Series: The Lost Imperials, Book 1
Author: Tyler H. Jolley and Sherry D. Ficklin
Published: August 15th, 2016
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Genres: Science Fiction / Action & Adventure, Science Fiction / Steampunk, Science Fiction / Time Travel
Two opposing factions of time travelers vie for control of the future in this thrilling steampunk series opener dubbed âInterestingâ and âUnexpectedâ by Kirkus Reviews.
Lex and Emberâtwo time travelers with no memories of their lives before being recruited into the time warâare torn between the factions. When Lex accepts a mission that lands him deep within the heart of the Telsa Institute, he meets Ember, and the past that was stolen from them comes flooding back. Now armed with the truth of who they were, Lex and Ember must work together to save the future before the battle for time destroys them once again.
*This special edition contains expanded content and bonus material not found in the first release.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads | Books-a-Million | Smashwords
Excerpt from Extracted by Sherry Ficklin and Tyler Jolley:
My breath comes in short, shallow bursts. I can feel the warmth of Ethanâs body radiating like a tuning fork against my back. In front of me, there is only darkness. I strain, listening, waiting for the next wave of attack. The leather straps holding up my suede harness dig into the skin of my shoulders, but the ache only sharpens my focus. The urge to turn around is strong, though I know better. Months of training have taught me exactly what happens when I turn my back to the darkness. So I listen, honing my senses until I catch the sound of Ethan taking a small step forward, away from me. My eyes are useless, so I close them. Knowing my attackers are well paid for their ability to move in silence, there is little hope that they will give themselves away. We need another strategy. As if reading my mind, Ethan picks up the conversation we were having earlier.
âAll Iâm saying is, maybe you need the extra practice,â Ethan says, his tone mocking. Even without being able to see him, I can sense him moving, beginning to circle counterclockwise. I know heâs trying to draw them out, to bring the fight to him. It seems like a sound strategy, so I jump on board.
âOh, yes, because it isnât like she turned around and kicked the crap out of you, too.â Iâm mimicking his movements now. My voice is flat, free from emotion, and my words are empty. I canât see him moving, but I can feel him, as if weâre connected by a million invisible threads.
âHow am I supposed to just punch a girl?â Ethan asks. âAnd I was tired from taking the guy out like five seconds earlier.â
âShe isnât a girl. Sheâs more like a pissed-off kangaroo in a top hat. She has a nasty right hook, Iâll give you that.â
I hear the sharp whip of air as a bamboo pole cuts through the darkness, headed toward my face. Even with our phony argument going on, Iâm able to hear it coming before it lands. I bring up my hands and block the blow with my forearms. The impact stings, bruising the bones there, but better my arms than my face. With a movement perfected after one too many blows to the head, I grab the pole and pull it aside, dragging my attacker with it. As he closes in, I drop the pole and lock arms with Ethan. I flip over his back and kick out, knocking my attacker to the mat. As he struggles back to his feet, Ethan spins into my place, delivering a secondary kick that sends the man flying into the wall with a dull thud. âYeah, but sheâs scrappy,â he says.
âScrappy? Is that boy code for you couldnât stop staring at her rack?â
Behind me, I feel Ethan duck a blow, and then land one of his own before pressing his back against mine. âIâ¦ thatâs notâ¦ I didnât evenâ¦ I meanâ¦â he sputters.
I smirk. Busted.
Footsteps approach, but we keep sparring. I bend over, using my attackerâs own momentum against him as I put my shoulder into his gut and stand, propelling him over my head and onto his back on the mat. I donât need to see my victory to realize what the maneuver has cost me. A muscle in my lower back seizes, and itâs all I can do not to drop to my knees in agony. I clench my fists until I feel my fingernails cut bloody crescents in my palms. There is no way Iâm going to be the weak linkâno way Iâm going to let Ethan fight alone. Back to back, thatâs how Rifters are trained to fight. And Ethan always has my back.
âDonât feel too bad. She was pretty scrappy after all.â
Ethan mumbles, âItâs a girl thing.â
âHold up, whatâs that supposed to mean?â I ask, stiffly regaining my footing as my back screams in protest.
As usual, Ethan turns to check on me. âNothing personal, Ember.â
Not wanting him to get slammed for it again, I grab him by the shoulder and pull, revolving us to our starting positions just as the first attacker flips back onto his feet and lunges. He would have taken me in the stomach, but I bring up my knee just in time to block his advance before kicking him in the face. There is a loud crunch that sounds like breaking bone. I hear him hit the mat with a groan. The lights flick back on, and Mistress Catherine blows her whistle.
Normally we spar with off-duty guards, since most of them have military training of some kind. They know how to take a hit and how to deliver one without doing too much damage. We might be lowly recruits, but Rifters are rare, and our lives are precious.
But as the man whose nose I have just broken pulls off his black ski mask, my heart falls into my shoes. Flynn is staring up at me, and his face is covered in blood.
âNice hit, Ember,â he says as blood drips from his nose and onto his white shirt. Mistress Catherine hands him his horn-rimmed glasses and shoots me an amused smirk. Behind me, Ethan snickers.
Great. And here I was thinking this day couldnât get any worse.
Reaching down, I offer Flynn a hand up, which he accepts with a smile.
âIâm so sorry,â I mutter, but he waves it off.
