It’s the November CLFA Booknado!

Renegades: Out of Time along with a lot of other great books, check them out!

Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance

The November CLFA Booknado churns across a darkened literary landscape, demolishing tired, old, ideologically Progressive pap and blasting fresh fiction choices all across the land! Pick up one of our featured titles today and join the movement.

Click on the book image to learn more and shop!

(Titles are considered new releases and/or sold at featured promotional price points as of November 14 and 15, 2016.)

NEW RELEASES

   Keeping the Faith (Book Two of the John Fisher Chronicles) by William Lehman
It was suposed to be an easy case, a good way to “get back on the horse” and because it looked like a ‘Thrope case, it was right up Detective Fisher’s alley. Of course, nothing is ever easy when Fisher is involved, and when they found the murdered Marine, it all went south…

  Blood of Invidia (Maestru Series Book 1) by Tom Tinney and  Morgen Batten
Aliens, Vampires, and Werewolves…Oh, My!

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Renegades: Out of Time

Renegades: Out of Time
Renegades: Out of Time

Renegades: Out of Time is now live!  You can get it from Amazon as an ebook and coming soon as a paperback.

The Renegades are running out of time.

Captain Mike Noguchi has led his band of Renegades out of the heart of a interstellar war, forged them together into a privateer crew, and has learned of an ancient alien facility that may hold clues to a conspiracy which seems bent on his crew’s destruction.

But that facility is on a planet conquered by the Chxor. The Renegades will need to slip across the battle-lines, infiltrate a conquered world, and find their way inside a facility which has kept its secrets for untold generations. Along the way they’ll need to fight genetically engineered monsters, a psychotic military commander, and an entire army of Chxor.

Yet even if they manage that, some secrets may be too much for them to handle. Their enemies have already done terrible things with the knowledge found there… can the Renegades survive secrets from outside of time?

Second Snippet Renegades: Out of Time

Here’s the second snippet for Renegades: Out of Time.   Be sure to read the first snippet!

***

Lord Admiral Valens Balventia sighed as his communications officer notified him of another civilian ship wanting to talk with him.

“Lieutenant,” he said, “I’ve told you, give them the standard evacuation orders.  I’m trying to plan a defense, if you interrupt me again…”

“Sir,” the Lieutenant looked nervous at speaking up, but Valens had worked hard to develop a staff that trusted him.  If he had interrupted him mid-sentence, then clearly he felt it was important enough.  That meant that Valens listened as the younger officer spoke.

“She’s not a normal civilian vessel, my Lord,” Lieutenant Sicarious said quickly.  “The Aurore is a privateer… and she’s behind the Chxor battle line.”

Valens’s eyes went wide at that.  That could be very useful indeed.  “Put him on.”

“Lord Admiral, I am Captain Mike Smith of the Aurore, out of Nova Roma.” the Asian ship’s captain wasn’t wearing a ship’s suit.  Given the current battle conditions, that suggested either a blatant disregard for safety or that he misunderstood the situation gravely.  Neither of which boded well for the conversation.  I hate privateers, Valens thought.  Most of them were little better than opportunistic pirates.  Still, if it was their ships and crews dying against the Chxor instead of Nova Roma Sailors and Marines, then Valens was willing to hold his nose.  “We are currently five thousand kilometers behind the main element of the Chxor battle line.  We’re picking up survivors from one of your vessels.”  He looked off-screen, “The Kestrel, is what my salvage… uh, rescue team has heard from survivors.”

Valens Balventia couldn’t help a scowl at the word “salvage,” yet the fact that the privateer had already picked up survivors was a good thing.  He considered the rest, though, “Wait, Captain, did you say you’re only five thousand kilometers behind the Chxor force?”  That sounded absurd.  How could any ship survive that close to the enemy?  For that matter, how had he managed to get so close?

