Tag Archives: The Sacred Stars

New Covers!

Hey everyone!  I’m happy to announce that I have finally had time to upload the new covers for the early books of the Shadow Space Chronicles.  The Fallen Race, The Shattered Empire, The Prodigal Emperor, and The Sacred Stars all have new cover art from the fantastic David C Simon.  Layout and such is done by Robert  Brockman.

These covers are live on both print and ebooks and will soon be live on the audiobook versions.  I would love to hear your thoughts on which one is your favorite.  Of the four, I have to say I really like the cover for The Sacred Stars, but let me know what you think!

Here are the new covers

 

 

 

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The Sacred Stars is Now Live!

sacredstars-02The Sacred Stars, Book Four of the Shadow Space Chronicles is now live.  You can pick up a copy at Amazon today!

Alannis Giovanni has followed in her family’s footsteps and joined the United Colonies Fleet.  As a bare Ensign, she’s been assigned to the Fleet’s newest, most powerful cruiser, the Constellation, on it’s maiden voyage: a simple show-the-flag mission that should be good for her to learn what it is to be an officer.

But things are never simple.  At their most distant port, they come across allies in need.  The Ghornath species are in search of their origins and an array of enemies are trying to stop them.  The crew of the Constellation will have to face pirates, aliens, and uncover a ten thousand-year-old secret in order not just to save their allies, but to thwart a threat that might well catch the rest of the Fleet off-guard.
 
These battles will test Alannis, force her to grow and become the officer that her position and blood demand of her… yet the greatest threat may be one she is the least prepared to face.
You can read the snippets for The Sacred Stars here.

Kal’s September 2016 Forecast

September is here!  With it, I’m happy to announce that The Sacred Stars, the fourth book of the Shadow Space Chronicles series is also here!  It’ll be available in just two more days.  That’s right, exploding space ships in only two more days.

I’m also happy to announce that the audiobook narration for The Shattered Empire is done.  I’m doing the review now and I hope to have it approved and available for general purchase through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes sometime in the next couple of weeks.

I’ve begun outlining the third Renegades book and as soon as I finish my current work in progress, I’ll dig into it and hopefully that’ll be ready to publish at the end of October.

My current work in progress is an urban fantasy novel which, once I’ve finished it, I’ll be sending to a publisher.  It may be a while before anyone sees it, but it’ll be worth the wait, trust me, it’s tons of fun to write and the responses I’ve had back so far suggest it is even more fun to read.

Lastly, I’m doing a giveaway with this month’s newsletter.  Run’s Coffee Mug and a signed copy of The Sacred Stars.  Sign up by this weekend and you’ll be eligible.

That’s all for now.   Thanks for reading!

The Sacred Stars Snippet Three

Here’s the third snippet for The Sacred Stars.  You can find the first one here and the second here.  The Sacred Stars will be published September 9th, 2016.

 

“Well,” Captain Daniel Beeson said, “what do you think of the new officers?”

His Executive Officer sighed a bit as he sat back in his chair.  “Lieutenant Busch seems pretty solid.  I haven’t had much of a chance to take the measure of any of our new ensigns yet… though I can’t believe we got stuck with Giovanni.”

“What do you mean by that?” Daniel asked.  He’d served under Lucius Giovanni as his flag captain and in several other positions.  He’d actually been excited to see the Emperor’s little sister was going to join their crew, particularly after seeing her graduation scores from Faraday’s Military Academy.

“I’m certain we’ll have some officers who should know better sucking up to her and heaven help us if she’s the type to throw her civilian rank around,” Commander Bowder said.

Daniel gave his XO a look, “Have you seen any sign of that so far?”

“Well… no,” Commander Bowder responded.  “But that’s not to say it hasn’t happened.  I find it more than a little suspicious that she’s got the scores she does without at least some favoritism.  I mean, most officers can’t help but think of her political connections and adjust their behavior.”

Daniel considered his XO for a long moment.  The officer was one of the Dreyfus Fleet personnel, one who had survived Admiral Dreyfus’s attempted coup and who had been cleared of any involvement.

While Admiral Dreyfus and his cabal of officers had organized a coup, the vast majority of the Dreyfus Fleet personnel had been in the dark about the conspiracy.  The mutinous elements had thrown the entire fleet into disarray and left all too many good people dead.  The survivors had fallen into one of three types in Daniel’s experience.  A small majority had simply never recovered from the betrayal.  Most of them had left behind everything they knew in order to be a last defense for humanity.  Admiral Dreyfus’s betrayal had left them so bitter or disillusioned that many had simply left service.

Then there were a small percentage who had emerged with a new outlook.  They’d seen the cost of when ambition and selfishness became the motivation of leaders.  Many of them were some of the most dedicated and most enthusiastic people in uniform that Daniel had served with.   Lieutenant Michele Konetsky and others like her had truly come into their own during the Dreyfus Coup and the time afterward.

