Hostage Chapter 1

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Music vibrated through every cell in Phoenix’s body as he made his way through the throngs of people moving as one living organism as they danced to the thudding bass beat. Strobe lighting illuminated the way and multi-coloured lasers erupted from the floor. 

Phoenix passed through a clear bubble-like shield in front of the bar, and once he was on the other side, the noise level dropped.

“Huh,” Phoenix said, straightening his tightly-fitting three piece suit and looking back at the shield. 

“It’s a noise damper,” L said, pointing to the shield behind her. “They sometimes use them in noisy places like this to make areas where people can still talk. “It’s handy for being able to speak to a bartender or if you want somewhere quiet to lounge.”

She tugged at her flowing red dress, split up the sides to her thighs. Her red lips thinned as her forehead pulled into a frown. 

Phoenix moved closer to her. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s just…. I feel stupid,” she said in a small voice.

Phoenix tried to hide the smile that graced his lips but failed. 

“It’s not funny.”

“You wanted to help out more on missions. This is your chance,” Phoenix said, moving away. He stopped and turned around when he noticed L still hadn’t moved. Making his way back to her, he took her by the arm and drew her in close. “Look, most people haven’t been able to keep their eyes off you since we got here. You look breathtaking. Now, we both have a role to play, so let’s play it well.”

She gave him a smile and kissed his cheek before taking his arm. “Well, let’s give them something to really look at.” 

Heads turned and conversations stopped as they strode towards the bar. Bottles of different shapes and sizes lined the back wall, as a bartender in a white shirt polished glasses and slotted them into their rightful places.  

Phoenix and L leaned against the bar and turned their attention outwards to the room. The heads that were still turned their way lowered their gaze or resumed their conversations. 

“Can I help you?” the bartender asked, breaking away from his task.

L wrapped an arm around Phoenix and buried her face in his neck, whispering in his ear. He gave her a slight shake of the head, and she let out a loud sigh and bit his earlobe before moving away.

“Hey! Either order something or piss off. The lounge area is to your far right. This bar is for paying customers only.”

Phoenix looked over his shoulder at the bartender before turning back around. 

“You never take me anywhere nice. It’s always to some dirty old club on some backwater planet. Look at this place,” L said, running a finger along the bar and inspecting it. “How tacky can you get?”

“Ha! Shows what you know, sweetheart. This is the place to be if you’re anyone–and I mean anyone. Media stars, council members, royalty, gang-lords. You name it, they’re here. The waiting list to get in is as long as my old chap, if you know what I mean,” the bartender said, waggling his eyebrows up and down.

“If it’s that short, it’s not something you should really boast about.”

The bartender’s eyes narrowed and he chewed his bottom lip. “What I can’t understand is how a couple of nobodies like you got in here.”

Phoenix turned around and threw a handful of credits in front of the bartender. “If it’s true what you say, you must know a lot of important names.”

“Maybe,” the bartender said. He put most street magicians to shame with the speed with which the credits before him vanished.

“This person I’m looking for is important to me.”

“So…”

Phoenix sighed inwardly and threw down a few more credit chips. 

The bartender scooped up the chips before nodding towards the far corner of the bar. Phoenix made his way towards it, and the bartender followed, looking left to right.

“Name?”

“Zaltear.”

The bartender scratched the back of his head before looking up at the ceiling. “That name doesn’t ring a bell. Does he go by anything else?”

“Not that I’m aware of,” Phoenix said.

“You need to give me some more information then, if you want me to help you.”

“He’s a tall, skinny, pale male. Looks a bit like me but has ridges along his nose. Wild hair–looks like he’s been electrocuted. He likes to drink and party, loves drugs, and–”

“Likes both sexes,” the bartender finished for him. “You a friend or foe?”

Phoenix smiled as he passed his hand over his head. “That depends on him, really.”

“Yeah, I know the fucker you want. I’ll tell you exactly where he is, as long as you do me a favour.”

“Which is…?”

“I want you to punch that fucker square in the jaw,” the bartender said, his eyes turning to steel.

“May I ask why?”

“It’s… It’s–” The bartender pulled at the collar of his shirt before leaning in closer. “There was this girl that worked here. Prettiest thing you ever seen. Me and her… We weren’t dating, but we had started something that would have been beautiful, until that fucker came in and snatched her away from me,” the bartender said, “just like that.” He snapped his fingers. 

