Tag Archives: Chronicles

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?

Book Sale and Release for Renegades: Out of the Cold

Renegades: Out of the Cold
Renegades: Out of the Cold

Renegades: Out of the Cold is now available from Amazon!  As a limited time promotional event, the first novel of the series, Renegades: Origins, will be available for $2.99 and my short story  set in the same universe, Look to the Stars, will be available for free for the weekend.  My novel, The Fallen Race, set in the same universe will also be discounted to $2.99 for the weekend.

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?
Get your copy here.

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 Snippet One

Here is snippet one of Renegades: Out of the Cold, coming April 2nd, 2016.

Out of the Cold

“Mayday, mayday, mayday,” the high pitched voice called out over the radio, “this is the Tagon’s Venture, we are a merchant ship delivering emergency supplies to a refugee colony and we’ve come under attack by a pirate vessel…”

Mike tuned out the rest as he brought up the sensor display.  The Ghornath lettering and icons were just as alien after months of looking at them, but he could understand enough to function, mostly.  The two ships were only a few hundred thousand kilometers distant, a small tramp freighter and a smaller, slimmer pirate vessel.  The merchant ship had been screaming for help since the Gebnar arrived in the system while the pirate craft had remained ominously silent.

Mike frowned as he looked around the bridge, “Where the hell is Ariadne and Simon?”  He had put the ship on general quarters as they first arrived in the system, the whooping alarms should have reached both of them, regardless of where they might be on the ship.

Before anyone could answer, the back hatch opened and the pair of them rushed in.  Ariadne looked flushed and breathless.  For that matter, so did Simon.  Must have run here or something, Mike thought absently.  “Simon, get on the sensors,” Mike snapped, “get me as much data on these two ships as you can.”

“Yes, Captain,” Simon said as he moved to the sensors.

“Pirates?” Ariadne asked as she hurried over next to Mike.  Since he had appointed her as his XO, he supposed such a question was warranted, to keep her up to date.  Still, he felt more than a little irritation that she hadn’t been present when they left shadow space.  Besides, he thought, she sounds a little too eager, like she’s looking forward to a fight.  Mike didn’t want a fight, not when half the ship’s systems needed a full overhaul.

“That’s what it looks like,” Mike said.  “I don’t trust it, though, the one ship might well be bait.”

“For who?” Ariadne asked, “We’re out in the middle of nowhere.”

That was true enough.  The star system didn’t even have a name, just an alphanumeric code in the navigation system: 567X43.  There wasn’t a lot of traffic out here, a long run around the edge of the Nova Roma Empire, headed towards the Danar system… which was occupied by the Chxor Empire.

Still, the last merchant ship they had run into was a trap.

“The refugee colony,” Rastar said, “The one on record is listed as a Ghornath colony.”  The big alien’s deep voice held a trace of anger, though if that was because most of his remaining people lived in squalid refugee colonies like this one or because the pirate was stealing supplies designated for them, Mike wasn’t sure.

What he was sure about, with a quick glance at the eight-limbed, three meter tall alien was that Rastar’s emotions were getting the better of him.  His normally brown hide had changed to a dull red, with splotches of orange.  Great, Mike thought, I really need him going berserk on me while I’m trying to fight a pirate.

“Ariadne,” Mike said, “Plot me a course for them.”  He saw her step up to the console next to him as she worked.  Since she was a psychic, she was able to plot a route without the need of a navigational computer, beyond using its data for a reference point.

As a bonus, she did it faster than most normal pilots.

He brought the ship’s engines online and matched the course she’d plotted, even as he glanced at Simon, “Any luck?”

“Sensor data coming up now,” Simon said.  Pixel had remotely brought up some basic data, but he wasn’t as proficient in the ship’s sensors as Simon, and Mike would rather have the engineer focused on other things… like keeping their reactor online and powering up weapons and defensive systems.

