The Red Order by Cerece Rennie Murphy
After a surprise defeat in Chicago, the Guild creates The Red Order, unleashing a new weapon against those who dare to challenge their authority. To survive, a band of renegade Seers, led by Joel Akida and Lilli Knight, must fight against their own kind to protect a truth so powerful that it will destroy the very foundation upon which the Guild is built. The Red Order continues the epic battle for freedom which began in Order of the Seers, revealing the secret motives behind an organization that exists to exploit and a movement that seeks to usher in the next phase in human evolution.
Chapter 1 Excerpt: The Defeated
The fact that Crane Le Dieu had barely escaped with his life intact less than ten hours ago did nothing to humble his demeanor as he stormed out of the steel-glass elevator, as bold and arrogant as always.
“You!” Crane shouted, pointing his finger at the middle-aged Asian woman who sat at the far side of the room. “Did you hear what happened? How could you let this happen?”
As he cut across the sea of cluttered work stations that made up the office level of the Guild’s lead research facility in Geneva, Dr. Ming Jhu seemed all but oblivious to Crane’s approach. In contrast to the crackling tension in the room, Ming looked utterly detached as she took a long draw from her cigarette and stared at the email message on her laptop. As head of Research and Development, it was bad form for her to just be sitting there, so indifferent to her superior while the other scientists around her froze in terror at Crane’s presence. But she’d been like this for at least an hour. Even with the Guild’s lockdown protocol, which had them sequestered in their offices at 11 o’clock at night, Crane bursting into their facility yelling demands at her was nothing new. What felt refreshing was that for the first time, Ming didn’t give a damn.
It would have been nice, she thought, to have had this objectivity twenty years ago, before she had bartered her life away while most of her colleagues were being killed. In the early days of the International Science Team’s research on Seers, Eli Tanner, Gerard Morrow, Willem Knight, Neeva Patel, Hasaam Al Attar, and the other lead scientists had been such good mentors to her that she had considered them family, or so she thought, before she choose self-preservation and advancement over them. By the time the Guild had asked for her allegiance, she knew Willem Knight and Gerard Morrow were dead because of their refusal to cooperate with the Guild’s new agenda to catalog and harness new Seers against their will. Back then, she was just another eager, twenty-nine year old junior researcher, but she had shown tremendous promise, and the Guild made their interest in her known as soon as it was clear that most of the Seer Project’s lead scientists would need to be replaced. With the gift of hindsight and twenty-three years of experience behind her, Ming could almost laugh now at the fact that she had been naïve enough to be more flattered than frightened when Crane came to her apartment to recruit her. It was only later that she learned how much blind ambition and stupidity had in common.
But Ming’s desire for advancement wasn’t the only thing that kept her with the Guild. She had also just met Thea Case and was only starting to learn what it meant to find the one person you would do anything for. In the years that followed, Thea made most of the despicable things Ming had done bearable, if not quite worth it. The irony of what Ming now knew made the rims of her weary eyes burn with the need to cry, but she refused to do that here. Instead, she squinted at her computer screen while flicking the ash from her unfiltered Dunhill on the floor before taking another long deep drag. And it’s all for nothing now. It’s all for nothing, she thought as she exhaled the smoke from her cigarette and read the email in front of her for the 47th time.
M – Got your message and saw the news about the lockdown. Wish I could have told you this in person, but since I don’t know when you’ll be home, I think it’s better to get this out now. Just came from Dr. William’s office. I’ve gone into stage four of my cancer. There’s nothing left to do. I think it’s time to start letting go.
“Do you hear me talking to you? Are you suddenly deaf? I know you’ve heard what happened in Chicago. Andreas and I were lucky to escape with our lives!” Though Crane was now standing directly behind Ming, his voice had not descended one octave from when he began screaming at her from across the room.
“Pity,” he heard Ming say softly.
“Excuse me?” Crane sneered. He wasn’t sure which part of what he said made her respond so inappropriately, but the insinuation of indifference only made him angrier.
He reached for the back of her chair and spun her around with such force she would have made a complete 360-degree turn if she hadn’t jammed the left 3” heel of her boot into his foot.
When she finally looked up to meet his gaze, she noted that he looked more surprised than in pain, as if he really thought that she had, for a moment, gone deaf.
Disgusted, Ming flicked her ash in Crane’s direction before taking another drag. Though she had heard about the events in Chicago, she had received the news shortly after Thea’s email and as a result, it fell into the same category as Crane’s presence – nothing she cared about anymore. The calmness she felt now was in sharp contrast to her demeanor two hours ago when she’d first received Thea’s email.
No one, including Crane, moved a muscle as she exhaled her smoke and finally responded to his question.
“I said, what a pity you escaped with your life.”
Watching the shock flash-freeze Crane’s entire expression was the best present she’d received all year. Ming settled back in her chair to enjoy it, letting a satisfied smirk spread across her full, heart-shaped face.
Recovering slowly from Ming’s brazenness, Crane could not help but smile as he saw the hate Ming had always tried to hide from him on full display. While he preferred fear, hate from those he considered to be truly powerless was also something he enjoyed, and his mood lightened at the thought of watching Ming attempt to spar with him. Clearing his throat, Crane rearranged his amusement into a stern expression.