The last type were like Bowder.  They had come out of the Dreyfus Coup still with a desire to serve and protect humanity… but they’d had their idealism shaken to its core.  It had left Richard Bowder with cynicism as his defining characteristic.  Daniel Beeson had read Commander Bowder’s personnel file.  Commander Bowder’s captain had been a member of the cabal, but when he’d ordered his crew to fire on loyalist ships, they’d mutinied.  A quarter of Richard Bowder’s fellow officers and crew had sided with their captain in a fight that had left a third of the crew dead.  Commander Bowder had emerged as the senior surviving officer and he’d managed to lock down his ship and then use it to fire in support of other loyalist ships.

In many ways, Daniel understood the other man’s cynicism having lost so much himself.

Daniel Beeson had joined Lucius Giovanni’s crew as something of a lark, to thumb his nose at his father, the commander of Faraday Colony’s Military Defense Forces.  Yet when the Chxor had captured the planet, it meant Daniel was aboard the War Shrike and not on Faraday.  That was literally the reason that of his three brothers, two sisters, mother, father, assorted cousins, uncles and aunts who were all either in the military or closely affiliated, he was the only surviving member of his family.

Daniel had lost everything, but he had not given into despair.  The Baron had been such a symbol of optimism and hope.  Lucius Giovanni had never given up, never even faltered on his mission to liberate first Faraday, then Nova Roma and other worlds along the way.

In the face of that, both working as an officer under him and now as a commander entrusted by Lucius to lead, Daniel simply couldn’t contemplate giving in to cynicism or doubt.  And while he could understand that Commander Bowder had, somewhat, it was certainly something that he was determined to prevent from undermining the morale of the rest of the crew.

Daniel chose his words carefully, keeping Commander Bowder’s past in mind, “I don’t think that the Emperor would tolerate that kind of behavior, Commander.  For that matter, I don’t think that General Proscia would tolerate any favoritism at the Academy.”

His XO grunted noncommittally.  “Well, I certainly won’t treat her any differently and I’ll hammer anyone else who does, for that matter.”

“That’s what I’d expect of you,” Daniel said.   “Now, what do you think about initial personnel assignments?”

“Lieutenant Commander Voronkov already put claim to Ensign Medica,” Commander Bowder said.  The Nova Roma ensign had branch specified for engineering.  While they’d probably rotate him through some of the other departments for broadening, he was on the fast-track for engineering.  Daniel wouldn’t be surprised if the young man eventually transferred to Research and Development.

“Ensign Shan I’d recommend for assisting Lieutenant Cassat at sensors.  She’s a little weak on her sensor scores, but there’s no better way to improve than working at it every day,” Commander Bowder said.  “Lieutenant Busch is already slotted for communications.  I’d say we put Ensign Giovanni there.”

“Comms?”

“She’s from high social status and it’s an area where we can monitor her actual skills before moving her on,” Commander Bowder said.  He shrugged, “If she can’t pull her weight, it’s better to find out sooner rather than later.”

“Seems like something of a waste given her skills,” Daniel said cautiously.  She had the highest rating of all their ensigns for weapons, telemetry, and already had her civilian certifications for navigation.  Still, he was willing to entertain the trial run if it meant his XO felt better about her proficiency.  “What about tactical department?”

“I think Ensign Yamahito,” Commander Bowder said.  “Lieutenant Commander Douglas has Lieutenant Perkins for fire control and Lieutenant Duchan on missile telemetry.   Yamahito has an acceptable rating for his telemetry, but I’d like to give him some real-world experience to go along with that.”

“Okay,” Daniel nodded.  “I can go with that.”  They had a nice long cruise ahead of them to rotate their new officers around with plenty of time to break them all in, so he wasn’t too concerned about finding just the right fit for everyone.  Breaking them in, finding their strengths and weaknesses was the key part… and it wasn’t something that would happen right away.

“Has Lieutenant Thomas signed aboard yet?” Daniel asked.  The Marine Lieutenant would fill out their officer component.  Thomas had requested a late report date, his mother had suffered a fatal accident just two days earlier.

“Not yet,” Commander Bowder said.  “Possibly sometime in the next few days.”

Daniel nodded.  In truth, he wouldn’t be surprised if the Marine didn’t show before they departed.  Daniel had lost his entire family during the Chxor occupation of Faraday, so he understood taking time for family.  The last thing he wanted was for one of his officers to have something like that hanging over his head during the entire cruise.

