstead

Published by ReactionMass Media, February 2011

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.

For more information on the author, visit

Chapter 1

Evan dove into the clear blue water, leaving the safety of the catamaran behind, and swam deep, adjusting his goggles as he kicked. He felt more than heard his older brother Zack hit the water behind him, then a second hollow splash as Tyler followed. Evan knew he was ahead of the other boys, that he’d find his quarry first, but he also knew in the back of his mind he was the youngest and the smallest, and still had to work the hardest.

As he passed twelve feet, he took a quick peek over his shoulder, pinching his nose and snorting to equalize the pressure. The nearly-transparent Caribbean water allowed him to see that his sixteen-year-old cousin Tyler had already caught and passed fourteen-year-old Zack, another age and size advantage Evan didn’t have.

At eleven, Evan was fortunate enough to still be able to hang out with the older boys...but today was different. He could feel it, something in the warm salty air. He knew this time
be the one telling stories over conch ceviche on the beach, the one who’d be the center of attention once he retrieved the first shell from the white sand bottom. He spotted the perfect candidate, partially buried and barely noticeable. Easily the largest anyone would find today. He kicked hard away from the charging Tyler, reaching out with one hand...


Gabriel awoke with a start, jerking his head up from the tattered pillow, and instinctively reached out for his gun. His right hand found it in its customary place, less than two feet from his head, on the peeling laminate of the nightstand. His fingers closed around the Heckart’s worn grip, his neuretic brain implants sending the code to arm and charge the weapon. Every muscle in his body was tensed like steel cord.
What the hell woke me up?
he thought. Something in the air, some out of the ordinary sound, something over and above the usual Jamaican street buzz.

He sat up in bed, weapon held tightly. The reassuring tingle in his palm indicating the Heckart was armed and fully charged. He peered around, eyes adjusting to the feeble moonlight leaking in the cracked window. Hotel room just as he left it, window opened less than three inches to combat the stifling Caribbean heat, a heat unusual for December. His neuretics fired off a quick burst, confirming none of his motion alarms had been triggered.
What was out of place, what caused the sharp reaction?

He debated running a somewhat-risky active scan when the sound of clinking glass wafted in from outside and his eyes darted to the window. Muffled laughter, an old man coughing, the screech of a cat, and more clinking as last night’s Red Stripe bottles were kicked over. More coughing, a muttered patois curse towards the cat, then silence.

He slid noiselessly to the window, staying out of the dust-filled moonbeams piercing the seedy hotel room. Back to the wall, weapon next to his ear, he stole a quick glance outside. His second floor room afforded a sweeping view of the street and its dilapidated buildings. Years ago Jamaica was a tourism mecca, but that had changed drastically since the Dark Days and the ensuing devastation of most low-lying land areas. This Ocho Rios street was a living example of third-world society’s collapse: strewn with garbage, overflowing dumpsters, and countless lost souls looking for the next day’s meal, drink, or narcotic.

Below him, across the street, was a gaunt Jamaican, the upper half of his body bent into a dumpster, refuse flying out behind him as he dug through the mess. At his feet were dozens of empty beer bottles, softly chiming a mournful melody as his bare feet brushed against them. A pathetic-looking cat sat in judgement on the top of the waste container, watching silently, waiting for its chance at scraps.

Gabriel scanned the full length of the street in one direction, then stepped back. Edging to the other side of the window, he repeated the security sweep, weapon at the ready. He switched his left eye to infrared, still wanting to avoid an active scan that may alert another to his presence. Nothing. Just a sad old man, a reflection on the post-Dark Days society in general, had interrupted what may have been his only true sleep in weeks.

He shook his head slowly with a grimace, and moved back to the bed. He checked his neuretics’ passive sensors, and satisfied he was alone, set the safed Heckart on the nightstand. He crawled back into bed, turning the sweat-stained pillow over, and tried desperately to get back into the childhood dream he had woken from.


“Unbelievable, Evan,” said Tyler.
“Never saw anything like it. You were like a kid possessed out there.” The sixteen-year-old crunched into another tortilla chip slathered with habanero salsa. “Biggift freakin’ conff I ever faw.” Chunks of tomato tumbled from his mouth onto his lap, then onto the white sand.

Zack chuckled in agreement. “Can’t believe your skinny ass could lift it up from the bottom.” His tortilla was more carefully constructed, just a few pieces of conch ceviche and a spoonful of the spicy salsa.

Tyler laughed, salsa mixed with tortilla crumbs flying from his lips. “Zack, you couldn’t even get past ten feet. How do you even know he got it? Maybe it was me all along, and I’m just giving little Mr. Gabriel the credit. Next time try clearing your ears.”

Evan just listened silently, chewing on conch. He held another skewer of the white meat over the edge of the bonfire the boys had built after beaching the catamaran at their secret family spot, a tiny deserted island just south of Cuba. He smiled to himself.
Nice to finally be the center of attention
, he thought.

