H a l f origins, p.1

H.A.L.F.: ORIGINS, page 1

 

H.A.L.F.: ORIGINS
 



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H.A.L.F.: ORIGINS


  Table of Contents

  Acknowledgments

  Pronunciation Guide

  1 Erika

  2 William Croft

  3 Jack

  4 Tex

  5 William Croft

  6 Jack

  7 Erika

  8 Tex

  9 Jack

  10 Erika

  11 Jack

  12 Erika

  13 Jack

  14 Erika

  15 Tex

  16 Erika

  17 Tex

  18 William Croft

  19 Erika

  20 Tex

  21 Jack

  22 Erika

  23 Jack

  24 Tex

  25 Jack

  26 U’Vol

  27 Jack

  28 Tex

  29 Jack

  30 U’Vol

  31 Erika

  32 Tex

  33 Jack

  34 Tex

  35 Jack

  36 Erika

  37 Jack

  38 Tex

  39 Erika

  40 Tex

  41 Jack

  42 Tex

  43 Erika

  44 Tex

  45 Tex

  46 Erika

  47 U’Vol

  48 Jack

  Copyright © 2017 by Natalie Wright

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to events or locales is coincidental.

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission of the author. For permission or other information, contact the author at: [email protected]

  For teaching tools and book-group discussion questions, please visit the website: http://www.NatalieWrightAuthor.com.

  H.A.L.F., The Makers, and associated logos are registered trademarks of Natalie Wright.

  Publisher’s Cataloging-In-Publication Data

  Wright, Natalie, 1966-

  H.A.L.F.: ORIGINS / Natalie Wright

  ISBN 978-15453-7109-1 (CreateSpace tr. pbk.)

  Subjects: LCSH: Extraterrestrial beings—Juvenile fiction. | Human-alien encounters—Juvenile fiction. | Teenagers—Juvenile fiction. | Official secrets—Juvenile fiction. | Transgenic organisms—Juvenile fiction. | CYAC: Extraterrestrial beings—Fiction. | Human-alien encounters—Fiction. | Teenagers—Fiction. | Secrets—Fiction. | LCGFT: Science fiction. | Fantasy fiction.

  Classification: LCC PZ7.W75 Had 2015 (print) | LCC PZ7.W75 (ebook) | DDC [Fic]—dc23

  First Edition

  For the Readers Who have

  Loved H.A.L.F.

  Table of Contents

  Acknowledgments

  Pronunciation Guide

  1 Erika

  2 William Croft

  3 Jack

  4 Tex

  5 William Croft

  6 Jack

  7 Erika

  8 Tex

  9 Jack

  10 Erika

  11 Jack

  12 Erika

  13 Jack

  14 Erika

  15 Tex

  16 Erika

  17 Tex

  18 William Croft

  19 Erika

  20 Tex

  21 Jack

  22 Erika

  23 Jack

  24 Tex

  25 Jack

  26 U’Vol

  27 Jack

  28 Tex

  29 Jack

  30 U’Vol

  31 Erika

  32 Tex

  33 Jack

  34 Tex

  35 Jack

  36 Erika

  37 Jack

  38 Tex

  39 Erika

  40 Tex

  41 Jack

  42 Tex

  43 Erika

  44 Tex

  45 Tex

  46 Erika

  47 U’Vol

  48 Jack

  49 Commander Sturgis

  50 Erika

  Note from Author

  About the Author

  AcknowlEdgmEnts

  August 2017

  The idea that became the H.A.L.F. series first arrived in 2010. Seven years, over 300,000 written words, more drafts than I can count, and enough coffee to fill a pool later, the H.A.L.F. writing journey has come to an end. And what a strange trip it has been!

  The H.A.L.F. series launched at Salt Lake Fan X in January 2015. The Salt Lake folks gave it an enthusiastic reception, and I will be eternally grateful for the amazing support of Salt Lake folks for authors and artists. My mascot, “Baby Tex,” and I have traveled over ten thousand miles since then, meeting readers and fans at comic cons and book festivals throughout the western US. We’ve had a blast! A huge thank-you to all who have supported my work. When you buy books, whether at an online retailer or in person, you’re a patron of the arts! I appreciate all patrons.

