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       Inner Voices: The Awakening, p.1

           Barry Alder
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Inner Voices: The Awakening
Inner Voices: The Awakening


  Barry W. Alder

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either a product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright 2010 Barry W. Alder

  All rights reserved

  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, typing, or by any information storage retrieval system, without the written permission of the author.

  Cover design by:Adam Ballance

  Published by InnerVoices-Novels

  Table of Contents

  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

  Excerpt from Book 2

  Author Biography

  Chapter 1

  The two torches were the only source of light in the small cave, but that was enough. Lara had been here many times, keeping the area clean as the rituals required. This time though, was different. She stood in front of the door, heart pounding, hand poised over the keypad, hesitating. The Empire was coming to destroy them. The villagers couldn't leave and they had no way of defending themselves. They had cultivated the ways of peace for generations while protecting the sleeping soldiers from discovery. That was their purpose, their reason for remaining in this secluded location. And now she was going to wake them. The texts said the soldiers were beings of immense power and strength, and that they had come here to sleep. The real reason why had been lost to the villagers over the centuries and only legends remained, and even they had become unimportant - until now.

  The texts told them how to waken the soldiers but not when to, and this was what frightened her now. She had persuaded the others that they should wake the soldiers and have them defend the village. But what if the soldiers did not want to be woken now? What if they turned their powers against the villagers in anger? She dearly wished that Ialda, her spirit guide, was here to advise her, but all the guides had become silent weeks ago when they first talked about waking the soldiers. For the first time in anyone's memory, they had no help from the spirit world. This, too, worried her. But, she trusted her instincts and they clearly said this was the right path.

  Overcoming the apprehension building within her, she lifted the cover that protected the panel from dust. Great Spirit, she prayed, please let this work. Taking a deep breath, she keyed in the code to open the door.

  The door slowly opened with a low, groaning, but before she could relax, a loud piercing sound filled the cave. Reflexively, she covered her ears in panic, frozen in front of the panel momentarily. Then she raced for the cave entrance, fear rising within.

  * * *

  There are no dreams in stasis. Only moments ago, Jason had lain down to enter the long sleep, and now he was wide-awake with the sound of alarms quickly penetrating his awareness. Turning his head, he tried to determine if any danger was present, and winced as an unexpected pain shot through his neck. He ignored it, and slowly scanned as much of the room as he could see. No one was there. Relaxing somewhat, he waited for the cover to slide off.

  He gingerly slid his tall, lanky frame off the bed, and nearly collapsed as his feet hit the floor. I shouldn't be this weak, he thought as he struggled to remain upright. What’s going on? Leaning against the stasis bed, he scanned the room, looking for any sign that might explain the alarms. He saw nothing but the open door.

  That explains why I’m awake, he thought, but who opened it?

  Although his strength was returning rapidly, it was still a struggle for him to cover the ten feet to the main console. Once there, he silenced the alarms and looked past the door, but saw nothing in the darkness outside.

  Damn it! he thought. What the hell is going on?

  He turned back to the console and activated the switch to close the door. That will keep us safe for a while.

  Then he froze as he noticed the indicators. Most of the status lights for the stasis pods showed red - failure of the unit. A shiver went down his spine.

  No. That can’t be!

  He rushed to the nearest unit with a red light, fear rising within, and looked into it. A grinning corpse stared back. Shaken, he moved to another unit and found the same. Then another, and another. Six units later, he found one with a perfectly preserved body, and a green light. Lieutenant Sara Patrick, medical officer for the team. He scanned the room again, this time counting the green lights. A feeling of horror came over him when he realized that his count matched that of the console. Including himself, only twelve of the fifty had survived.

  He returned to the console and flicked the wake-up switch, hoping the green lights really meant survivors.

  As he waited for the units to open, the magnitude of the equipment failure sunk in. They were supposed to be in stasis for five years and then automatically revived. That had not happened, and he suspected that they had been under for a lot longer. Questions crowded his mind, but two questions in particular kept coming back. Why hadn’t they been wakened when they were supposed to, and why were they wakened now?

  Although all the stasis units opened simultaneously, their sleepers didn’t, another indication to Jason that something was seriously wrong. First to wake was Chief Patricia Killman. Of all the people in the team, she was the fittest, despite her small size. But Jason watched in dismay as she collapsed getting off the bed. Next was Master Sergeant Pete Hillier. Like Jason and Pat, he had trouble standing. Slowly, the rest got up, all showing signs of weakness and confusion.

  Sgt. Hong Omara, was the last to move. As Hong slowly sat up, gingerly flexing his muscles and breathing deeply, Jason remembered that Hong always entered a meditative state just before stasis, and he suspected that Hong had fared better than any of them because of this, at least physically.

  The others were now studying the room, vacuous eyes silently noting the devastation of their ranks. Eventually, the eyes focused on Jason.

  "I don’t know," he softly replied in answer to their unasked question. "Something went wrong, but I do know someone woke us. The door was open.”

