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Domination of the SPOOKS – Chapter 3

I'm launching my first fiction series next month with the SPOOK & GOON Space Adventures. I'm writing the fourth book right now and the first three will be released over the next few months.

While I'm waiting for the official edits, I'm uploading the short-story prequel, Domination of the SPOOKS, chapter by chapter over the next two weeks. This is the unedited version so please forgive any errant wording.

If you'd like to receive advance notice of special one-day-only fan pricing of 99 cents, join my Sci-Fi Reader's Group.

Chapter 3

Dom couldn’t wait to get out of the Academy. Things were too easy for him, and he needed a new challenge.

Dom wanted to be part of something bigger. He was an excellent marksman, and he was popular with all the others, especially the ladies, though it sometimes got him into more than his share of unwanted attention.

Jock Saunders for one. He was always coming in second to Dom, never quiet having enough talent or skill or luck to beat him in anything. He was the best and had recently hit on his girlfriend. Or at least the girl he’d finally had the courage to ask out, and he was pissed that Dom had moved in on his girl. A few others weren’t too happy with Dom, either.

A strange guy wandering around meeting with various team leaders and the Commander brought rumors that he was looking for more info on Dom. Bring it on, he thought.

* * *

“What can you tell me about Dom Wagner?”

The question was innocent enough. However, coming from a man in a black suit with a large bulge under one of the side pockets made it more nerve-wracking.

“Is there anything in particular you’d like me to share?” asked Commander Weisman. As the head of the Academy, he wasn’t used to unannounced visitors like this, especially when the person asked questions about the brightest of the batch.

Weisman sensed he was from high up in the government. But which branch? He didn’t give off the uptight discipline of the GOONS, or even the affability of the FBI. He’d met enough of those branches over the years he was sure this visit wasn’t for either of those.

Besides, Dom didn’t fit with either of those groups. Sending someone of his caliber off to the meat grinder of the Army or sticking him on a boat in the middle of the ocean just didn’t play out right with his skill set.

“Tell me about a time he talked his way out of trouble and smoothed over the situation with just his confidence.”

“Well, let me think about that,” Weisman said. Dom had always been a smooth talker, an Eddie Haskell eager to please hail fellow well met kinda guy. He had friends with all the social groups and ethnic lines at the academy; everyone got along with him except for one.

Jock Saunders might as well have been his sworn enemy. It wasn’t Dom’s fault. It was more a character flaw in Jock after having his first taste of being second best. When you’ve grown up being the best of the best in everything, it’s difficult when you come up against someone of the same caliber, yet who is naturally better than you are. It’s a blow to the ego, and Jock’s main flaw was letting it show. If he were the better man, he’d let it slide and cover it better.

“Well,” Weisman began, “just this week Jock had him cornered in the locker room. Dom has quite the reputation with the ladies and suddenly set his sights on Jock’s girl. It was harmless, but it got under Jock’s skin. He tried to ambush him after a scrimmage and set him up for a fight. Rather than duke it out on the spot, Dom offered to settle it on the court. When someone challenges you to a duel, you get to choose the weapon, right? Dom could have tried to take him down in a brawl, but that would have been messy. Dom hates messes.”

“I see,” said the strange visitor, “please proceed.”

“Instead of using their fists, he suggested they settle things on the basketball court. Again, it should have been an easy win for Jock, being just that much taller than Dom. But Dom had the skills to beat him. I wasn’t there, but the word was that he toyed with Jock just long enough to get his hopes up. I mean, they weren’t playing for anything serious. Dom wasn’t interested in the girl, he just wanted another way to get under his opponent's skin. So they were about even at the end. And then he pulled up from downtown and buried a three with nothing but net. Game over. I have to hand it to Jock; he took his loss like a gentleman. I’m sure he seethed over it inside, but for once he took it like a man.”

“So does that answer your question?” Weisman asked. He wasn’t sure what the guy was looking for, but on the spur of the moment, it was the best he could come up with to keep Dom looking good. It showed that he knew his strengths and could work with those and then target his opponent's weakness.

“I might need to look at some files if you don’t mind,” the man said. “It would greatly interest my team to see the rest of his file.”

That seemed like an odd request to Weisman. He’d have thought this guy would have had all the bases covered, with a full dossier on Dom by that point. He seemed to be fishing for something.

“I can send you the information I have by morning,” Weisman said. “Will that be soon enough?”

“Yes, that should be fine,” the man said. “I’d also like to arrange a meeting with Mr. Wagner for later in the week. I’d like you to set us up on in a secure conference room, provided you have such a place.”

“Of course. We can let you use the secure server room down the hall. Nothing gets in or out of that without my knowledge. I’m the only one with a key to it and set up all the security protocols myself.”

“Yes, I know you were quite the hacker before you came on board here,” the man said. “Until you attracted some unwanted attention from the Russians.”

Weisman blanched at that memory. He didn’t know who this man was but for him to know that little detail meant he had some pretty high-security clearance.

“Let’s just say we don’t discuss that much around here, or anywhere,” Weisman said, giving his voice an added edge that was meant to be a threat. Though, threatening someone like that seemed a bit off. Weisman backed down, not wanting to risk finding out what else this man might know about his past.

“I’m sure you don’t, Commander Weisman,” the man said.

He stood to take leave, extending his hand to mark the formality of the situation. He grabbed his black coat from the chair next to him and grabbed a small leather satchel as well. It was black, too.

Weisman hadn’t seen this much black since he read a book on the SS soldiers from World War II. He had a sneaking suspicion this guy must have modeled his outfit after them. He glanced at the label on the jacket – Hugo Boss. I’ll be damned, Weisman thought, even the same designer as those Nazi freaks. What the hell kind of trouble has Dom gotten himself into, he wondered?

Not wanting to upset the man, he started pulled together the rest of his notes on Dom as soon as the door closed. It wouldn’t be too much trouble, but he worried for Dom. He was one of the best he’d seen in the few years he’d been running the place. He’d made his mark as a hacker but also proved adept at maneuvering the chain of command in the military readiness bureau. He was on his way and had hoped to bring Dom up with him once he made it out of the academy. He knew if he surrounded himself with the best and the brightest, they'd help him shine and stand out even more.

From the forthcoming short story, Domination of the SPOOKS: A Man Meets His Mission.

Copyright © 2018 Chad V. Holtkamp.

All rights reserved.

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