Tag Archives: psychic

Coming Soon: Prisoner of the Mind

Prisoner of the Mind, near-future novel of mine set in the Shadow Space Universe, is coming soon!  Prisoner of the Mind is a techno-thriller set in the near future, where people with psionic abilities have emerged and society hasn’t adapted well to their existence.

How do you know right from wrong if every memory, every thought in your head was put there by your enemies?

In a near-future, when humanity has begun to spread throughout the stars.  In the process, they’ve awakened abilities hidden within their own DNA.  Psychics have begun to appear at ever-increasing rates with abilities that range from mental manipulation to mass destruction and beyond.  Empowered by public hysteria and fear of psychics, Amalgamated Worlds has taken over.  Their powerful combination of military and security forces, control of media and communications, and manipulation of internal threats has created a police state that spans all of human space.

Shaden Kirroy is a product of that police state.  Designed to be a weapon for use against his fellow psychics as well as any civilians who step out of line, he is an artificially enhanced psychic.  He is a blank slate, his past erased and replaced with engineered loyalty to Amalgamated Worlds.
Yet Shaden realizes that something is terribly wrong.  As his world begins to unravel, as he realizes the horrors of what was done to him, Shaden must find a way to free himself, to unlock the prison of his own mind.
Look for Prisoner of the Mind at the end of the month!

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


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


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.

Renegades: Origins Audiobook Is Now Live!

Renegades: Origins is now live as an audiobook on Amazon, Itunes, and Audible.

In times of chaos, there are those who fight for money, for power, or just to survive. In feudal Japan they were ronin. In the US post-Civil War, they were desperadoes or hired guns. In the chaotic times of the collapse of human civilization, they are men, women, and aliens without shelter or succor. When no one else will take a stand, they stand for themselves. They are deserters, murderers, pirates, and worse; they are the Renegades.

Renegades: Origins contains the novellas Deserter’s Redemption, The Gentle One, Declaration, Ghost Story, and A Murder of Crowes. It also contains six short stories: “Research Notes”, “Runner”, “Fool’s Gold”, “System Failure”, “Dishonored”, and “Crossed Stars”.

Available at Audible.com here.

Available at Amazon here.


The Shattered Empire Release Notes

The Shattered Empire
The Shattered Empire

The Shattered Empire comes out this weekend and I thought I’d write a bit about it. The Fallen Race was the second novel I ever completed. I was deployed to Iraq when I wrote it, in about a two week stretch while I was moving from one position to another, with basically no internet access, no job other than to get from one spot to the next, and two weeks of total brownout (which meant I couldn’t fly and convoys weren’t driving). I edited and rewrote sections of that novel, on and off, for five years before I finally grew tired of rejection letters and self-published.

Fast forward to today. It took me considerably longer (two months, more or less) to write and edit The Shattered Empire. I’m a bit busier now, though, with a full time job, a wife, and a new baby. The Shattered Empire is a different book, too, written with a better perspective on the universe and with a better idea of where I wanted this all to go… and most importantly, I knew that I had an audience and people wanted to read what I wrote. That gave me a bit of room to expand and experiment a bit.

A bit of warning, The Shattered Empire has a lot of politics, character interactions, and drama. It also has exploding space ships, assassins, mercenaries, and heroes. So I think it’s a better book for having some depth. It is also a huge book, at over 170,000 words, it’s almost half again as long as The Fallen Race. It’s a long read. There are a lot of characters… though the action remains focused around Baron Lucius Giovanni. I do, however, get to explore some of the side characters who didn’t get enough time in The Fallen Race.

All in all, I am happy with The Shattered Empire. I’ll admit, I don’t think it’s perfect, but given the time constraints and current events in my life, I’m proud of what I accomplished. Give it a read and write a review, let me know what you think.  It’s available here from Amazon.

The Shattered Empire Final Sample

Here’s the final section from The Shattered Empire.  Here’s the first, second, third, and fourth samples if you missed them.

Eldorado, Garris Major System

Colonial Republic

May 3, 2403

Mason and Lauren followed the ornately dressed monk towards the pillars of the monastery. After his initial announcement, he had deflected Mason’s other questions. Lauren found him irritating. She didn’t hold with holy men, not of any stripe. In her mind, any kind of higher power would have gotten itself involved already if it cared. What that meant was that either God didn’t exist or he didn’t care, in Lauren’s book.

