In our top rating thriller novel THE ORPHAN UPRISING (The Orphan Trilogy, #3) our central character, the ninth-born orphan known as Nine, is forced out of retirement when his former masters at the Omega Agency abduct Francis, his young son.
An excerpt from the novel follows. It describes the moment the former operative realises Francis is being abducted. The action takes place in the Marquesas Islands, in remote French Polynesia, where Nine and his wife Isabelle have been hiding out since dropping off the grid five years earlier. Nine is jogging high in the hills overlooking a picturesque bay in the tropical island he now calls home. These days, he exercises for the sake of his health as he has a relatively common heart condition called stenosis.
The excerpt follows:
Nine was following a well worn path that took him high into the steep hills overlooking Taiohae Bay. He could just make out his wife and son down near the waterfront. Francis was playing an impromptu game of soccer with his newfound friends while Isabelle and the other mothers sat in the shade, looking on.
The sweat was pouring off him as he ran up a steep incline. Sudden shortness of breath prompted him to slow to a walk. He thought nothing of it, putting it down to the heat. You’re getting old, Sebastian.
Still looking down at Taiohae Bay, he noticed an inflatable craft approaching the distant waterfront at speed. It was manned by two men and appeared to have come from a floatplane Nine had seen touch down on the water a short time earlier out in the bay. He watched as the inflatable nosed up onto the beach and two men jumped out. They began walking purposefully toward where Francis and the other children played.
Something about the pair bothered Nine. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but it didn’t seem right. Even from a distance, he could see the two weren’t your average tourists. Besides the dark sunglasses they wore, there wasn’t a camera, sun hat or beach towel in sight. They looked more like business executives in their white shirts and long, dark trousers. One even wore a tie.
Nine found himself growing apprehensive as he continued to watch the pair closely.
The former operative didn’t know it, but he wasn’t the only one observing the two men. His spiritual master, Luang, had noticed them around the same time Nine had. The elderly monk was watching from the entrance of the temple Nine and Francis had visited a short time earlier. Like Nine, he thought the two strangers seemed out of place.
Luang’s suspicions grew when the men purposefully marched up to one of the boys. He recognized the boy as Nine’s son. “Francis!” he shouted.
The boy, who was now playing quite close to the temple, looked at the monk and innocently waved.
Luang motioned to him with his hand. “Francis, come!” He motioned to him again.
Francis suddenly noticed the two strangers approaching. They were only a few yards away. Sensing they meant him harm, he sprinted toward the kindly monk and the sanctuary of the temple. The men began running after him.
Only now did Isabelle and the other mothers notice anything untoward from where they sat some distance away. Immediately concerned, they hurried to investigate. The island women began shouting at the strangers. Isabelle screamed when she realized it was Francis the men were chasing.
Fear drove Francis’ legs. The terrified boy ran as if his life depended on it. He reached Luang just before the strangers could catch him. The monk took Francis in his strong, wiry arms and threw him inside the temple. “Hide!” he ordered.
Francis ran to the rear of the temple and hid behind the statue of Buddha while Luang drew a long ceremonial sword from its scabbard that hung just inside the temple’s entrance. An exponent of the Muay Thai martial art, Luang was no slouch with a sword either – as the two strangers were about to find out.
The first man to enter the temple was the younger of the two. Confident the monk would offer no resistance, he hadn’t bothered to draw the pistol he carried on him as he stepped inside. He didn’t even see the steel blade that slashed his arm open to the bone. Screaming in pain, the wounded man threw himself to one side just in time to avoid a second slash that would have taken his head off.
Luang turned to face the second man too late to avoid the gunshot that ended his life. The monk was dead before he hit the temple’s concrete floor.
The sound of the gunshot galvanized Isabelle and the other women into action. Shouting to attract the attention of menfolk in the vicinity, they started running toward the temple. In her pregnant state, Isabelle was left far behind.
The women were still some distance from the temple when the older of the two men emerged with a struggling Francis under his arm. He was followed by the younger man whose wounded arm hung limply at his side. His once white shirt was blood-soaked. The older man pointed his pistol at the advancing women who by now were swearing obscenities at the pair. The sight of a pistol had no effect on the women, so he fired a warning shot above their heads, stopping them in their tracks.
Only Isabelle wasn’t deterred. “Francis!” she screamed as she ran toward the men whom she now knew were intent on abducting her son.
With a squirming Francis still under his arm, the older man ran off toward the beached inflatable craft, closely followed by his wounded partner.
“Mama!” Francis screamed.
Isabelle tripped and fell heavily. By the time she struggled to her feet, the men were already pushing their inflatable into the water. She was powerless to resist as they fired its engine into life and sped off toward the waiting floatplane.
“Mama!” Francis’ plaintiff cries reached his mother, but she was powerless to help.
High in the hills above the bay, Nine had started running as soon as the men began chasing after Francis. By the time they’d bundled the boy and their inflatable into the floatplane, Nine was already down at sea level and sprinting toward the waterfront. His lungs were burning and his legs felt like lead, but he ignored that. All he could think of was Francis.
The previous few minutes had seemed like a nightmare to Nine. There was no obvious explanation for what he’d just witnessed. Falling back on his training, his mind worked at a thousand clicks per second as he tried to figure out what was happening and who was behind it. It could only be Omega! He figured the Omega Agency must have discovered his whereabouts. But how? And why Francis? Why not me? There were so many questions and no answers.
Nine drove himself to run faster.
As he neared the waterfront, he felt a searing pain in his chest. Nine knew immediately what was happening. He was having the heart attack his specialist had warned he’d have if he overdid things.
Despite his condition, he had the presence of mind to note the description of the plane that was now taxiing out into deep water in preparation for take-off: it was a de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter floatplane of the type favored by the Air Command of the Canadian Forces because of its excellent search and rescue capabilities.
The floatplane was the last thing Nine saw before everything went black.
To read more about The Orphan Uprising go to Amazon: http://amazon.com/dp/B00BFC66DM/