Tag Archives: Fenris

Valor’s Calling Snippet One

Hey everyone, here is the first snippet of Valor’s Child, the second book of the Children of Valor series.  First, the blurb and the cover image, and the snippet is to be found below.  Valor’s Calling comes out on the 29th of September.  Enjoy!

The past calls you back.

Jiden made the decision to join the Century Military Academy after her attempt at a normal school ended in disaster.  She’s embraced this new chapter in her life and she’s ready to do her best.

Jiden’s best may not be good enough.  Her relationships with her friends have changed since she’s been away, her classes are harder than she expected, and things aren’t quite what they seem.  Jiden made enemies when she chose to return to the Academy, and those enemies will settle for nothing less than her death.

Jiden must fight with everything she has, not just to succeed, but to stay alive.  Jiden will prove that she isn’t afraid of the challenge, because the military life isn’t just a simple decision, the military is her calling.

 

Chapter One: I Should Have Known Better

While my parents had hardly been excited about me attending the Academy, I had expected a bit more enthusiasm from my best friend. After all, it would mean we’d be there together.

“You’re what?” Ashiri Takenata stared at me through my datapad.

“I’m coming to the Academy,” I repeated, feeling stupid. I’d meant to tell her and Alexander Karmazin the news as soon as the Admiral had accepted my application. But Mom had sort of freaked out about it and with all the chaos after my misadventures at Champion Enterprises, I hadn’t got around to it until now.

“But…” Ashiri shook her head. “I mean, the acceptance lists have already been posted, you weren’t on them, so we assumed…”

“I had a letter of explanation that I put in with my application packet, I’m accepted,” I answered. The Admiral hadn’t pulled any punches, either. Someone might assume that, being my grandmother and all, she would show me some favoritism. Of course, I’d say they were crazy. The Admiral had barely spoken a dozen words to me outside of what could be strictly viewed as professional terms. I hadn’t even met her before my fourteenth birthday… and as far as I knew, my Mom only spoke to her around the holidays, and then only in a formally stilted video call.

What can I say, my family is a mess.

“Did you tell Alex?” Ashiri asked.

“Karmazin?” I replied. I didn’t really think of him as an Alex. I mean, he was far too… imposing for that. Alexander Karmazin was almost two meters tall. With his olive complexion, curly dark hair, and handsome looks, he could have passed for an actor on one of those daytime shows.   When I’d first met him, I’d instantly hated him, he’d seemed to be everything I wasn’t: tall, confident, and his father was the richest man on the planet. Now I considered him a friend, maybe something more. He’d certainly hinted that he was interested in something more, the last time we’d talked in person, almost five months ago.

I flushed as I considered that, “No, I just had time to call you. I’ve been digging into all the course work. Did you see we have an entire research paper due on the first day of classes for Military Ethics?”

“What, yeah, I knocked that out a month ago. We… that is, Alex and I, we’ve had the past five months to do all that stuff,” Ashiri said, looking distracted. “You really should tell Alex.”

“Yeah, I’ll do that,” I said. “The welcome packet mentioned we can select our roommates, do you have one, yet?”

Ashiri looked nervous, “Uh, yeah, we can talk about that later, after we get in. You might change your mind, you know. Oh, I’m hitting the limit on my bandwidth for the month, got to go, see you later!”

She cut the call and I stared at my home screen for a long, puzzled moment. I’d met Ashiri at the Century Military Academy. We’d been in the same squad of Sand Dragon. We’d slept on the ground together, been shot at together, and struggled through some really rough times together. I wasn’t sure why she seemed nervous at being my roommate. It wasn’t like I was anything like her old roommate, Rakewood. I wasn’t going to dump on her or anything, I could pull my own weight.

For that matter, I had no idea why she was out of bandwidth. I sort of remembered that her family didn’t have the best financial situation. They’d come here as refugees or something, back when the Guard had annexed their homeworld in the Ten Sisters system. But bandwidth for video calls was plentiful. She’d have to have been spending eight or ten hours a day to put a serious chink in even a basic bandwidth plan with the planetary network.

It was different out here at Basalt Mesa Outpost. It was an archeological and research station, with a permanent population of only thirty. The video call had used up a lot of my family’s non-research bandwidth. In fact, I’d probably talked longer than I should have, but I’d wanted to see Ashiri. The past five months had been rough. I hadn’t really had any friends… well, none besides Ted. He’s dead now, I reminded myself. The accounting intern who’d been friendly to me had been kidnapped and probably killed by the smugglers who’d been buying stolen military equipment from rogue elements of Champion Enterprises.

