Tag Archives: out of the cold

Forums, Store, and Audio Snippets

Good morning everyone!   Just a heads up on some of the things I’m working on.  I’m looking into an online forum, setting up a web store where you can buy T-shirts and other stuff, and doing some other updates to my website.

Right now I’ve got a few ideas of what to put in said web store, but I’d love some feedback.  What kinds of things would you like to see? Signed books?   T-shirts?  Coffee/Tea mugs?  Anubus plush dolls?  Let me know what you’d like to see and I’ll put it up.  I hope to have it set up sometime in the next couple weeks, but I’ll be able to add and remove products depending mostly on interest.

The forum is also a work in progress, though it may take me another month or so to get started on it.  A big part of forums is participation, so I’ll be checking it regularly and hopefully those of you into such things can have some fun discussions there.

Lastly, I’m working with a very talented young woman to start doing some promotional audio snippets for my Renegades series.  Depending on interest, I may do those for some of my other books.  I’ll post links when I get the chance, but again, I’ll want some feedback from people.

Lastly, Renegades: Out of the Cold has been out for almost two weeks.  If you read and enjoyed it (or even if you didn’t like it), please post a review!  Reviews are how Amazon recommends books to readers.  I currently have zero reviews for just over a hundred sales.  Reviews help new readers to find me, so if you get the chance, please post a review!

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!

Kal’s March 2016 Forecast

Okay, seriously, what happened to my winter?  Sunny and 70 degrees in Colorado since early February makes me wonder when the other shoe will drop…

But corny weather jokes aren’t why you’re here (I hope, because that wasn’t even funny for me, I’m just running at a severe sleep deficit right now).

The good news:  I’ve sent Renegades: Out of the Cold off to my alpha readers and as I get their comments, I’ll edit it and send it to my beta readers.  I’ve also started in on a book for submittal to a publisher, it’s titled Prisoner of the Mind and it deals with the origins of Kandergain and Shaden, two of the most powerful psychics in the Shadow Space Universe.  Right now I’m just over two thirds of the way done, so I hope to have it finished soon!

I hope to have it done by the end of the month.  And by hope, I mean I’m going to have it done.   Which is good, because my plan is to publish Renegades: Out of the Cold in early April.

My writing project for April is the fourth book of the Shadow Space Chronicles: The Sacred Stars.  For those of you wondering what happened to the Ghornath and Strike Leader Maygar… well, we’ll get into that!  Assuming that novel goes smoothly, the plan is to have that one available for my readers in June.

As a reminder, my Kindle Scout campaign for Valor’s Child is winding down, please nominate it if you haven’t yet.  Also, I’ll be at Starfest in Denver this weekend (11-13 March) so be sure to see me there!

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!