There's nothing more exciting for an author than release day - so I was so excited when my friend and fellow author asked me to be a part of his release day for Book Two of his Noah Zarc series. I really loved book one (see my review here) & I know I'm going to love book two as well. I hope you will help spread the word about this great middle grade series!
“I can’t believe we’re seeing this.” Draben floated next to Adina, admiring the view. “If school was this cool, I probably wouldn’t skip so often.”
Off to our left, the curve of the Martian horizon glowed with dawn. Several streaks of light appeared in the lower atmosphere.
“Wait for it,” I said.
A bright flash exploded in the still-dark half of the planet. Another. Then another. We followed an asteroid as it hurtled toward the surface.
“This is as close as we get.” I pulled back on the yoke, bringing the ship out of a dive. The asteroid continued on.
Moments later, the ball of rock smashed into the red Martian soil. The control room filled with light.
We gasped at the intensity of the explosion. Without a sound, a shockwave expanded around the impact, throwing debris for kilometers in every direction. A plume of red dust launched into the air and boiled upward toward us.
Adina turned from the window. “How many will they crash into the planet?”
“I don’t remember. I think they worked over the course of several weeks—pulling asteroids from the belt between Mars and Jupiter. After another couple decades, the dust in the atmosphere caused the temperature to rise, melting the polar ice caps.”
I waved my hand toward the planet. “This is where everything began. How the terraforming of Mars—”
An alarm blared. “Collision imminent. Perform evasive maneuvers immediately.” The computer spoke casually over the siren.
I yanked the yoke right. Adina and Draben slid left along the windshield, grabbing for any handhold they could find. I glanced at the proximity display. Several pulses of light streamed toward the ship.
Using my neuro-implant, I pushed my mind into the ship, a DUV IV class I had named Screaming Eagle. I entwined my thoughts with the control system. The external cameras became my eyes. The flailing bodies of my two friends receded from thought as I focused on keeping the ship intact.
An asteroid had broken up after the terraformers nudged it in the direction of Mars. Three of the smaller pieces, a meter or two across, flew closest to the ship. There’d be no way to dodge them all.
“Computer, route all available power to the shield modulators on the starboard wing.” I spun the ship so the port wing would squeeze between two of the asteroids.
The smallest of the three flew barely above the leading edge of the starboard wing. For a moment, I thought it would miss entirely, but then blue and purple sparks exploded around the ball of rock as it scraped along the steel.
The shield’s magnetic field tugged at the iron within the asteroid, actually working like a dampening system. The asteroid slowed enough that it didn’t tear into metal. The rock slid off the back of the wing and continued on toward Mars.
The rest of the asteroid, including the largest chunk, zipped past. The Screaming Eagle shot out into clear space.
I pulled my mind from the computer, back into the cockpit. Draben floated spread-eagle against the bulkhead above the windshield. Adina drifted over my head. She had a big bruise forming under her right eye.
“Are you two okay?”
They looked at each other. Their faces were white, but they managed a smile and pushed themselves toward their seats.
Adina buckled herself in. “I’m fine. Draben socked me in the eye when you spun us between those asteroids.” She grinned at Draben as he worked his way into his seat. “I’m sure he didn’t mean it.”
Draben looked ready to hurl. “I’m sorry, Adina. I—I was trying to help you. I thought we were dead.”
“Nah,” I said. “I had everything under control. Probably a good time to go home, though.”
We looked at each other and smiled weakly.
“I told you, we should have gone back to see my dad when he was my age.” Draben laughed. “I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have had to dodge asteroids, then. But no, you said it wouldn’t be safe.”
I checked to see if the ship was ready to make the jump. “What are you talking about? I kept us safe the whole time.”
Draben winked at Adina. “Yeah, as long as no one finds out about this little excursion.”
The smile faded on my lips as I thought of what Gramps would say if he found out. What was I thinking? Of course he’d find out. He always found out, and he’d let me have it.
