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Djinn And Tonnick
Case File - The Demented Diamond
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-820-6
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy/SF
eBook Length: 220 Pages
Published: April 2011

From inside the flap

Iraqi veteran, Mark Tonnick, is a wisecracking, sarcastic, sorry excuse for a self-employed private detective whose specialty is tracking cheating spouses and running skip traces for the local bookies. Down on his luck and about to be thrown out of his dismal office for non-payment of rent heís ready to take just about any job that comes his way.

Then, in an unexpected stroke of luck, he finds himself recruited to solve a missing persons case by Delinda Djinn, executive assistant to the reclusive Bruce Ashton, CEO of AC&C, the largest communications conglomerate in the world. After managing to resolve that case in record time heís handed a more complicated and challenging assignment. Itís one that stretches his credulity almost to the breaking point, but thereís little choice for him.

Desperate for cash he accepts the job, which comes with only a single condition. As a provision of his employment he must agree to work with Delinda Djinn. Together they must recover and either contain or destroy the elusive Orb of Apophis.

The Orb, according to Djinn, is a monstrous gem that predates modern civilization, attached to a history of bringing disaster and death to whomever possesses it. Like a frog being slowly brought to boil in pot of warm water, Tonnick soon finds himself up to his chin in magic, immortal beings, mayhem and murder. He doesnít really believe in any of it, but then again, it becomes more and more difficult for him not to. Soon he finds that he is in a race to find the deadly jewel before it ends up in the wrong hands. Even though itís a struggle for him to take this assignment at more than face value, the increasing body count convinces him that whatever the real explanation, his life and perhaps that of countless others rests with him finding the Orb first.

His quest takes him from the mean streets of Los Angeles and the privileged estates of Bel Air to the desolate and isolated reaches of Death Valley. His resources are limited; he must rely only on his wits, experiences and occasional help from ex-clients and friends. He has no forensic skills, no lab and no political hookups. The only connection he has to law enforcement is not one heís proud of and actually his PI license is expired. Thankfully, he reluctantly comes to depend on the surprising insights of his new, and not entirely welcome partner, Delinda Djinn.

As Tonnick works against the clock to uncover the mystery of the Orb, he also comes to discover the unlikely bond that both he and Djinn share. The source of her power, and the answer to many other mysteries lie with him. Hopefully he can live with the explanation.

Djinn And Tonnick (Excerpt)

Prologue: Sinai Peninsula. 7600 BC.

As twilight began to overtake the afternoon sky, the hunter looked up from his kill. The faint noise approaching was like nothing else he had ever heard. It came from no discernable single source. It sounded like the howling rush of a rapid, turbulent river. As he paused to listen, the noise grew closer and closer until it finally became an earsplitting roar. Then, with a resonant boom louder than a hundred thunderclaps, a fireball appeared overhead. It arced over the hunterís head as he clasped his hands to his ears. This did nothing to diminish the powerful vibrations that shook the earth beneath him. He ducked instinctively as the object streaked onwards, towards the distant mountains. It disappeared over the horizon, followed moments later by another deafening peal of unnatural thunder.

Frightened, yet curious, the son of Dawood hurriedly finished gutting the small deer and hoisted the carcass over his shoulder. Despite his fear, he made up his mind to seek out whatever it was in the hopes that it would prove to be a worthy prize. From what he had observed, the object appeared to have fallen somewhere in the mountains of Ba ʿ laat, long considered a sacred place by his tribe. He had been there only once, many summers ago with his father. He only vaguely knew the way, but he remembered the journey vividly. The desert was dry, as were the barren mountains, but he had grown up here and was used to the climate and the scarcity of water. Nevertheless, he was grateful for the mostly full goatskin that sloshed at his waist. Its contents would have to serve him for the next few days.

