Tag Archives: Aliens

Renegades Out of the Cold Snippet Two

Snippet One brought everyone up to speed on what’s going on, snippet two leads right into the action:

“Captain,” Simon said, “They’ve brought their weapons online and they’ve gone active on their radar.”

Mike grimaced.  The piddling sensors on that ancient pirate vessel would probably be painfully inadequate under normal circumstances.  The Gebnar mounted some kind of gravitational sensor, emissions sensors, and a host of secondary passive sensors as well as an extremely advanced phased radar system.  They could probably map the other ship’s hull from fifty thousand kilometers or more…

“Wish we had something to hit them with from here,” Eric said from the weapons console.

“Yeah,” Mike grunted, “That would be nice.”  Their pulse turrets had a maximum effective range of five thousand kilometers.  Anything outside that and they might as well be throwing soft-boiled eggs.  Mike wasn’t entirely clear on just how the exotic particles lost their effectiveness, but Pixel had assured him that they deteriorated after generation.

Which meant that no matter how blind the pirate was, in order to shoot at it, they would be well within targeting range of the ship’s outdated sensors.

On the positive side, the pirate didn’t know that, “Pixel, put some energy into the main weapon system, not enough to damage anything, but enough to make them wary if they can see it,” Mike said.

“Yeah,” Pixel said, “that might fool them a bit…. But what happens when we don’t fire it?”

“Leave that to me,” Mike said.  As much as he would like to take down a pirate, he’d be happy enough to chase him off.  He brought up the route Ariadne had plotted and gingerly brought their engines online.  Not that he had any genuine concerns that the engines would work… he just wasn’t entirely certain that he trusted the makee-learnee maintenance that Pixel had to follow on the alien ship’s systems.

“Ariadne,” Mike said, “adjust course.  I want to swing in on their right flank.  Give them just enough room to keep out of our front arc.”  The female psychic frowned at him, but she gave a nod and went to work.  “Eric, as we come in, I want you to pour fire in on them from our turrets.  We won’t be able to do serious damage, but anyone gets nervous when they’re being shot at.”

Eric gave him a grin, “You bet,” he said, “get them to make a mistake and we finish this, right?”

Mike gave him a tight-lipped smile in return, though his own hope was that the pirate would break it off and run for it.  As it was, he didn’t know for certain that they could get close enough to help.  The single, marginally-inhabitable planet had a debris ring from where its moon had died sometime in the past million years.  The pirate had come out of the debris ring on the sunward side of the planet, boosted to take it out of orbit, and now it had begun a turn to put it inside the course of the freighter.

The freighter captain, either brave or stupid, Mike couldn’t guess which, had chosen to dive towards the planet, using his velocity to angle for cover within the ring.  Depending on what kind of missiles the pirate mounted, he might already be in range, but it was unlikely that the pirate would want to waste such munitions, especially when a solid hit might just destroy the ship he was here to capture.

If he gets lucky, Mike thought, he’ll get down in the debris ring, shut down power, and hide before the pirate gets close enough to use his guns.  Of course, it would be harder for a ship to hide on the dark side of the planet, there would be so much thermal heat that it would stand out, but it was still a better chance than letting the pirate board, Mike knew.  He had enough experience out here on the edge of human space to know that taking chances was the only way to survive.

Pirates like this one, he thought, they’ll probably take the ship, then space the crew, or else just sell them as slaves.  There was little profit to be had out here as a pirate and someone who preyed off of something as pitiful as a Ghornath refugee colony was unlikely to be a kind enough soul to expend fuel to land and discharge the crew.

“I fail to see the importance of this maneuver,” a high pitched voice said from beside him.

Mike started a bit, then looked over to see Run.  The little alien had quietly moved up beside him.  Mike hadn’t even heard him come on the bridge.  Damned spooky how quietly he moves, Mike thought.  “They’re pirates, we are going to chase them off so that they don’t attack that merchant ship.”