Mike looked it over.  Simon had identified the freighter as a Nico-class, which matched what Pixel had estimated.  The data he had on the pirate made it out as a frigate, which was bad news, since it was fifty percent larger than they were.  Then again, he thought as he parsed the details, it looks like a Coral-class, which probably means old and decrepit.

Old and decrepit sounded fine by Mike.  The Gebnar’s main gun was still down and their defense screen still only operated at thirty percent, which meant it wouldn’t be particularly effective against anything beyond a light fighter’s armament.  The Ghornath-built corvette’s external missile racks were empty, too, which meant the only offensive firepower they had were the five anti-fighter turrets.  While they were powerful for their size, they were still anti-fighter weapons, not meant for engaging something the size of a frigate.

“Alright,” Mike said.  “We’re going in fast, defense screens up and weapon systems online.”  He looked around the bridge and met the gazes of his crew.

Simon looked calm, though Mike didn’t miss the moue of distaste.  He didn’t think this was necessary, picking a fight with an unknown enemy.  All the same, he wasn’t about to break the chain of command and say that.  Rastar’s mirror-like eyes and unexpressive face didn’t show emotions, though the set of his cat-like ears and red hide suggested that he was more than ready to engage the enemy.  At the weapons console, Eric Stryker just had a smirk, like he was happy to finally get to shoot something, hardly surprising from the former mercenary, in Mike’s opinion.  I wonder if he’s still screwing the Nova Roma Ambassador, Mike wondered absently.  He still didn’t know whether he should be irritated at the complications that would cause later or envious of the man’s skill at bedding women.  The Wrethe, Anubus, merely stood waiting, his black fur and dark eyes disturbing as he cocked his head.  Mike wondered if Anubus expected them to pirate the freighter.  Given his background as a pirate and his demonstrated lack of compassion, Mike would assume so.

“We’re ready down here,” Pixel said from the engine room.  The engineer sounded more resigned than eager, but that was probably because he knew he’d have to repair any damage they suffered.

Ariadne gave Mike a nod, the psychic had a sunny smile.  “Let’s go help those people.”

Mike restrained a groan.  For someone as incredibly dangerous as she was, Ariadne had a tendency to wear rose-tinted shades when it came to measuring people.  Odd trait for a mind-reader, he thought, not for the first time.

“Right,” Mike said.  He flipped through several commands on his console until he finally got the communications system to go through, “Attention pirate vessel, this is the Gebnar.  I’m Captain Mike Smith.  Turn away from the Tagon’s Venture, or we will fire upon you.”

A moment later, the pirate messaged them back, “Look, I can see you’re a Ghornath Privateer, ‘Smith’ or whoever you are.  This freighter is mine.  Find your own.”

Before Mike could say anything, Rastar reached over and activated the transmission, “Fithly pirates, that ship is bound for a Ghornath refugee colony.  If you do not turn aside, we will shred the pathetic piece of don kar that you call a ship.”

Mike sighed, there went any chance of bluffing or faking some kind of bargain with them.  He waited until Rastar stepped back away from the console before he faced the big alien, “Rastar, I am the Captain, let me do the talking.”

“Those honorless xurok will not–”

“You’re right, they won’t,” Mike snapped.  “But let me do the talking.  I am the Captain and if you mess this up, those bastards might just blow the freighter out of spite!”

Rastar’s hide went a darker shade of red, but then he gave a slow nod and his color shifted back to a more neutral reddish-brown, “My apologies, Captain.”

Mike doubted it would be the last outburst from the three meter tall alien, but he would have to settle for what he could get.  What I’d give for a decent crew, Mike thought, and a fully functioning ship… and while I’m at it, wealth, riches, and women…

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!

Thanks To All My Readers!

The Prodigal Emperor, Book III of the Shadow Space Chronicles
The Prodigal Emperor, Book III of the Shadow Space Chronicles

Thanks everyone who participated in the release of The Prodigal Emperor.  I hope everyone enjoys the book and however you feel about it, please post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever.  Also, if you have personal feedback for me, feel free to contact me using the blog’s feedback link or even just commenting here.