“Correct, Admiral,” Captain Smith said.  “We also have military-grade sensors, so if you have platforms capable of hitting them, we can provide targeting data.  They’re moving away quickly, though, so we’ll probably lose quality targeting data in the next thirty minutes.”

Valens began to smile.  “Captain, send me your targeting data.  How do we have you, laser, I assume?”

The delay was painful, now.  The data wouldn’t be real-time.  If the privateer had an ansible, it would have been best.  But his ship’s crews could run simulations on the Chxor movements, program those target parameters in…

A few minutes ago, he had seen this as a final defense, a last stand.  With data on the enemy’s ships, he could actually win this.

“Yes, Admiral,” Captain Smith said.  “Though we’re having issues pushing transmissions through their screen and jamming.”

“You’ve one hell of a communications officer to manage,” Valens said.  He moved his estimation of the privateer upwards again.  “We’ll set up a relay, I think we have several platforms in place.  My communications officer will coordinate.”  He nodded at Lieutenant Sicarius and looked at his staff, “Order all fighters to launch.  We have a narrow window and I intend to hit these bastards so hard they feel it back on Karis.”

***

 

“Hold him still, I have not yet stabilized the subject!” Run shouted in his shrill “command voice” as he waved his staple gun around.  The wounded Nova Roman Marine fought hard, despite the injuries that still spurted blood.

Mandy glanced at Miranda.  The pair of them had been assigned to help with the wounded, since they both had some medical skills.  “Do you think we should tell him that the Marine thinks he’s been captured?”

They watched as the two medics assigned to Run finally held the Marine down, even as he started to scream obscenities.

“Nah,” Miranda said as she bandaged the injured Nova Roman on their table.  “Wouldn’t do any good.” She gave the young man a friendly smile, “Marines, right?”

He smiled back at her and Mandy just rolled her eyes.  She didn’t much like the Nova Romans.  Really she didn’t like most people, except for Miranda.  She finished gluing the wound shut on her unconscious patient and moved on to the next.  This woman had been badly burned.  Most of her face and upper torso was a mass of blisters and the smell….

Mandy fought down a memory, of a house in flames and the screams of children.  For a second, it seemed so real to her that she froze.  No, she thought, I’m not there and even if I was, I’m stronger now.

She felt Miranda’s hand on her shoulder and she took a deep, reassuring breath.  “Thanks,” Mandy said.  It was all she had to say.

The two of them went to work on the wounded woman.  Mandy just hoped the Nova Romans had good medical care for their people.

***

 

“Status?” Mike asked as he came back on the bridge, pulling his ship’s suit on and placing his helmet on the rack behind his command chair.

“The Nova Roma forces launched their fighters and their ships are moving into attack positions,” Ariadne said cheerfully.  “Their Lieutenant Sicarious has been very helpful in setting up a relay system.  They seem confident of victory.”

Mike’s eyebrows went up at that.  At best he would have assumed they would stage some kind of fighting retreat.  Malta was key to the Nova Roma defense, but the Chxor numbers were daunting, to say the least.

If they think they can win, he thought, good for them, but I’m not putting my ship and crew at any more risk than necessary.  “Any threats?”

Ariadne brought up a Chxor dreadnought with three cruisers in a loose formation ahead of it.  Mike frowned as he saw it.  It was behind them, trailing a line of debris… and as he watched, it opened fire on a bit of wreckage that Simon had identified.  “Looks like it’s cleaning up behind the main force… and we’re on the path,” Ariadne said.  Her voice held anger and Mike wondered if the fire he saw behind the psychic’s eyes was entirely figurative.

The wreckage it fired on was what had probably been a human destroyer.  The dreadnought chewed the wreckage into a fine cloud of debris, no doubt killing any survivors in the process.  He didn’t know if the Chxor somehow realized they had someone behind them relaying messages or if they simply had a procedure in place to cover behind them.  For that matter, it wouldn’t surprise him if the Chxor ship’s commander simply took it into his head to run target practice.  The Chxor Empire showed little care for human lives, so any of those were likely.

