This Year’s First Category Winner

Round One of the 2013 edition of Novel Rocket’s Launch Pad Contest, Boosting You Out of the Slush Pile, has a winner.

This first category was for Suspense/Crime/Mystery/Thriller stories. And the judges had no difficulty deciding which should be named the winner.

One judge observed the winning writer’s style as reminiscent of James Rollins and Brad Thor. The other was intrigued by the story’s premise. Though the author has already self-published the novel, the judges felt it could still use a little polish, but they saw real potential in it.

We are, therefore, happy to present our first category winner of the year: Tidal Wave 23 by Thomas J. Ryan of Cape Coral, Florida. Please enjoy the first chapter of his, as he classifies it, New World Order thriller:

by Thomas J. Ryan
Chapter 1
Special Agent Tristan Wood observed the hustle and bustle of
Massachusetts Avenue buzzing with late

morning activity. Cabs lined up in front
of Union Station waiting for their next customer. Tristan took in the view of
the United States Capitol while his FBI partner scanned through FM stations on
the radio of the unmarked car. Though not a residential part of town, this was
one of the most densely populated areas of the country during the week. Within
one-half square mile sat the White House, Capitol building, Library of
Congress, Metro Center, the Smithsonian museum complex, Washington Monument,
and the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building to name a few. This was literally ground

“Not too loud.” Tristan
turned the volume down on the digital clock, which read; 11:11 a.m.

A handheld police scanner
sat upright on the dashboard and hissed with occasional chatter over the
frequency dedicated to the Secret Service. Another threat on the president’s
life had prompted FBI to grant them four agents as additional security. Tristan
and Jason kept watch over the front entrance and a second team covered the lot
on the north side of Union Station. FBI special agents hated this kind of work
considering it both demoralizing and boring. Today they were glorified security
The president of the United
States was at Union Station this morning for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting for
the debut trip of the new Amtrak Next-Generation, or Next-Gen, high-speed rail train. It was the first of its kind in
the country, connecting Washington, DC, to Philadelphia, New York City to
Boston, using magnetic levitation or MAGLEV. This meant the train floated above
the track at about 220 mph. The problem, from an engineering standpoint, was
that MAGLEV could not run on standard tracks and needed a dedicated rail,
stipulating added expense. And as with most government projects, the appraised
$117 billion cost had more than doubled upon its completion. Amtrak had been in
the black for decades, continuing to run only by subsidies courtesy of the
American taxpayer. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the Next-Gen
project could take fifty years just to break even. Watchdog groups criticized
the timing, pointing to the extremely bad economy that seemed to continue with
no end in sight. Sudden activity over the scanner brought Tristan back from his

“Phoenix is on the move!” Static.

“Bring in the Stagecoach!” Static.

“What is condition of
Phoenix?” Static.

“Phoenix is on the move!” Static.

“Where?” Static.

“Heading to the Castle!” Static.

Tristan and Jason were out
of the car and running across the street toward the Main Hall. They entered
Union Station and headed for the Amtrak Next-Gen terminal. The dark suits of
the two young FBI agents always drew attention. Black was no longer the
required color, nonetheless, a conservative dress policy remained in the
Bureau. Tristan Wood liked wearing a suit. After years in the military he had
become accustomed to order, and took pride in his professional appearance.
Several inside jokes about the dress code persisted among the agents who, at
the moment, referred to themselves as the Men
in Black

“Bravo Team, are you on
your way?” Tristan spoke into the scanner.

The response was stark,
“Already here.”

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