“Okay,” Daniel said.  “We’ll go with what you’ve suggested, for now.  The latest on our deployment date is still seventy-two hours.  Make certain Lieutenant Monteif has everything squared away as far as extra supplies and spares for the voyage.”  Their quartermaster had been tasked with stocking them up for the long journey to the Hachiman Gu system.  Since it would take them almost three months to get there, plus an indeterminate time there, and another three months on the return voyage, they would be gone at least seven months.

In a newly commissioned, first-of-her-line, ship integrating a number of new technologies, he thought wryly, and we still have civilian engineers aboard.  It would certainly be an interesting cruise.

***

 

Chapter II

 

UCS Constellation, Faraday System

United Colonies

June 22, 2407

 

“Alannis,” Ensign Scott Yamahito called out, “come commiserate with your fellow ensigns.”

Alanis shook her head as she saw him.  He and Ensign Ashtar Shan sat at a table in the officer’s wardroom.  She nodded at Ashtar and then Scott.  “Scott, I thought you were supposed to go to the Champion.”

“I was,” he replied, “I traded with Andrew Terrapin when I heard the Constellation was headed for Shogunate space.”

“Oh?” Alannis asked.

“Yeah, I have some cousins who live back there still, I might be able to meet them, depending on how long we’re there,” Scott said.  “Plus I’d kind of like to see where I come from, you know?”

She remembered then that Scott’s parents had been refugees from the Dai Yamato system, what was now part of the Shogunate.  As far as she knew, Scott hadn’t shown any preference to return, until now.  Beside him, Ashtar Shan rolled her eyes.

Sounds like he’s got another of his wild hares to chase, Alannis thought.  This wouldn’t be the first time that Scott had become incredibly excited about something odd.  In his time at the Faraday Military Academy he’d developed a number of odd hobbies ranging from Close Quarter Combat Competition to detailed historical military vehicle models to a variety of games.

Scott seemed to get interested, build up a serious skill level or proficiency, and then lose interest and move on. It didn’t exactly surprise her that he would have changed assignments just to look into one such interest.

“Well, it’s good to have you here,” Alannis said.  “How are you two settling in?”  She’d already talked with Ashtar since the two of them shared quarters.  The female officer from the Tehran System had been on an accelerated course of instruction at the Faraday Military Academy and they’d actually become good friends and Alannis had come to appreciate the woman’s abilities.

“They put me in the tactical department,” Scott said with his goofy grin.  “I’m in missile telemetry, working with the Interceptor Mark Nineteens and I’m secondary lead with the new Moljnir Mark Ones and the Arrow Mark Twelves.”

“Oh,” Alannis said and forced herself to smile, “that’s great.”

“Where did you end up?” Scott asked.

“She’s assigned to communications,” Ashtar said before Alannis could reply.

“Oh…” Scott’s face fell.  “Geez, wow… uh, why’d they do that?  I mean, I’m a technical type, but I thought you were on a fast-track for tactical.”

“It’s an assignment,” Alannis shrugged.  “It’s not my business and I’m sure they’ll move us around a bit.”  She tried to keep the disappointment she felt out of her voice.  She knew she wasn’t entirely successful from how Scott shook his head.

“That’s just crazy,” Scott said.  “I can’t believe they did that.  What kind of idiot would send you to communications…”

“Ensigns,” a calm voice interrupted.

All three of them looked up to see that Lieutenant Busch stood over their table.  Alannis’s face went pale as she recognized the head of the communication department.  “The Captain and the XO made the assignment determinations.   If you have any constructive criticism, I’m sure they would both like to hear your opinions and draw from the depths of your experience.”

Alannis winced.  This was hardly the way to look good for her new boss.

“Sorry, ma’am,” Scott said.

The Lieutenant ignored him and looked at Alannis.  “Ensign Giovanni, there’s a lot of message traffic to sort through since we’re heading out.  I just finished approvals for the next update packet.  You need to get down to the department and verify those approvals.”

Alannis winced.  She had just finished an eight hour shift already.  Every ship in the Fleet updated their communications packets on the hour and they uploaded and downloaded that information by priority.  Orders came through with the highest priority, personal communications with the lowest.  When they left, the ansible would have only so much bandwidth, especially as they drew further away from Faraday.

While some of those priorities were easy enough, others were a bit more complicated.  Maintenance reports from different departments, systems malfunctions, ammunition and fuel reserves, and dozens of other updates would wait in the queue until there was time.  Prioritizing different data points over others would take both attention to detail and a great deal of time.

And most of what I’ll be doing is double-checking what Lieutenant Busch already did.  “Yes ma’am, I’ll get right on it.”  She looked down at her tray.  She hadn’t eaten anything yet, but she didn’t want to look bad by finishing it.  She stood and gave her friends nods and then hurried out.

She just hoped this wasn’t an omen or something.

***

The Sacred Stars Snippet Two

Here’s the second snippet from The Sacred Stars, coming September 9th, 2016.   You can find the first snippet here.