“He’s getting pretty close,” Mike said, even as he reviewed the sensor data.  The damaged ship had engaged the remains of a cruiser before the destroyer.  Both times he’d drawn within five thousand kilometers.

Mike stared at his ship display in thought for a long moment.  The Aurore wasn’t a standard civilian freighter.  She was originally designed as a fast transport ship, and her hull had a sleek, predatory look, with angular hull facings to deflect incoming fire.  The engine pods were in tight against the hull, in a fashion designed to give them greater protection, which only further added to the sleek nature.

Yet she wasn’t a warship.  The ship had no heavy armor and its defense screen was only a single band, projected along the length of the ship.  The Aurore‘s primary weapon was a concealed energy torpedo turret.  The weapon was extremely powerful for a small ship… but it had the downside of extremely short range.

The Chxor dreadnought sweeping along the enemy fleet’s rear would be able to tell that they weren’t a standard freighter.  While Mike didn’t have much confidence in the Chxor’s ability to identify the ship as a threat, he had less confidence about whether or not that ship commander would even pause to think about his orders.

In all likelihood, he’d been ordered to screen the ships to the rear and eliminate any human survivors.  With how he was blasting active radar along with his screening cruisers, it wouldn’t be long before he noticed the Aurore in the shadow of the Kestrel‘s wreck.

With a human officer, Mike might have tried to explain that he was engaged in rescue operations.  Even a military ship might have been spared under those conditions.  But the Chxor wouldn’t care.  Mike didn’t know if the Chxor even picked up their own survivors under normal circumstances, much less in combat.

“What’s the status of the Admiral’s counterattack?” Mike asked.  Mike’s first impulse was to simply order the Aurore to jump to shadow space.  Over the past twenty minutes they had already recovered the majority of survivors from the Kestrel.  Yet they also were supplying the Nova Romans with targeting data.

Simon didn’t need to look at his screen, clearly he was a good pick as the communications and sensors officer.  “He’s launched his fighters, I estimate they’ll launch missiles in three minutes.”

Mike could do the math well enough.  The enemy dreadnought would be in range to pick them up in the next four minutes.  At that point, the data they sent to Admiral Balventia would be crucial.  If they jumped to shadow space, they’d abandon the Admiral’s forces at the most critical time.  The missile flight would need data right up until they went in on final attack mode, in order to bypass the enemy’s directional jamming.  Without that, the attack would almost certainly fail.

Mike stared at the display and went back and forth between the two engagements from the dreadnought.  While the capital ship’s fusion projectors had a potential engagement range of sixteen thousand kilometers and the missiles had a substantially larger engagement window, it seemed that the ship drew far closer than that in both engagements.

It was possible it did so from damage.  Certainly it left a debris and gas trail in its wake, a sure sign that it had received damage earlier in the battle, before the Aurore‘s timely arrival.  There could be any numbers of reasons for that.  Damage to the weapons systems, damage to its power systems, or maybe even with the cruisers providing targeting data, it still needed to approach in order to see its targets.

If it repeated that maneuver, the ship would come within range of the Aurore’s weapons.

I wish I’d shelled out for a pair of fighters and some military-grade munitions, Mike thought absently.  A few ship-killer missiles launched from close range could have damaged and maybe driven off the enemy ship.  The Aurore had external racks for interceptor missiles, but it would be reliant upon carried fighters to launch offensive missiles.

Anubus’s prowler carried two fission warheads, but Mike didn’t know that he trusted them to properly detonate.  For one thing, Pixel still hadn’t had a chance to do more than a cursory inspection of them.  For another, they were Wrethe technology… and the Wrethe weren’t known for their craftsmanship.  Killing people, he thought, yes, betraying and murdering one another and their allies, yes… but building quality ships… not so much.

Besides, replacing those two missiles would be a painful expense.  Less painful than dying under the dreadnought’s guns, but Mike knew that Anubus would demand replacement, probably with a newer, more powerful munition.  And if we don’t replace them, there’s the whole betraying and murdering allies thing to consider, Mike reminded himself.

