Outcast Island Excerpts

Excerpt 1:

Le Clerc felt like a Christian in the Coliseum. “I’m not asking you to desert your stations,” he declared. “There’s going to be a battle one way or another. I’m asking you to consider what side you’re on. You operate a ship armed with lethal weapons. If you obey your current orders, you’ll murder innocent people on the island who won’t understand why your bombs are falling on them. You’ll be doing so at the behest of vile men who care nothing about ordinary people, including you. To them, you sailors are all mindless human triggers that they can pull with mere words from their gilded tongues for opaque reasons they’ll never explain. The Darkness in the world today isn’t the fault of those destitute rebels on the island you’ve been ordered to annihilate. It’s the fault of a handful of very rich people who orchestrate everything from within the shadows. They’re demons who’ve set the rest of humanity against each other for their own unholy gain. I’m asking you to lay down your guns, at least until we can sort out whose side each of you are on.”

Excerpt 2:

Le Clerc studied the seven huddled proles. They had hollowed eyes, missing teeth, and sallow skin. Their skeletal bodies were clothed in tattered rags. They appeared prematurely aged. The women’s eyes spoke of horrors that no human should abide. One of them coughed with the rasping sound of impending death. A malnourished child sobbed in fear. Le Clerc was overcome with pity. He had long known that most of the ills of civilization were caused by a conspiracy of its self-enriching leaders. It was clear to him that the moneyed aristocracy was always going to beggar the common man. But seeing the physical manifestation of that in the form of these seven huddled victims stabbed his soul. He recalled his youth as a starving orphan in the dangerous alleys of Cairo. His circumstance then was no different than that of the seven tragic skeletons staring in fear at him now. His life had come full circle, which made its meaning startlingly clear.

Excerpt 3:

“Down!” Mallory yelled to his team.

He lobbed a grenade at the doors. A deafening explosion erupted, followed by shrapnel whizzing overhead. The Rangers leapt to their feet and poured through the smoking wreckage of the entrance, guns levelled. There was no resistance. Mallory saw through the smoky haze that the white-coated technicians inside had scrambled for any cover they could find. Banks of untended electronic consoles and displays glowed and flickered in the smoke-filled room.

Mallory waited until Leon was dragged into the room, then put his pistol to Leon’s temple.

“I’ve brought your messenger to you!” he declared to the bewildered technicians. “Who’s in charge here?”

Excerpt 4:

Mallory saw the men working beside the fire and joined them.  They saw the blood on his forehead and the despair in his eyes.

“We’re trapped,” he announced somberly.

“Should we stop working and make peace with ourselves?” Nicolai asked.

“Rangers never give up,” Mallory snapped. “Do you have any explosives left over?”

“Not much.”

“Enough to blow a hatch open?”

“Depends on the hatch. Is that our last hope then?”

“Set the timer on the detonator to blow the fuel tanks in fifteen minutes,” Mallory instructed. “Then have your men follow me with your leftover explosives.”

“Do you think we’ll get out of here alive, sir?” Nicolai’s voice had the naïve, hopeful tone of a young boy believing his father knew the way through a dark forest as wolves howled in the distance.

Mallory hesitated, then put a consoling hand on Nicolai’s frail shoulder. “No one leaves this planet alive. Treasure every second you have left. If nothing else, we’ll meet again in Valhalla.”

Excerpt 5:

It was in that explosive mental state where John’s worst fears and life’s deepest truths were being realized. He was transitioning from a man once ashamed of himself to the man he’d always wished himself to be. It had taken him years to realize that no one should have to live on their knees. He had finally chosen the right path instead of the easy path, and now he was going to take a stand, even if it cost him everything. Today marked the end of his cowardice.

He heard heavy footsteps rampaging through the house and then furniture being tossed around. Just before he opened the stairwell door to reveal himself to the agents, he bowed his head. Fear doesn’t stop evil; it emboldens it, John thought, reassuring himself as he swung open the basement door.

Excerpt 6:

Before he could reply, shouts arose from the men working to clear the jungle. Gunshots rang out like mini thunderclaps. There was a violent thrashing of ferns and branches. Bandits mounted on powerful stallions and brandishing guns stampeded from the jungle into their clearing. John’s heart filled with dread. He reached for the pistol in his waistband, but a fearsome array of rifles were immediately aimed at him. He froze.

One of the bandits prodded his mount to the fore. “Are you John?” he asked with a malignant leer that seemed permanently etched on his scarred face.

“I am. Who are you?”

“Pablo Guzman,” the bandit replied, confident that his infamy preceded him.

Excerpt 7:

“John here. Do you see the fire too?”

A blaze had erupted in Guzman’s compound. It was almost midnight. The Warriors of Pathless Land had approached to within one hundred yards of the compound perimeter, which was surrounded by dense jungle. In five minutes, the Warriors were going to execute Mallory’s plan to swoop in, extract Olga from captivity, and do a surprise attack on the Jackals.

“Yes, I see it,” Mallory replied. “What the hell?” A massive explosion erupted, sending skyward a giant ball of orange flame that lit up the jungle.

“Did your guys jump the gun?” John shouted into his radio.

“No! That’s not our doing!” Mallory screamed. “We don’t announce surprise hostage extractions with giant explosions.”

“Are they blowing up their own camp?” John asked. “ This makes no sense!”

“John, we’ve lost control of our operation and we haven’t even started it yet! We have two choices. We can stand down and monitor the situation, or we can scuttle our original plan and go in guns blazing. Your call.”

Excerpt 8:

Le Clerc studied Cosimo’s stoic appearance. He was struck by how circumspect, merciless, and deadly calm the Centurion looked. Even though his dark eyes seemed barely alive, it was clear that he saw everything and filtered his observations through a private calculus that was somewhere beyond good and evil. His aura was that of the wickedest man on Earth, though le Clerc knew he was subordinate to other secretive, deadly men who were probably worse. Le Clerc steepled his hands in front of his chest, unsure of what the Centurion wanted him to say. He decided to go with his favorite standby.

“I’m as loyal as a beagle, Your Excellency. What’s good for the Syndicate is good for François le Clerc.”

“Don’t think you can fool me,” Cosimo replied. “You won’t survive it because you’re in too deep. It’s impossible to resign from our service, and it’s fatal to cross us. We’re like the Mafia in that regard, but unlike the Mafia, there’s no greater power on Earth than the Syndicate.”

Excerpt 9:

“So you’re just a cold-blooded killer now?”

Le Clerc’s eyes flashed like glinting knives. “Guzman was going to abuse you. He’ll die for that. His Jackals raped and pillaged this island for decades. They will die for that. We pirates are renegades, but we have our own code of justice, and it’s merciless. Are we thieves? In the eyes of some, yes. Although we usually steal from those who have stolen from others. Are we killers? In the eyes of some, yes. Although we usually kill those who deserve to die. The Jackals, on the other hand, are indiscriminate thieves and killers. No society can survive with such anarchists in their midst because they unleash the darkest impulses of humanity.”