He looked over at his father and uncle, sitting on beach chairs at the waterline with a bucket of iced Carib lagers between them, talking and chuckling in muffled tones. He hadn’t seen his uncle in three years; always off-planet on some secretive Special Forces mission. And his father…well, he hadn’t really been around much either, at least mentally. Ever since Evan’s mother died, his father had been distant, withdrawn. He was glad to see him smiling again.

Maybe my uncle will even let me finish his beer like he did that time when we...

“Hey, Ev, finish your snack and get us some sodas!” yelled Tyler, wiping his hands on his bathing suit.

Zack stood up, knocking Evan’s soda bottle over, the once-cold liquid seeping into the white sand. “Oops, might as well make that three. Go on, little man, time’s a-wasting!”

The two older boys ran towards the water, kicking sand up as they flew by the adults. His uncle flicked a bottle cap at the boys as they ran, laughing.
Back to reality
, Evan thought, his conch victory long forgotten. He launched himself from his chair towards the water...


The sound; the mysterious, unexplained, almost inaudible sound that woke him the first time. His eyes flew open, gun already in hand and tingling, his rigid body heading for the window. Outside, nothing. No old man, no cat, no movement. Something’s wrong, and now that dream’s gone for good. He queried the motion alarms; again all reported back as clean. Padding over to the hotel room door, he heard the stairs outside in the hall creak. He froze, glancing at the digital clock on the nightstand. Oh-four-thirty, not a time for anyone to be stalking the halls.

The creaking came closer, definitely on his floor. His passive scan didn’t detect anyone -
wait, there
. Two of them, both hazed in a weak stealth field. He sent out a low-level active scan, and it burned right through the government-issue stealth. His Mindseye system superimposed images across his vision - two bodies, one short, one massive. End of the long hall, 80 feet away, walking slowly in his direction. His scan showed no weapons, not even kinetic or blunt instrument. Nothing more solid on either of them than a pair of glasses on the short one, and a large belt buckle on the larger one.

He pressed his back into the wall next to the doorframe, waiting. The creaks increased in volume, then stopped. They were right outside the door. The gun’s carbotanium was cool on his cheek as his finger brushed absently on the trigger pad. Neuretics on full alert, he waited.

Oddly enough, they knocked. A soft knuckle rap as if they didn’t want to wake anyone. He continued to wait, ready to spring. Another knock, this time slightly louder. “Evan Gabriel?” came a light call, almost falsetto.

, he thought. If someone tracked him down, all the way to Jamaica, it couldn’t be a social visit. He had done his very best to erase any evidence of his whereabouts. So why were they knocking and announcing their presence?

“Evan Gabriel, we know you’re in there. Already talked to the night manager, showed him your picture,” came the falsetto voice. After a pause, it continued. “Please, we need to speak. We’ve been traveling all night.”

Now he was beyond puzzlement. Assassins or commandos don’t usually ask politely to chat with their marks before dropping them. He stepped away from the wall a few inches and pressed the barrel of his weapon to the surface of the door, leaning his head across to peer out the peephole. He regretted not having placed any AV bugs in the hall.
Laziness will get you killed one of these days
, he thought.

Two men stood outside his door, one barely tall enough for his head to be seen through the hole, and one large enough to probably have trouble fitting through the door. Both in business suits, jackets open, both empty handed, and both sweating profusely. The short man waved, peering up at the hole. “Sir, we really need to speak,” came his tiny voice. “You know we’re unarmed, we picked up your scan. Honestly I’m dead tired. Please, just a moment of your time.”

He slid to the other side of the door, changing hands with his pistol, wrestling with the paradox. No one should know he was here, and if someone did, he’d probably be in jail — or dead — by now. And Fat Man and Little Boy outside called him by name without blowing down the door and coming in with a full squad.
Can’t live forever...

“Who are you, mon? Who ‘dis Evan you be speaking of? Go ‘way, now, I needa rest,” he tried in his best rasta accent.

He heard a soft snort. “Mr. Gabriel, it’s been a very long day and night for us. This won’t take but a minute. We’ll both turn around and put our hands on the opposite wall. Please, just open the door so we can talk.”

He brought the gun back and ran another scan. His Mindseye image showed that both men had stepped to the side of the hall and were in frisk-me position, hands on the chipped plaster wall, the big man’s nearly touching the ceiling. He sent a disable command to the motion alarms and slowly undid the locks with his left hand. His right hand still gripped the Heckart tightly. He turned the knob.

Pale yellow light from the hallway spilled into the hotel room as he edged into the doorway, fully charged and armed mag pistol trained on the two men. “Slowly turn around to face me, hands on top of your heads,” he said in a low voice. “And I want those shit stealth fields off.”

BOOK: Gabriel's Redemption
6.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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