Then again, better to be alive and in debt than dead.

“Anubus,” Mike said, “go ahead and launch your prowler, we have inbound.”

“I am not going to be a suicide attacker against a Chxor dreadnought,” Anubus growled.

“Of course you aren’t,” Mike said.  “I’d like your missiles to back our main battery.”  He soothed the Wrethe without even thinking about it.  At this point, he knew that Anubus viewed the rest of them as expendable… but the Wrethe also knew they gave him access to human worlds, weapons, and opportunities to enrich himself.  “Besides, think about the value of that dreadnought for salvage,” Mike said.  Doesn’t hurt to lay it on, Mike thought.

Anubus didn’t respond, but Mike decided to take that as agreement.

The cruisers had drawn closer, but Mike focused upon the dreadnought.  The cruisers mounted a minimal armament, designed around intercepting fighters or missiles.  He could take the four of them, especially damaged as they were.  The dreadnought was the threat.  Besides, after they identified a target, they seemed to move on in their search pattern along the fleet’s course.

Here he comes, Mike thought as he saw the dreadnought alter course.  The slow, ponderous ship had lined up a vector that would bring it’s starboard batteries to bear on the wreckage of the Kestrel.  That spiked interest in Mike.  Combined with the dreadnought’s slow acceleration and arthritic maneuvers, the fact that the ship didn’t rotate, but altered it’s overall course suggested it was either low on fuel for its maneuvering thrusters… or that those thrusters were damaged enough that it couldn’t rotate.  Certainly the course was out of its way.

Mike began to smile as he typed in some commands on his console.  “Rastar, get your salvage team aboard immediately.”  Mike didn’t look up as he addressed the navigational officer.  “Mister Nelson, prepare to plot me a maneuver.”

***

 

Ship Commander Chxun updated his fleet commander even as he noted they were drawing close to the latest bit of ship wreckage.

He understood that the Fleet Commander wanted to clear the navigational route of debris and enemy threats for the follow-on occupation force.  He did not feel emotion, so he certainly did not think such efforts were beneath him.  Still, he thought it would have been optimal to have a squadron assigned to this duty, rather than his damaged vessel.  Certainly the remnants of the human defense fleet posed little threat to the Fleet Commander’s forty dreadnoughts.

If Fleet Commander Kxrass had peeled off a dreadnought squadron, then Ship Commander Chxun would have been free to begin repairs of his own vessel.  He could admit that those repairs would take some time.  The multiple missile hits to his port side had crippled his vessel and Chxun felt certain that the ship would need months to be brought back to full operational readiness.

“Time to optimal range?” Ship Commander Chxun asked.

“Thirty seconds, Ship Commander,” his targeting officer said.

Chxun noted that on his log. Fleet Commander Kxrass’s orders had been to clear large debris.  He had not mentioned recovery of personnel, so Kxrass hadn’t bothered to recover any humans, though he had noted the positions and vectors of Chxor survivors, should the Fleet Commander decide to expend the resources for recovery.  The three Chxor and two human vessel debris he’d cleared so far had developed a pattern.  He’d found that if he drew into close range, his weapons batteries produced the most efficient result, reducing any large debris into objects small enough to pose no real navigational hazard.

He had not noted any surviving ships on this path, though that matched his expectations.  Logically any surviving human vessels would have retreated from the system.  The holdouts, in the midst of a futile counterattack, were simply a further sign of the illogical insanity of humanity.

They should have abandoned the planet upon the Fleet Commander’s arrival to the system.  The logical tactic would be to withdraw in the face of a force they could not successfully oppose.

The humans couldn’t win this war, but Chxun knew they would lose it far slower if they didn’t insist upon dying for points of honor or for the sake of civilians who provided no contribution to the war effort.

“Ship Commander,” his sensors officer said. “One of the screening cruisers indicates they have detected a possible radar contact to our port side.”

