Tag Archives: alien

The Shattered Empire Second Sample

Here’s the second sample from The Shattered Empire, picking up where I left off in the first one, here.

“Command, Azure Actual, targets down, we are black on primary ammo, new orders?” Garret asked. His gaze went to the developing battle as the enemy capital ships closed with the Warwagon. They had launched their fighters and his sensors showed areas to avoid as the old dreadnought filled the space around it with interceptor fire. Going to be one hell of a mess to clean up no matter how this ends, Garret thought. That was the downside of projectile weapons, bombs, and missiles. Energy weapons diffused, eventually, the others just caused additional navigational hazards.

“Azure Squadron, standby,” Commodore Pierce said gruffly. “Attention Centauri Confederation ships, this is Commodore Frank Pierce of the Halcyon Defense Fleet.” Garret rolled his eyes at that. They were mercenaries, it seemed silly to hide under a title that meant nothing. “We have declared our independence from the Colonial Republic. We have no desire to fight you and should you stand down, you will be allowed to withdraw.”

The voice that responded held all of the familiar arrogance of the Centauri military. “That’s a grandiose proclamation. Regardless of what your transponders say, you have attacked, unprovoked, ships and property belonging to Nova Corp, which is made up of Centauri Confederation citizens. That requires retaliation… and your pathetic antique is not going to stop four top-of-the-line warships from exacting that retribution.” The Centauri Commander’s harsh accent added that special touch of totalitarian arrogance to his statement, Garret decided. Maybe I should give him a character reference to work with my father, he thought dryly.

“Perhaps not,” Commodore Pierce said, his gruff voice calm. “But we have no grudge with the Centauri Confederation or its citizens… and I have to wonder how much loyalty you have in corporate interests.” Garret watched the Warwagon close with the Centauri ships. On his screens he could see that the Helot had withdrawn out of the immediate fight. Garret chewed on his lip at the bluff from the Commodore. They couldn’t take on the four ships, not without some serious advantages. He knew why they’d targeted Nova Corp’s goons first. Hitting corporate security mercenaries was one thing, taking on Centauri Confederation warships was another. But it looked like they would have to do that anyway at this point and Garret would have rather punched a cruiser than a couple of destroyers in that case.

“Azure Squadron, form up in screen position delta along vector seven three,” Captain Gizmon said softly over their encrypted net. Garret relayed the command even as he tried to figure out what the plan was. That screening position would allow the gunboats to provide interceptor fire for any missiles fired from the enemy ships. But getting there meant they would have to swing wide of the fighters currently engaged with the Warwagon.

It must be as a response to the carrier, which began to spew forth fighters at an alarming rate. The sensors relay from the Warwagon painted them as Harassers, the Nova Roma combat fighter. Those were tough, powerful craft, Garret knew. He had a single brush against the Nova Roma Fleet once, before he joined up with the War Dogs. He and the other few survivors from that mercenary company had learned a solid lesson on the capabilities of Harassers.

Still, Harassers weren’t nearly as tough as the Hammers of his squadron and the extended missile racks that Azure squadron carried would thin their numbers as they closed. His squadron formed up and swept around into position, even as he watched the enemy attack wave form up on his sensors.

“This is your last warning, friend,” Commodore Pierce said. “Power down your ships or we’ll use whatever force necessary.” Garret shook his head at that. They were seriously outgunned. Still, clearly the Commodore thought they had some kind of edge, else they would have disengaged. They were mercenaries and there was no profit in suicide.

Garret’s eyes narrowed as he noticed the enemy carrier had launched what looked like assault shuttles. Why would they need to launch those, he wondered, it’s not like they’d want to board the Warwagon. The ancient dreadnought was probably worth more to the Centauri as scrap than as a warship. Besides, they would have to knock a ship completely out of action to use boarding shuttles with any chance of success. Even a few functional turrets could shred those craft.

Garret spared a glance at the civilian traffic. Most of it had cleared out, all but a pair of civilian transports caught in between the two closing forces. Either they assumed that by staying powered down they’d be unnoticed or they simply hadn’t had time to bring up their engines. Either way, Garret would hate to be in their position. As he thought that, the Centauri formation swept past the two ships. A moment later, they both detonated. At first, Garret assumed that the Centauri had fired on them or that they’d just been unlucky enough to take a random hit. But that didn’t make sense, Garret knew. They had detonated simultaneously and the huge spike of radiation from them both suggested something else altogether. The intense burst blinded his sensors for a long moment as Heller cursed her way through a reboot process. As his sensors went live again, it took Garret a while to figure out what they showed.

The four Centauri Confederation ships drifted without even emergency power. The assault shuttles from the carrier dove in among them and Garret zoomed in his gun camera to see the shuttles slam home into the warships. Must have been some kind of device, high yield radiation burst, he thought, something that knocked the engines out or maybe caused some kind of electromagnetic interference.

