Read Matt & Michelle 1: The Fugitive Heir Online

Authors: Henry Vogel

Tags: #Speculative Fiction, #Science Fiction, #Space Opera

Matt & Michelle 1: The Fugitive Heir

BOOK: Matt & Michelle 1: The Fugitive Heir
10.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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The Fugitive Heir

 

 

 

 

 

By

Henry Vogel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rampant Loon Press

Lake Elmo, Minnesota

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Henry Vogel

All rights reserved.

 

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photographic, or otherwise, without the prior written consent of the publisher.

 

Published in the United States of America by Rampant Loon Press, an imprint of Rampant Loon Media LLC, P.O. Box 111, Lake Elmo, Minnesota 55042. “Rampant Loon Press” and the Rampant Loon colophon are trademarks of Rampant Loon Media LLC.

 

 

www.rampantloonmedia.com

 

Cover artwork: Aaron Bradford Starr

ISBN: 
978-1-938834-66-0
(ebook) 

ISBN: 
978-1-938834-67-7
(print) 

First  publication: February 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Audrey, the Michelle of my life.

Contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

Memorial Service

 

“My parents are not dead!”

Like a pebble dropped into a placid pond, my words sent a ripple of agitation from the front pew of the packed cathedral to the rear. Sitting right below my position in the pulpit, Aunt Tess buried her face in her hands. Next to her, Uncle Gunther met my eyes and slowly shook his head.

Feeling a pang of guilt at the looks on their faces, I reached out with my power. As always, I felt Mom’s and Dad’s presence—far, far away but as warm and alive as always. If I lived in a different galaxy and under a different government, I could just announce what my power told me. In this galaxy and under this government, such a claim would mean impressment into Psi Corps, the loss of my freedom, and the loss of any hope I had of finding my parents. With no other way to get my parents back, I forged on with my plan.

“I
know
my parents have been missing for seven years. I
know
there’s never been an attempt to collect a ransom. I
know
my parents’ spaceship has never been found. I
know
none of you believe me. I
know
you all think I should just shut up and be the spoiled rich kid the public already thinks I am.”

I paused and let my gaze wander over the crowd, once again still as that placid pond. Their faces displayed stern disapproval, horrified fascination, and consternation. The few newsies covering the service radiated excited anticipation as I turned a boring obit story into a juicy scandal.

“And I
know
my parents still live.” I returned my gaze to my aunt and uncle, the only family I’d known for the past seven years. “Uncle Gunther, I’m sorry to ruin the memorial service you worked so hard on. Aunt Tess, I’m sorry to revive the pain you felt when your brother—my father—went missing. Truly, I am. But I cannot simply stand before all of these people and pretend they are dead.” I gave my uncle a half-smile. “You hate yes men, Uncle Gunther. Would you have me become one? Would you have me go along to get along?”

Shaking my head, I climbed down from the pulpit and paced before the men and women in the front pew, members of the GenCo board of directors. One by one, I met and held their eyes. One by one, each member of the board turned away from my gaze.

“For the last several months, you members of the board have sidled up to me and, when no one else was around, asked what I would do with my inheritance.” I stopped, straightened my shoulders, and deepened my voice to mimic the voices of the older men before me. “You’re going to be the richest person on the planet, Matt, but you’re still young. You should be busy enjoying your youth—spending time in the company of pretty girls or hoisting a few beers with friends whiles arguing the fate of galactic civilization or something else wild and crazy. You know, doing all those things we old folks tsk about but secretly wish we could do. You shouldn’t be worrying about the responsibilities of running an interstellar corporation. There will be plenty of time for that when you’re old and set in your ways, like me. Have you thought about which board member will best represent your interests, son? Have you thought about who you’ll assign your proxies to?”

I returned to my normal voice. “I won’t insult the ladies on the board by attempting to mimic their voices. Their message was couched in maternal phrases about finding the right girl and settling down, but the rest was essentially the same.”

I laughed and shook my head and paced a little more. I looked at the floor, not the crowd, but my voice carried easily over my silent audience.

“By an amazing coincidence, each of you did your best to convince me that you deserved to hold my proxies. My, but you certainly are a caring lot, each of you angling to convince me you’re my friend, my buddy, my pal. But none of you ever mentioned the one thing I care the most about. Not one of you mentioned helping me search for my parents.”