I look forward to hearing what people think of it and I’m hard at work on the next book, this one Fate of the Tyrant, Book III of the Eoriel Saga.  Thanks for reading!

The Prodigal Emperor Paperback Available Now!

The Prodigal Emperor, Book III of the Shadow Space Chronicles
The Prodigal Emperor, Book III of the Shadow Space Chronicles

Due to a lot of hard work by my editor and my cover artist, The Prodigal Emperor is now available as a paperback.  The ebook version will still be released on Saturday, 19 June, but you can pick up a paperback copy of The Prodigal Emperor today from Amazon!

It should also be available over the next few weeks from both Barnes and Noble and other booksellers.

Link: The Prodigal Emperor

The Prodigal Emperor, Snippet Three

Here’s the third snippet from The Prodigal Emperor.  It seems that Alanis Giovanni is in a bit of trouble…

Faraday System

United Colonies

December 1, 2403

Alanis used a word that the daughter of the nobility and the sister to a head of state probably shouldn’t use in public. Unfortunately, it didn’t have any effect on the incoming fire from the crew served weapon that had her pinned down behind a rapidly eroding structural bulkhead.

“Alpha team, this is Sigma, what is your situation?” Sigma’s voice was dry and calm in her ear.

The rest of alpha team, as far as she knew, were already down, including her team leader, caught when the ambushers opened up from their concealed emplacement down the corridor. She had managed to return fire and move to cover, but she was the only one. The Cy-Tek Railgun down the corridor opened up with another burst to remind her of that point.

“Sigma, this is Alpha Five,” Alanis responded. “I’m pinned down and the remainder of Alpha Team is down.”

There was a moments pause and then Sigma spoke again, “Alpha Five, we need that target secured, the rest of our assault is depending on you.” The assault against the station would fail, she well knew, if she couldn’t take and hold the reactor room. Cutting power there would open the security doors and allow the rest of her company to secure the station.

She swore again as the remainder of her cover began to disintegrate. Nothing for it, she thought, as she vaulted out from cover and used her combat armor’s thrusters to augment the armor’s enhanced strength.

She – briefly – flew up along the ceiling of the corridor, the sharp arc of her trajectory momentarily throwing off the aim of her attackers as she managed to down one of them. She struck the ceiling with her back hard enough that it knocked the air out of her lungs and made her see spots despite her armor’s protection. She maintained her fire, though, and she saw the other gunner go down.

A moment later she bounced off the floor hard enough that she blacked out for a moment.

She pulled herself up, though, and ran a quick functions check of her armor and weapon. That done, she spoke up over the radio, “This is Alpha Five, continuing to target.”

***

 

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.

 

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

Contested

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.

 

The Prodigal Emperor, Snippet One

Here’s the first snippet from The Prodigal Emperor:

Halcyon Colony, Garris Major System

Contested

November 20, 2403

Captain Garret Penwaithe swished the cheap liquor around his mouth for a moment, just long enough to numb his taste buds enough that he could swallow it without gagging.

“This is your idea of a date?” Ensign Abigail Gordon asked – shouted really – over the raucous music that rattled the rickety table at which they sat.

“This is not a date,” Garret growled, irritated as much with himself as with her for the statement. The War Dogs were a mercenary organization, so they were quite a bit more lax on things like fraternization than the military. Even so, he was not about to date the little sister of his ex-girlfriend. Especially since his ex-girlfriend was now married to his older brother. For one thing, he thought glumly, even if it wasn’t wrong in so many ways, Jessica would kill me.

“I mean,” Abigail shouted, “the food is terrible, the setting is worse, why even come here?” She wasn’t wrong. The bar was a dive, one which was overrun by mercenaries and privateers of the worst sort, brought here by the call of loot to be taken in the fight against the Colonial Republic. Few of them cared that Halycon Colony fought for freedom. Fewer still had any real loyalty to the government that had hired them. Many of them were the type of scum that followed Admiral Mannetti. Almost on cue, across the room, he saw the pirate, Stavros Heraklion, step through the door, followed by two women from his crew.