What that left holy men, in her regard, was either dupes or charlatans. The obvious intelligence of the monk suggested that he was the latter. They stepped under the awning of the monastery. The large stone pillars that upheld the ornate roof also divided the structure into separate areas. Up close, Lauren could see that there were a number of glass display cases, which had held what looked like scrolls, stone tablets, and other odd artifacts. Had being the operative word, Lauren thought dryly.

Someone had smashed the glass cases and torn bits of ancient parchment, smashed stone tablets, and broken glass littered the floors. Overturned tables marked a swath of destruction. The damage was complete and utterly thorough.

Mason turned to Lan, “I’m so sorry. This is my fault…”

“This is the fault of the men who did it,” Lan said, his voice calm. “I did not show you this to make you feel guilt, I showed you it so that you can see the determination of those who hunt you.”

“What else did they do?” Mason asked. There was a detached tone to his voice, almost as if he were tapping into some part of him that did not involve emotion.

“When I initially refused to divulge your location, they first threatened the collection of items we had here. I refused, so they destroyed them. They then threatened my people. However, I made it clear that not only would we not cooperate, but that I would kill myself rather than capitulate,” Lan said.

Mason winced. Lauren gave the old man a skeptical look. Passive resistance in that form only went so far, in her mind. Granted, the mercenaries needed him alive, but she didn’t see how the man could prove his determination short of acting on it. Lan caught her look and gave her a small smile, he raised his wrists. She saw, with shock, that he had two bandages, one over each of his wrists.

“The mercenaries moved quickly to have a doctor save my life. After that, they did not further threaten my people, they merely made a recording, threatening the monastery, which they said they posted.”

Mason sighed, “I’m sorry, Lan. I’ve been out of contact for the past few months with no way to find their message. Otherwise, I would have come sooner.”

“Then I am disappointed in you,” Lan said, his voice calm. “I had assumed you realized that showing up would further endanger us, so you stayed away. The mercenaries would have left, eventually. Perhaps, then, they would have lived.” Lan turned, “I see that you have returned to violence.” The way he said it, Lauren could tell it wasn’t a question.

Mason looked away. “Some things happened.”

“As I expected,” Lan said. “As happened here, the last time my people were under threat.” The monk sighed. “This, Mason, is why you had to leave before.”

“Because he defends the people he cares about?” Lauren snapped. She was tired of seeing Mason lectured. Yes, he had done terrible things. Yes, he had a core of violence. If he used that in the right way, she didn’t see the issue.

“No, because his path, as always, is a different one,” Lan said. “I would not take a wolf pup, shear it, force it to eat grain, and run with the flock. To do so is to wrong the wolf and threatens the flock.” Lan cocked his head, “I might, instead, raise the wolf pup to protect the flock, feed it meat, and tame it… but again, this would be to wrong the wolf. This is not the path of the wolf.” Lan’s gaze was calm as he met Lauren’s eyes. “The wolf is a predator. He is not a sheep dog. He is not a sheep. He must hunt, must kill, it is in his nature.”

Mason sighed, “So, what, you want me to return to what I was?”

“The wolf who kills for no reason is not along his path either,” Lan said. “The wolf that hunts alone, without a pack, is less than himself.” The old man shrugged. “Truly, I merely wish for you to find the path that is right for you… and in that, I think you will finally find peace.”

Mason turned away. He took a deep breath as he stared down at the ruins of the artifacts. “I’m sorry about what happened here.”

“Do not be,” Lan said. “They are just objects, of little importance.” He smiled slightly, “Besides, we keep the actual ones hidden away, this is just what we show the tourists.” Despite herself, Lauren gave a snort. Perhaps Lan wasn’t so bad after all.

Mason said, “I need to find out where they came from and what they wanted with… Tommy King.”

“They spoke of their employer several times,” Lan said. He pulled a slip of paper from inside his robes. “One of my younger monks followed them and found that this was the contact code they used at the planetary ansible.”

Mason took the slip of paper. “Whatever you feel about this, I know it is my fault.” Lauren hated the tone of defeat in his voice.

