by Heather Long
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What happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object?
Abilities: Soldier, Security Specialist, Private Contractor
Mission: Identify and Capture Bio-Enhanced Humans
A private contractor with military experience, retired Army Lieutenant Joss Archer took a job where she thought she could make a difference. In her world, superheroes wear dog tags, not capes. Dedicated to the principles of defending her nation and loyal to a fault, she is ready to resist any manipulation when she’s captured by what she believes are bio-enhanced mercenaries. The more she learns who her bosses are working for, the more she realizes she may be on the wrong side of this war…
Abilities: Enhanced strength, and impenetrable skin
Mission: Locate Michael & Rex
A man on a mission, Tank has never questioned their goals in traveling through time to prevent the horrible world he and the other Boomers grew up in from ever coming to pass…until now. His fellow Boomers are pairing off, but worse, they are making emotional decisions regarding their mates’ safety over and above the mission. Betrayed, now the Boomers are missing two of their own, stuck tending to a violently wounded hero who hates them all, and Tank has to not only protect his Captain’s lady, but he has to break the soldier they captured to find out where his people are…
Sweat trickled along Drake’s brow. A droplet traced the path so many had wandered already. It slid along his nose, dangled precipitously for an agonizingly long second before splashing down to splat against the concrete next to his hand. The damp spot offered proof positive of how long Drake waited, flat against the roof, under the blistering sun. All night, all day, and awaiting the twilight changing of the guard outside the Rhea Silvia Research Center.
On the surface, the Silvia Center seemed an idyllic park, thick with trees and surrounded by a ten-foot brick wall. Eight buildings occupied the Center. The classical revival style with Georgian influences made it seem more like a private residence than a medical facility. Drake trusted the information they extracted with regard to who owned the facility in truth, if not on paper: R.E.X. Labs. Research, Engineering, and Xenogenetics was held privately and on the cutting edge of every major bio-metric breakthrough of the prior decade. Their people would also be on the leading edge of a deadly genesis which would sweep the globe, leaving a gross disparity between those in wealthier positions of power and those with nothing—more and more, Drake had come to believe it.
Nations would fall before the corporate engines of a handful of conglomerates. The borders may have stayed the same, but in name only. According to his grandmother—or at least the woman who’d called herself grandmother to all the orphans in his crèche—it all happened not because they conquered, but because they convinced. By the time the general public realized their gross error, it had been far too late. They’d given their lives over to corporate megalomania.
A fly hummed close to his ear, but Drake refused to let it distract him from his watch. Eight buildings to choose from and one of them had to be housing whatever cells they’d put Michael and Rex into. The Captain and the shapeshifter had been taken prisoner in a clusterfuck of epic proportions.
A soft beep echoed in his ear. “Any movement?”
Oh, the voice of ground zero in their current predicament—Aurora “Rory” Graystone, also known as Halo in the modern day. She was a hero, a costumed freedom fighter who sought to protect the people of her city and the team she led. Once a target of the Boomers, she’d become the Captain’s most valuable partner. Michael falling in love with her had turned all their plans on a dime. Either out of a need to protect her or maybe simply to prove a point—who knew what the hell went on in Michael’s head these days, Simon notwithstanding—Michael had knocked her out, then went to assist her so-called friends to capture the enemy and had been captured in return.
It gave him a damn headache thinking about it.
“Drake?” Rory persisted. “Movement?”
“None.” Maybe if he kept his answers short, she would take the hint. The less he moved or spoke, the less chance of anyone noticing him. He was a mile from the campus, tucked neatly atop a bank building, out of sight of the surveillance cameras. He had one job—map the security protocols, shift changes and, if they were damn lucky, find a sign of their missing Captain. If he isn’t dead.
He’s not dead. Simon’s mental voice washed over him. I’d know if he were dead.
Nonplussed by the telepath’s reach or response, Drake maintained discipline and didn’t shrug. Too bad you can’t tell us where he is, then.
Too many people. No frustration marred Simon’s tone. If I had a specific area to search…
Did you search this place? It might save them time if Drake didn’t have to map the whole Center to find a weak point to penetrate.
They have it shielded. The walls are thick concrete with metal reinforcements and layers. There’s a low-level hum, a charge running through the walls. It makes accurately detecting who is inside impossible. No judgment, only practicality in the mental voice. We are blind without more information.