  Every finished book is a team effort, and I have an amazing team. Much gratitude to Alyssa, content editor extraordinaire at Red Adept Editing and Publishing; thank you to Jason G. Anderson for flawless eBook formatting; to Dane at eBook Launch for another fabulous cover; and to Kelly at Red Adept for final line editing. A special thank-you to Dylan White for inspired narration of the audiobook edition. I am so blessed to have found a voice that matches the work so perfectly. Cheers to a great team!

  And thank you, as always, to Pete and Sarah. Together, you form the shore to my sea. The ocean pitched and rolled this year, but you kept the light on for me.

  PronunciAtion & DEFinition Guide

  Pronunciation Definition

  Council of U Council of ū The ruling body of the M’Uktah people.

  Doj ZHō The One God of the M’Uktah people.

  Doj’Madi ZHō madi Female half of the One God

  Doj’Owa ZHō ouä The head of the Temple of Doj.

  Dra’Knar Dreknar U’Vol’s intergalactic starship.

  drosh drō SH A black, hard, carbon-like metal.

  Eponia Tu’Vol epōnēya too väl U’Vol’s third wife.

  Ghapta gäptä A lush, watery planet with plentiful game. Harvested by the M’Uktah.

  kiknari kick nari A lotus-like flower on Ghapta

  K’Sarhi k sari The M’Uktah name for Earth.

  kracht crock Beg forgiveness; apologize.

  Kreelan krēlan A planet harvested by the M’Uktah and sight of an uprising against the M’Uktah.

  krindor krin door Mechanized exoskeleton.

  M’Uktah mooktä A race of hunters from the planet Uktah.

  Mocht Bogha mäk bōZHä A warp in space within the Uktah planetary system.

  Navimbi nävimbi One of the planets that the M’Uktah have harvested.

  phlegering flegi(e)rng A large, feathered, winged beast from Ghapta.

  Rik’Nar rick nar A landing ship similar to Wa’Nar

  Sarhi sari The M’Uktah name for humans; earthlings.

  scryr skrier A psychic and seer.

  thukna thuknä A hairless, horned beast that lives on the planet Ghapta.

  Tu’Nai too nye First Officer of the Vree hunter ground crew

  Tu’Rhen too ren Chief Pilot and Captain of the Wa’Nar

  Tu’Vagh too vah First Officer of the Dra’Knar

  U’Baht ōō bäht U’Vol’s friend and mentor. The representative of the Vree class to the Council of U.

  U’Vol Vree ōō väl vrē Captain of the Dra’Knar.

  Uktah ooktä The M’Uktah planet in a star system in the Milky Way but 1000 light years from Earth.

  ulv ō
lv The wolf-like ancestors of the M’Uktah.

  Valo’Kar Val ō car A single-person pod used for short-distance travel through warped space.

  Vrath vraTH The current Lij of the M’Uktah.

  Vree vrē The space-faring hunting and harvesting class of the M’Uktah.

  Vree’Kah vrēkä The hunters of the Vree class.

  Vree’Sho vrē shō Farmers/ranchers of the Vree class.

  Wa’Nar wā nar U’Vol’s landing ship.

  1

  ERIKA

  Raindrops pelted the windshield of the rust-bucket truck Erika had borrowed from Ian’s dad. Nearly an hour had passed since she’d seen the lights of the last police car recede in her rearview mirror, but her fingers still shook as she turned on the windshield wipers. They were little help. The spittle of rain turned the dusty windshield into a muddy mess, and the sun-rotted rubber of the wipers streaked the glass.

  The jacked-up truck tackled the rough terrain of the desert like a pro. The police cars were no match for barrel cacti and creosote bushes as large as small cars. The local Ajo police that had tried to stop them likely didn’t know that they were chasing a human-alien hybrid that had escaped again from a secret underground lab controlled by the clandestine organization known as The Makers. The Makers had surely spun the lies necessary to convince local law enforcement that Tex was a dangerous fugitive. Ironic. The lie had become the truth. Erika and Tex were, in fact, fugitives on the run and again fighting for their lives. It was like déjà vu all over again.