Chxun considered that.  It seemed unlikely that a ship would be so positioned.  It would have had to either come in behind them at a high enough velocity with low emissions as to be undetected by passive sensors, or it would have needed to be present, yet hidden from the cruiser screen’s radar systems and then somehow now detected.

“Tell them to recalibrate their radar systems and scan again,” Ship Commander Chxun said.  He could have rotated his damaged ship to detect the vessel, but that would have used an alarming quantity of his remaining thruster fuel.  He could explain away the loss of the fuel due to damage, but it would still reflect badly upon his evaluation if he dropped below safety minimums.  Besides, it was highly unlikely that the humans had any kind of warship in position to pose a risk to his dreadnought.  Certainly if they had, they would have used it before now.

“Prepare to engage the debris,” Chxun said.

***

 

Mike smiled coldly as the Chxor dreadnought closed into position.  It had all come down to timing.  As the Chxor cruisers moved past the wreck of the Kestrel, he’d brought the Aurore out on her maneuvering thrusters, a series of slow burns timed to move them away from the Kestrel, keeping in its shadow from the nearest cruiser and just outside of radar range from the enemy dreadnought.  That had consumed almost all of their thruster fuel, but that could be replaced… and they’d only needed to move a bare eight thousand kilometers and then hold relative position.

From the other side, Simon had been able to detect the heavy damage on the dreadnought’s right side.  While it might have passive sensors, certainly its active radar was down.

“Pixel,” Mike said, “Bring up the plant.”  He looked over at Eric, the twitchy weapon’s officer leaned low over his weapons console.  “Eric, engage at will.”

This would be the first time they fired the Aurore‘s weapon outside of a simulation.  They’d already extended the concealed turret from behind the false rear “cargo” hatch.  The three fusion torpedo projectors were slow firing and they used up a quarter of what had been the Aurore‘s cargo holds.

Each of the torpedo projectors created a short-lived, magnetically condensed fusion reaction and then accelerated it in the direction of the target.  They couldn’t maintain the magnetic containment past three thousand kilometers so the weapon’s effectiveness dropped off sharply after that as the plasma released across a broad region of space.

The magnetic torpedoes weren’t terribly accurate, either, and the magnetic containment of defense screens caused a number of issues with that, making the accuracy suffer still greater against intact vessels with full-strength defense screens.  To top things off, the torpedoes didn’t travel fast, a result of the necessity to maintain magnetic containment over such distances.  In short, the torpedoes were slow, inaccurate, and short ranged.

At just under a thousand kilometers away, the damaged dreadnought didn’t have its port defense screens functioning.  In fact, jagged rents showed in the dreadnought’s armor, where earlier hits had already savaged the ship.

The fusion torpedoes crossed the distance in only five seconds.

All three hit a tight grouping directly in amidships on the dreadnought.  The superheated plasma inside the magnetic containment then released inside the enemy ship.  Fire began to blossom all along the ship’s hull, and then the dreadnought simply detonated.  At this range, the bridge ports actually darkened as the Chxor dreadnought vanished in a chain of secondary explosions.

“Target destroyed,” Simon said.

“Oooh,” Ariadne said, “pretty.”

***

You can pick up your copy of Renegades: Out of Time on November 12th!  (Oh, and see below for the awesome cover art!)

cargoshipcover_v03_full

Renegades: Out of Time Cover Reveal

Renegades: Out of Time
Renegades: Out of Time

Here’s the cover for Renegades: Out of Time.  See below for the awesome full cover art.  I’ve made a partnership with the very talented David C. Simon to do this cover art.  If you don’t know about his online military SF comic, Crimson Dark, you should definitely check it out!

The Renegades are running out of time.

Captain Mike Noguchi has led his band of Renegades out of the heart of a interstellar war, forged them together into a privateer crew, and has learned of an ancient alien facility that may hold clues to a conspiracy which  seems bent on his crew’s destruction.

