Tag Archives: Chris Kennedy

The Colchis Job Snippet Four

Here is the final snippet of The Colchis Job, available today on Amazon.   (link: https://amzn.to/2AIUnBM) The Colchis Job is a military science fiction novel set in the Four Horsemen Universe.  For the first three snippets, follow the links: Snippet One, Snippet Two, Snippet Three.

 

A few hours later, as we closed to orbit over Anauros, my plan had come together. Ruel had been giving me nervous looks ever since I’d come up on the bridge. Whether that was because he knew that Mulcahy had come forward or because he’d heard about the guard on the armory, I wasn’t certain. Either way, it shouldn’t matter.

“Stable orbit achieved, Colonel,” Heather Valsaint reported, “Anauros landing control wants to know our intentions and if we have any cargo to send down.”

“Miss Valsaint,” I replied, “Let them know we had a run-in with some pirates in their outer system. Inform them that we’re going to bring down the survivors and let them deal with them. Tell them we’ll send down a sample of some of the equipment and weapons we’re here to sell, too.” I didn’t look at Ruel but I heard a muffled hiss, “I think I’ll take our shuttle down with them myself, there’s some questions I’d like to ask them.”

Ruel spoke up then, “Colonel, how about I take care of that, for you?”
I looked over at him, an expression of practiced surprise on my face. I hoped I wasn’t over-doing it. “Are you certain?”

“I know some people down there,” Ruel smirked. “I’ll make sure those pirates get what’s coming to them.”

I grinned back, smiling for an entirely different reason now. “That could work. I’m not sure I trust these people, though. Better take a team of people you trust.” I couldn’t help but fiddle with the watch on my wrist, feeling the cool metal against the warm palm of my hand. It was a nervous habit of mine and I hoped it wasn’t too much of a tell.

Ruel’s expression went blank and I wasn’t sure if I’d overdone it or if he was having trouble changing his plans. I was offering him a chance to hit the ground with some of his chosen people, with trade goods, weapons, and a chance for him to link up with some of his criminal contacts. It is either the best or stupidest plan I’ve made since taking control of the ship. He could pack our shuttle full of well-armed pirates and go for attempt number two to seize the Argos.

He gave me a friendly grin as he thought it through himself, “Sure, thing, sir. I’ll take Schottler, Obradavic, and Cadrun.”

I frowned as I considered it. I knew that Cadrun and Ruel were close. I hadn’t figured Obradavic and Schottler were in whatever Ruel had planned, neither of them were from Third Platoon originally, which meant he’d done some recruiting behind my back. Still, those were the four who I’d ordered Reedie to take with him to secure the armory when the pirates had attacked. If Ruel had subverted them, then he’d want them with him on the ground, preparing to attack the ship.

He would also want someone on the ship to open the airlock and prevent us from blowing it like we had with the pirates.

“How about you take Mulcahy and Scott, too?” I asked. “I think four might not be enough to handle the prisoners and to deal with any kind of customs and such they’ll have here.”

Ruel’s expression flickered. I could see him trying to figure out whether he could deal with two marginally honest mercenaries and still keep someone on the ship to help him take it over on his return. I could see Valsaint and Reedie looking on, both of them clearly confused by the interaction. They knew I didn’t trust Ruel, and they didn’t know why I would send him to the planet alone.

“How about La Voie and Rice?” Ruel asked, almost gritting his teeth.
There we are… Rice had been the one to “find” the dead Lieutenant Bohannan after the firefight on Bedarine Seven. Which meant that Ruel had probably ordered him to kill his platoon leader. La Voie, on the other hand, wasn’t on my radar, other than the fact that he’d fallen asleep during the firefight back on Bedarine Seven. I wasn’t sure if he was on drugs or if he was narcoleptic, but the fact that Ruel wanted him along was a down-check in my book.

“If you think those two will be useful…” I trailed off, not wanting to sound too eager. I could see Reedie’s eyes bulging behind Ruel and he looked like he was holding his breath and starting to turn purple.
“Probably the best ones for this job,” Ruel gave me another friendly smile, though I could tell he was frustrated and trying to stay in control.

“Fine,” I nodded. “Professor, have you loaded those crates?” I asked over the radio. I’d given him the assignment as a punishment for having let the pirates aboard in the first place.