“Fault is inconsequential,” Lan answered. “To use terms of blame and fault is to imply causality, to suggest that man is stripped of choice, that we act only in response to others.” He cocked his head, “All men have free will… you have a choice, now, just as these other men did. What you do with it is up to you.”

Lauren shivered at his words. They were outwardly calm, yet there was a sense of warning and knowledge there… as well as resignation. Lan knew what choice Mason would take, yet he warned him anyway. If he really wanted to stop Mason, he wouldn’t have given him the paper, Lauren thought. She watched Mason as he walked away with slumped shoulders.

Almost as if he had read her mind, Lan spoke, “To deny him the information would be to deny him free will, you know.”

Lauren looked sharply at the old monk. “Free will is overrated. I’d rather have a happy, ignorant life. Since I can’t have that, I just want revenge.”

“How can one be happy without freedom?” Lan asked.

Lauren shook her head, “I don’t have time for your riddles, old man.” She looked him in the eyes, “And if you really gave a damn about Mason, you’d have protected him from the only choice he could make. He spent a decade or more burying Tommy King.”

“A wolf could never be happy living as a sheep,” Lan said, his voice sad. “Nor, despite what it tells itself, would it find happiness in denial and isolation.”

All of the parables and similes and his odd behavior just became too much. Lauren wasn’t certain if Lan wanted Mason to return to being the pirate Tommy King or if he didn’t. For that matter, half of what he said sounded almost as if he said Tommy King wasn’t a bad man. She stared at the old monk for a long moment as she searched for the right words. Eventually, she settled on the truth.

She glared at him suspiciously. “You are weird,” Lauren finally said.


The Shattered Empire will be available on Amazon on the 25th of October, 2014.  Read below for the blurb.

Baron Lucius Giovanni has managed to buy the human race a brief reprieve from the two alien races which seek humanity’s extinction. In the process he has become the leader of a new nation and the commander of a powerful fleet. However, victory comes with consequences. Without an imminent threat, old feuds have sparked back to life and tenuous alliances falter. There are also old enemies who cannot forget that Lucius has what they wanted. He must find a way to hold off scheming rivals, sociopathic psychics, and even former friends. If he can’t do all that and take the fight to humanity’s true enemies, billions may die under alien servitude.

The Shattered Empire Fourth Sample

Here’s the fourth sample of The Shattered Empire.  Follow the links to read the first, second, and third samples.

Halcyon, Garris Major System


May 3, 2403

Garret yawned and stretched as he climbed out of the cockpit. His long, lean frame fit into the cockpit of his Hammer, but only barely. He ran a hand over his shaved scalp and then reached down and offered Heller his hand. As usual, she ignored it and pulled her light body out with one hand. Garret sighed, “You know, I’m just being polite?”

“Ya,” Heller said. “I’m being polite by not breaking your wrist.”

Garret sighed again, “You know, I couldn’t fly with a broken wrist.” Normally a frown on his hard, dark face was reason enough for someone to change their attitude, especially backed by his size.

“This is reason for politeness,” Heller said as she dusted off her flight suit, doffed her helmet, and put her ear-buds in. Her voice grew a bit louder, “It would take me too long to train new pilot, ya?”

“Right,” Garret said. He shook his head as he turned away, but he didn’t even try to hide his smile. Heller was eccentric, to say the least, but she was a great auxiliary officer on his Hammer.

“Commander Penwaithe,” a voice spoke from behind him.

Garret turned and grimaced to find a man in a black uniform. He recognized it as Nova Roman, which meant he was one of Admiral Mannetti’s people, “Yes?” He recognized the tabs on the man’s uniform, he was a commander as well, apparently. Like most of Mannetti’s people, his uniform did away with any form of identification. Either they liked to keep people guessing who they were dealing with or it was some kind of stylistic choice, much like her infamous low-cut uniform.

“Commodore Pierce sent me to speak with you,” the officer said. “Admiral Mannetti is preparing a raid and the locals are going to accompany us for combat experience.” The smirk on his face told Garret just what he thought of that. “We’re cross-loading some of your missiles to the locals, until they’re able to replace some of their stocks.”