Great, he thought, when this goes down, I’ll need to remember to watch my back, especially with his grudge against the War Dogs. He wished that the Commodore had told him more about why he and Stavros hated each other so much.

Abigail cleared her throat impatiently and Garret sighed, “You mentioned nightmares, problems sleeping? This is the best way I know to blow off some steam and get your mind level.” Well, he thought, not the best way, but I’m not going to tell you to go get laid. He might give that advice to some of his other recruits, but he didn’t want Abigail to take that the wrong way.

“Hey,” a voice growled from behind him, “pretty girl, what you doing with this loser? Me and my friends are a lot more fun.”

Right on cue, Garret thought. He glanced over his shoulder to see one of the privateers he had seen at the bar earlier. “Get lost,” Garret said.

“Yeah, get lost,” Abigail echoed. She looked back at Garret, “What do you mean by blow off some steam?” Her upturned nose and freckles made her look absurdly young.

“Heya, girly, I don’t think you understand,” the privateer leaned over the table and even over his unwashed stink of body odor and sweat, Garret could smell the alcohol on his breath. “That wasn’t an invitation, it was a warning. This worm here is wearing War Dogs uniform. You set with him much longer and you might get grouped with him.”

“The War Dogs are great!” Abigail said, her voice far louder than she had realized. “How about you get lost, asshole!”

Garret heard stools scrape across the floor behind him as the privateer’s friends stood up. The privateer leaning over the table gave a snarl and pushed Abigial, hard, so that she and her chair fell back. She rolled to her feet and brought her hands up defensively. Good reflexes, Garret noted.

Garret slammed his elbow into the man’s midriff and as the privateer grunted and bent over, he grabbed him by his dreadlocks and smashed his face into the table top. The flimsy table collapsed, but the privateer went down with it. Garret wiped his hands on his pants, he hated dreadlocks.

Garret saw the man’s friends start forward out of the corner of his eye. He stood from his chair in a smooth, easy motion. His two meter tall frame rose over the other men and his black face split in a grin that showed them even, white teeth. He saw a couple of them step back in fear. Well, Garret thought cheerfully, I can be one imposing son of a bitch when I want.

Abigail came up beside him, “What’s going on?” she asked.

“A good way to work some of that out is a nice bar fight,” Garret said just loud enough for her to hear. He cocked his head as he recognized the purple uniforms of the privateers. “Say, you’re from the Damien Walters, eh? Should have known a bunch of cowards who’d stand by and watch their captain gunned down wouldn’t have the balls for a real fight.” Garret didn’t know the details, but he had heard that Stavros had gunned down their captain in a duel.

Imposing or not, they came at him. I guess that was a sore point, Garret thought as he caught the first man and used him as a shield against two of the others. After a moment he threw his man into another and watched them both go down.

“How is this supposed to help me?” Abigail said as she ducked under a wild swing and then smashed the bottle of cheap liquor across the man’s head. Someone cut the music and the shattering glass carried clearly through the bar. Garret winced as the pungent brew stung his nose and eyes in a way that only rotgut liquor could.

Garret caught another man’s swing and swung him into the other two as they struggled to their feet. The three stayed down and Garret grunted in disgust, “Eh, not much of a fight anyway…”

He heard tables and chairs shifting behind him, then and glanced over to see a lot more of the purple uniforms come out of the crowd. “Or… I could be wrong.”

Garret lost track of Abigail as a wave of purple uniforms washed over them. Garret was a brawler and though he’d some hand to hand training, that always seemed to go out the window in a fight like this. He caught up his chair and used it to fend two of his attackers away and kicked another man in the crotch as he came at him from the side.