Officially he was missing, but I’d talked with Ted’s parents. They planned on holding a quiet funeral after all this blew over. I felt horrible for them. If I were them, I would have blamed me. But they hadn’t. They’d actually thanked me for uncovering the corruption at Champion Enterprises… and for bringing their son’s killers to justice.

That left me feeling adrift. I shouldn’t have got Ted involved. I should have handled it all differently, should have gone straight to the Admiral when it all started, but I’d screwed it all up. I’d been kidnapped, nearly killed. Ted was vanished, as if he’d never been. I’d been able to fall back on my military training from the Academy Prep Course, which had saved my life… but I’d killed six men in the process.

I wasn’t fifteen Century years old yet and I was a killer. That was one more reason I’d chosen to attend the Academy. Someone should have been there to protect me, to protect Ted. Maybe I could prevent someone else’s family from having to hold a quiet funeral for their child.

For just a moment I felt the urge to call Alexander Karmazin. Of anyone, I felt he’d understand. He’d had to fight for his life, too. But some measure of Ashiri’s nervousness made me hesitate. Why had she been so insistent that I call him?

It can wait, I told myself. In a couple more days, I’d fly to Duncan City, and I could meet him and Ashiri there. I could talk to them in person and figure out any problems. Besides, I’d already used too much bandwidth and I had a full ethics research paper to knock out.

I flipped my datapad back over to the course material and got started.

***

 

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Kal’s September 2017 Forecast

Hey everyone.  In case you missed it, I just released Ghost Star, Book 6 of The Shadow Space Chronicles.  So what else is new?

Well, I finished Valor’s Calling, the sequel to Valor’s Child last month.  It’s out with my alpha readers now.  I’m hoping to have it edited and ready to go on the 30th.

What am I working on now?  A super-secret project that I’m hoping to have done and sent out soon.  It may or may not involve hordes of ravening undead.  My writing progress on it is going well and I’m hoping to have it done within the next few days.

My next project after that is The Lost Heir, Book 7 of The Shadow Space Chronicles.  Expect lots of explosions and weapons fire.  If all goes well, I’ll have that one done by the end of the month.

In my queue after that, I owe my readers the fourth book of The Eoriel Saga, the third book of the Fenris series, and the fourth book of The Renegades series.  I’ve got another mystery project I’m working on after all of that.  Over the past two months I’ve written three books and I hope to make good progress through the rest of the year.  I can’t promise that I’ll get all four books out over the next few months, but I promise I’m working on them and they’ll be out just as soon as they’re done and I feel they’re ready.

Thanks for reading!

Valor’s Child Snippet One

Here’s the first snippet for Valor’s Child, which comes out on June 30th, 2017:

Chapter One: My Parents Are Evil

 

I lay awake atop my covers as I listened to my parent’s raised voices.  I wasn’t sure if they figured I was asleep or if they just didn’t care if I heard at this point.  For all I knew, they’d forgotten that I was even in the house.

“I don’t know what to do with her, Wayne, I just don’t,” My mom said.  She still had that tone of resentment that had set me off earlier.  That had escalated into this, but somehow it just didn’t seem fair that she could raise her voice and I couldn’t.

“It’s not like we have a lot of options,” my dad said.  “I think most of this comes back to her application to Champion, right?  You two did have an agreement.”  I felt a surge of hope at his words.  I wanted him to respect my decision, to support me.  Granted, I chose to go behind their backs only after that last fight with my dad, so in part I’d done it to get back at him, too…

“Don’t you dare take her side on this,” Mom said.  Just like her, I thought, she doesn’t like what I’m doing so she tries to make it out like I’m the one who didn’t hold up her end of the bargain.  I had… mostly.  Well, admittedly, I’d promised to apply to the Archeological Institute and Nelson’s University as well, but it was hard enough filling out just the application to Champion Enterprises Internship… and they had requested that I make my application exclusive.  They would have thrown my application out if they knew I had applied somewhere else.

“She didn’t hold up her end of the bargain,” Mom said.  “For that matter, she went behind my back—both our backs—when she filed the Champion Enterprises application.  She forged my signature on the application, Wayne.”