Garret grimaced. They’d captured Heinlein Base intact, but like many officers in the Colonial Republic, it’s garrison commander had been corrupt. He’d sold off most of his stockpile of munitions to the black market, which meant that the locals had a paltry reserve to draw upon after the War Dogs had turned over the Colonial Republic ships to them. In theory, Admiral Mannetti could have made up that lack from the ships she’d captured. Of course, she’d moved those to one of her bases ‘for repairs.’

Garret seriously doubted she’d ever turn over any of the ships and he had some dark suspicions about what had happened to the prisoners she promised to ‘repatriate’ to the Centauri Confederation.

Of course, the people of Halcyon Colony didn’t ask many questions, in that regard. Their allies and hired help had come through, and they had liberated the planet. But funding was tight, the Colonial Republic had cut all trade and the Centauri Confederation had already threatened to retaliate for the loss of their ships and the profit of Nova Corp.

So now the locals had turned to privateering… which meant more work for the War Dogs, of course, but it also meant stronger ties to a pirate. A generous man would have assumed that it was just one of those things that happened. Garret being an experienced mercenary figured it was all according to Admiral Mannetti’s plan… and that the long term survival of his former homeworld was in far graver jeopardy than it’s inhabitants realized.

“I assume that Commodore Pierce has already received payment for the transfer?” Garret asked. Wherever his loyalties might, in theory, lie, he was still a mercenary. Payment of goods and services was a necessity, especially for when this entire enterprise fell apart and the people of Halcyon colony were left holding the bag.

“Of course,” the nameless commander answered.

“Great,” Garret smiled. He knew his white, even teeth would stand out starkly on his dark face and seem even more friendly. “I’ll just call Commodore Pierce, then, to confirm and see how many we’ve been paid for already.”

The nameless commander grimaced, “Oh, well, that’s fine. I, uh, meant to say that the President of Halcyon authorized a transfer for payment and I can arrange delivery.”

“Excellent,” Garret said and his smile grew broader. “I’ll wait then, until the payment arrives.”

The commander grimaced, again, “Usually this sort of thing is done on trust.”

“Good, then you can trust me to transfer the munitions upon receipt of payment,” Garret said. “In the meantime, I’ve got some preparations to make.” Garret turned away and didn’t bother to listen for a reply. He could almost hear the other man’s teeth grind in frustration. He listened as the other man struggled a moment to think up some way to dig himself out of the hole he’d dug and then turned and stalked away. This kind of move was exactly the sleazy treatment he’d come to expect from Mannetti’s people. Why, after all, did they need to even pretend to be fair to the hired help?

Garret loved to turn that around on one of them, especially since he had caught the other man trying to cheat him. The War Dogs couldn’t afford the best munitions, but if they were transferring over enough to augment the Halcyon ships, then it would a quantity be worth hundreds of thousands in any currency worth mentioning. The crews of those ships needed those munitions, Garret didn’t doubt. So far, they and the War Dogs had gone on two similar ‘raids’ with Admiral Mannetti. To Garret, it looked more like the Admiral wanted to use them in high visibility missions to lessen her own exposure.

Commodore Pierce had remained remarkably quiet about why they had remained under the contract at Garris Major. Garret had fully expected news that they would depart just after they’d turned over Heinlein Base to the locals. Instead, the Commodore had attended a number of meetings with the newly elected President Monaghan and his staff. One of dad’s old cronies, Garret thought, if I remember right.

“You want me to let them know to prepare to transfer the missiles?” Heller asked. Her light voice and thick accent somehow managed to make even that sound sexy, Garret noted. He nodded, “Yeah, but don’t authorize movement until payment clears.”

“Ya, of course,” Heller said with a roll of her eyes. She popped her ear-buds back in and bounced away. The small, blonde woman looked almost like a teenager as she flounced away.

Garret just shook his head and headed for the War Dogs offices. The huge bays of Heinlein Base were originally built for commerce, but they served more than adequately for warships. His eyes picked out the men and women of his squadron as they moved out after the patrol. Clint, Jason, and Caela headed with purpose towards the civilian section, no doubt to find a card game and company. Ted, more cerebral, looked to be headed for the barracks, no doubt to dive into a book or one of his strategy games. Jay and Ahmad both had girlfriends among the crew and they headed off together in a rush that made Garret smirk a bit.