“Why?” Run asked.  “The merchant vessel is not of your tribal-societal group.  What the pirate does to them doesn’t matter.”

“It’s the right thing to do, man,” Rastar said.

“I am not a ‘man,’ which due to the limited Ghornath species intelligence I understand the need to explain,” Run stated, “Moreover, moral equivalencies such as right and wrong are social constructs crafted by primitive species.”

Mike restrained a sigh as Rastar’s reddish hide turned a shade darker.  “Run,” Mike interrupted, “The pirate is unlikely to be satisfied from just the freighter.  If we don’t put on a position of strength, it is likely that he will attack us, thinking we are weak.”

“Ah,” Run nodded, “this makes some sense.  Do we not have the ability to leave, however?”

Mike gritted his teeth, “We do, however we still don’t have star charts for anything past this bit of space, so if we can get those from a grateful merchant ship who we just saved…”

“I follow your logic,” Run said.  “Your explanation is adequate, however you could have summarized it more succinctly.  This is an understandable failure in a primitive species such as humans.”

Mike restrained any further reply and returned his attention to the pirate.  The older ship had far lower acceleration than his own.  Unfortunately, so did the freighter.  To make matters worse, the pirate had the inside curve to cut the civilian captain off.  Mike saw that the course of the pirate angled sharper than he would have expected, clearly at the very margins of their acceleration.  It was a maneuver that would angle the engines towards the freighter at their closest point of approach as the pirate’s plasma drive counter-thrust to lower their orbit and slow their vessel.

It was risky if the freighter had any weapons, but that was unlikely on a refugee supply hauler like this one.  After that maneuver, the pirate would be well within weapons range and both ships would be several thousand kilometers short of the debris ring.  Mike glanced at Ariadne’s updated course and pursed his lips.  They wouldn’t be able to get there in time to stop a boarding.  If they wanted to fly past with one chance to fire, they would arrive two minutes after the pirate could intercept the freighter.  If the pirate crew could convince the freighter captain to allow them to board, the pirates would have hostages towards Mike’s good behavior.

If they wanted to slow to intercept velocity themselves, they would give the pirates almost five minutes, which might be long enough for them to take over the freighter and get it moving.  Faced with the pirate vessel ready to fight them and the freighter under way, Mike didn’t see a good option.

On the other hand… He looked over at Rastar and the inky black shadow of Anubus in the corner.  “You two up for some boarding operations?”

Rastar gave him a thumbs up while Anubus’s lips drew back in a hungry snarl.

Mike took that as a yes.  “Ariadne, we’ll go for the intercept maneuver.”  He looked at Simon, “Patch me through to the freighter captain.  I’ll see if I can talk some spine into him.”  It wasn’t likely.  Most civilian crews knew that if they resisted, the pirates would be more likely to torture, murder, and rape.  Since small freighters like that one were family-crewed, they would be even more leery of any risk to them.

All the same, this was probably their best chance at survival, in Mike’s opinion.

“Attention Tagon’s Venture,” Mike said, “This is Captain Mike Smith of the Gebnar.”

“You’re… human?” a surprised voice asked as a man’s face appeared on the main screen, cropped so that it didn’t show anything below his neck.  “I expected a Ghornath crew, I mean, that is a Ghornath privateer, right?”  There was something off about the merchant captain’s expression.  There wasn’t enough panic or despair.  It was almost as if he thought he could pull off his escape.  Great, Mike thought, probably some kind of crazy or idiot.  What else could he expect of someone who ran refugee supply runs, though?

“It was,” Mike said.  “That’s a long story.  Look, we’re going to try to help you, but you can probably see that we’re going to arrive a few minutes late.”  On his sensor display, Mike could see that the pirate was about to pull off the braking maneuver.  “Look, Captain…”

“Captain Raimus,” the merchant captain said, he looked a little distracted as he glanced at something off screen.