“Got her addicted to God knows what… They found her body a couple of days ago.”

“I’m so–”

“Don’t! Just give me your word.”

Phoenix looked him in the eye and gave him a slow nod.

“Go through the club, take the glass stairs up. There will be some guards–how you deal with them is up to you. You’ll find him in the penthouse suite. Just follow the shouting and bodies lying on the floor.”

* * *

Phoenix and L made their way through the crowds gathered on the dance floor, bodies pressed against bodies and faces glistening in the afterglow of the flickering lights. 

The tiles on the floor lit up in different hues as people stepped on them, making Phoenix think of a game he played when he was younger. 

More than one hand grabbed at him on his way through the crowd, but L batted them away as they continued their journey. Two familiar faces in the crowd nodded slightly in their direction.

Saoirse and Plowstow leaned against the far wall, drinks in hand. They had positioned themselves so their lips were visible.

“The guards at the base of the stairs have been taken out,” Saoirse mouthed slowly.

Phoenix gave her a nod as he walked by. 

The security had been tight. There had been searches and checks, and then more searches, before they even made it through the front door. If it hadn’t been for Kai’s hacking skills, they would have never got on the guest list in the first place. Phoenix had never known a club like it. He had paid off one of the staff so they could stash their weapons in the club the day prior, and the reassuring weight of his pistols at his hips brought a smirk to his face.

L nudged him in the ribs with her elbow and nodded towards the stairs. Two guards sat propped against the wall. Sunglasses covered their eyes, but Phoenix could tell they were in the land of dreams. As he walked past them, he saw an adhesive goo sticking their backs to the wall. 

They ascended a crystal staircase that brought them out onto a landing with red velvet carpeting. L glanced in his direction as the sounds of shouts and laughter came from the end of the hallway. 

They made their way closer to a door that stood ajar, and Phoenix grabbed L’s hand and gave it a slight squeeze. They entered a room littered with naked bodies. Males and females ran amok, chasing one another around as they shrieked and laughed.

Some bodies were painted in a luminescent spray which pulsed in the dimly lit room. Flags twirled back and forth as the music from the club below made its way through speakers along the ceiling.

Phoenix and L began to walk forward but were stopped by a guard grabbing L by the hand. “Wanna have some fun, baby–”

A gun appearing under his chin cut off his words. L smiled at him sweetly. “The kind of fun I like to have is painful at best, life ending at worst.”

“Come, come, now!” said a voice from the gloom. “No need for that. I have been expecting you, Phoenix Jones.”

 

 

 

 

 

An apology

 

Last year I wrote a blog post about why I thought Black Panther would suck because Hollywood has a track record of ruining predominantly black films.
I don’t know what it is but they are either overly stereotypical or just badly written.
So I went to the Black Panther movie with a mix of wanting it to blow my socks off, to expecting it to be so full of cringey moments that I just wanted to shake my head and walk out.
But it…. was a really good movie.
The main character was what you would expect from a king. Righteous, kind, benevolent and always thinking about the people he needs to protect above everything else. He had the calm air and demeanour that took me back to Mufasa from the Lion King.
Everything felt right about the character.
Everything felt right about the supporting cast.
His sister gave a much needed comical break when things got too heavy or emotional.
His second in command was such a bad ass woman, that anyone would think twice before attacking the king. They also played it out nicely where she has to pick her duty over what she thinks is truly right.
Even the leader in the mountains played his part well.
The movie gave us (black people) something to strive for and reach. Something to strive for and outdo.
For that, I thank Ryan Kyle Coogler the film director and screenwriter.
You did a wonderful job, my friend, my hat goes out to you.
There were a few cringey moments, I shall admit.
Some of Killmonger’s speech’s where… forced. Is that the right word to would use?
They didn’t feel natural.
The one that comes to mind is when he and the main character are about to duel for the first time and he lists what his done to get here. That felt forced.
But apart from that, I can’t really fault the movie.
It wasn’t the best Marvel film I have seen. My picks would be
1. Logan
2. Civil War
3. Thor: Ragnarok
4. Guardians of the galaxy
5. Winter Soldier
6. Black Panther

But I can see why some people would love it. It meant a lot to many people and for that, I can’t fault it. Just like Wonder Woman gave little girls something to strive for, although I didn’t like the film, I hope Black Panther can do the same for little black boys and girls.