“Commodore Pierce, so wonderful of the War Dogs to join us,” a woman’s voice said. “It is always a pleasure to work with such a consummate professional.” Her voice was almost as sultry as Heller, but held an edge of arrogance that managed to set Garret’s teeth on edge.

“Admiral Mannetti,” Commodore Pierce said calmly. “Thank you for the assistance. I assume our employers approved of your tactic… though it would have been nice for you to warn us. Half my forward sensors are still down.”

“We had to maintain the element of surprise, darling,” Admiral Mannetti answered. “Don’t worry, it shouldn’t cause any lasting harm to your ships, just requires a reset at your range. Our friends, however, will be unable to bring their power systems online for several hours. My boarding crews will secure all four vessels before then.” Garret blanched as he remembered where he’d heard that name. She was some kind of rogue Nova Roma officer, more pirate than mercenary. Clearly she’d worked out some kind of deal with Halcyon… which made Garret’s lips twist in disgust. Hadn’t they learned how dangerous it was to bring in unscrupulous types from what happened with Nova Corp?

Yet, as his gaze finally slipped over to stare at the clouded blue sky of his homeworld, some part of him understood, at least, why they’d done it. Even so, he wondered how far they were willing to go… and just how dangerous their new allies were.

***

The Shattered Empire will be available on the 25th of October.  I’ll be doing a Book Bomb on October 25th at noon.  It is currently available for pre-order on Amazon here and will be available on Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Kobo soon!

The Shattered Empire Cover

The Shattered Empire
The Shattered Empire

Here’s the final cover for The Shattered Empire, Book II of The Shadow Space Chronicles.  Like The Fallen Race, this cover was designed by Robert Brockman.  For those of you who are curious, it is a Crusader-class warship on the cover.  Stay tuned for more updates on The Shattered Empire and don’t forget about the Book Bomb, happening on the 25th of October!

Paperback Cover - TSE
Paperback Cover – TSE

The Shattered Empire First Sample

The Shattered Empire, Book II of the Shadow Space Chronicles, will be published on 24 October.  While I’m doing the final editing, I thought I’d put up a sample section for those of you who want their fix.  For reference, this is from the prologue and actually takes place before Lucius’s battle with the Balor at Faraday from The Fallen Race.

 

Halcyon, Garris Major System

Contested

April 1, 2403

In one of the absurdities of the universe, Garret returned to Halcyon to fight and die over a decade after he had sworn to his father he would rather die than ever come back home. Old bastard probably finds it amusing, Garret thought, assuming he even knows his son has signed on with this band of mercs. The tight confines of the cockpit cradled his two meter tall frame in way that had become familiar rather than uncomfortable. His dark face, under his flight helmet, split with a snarl at the irony.

“Two minutes!” Garret called out over his command net. His hands went over the familiar controls of his Hammer-class gunship. The bulky, brutal craft was slow, awkward, and designed with a principle of brute force.

That brute force was something he appreciated as he watched the countdown. The Garris Major System belonged to the Colonial Republic and would have Colonial Republic ships to secure it. However, the oligarchy which controlled most of the system was in the pockets of Nova Corp, which was chartered out of the Centauri Confederation. Nova Corp would have mercenaries and quite possibly Centauri Confederation warships to secure their interests.

Halcyon Colony was one of their holdings. They wouldn’t want to give the planet up, especially not after their xenoarcheological discovery. Pottery shards they didn’t care for, but intact alien technology was something that Nova Corp would fight to keep… and they wouldn’t hesitate to have their mercenaries and bribed naval elements smash the incursion into their territory.

As if someone like Nova Corp really deserves anything on Halcyon, Garret thought darkly. Political refugees from Old Earth’s North America had founded Halcyon Colony, illegally, over decades of clandestine work and smuggled people and equipment. The cloudy blue world had little to recommend it for a colony world with limited mineral wealth and only one rocky, mountainous landmass… which was why Amalgamated Worlds had disregarded it, originally. Their colony had stayed under the radar until Amalgamated Worlds had fallen… and the Colonial Republic’s paramilitary forces had encouraged them to join under the Garris Major Unification. The trinary system had four inhabited worlds, with the largest populations on Eldorado and Santa Cruz in orbit around the star Astero. The planet Infierno served as a penal colony during the revolution against Amalgamated Worlds and later for Presidente Salazar’s political opponents, its star, Estrella, was relatively close to Astero. The presence of Halcyon had been hidden by the extreme distance of Menor from the other two stars, a trip that could take days or weeks depending on the drives of the ships involved. That isolation had at first proven a barrier against much involvement from the ruler of Santa Cruz.