“You failed,” he began. “You should have known about their true potential. It was your job.”
“Oooh,” Ming responded, as her eyes went wide with mock curiosity, “Now you want to know about potential. That’s funny. I don’t even know what you’re talking about. We don’t do science here,” she explained calmly with a wave of her hand around the room. “We only do what you tell us. So what can I say? I guess we’re all just as limited as your imagination.”
Crane hadn’t expected her to cut to the chase so quickly, to turn the tables and blame him for what happened. His enjoyment was gone as quickly as it came and Ming knew it. She arched her brow in anticipation of his response.
“What’s gotten into you? You know better than to test me.” Crane bent down toward her slightly and lowered his voice to a hiss before adding, “I will have her ki-“
“Yeah, see, that’s the thing,” she interrupted. “I hear you. I really do.”
Ming turned from him and put out her cigarette on the edge of her desk while keeping her heel firmly dug into what she believed was his big toe. Why isn’t this hurting him, she wondered in passing as she turned back to Crane with a new cigarette dangling from her lips and a matchbook in her hand.
“Except, you’re a little late – which is unusual for you, I’ll admit,” she began while looking down to light her cigarette. “This just hasn’t been your week.”
The corners of Crane’s eyes trembled with the effort it took for him to refrain from reaching out and strangling her where she sat. Though she was focused on lighting up her new-old habit, Ming didn’t miss the twitching of his hands as he waited for her to finish. It made her proud to see him so out of control. It had been a long time since she’d had this much power over anything.
Nodding her understanding of his restraint, she continued. “You see, Thea is dying. I got the email two hours ago,” she paused to fully exhale before adding, “So there literally is no one left for you to kill except me, and as you can see, I’m suddenly feeling up for a fight.”
Crane responded with a loud and mirthless laugh. Ming fought to keep her back straight as the ice-cold sound made its way down her spine. There is nothing more he can take from me, she reminded herself as she continued to smoke her cigarette with a slightly less than steady hand.
When his laughter finally died down, Crane returned his gaze to Ming and smiled at her, almost lovingly. “Ming,” he cooed, “You’re always so articulate. It’s one of the things I like about you.”
And in less time than it took for Ming to pull the cigarette she had just inhaled from her lips, Crane was over her like the pitch black cover of night as he grabbed the hand that held her cigarette. Though he was not a particularly large man, Ming was shocked that he still managed to block out all the light from the overhead flood lamps and ceiling-to-wall reflective windows that were meant to inspire greatness from the scientists that worked there. But Ming couldn’t see any of her colleagues as they stood by passively, couldn’t see anything beyond the charcoal of his herringbone suit as he pushed her chair against the edge of her desk while his face, smooth and pallid, hovered close enough for her to smell the 100 year-old scotch he’d consumed an hour ago.
“And I do like you, Ming, but not enough to keep you alive if you’re not willing to cooperate,” he said softly. The dulcet tones of his voice contrasted sharply with his vise grip on her left wrist and hand. Ming turned slightly toward her twisted fingers to see her cigarette drop red ash on the backside of his hand. He didn’t flinch.
Even through the pain in her hand, her inquisitive mind could not shut down. Something is wrong here, she thought. Her heel was still buried in the fine leather of his shoe and the flesh of his big toe and he had yet to react to it.
By the way he shifted the bones in her hand, she knew he wanted her to scream. But as frightened as she was, she knew she was stronger than the breaking of her wrist. Though her courage had waned, her resolve held firm. Not trusting her voice to remain steady, Ming did the only thing she could as she forced her gaze upwards to meet Crane’s and exhaled the smoke she’d been holding in her lungs into his face.
If she could have predicted what would happen next, she would have tried to hold her breath forever. But by the time Crane leaned in closer, it was too late. She watched in growing horror as Crane’s eyes fluttered closed just before he leaned into the smoke she’d exhaled, and breathed in as if savoring a lover’s caress. The intimacy of the gesture made her stomach spasm with revulsion. When Crane opened his eyes to meet hers, he was pleased to find the fear he’d been waiting for. He finally had her attention.
“I love the taste of something burning,” he whispered, just before Andreas Menten interrupted them.
( Continued... )
© 2013 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Cerece Rennie Murphy. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the publisher's written permission. Share a link to this page or the author's website if you really like this promotional excerpt.
Purchase Books by Cerece Rennie Murphy
The Red Order - http://www.amazon.com/Red-Order-Cerece-Rennie-Murphy/dp/0985621028
Order of the Seers - http://www.amazon.com/Order-Seers-Cerece-Rennie-Murphy/dp/0985621001
About the Author
Cerece Rennie Murphy lives and writes just outside of her hometown of Washington, DC. In addition to completing the Order of the Seers trilogy, Ms. Murphy is also developing a children’s book series titled Enchanted: 5 Tales of Magic in the Everyday and a book on understanding marriage/relationship advice for single women entitled More than the Ring. To learn more about the author and her upcoming projects, visit her website at www.crmurphybooks.com.