It was hard growing up and having all your heroes be white. It was hard growing up and reading all the great western works of art, from Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter and all the characters being white.
It was never hard for me to relate to them, as it would be for other people, but as we push forward as a culture and species I hope that shall change.

I know times appear dire right now, but it’s always darkest before the light.

I for one I’m doing all I can, to change the way people see things in my books. I hope the trend continues in Hollywood and we see a change for the better.
A change that sticks
A change that forces each and every one of us to live to our full potential.

Quick update

Hello,
I know you have not heard from me in a while but rest assured I’m still alive and kicking.
What have I been up too?
Well, where do I begin, trips to Paris which may be my favourite city and away to the coast for Christmas. (Damn that was three months ago)
I’m just putting the final touches on Outlaw book 5 which will go to my editor and should be with you fine folks very soon.
I am aiming for a June release, I’ll keep you updated when I also get the cover and know for sure an exact date.
I’m also writing a new series which is a mixture of fantasy and Sci-Fi, think urban fantasy in space.
For the anime/ cartoon lovers out there it’s best described as Air Bender meets Star Wars.
All three books in that series should be coming out this year and I’ll update you when I’m close to releasing the first book.
Apart from that, I hope you are ok and I’ll speak to you soon.
(Oh, did you see Black Panther? What did you think?)

