I am so excited to be part of the Black Knight Blog Tour. I have been binge reading the first three books in the series this month and I have to say that I have really enjoyed reading them all. I have reviewed the first three books in the series, so if you would like to check them out then please click on the link below.
Today, as part of the blog tour I have a small extract to share with you from book three in The Inventory series, Black Knight.
Dev was convinced the heavy boots would drag him to a watery grave – but the moment they sank into the water his Sliders’ hydrophobic technology kicked in and he was lifted to the water’s surface as if he’d stepped on to a bouncy rubber sheet. He made a mental note not to fall over; otherwise he risked his boots bobbing to the surface, effectively forcing his head and body underwater, which was the cause of the fatalities that prompted the ban on the Sliders.
He skated towards the shore – but the action proved to take an effort as the undulating river surface provided constant hills and dips, making it feel like he was roller skating over rubber cobbles. Every bone in his body shook, but he forced himself to focus on reaching the riverbank ahead.
With a whoop of joy, Lot overtook him. She made Sliding look effortless and even used the river as a trampoline to bounce herself on to the raised stone riverbank wall. Dev unceremoniously slid into the wall and hauled himself up, out of breath.
The others caught up with arms flailing as they fought to keep their balance. As predicted, Wan-Soo was at the back, and Dev felt a pang of pity that the kid wasn’t cut out for this life – then annoyance that he would be slowing them down. At least they were all alive; Dev knew he wouldn’t hear the end of it from his uncle if one of the recruits died on a mission.
Even standing on the firm riverbank posed a problem in the Sliders. The rain was coming down so heavily that they were soaked to the skin, yet their boots kept slipping as if they were standing on ice.
“That was interesting,” Riya said cautiously.
Aaron looked as if he was going to be sick. “I hate it. Jumping out of a flying pizza to play a game of notdrowning-in-a-stinky-French-river ain’t my idea of a good time.”
“You OK, Wan-Soo?” Lot asked, concerned by his reticence.
The young Korean silently nodded, and the hint of a smile indicated he had enjoyed the experience.
Aaron looked pointedly at Dev. “So what’s your next plan in trying to kill us?”
“Not ‘us’, just you,” Dev muttered under his breath as he put on a pair of black-rimmed glasses.
Lot looked at him curiously. “They actually suit you.”
Dev tried to act casual as a heads-up display (HUD) was projected on the inside of the lens. “What? These old things?” He looked around, the HUD labelled out every landmark and indicated access points and the drainage grid around them. A blue dot flashed up, showing the location of their target. “This way.”
Dev glanced at his companions and was amused to see their names flash up on his HUD, hovering just above their heads with little tags that unfolded with their dossiers if he simply focused his gaze on them.
Aaron saw him staring. “What’s your problem, Poindexter?”
Dev looked quickly away and muttered apologetically. “Uh, nothing. Sorry. This way.”
The team slid across the rain-slick pavements as Dev followed the target. They passed groups of tourists hunched under umbrellas, none of whom gave the skating kids a second look. Dev guided them towards a stone archway, forcing them into single file as they shot into a huge open plaza beyond.
“Wow!” exclaimed Lot as they all slid to a halt and admired their new surroundings.
They were in a massive courtyard, enclosed on three sides by an impressively ornate three-storey building. At the centre of the yard was a twenty-one-metre-tall glass pyramid, illuminated by a soft light from inside. Banners hung from the surrounding buildings advertising a travelling Greek Antiquity Exhibition.
“This is the Louvre gallery,” said Dev, his head bowed against the rain. “And our target is already inside.”
Lot combed her wet hair out of her eyes. “So he’s a sneaky art thief?”
“Looks that way.” Dev moved his head, allowing his glasses to scan the building. He picked up the blue flashing target in the south-east corner of the gallery. “There he is. On the second floor.”
Aaron glanced at the windows. “So we just break in and nab him? Sounds easy. A brick through the window there and—”
Dev raised his hand to cut him off. “No bricks. No damage. The stuff in there is priceless. We tiptoe in, snatch the tech quietly and disappear like ghosts. No fuss and definitely no damage!”
That seemed to disappoint Aaron. “Oh yeah, like what you did to your school.” Dev shot him a look. Aaron added innocently, “Not that it was your fault, of course. How do we get in?”
“That’s what I do best,” Dev replied with his best enigmatic smile.
Aaron frowned. “Are you OK? Looks like you’ve got wind.”
Inside the Louvre’s security bunker an entire wall of video monitors showed nothing but the tedious rainstorm outside and the dark corridors of galleries inside.
While the job was repetitive, that was exactly how the guards liked it, although it didn’t make them any less vigilant – which is why they were surprised to see a figure suddenly appear on a camera, deep within the antique Roman and Greek section.
The two guards sat bolt upright and immediately checked to see if the motion sensors had been tripped. They hadn’t. Even as the guards watched the screen, the figure faded from the cameras, leaving nothing but a dark gallery once again. They exchanged a worried look. Reporting sightings of ghosts was frowned upon. One of them would have to go and investigate.