“Yeah, uh, sir, but are you sure about this–”

I interrupted him before he could go on. “Great. Go ahead and clear the shuttle airlock. Sergeant First Class Ruel is going to be bringing the prisoners down there.”

“Roger,” Grimes sighed. I could tell from his tone that he thought I was insane or stupid, but that was normal. I looked at Ruel, “Better get moving, right?”

“Yeah,” Ruel grinned at me and I could almost read his mind. He was already seeing himself commanding the Argos.

“Lots of luck,” I said as he stepped off the bridge. All of it bad, I hope…

***

“Staff Sergeant, uh, I mean Colonel,” Grimes asked as he came onto the bridge, “I still don’t understand why…”

“Not now,” I waved a hand and looked over at Valsaint. “They’re landing?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Bring up the audio,” I said crossing my arms. I’d had Grimes conceal a radio in the shuttle’s passenger area.

“…remember, get those crates open and get the weapons out. I’ve already radioed ahead. A friend of mine will be waiting. Arm up and start passing out weapons. I want to blow out of this spaceport before the authorities even know we were here. Once we hit the ship, Schottler and Obradovic, you head for the armory, Rice and La Voie, you take a team to engineering, and the rest of you will follow me to the bridge…”

“I think that establishes their criminal intent,” I smirked. “Please forward that recording to the local authorities as a statement of conspiracy, intent to mutiny, and piracy.”

“What about the crates of weapons?” Valsaint asked nervously.

“But I didn’t load any weapons,” Grimes protested, wiping his hands on his pants. “He had me load four crates with sewage from the backed-up sewage processor. The really nasty, chunky stuff, too… God that was gross.”

I heard laughter across the bridge and my smile broadened. A moment later, disgusted shouts came over the radio and I felt a warm, pleasant feeling wash over me.

“That was a shitty job, sir,” Grimes noted looking disgruntled.
I snorted, “Well worth the effort, I’m certain. I only wish I could see Ruel’s expression as we break orbit.” I nodded at Valsaint. “Miss Valsaint, break orbit, if you would. Tell landing control that we’ve dropped off some refuse in need of processing… and tell them they can bill us for disposal if needs be.”

I sat back in the command chair and took a deep, satisfied breath. My satisfaction didn’t last long, though. I cursed and pressed the button to do another radio call, “Reedie, please send for the cleaning crew, the bridge still smells like fish.”

***

Books To Read

Just a short post today, as I’m actually starting my first day of work at my new day job (working three jobs again, oh boy).  There are some books that came out recently that I wanted to share here.

 

Sarah Hoyt has an interesting ebook, So Little and So Light.  Sarah has a way of crafting fun, interesting stories that can leave you thinking for weeks.  I highly recommend it.  https://amzn.to/2NzORmL

 

Chris Kennedy and Mark Wandrey have a new 4HU novel out.  If you are a fan of MilSF, give the book (and their universe) a look.  https://amzn.to/2LgebSf

That’s all for now.  Thanks for reading!

The Colchis Job Snippet Two

Here is the second snippet of The Colchis Job, coming on August 3rd.    The Colchis Job is a military science fiction novel, set in Mark Wandrey’s and Chris Kennedy’s Four Horsemen Universe.  For snippet one, go here: (Link)

