Asylum has been out for a couple weeks now, and I thought it might be fun to give you a little taste of it. Here, you'll meet the main character, Chase, and his best friend Seraph. I think it's pretty self-explanatory, but this takes place a little while after Chase's wife Trista has gone missing. She's presumed dead, but Chase can't bring himself to accept it.
Five days had passed since the disastrous rescue effort. As Seraph had guessed, Chase didn’t take lightly to the news of Britt and Cole’s unsuccessful mission. In fact, he wasn’t even acting like himself. He disregarded orders, ignored run assignments, and quit speaking to Seraph altogether, which was crazy since they had been best friends for so long.
He’d instead grown closer to his first officer, Nicodemus Church.
Seraph had no problem with Nic. But Nic went along with Chase and fed into the frenzy of finding Trista. They’d pirated a ship from the fleet and set off through Crenet’s orbit, trying to find any leads on her. Seraph had learned their journeys were as futile as the botched rescue, and they’d returned home empty-handed. He’d also heard Chase took out his anger on the ship and disabled it beyond repair. Redic was furious with the men, especially Chase. During the Crew’s last meeting—which Chase had blown off—the topic of discipline arose, and Seraph had begged Redic to let him be the one to talk with Chase. Redic’s anger could sometimes bury his compassion.
Seraph crossed the darkened operations room to the observation desk where Chase sat, staring at an array of computer monitors. Most everyone else was taking advantage of the sleeping hours. Chase, though, had just landed an hour or so ago.
He looked rough. His dark hair, normally kept neat, had grown shaggy. Add to that the scruffy chin and lost eyes. Seraph had cause for concern.
Obsession had taken hold of his friend.
Leaning on the hutch of the desk, Seraph glanced down at the screen that had captured Chase’s attention. He then turned to Chase, who wouldn’t look at him.
The silence between them was more than uncomfortable and had to be broken.
“What’s going on, Chase?”
“You’re here to tell me how much trouble I’m in with the old man,” Chase muttered, still concentrating on the monitor.
“I think you already know that. But actually, I was hoping you’d remember we’re friends. You can talk to me.”
Tearing his eyes from the screen, Chase bowed his head into his hand. He took a deep breath and released it in a heavy sigh.
“She can’t be gone,” he finally whispered with an edge of grief.
The barrier between them disappeared in an instant. Seraph knelt at his side, placing a hand on his shoulder. He wished he could offer encouragement, what Chase wanted to hear, but the realist in him just couldn’t do it. “Britt said she was different. She didn’t recognize him.”
“He was in disguise.”
“Not completely. If she had known him, she would have seen past that stupid moustache. He did everything but outright tell her who he was.”
Chase shook his head. “I should have been there.”
“You couldn’t have helped her. She’s not Trista anymore. And Brax, or Selah, or even I may not be able to change her back. You’re going to have to accept that.”
“No,” he said, turning to look at Seraph. “No, I don’t have to accept that. She’s my wife, and I love her, and I’m not letting her go that easily. You wouldn’t, were it Echo they sliced into. I seem to recall you going to all lengths short of ending your life to help her.”
Seraph sighed back into the silence. He was absolutely right. If Echo were captured by the Legacy, he’d take them on single-handedly to get her back.
He had done just that two years earlier.
“Do you think—?” Chase stopped himself.
“Do I think what?”
The question bothered him. He struggled to ask. “Blazes, Ser, do you think the Crown would deny her Eternity because of what the Legacy has done?”
Seraph’s heart ached for Chase.
“No,” he murmured. “She saw Ternion. She knew the Ruler Prince and believed. The Creed tells us once someone is in His hand, they cannot be taken away.”
“I’m being punished—” Chase’s brows knit into a somber frown.
“You’re not being punished.”
“—for not being faithful to the Crown.” Chase’s fist slammed against the arm of his chair. “For intentionally turning from Him to find her.”
“That’s not how it works, Chase,” Seraph said in a raised voice. He immediately softened his tone. “The Crown isn’t about punishment and bedlam. He doesn’t use events like this to hurt us. Even when we turn away. He wants you to cling to Him.”