Repercussions Chapter 1

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T sat in Dusty’s Inn sipping the drink clutched between his hands. His Mohawk had now grown out, and he scratched the unkempt hair on his face. He looked at his three friends along the bar and shook his head.
What a sad state of affairs they had found themselves in.
All of their clothes had holes, their hair had not been maintained, and they nursed half-empty drinks in front of them. As he was about to take another sip, T’s shoulder was knocked forward, spilling the contents of his glass down his front.
He turned in his chair to see the offender walking away. “Oi, you spilled my drink!”
A short Tingoneese turned on his heels and looked at T with an upturned nose. “What?”
“I said, you spilled my drink.”
“So?” the Tingoneese said.
T shook his head and stood up. He walked over slowly. “Do you know who I am?”
The offender shook his head and looked at T in confusion.
“I am T, of the Worm Enforcers, and–”
“Sit down. No one gives a fuck!” shouted a voice in the bar.
T looked over his shoulder to see who had spoken.
“A bunch of washed-up losers! That’s what they are,” said another voice.
“Come here and say that to my face,” T said, looking around the dimly lit room.
“No one wants to fight a cripple,” said a voice, and the room erupted into laughter.
The short Tingoneese tried his best to hide his laughter but failed. “Look, maybe it’s better if you–”
“Maybe it’s better if I what?” T interrupted, walking up to the man and poking him in the chest.
“Look, I apologise. But I don’t want to fight someone in your condition,” he said, looking down at T’s leg.
The metal leg stood as a replacement to the one he had lost. It was rusted in places, and a dribble of oil leaked out of the joint. T tried to move forward but the leg locked in place. He gave it a slap to free it up.
“Look, as I said, I’m sorry. See you later.” The Tingoneese turned to walk away.
“Hey, I’m not done talking to you,” T said, trying to grab the individual’s coat but coming up short and falling flat on his face.
As spilt beer, dirt and vomit coated T’s face, the room erupted in laughter once again. He felt hands grab him under the armpits and hoist him up. On his feet once more, he shook himself free of his friends’ grip.
“Where the fuck were you when I needed a hand?” T asked, pushing his friends away.
They said nothing but looked away and skulked back to their chairs. T looked at them in disgust. The once great Worm Enforcers, now nothing more than a bunch of drunks.
He made his way back to his chair and sat down with a heavy sigh. Knocking back the remains of his drink T placed his head in his hands. How had it come to this?
Silence fell around the bar but T didn’t notice. He felt the elbow of one of his friends nudge him in his side. He looked over and his friend nodded to the entrance. T looked over and saw a group of off-worlders standing at the entrance.
One figure stood in the centre, pale skin adorned with luminous tattoos. Purple slicked-back hair sat above what appeared to be a glowing red robotic eye encircled by a star tattoo. The other eye was jet black. He wore a purple reptile-skin jacket, and the men around him had covered their faces with animal masks.
“My oh my, what a sorry state of affairs we have here,” he said in a voice just above a whisper as he entered the room.
T turned his head away and faced the front of the bar.
“The smell of failure in here is so overpowering it clogs the nostrils. Coats the skin.”
T still said nothing as the stranger walked into the room. He heard the footsteps, but he refused to turn his head. He heard people in the room leave in twos and threes.
“They told me what a miserable place this was,” said the hoarse, gravelly voice, “but I never believed it. My, my, this truly is a place dreams go to die. And die they have.”
T started to rise from his seat but he felt a pair of hands slap him on the shoulders. They ran through his hair before slapping him once more.
“Leaving so soon?” the voice whispered in T’s ear.
“I… Look, I just came in here looking for a drink. That’s all.”
“So did I,” said the voice. “So did I. But why don’t we drink together, as friends? My name is Dre, by the way,” Dre said, taking a seat next to T.
Dre leaned over the bar and pulled a bottle towards him. He gave it a quick glance and nodded in approval. Uncorking the bottle, he lifted it to his lips but stopped. “Where are my manners? Do you want some?” he asked T.
T gave a shake of his head. Dre shrugged his shoulders and drank his fill.
He slammed the bottle back down on the bar and wiped his lips. He drummed his fingers along the wood; it was the only sound in the room. T could feel Dre’s eyes on his face. He watched Dre’s hands as they tapped on the bar and noticed that the backs of his hands where also tattooed with stars.
“You may not know this, but I think you can help me,” Dre said.
“I don’t see how I can.”
“Look… What’s your name?”
“T.”Repercussions
“Look, T, not many people know what they can do before they try. They don’t allow themselves the pleasure of finding out. It’s so fun. Why don’t you give it a go?”
T said nothing and kept his face pointed forward.
Dre let out a sigh and resumed tapping his fingers. “There was a man that came through here some time ago. Dark, tall, obnoxious, with a bone in his ear. He would have had a crew with him. One of his crew came from this city, or so I’m told. Now, what I want to know is what became of him.”
T licked his lips. He felt sweat trickle down his spine and puddle in the small of his back. He went to speak but his words caught in his throat. Clearing it, he tried again. “I wouldn’t know.”
Dre barked a laugh that sounded like it wanted to start but never got going. T brought his drink to his lips but spilled most of it on the bar. He tried to steady his shaking hand but it was a losing battle.
“Your hand and leg say otherwise.”
T lowered his drink to the table and looked to his three friends. All three had their heads lowered; he wouldn’t find any help there. “As I said, I don’t know anything about this man you speak of. The only thing I may have heard is he caused a whole bunch of trouble for some big-time gangster. He also destroyed half this city before he left. Where he is now…” T gave a shrug.
“You sure know a lot for someone who doesn’t know anything,” Dre said with another laugh. “So you have no idea where he is?”
“No.”
“And he wouldn’t be the same person who took that leg of yours, in this very bar?”
“I said I don’t know shit! Are you hard of hearing as well as half blind?”
“What’s with the temper, friend? We’re just having a conversation.”
T got up from where he sat and looked around the room at Dre’s men. The animal masks covered their heads completely. T looked over to his friends and nodded his head towards the door.
“Going somewhere?”
“I don’t know who you think you’re talking to! I don’t know who this city thinks I am, but they must have forgotten. I am tired of taking people’s shit! Do you hear me? The Worm Enforcers stood for something around here, and they will–”
“People treat you like shit because that’s what you are, T. A stranger can look at you and see what you can’t see in the mirror. They know you better than you know yourself. But now isn’t the time for change. That ship has sailed.”
“You don’t know anything about me!”
Humourless laughter escaped Dre’s lips as he turned in his seat to face T. He brought one hand up to cover his good eye, while the red glare of the robotic one stared into T’s soul. “The eye sees all, T.”
T stumbled a step back and knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that he was dead.

Wonder Woman sucks and so will Black Panther

I can’t understand the hype for WonderWoman. I simply can’t bring myself to understand how a movie, which shits the bed in the third act, can get so many glowing reviews.

I would give the movie a 6 out of 10 stars at best, and that was only because the first half was so strong. I keep scratching my head, wondering how a movie can be so completely different from the start to the end. It was like the movie was directed by two different directors.