After we came to live with Gramps on Mars, for what Dad called ‛a taste of normal life’, I discovered Gramps’ occasional temper. Not at all like Dad. Sometimes, I worried if I was about to be swallowed by an alien, Dad wouldn’t be able to yell at me to run. He’s just soft-spoken.
But Gramps, he can let it out. When he get’s fired up about something, get out of the way. Then I met Haon, and it all made sense.
Don’t get me wrong, Gramps wasn’t mean, just vocal. There were times when I caught him silently staring off at nothing. I could tell he was thinking—remembering something. But when I'd ask, he’d just sit there. I think that was even worse than the alternative.
But this little adventure? It wouldn’t bring out the quiet Gramps. Nope, I was in for it. My heart quickened, and sweat beaded on my forehead as I set the coordinates for home.
“What’s the matter, Noah? You’re as white as an arctic fox.” Nothing got past Adina.
“I was thinking about—”
She smiled at me. I forgot Gramps and the trouble I’d be in.
I couldn’t figure out what to think about Adina. Ever since I rescued her from the Ice Age—well, since she stowed away on our ship—I got these strange feelings around her. What made things worse was everyone treated her like another member of our family. Was I supposed to think of her as my sister?
My geek brother, Hamilton, was no help. He didn’t seem to have time for girls. And ever since Adina and I came to live with Gramps in New Cairo, Draben was always around. He certainly didn’t think of Adina as his sister.
“So, are we getting out of here, or what?” Draben stared at me. “You really need to pay more attention. Otherwise, we’re sure to get pummeled by another one of those asteroids.”
I shook my head clear. “Right. Um, sorry. Just thinking about how much trouble we’re gonna be in.” I turned to the display. “Computer. Make the first jump.” I glanced sideways at the two of them. Draben rolled his eyes at Adina and she giggled. Yeah, I’m not sure I should be asking Draben what to do about Adina. I think maybe he has his own ideas.
The excitement of our trip lasted exactly three minutes after we landed back on Mars in the present time. The moment we stepped off the ship, police dressed in trim, white uniforms and matching helmets surrounded us. Their face-shields were tinted, so I couldn’t make out their eyes, but I knew we were in trouble by the way they waved their plasma rifles around.
“Ugh,” I said. “The registry!”
Adina nodded. Draben looked confused. He’d figure things out, soon enough.
One of the cops stepped forward, his gun held at the ready. “We’ve been notified of an illegal time-jump.” His voice sounded synthesized through his mask. “You will submit to a scan.”
We were each assigned a thug who commanded us to raise our arms. Draben and Adina were forced, none-too-gently, to stand with their legs apart. They waved a scanner around their bodies.
My guy scanned me while I sat in my magchair. The wand beeped, hummed and finally chirped, “Scan complete”. The cop who checked me glanced at the display and nodded toward his commanding officer.
Adina was approved, too. She’d been added to the registry when Mom and Dad made her an official member of our family. Draben, on the other hand, got a shake of the head, and immediately found himself in handcuffs.
“Draben Alexander Breckenridge, you are under arrest for unauthorized time-travel. Come with me.” The cop grabbed him by the arm and started dragging him away.
“Stop!” I said. “He’s with me.”
The commander turned back. “I realize that. But it was his choice to break the law. If it were up to me, I’d take you all in, but my orders are clear.” He pointed at Adina and me. “You two are free to go home.” He pulled Draben along again.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “We’ll get you out.”
Draben glanced over his shoulder and smiled before disappearing in a mass of white-suited cops. I was shaking, but from the stories Draben’s told, he’s pretty familiar with the feel of cuffs around his wrists.
“I should have remembered the registry,” Adina said.
“Yeah. Me, too. It totally slipped my mind that he wouldn’t get past the scanners.” I pushed my chair in the direction of the magtrains.
“Let’s go talk to Gramps. I’m sure he can get things cleared up.”
