Unleash (Sneak Peek!)

The third book in Brock Eastman’s “Quest for Truth” series, Unleash continues the thrilling interplanetary adventures of the four Wikk children.

Taken (Quest for Truth #1)   Risk (Quest for Truth #2)   Unleash (Quest for Truth #3)

You can buy Unleash online or at your local Christian bookstore.

For more “Quest for Truth,” check out Taken (Book One) and Risk (Book Two).

Jump ahead to Chapter Two or Chapter Three.

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Chapter One: Parting Gift

The Phoenix blasted through the sky, barreling toward the remaining storm clouds. Lightning flashed inside them. Oliver blinked at a dark silhouette within the cloud. Had the Ü̈bel waited for them? His hands gripped the controls, ready for action. His body grew rigid in the pilot’s seat.

When he looked again, the mysterious shape was gone. Relief escaped his lips in a heavy breath. He stroked back his usually spiky brown hair. He’d not spiked it for several days now.

The ship’s altitude increased, and the sky grew darker. They were nearly free of Evad and on to Jahr des Eises, where they would return Obbin and locate Mr. O’Farrell. Oliver had so many things to ask the Wikks’ benefactor and fellow explorer. He seemed like the most likely source of information for them, the only one who might know the truth about their parents’ work.

The Phoenix pitched forward, and a thundering explosion echoed all around. Green light enveloped the ship. Oliver shielded his eyes. The displays on the Phoenix flashed. Warnings erupted on every screen.

“What was that?” cried Tiffany from the copilot’s chair, her brown eyes wide and alert. Yet she never stopped working the screens before her, swiping and tapping her fingers as if playing a piano. Her brown ponytail swished back and forth with her movements.

The ship jolted again.

Tiffany pulled Midnight, her new pet cat, close. “There’s something wrong with the generators. And the navigation information for Jahr des Eises has disappeared.”

“I see that.” Oliver glanced at the radar screen. A red dot flashed on, then off again. The systems were on the fritz. He was blind to anything not in his line of sight.

He felt an urging in his gut. He twisted the controls of the ship, and the silver craft dove, then spun. The structure of the ship groaned under the maneuver. “Hold on!” The words had become all too familiar to his siblings.

“Whoa! Go, Oliver!” shouted Mason and Austin from the second row.

A ball of green light encapsulated by glowing blue mist sailed past them. Oliver hadn’t known the shot had been fired, but he’d sensed the need to barrel roll. As Oliver jerked the controls back, a piercing pain shot through his body like a knife thrust into his ribs. His arm went numb, and he lost his grip on the controls. He grimaced at the tearing sensation in his side.

Something was wrong. When and how had he been hurt? He gasped in a shallow and painful breath. He didn’t have time to feel pain, let alone do anything about it. They were under attack.

Gritting his teeth, Oliver pulled back the controls. The Phoenix shot up, then rolled onto its back. Like prisoners, the kids were locked into their chairs by the extreme g-force of the tight turn.

“Obbin, it’s okay,” Austin said.

“Yeah, Oliver is a great pilot,” Mason said.

“That’s not why I’m closing my eyes,” Obbin explained. Oliver increased the thrust and turned the controls. For a split second, he saw their attacker: a gray ship unlike the black Ü̈bel fighters. This one had a globular canopy, set on a fuselage with short, rounded wings and three tailfins. The enemy fighter twisted and slipped out of sight like a phantom.

Oliver tried to follow. As far as he knew, the Phoenix was unarmed. He hoped to keep the ship behind the enemy until they could escape, but how to do that was unclear. Far from any canyon, cave, or obstacle, he had nowhere to take cover. The new pain continued in his right side. Oliver was still wearing his wetsuit from his underwater dive, and its tight fabric wasn’t helping. It rubbed against the injury with every movement.

“Oliver, what was that?” Austin asked, brushing his sandy- colored bangs clear of his green eyes. The youngest Wikk was always alert and ready for action.

“A fighter. Not sure whose.”

“Aren’t we cloaked?” Mason called out.

Oliver shook his head. He glanced at the silver ball still engaged with the system, then clicked the remote.

No confirmation message flashed on the screen. “It isn’t working.”

“Whatever hit us earlier damaged something in our electronics,” Tiffany said. “The systems are still sporadic.”

Oliver couldn’t believe his slipup. After uncloaking the ship so the kids could reboard, he’d forgotten to reactivate the device. The failure added to his dismal feeling of helplessness. If he’d taken his time and turned it on, they’d have been invisible and unable to be attacked.