“Captain Raimus, then,” Mike said.  “We should be able to arrive about five minutes after they’ve come alongside.  If your people could disable your ships power until then, we should be able to put some crew aboard to help you fight off their boarders while we chase their vessel away.”

The merchant captain looked back at the camera, “I’m sorry, you’re offering to help?”

Mike stared at him, “Well… yes.”  Seriously, had the man no situational awareness?  On the screen, Mike could see that the pirate had flipped over, tail towards the merchant ship and begun hard deceleration to match the merchant vessel’s course.

Captain Raimus blinked at Mike for a long moment before he gave a slight snort.  “I’m sorry, out here beyond civilization it is a rare thing to have someone offer to help.”

“Captain,” Simon said, “I’m picking up–”

Mike’s jaw dropped as the “freighter” suddenly cut loose with targeting sensors.  A moment later, it fired and the pirate vanished as a single missile, fired from close range, detonated almost on top of it.  As the thermonuclear fireball cleared, Mike could hear the warning warble from the sensor console.  He recognized the tone: the “freighter” had them locked as well.

“I do appreciate your offer of assistance,” Captain Raimus said cheerfully, “However, Captain, uh, ‘Smith’, as you can see, we didn’t really need the help.”

Mike bit back a curse as the screen panned out to show that Captain Raimus wore a space black uniform.  “I’m Captain Ajax Raimus of the Nova Roma Imperal Fleet.  While I’m certain that your ship has the speed to escape a similar fate to the pirate I just disposed of, I do appreciate your offer to help… and I’ll take that into consideration if you are courteous enough to power down your weapons and match course so that we can have a civil discussion.”

Mike gave a sickly smile, “One moment, Captain.”

He cut off the transmission and looked around the bridge.  “Well, people, we wanted contact, this is it.”  He couldn’t help the note of wry resignation in his voice.  Of course their first encounter with civilization would come like this.  Captain Raimus must be laughing at us, he thought.

“I do not trust him,” Rastar said, his hide flushed.  “The Nova Roma Empire betrayed my people…”

“He could have fired and clearly did not,” Simon said, his voice calm, “that is a sign of trust.”  Of course the former cop likes the authorities, Mike thought to himself.

“We’re at long range, idiot,” Eric said.  “He has to think we’re at full strength, our guns could intercept anything short of a massive salvo.”

“We need him,” Ariadne said, her voice calm.  “We gained goodwill from trying to help, even if he didn’t need it.  On top of that, we’ve got the Nova Roma ambassador.  That should earn us good enough relations that, with his help, we can get back to civilized space, resupply, rearm, and go help people!”

Mike nodded along, right up until the ‘help people’ part.  It wasn’t that he disagreed with helping people, he just thought that they should provide adequate compensation for that help.  “She’s right,” Mike said, ignoring Eric’s gagging gesture.  “This is our opportunity to get in good with the strongest nation around.  They may not like that we’re on a stolen vessel, one that used to privateer against their ships… but they’ll like that we hurt the Chxor and that we’ve escaped from a Chxor labor camp.”

“More or less,” Eric said with a grimace.  He looked over at Run, “We might get in better with them if we offered them Run to dissect, they may learn something.”

“Humans have already had numerous Chxor corpses to dissect and prisoners to vivisect,” Run said.  “I doubt that they would learn anything of value when I have done such far more often and with greater intelligence and expertise.”

“You never know,” Eric said, “Maybe they’ll think you are a Chxor spy and it would be better to torture you for information.”

Run stared at Eric for a long moment, “The invalidity of your statement would require too much time to fully explain.  Obviously, if I were a spy I would offer up any information in order to avoid such a fate.  Logically I am not a spy.”

Eric sneered, “You’d say that if you were–”

“Enough,” Mike said tiredly.  “We face them as a crew.  None of us,” he leveled his gaze on Eric and then swept it around the bridge, “are perfect.”  He let his gaze linger a bit on Simon, who had led a witch hunt for Crowe’s murderer and accused all of them of wrongdoings.  “So,” he said finally, “we stick together, we tell the truth.  We do that, and we have nothing to fear.”