The other four, Hugh, Tyrone, Jacel, and Jude, all oversaw the post-flight maintenance as the flight crews serviced their Hammers. The big gunboats required extensive maintenance after each flight, far more than a fighter or even dedicated bomber. The gun systems, especially, caused intense structural stresses on their hulls, but also all of the auxiliary systems, engines, and every other part of the big craft needed a full inspection after each flight and extensive maintenance.

Garret worked his way over to the War Dogs’s offices. Almost as soon as he stepped inside, he found Commodore Pierce waiting. “What’s this I hear about you refusing to transfer munitions?”

Garret sighed, “Not refusing, just requiring proof of payment, first, sir.”

“Well, good job, then,” Commodore Pierce said. “It didn’t sound right when that sniveling worm called me a moment ago. How did the patrol go?”

That was one thing that Garret loved about the War Dogs. Some mercenary companies went with rigid military structures and enforced draconian discipline, to the point that reporting was an intensive process. “No sign of any activity from the RLF at Eldorado, but we didn’t have time to linger and do a full scan. I uploaded our data already to our network, if you want, I’ll go brief Josh on it.” Captain Josh Wachope was the War Dogs’ operations officer.

“Nah, he’ll want to review it and compare it to what Mannetti’s people sent us from last week. I think they filtered their sensor data before they turned it over.” The tall, blonde man shook his head, “I’m about entirely fed up with those lying bastards at this point. If not for…” he trailed off and shot Garret a sharp glance. “Well, let’s just say that the locals are lucky we’re still here.”

“Right,” Garret nodded. It was reassuring, in many ways, to see that the Commodore had the same feeling as far as Admiral Mannetti. At the same time, Garret felt uncomfortable about the thought of leaving the planet to her tender mercies, especially since they didn’t seem to realize how dangerous their alliance with her was becoming. In some ways, the War Dogs prevented Admiral Mannetti from entirely leveraging the colony into her pocket.

“Garret,” Pierce’s tone changed and Garret heard the slightest hesitation in the other man’s voice. “I know that you are originally from Halcyon. I haven’t brought it up before… I know damned well where your loyalty lies.”

Garret stood a little straighter at that. His face flushed, though with his dark complexion it would have been hard to tell. The War Dogs weren’t just any mercenary company, in many ways they were family. Better than his family had been, anyway. “Thank you, sir.”

The Commodore shrugged, “Just calling things the way I see them.” He cleared his throat, “However… I wonder if you might have contacts, here?”

“What do you mean by that, sir?” Garret asked. He felt uneasy at the thought. Granted, he hadn’t any loyalty to the planet, but the way his superior had phrased it, it almost sounded as if they were talking about spying on their employers. Which is just good business sense for a mercenary company, Garret thought.

“Friends, former companions, even family,” Commodore Pierce said. “Anyone that you can talk with, possibly even leverage. There’s more here than their struggle for independence, you’ve seen that. Hell, it’s half the talk of our company. The shift to privateering went too quickly, their crews were too eager, and their government is getting too friendly with the likes of Admiral Mannetti and Admiral Collae.”

Garret shrugged uncomfortably. Not that he disagreed. “Sir, what does that have to do with us?” Granted, Admiral Mannetti and her people were snakes, but Admiral Collae had something of a good reputation as an opponent to the corrupt leaders of many of the Colonial Republic systems.

“I want to know why they’re making such a big deal about such a backwater world. They pissed in the faces of the Centauri Confederation and they seem to count on the likes of Admiral Mannetti to keep them safe… and I want to know why they trust a pirate so much and what leverage they think they have on her. Because if their assumptions are wrong… we’re going to be left holding the bag.” Pierce leaned back against the wall, “And I don’t like being left holding the bag.”

