Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Empire by Elizabeth Lang and a Contest


Thank you for stopping by and joining us for our stop on the Read-A-Long portion of The Empire by Elizabeth Lang virtual tour. We are excited to post this segment of the story and we hope you enjoy it too!


The Empire - Chapter 3

The mess hall was a crowded, elbows-required-for-movement place at this hour. People rushed about ordering, eating and disposing of breakfast. The scrape of chairs and the busy roar of animated conversations covered any whispered words but it didn’t stop Bryce’s eyes from
darting left and right like a nervous mouse in a cat enclosure. His half-eaten butter and jam-smothered toast lay discarded on the plate and he bent close, his hastily folded-up sleeve almost dipping into his steaming mug of coffee. “I’d like to help. Really I would.”

Kali took a sip of coffee. “We need to help him.”

Bryce would have preferred having this talk in the remotest corner of the ship, or not at all. The thought of Stannis in Security Section, with the therapists, chilled him in places that no fires could ever warm. There was no way he was going to end up there. No one deserved the therapists. He had heard some rumors ‘below ranks’. They had something special planned for the stubborn genius. That was never a good sign. ‘Special’ in Security Section usually meant you would come back in pieces, sometimes literally. What could he, a lowly weapons specialist, do? Better to stay out of it. Keep his head down the way he usually did. Pretend that he was blind, deaf and amazingly stupid at all the right times.

“There’s nothing we can do short of breaking him out,” he said, “and I’m NOT helping you do that.” He’d already helped enough the other day, hadn’t he?

Kali stared into the murky depths of her mug and Bryce wished he didn’t feel like such a heel, but his old mum didn’t raise a hero. They tended to end up dead..

A gray-clad tech with a breakfast-laden tray, mainly meat on meat, accidentally bumped Bryce’s chair from behind. “Oi, watch where you’re going,” said Bryce.

The broad-shouldered youth, Sanderson, a sanitation engineer by trade—in the Empire that meant he handled the better trash of the officers —laughed and asked sarcastically, “Caught with your hand in the wrong pocket again?”

“Yeah, yeah, we’ll see whose laughing next time I take you to the cleaners.”

“You’re lucky I have double-shift today,” said Sanderson, juggling his tray precariously as a fellow sanitation engineer bumped him in the arm.

“I’m eating in my cabin,” he grumbled. “Too many people. Later, loser.”

“That’s rich from someone who hasn’t won yet,” Bryce shouted after him.

Kali’s brows knitted. “Why are you taking him to the sanitation department?”

“Eh?” Bryce stared blankly at her.

“The cleaners. You said you were taking him to the cleaners.”

He eyed her suspiciously, wondering if she was pulling his leg. “You really are alien, aren’t you?”
She leaned forward. “What you said earlier, about breaking Adrian out.”

“Don’t even think it. They’ll be on you faster than you can blink.”

“Bryce, you know what they’re doing to him.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t think I wanna to know. It’s safer that way.” He stuffed a ragged edge of toast into his mouth, biting a piece off and chewed as if it took all of his attention. Why did he feel like he was betraying someone? But he helped enough already, hadn’t he? Stuck out his neck even.
The last thing he needed was to be anywhere near someone talking about rebels. Maybe he could set her straight. That would help, wouldn’t it?

~~~

The young man’s fear had the tinge of burnt wood to Kali’s psi sense s. She hadn’t felt so alone since the day she left her home planet.

“They want to break him. They’ll do anything.” Her lower lip quivered slightly.

It had been five hellish days since Adrian disappeared into the abyss that was Security Section. Kali’s mind shields were firmly in place but ripples of agony splashed over her mental walls, making it hard to breathe, to concentrate, but it was the other sensations, the disturbing,
overwhelming urges that made her afraid for him. He was exhausted and his spirit was weakening. Her fear for him was turning to panic. She had to do something, anything. “I can’t sit by,” she whispered fiercely. “I need to do something. Even if you won’t.”

“There’s nothing you can do.” Bryce put a restraining hand on her forearm. “You need to face it. No one can defy the Empire or escape it. It’s impossible.”

“The rebels do it all the time.”

Shhh.” His voice dropped lower. “Are you trying to get us killed? I knew you were crazy. I didn’t know you were suicidal.”

Kali tore her arm from his grasp. Maybe Adrian was right. Living on a planet without people would be paradise. “You don’t have to help.”

“I wasn’t planning to.” He looked down at his unappetizing toast and cold coffee. “Don’t think I’m hungry anymore either.”

He gathered his things on the tray and stood up. “I like you, Kali, but it’s impossible to break the Lieutenant out of Security Section. And even if you did, where would you go? There isn’t anywhere on the ship to hide him. He can’t escape. He’ll have to give them what they want eventually. You might as well—”

She cut him off. “Face facts? That’s just like Adrian. He doesn’t like doing the impossible. He considers it a waste of time. But he’s fighting them.”

“Then he must have lost his mind. And if he hasn’t, then they’ll do it for him. Don’t make the same mistake. It isn’t worth it.”

Kali’s face was hard. She and Adrian were alone. No one was going to help them. “That’s because you’ve never had anyone you cared about more than yourself,” she spat out angrily.

“Ouch. I’ll ignore that. But…” He leaned forward. “Are you sure he cares about you? This is Adrian we’re talking about.”