  Almost in unison, they all looked toward the door.

  “Where are they?” asked Pete.

  “They were gone by the time I got up,” replied Jason.

  “So what do we do now?”

  “What we were trained to do,” said Jason, sounding more confident than he really felt. “First, we see where we stand.

  "Raph, Pete, Hong, check the armory. Tim, Sean, find out why the stasis units failed. Lou, check the communications. The rest of you, gear up and meet me at the entrance.”

  Jason moved away from the console to let Tim and Sean work, and was lost in thought when Raphael called to him.

  “Boss! You’d better come over here.”

  Jason went to the armory. Once inside, he stared in disbelief. The protective coatings, which had been applied to the more delicate equipment, had gone from their normal, soft, flexible state to being hard and brittle. Flakes came off in his hands as he picked up one of the pieces, exposing the corroded and pitted surface beneath. He looked questioningly at Raphael.

  “It’s all like that,” Raphael stated.

  “It doesn’t go like that after only five years!” Jason said deliberately.

  “I know. I think it’s been longer. A lot lo

  Jason examined the other equipment in disbelief, noting that the once clear plastic bags had become colored and brittle. This unnerved him, but he said nothing.

  “Do what you can with what we’ve got,” he resignedly said to Raphael before heading back to the command console.

  Back at the console, Tim was shaking his head.

  “What is it?” Jason asked.

  “I don’t know how any of us survived,” Sean replied slowly.

  “What do you mean?” Jason asked impatiently.

  “We’ve been here for three hundred and sixteen years,” replied Tim cautiously. “It’s a wonder any of the units survived. They weren’t designed to operate this long.”

  “Are you sure about the time?”

  “That’s what the main clock shows,” replied Sean carefully.

  Jason’s mind was blank. He stood still while the two stared at him expectantly.

  “Boss?” asked Sean, bringing Jason back to reality.

  “Yea? What?”

  “What do we do now?”

  “Keep checking. There has to be something to tell us why we were left so long.”

  He turned to Louise, who was working at another console.

  “Lou. Get anything?”

  “It looks like the gear inside the cave is intact,” she answered, “but I don’t think anything outside is. I tried to see if I could pick up something, but that was a no go, not even static; but that could be something as simple as a broken cable, or more likely, missing antennas. We’ll have to go outside with the portable comms gear to be sure.”

  Jason’s gut tightened again. There was no doubt their original mission was long dead. But what of the world outside? Had anything from their time survived? Or would they be faced with something totally new, and possibly deadly?

  “Everyone!” he barked. “Over here.”

  He gathered his thoughts while the team surrounded him.

  “Tim and Sean have discovered that we’ve been in stasis for over three hundred years. I have no idea what we’ll find outside, but we can’t stay here. Once we’ve determined what’s out there, we’ll move operations, if we can.

  “Someone woke us up, and we need to find them. Hopefully, they’re still in the area. There’ll be two recon teams. Pat. Velma. You’re with Rick. Joe and Sara; you’re with me. Finish gearing up. I’ll join you in a moment. The rest of you, keep checking.”

  “What about the ones who didn’t make it?” asked Louise hesitantly.

  Jason looked past her to the closed stasis units.

  “For the time being Lou, leave them as they are. Hopefully, we can give them a decent burial later.”

  * * *

  The alarms abruptly stopped as Lara reached the entrance of the cave. She uncovered her ears, thankful for the quiet but puzzled about the sudden disappearance of the sound. Things were not as they should be, and this frightened her. Despite her fear, she had to go back. The village needed the soldiers and she was the one responsible for waking them.

  Inside the cave, she faced the closed door. She stared at it, puzzled. Nothing in the ancient texts mentioned the door closing after it had been opened. They said that she was supposed to go into the room to wake the sleeping soldiers. She turned to go to her father for help, but stopped after a couple of steps. No, she thought. I have to do this alone.

  Returning to the door, she lifted the cover on the panel and pressed the lights in the same order as before. Nothing happened. Afraid that she had done it incorrectly, she repeated the sequence, but to no avail.

  Angrily, she hit the panel with her fist and then jumped back, shocked by her action. This was replaced, almost immediately, by a feeling of frustration. Frustration for not being able to waken the soldiers. Frustration for not being able to enter their room. And more deeply, frustration that, after all her efforts, she would have nothing to show the village. She shook her head. Where were these feelings coming from? She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, opening herself to the energy fields surrounding her. Yes, she thought, there it is. It’s coming from behind the door. She opened her eyes and stared intently at it. There was a new energy, one that hadn’t been present earlier. Something inside had changed.

  Then the door opened.

  * * *

  Raphael jumped back and reflexively drew his sidearm. He hadn’t expected anyone on the other side of the door, and could see that the woman hadn’t expected him, as she gasped and stepped back, eyes wide in fear staring at his gun.

  No one moved.

  “Boss. We have a visitor,” Raphael called out.