Now I have a feeling I know why it got so many great reviews from critics, but I’ll come back to that later.

Now the first half was strong, it set up the origins of the protagonist beautifully, with the right amount of back story and open ended questions that needed to be asked later. It showcased all the characters and when the group formed, that would help our main character out, they all slotted together, with each character bouncing off the other.

So far so good right?

Yeah, I thought so.

I know a lot of people criticised the main character as annoying or stupid, and that the actress who played the role didn’t give a wide range of emotions, but you have to remember that the protagonist is sort of a child.

She was sheltered from the outside world her whole life, she hasn’t seen the horrors of the world fully, and doesn’t understand that some people can be evil because they are.

Its sort of the rich kid who has been in boarding school their whole life, now trying to make a living in the ghetto.

I thought the actress played it great, to the point of me being annoying at the character. I was annoyed at the character because I was invested, I wanted her to awake up and smell the roses.

No, none of that was a problem for me. What was, was the shit show, which was the ending of the movie.

What. The. Fuck.

The final battle was so cliche filled with terrible CGI, that I didn’t know what was going on half the time. It was just down right…. Bad. Added with 80’s style one liners that made me shake my head, I felt like I was cheated out of my cinema money.

OH, OH!

Also the big reveal that the protagonist was indeed a god was just tossed into conversation, like a jockstrap in a washing hamper.

The only thing that was good about the ending of the story, was that Chris Pine stole the show with his sacrifice.

Now if you look at rotten apples, which has rated this movie so high, you would be lead to believe that this movie is actually good. And it is at some parts, but the reason that this movie is so highly rated on there is that far left liberal film critics, are bending over backwards to praise this movie because it stars a female lead.

The first female lead in a superhero movie.

But they shouldn’t.

Regardless if this movie is starring a female lead, black lead, transgender lead or anything between, it shouldn’t be given special treatment because then you are making a mockery of your own grading system.

If you compare rotten apples reviews to IMDB, where regular movie goers post their comments you would see a night and day difference. IMDB’s rankings for the movie is two stars lower. With many people asking on that site, why hasn’t anyone given an honest review of the movie on rotten apples.

When we allow political opinions, to shade what is good or bad then we are on a downward spiral to mediocrity in our entertainment.

We should be pushing the boundaries. Not catering to any crap because it might align to our agendas.

This is the same reason that Black Panther with the first male black man as a superhero will be shit!

The movie will be a terrible mixture of hip hop video like material, with black people trying to act super fly. It will be cliche filled, and it won’t be real. For some reason, Hollywood can’t make a serious film with people in colour, without it being…. Type casted!

Just once, once in my lifetime, can I get a film where my black lead doesn’t talk with a heavy slang accent or come from the streets. Or is something between.

And I know everyone reading this will be saying, but Black Panther is an African king and blah, blah, blah.

It still will be missing something, something I wish I could describe in words but… I can’t.

It’s why Red Tails should have been a great movie and failed, and its why this one will be the same.

Sigh…

Look, my grandmother had a saying. If you want to do well in any industry and you’re a minority, then you have to surpass the competition till people can’t ignore you.

And I don’t see us getting there, by want Hollywood has been putting out lately.

I may be wrong, I hope I am, but Hollywood hasn’t proved me wrong so far.

Short cuts

In business as well as in life, shortcuts do not amount to what you expect them to be.

I love writing, I wouldn’t want to do anything different, but I also treat it like a business and being a business, I admit a small one, you will get times were people steal from you, double cross you, and lie to you.

That’s part of the game.

It’s not a part that many people talk about. It’s not a part of the game that you hear Tony Robbins or any other motivational speaker approach, but it exists and it is very real. I can see your eyes rolling now as you say, that’s life Dom, deal with it.

And you’re right.

It is.

But it doesn’t make me or anyone else that has been taken advantage of feel any better. But there are lessons to be learnt in every obstacle. There are things to be learnt, and things that can be taken away from any negative experience in business.

Now regards to what happened to me, I wanted a quick fix to getting a lot of sales. I had heard wonderful things about a certain person’s service and I jumped at it with both feet, but as my grandmother always says, if it’s too good to be true, it normally is.