But that facility is on a planet conquered by the Chxor.  The Renegades will need to slip across the battle-lines, infiltrate a conquered world, and find their way inside a facility which has kept its secrets for untold generations.  Along the way they’ll need to fight genetically engineered monsters, a psychotic military commander, and an entire army of Chxor.
Yet even if they manage that, some secrets may be too much for them to handle.  Their enemies have already done terrible things with the knowledge found there… can the Renegades survive secrets from outside of time?
Renegades: Out of Time will be available on November 12th.
cargoshipcover_v03_full

First Snippet: Renegades: Out of Time

Here’s the first snippet for Renegades: Out of Time.

Chapter I

 

The Aurore emerged from shadow space into the heart of a maelstrom.

Captain Mike Noguchi blanched as a thermonuclear detonation flashed in front of the ship, close enough that it filled the bridge with light.  “What the hell is that!?”  Mike demanded.

Simon looked up from the sensors, “Multiple detonations, massive energy releases all around us!  We’re in the middle of a firefight Captain!”  Of the original crew, Simon was the only one to call Mike by his title.  The others mostly just called him Mike.  Then again, Simon was also something of an outsider.

Mike didn’t take longer than a heartbeat to consider things.  “Pixel, cut power to the drives and defense screens, now.”

The thrum of the ship’s drives dropped to silence and the bridge lighting dropped, “I cut the reactor, too,” Pixel said.  “It’ll take us a few minutes to bring it back online, but we’ll be less visible.”

Mike nodded, yet his eyes were for the sensor displays.  The ship had enough standby power to still give them some picture of what was happening.  If worse came to worse, their weapons had a charge on their capacitors for a single salvo each.

They were in the middle of a battle.

“A few billion square kilometers of space and we show up in the middle of a battle,” Mike growled.  He saw Ariadne open her mouth and he pointed a finger at her, “Don’t.  Don’t you dare.

He knew she wasn’t going to make a sarcastic comment.  It would be out of character for the cheerful woman, even though Mike had trusted their new navigational officer over her psychic navigational skills.  Not that she’d be wrong, if she were to get snarky, he thought.  Though that wasn’t fair to Sharric Nelson.  He had no way to know there’d be a Chxor fleet in their path.

No, she was probably going to say something cheerful and optimistic and Mike didn’t want to have to deal with that right now.  They were in the middle of a battle, he had reason to be grouchy.

The transponders nearest them weren’t Nova Roman.  Simon had noted on the display that he thought they were Chxor.  Mike hoped that his sensors and communications officer was wrong… because there were a lot of enemy transponders.

“Why do we have such a good count on the enemy ships?” Mike asked.  “I thought the Chxor used powerful jamming systems, right?”

Simon nodded, “Yes, Captain, but we’re behind them.  They’re directional jammers, I believe.”  He cleared his throat, “It doesn’t seem as if the Chxor are paying us any attention, Captain.  I think the general detonation of the last wave of missiles hid our arrival.”

“Interesting…” Mike murmured.  Simon had begun to populate what he thought were the ship classes.  Mike saw forty of the Chxor’s Five-class dreadnoughts.  The massive ships mounted heavier guns than he really wanted to think about, with missile tubes and fusion projectors, plus anti-fighter rotary cannons.

“Let’s blast the bastards!” Eric snarled.  The former Centauri Commando’s hands hovered over his weapon’s console and his face wore an eager look.  With his blonde hair and blue eyes, he looked like an eager child in a candy store.  With how twitchy Eric Striker could be, Mike felt tempted to cut power to his weapons officer’s console.

“They have us outgunned by several orders of magnitude,” Mike said shaking his head.  “How about we see if it’ll do any good before we die gloriously?”

The Chxor formation was clearly accelerating away from the Aurore… and just as clearly headed towards the inhabited planet.  That was bad news for a number of reasons.  They had planned on resupply in the Malta system.  It was the last human-held system on their route into Chxor space.