No one responded, so Mike brought up the transmission again, “Captain Raimus, we’ll be pulling alongside soon and we can talk in person.”

“Excellent, I look forward to that meeting.”


Renegades: Out of the Cold will be available April 2nd on Amazon.

Renegades: Out of the Cold Coming Soon!

I’m excited to announce that the next book of the Renegades series will be coming soon to Amazon.   Renegades: Out of the Cold takes up where Renegades: Origins left off.   The band of misfits, pirates, and aliens have returned to human space.

The Renegades are coming out of the cold.

They have escaped from an alien prison, stolen a ship, survived pirate attacks, and now they are finally returning to civilization.
Yet civilization brings all new threats.  Old enemies await and new enemies abound.  They’ll have to work together to survive, even as their own pasts and fortunes seek to tear them apart.  Along the way, they’ll face an infamous assassin, slavers, bounty hunters, and get caught up in the biggest war that humanity has ever seen.
Because the Chxor are coming and if the Renegades won’t help stop them, who will?
Renegades: Out of the Cold will be available on Amazon in early April.  Check back here for updates, for the cover, and for snippets over the coming days!

Book Review: Frank Chadwick’s How Dark the World Becomes

How Dark the World Becomes by Frank Chadwick
How Dark the World Becomes by Frank Chadwick

Frank Chadwick’s How Dark the World Becomes is a space opera, adventure science fiction novel from Baen Books. I’ll admit that I was somewhat dubious about a “new” author, but I quickly became fully absorbed in the story of Sasha Naradnyo.

At first glance he is an utterly reprehensible character: he’s a mid-level crime boss who makes money from running gambling rackets and drugs. Yet this is a universe where humans survive on the margins of society, where they are welcome only in areas of brute labor, violence, and crime. Sasha is only a criminal because it is the only way for him to rise… but he also gives back in the form of funding a local hospital and protecting those he can from the harsh universe.

We don’t see much of Sasha as a criminal, instead, we come to him as he transitions, forced out of his previous life and into a wider world as he shows his true colors by protecting two children and their keeper. The writing is fast-paced and the universe is gritty and everything about it feels like one of the noir crime detective novels.

It is a fantastic read from a great author. I went from hating the main character to giving him a grudging respect that surprised me. Frank Chadwick doesn’t pull any punches, he delves into the darkness of his universe, taking his characters and putting them through the wringer and making it very clear from the beginning that no one – not even the main character – is safe.

I’ll note, this isn’t a book I would read when I’m in a dark mood. It’s gritty and in your face, not a cheerful or inspirational story, but one with a world-weary main character who has almost everything stripped from him.

The exciting debut of a nonstop noir SF from legendary game creator Frank Chadwick.  With one single act of kindness, a tough-as-nails hood with a heart of gold saves two alien children from assassination—and resets the balance of galactic power in the process.

Sasha Naradnyo is a gangster.  He’s a gangster with heart, sure, but Sasha sticks his neck out for no man.  That’s how you stay alive in Crack City, a colony stuffed deep into the crust of the otherwise unlivable planet Peezgtaan.  Alive only—because if you’re human, you don’t prosper, at least not for long.  Sasha is a second generation City native. His parents came to this rock figuring to make it big, only to find that they’d been recruited as an indentured labor force for alien overlords known as the Varoki.

Now a pair of rich young Varoki under the care of a beautiful human nanny are fleeing Peezgtaan, and Sasha is recruited to help.  All things considered, he’d rather leave the little alien lordlings to their fate, but certain considerations—such as Sasha’s own imminent demise if he remains—make it beneficial for him to take on the job.

But Sasha discovers his simple choice has thrust him into the midst of a political battle that could remake the galactic balance of power and save humanity from slow death by servitude.  Now all he has to do is survive and keep his charges alive on a hostile planet undergoing its own revolution.