“Yes, sir,” Garret said. He frowned in thought. When he’d left, he hadn’t stayed in touch with anyone, for good reason. My father was vindictive enough, Garret thought darkly, that he would have used my old friends against me. Of course, he could always try to to talk to Jessica…

“I’ll figure something out, sir,” Garret said. Yet he felt a spike of unease. If there was some mysterious leverage, then he didn’t doubt that his father was involved up to his neatly trimmed beard. Spencer Penwaithe lived off of wealth and power like food and drink… and his plots were always labyrinthine. For that matter, the new President was one of his father’s old cronies, which basically ensured that his father was running things, or thought he was, from behind the scenes. Getting involved in this would almost definitely draw him into his father’s schemes yet again. On the other hand, with the fate of the War Dogs on the line, there wasn’t really much choice. Garret let out a deep breath, “After all, I remember where my loyalty lies.”

“Good,” Commodore Pierce gave him a pat on the shoulder. “Oh, and when Mannetti’s people call you back on the missiles, tell them there was an accounting error and that we’re hiking the price by ten percent.”


The Shattered Empire will be available on Amazon on the 25th of October, 2014.  Read below for the blurb.

Baron Lucius Giovanni has managed to buy the human race a brief reprieve from the two alien races which seek humanity’s extinction. In the process he has become the leader of a new nation and the commander of a powerful fleet. However, victory comes with consequences. Without an imminent threat, old feuds have sparked back to life and tenuous alliances falter. There are also old enemies who cannot forget that Lucius has what they wanted. He must find a way to hold off scheming rivals, sociopathic psychics, and even former friends. If he can’t do all that and take the fight to humanity’s true enemies, billions may die under alien servitude.

The Shattered Empire Third Sample

Here’s the third section from The Shattered Empire!  Follow the links to read the first and second ones.


Eldorado, Garris Major System

Colonial Republic

May 3rd, 2403

Lauren Kelly stepped down off the loading ramp and took a deep breath of fresh air. She coughed it out almost immediately as the acrid fumes of the spaceport cut into the back of her throat. Her companion continued down the ramp. His long, panther-like stride took him to where a customs agent waited. Lauren watched the two speak briefly. She didn’t see when Mason slipped the agent a bribe, but a moment later the other man left. “How much did that cost us?” She asked.

Mason turned. “More than I’d like. I guess there’s some kind of revolution going on in the system. We aren’t carrying a prohibited cargo, but I didn’t want him looking at our navigation computer and wondering what we have to do with what’s going on in Faraday.”

“Do you think they’ve heard anything here yet?” Lauren asked. She wasn’t terribly surprised about some kind of revolt here. More than half the systems in the Colonial Republic had insurrections or uprisings. Most of those were from fractured ethnic or political lines, though some were ostensibly about freedom.

“About your Baron Lucius?” Mason smirked, even as his eyes swept the dingy landing pad for eavesdroppers. “Probably about his defeat of the Chxor at Faraday. Definitely rumors about the Dreyfus Fleet.” He stepped forward and took her duffel off her shoulder. He spoke the next part in a low tone, “Hopefully they’ve heard nothing about Mason McGann’s involvement.”

Lauren nodded, oddly relieved that she, at least, had no personal infamy to worry about She had possessed somewhat of a reputation back at Faraday for her actions during a mutiny aboard a Chxor ship and later during a ground attack against a planetary defense base. Neither of those put her remotely near as juicy a subject of discussion as a former pirate turned smuggler who’d once run with Tommy King. Even that must be easier than actually being Tommy King.

“Let’s go, I’ve locked down the ship, and there’s someone I’d like you to meet,” Mason said. Lauren smiled slightly, glad to see the eagerness in his face. His expression had looked so hard in the aftermath of the battle against the Chxor.

“Who’s this, I thought you didn’t have any friends?” Lauren asked.

He led the way through a doorway and then out into the crowded streets. “I don’t,” Mason said, over his shoulder. “He’s more like a teacher.” Something in his voice suggested that their relationship was more friendship than he would like to admit.

The industrial smell of the spaceport blended with the stench of unwashed bodies and the faint reek of an open sewer. Lauren fought back a memory of her childhood raised under Chxor occupation. She clenched her fists and blinked away sudden tears.

She continued to follow Mason, though her enjoyment of being on a new world had vanished with the memories of the one she’d been born to. She absently wondered if she would ever kill enough Chxor to make her feel better about her childhood. No… not ever, she thought, not even if I could kill them all at once. She’d become so caught up in her own thoughts that she nearly ran into Mason’s back when he stopped suddenly.