~~~

That night, Kali lay on her bunk, sleepless eyes searching the dull g ray ceiling for inspiration. Cabins for ensigns were cramped affairs, little larger than her closet back on Tellar, but at least they did have their own, unlike the lower ranks. She rolled restlessly, trying to find a comfortable
position, but it was like having an itch just out of reach. The white institutional sheets scraped roughly against her skin. Was it possible to get sheet burn? She might find out tonight.

At the edge of her consciousness, she felt Adrian continue to struggle, but fear gripped him now and hopelessness. He had passed the end of his endurance and was barely hanging on. Adrian had been strong at the beginning, but these people were cruel and had the relentless tenacity of
Pit Bulls with their teeth sunk into the throats of their victims. They would not release him until every drop of life had been drained from his body and soul.

Kali knew Adrian’s rational mind would tell him it was a losing battle. He should not be subjecting himself to something he could avoid. Then why was he fighting the inevitable? Was it hope? It didn’t seem possible. Adrian had lost faith in that concept a long time ago. Was he making a personal stand? This was even stranger. Adrian didn’t believe in anything and he did not make pointless gestures. Even with her psi advantage, he was still as much of a mystery to her as he was to everyone else. This man who had lost faith in everyone and everything, was fighting for a reason.

Kali steeled herself as she lowered her mental shields. A howl of agony washed towards her and she clamped a hand over her mouth to stifle a responding cry. Her shields slammed shut, her heart pounded wildly and she breathed heavily. As much as she hated to admit it, Bryce was right.

It was an insane idea to break Adrian out, but she couldn’t sit by while Adrian was suffering.
Maybe there was something she could do. She might not be able to break him out, but she might be able to help him a little. Among her own people, there was a way to send healing vibrations to someone who was in distress. Would it work with humans? Kali’s hands balled into tight fists and her face tensed, a fighter preparing for battle.





Have to remain in control. She lowered the shields a smidgeon. A blast of pain struck her like a fist, but this time she was prepared. Her hands tightened further, nails digging into her palms, lungs strained with the effort, and sweat beading on her forehead.

Focus. Kali gathered her strength and all the positive feelings she could muster and, as the Tellaran healer had taught her, launched it towards Adrian like a life raft to a drowning man.

~~~

Adrian’s mouth opened in a pantomime of a scream. Blood slid do wn a raw throat that could only produce strangled sounds. Drugs snaked their way mercilessly through his body. A roaring fire of pain consumed him from the inside, burning him alive. His body strained upwards; a bow
pulled tight, ready to snap. Limbs slipped and flailed on the slick surface of the metal platform; wet with bodily secretions. Sweat and blood mingled, drawing nightmarish trails down his body. Globs of vomit dried at the side of his head.

The Therapist and his people were black masked executioners, taking him apart piece-by-piece, filtered from the stomach-churning smells as they plied their inhuman trade. The only one who had to bear the stench was the prisoner, a constant, repulsive reminder that in this room he was nothing more than a helpless prisoner wallowing in his own filth. Adrian’s eyes began rolling up into his head as the darkness of unconsciousness mercifully paid a visit. The Therapist had been watching for this. He signaled with a flat hand to his assistant at the control panel. “That’s enough.

Flood him with the neutralizer. Quickly.”

The prisoner slumped back onto the cold, damp surface, his lungs wheezing for air. The Therapist looked down at the panel. The life signs were faint, the mental readings sluggish; all the classic signs of a man pushed beyond his ability to resist. The subject was ready for more
conditioning. A towering machine on wheels was pushed into place and a helmet with status lights on the outside was placed over Adrian’s head.

The irresistible boom of conditioning phrases blasted into the prisoner’s ears.

“The Empire must be served.”

“The Empire must be obeyed.”

“The Empire cares for its citizens.”

“We must give our best to the Empire.”

“The Empire protects us from our enemies.”

“We need the Empire.”

Energy waves forced his mind to match specific patterns. His head felt as if it were in a vice and his tormentors were medieval torturers intent on squeezing until it cracked like an egg. Images were fed directly through his optic nerve, overriding memories, seeking to remake his past and his present, and to control his future.

Adrian shook his head weakly from side-to-side, moaning, knowing they were manipulating his mind but unable to do anything about it. A beat pounded inside his head, the sound of a heart amplified a thousand times. Boom. Boom. Boom. He couldn’t think; he could hardly breathe.
A shuddering gasp escaped his lips as something pleasant and comforting flowed into his mind. Desperation made him reach for it. No! Dry lips cracked as they pantomimed a cry of agonized refusal. The therapists were trying to trick him again. It’s a lie! Pleasure and pain. Kindness and
cruelty. The illusion of love masking a face distorted in hate. That was what they taught him in this room. It was the lesson of his life—behind the softlined glove was usually an iron fist to smash him in the face.

Warmth continued to flow into him but he knew what it was, he would not allow it to fool him. It was beautiful, gentle, cutting through the throbbing in his head. It was a cool drink of water to a thirsty man, full of strength and peace. His breath caught.

