Authors: Leif Sterling
Tags: #Science Fiction, #Thriller, #Serial, #sci-fi
Whatever It Takes
A Serialized Sci-Fi Thriller
Copyright © 2014 Leif Sterling
All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or part of this publication without express written consent is strictly prohibited. This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only and may not be re-sold.
Thank you for reading.
For more information and release schedule, please visit:
To my Wife, without whom, this would have never been possible!
DATE: JANUARY 6
Matthew’s hands shook as he watched the jury return from their deliberation. It had taken less than an hour for them to agree on their verdict. These were the twelve people deciding his fate.
Every eye, camera and hologram shifted from Matthew, to the lead juror, as the juror stood. With the conviction of patriotic duty, the juror read the verdict, “We, the jury, find the defendant, Matthew Davenport, to be guilty of the charges of terrorism.”
Judge Hennessy pronounced, “You have been found guilty on the charges of terrorism for selling android implants with weapons capabilities to a known terrorist organization. By the authority of the Supreme Court of the North American Union, I hereby sentence you to death by incineration. Your sentence will be carried out one year from today. You will be remanded to a maximum security facility, in isolation, until that time.” The judge slammed his gavel down.
The whole courtroom erupted in applause and cheering.
The noise startled Matthew. None of this seemed real. He had heard the juror and the judge, but this was his life. Now it was all being ripped from him. He pleaded with his attorney, “I’m innocent. What do we do now? When do we appeal?”
Matthew’s attorney loosened his tie as he threw his last paper into his briefcase. “Matthew, clearly someone powerful wants you to take the fall for this. This case has all the signs of payoffs and coverups at the highest level. They have even turned the public against you. Just look, the jury decided you were guilty in less than an hour. That never happens!” Then he slammed his briefcase closed. “Honestly, you couldn’t pay me enough money to go to court for you again.” The attorney got up and pushed his chair in. “Sorry man, tough break.” Then he turned and walked out of the courtroom.
The noise in the room seemed deafening to Matthew, with all the reporters and people talking and laughing. For the first time in three days though, no one really seemed to be looking at him.
Out of the crowd, a woman’s voice behind him whispered, “Roland’s been watching. He’s going to find a way to clear your name.”
MATTHEW KEPT LOOKING forward, but talked out of the side of his mouth so as not to draw attention. “Roland? My son? Is he here?”
The woman touched the side of her glasses. “I’ve got him here, on my uplink.”
Matthew’s neck muscles tensed. “Roland, do not get involved! It’s too dangerous.” He leaned a little closer to the woman, but kept looking straight ahead. “Skylar, don’t you let him go anywhere near this! Whoever did this is too powerful!”
Skylar pulled her brown sun hat down a little tighter. “Roland says he’s not going to lose you too!”
“No! Both of you stay away from this. If you don’t, you’ll put your own lives at risk.”
The hulking bailiff walked over to Matthew and tapped his baton on the desk. “Let’s go.”
Matthew sat for another second while Skylar disappeared into the crowd, then he got up. The last thing in the world that he wanted was for Roland to get mixed up in this mess. He had only known his son for the last seven months.
The bailiff prodded Matthew with his baton. “Move it.”
Matthew took his first step towards the hallway, isolation and ultimately his death sentence. His mind was still reeling from the shock. Questions fired off in his head in rapid succession.
Who could have done this? Why would they have set me up?
Who could have this much power?
His stomach churned at the thought of Roland getting pulled into this and ending up in the cell next to him.
Roland, you must get as far away from this as you can!
I’ve only just gotten to know my son. This can’t be happening!
The bailiff handed Matthew over to the prison transport guards. The armored door to the prison hover van clanged shut along with everything important in his life.
RETREATING FROM THE media frenzy, Judge Hennessy headed towards his chambers. He stopped outside his door and leaned into the retina security scanner. The red light washed over his eye and then the door to his office clicked open.
He was greeted by the sickly sweet smell of a Cuban cigar. His high-backed leather chair swung around towards him and Vincent Bishop, the CEO of Pinnacle Technology Corporation, propped his expensive leather shoes up on the judge’s desk. “Johnny-boy, you’ve returned from battle. See, it went according to plan.”
Judge Hennessy frowned at the uninvited guest. “Vincent? What are you doing here?”
The CEO set his Cuban cigar down. “I came to congratulate you.”
Judge Hennessy hung his robe on the wall hanger. “You mean, you came to keep an eye on me.”
“See, it wasn’t that hard.”
The Judge looked Vincent in the eye. “I’m a Justice of the Supreme Court, not a fast food clerk. I just found a man guilty and put him on death row.”
“Of course you found him guilty. How couldn’t you have, with the jury I gave you?” Vincent picked the Cuban back up. “Anyway, it’s over now.”
“Until your next favor.”
Vincent got up to leave. “I like you better when you need election funds. You’re much more pleasant then.”
