M.E.R. series, #1
Eric’s life aboard a top secret stealth submarine as a member of the government’s M.E.R. program has been about discipline, cunning and survival. As both a soldier and a natural born regenerator, he can heal from any wound, but to stay alive he must accept a vein-burning serum that prevents his DNA from over-mutating. In exchange Eric must follow his Chief Commander’s every order. And never ask questions, no matter the assignment.
When he goes ashore on his first solo mission he runs into a complication he didn’t expect; Mariella, the target’s daughter. She’s about to change everything.
The four of us marched down a narrow corridor that led to Commander Z’s quarters. The air was sticky as we stamped past the engine rooms. Anchovy had to resist the urge to cover his ears a few times. His earlobes were probably throbbing. It takes a while to grow accustomed to the sub’s 24/7 noise schedule. Another part of the M.E.R. program’s curriculum was learning to control our heightened senses.
“Have a seat.” A cold voice echoed through the hallway and forced its way into my brain. Z was our Chief Commander. He wasn’t too tall like Frankie and me were, but he more than made up for it in girth. Commander Z’s bulky frame let us know he was in charge.
The four of us sat down on a wooden bench in the Commander’s office. Anchovy looked like he was about to hyperventilate. Brian gave his side a quick pinch and Anchovy straightened his hunched back.
“Welcome aboard the Pugio, son.” Commander Z looked in Anchovy’s direction as he spoke. “You’re an official M.E.R. soldier now. I assume you’ve been briefed on the soldier you are replacing?” The Commander paused and raised an eyebrow. Anchovy gulped. None of us had spoken a word about Davis since he went missing. Not even to Anchovy.
“No sir,” Frankie interjected. The Commander’s eyes shifted towards Frankie.
“Let the boy speak for himself,” he responded firmly. Frankie nodded. “Well?”
“No sir,” Anchovy answered mimicking Frankie.
“Have your teammates even given you a civilian name, boy?” Anchovy hesitated. “Answer me!”
“Uhhh,” Anchovy muttered.
“Yes, sir! Anchovy, sir!” Anchovy shouted. A bead of sweat dripped over his brow. I could see a slight smile cross the Commander’s face. He paced around our team letting his heavy boots crash against the ground.
“Bad things happen to those who disobey, soldier. Remember that.” He stepped back and gave all four of us a burning stare. “Your former teammate failed to follow orders – an offense punishable by abandonment. That’s why he was left behind without serum.”
I tried to show no emotion but my head was buzzing with images of Davis. He’d been part of our team for so long. It was like losing a brother. And now that brother was either wandering around somewhere or dead.
“If you choose to follow in his footsteps, there will be consequences. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, Commander.” We all recited our replies in unison. The Commander looked pleased and shook his head.
“Good.” Commander Z waved towards the door and sat down at his desk. This was our cue to leave. “Not you, E.” The sound of my letter made my chest tighten. Rarely would the Commander ever address any of us individually. Frankie raised his eyebrows as he and the others passed by me. Commander Z browsed through papers on his desk keeping his head down. “Shut the door.” I closed the door behind Frankie and waited.
The only thing on my mind was Davis. He’d been unusually stand-offish his last couple days aboard the submarine.
“You know why you’re here?” I shook my head and waited for Commander Z to glance up. “You’re here because your continued obedience is about to be rewarded.”
“How?” My voice shook a little. I knew better then to speak out of turn but ever since Davis disappeared, I had a lot of questions. The Commander looked up and chuckled.
“You don’t believe in bogus conspiracy theories like some of the others. Asking pointless questions is a sure way to get your team into trouble. You’ve got your feet firmly on the ground soldier and because of that, I’m going to give you a special assignment.” I nodded in agreement and waited for my orders. I expected my ‘special assignment’ to be toilet duty or dish washing but I was dead wrong.
“You’ve been selected for a solo mission. We’ll be surfacing soon. When we do, you will have only a few hours to complete your task.” I was surprised. There were loads of other soldiers more experienced than me.
“When do I leave sir?” The Commander chuckled again.
About the Author
Jacqueline Gardner works as a Story Editor for the production company, Labragirl Pictures. Her love of storytelling began at an early age when she would make up stories with her grandmother before bedtime. In early 2010, she completed her first novel and has been stuck on writing ever since. She resides in Colorado and loves hiking, writing, fantasy fiction, and all things cupcake.
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