  Erika’s bottom was bruised from bouncing on the seat. Her wrists ached from gripping the wheel. After nearly an hour of rough riding, they hit a two-lane road going east. Erika was heading to New Mexico, where her Aunt Dana lived. Dana was her father’s sister and only living relative in the States. Without complications, they would get to Aunt Dana’s in about eight hours. If she’ll have us.

  Tex had been quiet but awake as Erika navigated the harsh terrain. Once they reached the smooth pavement, he tucked his knees to his chest, hugged his arms around his legs, and became a silent egg-shaped blob on the seat next to her. Erika had seen him withdraw into himself before, but that time, he was even more quiet and still than usual.

  Erika wished he’d have stayed awake longer. She wanted to pry answers out of him. She had questions about his time with the Conexus, when he had been linked directly to their hive-mind collective. Ever since Dr. Randall had unhooked Tex from the Conexus, he was acting distant and short-tempered. Erika wondered what had really happened to him during his time with the Conexus. And what did he mean when he spoke of struggles for humans to come and the knowledge he got from the Conexus? She hoped he would answer these questions and more when they got to Aunt Dana’s.

  The dribble of rain became a hailstorm. Peanut-sized ice balls pinged the metal roof of the truck. Within minutes, the hail turned into a deluge. Erika turned the wipers to full blast, but that only smeared the windshield faster. The Tex blob remained eerily quiet and unperturbed.

  Rain was usually something to celebrate in the desert, but they didn’t need torrential rain. Tex was already in a weakened state from his time with the Conexus. The added moisture would deplete him even further.

  Erika’s swollen right eye, a gift from one of the Makers’ guards during their escape from the school, made it difficult to see. Both eyes were heavy with fatigue. The adrenaline from their escape had worn off. She blinked rapidly and shook her head, trying to clear the drowsiness. She switched on the radio, and raucous Tejano music blasted. She wasn’t a fan of the accordion-heavy genre. The ancient truck speakers distorted the sound, making it nothing but noise to her ears, but at least the booming music helped keep her awake.

  Erika had never been much of a life planner. Her current situation of living day-to-day did not bother her as much as it might have irritated some others. She was focused on her current task, getting Tex safely to a place where he could heal. After that, she’d help him find a place to stay hidden from the Makers and Sturgis. She wasn’t sure what came after that. Just stay awake. And alive.

  Tex didn’t stir or acknowledge the radio. Her mouth was instantly dry and her skin covered in goosebumps. Is he dead? She poked at him with a finger. “Tex? You okay?”

  With his head still to his knees, his voice was muffled but cool and even. “I am alive if that is what you mean.”

  “You’ve been so quiet. With the escape back there at the school, the dogs, and now the rain… I was just hoping that you’re all right.”

  Tex raised his head slightly and turned toward her, his large eyes peeking over his arm. “I have been through worse.”

  The understatement of the century. She’d been through worse, too: the days of fever she endured after the Conexus gave her the virus, the long hours of watching Ian wracked with pain when she could do nothing but watch him inch toward death, weeks of hunger and thirst. She had been forced to take the lives of others or lose her own, and she had watched her mom breathe her last breath. They’d all been through hell and back.

  Tex’s indifference was still better than silence between them. The tinny horns and the beat of the music stopped abruptly.

  The radio announcer broke in, speaking in Spanish. “There has been a massive terrorist attack in Europe. The entire continent is without power. Communication systems are down. Though reports are sketchy, US authorities state that the attacks appear to be focused on London and Paris.”

  Erika’s chest tightened. For a moment, she forgot to breathe. “He said that communication systems are down in Europe and there’s been a massive terrorist attack. The terrorists hit London and Paris.”

  Tex unwound his arms from around his legs. “I understood what he said.” He sounded condescending, as though everyone could understand Spanish as well as English.