I winced at that.  It was true enough.  I knew she wouldn’t sign it and I knew that Dad would have wanted to talk it over with her before signing it.  The two of them were almost a hive mind with how they managed Will and me.  That was part of why I’d gotten so angry with both of them, they were too good, and it was almost sickeningly wholesome around the house.  That hadn’t bothered me even a year ago, but it did now.  I was nearly fourteen years old, which with the longer years here on Century, meant I was already seventeen in Earth Years.  Back in more civilized places where they followed the Earth calendar, I would almost be considered an adult. I’m so sick of them treating me like a child, I thought, I made this decision myself and they should respect it.

“I know,” I heard my dad sigh and that made me wince again.  Dad was big on keeping your word and being honest.  And I tried, but at the time it had seemed like my only option.  I’d done almost everything else they had required of me.  I’d taken the archeology classes like they asked, I’d done all the additional course work they wanted, I’d even stayed on top of the chores… well the ones I hadn’t traded with Will, anyway.  And really, who cared if I traded allowance money for Will taking some of the worst chores?  I didn’t have time to clean the bathrooms, I was doing all that extra work.

A quiet voice inside of me reminded me that I’d still had time to hang out with Tony.  I’d also had time to attend the Basalt Mesa Outpost school graduation dance.  Come to think of it… I ambushed that quiet voice and shut it up where it wouldn’t gang up on me with my parents.  I was the wronged party here and I refused to give in on this.  I had earned that internship and I was not going to take it away from me.

“Well…” I could hear my father hesitate, “You have to admit that she planned this out pretty well.  She didn’t apply to the other schools and it is well past the deadlines.  For that matter… it is a good position.  Champion Enterprises does train their people well and they’ve got the best engineering school on Century.”

“I don’t care,” her mom said.  “She lied to us, Wayne.  If we let her get away with that… then what lesson does she learn?  That if she’s clever enough, she gets what she wants? Because I don’t think that’s right.”  That wasn’t what I think at all, I countered in my head, though I will admit that I did think it all through very well.  There wasn’t anything they could do, not without destroying my future and I knew they cared too much about me to do anything like that.

“You’re right,” her father said.  “She does need to come away from this with some lessons… and I think I have an idea.”  I felt a sense of unease.  I thought I had considered every option.  The trimester school system had just wound to a close.  I’d graduated my secondary school in the second trimester, which meant I had just over five months until the first trimester of university classes began.  Normally, that gave kids my age a break before they started training in earnest for their careers.  Some got temporary jobs, but most kids my age would spend the time either studying for their classes or enjoying the last break before they had to buckle down and attend university.

Personally, I’d planned to spend most of my time studying.  Champion Enterprises was the opportunity of a lifetime.  Their employees made more money than almost anyone else on Century.  Their boss, Leo Champion, was one of the primary shareholders in the Century Colony Charter.  He owned something over thirty percent of the star system.  Tony had earned an internship with their logistics department last year.  He was still an intern, but he already made more than my dad did.

“There’s always her grandmother,” Dad said, his voice oddly reasonable.

“What, your mother?” I heard the incredulity in Mom’s voice.  “Wayne, she’s a nice enough woman, but I doubt that Effy would really punish her… unless you think baking her cookies and gossiping about her other grandchildren would be punishment.”

“No, June, I meant your mother.”  My dad said it in that same smug tone of voice he used when he knew he was being devious, like when he beat me at cards or when he had figured out some archeologic puzzle.

I sat up in bed and my mother and I spoke with the same voice, “You can’t be serious.”

***

Kal’s March 2017 Forecast

March is here… wow.  It’s kind of a shock to say that.  I’ve been busy.  Really, really busy.  Between work, and moving (did I mention I was moving?  Yeah, I’m moving, surprise!), writing, editing, and raising a very active two-and-a-half-year-old… yeah, 2017 is flying by.

I’m mostly done with Ghost Star, the sixth book of the Shadow Space Chronicles.  However, with the sort-of-unexpected move, it’s going to be delayed, unfortunately.  I hope to publish it in May, which is further out than I’d like, but I don’t think I’ll be able to get it completely done, edited, and sent out to beta readers before the end of the month.

In other news, I’m hoping that the move will increase my writing productivity, with (hopefully) an hour less of my day spent in traffic.  I’ve also done the rough outline for the third book of the Fenris/Rising Wolf series.  I’d planned to write it this month, but I’ll fit it in somewhere.

