This time, love may not conquer all.
“Andy Graham steps firmly into the arena of writers of the genre that seems to grow daily in its appeal to all readers who long to dismiss the meaningless chaos that crowds our lives at the moment.”
G. Harp – Hall of Fame/ Top 100 Reviewer/ Vine Voice (Amazon US)
A simple mistake with tragic consequences.
A country falling apart from the top down. Riots stalk the streets. Science and law are suffocating myth and religion.
Corporal Rick Franklin is torn away from his young family, and sent to a ruined castle on Aijlan’s restless border. While helping monitor a terrorist threat, he makes a terrible mistake.
His mistake is buried, and Rick becomes a reluctant hero for a president that is soon overthrown. As he tries to ensure his family’s safety, and deal with the persistent advances of an old lover, Rick stumbles across the murderous truth behind the Silk Revolution.
Part political thriller, part dystopian fiction, part tragic love story, Aijlan is a riveting page-turner where intrigue and suspense dance with loyalty and betrayal.
Will Rick Franklin walk the easy path, or risk everything for what he knows to be right?
Aijlan is currently FREE on all retailers or available (with a bonus short story) to members of my readers’group.
An extract from Aijlan.
XIV – The Unsung
Rick grunted, air rushing from his lungs. He slid down the wall and rolled to his feet. His head was spinning. He could feel blood trickling down the back of his throat. The knuckles on his right hand were bruised and sore. The alley stank of smoke, urine, and rubbish being slow-baked by the heat.
He stepped round the body on the floor. The man’s jeans were stained with mud and dirt. Rick was trying to stop the other two men from backing him into the corner behind the bins.
“I don’t know who you are, or what you want,” he said, “but back off now, and we can forget about this.” He groped for his belt, where his baton should be hanging. He’d dropped it somewhere.
Dark eyes glittered behind the balaclava of the larger of the two remaining men. His hand danced over his holstered stun gun, fingers twitching. “Lucky punch,” he said. He nudged his fallen comrade with a boot. “This rook was new, wanted to prove himself—”
“Needed to prove himself,” the other cut in. He gripped his baton in both hands, flanking Rick.
The first man swore at his colleague and held up a warning finger. “Maybe it wasn’t lucky, maybe it was a good punch.
Think you could do it again?” The leader moved forwards.
Rick circled away, his feet grinding on the gravel. He backed down the alley he’d been dragged into, and sneaked a glance over his shoulder. He’d ruled out running; an enemy behind you was worth twice one in front of you. Besides, there were some things he’d been brought up not to do, no matter how foolhardy and stupid they may be. His mother’s harsh upbringing was still lurking just below the surface, restrained by his father’s calming influence.
He stumbled and dropped to one knee. The man with the baton jumped at him. Rick grabbed a handful of gravel. He flung it at his attacker. Launching himself forwards, Rick slammed his shoulder into the man’s armpit. He knocked the thug off balance, snaked behind him, and wrapped his arms round the man’s neck. One of the thug’s arms was trapped above his head. The baton clattered to the floor. Its echoes rattled around the alley.
“Idiot.” The leader side-stepped to cut off Rick’s escape.
“Stumble and feint,” Rick said through gritted teeth. “The Stann Taille one-two. A friend of mine taught me that move. You can have it for free.” The man he was choking fumbled under his leather jacket for his knife. Rick squeezed, sweat burning his eyes. “Think you can draw that blade before you lose consciousness?”
The man clawed at Rick’s hands, shifting from side to side, trying to unbalance him.
“Think I’ll let go when you lose consciousness?” Rick asked.
His captor went limp, sagging in his arms. Rick held for another five seconds before easing up the pressure. He’d just tricked them with one of the oldest moves in the book. He didn’t want to be caught with an even older one. Rick pulled the man’s stun gun from his belt, and let him go. The balaclava-clad thug slumped to the floor, his chest rising and falling slowly.
The leader unholstered his stun gun, gripping it in his gloved hand. His loose fitting shirt flapped in a slight breeze. “We were supposed to give the protesters a nudge here and there. Keep things feisty, but not leave any evidence,” he said. “But then we happened to stumble across a war hero. I think we can make an exception for you.”
“Who are you?”
“The Unsung, we’re new in town. But I have a feeling that you and your family are going to be seeing a lot of us in the future.”
They manoeuvred for space between the tight walls.
“Did the Somerian People’s Council send you?” Rick flicked the safety off the stun gun.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” The lines around the eyes behind the balaclava creased. He nodded to the bodies on the floor. “Let’s just say that these two rooks have just learnt the hard way that it takes more than a title to make a man. Doesn’t it, Major?”
“I didn’t ask for that promotion.”
“Do you think I care?”
One of the men on the floor groaned, his heels scraping on the floor. Sirens filtered through the alley way. A distant explosion was followed by screams.
Thoughts of his wife and child and the protests in the street were muffled and distant. Rick’s world had reduced down to the few metres: the flies buzzing around the bins, the graffiti daubed on the walls, the man in front of him. He felt the soft creak of his leather boots as he shifted on his heels, the way his damp shirt stuck to his skin. Rick forced his breathing to remain steady and smooth.
“C’mon, Major,” the leader whispered. “These things have only one shot. Let’s see how quick a hero is.”
A flash of light exploded at the entrance to the alley, a screech of tyres. The eyelids on one of the bodies flickered open. Rick and the Unsung raised their weapons. Two shots rang out in the fetid air.
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