But it’s the galaxy that had better watch out.  For now the toughest thug in Crack City has gotten his first taste of real freedom. He likes it, and wants more.

The stunning debut of a nonstop science fiction noir thriller from legendary game creator Frank Chadwick.

You can find it here on Amazon

The Prodigal Emperor, Snippet Two

Here’s another snippet from The Prodigal Emperor, available for pre-order now on Amazon.  This is a short one, from the perspective of “Stavros.”

Halcyon Colony, Garris Major System


November 23, 2403

“While it has been delightful to train together,” Captain Montago said, “I’m really getting tired of this shit. When do we get to the fighting and looting?”

“Soon enough, my friend, soon enough,” Mason said in the guise of Commodore Stavros Heraklion. It is rather disturbing how easily I’ve pulled off this role, Mason thought, and even worse in that I enjoy it a bit. He put his boots up on the table and looked around at the other commanders present. Each of them represented a ship or squadron of light ships. A couple of them, like Captain Mantago, were pirates who had signed on with Halcyon’s government for a safe base of operations and a cut in the overall profits. Others, like Captain Oronkwo and Captain Garret Penwaithe, were guild mercenaries, hired by Halcyon’s government from the Tannis system.

Though I have a low opinion of mercenaries, even guild mercs, Mason thought, I will say that Oronkwo seems pretty solid and that Frank Pierce picked a damned good officer in Garret Penwaithe… even if I did have to save his ass in that bar fight.

“President Monaghan has put special trust in my capabilities as a squadron leader… and Councilor Penwaithe as our direct representative from him has told me that our last training performance showed we’re ready,” Mason smirked. They had run a simulated exercise against some of Halcyon Defense Fleet. Most of them were decent enough, but they didn’t have enough leadership or experience. His squadron had won a very one-sided victory, another embarrassment for Admiral Moore. Councilor Penwaithe’s angry diatribe about building relationships and teamwork between privateers and military had been punctuated by her informing them that they were ready for active raiding.

And since embarrassing Admiral Moore makes both Mannetti and Collae happy with me, Mason thought, that was two birds with one stone, so to speak. His whole purpose here was to find out what the two rogue military commanders wanted in this tiny system. So far he had hints at some greater conspiracy and a notion that there was some recovered alien technology that the locals seemed to have tight control over and that the pair of them wanted it. Given the fact that both of them had grudges with Baron Giovanni and his United Colonies, it seemed prudent to thwart them.

While the notion of a greater conspiracy bothered him, Mason felt more concern about the alien technology. He had lived under Amalgamated Worlds and as a military officer he’d seen how the Agathan Fleet had developed from a handful of wreckage and the genius of a single man able to figure it all out. For that matter, the Kraken was of possible alien origin, and the real Captain Stavros had ran amok across a dozen star systems with the heavy cruiser until Mason had finally put an end to the man’s bloody swath of destruction.

The various commanders seemed eager at Mason’s declaration, so he shook off his thoughts and put on his best Stavros leer, “We’ll be leaving in a few days, our target is another Nova Corp facility. It should be a lot of fun, boys and girls. And trust me, we’ll be seeing a lot of profit off this one.”

The smiles on the pirate and privateer captains were all that Mason could have hoped for. The frowns and worry on the faces of the two mercenary Captains was also what Mason had hoped for. He had already worked things out with Commodore Frank Pierce, the commander of the War Dogs and Captain Penwaithe’s superior, but they had kept his subordinates in the dark. Captain Oronkwo had no ties to Mason, though, and Mason wanted him to be uneasy about all this. He was here to do a job and while he wouldn’t turn up his nose at profit, he was uneasy about the pirates he had to work with.

That was good, in Mason’s eyes. If both mercenaries were suspicious and on edge, then if Admiral Mannetti or Admiral Collae made their plays, then Captain Oronkwo and Captain Penwaithe might very well see it coming and take appropriate action. That might just swing things in Mason’s favor and prevent the two rogue Admirals from getting their way. And that is essential, Mason thought, or else all of this Stavros routine is just me playing dress-up for no good reason.