After that, I’m going to write the second book of my YA series: Valor’s Children.  The first book is going to be a big release in June and I’m planning on doing a release party at Liberty Con.  My goal for the series is to have most of the books written so that I can stage their release over a few months.

I’ve also been bitten by the zombie bug.  No details for readers or an expected publication date just yet, but I’ve got around twenty thousand words of <title redacted> written, which is just over a quarter of the book.  Considering I wrote all of that in just three days, it tells you that I’m excited about it.

In other news, I’ll be doing some revisions to the mailing list.  I hope to have those revisions done after I move.  There’s been a delay in the newsletter as a result, but it should be up in April and going full-steam in May.

Odin’s Eye Snippet Two

Here’s the second snippet for Odin’s Eye, coming this weekend!  Odin’s Eye is the sequel to Fenris Unchained and a novel in the Star Portal Universe.  You can find the first snippet here.

Time: 1200 Zulu, 24 June 291 G.D.

Location: Bliskin Station, Hanet System

 

“Yep,” Mike Majors nodded as he pointed out exterior damage to the ship’s forward ring, “That’ll need some repairs.”

It was a bit of an understatement, in Mel’s opinion. Having experienced the wrenching sensation of the off-balance warp drive, she would have said both damaged rings would have needed to be replaced. Their surfaces were covered in emitters designed to warp space… many of those emitters were damaged, out of alignment, or simply destroyed.

“I was hoping to get some upgrades,” Fenris said, his voice a gravelly baritone.

Majors didn’t even bat an eye at being addressed by the AI… which made Mel wonder just how many Guard laws that the Mercenary Guild bent or outright broke out here at Blisken Station where people paid extra to keep their secrets.

“That’s entirely possible,” Majors said. “Now, just off-hand I’d say it looks like you’re equipped with Tango-Seventeen drive field emitters, which were top of the line back a hundred years ago, but we can probably either upgrade or entirely replace them with something like X-Ray-Elevens.

“They’re the same series of emitters so we wouldn’t need to replace any power conduits or do any hull redesign. It would keep your drive field depth and give you even better speed at strategic warp, you’d be a match for most current military craft.”

“You have a good eye,” Fenris said. “Most humans don’t realize how deep a drive field I have.”

Mel rolled her eyes at that. She wasn’t certain whether the ship or the engineer was trying harder to flatter the other… either way, she knew it was going to cost the group money as the two worked each other over for more options.

“Oh, yeah,” Majors said. “I could tell that from just a glance. What I’m really interested in, is whether you’re satisfied with those disruptor cannon; they’re Mark Thirteens out of the Preserve, right?”

Like other engineers she had met, Majors wore a headset with an eyepiece that scrolled information to him. Mel could see ghostly text flit across it too fast for her to read anything.

“Yes,” Fenris growled. “Truthfully, I don’t think they provide the full output that they had on their specifications.”

“Yeah, that’s what I’d heard,” Majors said. “I also heard that they’re subject to projector failure when they’re fired in rapid sequence.”

“You know, I thought that was just a malfunction in my secondary systems, but that would explain the drop in rate of fire,” Fenris said.

Mel shook her head; this was about to get very expensive. She jotted down new main armament, even before Majors answered.

“Well, we’ve actually got some of their Mark Twenty-Fives in stock, pulled them off… well, I can’t really say what I pulled them off,” he winked conspiratorially at Mel, “but I’ve got a full set of those, which should be as easy as a one-for-one swap. There’s still a healthy market for the Mark Thirteens, so it wouldn’t cost much beyond installation and a bit of overhead. The Mark Twenty-Fives will give you a significant boost in firepower.”

It was a long moment before Fenris spoke, “I’ve looked at the specifications for the Twenty-Fives, I like that idea. What do you think about my power systems?”

“Well,” Major said after a glance at his eyepiece, “I’d say that they’re pretty solid. Power output is limited, but we could probably boost it with some…”

 

 

Time: 1400 Zulu, 25 June 291 G.D.

Location: Bliskin Station, Hanet System

 

“This looks like it’s going to be expensive,” Marcus said as he looked over Mel’s notes from the day before. “New drive emitters, new main armament, upgrades to the power systems, new secondary armament, and some defense upgrade options as well…”

Fenris’ growl answered him, “I’m worth it.”

“We know you are,” Mel said, “It’s just that we don’t know how much money we’ll have to do all this yet.”