The fighter zipped into view again. No time for regrets. Oliver had one choice: stay on its tail.

Fiery pain shot through his side. It felt like a knife was being dragged along his skin. The unknown injury threatened his ability to fly.

How long could he keep this up?

Oliver released the controls, but not in defeat. His left arm flew to shield his eyes. A blinding purple orb came from out of his field of vision and struck the small tri-finned fighter. A brilliant flash blasted out in a ring of violet plasma.

The ship glowed and dropped in altitude, falling through the sky.

Oliver turned the Phoenix. Could he get a glimpse of the new entry to the sky battle?

The arrival was a ship identical to his.

“The Eagle,” said Mason.

“Brother Sam!” Obbin exclaimed. “Thank Creator!”

Oliver turned to look at them. “What?” The Eagle? Brother Sam? Creator?

“There he goes!” called Tiffany, pulling Oliver’s attention back.

The Eagle turned and dove. Oliver followed. The phantom enemy ship twisted toward Evad’s surface. Oliver was just about to turn the ship away to spare his siblings the sight of a pilot slamming into the jungle below when the canopy of the crashing craft popped free and the man ejected. Instead of using a parachute, he zipped through the air on a jetpack.

The saving silver ship flew after the pilot. Much as Oliver wanted to meet this Brother Sam, he had other priorities. The Ü̈bel had just departed for Enaid with the Wikks’ imprisoned parents, and he had a detour to make before he could follow. He had no time to waste at the present. Oliver pulled the controls, and the Phoenix again pointed toward space.

They passed free of Evad’s gravitational pull. Oliver brought the ship into an orbital holding pattern above Evad. “Everyone watch for anything unusual. With our systems down, we have to do this ourselves.”

The Phoenix flew in a wide circle. Oliver scoured the black space around them.

“Over there,” called Austin.

The Phoenix jerked as Oliver stopped its turn. Everyone searched for Austin’s sighting with bated breath. A red light blinked in the distance. Oliver strained his eyes. Should he speed away or wait?

A golden ball grew in size as they coasted toward it. The red light flashed.

“Most likely it’s Evad’s planetary beacon,” Mason said. “At least, that’s what it looks like.”

Oliver sighed. “You’re right. The Federation placed beacons near every known planet within its borders.”

“What now?” asked Austin.

“We have to fix the NavCom,” Tiffany said. “We can’t launch into hyper flight when it’s offline and our other systems are malfunctioning.”

Oliver knew she was right, but he wasn’t a mechanic or systems technician. He had basic knowledge of what needed to be fixed, but he’d have to rely on the manual and schematics to actually do it.

“You’re right, Tiff,” he said. “Austin, Mason, and Obbin, when we get into space, I need you to check the NavCom servers. They’re in the room next to the engine room. The status screen on the server rack should normally read 100 percent online. My guess is it’s far from that. I think we were hit by some sort of EMP. We might need to restart.”

Obbin’s green eyebrows raised on his blue forehead. “EM—what?”

“An electromagnetic pulse,” Mason said, his blue eyes twinkling. “They’re used to short out electronic systems.”

“The Phoenix is somewhat shielded from that sort of attack, but it seems the weapon did some damage. Anyhow, I need you guys to see—” Oliver paused, hiding a gasp as his injury throbbed. Before he did anything else, he needed to find the source of his pain.

He was still facing the windshield and knew his brothers and Obbin could not see his pained expression he wore. If Tiffany had, she was holding her tongue. “See if the systems need to be reset, then report back,” he said.

“Shouldn’t you be the one to—?” Mason started, but Austin stepped in.

“I’ll be glad to take on this mission,” he said. “Obbin, let’s go.”

Mason sighed as Austin and Obbin released themselves from their harnesses. “I’m coming. This mission needs more than brute strength. It’s going to require someone with a brain.”

Austin scoffed but didn’t argue. The three left through the hatchway, their shoes clattering down the staircase to the lower floor, and Oliver let out a groan.

“Oliver, what happened?” Tiffany asked, releasing Midnight. The black cat jumped from her lap and tucked itself under her chair.

“It’s my side. I think I’m cut.” Oliver twisted, trying to lift his arm.

“Don’t,” Tiffany cautioned him. “Keep still. I’ll get the medic kit from the galley. Meet me in your room.”

Oliver nodded, and they departed.

What happens next? Click here to read Chapter Two!

Copyright © 2013 by Brock Eastman. Illustration by Brandon Dorman.