“I’ve clung, Ser. I’ve grasped. I’ve clutched. I’ve held on until my proverbial fingers bled.” Chase covered his face with his hands. “But He didn’t bring her back.”
“Don’t give up on the Crown. He takes us to moments of complete brokenness sometimes, and we may not fully understand why. I’ve been there, Chase. I’ve forsaken Him, and believe me, you don’t want to go there. But we give Him that little extra measure of faith, and He accomplishes miraculous things through it.”
“If she doesn’t remember us, would it be more humane to…” Chase squeezed his eyes closed.
Seraph placed a hand over his mouth and rubbed it along his face. He couldn’t believe Chase was suggesting such a thing.
“We’re not going to kill her, Chase.”
“I’m not leaving her to the Legacy,” he said, his words full of pain.
Seraph’s eyes flickered toward the monitor. An image of Trista wrapped in Chase’s arms smiled back at him. On another screen, the death order and announcement blared from the LUM. His friend desperately needed a change of scenery. He also needed a shower, solid rest, and some good food.
A recreational run might tempt Chase away from his fixation.
“Come on, man. Let’s get out of here for a bit. Make a run to Serenata or something,” Seraph suggested.
A shrill beep interrupted him.
“What’s that?” Seraph slid into a chair next to his friend.
“By the Crown,” Chase murmured, his attention turning to a map of the system.
He leaned forward over the keypad and began to type furiously. “I ran a trace on her link.” He then sat back and pointed to a flashing red dot on one of the screens. “That’s her distress signal.”
Seraph shook his head. “It’s not her, Chase. Frisco used her link to contact us, remember?”
“But he dropped it on the floor before he passed out,” Chase explained, holding up a finger as he made his point. He opened his hand as he filled in the possibility. “She could have picked it up.”
“Or a Zenith could have picked it up. Or they confiscated it when they processed her. Or the doctors discovered it and turned it in. It’s been too long.”
“It’s her. She needs me. Don’t ask me to give up on her.”
A frustrated sigh rolled from Seraph. “It’s a suicide mission, Chase.”
“And what if it’s not?” Chase returned his focus to the map. The light flashed from near Crenet. “Assign me a run. I’ll take the Halcyon crew and check it out.”
Seraph again shook his head. “I won’t put additional lives at risk. And if you were thinking clearly, you wouldn’t, either.”
“They won’t be at risk. I’ll dock them and go myself. Alone.”
Pressing his lips together, Seraph growled, “Zoom in. See what we’re looking at.”
Chase’s fingers flew across the keypad as the computer zeroed in on a more specific location. “A Zephyr base on Soubrette,” he said. “Abandoned.”
Folding his arms over his chest, Seraph rocked back in his chair. “No way. And why would Trista send a distress signal from there, anyway? Think.”
“You look like the old man, sitting like that,” The old Chase surfaced, teasing Seraph. He quickly gave way to the fanatical Chase. “A number of reasons, Ser. She could have remembered something while she was doing a job. They could be holding her prisoner there. She could—”
Seraph stood, looking down at Chase. “It’s not her.”
“Please, Seraph.” Chase’s eyes, filled with tears, met his. “I need to do this.”
“You just came in—”
“I can’t sleep,” Chase confessed. His hands collapsed over his chest. “My heart…is out there somewhere.” He gestured to the screen. “I have to find it before it stops beating and kills me completely.”
After a moment of internal debate, Seraph returned to his seat with another sigh. “You’d better make it quick. And I don’t want you flying alone. I’ll send your crew, as long as you promise me you’ll try to rest along the way. They’re not too happy with you for getting them grounded.”
“I’ll talk with them.”
“And when you enter the base, make sure Church is with you.” Seraph brought up the orders menu on the screen, typing in the assignment for Chase and his crew. “It’s a ludicrous mission, and if my dad sees it, he’ll know something is up. You haven’t taken a single one of your assignments in a while. He’s going to think this is a waste of our time and resources…”
“It won’t be a waste. Thanks, man.”
“You owe me,” Seraph muttered with a scowl. “Big time.”
Asylum is now available for the Kindle or as a trade paperback on Amazon. Click here for more information.
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