  Jason ran over and, as Raphael stepped aside, he got a clear view of the “visitor.” She was tall, almost his height, slim, with long, straight, dark hair, and dressed in a tropical fashion, like the native Hawaiian women he’d seen. Although she appeared frightened, there was something about her that told him she was no threat. He moved closer to her.

  “What’s your name?” he asked calmly, trying to alleviate her fears.

  Her reply was calm, but incomprehensible.

  Great! he thought when he heard her speak. Now how will we find out what’s going on?

  Letting out an exasperated sigh, he pointed to himself and said, “Jason.”

  The woman pointed to herself, said, “Lara,” and then smiled.

  Seeing the smile, Jason looked over to Raphael and said, “I think we have a start. I don’t think she’s dangerous. Put the gun down, but watch her just in case.”

  “Are you sure, Boss? She might have something hidden.”

  “I’m sure,” Jason replied coldly.

  Raphael stepped further back from the door, lowering his gun but not holstering it.

  Lara wondered what to do next. It was all she could do to not openly stare at Jason. Something in his brown eyes spoke of gentleness and caring, and at the same time, she felt a deep sorrow residing in him. Then she noticed his aura. He’s been badly hurt, she thought, but there’s strength and integrity in him. Maybe he is the one to save us.

  More of the soldiers had come to the door while she and Jason had tried to communicate, but she saw that none of them understood her. I need help, she thought.

  “Follow me,” she said, motioning to Jason. “My father will know what to do.” When they did nothing, she repeated the motions and headed toward the cave entrance. She had gone about two yards, but stopped when she heard them speaking behind her.

  “Should we follow her?” Raphael asked Jason.

  “Not all of us,” he replied. “Not until I know more about what’s going on. Lou, come with me. The rest of you, wait here and keep your ears open.”

  As Louise approached, Jason continued. “I think your hobby for languages may be of some use.”

  Louise smiled at the comment as Jason headed into the cave.

  Raphael watched as Jason and Lou followed the woman. There was something about her, how she held herself, how she walked, and how she seemed in total control of the whole situation, that he didn’t like. The only women he knew who behaved that way were the mothers where he grew up and the women in the military. She didn’t appear to be either type, and that worried him.

  * * *

  As they exited the cave, Jason and Lou stopped abruptly.

  “Ocean air. Here?” she exclaimed.

  “I don’t see how,” replied Jason. “The ocean’s a long way from the middle of Idaho.”

  Looking around, they found themselves in a small ravine, with a path leading into a tropical forest, and a large sandbank to their right. From behind the bank, Jason though he could hear the sound of waves. A few seagulls flew overhead, leading his eyes to a large mountain range that extended straight for as far as he could see. It appeared to be about a mile off, very high, with no paths through it.

  When he looked for Lara, he saw her talking with an older man. The man was thin and tall, and dressed like her.

  “I don’t know what to do, Father,” Lara whispered, “I don’t under
stand their language and they don’t understand ours. How are we going to tell them what we need?”

  “Understanding will come in time,” he said soothingly. “Great Spirit will see us through, and when the time is right, we will talk with them.”

  Lara smiled meekly at the comment, and turned back to the approaching soldiers, hoping that what her instinct told her about them was right.

  As they got closer, Lara pointed to her father, and said “Ka’tel.”

  “Ka’tel,” Louise said, smiling, and then put her hand on her chest and said, “Louise.” Ka’tel bowed slightly and said, “Lou’ise,” and then turned to Jason.

  Jason looked the man directly in the eye, seeing if he could detect any deceit. Ka’tel looked back, with a relaxed smile on his face. This continued for a few moments before Jason spoke his name firmly. “Ja’son,” Ka’tel replied, bowing slightly.

  Lara felt delighted at the exchange. She knew this was a good beginning. Although she clearly saw Jason’s caution and distrust, it was not stopping him from coming with her. “Please,” she said, catching everyone’s attention, “this way,” and motioned for them to follow her as she headed into the forest.

  Jason paused for a moment, watching Lara as she disappeared into the trees, and noting that Ka’tel was waiting for them to move.

  “Do you think she’s in charge here?”

  “I don’t know,” Louise replied, “but I’ll try to find out.”

  Jason nodded and indicated for her to go after Lara.

  He continued standing where he was, feeling the tension throughout his body. There were so many things wrong here. Part of him wanted this to be a dream, but he knew it was real. But what was this reality? If Tim and Sean were right about what the logs said, something drastic had happened to the planet. And I need to know what happened, he thought, before it kills us.

  * * *

  Raphael stood just inside the complex door and watched Jason and Louise leave. Everything felt wrong, out of place.

  “What do we do now?” Sara asked.

  “We do what the Boss told us,” he snapped back. “Sorry,” he continued, realizing his angry response was unjustified. “This isn’t what I expected at all. I lost some good friends here.”

  “I know. They were my friends too,” Sara replied quietly, hanging her head.

  Raphael looked at her. He could see that this was just as hard on her as it was on him.

  He put his hand on her shoulder and she looked up, a small tear in one eye.

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