I should have taken a step back, spoken to some people who had used the service, and gotten a better feel of what I was getting myself into.

I didn’t.

So I paid the price.

One thing above all else that I believe, in is that 99.99% of anything that happens in business or life is your fault.

It is as simple as that. I will learn from this mistake grow from it and move on. The only words of warning I can give you, reading this right now, is to take your time when parting with your cash, on promises that seem too good to be true.

Greed tends to place blinders on us all when we can earn something of monetary value.

But then again, we all know that, we just rush to quickly after the carrot before looking what its attached to.

Until next time

Good Morning

Good Evening

Good Night

P:S Follow me on Facebook & Twitter… Yeah I twit now… who knew

 

Revenge: Space Outlaw 3

The first couple of chapters from book three are below. Get it by clicking the links below.

Book 3- Revenge-Amazon US, Amazon UKAmazon CA  Amazon AU

 

 

Chapter 1

Trex peered over his glasses and sighed at the screen. He took a sip from his glass and shook his head. His fingers resumed punching codes and numbers into a floating data pad in front of his face. He scowled once again at the message that the screen displayed.

Bold red letters flashed irritatingly on the screen, mocking his attempts.

He pinched the bridge of his nose, closed his eyes and let out a sigh. His fingers flew across the data pad as he tried once more, but the outcome was still the same. The red letters appeared to be bolder this time, louder in their mockery of him.

“Argh! This is getting us nowhere!” Trex shouted in frustration.

His colleagues lifted their heads from behind their screens, spread around the room. A few buried their heads deeper into the work they were trying to do. Screen shots of planets littered the walls of the room along with graphs–some with numbers scrawled across them and others with red crosses slashed through them.

“What do you expect?” asked Bill, who sat next to him.

“I didn’t expect it to be this hard. I mean, the job was simple enough. The job itself is easy. But we can’t do anything if the Council are watching our every step. He does know that, doesn’t he? We weren’t all blessed with a powerful father,” said Trex.

“Trex!” Bill said with a glare.

“Oh, what? Don’t give me that. Everyone in there is thinking the same thing. Everyone knows what a pain he can be. Everyone else is just too cowardly to say it.”

Murmurs swept through the room like the rustling of leaves.

“Oh, shut up! I’m still the head researcher in this facility, and if anyone so much as breathes about what is spoken in this room, I will know it has come from one of you. You think what we do here is dangerous because the Council may find out?” said Trex, his glare sweeping the room. “Just let me to go back to Holger empty-handed and I’ll show you dangerous. What the Council might do will pale in comparison to what he will do to us. To our families–”

“Trex, this won’t help morale–”

“I don’t care if it helps morale or not. All I care about is getting results. Results will allow us to go back to our families. This planet needs to be found. I can’t stall him any longer.” Trex breathed out a heavy sigh as he once again pinched the bridge of his nose. He picked up the papers scattered across his desk and, giving them another passing glance, threw them into the air.

He turned in his chair and took in his colleagues. Each one sat in front of a screen and a data pad similar to his. Everyone who had been turned his way now ducked down behind their monitors, furrowed brows adorning every face.

Trex pushed his horn-rimmed glasses back up the bridge of his nose and found Bill still looking his way. “What?”

“Why do you bother with those ridiculous things on your face? I mean do they even have a function?” Bill asked.

“When I visited the planet known as Earth, people who were vision impaired wore them.”

“That still doesn’t answer my question. Plus, you are not vision impaired. The surgery for corrective eyesight is hardly expensive,” said Bill.

“It’s something called fashion. I know the concept is a hard one for you to–”

A high-pitched wail filled the room and echoed through the surrounding halls. Trex shot up from his chair, knocking it to the floor. Faces turned to him in confusion.

“That’s the security alarm,” said Bill.

“I know very well what it is, you incompetent halfwit. What I want to know is why it is going off. The guards aren’t running another systems drill, are they?”

Bill looked at him and offered a small shrug.

“Oh, for goodness’ sake! Why do I even keep you around?” Trex marched towards the holocom embedded in the wall and said, “What is the meaning of this? We are not scheduled for another security drill any time this month. This won’t do! We are doing important work here! Work that must not be interrupted–”

Three explosions shook the room and knocked everyone off their feet. The overhead lights blinked out and were replaced with the dim glow of the emergency ones. Screens fell off desks and smashed on the floor.