The Prodigal Emperor is the third book of the Shadow Space Chronicles and is available for pre-order now.  It will be published on 19 September, 2015.

Baron Lucius Giovanni has done the impossible: not only has he held the alien Chxor at bay, he has taken the fight to them and liberated human worlds.  Yet humanity’s implacable foe has drawn a line in the sand.  They will hold Nova Roma at all costs… or see it a scorched ruin.
Lucius must aid Nova Roma’s Emperor and liberate his homeworld, but along the way he must also deal with old and new adversaries and with a conspiracy that seeks to usurp control of his fleet.
Nova Roma’s Emperor is going home, and Lucius will go beside him, for if he cannot overcome these obstacles, then humanity’s last hope will be overcome and the Chxor will enslave and exterminate the remaining free worlds.


Fenris Unchained

Fenris Unchained


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.


My latest novel, Fenris Unchained, is now available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Fenris Unchained First Snippet!

FU Trial Cover

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.

Fool’s Gold Sample

Here’s a sample from the beginning of Fool’s Gold, a short story set from the perspective of Anubus from The Renegades series.


 Anubus figured his safest long term option lay in the murder of the entire crew.

Unfortunately, in the short term, he required them alive. He knew little enough in regards to navigation much less engineering or half the other flight systems. Anubus figured the others realized that which explained why they disregarded his threats so far.

As he sat with his back secured in the corner he did another quick threat analysis of the crew lounge. Mike stood with his back to the tank of water with the eel. Anubus had observed the human’s poorly hidden fear of either the water or eel or both. He thought the ploy too obvious to consider a true weakness, which made him wonder why the Captain bothered. Anubus also found the tank a source of annoyance, mostly at the others insistence that ‘Rainbow’ vanished when motionless.

He could not understand how the others might not sense the Arcavian Fighting Eel. Even if Anubus couldn’t see the eel, he could smell the creature’s scent on the water from across the room. More than that, he could hear its heartbeat, a slow, rhythmic pump that could have almost lulled him into a relaxed state.

Fortunately, the incessant chatter of his companions countered that hypnotic beat. Their scents assaulted his nostrils even as their rapid movements drew his gaze. They smelled like food, and they acted like it too, and it took considerable self control for him not to indulge in the buffet that they presented.

Instead, Anubus forced himself to take shallow breaths and walk slowly towards Eric’s buffet. The scents there did not smell nearly as delectable, for he could not sense the blood just under the skin, ready for his jaws to plunge into the hot flesh…

I need to work on my self control, he thought, or just kill someone, either would do.


Fool’s Gold will be featured in the upcoming Renegades: Compendium I along with other short stories and the first five Renegades novellas.


Runner sample

Here’s a quick sample from Runner, a short story written about the origins of Run the Chxor, a character in The Renegades series.  Runner will also be available in the upcoming Renegades: Compendium


 Ghren paused as he pulled up his notes: “On 5674-Juhnar, Medical Scientist Rhxun, violated standard methodology and protocols with his current experimentation. He disobeyed direct orders from the Planetary Governor, violated Chxor Medical Procedures seventeen, forty-two, one-ninteen, and seven-thirteen through eight-forty-five.”

“Also, technically, nine-fourteen,” Rhxun added.

“As well as nine-fourteen,” Ghren amended. “Due to his inability to follow proper procedures regarding medical methodology, he implanted three quarters of the population, roughly four million of the Than subcaste with implants designed to limit free will and induce loyalty protocols to the Chxor Empire in general and to Senior Scientist Rhxun in specific. His implants utilized wireless signals to maintain overall control of the population and had minimal electromagnetic shielding.”

“Four million, three hundred thousand, four hundred and seven of the Than subcaste,” Rhxun corrected automatically. “With an additional one hundred and twenty test subjects who survive at the shielded testing facility.”

