Episode 5, Installment 3 - by J Sherer

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SUMMARY: Episode 5, Installment 3

Shadow Phase
Episode 5: Launch

Installment 5.3

"What happened?"

Kline shifted his weight and squinted. Across the mahogany desk, Bashui Lee, director of XLS's Phase Project Department waited for an answer. The director's eyes, green and sharp, pierced through the dim lighting to meet Kline's. Approaching his mid-forties, Lee had jet-black hair tinted with gray and white. He had served as a special ops soldier in years past, but few still living new the details. His jaw, angled and strong, jutted inward beneath a set of lips that were nearly the same color as his complexion.

"I planted the explosives," said Kline. He broke the director's stare for a moment, checking to see where Lee's bodyguards were lingering. "I did exactly as I was told."

Lee sat back in his leather chair and crossed his arms. He wore a black suit and tie. Always black. After a long pause, Lee nodded. "So you did, and the explosions went off." Lee pushed a data pad across the desk.

Marcus Kline lifted the report hesitantly. His eyes darted across the screen, and his jaw clenched. He finished, placing the data pad back on the desk and swallowing hard. "They made it home."

"Yes. And they're planning on going back."

"Fra Mauro?"

Lee leaned forward, propping his elbows up onto the desk. "We can't let them land there."

"Next time I'll-"

"There's not going to be a next time," said Lee. Kline visibly stiffened, and a bead of sweat rolled down his temple. His eyes darted to the bodyguards. Lee continued, "I have something else for you. The assassin will help us with Apollo 14. It will be the last time they attempt a moon landing in that region. But, in order for me to make that happen, I need you to get me something else."

Kline relaxed enough to cock an eyebrow. He exhaled slowly as Lee punched two buttons on his chair's control panel. A 3-D landscape rendering appeared over the desk, hovering between the men.

Lee's steel gaze cut through the 3-D model as if it wasn't there. "You're going to Russia."

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment...

(For illustrations by Nathan Scheck, please visit