“Any signs of human forces?” Mike asked.  If the fight was over…

“Captain,” Simon said, and brought up a visual scan.  It looked to be the remains of a battleship, possibly one of the Desperado-class battleships.  Mike wasn’t certain, because the front end was simply gone and the rear area was twisted wreckage, still glowing in areas from multiple hits.

“Range?” Mike asked.

“Uh, three hundred kilometers,” Simon said.

“Bring us alongside, tuck us in close,” Mike said to Sharric Nelson, “Just use the maneuvering thrusters.”  The civilian navigation officer’s dark face was set in a tense expression.  Clearly he had hoped for orders to plot a course out of the system.

“Oh, good, we can pick up survivors,” Ariadne said.

Mike looked at his XO.   The tall, beautiful blonde woman’s face showed concern.  Mike decided not to crush her positive thinking by telling her that he just wanted something to hide behind.  Then again, he thought, who knows, there might actually be survivors… and if there aren’t there’s bound to be some valuable salvage.

The Aurore wasn’t a military ship, after all, she was a privateer.

“Simon, you getting anything on communications?”  Mike asked

“Negative, sir,” Simon responded, “too much jamming.”

The Aurore didn’t mount an ansible.  Radio communications wouldn’t penetrate the jamming.  A laser transmission should, though it would be directional so they’d need line of sight to someone…

Mike brought up the course plotted by Sharric and began to fly the vessel himself.  They didn’t have much bridge crew and while they did have a spare helmsman, Mike would rather do it himself.  Besides, the maneuvering thrusters didn’t have much juice.  There was an art to using them for a maneuver like this.

“Sir,” Simon said after a long moment, “I’m picking up a large force near the planet.”  He brought up the icons on the main display.  While part of Mike wished they’d had the money to retrofit to more modern tactical displays –at least for the Captain’s chair– he was glad the ship had a military-grade main display.

Mike studied the force.  It looked to be five or six capital ships, with a host of smaller vessels.  Nothing near an even match for the Chxor armada.  Too bad, he thought, I really don’t want another world falling to the Chxor Empire.  “Transponders?” Mike asked.

“They match Nova Roma,” Simon said.  “This ship,” he highlighted what looked like one of the larger vessels, “is a Helot-class carrier, the Furies Wrath, it should be Lord Admiral Valens Balventia’s ship.”

Mike frowned in thought for a moment.  He didn’t recognize the name.  “Shouldn’t Lord Admiral Roccaberti be the one in command?”

“No sign of his ship, Captain,” Simon said.

They had come up on the wreckage of the battleship and to Mike’s surprise, he saw that distress beacons had begun to appear, drowned out by all the jamming and weapons fire until they came close enough to see them.  Mike brought up the intercom, “Rastar, are you suited up?”

“Yeah, Mike,” Rastar said.  “I got the rest of the boarding party ready to go.”

“Have Run prep his team, too,” Mike said.  The little Chxor acted as the ship’s doctor, not that Mike really trusted him to work on him if he was injured.  But since doctors were in short supply during war time and he’d already proven that he could do field surgery, Mike had kept him on.  Besides, Run understood the Chxor language, which meant that he might be useful to translate.

On that cue, Run spoke up, “I would advise against remaining in the system.  The human defeat is inevitable.  Once they have been destroyed, the Chxor Fleet Commander will sweep for surviving vessels and we will be destroyed.”

“Thanks, I’ll take that under consideration” Mike snarled.  The little bastard’s assurance of defeat made Mike want to lend a hand to his fellow humans.

As always, sarcasm was wasted upon the Chxor.  “Thanks are not necessary, I merely stated the obvious.”

“Rastar, go rescue survivors,” Mike snapped.  He looked at Simon, “Get me a channel with this Admiral Balventia.”