Garret didn’t see the fourth man until the blow caught him from the other side. His attacker hit him again, this time in the side of the head and Garret stumbled to the ground, his ears ringing. He grunted as someone kicked him in the ribs.

He had time to shake his head and clear it a bit, just as he saw one of the privateers draw his pistol. A few meters away, he saw two others held Abigail by her arms. The one with the pistol gave a “He’s one of the War Dogs, you heard what Admiral Mannetti said, some of them dies in a bar fight and she might well cut that crew some extra shares.”

Garret felt his blood go cold. Suddenly this had escalated far beyond a friendly bar brawl. Stupid, he thought, I shouldn’t have forgotten about the politics down here and now not just me, but Abigail will be paying the price too.

“We can have a bit of fun with this one, first, eh?” One of Abigail’s captors said as he ran a hand through her blonde hair.

She spat in his face and almost pulled her arm free.

Garret saw his arm go back to strike her. Before he could finish the blow, another hand caught his. A tall man, dressed in skin-tight, red leather pants and a white button-down shirt, open to the waist stood behind the privateer. Garret instantly recognized Captain Stavros Heraklion although he had no idea why he had stopped the blow. The privateer tried to free his hand, but Stavros held him with little apparent effort, “Ah, I see that striking women is something that Captain Walters trained your crew on, eh, boys?”

The tone of threat in his voice was enough to penetrate the drunkest of the bar crowd. The handful of patrons that hadn’t backed away or cleared out made for the door. Behind Stavros, the two women from his crew stood, hands on weapons.

The privateer with a pistol glanced down at his weapon, as if to reassure himself. “Stavros,” he spat the name like a curse. “This is none of your business.”

“Oh, I think it is,” Stavros said. He gave a nod at Garret, “Now, while I can appreciate getting the upper hand in a fight like this, well, he’s been assigned to my squadron. As much as I… dislike the War Dogs, well, you put him down and it’ll take his gunboats out of the fight. You do that, and it’ll make me look bad.”

He released the privateer’s hand and stepped to the side. “And as for her… well, slapping around a woman is something I think it best to discourage, unless they’re into that sort of thing.” He leaned in towards Abigail, “I dunno, are you into that?”

Abigail flushed, “No – no,” she stuttered.

Stavros turned back to the leader of the privateers. “Well, then, see? There’s two good reasons for me to put a stop to it… plus I think any men who worked for a ball-less fuck-puppet like Damien Walters are cowards and cretins.”

The man with the pistol flushed red and Garret saw his hand tremble on his pistol. Yet the easy way that Stavros’s hands had come to rest on his own pair of pistols seemed to take the wind out of him. “Admiral Mannetti will hear about this.”

“Oh, dear,” Stavros said, his eyes wide. “Well, do give her Commodore Stavros’s regards, eh?”

The privateers began to clear out and after a moment, Garret managed to stand, though his head still spun a bit. He gave Stavros a slow nod, “Thanks.” The gratitude burned a bit, for there was no doubt that the man would brag about it at some point later. Commodore Pierce is going to be angry about this too, Garret thought.

“It is nothing!” Stavros said with an extravagant wave. “I just like to tweak those men in their ridiculous purple uniforms. Have they no sense of style? If I hadn’t already killed Damien Walters, I would shoot him again for crimes against fashion.”

Garret looked over Stavros’s tight red leather pants and the oiled chest hair that showed from his open shirt and just shook his head. Not worth saying anything, Garret thought, besides, he did just save my life. That his life had depended upon the flighty pirate at all almost made Garret want to throw up. Stavros was a womanizer, a philanderer, and a card cheat. He was also a pirate of the worst sort and whatever self-interest had made him step in was all that prevented Garret and Abigail from dying.

Garret wasn’t certain if it was possible for the night to get any worse.

Abigail looked over at Garret, her face a bit pale. “Well,” she said, “as first dates go, this was pretty terrible. You really better make it up to me.”

***

The Prodigal Emperor is available for Pre-Order on Amazon and will be published on September 19th, 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.