“Correct, four million, three hundred thousand, four hundred and seven,” Ghren stated flatly. Apparently he did not like the reminder that his inferior intelligence did not allow him to retain data as well as Rhxun. Well, it isn’t as if I didn’t expect as much, Rhxun thought. The Tier Three Investigator continued, “When a stellar flare erupted, it caused massive radio frequency interference across a broad spectrum, this interference proved particularly hazardous to the population implanted by Senior Scientist Rhxun. The result was initial extreme pain, followed by violent aggression. Final results appear to be the destruction of higher level brain functions and feral behavior. This subsequently resulted in the termination of the entire test population as well as some three million – “

“Two million, nine hundred thousand, nine hundred and thirty,” Rhxun interrupted.

“ – of the rest of the population. This number included seven District Administrators as well as the Assistant Planetary Governor, Police Commander, Deputy Fleet Commander, and Investigator Krell who had been dispatched to investigate Planetary Governor Hraal’s statement regarding insurrectionist activity in regards to Senior Scientist Rhxun’s research.” Tier Three Investigator Ghren paused. “I therefore find that the proper punishment is to strip Senior Scientist Rhxun of his rank and sentence him to immediate termination.”

“I understand how you have come to this decision,” Rhxun shook his head. “And I believe you have done your best at the limits of your intelligence and understanding. Am I correct in my estimation that you have followed procedure fifteen of the investigation protocols and have waited to file your official findings pending my sentencing?”

“Of course,” Ghren said. The tone of his voice suggested that any other option would not follow the proper regulations. A loyalty to regulation and bureaucracy that Rhxun agreed with and appreciated immensely.

“Excellent,” Rhxun said. He drew his dart pistol and fired once. The small dart struck Ghren in the side of his thick neck, just above the collar of his brown uniform.

Ghren stared at him in shock for a moment. Then the convulsions began. Rhxun walked calmly around the desk and deleted the Tier Three Investigator’s notes. He then pulled the dart out of the dead Chxor’s neck and carefully dropped it down the incinerator chute behind the desk. A moment later he tapped the intercom button. “Excuse me. It seems that Tier Three Investigator Ghren has undergone a seizure. I would suggest that a body disposal team be dispatched.”


You can find the rest here

Renegades: Ghost Story out tomorrow

Here is the cover art from the awesome Robert Brockman

Renegades: Ghost Story will be out tomorrow.  It is the fourth novella in the Renegades series.  This one follows the perspective of Eric and if I had to pick favorites, it would probably be the novella I enjoyed writing the most.  I’ll be doing a book bomb for it tomorrow (Tuesday) at noon, MST.  So if you plan on buying it, buy it then.  If you haven’t read any of the Renegades novellas yet, you can pick them all up individually for a dollar.  Yes, just a dollar.  Each one is good for a few hours of light, enjoyable reading, or (at least through Amazon, so I’m told) you can return the book.  So why not give them a try?

Here’s the short synopsis:

Erik Stryker is a former Centauri Commando; highly lethal and experienced in combat on a dozen worlds. He’s had almost everything taken from him, his family, his career, and his team. He and his companions have broken out of an alien prison, hijacked a ship, and are en route to human civilization. A chance encounter with a derelict ship brings up ghosts of Erik’s past and awakens something which preys on ships and crews. Erik will have to face his own ghosts if he wants to save his new team.

Renegades: Declaration is live

The new cover for Renegades: Declaration The third Renegades novella
Renegades: Declaration
The third Renegades novella

Renegades: Declaration is now live. It is available from Smashwords and Amazon, and will be available soon at Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Sony.  I’m trying to do a book bomb today on Amazon, in order to bring up my author rank.  If you intend to buy Renegades: Declaration through Amazon, please buy it around 12 noon EST.  Amazon tracks sales over time, so the same number of purchases in a small window of time will put the book higher in the ratings, and will give me a better chance at getting more sales in general.

Thanks for reading!