“Sir,” Simon said, “there’s a lot of jamming.  The range is extremely long for the laser transceiver…”

“Get me a comm line,” Mike snapped.  “I don’t care if you need to go out on the hull and wave your hands.  I want to talk with Admiral Balventia, now.”  Simon’s face grew pinched, but he went to work.   “Oh,” Mike looked at Ariadne, “Put the crew at battle stations, I want everyone suited up, just in case.”  In all the excitement, he’d forgotten about the rest of the crew.

He was used to operating a smaller ship, one where the entire crew was less than a dozen people.  At least, that’s how things had been before.  Now, aboard the freighter Aurorae they had a hundred and fifty crew and room for two hundred more, plus passengers.  And since slavers had retrofitted the ship, Mike thought, we have life support for all the cargo holds.

Not that he planned on having the ship full of that many people, but they might find a ship in distress or a high priority passenger trip or something.  Failing that, Mike thought, I’ve run livestock before, it’s nice to have versatility like that.

“Anubus, is your ship ready?” Mike asked

“The October Sky is ready,” Anubus growled.  “Why are we remaining in the system?  The human defense is a lost cause.”  It amused Mike that Anubus mentioned his combat prowler was ready to fight while at the same time suggesting they should flee.  Clearly the disparate parts of their Wrethe were at odds over the situation.

“Plenty of salvage on that wreck,” Mike said.  “Or are you too scared to take a few risks?”  The Wrethe’s silence was answer enough to that question.

“Captain, I have a link to the Admiral’s carrier,” Simon said.

“Put me on,” Mike said.  Hopefully they could do some good.  If not, well, Mike would be willing to pass along any last messages to family or loved ones.  Maybe there’ll be some pay in that…

***

Coming Soon: Renegades: Out of Time

Sutek Press will release Renegades: Out of Time, the third book of The Renegades series, November 12th, 2016.  It’s less than a week away, but I think this is the best Renegades book yet.

The Renegades are running out of time.

Captain Mike Noguchi has led his band of Renegades out of the heart of a interstellar war, forged them together into a privateer crew, and has learned of an ancient alien facility that may hold clues to a conspiracy which  seems bent on his crew’s destruction.

But that facility is on a planet conquered by the Chxor.  The Renegades will need to slip across the battle-lines, infiltrate a conquered world, and find their way inside a facility which has kept its secrets for untold generations.  Along the way they’ll need to fight genetically engineered monsters, a psychotic military commander, and an entire army of Chxor.
Yet even if they manage that, some secrets may be too much for them to handle.  Their enemies have already done terrible things with the knowledge found there… can the Renegades survive secrets from outside of time?

Movie Review: Doctor Strange

Things get a little strange...
Things get a little strange…

I saw Doctor Strange.  It was awesome.  Go see it.  Review done.

Wait, you want more?  Fine…  Plot-wise, it’s basically Marvel’s standard formula.  Put a lot of arrogance, a lot of talent, and ridiculously good looks into a main character package, stir in some terrible tragedy and a stretch of painful character growth and then add a dark-mirror villain.  Serve warm with chilled drinks.

The writing, though, is fantastic.  The pacing is perfect, there’s never a scene where I looked at my phone or watch to see how long was left.   I drank too much of my caffeinated beverage of choice and you know what? My butt was glued to the seat the entire time.   The lines and delivery are fantastic.  Benedict Wong was the best secondary character, his deadpan deliveries were fantastic.

The humor was varied and didn’t miss a beat.  The graphics were fantastic.  The characters were fun and engaging.  Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One was alien and powerful and highly sympathetic.  Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange was arrogant, abrasive, and utterly charming.

The end-credits scenes, particularly the first one, are fantastic and worth waiting for, even if you really need to use the restroom.  Stick it out, you won’t be disappointed.

Overall, this is a magnificent showing, Marvel Studios does what they do best: creating a massive universe and introducing new characters in fun and engaging ways.  Go see this one.  It doesn’t matter if you know nothing about Doctor Strange, it’s just a fun, entertaining movie where they got everything right.