“Good morning, sir,” Ruel met me on the bridge only a few minutes later. I squinted at him suspiciously. Ruel seemed far too chipper and he wasn’t normally a morning person.
“What’s so good about it?” I growled. I clutched at the back of the command chair in the microgravity and I noticed the former squad leader from Third Platoon handled the lack of gravity remarkably well.
“I got to kill people,” he grinned. “Plus, couple of those pirates had some nice equipment.” He lifted his uniform blouse over his potbelly and patted a silver inlaid pistol he had tucked in his belt.
I started to say that was a good way to make sure he never had kids, but I thought better of it. For one thing, he’d probably unloaded it already and he’d be insulted if I suggested otherwise. For another, the idea of the slimy Sam Ruel having kids sort of gave me nightmares.
“Sure, sure,” I dismissed. “Take it out of your paycheck. What happened with Reedie at the armory?”
“Your boy is fine, I just took his radio since he was getting a little excitable.” Ruel rolled his eyes. “What about that,” he waved his hand at the tumbling pirate cutter.
“What about it?” I asked. I was more concerned with ensuring that the pirates didn’t have any friends and that no one was coming to investigate. Anauros wasn’t a beacon of law and civility, but they still might have questions about what had happened.
“Well, it might be valuable, we could probably juryrig something and get her flying again.” His beady little eyes gleamed with greed. I couldn’t help but think he looked rather porcine. “They might have something worth salvaging, and if nothing else, it probably doesn’t stink like rotting fish over there…”
“There might be survivors, sir,” the female technician interrupted. “Also, it’s a navigational hazard.”
“The navigational hazard part is accurate, anyway,” I nodded. I squinted at the readouts and displays, understanding most of what I saw, but still not familiar with the way the starship’s displays prioritized and sorted information. “They’ve lost power and atmo?” I asked, thinking that was what the sensors all seemed to show.
“Yes, sir,” the tech said. Heather, I reminded myself, Heather Valsaint. I’d had time to get to know all the surviving personnel from the company, at this point and should at least remember their names. Besides, that was what commanders did, right?
“Right,” I looked over at Ruel. He’d been a squad leader in Third Platoon. A smiling, greasy man, who somehow, I felt he’d have been just as happy being a pirate as he was a mercenary. I trusted him about as far as I could throw him and given his girth, that wouldn’t be very far. Still, he knew how to get things done and he was good in a fight. But, as soon as we got back to Karma, I planned to pay him off and get rid of him.
I watched Ruel’s face as I gave the order, “Miss Valsaint, open fire with our main weapons, destroy the wreck.”
“What?!” Ruel demanded. His jaw dropped and he stared at me. His piggy little nose wrinkled up and for a second, I thought he might even go for his pistol.
“You want to hang out here and be a sitting target while we do zero-g salvage operations?” I gazed at him, challenging him to disobey me. “Maybe we should see if these pirates have any friends, maybe a mothership with comparable weapons to the Argos?” The Styx-class patrol ship had once been a Peacemaker ship, but those days were in the past. The Cartar had dismounted most of its weapons. Besides that, the ship had a dozen or more maintenance issues, ranging from the sewage venting system being clogged to the constant reek of rotting fish from the environmental system. Without a full work down of the ship’s systems by real engineers, we didn’t know how bad things might be. The damned sewage thing is a real nuisance, what the hell am I going to do with two metric tons of solid shit?
Ruel scowled. Odds were that these pirates had been a local operation. Most pirates operated on the fringes, with whatever cobbled equipment they could manage. There weren’t really that many powerful pirate fleets… but we’d barely survived the encounter as it was.
“Fine,” he scowled.
“I wasn’t asking your permission, I already gave the order,” I snapped. He glared, but gave a small nod. He understands. I’m the one in charge. I looked back at the tech and I didn’t bother hiding my smirk. “Miss Valsaint.”
“Yes, sir,” She straightened in her seat and brought up the Argos’ weapons.
She only had to fire once. The small cutter vanished in a visible flash of light. It hadn’t been a vast explosion, so there’d be debris, but hopefully none of it big enough to be a navigational hazard. “Plot the bigger chunks,” I noted, “and smash them up. Good weapons training for you. Be sure you get recordings on all of it so we can pass it along to the Peacemakers once we hit Anauros. Maybe we’ll get lucky and there’s a bounty on these guys.”
“It’ll teach no one to fuck with us, either way,” Ruel chuckled. Now that I’d established I was in charge, he didn’t seem to have a problem with my decision.
True. Maybe Ruel would be worth keeping around… if I could trust him.

***

The Colchis Job Snippet One

Here is the first snippet from my upcoming novel coming on August 3rd.    The Colchis Job is a military science fiction novel, set in Mark Wandrey’s and Chris Kennedy’s Four Horsemen Universe.