It was an easy task for Dev to locate an alarm wire running from a heavy wooden door and along the side of the building. If the wire were cut, the alarm would sound, but all Dev had to do was touch the wire casing and allow his synaesthesia to interact with the electronics beyond.
It was as if he had a super sixth sense. In his mind’s eye he could see the pathways of electrons and feel pulses of energy as signals were sent across the alarm network, moving from sensor to sensor, checking nothing had been broken. With a little thought, he could convince the system that the door sensor was working fine, when in fact he had disabled it. He then turned his electronic feelers on the video camera system, ensuring the images were looped so they could now walk right by and the camera would never see them.
All of this took seconds, and he used his body to block the view for the new recruits. Dev’s final act of digital sabotage deactivated all the external locks, and the door in front of them popped open with a gentle click, much to the recruits’ amazement. Everyone hurried inside, relieved to be out of the rain.
Dev’s HUD confirmed they were alone as he looked around. Then a red line, only visible on his glasses, was projected on the floor, showing him the quickest way to their target.
Running as silently as they could, Dev led them through a gallery. It was too dark to make out the details of the masterpieces hung on the walls, but the gloom added extra menace to the pale faces staring out of them. Dev could tell Mason was frightened, but he was putting on a brave face to impress Riya.
Following the highlighted path up a grand staircase to the second level, Dev gestured for them to stop. There were people ahead!
They ducked behind the wall separating the corridor from the gallery and listened. It was deathly silent. Dev risked a peek around the corner. . .
The silhouettes of five figures, totally naked, stood stock still. It took him a moment before it dawned on him that he was looking at statues crafted by Greek sculptors. His HUD map indicated the gallery beyond was home to Roman and Greek exhibits. It also showed their target was somewhere deep inside and was stationary, no doubt trying to free whatever loot he was trying to steal.
“Somebody’s coming!” Lot suddenly hissed, indicating behind them.
They strained to listen. The gentle sounds of footsteps on the staircase gradually rose in volume. Dev suddenly felt a knot of panic. He had hoped to slip in and out without confronting any guards.
He spied a security camera in the corner. Standing on a chair, which was reserved for the watchful security during the day, he reached up and touched the camera, closing his eyes to allow his synaesthesia to guide him through the network.
Riya frowned and elbowed Mason. “What’s he doing?”
“He’s zoning out again,” quipped Aaron. “Maybe he’s got narcolepsy? My cousin had that. Every time she spoke I started to fall asleep—”
“That’s not what—” Riya began but stopped when she realized he was being sarcastic.
Mason shook his head. “No. He’s got this weird ability to talk to electronics and stuff. Like Doctor Doolittle but with computers. . .” He trailed off when he saw Lot’s warning gaze, only then remembering it was supposed to be a secret.
Wan-Soo and Riya’s eye went wide with surprise at the revelation. Aaron’s brow creased, but he said nothing.
In his mind, Dev could hop from camera to camera and see different views throughout the museum complex. He found the camera overlooking the staircase and saw the guard slowly walking up it, a torch combing through the darkness ahead. He was about to warn the others, but then his synaesthesia flagged up a problem. He snatched his hand away and jumped off the chair to join his team. In the gloom they couldn’t clearly see his expression, but the concern in his voice was evident.
“We have a problem. We’re not alone,” he whispered.
Mason looked back down the corridor. “How many guards?”
“Just two. But that’s not what I meant. The computer system told me. . .” He saw the curious look the recruits were giving him. He swallowed and continued. “It told me that the security system was already tampered with when we arrived.”
Lot was the first to understand, her voice almost rising above a whisper. “So when we turned it off . . . we actually turned it back on?”
“No, it’s definitely off now, but somebody else is here.” He ignored the huff of astonishment from Aaron’s lips.
“I thought you guys were supposed to be professionals?”
Dev licked his lips and reached a decision. “We stick to the plan. We’re about forty seconds ahead of the patrolling guard. We bust in there, grab the tech and exit, leaving the thief for the guard to deal with. Ready?” Everybody tensed and nodded. “Let’s do this.”
Counter Measures Chapter Extract – Mike Reads
Andy has extensive experience working on multinational co-productions and has worked in comics, books, TV, film and trans-media projects.
Andy wrote and Executive Produced Legendary, currently the most successful independent UK/Chinese co-production. Released in China and grossing $5 million in the first week, with a theatric US release in 2014. With his brother he worked on Hollywood features such as Judge Dredd and Freddy vs. Jason and TV shows for the SyFy Channel and Netflix.
He wrote and co-created Secret Agents, a trans-media interactive spy experience for children, currently on at the Discover Centre, Stratford. He has 16 books and graphic novels published in the UK and around the world.
He has written 20 books and graphic novels published in the UK and around the world. In 2016 his latest feature, Crowhurst, will be released.
If The Inventory series sounds like its something you would enjoy then the first three books in the series are out now to buy.
I would like to thank Scholastic for contacting me and a letting me be part of this brilliant blog tour. There are plenty more stops on this blog tour, below is a list of the next stops on the tour, please go and give them a read every day.
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