I ascended into the pulpit once more and looked down on the front pew from on high.

“Well, ladies and gentlemen, I listened to what each of you said. I carefully considered everything each of you told me. And you’ll be happy to hear that your touching concern for me was invaluable helping me decide the best way to use that fortune I’ll inherit in three days.”

I placed my hands on the edge of the pulpit and leaned forward, just like a priest driving home the message from a sermon.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am going to liquidate my entire inheritance. Then, I am going to use that money. To. Find. My. Parents.”

Shouts of outrage and alarm rose from the crowd, most especially the members of the board sitting before me. I ignored them, descended from the pulpit, and left the sanctuary by the priest’s entrance at the front of the cathedral.

My bodyguard fell in beside me as I exited the sanctuary. I didn’t tell him I was coming out this way and it impressed me that he figured it out so quickly. So much for a few minutes of solitude after my speech.

“May I offer a comment, sir?”

“I’m surprised you asked, Jonas. Usually, you just go ahead and give your blunt assessment of my incautious behavior.”

“Speaking at your parents’ memorial service is bound to be emotionally trying, sir. My observations can wait if you want time to regain your equilibrium.”

“Did you listen to my speech, Jonas?”

“I noted it while watching for threats, sir.”

“Then you know I believe my parents are still alive. Don’t you think that would immunize me against such emotions?”

“Not necessarily, sir. I imagine the impact is different than mourning the dead, but knowing others do not believe as you do must be emotionally draining, as well.”

Jonas knew me well. He had been with me since before my parents disappeared, so that’s not a surprise. The depth of his insight
was
a surprise.

“After seven years of disbelief, I barely notice that drain on my emotions. Speak your piece.”

“You should not have announced your intention to liquidate your inheritance until the liquidation was in process. You’ve told some of the richest, most powerful people on Draconis that you are a threat to their way of life. It was not one of your better moves.”

I have never been called an idiot quite so politely, but I cringed anyway.

“My apologies, Jonas. I got carried away by the moment.”

“No doubt, sir. I do hope the looks on their faces gave you some pleasure. You should get
something
beneficial out of this.”

“Oh, it felt great!”

“I further hope that feeling will carry you through the next few days of restricted activity.”

I sighed. “You’re going to tell Uncle Gunther to keep me inside the house until he can try to talk me out of this.”

“I am, sir. It’s for your own protection. Now, am I correct in assuming you will be skipping the reception after the memorial service?”

“You are. I have no interest in being lectured by every member of the board.”

“Very good, sir. I ordered the car brought to the rear exit before you finished your speech.”

Jonas offered his suggestion and my uncle readily acceded to it. It’s amazing how confining a five thousand square meter house and a ten square kilometer lawn can feel when you are not allowed to leave them.

To my surprise, neither my uncle nor aunt tried to talk me out of my plans. Instead, they were
understanding
. It was an insidious plan on their part and, despite my best intentions, by the second day my determination to liquidate my inheritance began to waver. I had to get out of the house and regain my perspective.

There was one place I always went when I needed to think things over. I went to the docking bay where Dad and I kept our rebuilt spaceship. The two of us had spent hundreds of hours working on the ship when I was growing up. After Dad and Mom disappeared, I always felt closest to them when I was tinkering on the spaceship.

My bodyguards knew this. When they discovered I had slipped away, they would know exactly where to find me. But that was okay. Just one hour alone on the little spaceship would restore my crumbling willpower.

All I had to do was fool a team of the best bodyguards money could buy and slip away. Not an easy task, but I’ve been doing it off and on for years. I’m quite good at it. Of course, the bodyguards are quite good at countering my escape attempts. But this time I had a surprise I’d held in reserve for over a year, something my bodyguards would never suspect until it was too late.

As darkness fell, I turned on the shower in my suite, running the water good and hot to mask me from the house’s thermal sensors. The bodyguards wouldn’t worry because the sensors would pick me up again before I even left the bathroom. Except the sensors would
not
pick me up. Standing next to the shower, I pulled on my little surprise—a military-grade thermal dampening suit.

GenCo, my father’s company—my company, by this time tomorrow—made the suits and I’d managed to get my hands on one. In truth, I’d gotten my hands on the components for the suit and spent close to six months assembling it. It was time to find out if my suit worked or not.

BOOK: Matt & Michelle 1: The Fugitive Heir
10.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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