Trex began to make his way to his feet, but he was once again knocked to the ground as another explosion shook the building. His colleagues’ screams of pain and fright bounced from wall to wall.

Trex stayed on his hands and knees and surveyed the room. Blood oozed from a wound on one woman’s scalp. Others tried to stem the bleeding, but even from where he crouched, Trex could see that they were losing the battle.

“Shut up, all of you! This is not a drill,” Trex said, crawling towards his desk on his hands and knees.

“What do you think is happening?” Bill asked.

“As you well know, Bill, I’m not psychic, so I don’t know.”

“Do you think it could be pirates?

“No. All the major players have been paid off, and the ones that haven’t been aren’t big enough to worry about. Plus they wouldn’t dare–they know who this lab belongs to.”

Gunshots could be heard in the distance, hinting at things to come. Screams came from outside the lab, silencing the ones inside it. No one spoke, and everyone looked at each other with wide-eyed stares.

“Trex, what shall we do?” Bill asked.

“I’ll tell you what we won’t do–we won’t panic. That’s what we won’t do. Keep calm, everyone. I mean, I mean… This… This. I’m sure everything is under control. I’m sure that the guards are dealing with the perpetrators as we speak. There is nothing to worry about, absolutely–”

“Trex, I don’t think–”

“Didn’t I tell you not to worry, Bill!” Trex’s head snapped left to right, his eyes darting to the only exit in the room. “Quiet! We mustn’t make a racket. Look, you see, we’ll be alright; the metal shutters are coming down.”

With a jerk and a start, the metal shutters sealed the only entrance and exit to the lab. They met the floor with a final slam that any casket would be proud to make. The windows were covered by metal, and the faint glow from the overhead lights cast long shadows on everyone’s face.

“See, everything is going to be all right. I told you, didn’t I? I told you that all this needless worrying would get you nowhere. We have food and water capsules in here that will last us weeks–till help arrives.”

A knocking came from the metal shutters. It was faint; no one would’ve heard it, if a tortured silence hadn’t been ruling inside the lab.

Heads turned and people glanced at each other in shocked silence. Trex licked his lips, pulling at the collar of his shirt.

The knocking came again; three deliberate taps.

Trex placed his fingers to his lips and crawled backwards, away from the metal shutters. His hands left wet imprints on the stone floor. His back touched a wooden desk behind him, and he yelped in surprise, bringing his hand up to smother the sound.

Three taps rang out for the third time.

“We know you’re in there! Come out, come out!” sang a voice from outside of the metal shutters.

The sound came again.

Everyone held their breath inside the lab, sitting in silence, waiting for something to happen. Waiting for something to come out from the shadows.

“We know you’re in there! Open up! Trust me, if you don’t you’re not going to like what’s about to happen…”

Beating hearts pounded against chests but nobody broke the silence.

“They can’t get in,” mouthed Trex.

The metal shutters shook and rattled but held tight. Everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief, but it was short lived as the metal exploded inwards. Shrapnel flew in all directions, merely injuring the lucky and killing those closest to the shutters.

Trex held his breath until the smoke cleared and the debris settled to the floor. Coughs could be heard all around him, and he covered his mouth with his hands.

A black male, with a bone earring in one ear, strode through the hole. He stood in the centre of the lab and cast a disappointed gaze over the scene. “All this could have been avoided,” he said, waving a hand at the dead and wounded. “It’s a shame it had to end this way. I would like to say you’re all innocent parties in this, but we know that isn’t true, don’t we? We all know what you’ve been doing here.”

A midnight-blue female walked through the hole, accompanied by a green brute who was all of seven feet tall. They both folded their arms across their chests.

“Now, I will take all the data you’ve researched and gathered for Holger, and you’d better make it fast,” said the black male.

“And why would we do that?” Trex asked.

“Because if you don’t, you have…oh…” He looked at his wrist and gave a shake of his head. “Five minutes before this place blows up. And seeing as we are blocking the only way out of here, I suggest that you start gathering that data.”

“No matter where you go, he will find out who you are. He will come for you,” said Trex.

With a laugh that boomed through the room, the man shook his head and said, “Tell Holger that Phoenix Jones is coming for him.”