Chapter I

The Anauros System

High velocity MAC rounds screamed down the corridor of the Argos. I went flat against the bulkhead. “Dammit Professor, this is all your fault!”
“Sorry, Staff Sergeant, they said they were customs inspectors!” Grimes shouted from where he clung to a stanchion behind a metal frame. He wasn’t really a professor, he just seemed to know a little bit about everything. I was rethinking everyone’s nickname for him as well as wondering why the hell I’d put him in charge of the ship while I wasn’t on the bridge.
I leaned around the corner and cut loose with my MAC in turn. Two of the dimly-seen figures flew back, their bodies tumbling in zero-g. One’s wavering scream echoed down the hallway. I pulled myself back while return fire scythed down the corridor in response. Gunfights in zero gravity sucked.
“Reedie,” I called over my radio, “where the hell are my reinforcements?”
Reedie’s voice puffed through the radio, “Sorry, Staff Sergeant, uh, I mean Colonel. We ran into a few of them and we’re having difficulties making it to the armory.”
I’d wanted them to get into their Mark 6 CASPers, which should have turned the fight in our favor, but of course it hadn’t gone that way.
Reedie mumbled something unintelligible through the com before it went silent. At this point, I’d gone through my extensive vocabulary of swear words and started inventing new ones. This was supposed to be a quick, easy, voyage back to Karma. We had a ship, we had a cargo of battle-earned loot. We could have jumped straight there… but no, I’d detoured to the Anauros system for a “quick” stop.
And now we were being boarded by pirates.
“Grimes,” I snapped, “cover fire.”
“Yes, sir!” He put his MAC around the frame and fired blindly down the corridor. His chances of hitting any of our attackers were slim to none. There was a better chance of one of his rounds punching through the hull or damaging some important equipment, but at this point, none of us really cared about that.
As the pirates dropped behind cover, I lunged past Grimes and flew along the corridor until I slammed into the bulkhead on the shipboard side of the airlock. My arm clamped on the bar next to the airlock to keep myself from bouncing off the bulkhead and ricocheting down the corridor.
The “customs” cutter had docked and pirates had started swarming out. We’d driven them back into the inner airlock, but there seemed to be no end to the bastards. I doubted they’d expected to find armed mercenaries on the ship they’d boarded, but it wasn’t like there were a lot of us left, after all. We’d left Bedarine Seven with only twenty of us left out of the whole company. The Argos was a Styx-class patrol ship, which were rare enough that they may not have even realized we were armed, much less guessed that we had mercenaries aboard. At this point, though, they had to know that if they didn’t kill us, then we’d turn the Argos’ weapons on them.
I reached up with one hand and found the emergency access panel to the side of the airlock. I ripped it open and my hand gripped the red pull-bar inside. For just a moment I considered offering the pirates a chance to surrender. Gunfire tore past my ear, close enough that I felt the passage of rounds. To hell with them. I pulled the bar down with a grim smile.
The airlock slammed closed, cutting one of the pirates in half and spraying a wide fan of blood. I heard a loud rumble on the other side as the explosive bolts detonated. That was followed by a rushing roar and then total silence. Sound didn’t propagate through the vacuum, after all.
In case of emergencies, most ships mounted emergency detachment systems on their airlocks. If a ship or station caught fire, it was easier to blow the airlocks loose than to go through a full undocking procedure. Since the pirate cutter had clamped onto our airlock, we couldn’t have detached them, short of what I’d just done.
Grimes pulled himself up to where I clung, his eyes wide, “Sir, did you just…”
“Blowing the airlock can only be done from a manual station, to verify that the airlock is clear of personnel,” I grinned. The pirate’s blood had splattered in a wide fan, much of it still hanging in the air and I figured would probably require a good bit of cleanup. I pulled up my radio, asking, “Bridge, status?”
“Uh…” the tech on the bridge clearly wasn’t proficient with the sensors and systems. Not yet, probably not ever if she, like most of the Argonauts, decided to leave the Company on our return to Karma. Since we’d taken the ship from some Cartar mercenaries back on Bedarine Seven, none of my people were what I’d call proficient with the ship’s operations. “The pirate cutter is spinning out of control. I think it’s venting gasses, too.” I heard someone in the background start to gag. “Oh, God, and…” there was an audible wet cough, before she continued, “people and pieces of people. One of them just hit the bridge viewport and bounced off.”
“Perfect,” I said feeling a bit more cheerful. Hopefully we’d captured a recording of that, it would make great promotional material of us fighting pirates to give to potential clients. “Reedie, how’s it coming with the pirates near the armory?” I glanced at the watch on my wrist as I said that, not really sure why. It wasn’t like the battered thing had shown the right time in the twenty-seven years I’d worn it.
It was Staff Sergeant Ruel who answered, which made me frown. I’d asked Reedie. Reedie had been in my squad, I knew where I stood with him. Ruel was an unknown factor. Be’d been a squad leader in Third Platoon and I had a low enough opinion of the Argonaut’s former and now-deceased previous commander that I didn’t trust anyone he’d put in positions of authority. I mean, after all, he trusted me and I basically killed him and took over as soon as things got desperate. “Whatever you did, they started throwing down their weapons. I have secured the survivors.”
“Good, search them all, then lock them up in the aft cargo bay, and we’ll deal with them later,” I grunted. I didn’t know that he had my squad frequency, which I’d been using to manage Reedie and Grimes to run the ship and move people around without the other surviving Argonauts inferring. While no one had resisted my taking charge in the immediate aftermath of the Cartar attack back on Bedarine Seven, there’d been mutters and grumbles from some of the other surviving NCOs.
I turned a baleful gaze on Grimes. “Next time, Professor, when someone wants us to heel too and board us, you wake me up first, understand?”
“Yes, sir,” Grimes swallowed nervously, his gaze going to the floating droplets of blood and crushed remains of the pirate in the airlock door. He turned a little green and I sighed.
I slung my MAC and pulled myself past him, rubbing at the watch on my left wrist. Things hadn’t gone as well as I’d hoped since leaving Bedarine Seven. They hadn’t gone bad, exactly, but they hadn’t gone well either. If I’d known how much of a headache it would be, taking over the Argonauts, I might have taken the Lotar’s pay and blown it on booze and women instead of claiming the Cartar’s ship and command over the remnants of the nearly-destroyed Argonauts. “Get some people down here to clean up the bodies and loot what they can. Also, have Reedie see what kind of damage we did to the ship in this little firefight and prioritize repairs.”
I sniffed the air and a funky, rotting fish smell hit me once again. That same smell had haunted us since we left Bedarine Seven. The Argos had been owned by the Catar, an octopi-like species of ocean-dwellers. At this point we’d done everything, including putting the whole ship in vacuum and we still hadn’t got rid of their damned smell.
I sighed, “Oh, and have them clean the corridor again while they’re at it, it stinks like a damned fish market in here.”