He reached the foothills just as night began to fall and stopped to rest at an outcropping of boulders that jutted up from the hard, arid ground like jagged tusks. He butchered his deer, slicing the meat with his bronze dagger into thin strips that he tied to his belt. The meat would dry soon enough in this arid clime, and the jerky would help sustain him on his strange quest. He cleaned his knife blade by rubbing it with the hot desert sand and reflected on the fact that his natural curiosity was unusual compared to the others in his tribe. He would never be able to rest until he discovered what had fallen from the sky. That powerful desire allayed any fear he might have felt, and after a few hours of fitful sleep, he resumed his quest.

It was several days later when Sul finally reached his goal. The climb into the rugged and desolate terrain had been grueling. He had finished his dried meat and his goatskin was nearly empty, but he forged relentlessly onwards, scrambling up boulder fields of shale and granite, making his own trail where there was none to follow. Finally reaching the mountainís summit he followed the acrid stench of burnt stone until he came upon the place where the thing from the sky had struck the ground. Overwhelmed, he walked alongside the long, deep furrow that had been violently gouged into the solid rock. The force that carved it was so immensely powerful that the boulders and stones that hadnít been shattered were thrown out of the way. The rut was blackened with ash, and in some places the rock had been melted into glass. As Sul followed the path he realized his sandals were growing warmer than even the hot, incessant sun on the bare stone could allow. The smell of burning leather added itself to the pungent aroma that had led him here. When he came to the end of the furrow he saw the object that had made it.

Sul approached cautiously, his curiosity again overcoming the fear he felt gnawing in the pit of his stomach as he finally came to stand before the strange thing from the sky. He wasnít sure what he expected to find, but what he saw baffled and amazed him. Amongst the shards of shattered stone there lay three objects, the likes of which he had never seen before. They were smooth and symmetrical, made from a kind of metal he supposed, though it didnít resemble the bronze or tin he was familiar with. He reached down and cautiously touched one, surprised to find it cool, despite his expectations otherwise. There was a soft click, and he sprang back in horror, as the metal seemed to part at his touch. After several moments had passed, he gathered his courage and crept closer. It was then that he saw the glistening jewel lying within the open container. It was half the size of his fist and impossibly spherical, shimmering brightly, its translucence glistening in the midday sun. Not daring to touch it, but emboldened by his discovery, he turned his attention to the other two objects, each made from the same metallic material. They opened, as did the first, at the slightest contact of his anxious fingers. Inside both, he found a pair of perfectly round, flat discs. They were exquisite; quite possibly polished gold, he thought. There were four of the strange discs, all identical, with no markings or workings on the face-up side that were visible to him.

His attention was drawn back to the strange jewel. He found himself yearning to touch it, yet he had a strong intuition that warned him not to. In spite of himself, his arm began to extend itself as if it had a will of its own. Horrified, he jerked it back in a sudden panic, frightened and surprised at the effort it took to restrain his impulse. Backing away, he tripped over one of the other boxes, spilling its contents. He braced himself as he fell with his outstretched hand and discovered he had grasped one of the golden discs. It lay flat against his palm as though the strange metal had become stuck to his skin. Terrified, he tried to pull it away, but to no avail. Moments later every inch of his hand began to itch nearly to the point of pain. Then, he blacked out.

When he regained consciousness Sul, was reborn. The disc in his palm had embedded itself deep into his hand, fusing with the skin. With the return of his senses, he suddenly realized he possessed a depth of understanding that far exceeded his own experiences, as though he was now not just a single man, but a composite of many lifetimes of knowledge and ideas. At once, all of these unfamiliar thoughts flowed through him with a confident fluency he accepted without question. Now, he knew the terrible secret of the spherical gem and the dire consequences of its very existence. It was power beyond comprehension, but its very presence was profoundly poisonous to both thought and flesh. It would bear close watching, he thought as he carefully replaced the cover on the container in which the glittering jewel lay.

The three remaining discs he handled without any further effect and placed them in his pouch where he carried his flint and stone. Then, he took some scraps of hide that he sliced from his cloak and wrapped the box containing the gem into a small bundle. With this tucked under his arm, Prince Sul, son of King Dawood, who from this moment on would call himself Sulimon, headed back down the mountain to transform the lives of his people and the world, forever.