But things change, Garret thought darkly, the old man brought this, all because he couldn’t leave things well enough alone. Garret shook his head and tried to clear his mind. The past didn’t matter, not right now. He had to keep his mind focused on the important issues. He glanced at his display, “Thirty seconds,” he said.

His squadron shouldn’t need the reminder. Garret heard Heller’s music cut off in the jump seat behind him. He restrained a sigh as the woman spoke, “We have updated sensor feed, no?” It just wasn’t fair that she had such a sexy voice, he thought, and with that German accent, no less. Not that he minded, it just was somewhat hard to concentrate sometimes. Especially since he had been strapped in his jump seat for the past thirty hours of their trip through shadow space with no one else to talk with. Even so, he welcomed the conversation. His normally shaved-bare head had a layer of stubble, as did his jaw, and he itched with stale sweat and a grunge that only came from being trapped in a flight suit for over a day.

“No update, yet,” Garret said. The rebels on Halcyon hadn’t wanted to risk seizing their ansible station until after the battle kicked off in orbit. That was an understandable caution, he knew. Nova Corp wouldn’t hesitate to nuke it from orbit and the Colonial Republic ships would probably take giving away their positions to an inbound force rather poorly as well. Still, the rebels said they had a couple merchant ships in place with sensor data ready to upload upon their arrival.

That would have to do. The War Dog’s forces would arrive at long range. Ideally, they would catch the Colonial Republic ships powered down or even at dock with Halcyon’s lunar Heinlein Base, which meant they could demand their surrender or even seize them before the ships would have a chance to take off. Whatever security Nova Corp had, however, was a different matter entirely.

On that cue, the gray nothingness of shadow space vanished, replaced by the star-studded wonder of normal space. Granted, Garret could only see it through his displays, but the familiar stars of his homeworld almost brought tears to his eyes. The targeting data that almost immediately appeared on his screens might have had something to do with that, though.

“Azure Squadron, detach,” Garret called out. He listened to the acknowledgments even as he watched their icons form up around him and the icons of the other ships in their force shift to the attack. As usual, he saw that Hugh’s Hammer was slightly out of position. “Hugh, adjust your vector by three seven four.”

“Roger, Commander,” Hugh said. “I swear they need to recalibrate my sensors again.” His drawl, was, as usual, totally relaxed. Whatever the reason for being off, he adjusted course and fell into formation properly… which let Garret focus on the enemy as the sensor feed from the rebels populated.

Well, that’s a bit worse than we expected, Garret thought. The rebels had plotted the course of what looked like a pair of destroyers, probably the Nova Corp mercenaries they expected. There was also a trio of cruisers and a battlecruiser, however. Even worse was the fourth enemy ship, what looked like a Helot-class carrier. That’s definitely not supposed to be there, he thought, what the hell does Nova Corp have a beast like that out here for? The Helot could carry an entire wing of fighters directly into battle, protected behind heavy armor and its defense screens.

“Azure squadron, target priority is updated,” Commodore Pierce said. “Let the big ships fight it out, take down their auxiliaries, understood?” As always, the mercenary commander sounded gruff, irritated, and a little bored. There was a running joke among the War Dogs that the day Commodore Pierce sounded surprised would be the day they threw in the towel.

“Azure, roger,” Garret acknowledged. The Warwagon was old, a dreadnought built before Amalgamated Worlds had risen to power, back when Earth nations still existed and had star ships of their own. While it was heavily refitted, it would be at a very marked disadvantage against the Centauri battlecruiser and trio of cruisers. They would have superior maneuvers and acceleration and their weapons were far more up to date.

Still, it wasn’t his place to argue strategy with the Commodore, especially not in the middle of a battle. “Squadron, form on me.” He uploaded their targeting priorities even as he monitored the rest of the battle. Assault shuttles from the Warwagon descended towards Heinlein Base. The base was originally built as a civilian transhipment facility. The Colonial Republic had repurposed it as their garrison above the fractious Halcyon Colony when Garret was still a boy. The assault shuttles were in a race, Garret knew. They had to get in before the base defenses went online. Against a hardened and skilled opponent, it would have been suicidal. Against the standard Colonial Republic conscripts, it was merely risky.

Garret brought his Hammer up in line with his squadron’s targets. The two Centauri built destroyers had clearly been modified, their emissions spiked higher than standard Enforcer-class destroyers, anyway. Garret’s targeting reticule began to flash as he lined his craft up with the first target. The Hammer was a gunboat, a light craft built around it’s mass driver. The mass driver was rightfully a weapon for a destroyer or cruiser, it fired a heavy projectile at near-relativistic speeds. A destroyer might mount a battery of four or more, while each of the six gunboats in Garret’s squadron mounted one. The problem was, they had to line up their vessels on the target to engage, they couldn’t mount them in turrets like a real warship.