~~~

The Therapist scratched his graying hair, resisting an impulse to yan k it out in frustration. His experiment in Multi-Signal Multiphase Inputs was failing and he had this stubborn man to thank for it.

The subject on the testing platform, with his face sickly pale, limbs shaking uncontrollably and his breathing ragged and shallow, indicated a man on the verge of collapse. It confirmed the life readings on the monitors. Only the drugs were keeping him from sliding into unconsciousness.
The disruptor machines made it impossible for him to concentrate for any length of time. His body was flooded with drugs that made him a slave to every touch on his body and intensified all the useful feelings, pain, fear, humiliation and helplessness. The subject should be begging for it to stop, but the damned fool refused to recognize the truth.

Leaning forward, the Therapist’s eyes narrowed. How could this be? The prisoner still had enough strength to resist the conditioning. The readings were undeniable. He whacked the side of the panel, startling the med tech monitoring the screens. “Double the dosage.” His voice had that particular lack of inflection that scientists used, the unemotional ruthlessness that condemned a batch of lab rats to their deaths.

The med tech looked up at him. “But isn’t that dangerous?”

“I didn’t ask for your opinion,” the Therapist growled.

The tech was a smart man; he entered the new dosage into the panel without another word.
The Therapist made his way to the testing platform, his masked-covered nose crinkling in distaste as his shoes slipped on the sticky fluids.

He was determined to break this man. One technique was proving quite effective. The combination of physical pleasure and the torture of the mind produced conflicting signals that made the conditioning harder to fight. He touched the sweat-stained flesh, tenderly caressing it, giving it all of his attention, and was rewarded with a reddening flush, a reluctant moan, and a slight relaxing of the muscles.

The strength of this man’s mind could not override primal reactions. Each time he responded against his will was a blow to his self-image, tearing away at his confidence, and increasing his helplessness. A curl twisted the corner of the Therapist’s lip. Bringing down a Firster was a rare privilege he was enjoying, but even more than that, his technique was working. All he needed was a little more time. 

Also Elizabeth Lang has shared with us an exclusive picture from The Empire Series

To read more of the Read-A-Long please follow the tour schedule…

03/03/2013 - Tribute Books Reviews & Giveaways - http://tributebooksreviews.blogspot.com/ - Chapter 1

04/03/2013 - Vixie's Stories - 
http://vickiejohnstone.blogspot.co.uk/ - Chapter 2

05/03/2013 - Decadent Decisions - 
http://wlynnchantale-decadentdecisions.blogspot.com - Chapter 3

06/03/2013 - Reviews From Beyond the Book - www.reviewsfrombeyondthebook.blogspot.com - Chapter 4

07/03/2013 - Great Alpha Speaks - 
http://atrussell.com/Blog/ - Excerpt - Chapter 5

09/03/2013 - The Edible Bookshelf - 
http://www.theediblebookshelf.blogspot.com/ - Chapter 6

10/03/2013 - Independent Writers Association - 
http://iwassociation.com - Chapter 7

11/03/2013 - Self Publish or Die - 
www.selfpublishordie.com Excerpt - Chapter 8

12/03/2013 - Natasha Larry Books - 
http://natashalarrybooks.com - Chapter 9

13/03/2013 - Michelle Anderson-Picarella - 
http://shellypicarella.wordpress.com/ - Chapter 10

17/03/2013 - Sheenah Freitas - 
http://sheenahfreitas.com - Chapter 11

18/03/2013 - Castle Macabre - 
http://castlemacabre.blogspot.com - Chapter 12

19/03/2013 - My World - 
http://stephsgrn.blogspot.co.uk/ - Chapter 13

20/03/2013 - Reading, Writing And More - 
http://stephsgrn.wordpress.com/ - Chapter 14

21/03/2013 - Ami R Blackwelder - 
http://amiblackwelder.blogspot.co.uk/ - Chapter 15

Page Turner Book Tours and Elizabeth Lang have teamed together to set up an amazing contest, be sure to enter today for your chance to win a KOBO MINI!!


Thank you for joining us and Page Turner Book Tours and Elizabeth Lang today on our stop.

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:



About Page Turner Book Tours:

Page Turner Book Tours is fronted by the face behind Read2Review Kate. Page Turner Book Tours has been put together to help promote authors and give something back to the writing world. Kate has put together a team of incredibly talented people to help with the project by incorporating their individual skills into making new, fresh and exciting promotional plans that we hope you agree are amazing. If you would like to book a tour with Page Turner Book Tours please check out their tour packages. If you would like to become a tour host with Page Turner Book Tours please check out their Tour Host page. You wont be disappointed!

2 comments:

Elizabeth Lang said...

Thank you for hosting the next chapter of 'The Empire.'

Mary Preston said...

I don't know enough to decide yet.