***

Snippet two is available here

Kal’s July 2018 Forecast

Hey Everyone.  July is already here,  whats up with that?

This month I am working on edits to Valor’s Cost as well as writing not just one, but two zombie novels with the goal of finishing out the trilogy by the end of the month.  These zombie books will be coming out over the next few months.

While I would like to have Valor’s Cost out before the end of the month (I even have an awesome cover for it) I am not sure that I will be able to manage with the timing of another book of mine, The Colchis Job, which is set in Chris Kennedy andMark Wandrey’s Four Horsemen Universe.   The Colchis Job is a full length novel continuation of my short story Argonaut that appeared in The Good, The Bad, and The Merc.  It’s crazy and over the top and it was a lot of fun to write.  Projected date for that is August 3rd, and I hope you guys enjoy it.

If Valor’s Cost gets pushed, I’ll aim to have it available before the end of August.

That’s all for now, look back here soon for snippets and further updates!

What’s on Kal’s Reading List

Hey everyone.  Just a short post as I note a few books that have come out recently that I’m itching to read.  I thought I’d note them for you, so you can check them out too!

First up is Jason Cordova’s Darkling.  It’s the second book of his Kin Wars series and just from the cover, it looks awesome.  As one friend of mine said, nobody is going to argue with someone who carries a sword like that.  Having met Jason, I have no doubt that he can tell a fun, fast-paced story and I plan on reading it and posting a review as soon as life calms down long enough to let me.

 

Next up is a co-authored book that I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about.  Chris Kennedy and Thomas A. May’s The Mutineer’s Daughter.  It’s military space opera where a father and daughter are faced with conflicting duties and responsibilities, and where they have to chose to follow orders, or to do the right thing.  Again, it’s got a fantastic cover and a great story description, so I’ll be giving it a look soon.

If you end up reading (or have read) either of them, let me know what you think!