“Fire on my mark,” Garret said, as his reticule chirped to show that they had acquired the target. His display showed the squadron similarly aligned. Under normal circumstances, at thirty thousand kilometers, their mass drivers would be horribly inaccurate, even the slightest movement by their target would give it more than enough separation between the standard tungsten shelled, depleted uranium core rods that a mass driver fired.

“Fire,” Garret snapped. Azure squadron fired. The gunboat only carried five rounds and as each one fired it slammed Garret forward in his harness in a reminder of why they were called Hammers. “Adjust targeting data,” Garret said as his squadron’s indicators went black on ammunition for their main guns.

He started to key over his own targets even as he monitored their fire. The two destroyers they had targeted had brought up their engines from standby and their defense screens were flickering into place. They also began to maneuver, which would have made them safe against the standard munitions. The rounds fired by Azure Squadron, however, were upgraded, some of the latest technology available from Port Klast. Maneuvering thrusters on the rounds kicked in and the compact booster drives mounted on them burned briefly to correct their course, guided in by the laser designators mounted on each Hammer.

Someone in the squadron gave a whoop as the lead destroyer received a dozen impacts. The warship shattered, ripped apart as the high velocity rounds punched through the defense screens and then ripped through the destroyers light armor. The impacts vaporized huge sections of it’s hull. It simply came apart in an explosion of debris.

The second destroyer had a few seconds more to begin evasive maneuvers before the first rounds guided in. It managed to generate a miss for the first few rounds, until it took a glancing blow to the starboard engines. The next hit must have punched through it’s engine room, possibly even its reactor, because the destroyer vanished in a fireball as its power plant erupted.

 

Check back later this week for the next section!

Kal’s October 2014 Forecast

I’ve got to admit, October is my favorite month. It’s not just because of Halloween, though that’s a part. I like the cooler weather, the changing leaves, and that hint of frost in the air as winter slowly takes hold and summer fades away.

That said, this is going to be a busy October for me. I’ll be at Mile Hi Con from the 24th to the 26th of October.  I just received the Echo of the High Kings audiobook from the narrator to review. That will take me some time (it’s 24 hours long) to review. I’m doing the final edits on The Shattered Empire and will have it uploaded by the 13th of October.   I’ve finished outlining Wrath of the Usurper and I’ll be working on it as soon as I finish up The Shattered Empire.

On the sales side, I’m doing two book bombs. The 11th of October, I’m doing a book bomb for the rerelease of Echo of the High Kings with its new cover and the fact that I’ve an audiobook out. I’m also doing one for the release of The Shattered Empire, Book II of the Shadow Space Chronicles on the 25th of October. You can find both books here and here, respectively. My next step as far as audiobooks is producing The Shattered Empire.

If all goes well, I’ll roll into November midway through Wrath of the Usurper, finish it off and get to editing it and outlining the third book of the Shadow Space Chronicles, which I hope to get out and available early 2015.

The Shattered Empire, coming October 25th!

I’m happy to announce that The Shattered Empire, Book II of the Shadow Space Chronicles, sequel to The Fallen Race, will go live on the 25th of October.  As a part of it going live, I’ll be doing a book bomb at noon on the 25th.  The book is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be available for preorder through Smashwords to Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Apple’s store soon, as well.  Read below for details on The Shattered Empire.

Baron Lucius Giovanni has managed to buy the human race a brief reprieve from the two alien races which seek humanity’s extinction. In the process he has become the leader of a new nation and the commander of a powerful fleet. However, victory comes with consequences. Without an imminent threat, old feuds have sparked back to life and tenuous alliances falter. There are also old enemies who cannot forget that Lucius has what they wanted. He must find a way to hold off scheming rivals, sociopathic psychics, and even former friends. If he can’t do all that and take the fight to humanity’s true enemies, billions may die under alien servitude.

The Shattered Empire is available on Amazon here.

 

The Fallen Race cover and upcoming release

The cover for my upcoming release, due on Saturday, 1 Feb 2014
The cover for my upcoming release, due on Saturday, 1 Feb 2014

The Fallen Race, my Military SF / Space Opera novel will be released tomorrow at noon on Amazon and Smashwords.

Blurb below:

Baron Lucius Giovanni, Captain of the battleship War Shrike, finds himself without a home or nation, his ship heavily damaged, and crew in bad shape. The odds against their personal survival are slim. The time of humanity has come to a close. The great nations have all fallen, either to the encroaching alien threats or to internal fighting and civil war. The aliens who seek to supplant humanity, however, have not taken one thing into account: Lucius Giovanni. He and his crew will not give up – not while they still draw breath. If this is to be the fall of humanity, then the crew of the War Shrike will go down fighting…and in the heat of that fight, they may just light a new fire for humanity….