The first thing she noticed was the sudden tensing of his shoulders. “Mason?”

He slowly set her duffel down, “Wait here.”

He stepped forward and she saw his hands brush his prayer beads. A moment later, those same hands came to rest on his holstered pistols.

Lauren sidestepped into a nearby doorway and her hand fell to her own pistol. The street Mason had led her down seemed to empty of people as she watched. Mason had stopped, three or four meters away from the ornate entrance to a walled courtyard.

As if on cue, three men stepped out of the shadows of the gate. All three were big men and carried weapons. The two flankers carried submachine guns, Lauren saw. The one in the center held a drawn pistol, not quite aimed at Mason. He was the one who spoke, “Took you long enough to get here. Almost thought you hadn’t got the message.”

“I hadn’t,” Mason said, “I’ve been… detained. What’s this about?”

Something caught Lauren’s attention above. Her eyes flicked to the rooftops to where two men took up overwatch positions, rifles held ready.

“Just a friendly chat,” the speaker said. “Our boss had no bone to pick with the priest. What happened here could have been avoided if he’d cooperated sooner.”

Lauren drew her own pistol as she saw Mason’s body stance shift. Even so, she barely had it out of the holster before his first shots rang out. The three men in the doorway were down. She had her pistol trained on the nearest of the men on the rooftop. Even as she squeezed the trigger, four more shots rang out, so rapidly they might have come from a machine gun.

One of the men fell onto the street, body limp. The other, struck by her shots and Mason’s, flopped back out of sight. Lauren peered around. Her heart beat rapidly. The burnt smell of smokeless powder stung her nose. “That’s all of them,” Mason said, his voice flat and emotionless as a robot. There were times he scared the hell out of her.

His cold blue eyes met hers and he frowned, “Are you alright?”

Lauren nodded, “I’m fine.”

Mason cleared his throat, “I… have to see this, but if you want…” A part of her cringed at his tone, for she knew exactly what he expected to find in this place. He hadn’t spoke of it much during the voyage, but the few words he’d said had held tones of reverence.

He expected to face the worst – his sanctuary, the place he found his soul again – to be violated. And he’s willing to face it alone, Lauren thought, as if I would leave him. Lauren said, “No, I’ll come.” She stepped forward and picked up her duffel to stand by his side. He smiled, at her and she smiled back.

The stepped through the gate and Lauren bit back a shout of surprise at what she saw on the other side. The wall had concealed a large, open compound. Dozens of trees, some in bloom with bright pink flowers, sat in clusters around small buildings. In the center, a larger stone building squatted. It consisted of many heavy stone pillars supporting a roof that seemed more curves and angles than anything else.

Boiling out of that structure came dozens of men and women in brightly embroidered robes. The ocular impact almost reset her brain after the dingy brown streets of the city. The crowd came to a halt, their leader an ancient old man with, what Lauren judged, what had to be the most absurd hat she’d ever seen in her life. It towered, a mass of feathers, beads, bells, and possibly acres of silk.

He managed to bow gracefully and Lauren repressed a giggle at the fact that the hat stayed firmly in place. “Mason, it is good to see you.”

Mason looked stunned, “Lan, it’s very good to see you, I thought–”

“You thought they had killed me,” The old man spoke calmly.

“Yes. I’m glad you’re alright.” Mason let out a deep breath. “Did they say why they came?” The old man nodded, his face expressionless, serene in a way that made Lauren feel uncomfortable. Not nearly as uncomfortable as his next words, though. “Yes, they came looking for Tommy King.”


The Shattered Empire will be available on the 25th of October, 2014 from Amazon.  Read below for the teaser.

Baron Lucius Giovanni has managed to buy the human race a brief reprieve from the two alien races which seek humanity’s extinction. In the process he has become the leader of a new nation and the commander of a powerful fleet. However, victory comes with consequences. Without an imminent threat, old feuds have sparked back to life and tenuous alliances falter. There are also old enemies who cannot forget that Lucius has what they wanted. He must find a way to hold off scheming rivals, sociopathic psychics, and even former friends. If he can’t do all that and take the fight to humanity’s true enemies, billions may die under alien servitude.