  “Oh. I just assumed that—”

  “You assume a great many things.”

  Erika didn’t know what he meant, but she was more worried about what the heck was going on in Europe than her traveling companion’s surly attitude. The radio announcer spoke of the apparent sophistication and coordination of the attacks. He stated that the terrorists had clearly used an advanced technology that took out the power grid across Europe. Terrorists with advanced technology? Could the Makers be behind this?

  Continuing in Spanish, the announcer said, “The US has raised the terrorist alert level to high and has closed all borders, effective immediately. Already, there are reports of disruption to GPS and cellular service in the United States, indicating possible destruction or interference with multiple satellites.”

  “Just what we don’t need. First the virus to deal with, now terrorists run amok.”

  “It is not a terrorist attack,” Tex said with total conviction.

  “You just heard the guy say it’s a terrorist attack. He said the report came from NORAD.”

  “Then this NORAD fellow is wrong… or lying.”

  During her time at Casa Sturgis, Erika had lost whatever faith she’d ever had in the government. Getting locked up in an underground city run by crazy government scientists and black-budget military would do that to you. Even if The Makers were behind A.H.D.N.A., that didn’t negate the fact that, somewhere along the line, some very important people were very corrupt. Maybe even a lot of people.

  Even after all she’d seen, though, she still believed most of the people in charge of things weren’t corrupt, self-serving traitors who would sell out the lives of millions just for their own little piece of the post-virus pie. People like Dr. Montoya worked for the government. Dr. Montoya had risked her life to help them to keep the antivirus out of the hands of the Makers so it could be synthesized to help the masses rather than the elite few chosen by William Croft and company.

  “Why would the military lie about terrorists?” she asked. “And if it’s not terrorists, then who would cause a massive power failure?”

  “Something far worse than extremists with a vendetta. Pull over. I will drive now.


  “Have you ever driven before?”

  Tex shook his head. “Pull over,” he repeated.

  “And what do you mean ‘worse’?”

  “Erika, I tire of questions every time I ask something of you. There is a helicopter on its way. You did not think that the Makers would send only a few local law-enforcement vehicles after me, did you? Shall we argue further? Or shall I attempt to lose those that tail us?”

  Erika had been the driver of her own destiny since her dad died. She wasn’t used to taking orders from anyone. Instinct told her to hold tight to the wheel and tell him to pound salt.

  She turned off the radio. The hard rain pounded the roof and battered the windshield. She heard the unmistakable sound of a helicopter over the din of the rain. “They’re too close. There’s no time to switch places.”

  After a few seconds of silence, Tex said, “We need to vacate the vehicle.”

  “We don’t exactly stand a chance to outrun a helicopter on foot.” An image of Tex running with his preternatural speed came to mind. “I don’t, anyway.”

  They were in the wee hours of the morning. The minor road they were on was practically abandoned. Storm clouds obscured the dim light of the half-moon. The night’s darkness enveloped them like an oily black stain—obvious, persistent and impossible to remove. If the men in the copter took them prisoner, no one would be there to witness it.

  “I think we should stay in the truck,” Erika said. “We’ve got to be getting close to I-10 now. It’s a busy highway, even at this hour. They won’t do anything to us on that road. Too many witnesses.”

  Tex shot her a sidelong look. Even with his unreadable eyes, Erika felt the disdain and disagreement seeping out of him.

  “You must pull over,” he said. “Now.”

  Erika nearly did as Tex commanded, but Tex wasn’t himself since they’d come back from the world of the Conexus. He admitted that the Conexus had experimented on him and that he feared his mind wasn’t whole. She couldn’t be sure he was thinking clearly. Shouldn’t we drive away from the people chasing us?

  A bright spotlight shone down from above and circled in front of the truck. Erika mashed her foot on the accelerator, trying in vain to coax more juice out of the beater, but it was already pushed to the floorboards. The needle of the speedometer trembled at nearly a hundred miles an hour, but it would not budge further. Not fast enough to outrun a helicopter. Not by a long shot.

 
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