Adina seemed skeptical. “Let’s hope so.”
“You did what?” Dad glared at me, his eyes blazing in anger.
“Don’t.” He waved his finger at me.
Mom didn’t appear angry, mostly disappointed. “Noah, this is not acceptable.”
As soon as I’d gotten home, Gramps called Mom and Dad on the holo-phone. Their shimmering images sat across from me at the kitchen table. Why couldn’t they be somewhere they could only transmit audio? Or, better yet, back in time so Gramps couldn’t reach them at all?
“Well, I’d promised Draben a trip last time we were on Mars.” I nuzzled my dog, Obadiah, who sat on my lap. He always knew when I was in trouble. He did what he could to protect me from the tongue-lashing I was about to get. Gramps had told Adina to wait outside till Mom and Dad were done with me.
Tears filled Mom’s eyes.
“You always told me to keep my promises.” Ugh. Why can’t I keep my dumb mouth closed?
“Don’t pull that one on me,” she said. “You knew this was wrong the moment you boarded the ship. No, the moment you thought about boarding the ship.”
Dad took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, Noah, but I’m going to have to take away your piloting privileges.”
“What?” I couldn’t believe my ears. “You said I was too talented a pilot to keep on the ground. You said I had a gift.”
“You knew the rules. You were allowed to fly, only if you told us, or your grandfather, where and when you were going.” He looked at Gramps standing behind me. “Did he tell you about this little trip back to see the asteroids?”
I didn’t hear Gramps say anything, but he must have shaken his head.
“I didn’t think so.” Dad frowned.
“We had that project at school. What better way to study the terraforming of Mars?” I knew I was grasping at straws. No one else in my class had a time-traveling spaceship. Obviously, we didn’t need one to get a good grade in history.
“Until further notice, you are not to set foot on any ship capable of extra-atmospheric flight, understood?” He had a look on his face that said the conversation was over.
“What about Draben?”
“I’ll call Prime Senator Sarx’s office. We’ll get it straightened out.”
I had to try one more time. “Mom—”
“What? Do you think I’m going to contradict your father?”
“Enough, Noah.” Dad’s face contorted in anger—a hundred-year-old face I hardly recognized sometimes. After everything he’d done. Going back in time. Living all those years on the moon so he’d be ready to stop Haon. To save us. This was how I returned the favor.
“Are we clear, son?” Dad asked.
“I get it. I’m grounded.” Literally.
Release Party NotesNoah Zarc: Cataclysm, the second book in the Noah Zarc series, is about a boy named, surprisingly enough, Noah Zarc. If you haven’t read the first book, Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, then you probably want to start there. But if you are well-versed in all things Zarc, then take a gander at the description of the next book below. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Thirteen-year-old Noah Zarc rockets to Venus in a quest to learn more about his past. He refuses to believe his father is really the monster everyone says he is. Could there be valid reasons for everything he’s done, including abandoning Noah at birth?
While searching for answers to secrets no one wants to talk about, even those that have remained hidden for over a thousand years, Noah becomes embroiled in a mission which could cause the greatest cataclysm in the history of the solar system. And the name, Noah Zarc, might be forever linked to the most devastating crime in humanity's existence, all because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Get your copy today by visiting Amazon.com (available in paperback or as an eBook.) Other online retailers listed below.
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Guess what? You could win a $25 Amazon gift card as part of this special release party. That’s right! Just leave a comment below saying something about the post you just read, and you’ll be entered into the raffle. I could win $25 too by having the most comments. So tell your friends to stop by and comment on this post too!
You have until the end of December to comment.
Also, we will be giving away one pair of signed books (Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, and Noah Zarc: Cataclysm) to one winner as well.
D. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he hasn't been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. Also, since the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the Motorcycle, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him like Homer's Sirens. It's not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters.
Discover ways to connect with the author by visiting his site at www.drobertpease.com
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