“Let me know if you need me to relieve you.” Rory managed to not sound sulky, though bitterness edged her words. She’d been pissed when she’d woken, and her fury gave them all pause. Thankfully, Amanda had been there, which kept her from flying off the handle. That and the presence of Ronan, their latest rescue, who seemed one heartbeat away from true insanity.
“Roger.” Another single word response, and Rory finally gave him what he wanted. The earpiece gave another click as she disconnected. Relief sighed out of him.
On the one hand, Drake felt a tremendous sense of guilt toward Rory. The Captain shouldn’t have drugged her into unconsciousness then left her with Drake for protection while he went out undermanned into an ambush. On the other hand, she proved day in and day out what an intractable pain in the ass she could be.
Consider yourself lucky to be on recon duty. Simon’s dry mental observation amused Drake.
She’s your girl’s best friend. Of all the changes the Boomers had undergone, Amanda and Ilsa were definite improvements for both Simon and Garrett. His brothers-in-arms were happier thanks to them. Pity Michael and Rory hadn’t had the same result.
Their relationship is not our issue. We concentrate on getting Michael back.
The telepath had a point, but he had to ask… And afterward?
We concentrate on not letting Rory kill him.
Smiling, he accepted the touch of goodbye as Simon left him to his observation. A flick of a look at his watch told him shift change would begin within the next sixty seconds. Over the last twenty-fou¬¬¬r hours, he’d clocked them promptly at every seven point five hours. Transition took thirty minutes, with the complete rotation finalizing at the end. No one left a station without their replacement in place. The smooth operation left no holes and little distraction for them to use to their advantage.
Military precision reflected in the timing with the gate replacements arriving precisely on the thirty-minute mark—four figures dressed in full black, reinforced body armor, with high-powered semi-automatics strapped to their backs and forty-fives in their holsters. Knives in the boots didn’t seem to be standard issue, but more than a handful of those walking perimeter wore them.
Setting his eyes to the viewfinder, he tracked the motion of the guard swap at the main gates. A sentry approached from the west, the gentle sway of hips offering a more feminine gait than some of her compatriots. She wasn’t the only woman, as he’d counted five so far amongst the primarily male security force.
Mercenaries? Perhaps. Military training? Definitely. They walked like soldiers. Took one to know one, and Drake had done his time in special forces, after he’d been forcibly extracted along with all the other potentials from his crèche for a training camp. His superiors determined children made the best candidates for instruction in tactical thinking and combat maneuvers.
Keeping count in his head, he measured the woman’s steps as she completed her circuit. Her replacement joined her, and they walked the sentry path together, not missing a beat of her earlier pace. Her replacement was taller, but obviously the subordinate. She walked with her gaze on a swivel, scanning everything around her.
Drake smiled to himself. Sentry duty sucked balls. It was easy to grow complacent and sloppy. The monotony of walking the same routine, seeing the same sights—it could drive even the most competent and skilled to making mistakes or to stop looking. However, she didn’t seem to rely on her mere presence to be a deterrent.
The force guarding the campus did not all live on campus. Many came and went by the eastern gate. He’d monitored those comings and goings as well. If he couldn’t find a breach in the security, maybe he could make one.
Simon? I have a really bad idea.
Joss is just a soldier doing her duty. She comes to work and asks no questions. But when Drake decides she has an honest face, Joss's life changes in unexpected ways. Unstoppable is the latest installment in Heather Long's Boomers series.
Drake is comfortable being a follower. But with Michael gone and his teammates' focus skewed, Drake steps up. He isn't expecting Joss. I enjoyed Joss. She is an honorable woman willing to do what is right even if it is hard. She wasn't expecting Drake but in him she has found a kindred soul. I enjoyed Drake as well. For all his strength he has a kind soul and I loved that dichotomy. It was unexpected and I loved seeing his soul shine. Joss and Drake found each other and while you would have expected Joss to fight the attraction, I loved seeing her counter Drake's arguments. He was sure gving in to their attaraction was wise but once he was committed he was all in. I enjoyed seeing Joss worm her way into his heart. Ms. Long gave us an action pacted story full of twists and turns. I loved seeing this group fight to maintain their cohesiveness even as they fought for a better world. Ms. Long left threads dangling and I can't wait to she how she conculdes the Boomers saga.
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