Here’s the first sample section from Fenris Unchained.
Time: 0815 Local, 01 June 291 G.D.
Location: Dakota, Dakota System
A yellow light began to flash on the control board.
That was nothing new, not aboard the Kip Thorne. Warning lights lit up half the panel. It was a Christmas display of yellow caution lights, flashing priority lights, and red danger lights that gave the board an aspect of impending doom.
The pilot didn’t look over to the panel to see what was wrong. One of the red lights indicated a malfunction in the auto-pilot system. That meant that the tall, blond woman had to bring the Kip Thorne down by hand.
Not a difficult a task for an experienced pilot. She enjoyed flying, enjoyed it more than anything else, really. She didn’t enjoy thirty six hours of flight time spent awake on stimulants while flying a ship that needed far too many repairs.
She shot a glance at the panel, and then flipped on the intercom. “Rawn, take a look at the starboard thruster.” She shook her head. Tried to push thoughts through a mind that seemed turned to mud.
The intercom crackled and hissed, his voice difficult to make out. “Uh, Mel, we might have a problem.”
The light ceased flashing. She sighed in relief, “No, it cleared up here, good job whatever you did.”
The ship bucked. The alarm light flashed red. A moment later, so did six or seven other warning lights. “What the hell did you just do, Rawn?!”
Mel fought the control yoke, eyes wide, as she swore to herself:
“Rawn, was that the starboard pod going out?”
The ship yawed over as she overcompensated and she fought it back under control.
“Rawn, you’d better get that thruster back online.”
She heard a squeal from the hatch as it opened. It had always reminded her of a ground vehicle’s brakes screeching just before an accident.
She tried not to apply that metaphor as some sort of warning to her current flight. Her brother spoke from behind her: “I’m going to pack the escape pod. Anything you want me to throw in?” he asked.
“What?” Mel craned her neck to look at him.
The ship spun sharply and threw her against her straps and tossed her brother into the wall hard. She bit off a curse and struggled with the controls for a moment. It seemed to take an eternity to fight the ship back under control.
The radio crackled, “Freighter Kip Thorne, this is Dakota Landing Control, you broke out of your landing queue, return immediately, over.”
“We’re going to lose the other thruster. The port thruster is in worse shape. What do you want me to put in the pod?” her brother asked.
His calm voice made her clench her teeth.
“We’re not abandoning ship,” she told him sharply. “I can land this thing.” It would be hard, though, with just one thruster. They couldn’t engage their warp drive in atmosphere, not without disengaging safeties that were there to prevent that. Even if we had time, she thought, it would be a stupid thing to do. The warp drive field would tear the atmosphere around them and if they hit anything in warp, the difference in relative velocity would not only kill them but quite possibly wipe out Dakota’s biosphere.
She forced her mind to focus. When she spoke, her voice had the calm tone that she emulated from her father: “Dakota Landing Control this is Freighter Kip Thorne, we just lost our starboard thruster and are requesting immediate assistance, over.”
“Freighter Kip Thorne, is this some kind of joke?” The speaker’s nasal, officious tone suggested she wasn’t amused.
Rawn snorted. “I know the safe combo, I’ll grab our cash and some keepsakes. I’ll clear out your desk too.” He pushed his way back off the bridge.
“Get back here—” Mel clamped her jaws shut. One thing at a time. “Negative Dakota Landing, this is no joke, our starboard thruster— ”
Her voice broke off as another yellow light began to flash, the warning light for load limit on the other thruster. “Our starboard thruster is out and we’re about to lose our port thruster, requesting assistance, over.”
“Negative, Kip Thorne, you’ll have to break off your descent and return to orbit,” the nasal voice answered. “A repair craft can be sent to you there.”
“Dakota Landing, this is an emergency. We lose our port thruster, there won’t be anything keeping us up here.” Mel snapped. “We don’t have enough thrust to get back into orbit, and you don’t have time to—”
“Kip Thorne, break off your descent or you will be intercepted by our customs cutter. Over.”
“Dakota, I hope they got a tractor,” answered. “Because—” The ship shuddered and the other thruster went dead. “We just lost our other thruster. Kip Thorne, out.”
She turned off the radio and sat in the chair for a long moment as the small freighter bounced. Soon it would begin to tumble, she knew, without the guidance from the thrusters.
“Six years, six years I kept her goin’. Dad, I did my best.”
She wiped her eyes; now was not the time to cry.
The ship fell now, without anything to slow its descent besides atmospheric friction. Superheated air flashed across the hull and cast glowing flames across the cockpit glass.
Mel sighed. She kissed her finger tips and touched the control yoke one last time, then unbuckled and left the bridge. She didn’t look back.
Fenris Unchained will be available tomorrow at noon (CST) from Amazon and Smashwords.
The Wolf is Loose.
Ten years ago, after her parents’ deaths in a terrorist attack, Melanie Armstrong walked away from a military officer’s career to raise her orphaned brother.
Since then she’s been captain of a tramp freighter – shuffling from world to world, scraping to barely get by, but content that she’s made the right decision.
But when her ship crashes, authorities make her an offer: take a fifteen-year sentence on a prison world where the average lifespan is a third of that… or stop an ancient and until-now forgotten robotic warship, the Fenris, from completing its hundred-year-old mission to kill millions of people and destroy a planet.