She didn’t miss Marcus’s derisive snort; he thought letting Bob arrange things was tantamount to setting them all up to be murdered for their money or turned in to the Guard for a bounty.

“I offered to launder the money,” Fenris growled. “For that matter, I think I could probably simply hack…”

Mel held up her hands, “We talked about that, Fenris; the one place someone is guaranteed to notice hacking is when you start messing with money. Even just moving it around, someone is bound to notice. If you take it from accounts, even inactive accounts, they’ll notice sooner.” The last thing they wanted was anyone realizing there was a rogue AI on the loose.

“Fine,” Fenris said, “but I’d like repairs to begin soon.”

“They will,” Mel said. She didn’t mention how the ship had spent the past century making do with what it could manage on its own. The AI seemed to have exhausted much of his patience when he realized his freedom. At least he still values human life, she thought.

“I’d like to test my new systems out against an appropriate target after repairs are complete,” Fenris growled. “Maybe a pirate?”

Mostly values human life, she corrected herself. It seemed that like most men, Fenris wanted to play with his shiny new toys, even before he had them. “I’m certain we’ll figure something out.”

She looked around, “Bob left already?” The spy would have to physically travel to the Chrysalis system to make contact with the criminals he wanted to use to launder money.

That, in turn, meant that they had to use some of the cash to pay for his travel, as well as the travel of whoever went later after he set things up. Someone would have to carry the data codes for the money transfer and they would definitely want some backup and an escort of some kind. Probably Brian and Marcus, maybe me as well, she thought.

“He and Lace left this morning,” Marcus said. “I figure we’ll head out once it’s all set up. You bring the codes, Brian and I will back you up.” He didn’t bother to hide his suspicion of the agent. In his opinion Bob was just as untrustworthy as anyone else.

“We get a total value, yet?” Mel asked.

“Total account value is seventy-seven million, five hundred and thirty-four thousand, nine hundred and eighty-two Guard dollars,” Fenris said. “Though the exact value varies dependent upon exchange rates for the accounts in the Harmony Protectorate.”

Mel gave a low whistle, “That is a lot of money.”

She wasn’t certain about the going rate in the Harmony Protectorate. She knew they were a semi-autonomous collection of four systems that operated with a modified colonial charter under the UN Security Council… but still technically part of Guard Space. She hadn’t dealt much with them, since they had ruinous trade tariffs for foreign vessels.

Plus, she thought, there’s been a lot of ships disappearing out that way and even Vagyr’s pirates can’t account for all of them. It wouldn’t surprise her to hear that someone in the Protectorate was sheltering pirates.

Marcus grimaced, “I’m sure it won’t be nearly as much after we launder it. Standard cut for something like this is upwards of thirty percent.”

“Thirty percent?!” Mel demanded. “That’s extortionate!”

Marcus grinned, “It’s stolen money, so… yeah, it is extortionate. The kind of people we’re dealing with won’t do this from the goodness of their hearts and it costs them a pretty penny to do what they do. They’ll have to funnel the money through a dozen worlds, exchange it for bearer bonds or cash in transit and then funnel it back along the way. This much money, spread across a dozen worlds and systems, it’s going to take a lot of time and work. Plus they’ll probably have to bribe a few customs agents and several senior bank executives to hide those transactions.”

Mel just shook her head, “Still, thirty percent…” She hadn’t thought herself that attached to the money, but to see a third of it disappear so easily left her reeling.

“We’ll get cash to pay for some of the repairs, maybe enough left over to work some cover identities for us all, probably not enough to get a solid ID for you and I, though.”

Mel nodded at that. It seemed to be something of a fixation for Marcus, yet she couldn’t blame him. Without a new, solid identity, they were ghosts in the system. They weren’t free to move about any world, to step aboard any civilized space station, really, to accomplish anything. “We’ll have to register Fenris, too,” she said, “and pay for a Guild Charter if that’s what we’re going to do.”

“If we’re going to stay in civilized space I guess it’s our best option,” Marcus said. She didn’t miss the disapproval in his voice though. He didn’t like that option and he hadn’t yet explained why.

She looked down at her list and the preliminary estimates. Given how their funds were about to shrink, she didn’t know if they would have the money. Certainly they wouldn’t have the money for everything. So where could they afford to cut corners?

It wasn’t a question she could answer. For now, she just hoped Marcus was wrong about the going rate for money launderers.