SKYLAR EXITED THE courtroom. “I’m headed back,” she said to Roland over the uplink in her glasses. Then she killed the video feed by touching the side of her glasses.
His text flowed across her glasses and then disappeared. “Hurry.”
She arrived at Roland’s house fifteen minutes later. Roland Crane shared the house with his father, and she rented the garage apartment in the back. Skylar went in the front door of the main house and saw Roland pacing back and forth in the living room. Roland was wearing his boxing gloves, and whenever his pacing took him to side of the room where the punching bag was, he would let loose a frenzy of punches and kicks on it.
Roland looked up when Skylar came in. “He’s my dad. I should have been there today!”
Skylar closed the door. “You know your dad asked you not to come. He said that he didn’t want the media to learn he had a son and have you be branded as ‘the son of a traitor.’ ”
“But I can’t believe they took him away! Less than an hour the jury was gone. Can you believe that?”
“No, that’s almost unheard of!”
Roland gave the bag a hard left hook. “Deathrow? C’mon. You’ve got to be kidding me.” Two right jabs. “It was just seventy-two hours ago that he was arrested. I’ve heard of these speed trials before, but I never imagined it would happen to my own family. It’s not like I have much family left. Lost my mom to cancer, what, barely seven months ago?”
Skylar nodded and put her video glasses in their case and put her regular glasses back on. “Death by incineration? That’s only reserved for the worst of the worst. Remember that serial killer in the news a few months ago? Well, he got lethal injection. He didn’t even get incineration.”
Roland paced to the other side of the room. “What are we going to do, Sky? We have to get him out somehow. We have to figure out who did this and expose them!”
Skylar stood behind the punching bag and held it steady. “You heard what your dad said, right?”
Roland took a stance on the other side of the bag. He bounced on his feet a couple times. His clear, blue eyes echoed the pain he felt, but were filled with fury. “Yep, I heard him.” Then he pounded away on the bag as hard as he could, yelling all the while.
It took everything Skylar had to keep hold of the bag. “You gonna stay back and keep away? You know it’s every bit as dangerous as he said, probably more.”
Roland chugged a blue sports drink. He slammed the empty bottle on the counter. “You know I’m not, Sky. I thought I was all alone in the world when my mom died.” He gave the punching bag two jabs and an uppercut. “I just got my dad. I’m not going to lose him now!”
“I know you don’t want to. I know I couldn’t if it were me. But your dad told me to tell you not to.”
Roland ran a towel over his face and hair to dry off the sweat. His short brown, hair stood up. “Sky, I’m going to get my dad out and clear his name. I don’t care what it takes. You’re my best friend, and I need your help.”
“Best and only friend. Mr.Davenport was the closest thing to a dad in my life. I really admired him. Of course, I’m in.”
Roland managed half a smile.
“You stink. Go shower and I’ll pull up everything I can on Mr.Davenport’s trial.”
Roland looked down at his drenched shirt and then headed towards his room. “Yeah, see what else you can find on that piece of human garbage, Judge Hennessy.”
Roland reflected while he was getting showered and dressed. His mother’s battle with cancer had come on so quickly. He had been deployed overseas with his unit of the North American Union Marines when he had first gotten the notice. By the time he had been able to get leave, he had only had a week with her before the cancer claimed her.
At the reading of his mother’s will, a private letter was given to him by the attorney. His mom had written him about his father. She had always told him that she had conceived through artificial insemination and didn’t know who his father was.
She said in her letter, however, that the truth was that she had fallen in love her senior year in college with Matthew Davenport. She had loved him very much, and they had hoped to marry. A few months before their graduation, Matthew was offered a full scholarship to MIT’s advanced robotics graduate program.
She didn’t want to hold Matthew back from such an opportunity. She knew, the moment he found out about the baby, he would have left school to get a full-time job, and he never would have gone on to MIT.
His mother broke off the engagement, and never told Matthew about their child. She said she knew that Matthew was a brilliant man and that someday he would change the world with his science.
It was hard for Roland to be mad at his mom after losing her, but it had been such a shock. He had needed answers.
The next week, Roland had taken leave from the NAU Ontario Marine base, and searched out his father. First, he had gone to MIT’s campus in Massachusetts. From there, he tracked his dad to Redwood City, California. Roland’s heart was pounding the evening he had arrived at his father’s house.
Roland hadn’t been sure what to expect, but he told Matthew about the letter anyway. Matthew had been quiet for a while, just taking in the shocking news. Then he had said that he had always loved Roland’s mother, and had been surprised when she had broken off their engagement so quickly.
A month later, Roland had moved into Matthew’s house when his enlistment in the Marines had been completed. There, he had gotten to spend time with his dad and had really gotten to know him. He had also gotten to know the unusual woman who rented Matthew’s garage apartment, and now Sky was his best friend.