âCatherine told me you were really coming along. I wanted to see for myself.â
The others are shuffling out, so I turn to grab a towel and follow them, but Mistress Catherine closes the door behind a worried-looking Ethan, presses her back against it, and narrows her eyes at me. I used to think it was hard to look menacing in a knee-length pencil skirt and beige brocade top, but she radiates power. It might be the stern pucker of her thin lips, or the way her graying hair is knotted tightly at the nape of her neck. She resembles a librarian except for the long, jagged scar that runs from her left temple to the cleft in her chin. Well, that and the spider-shaped, iron shoulder harness permanently affixed to her upper arm.
Not sure whatâs going on, I freeze, yellow towel in hand. Before I can say anything, I feel something moving behind me. I manage to move to the side just as a wooden staff comes slamming down against the spot where Iâd stood a heartbeat earlier. I turn and see Flynn grinning, blood still dripping off his chin. He spits before whirling the staff like a windmill in front of him. âWhat I donât understand,â he says, circling to my left, âis how that Hollow got the best of you. According to Ethanâs report, Kara had no problem with her. And Catherine here tells me that you mat Kara at almost every practice now.â
I have no idea what to say. Does he think I let her beat up on me? Just then, my legs are swept out from under me. I fall to the mat, but, rolling swiftly backward, I bounce up onto my feet. Catherine has a staff, too, and comes toward me from the right. I hold up my hands and back up slowly. In the corner of the room, a vent erupts in a cloud of steam, and Teslaâs image appears but says nothing.
âLook, I didnât let her get away,â I say. âIf thatâs what youâre implying. She was strong. And fast.â
Catherine shakes her head. âYou are strong. And fast. And clever.â
âIâm sorry!â I blurt out when my back hits the corner and they are still coming at me.
I donât think Flynn would ever hurt me, not really, but Catherine, wellâ¦
Without another word, they both attack. I manage to duck one blow but take another in the ribs before I decide to make a break for it. Jumping as high as possible, Iâm able to get a hand on the chain attaching one of the punching bags to the ceiling and hoist myself up. I leap over Flynn and roll as I hit the ground behind him. Theyâre quick, though, and have me surrounded again in seconds.
Itâs easy to forget that they are trained Rifters, too. Catherine doesnât rift anymore, but Flynn is still active and in really good shape. They arenât holding anything back either. Flynn lands a blow to my lower back, but when Catherine moves in, Iâm able to grab her staff and force it from her bad arm. Suddenly, time is moving in a blur. Iâm not thinking about my next move anymore. My body is reacting of its own accord. Iâm not sure how it happens, but I blink and Catherine is on her knees. Flynn is standing in front of me, and I have the two staffs crossed at his neck. Heâs holding up his hands and saying my name.
I drop the sticks and step back. The muscles in my arms and legs are twitching like Iâve just run ten miles.
âThatâs what we mean,â Catherine says, climbing stiffly to her feet. âYou could have taken the Hollow girl. So, why did you hesitate?â
I close my eyes, calling the fight to the front of my memory. There was something about the girl. She was beautiful, for sure, but that wasnât it. There was something else, too. Something I canât put into words. I look up to find theyâre staring at me, waiting for some kind of answer. I can feel Tesla glaring holes into my back, watching me like one of his little science experiments. âI donât know what you want me to say.â
Flynn sighs and holds his hands out to me. I take them without hesitation. âEmber, I know itâs hard. I know you donât like hurting people. Itâs against your very nature to harm someone or let someone suffer. But you are too important to risk losing. Understand? Sometimes, you have to put someone down, let someone get hurt or even die, to save yourself and your team. You canât hold anything back.â
I take a deep breath. âAnd what if someone dies because of me? Because, for some reason, my life is worth more than theirs?â
Flynn lowers his head, looking me in the eye. âThat is a burden you will have to learn to carry.â
About the Authors:
Tyler H. Jolley was born in the era of the Star Wars and the Indiana Jones sagas. He has been enamored with science fiction and adventure stories ever since. In order to support his hobby of writing he decided to pursue dentistry. He graduated from Nova Southeastern University School of Dental Medicine in 2002. He then completed a four year orthodontic and periodontic residency at the University of Pennsylvania. In June 2006, he opened a private practice, Jolley Smiles, in Grand Junction, Colorado.Snowboarding, mountain biking, road biking, fly fishing, bird hunting, camping, hiking, and backpacking are the things he enjoys doing with his family. He also enjoys lecturing internationally on temporary orthodontic implants. Some of his journal articles have also been published in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics. However, his true passion has always been fiction writing.When life gets stressful he escapes to unseen worlds to find relaxation. His career has been the vehicle to let him write without worry. He finds inspiration from most of his adolescent patients. He continues to dream up fun and thrilling books to this day.
Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless sheâs on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs. She is the author of several YA novels ranging from contemporary romance to science fiction. In her spare time she co-hosts the Pop Lit Divas radio show and is constantly trying to take over the world.
Clean Teen Publishing Links:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
Giveaway is US only.
Ends August 30th at 11:59 PM EDTa Rafflecopter giveaway
Books are my consuming obsession and giveaways are my everlasting passion! Join me for my bookish journey as I discover new reads and who knows.... you might win something along the way! If you're an author and would like a personal book tour, please e-mail me! I'm extremely PR-friendly!