Chapter I

 

Faraday Colony, Faraday System

United Colonies

June 19, 2407

 

“Woohoo!” Princess Kaylee Giovanni shouted, waving the ball triumphantly over her head, “I win!  You guys can’t get me!”

Alannis grinned as the Crown Princess gave out an undignified squawk as her adopted sister talked her.  A moment later, Alannis’s son Anthony William rushed over to thump down on top of his cousins.  “Get off me!” Kaylee shouted.

“Going to miss this?” Emperor Lucius Giovanni asked of his sister.

Alannis looked over at him and grinned, “Yeah, a bit.”

She looked back at the three children at play and her grin faded as her son looked up.  At only three years old, Anthony William was of equal height to his cousins and had blonde hair and blue eyes much like his father.  He’d grabbed the ball and he ran up to her, “Mommy, I got the ball!” he squealed.

Alannis nodded, “Good work.  Now give it back, play nice.”  She hated how neutral her voice sounded and she saw her son’s shoulders slump.  I’m a terrible mother, she thought, but then again, it wasn’t like I planned on being one.  Reese had been the one with the plan.

As her son ran back to the game, Alannis grabbed for her glass of wine and took a rather larger sip than was really necessary.  “It’ll be good to finally get out there and do my job, you know?”

She didn’t miss how her brother watched her with concerned eyes.  For a moment, she feared he would actually say something about her relationship with her son.  Young Anthony had spent most of his childhood in Lucius’s care.  Alannis had used her duties as a cadet at the Faraday Military Academy as an excuse for why she didn’t spend time with him.  In truth, she didn’t have much free time, but she knew she could have spent more of it than she had with her son.  Yet the moment passed and Alannis let out a slight sigh of relief.  “So,” she said cheerfully, “how much did you have to do with my assignment?”

Lucius snorted, “You think I pulled strings to get you assigned to the Constellation?”  He shook his head, “Tell me, has being my sister made things easier or harder for you at the Academy?”

Alannis winced in reply.  Her instructors had gone out of their way to show no favors to her.  Oftentimes she had felt as if they graded her every assignment with greater stringency.  “Much harder,” she said.

Lucius nodded, “If you’d said anything differently, I would have pulled General Proscia as superintendent.”  He took a sip of his own wine and his gaze went distant, “We’re founding a new nation, which means setting precedents.  If I made certain that General Proscia and his instructors wouldn’t show you any preference, just how likely is it that I pulled strings to get you assigned to our newest, most powerful cruiser?”

Alannis gave a wry grin, “Not very.  Which means I did earn my posting, that’s nice anyway.”

“You earned it,” her brother nodded.  “Which means you get to go gallivanting around human space while I’m stuck here doing statesman stuff.”  He frowned, “Sorry, that came across as more bitter than I’d intended.”

Alannis’s eyebrows went up, “Things exciting in politics?”

“More than I’d like,” Lucius grumbled.  He sighed, “You’ve no doubt heard some of the grandstanding by Senator Penwaithe?”  When Alannis nodded, he continued, “He’s doing his best to drag his feet over new worlds joining, and when they do, he tries to extend their probationary period as long as possible.”

On the one hand, she suspected that Senator Harris Penwaithe did so out of political ambition.  Probationary members of the United Colonies didn’t get a full vote, and newer members had fewer proportionate votes dependent upon the date they had joined the United Colonies.  That gave his voters more power… and it gave him more clout.  On the other hand, the system was designed to prevent dilution of the founding principles of the United Colonies.

Since Captain Garret Penwaithe and Commander Abigail Penwaithe both taught at the Academy, she was a bit more likely to think better of Senator Harris Penwaithe’s intent.  All the same, she’d seen enough politics from inside and outside to know that the Senator from Halcyon wasn’t as pure of heart as he made out.

“Anything I can help with?” Alannis asked with a sunny smile.  After all, she was about to leave on a nice, long, show the flag cruise.  Rumor had it that the Constellation would be far from United Colonies space.

“Actually,” Lucius said, “there is something I want to talk to you about.”  He gave a look over at Staff Sergeant Timorsky.  The Marine gave him a nod in return, a clear sign that the security perimeter, to include a variety of anti-signal jamming equipment, was still intact.

“While I didn’t pull strings for you to be assigned to the Constellation,” Lucius said, “I did decide to capitalize on the situation and adjust the mission since I knew you’d be aboard.”

“Oh,” Alannis said and her smile faded.

“Yes,” Lucius nodded, “the Constellation‘s mission has shifted from a standard patrol to an escort mission.  The first turn-key upgrades for our Shogunate allies are available and we’re sending the Constellation as the escort for the convoy, along with the destroyers Regent and Crossbow.  Since we’ll have some of our civilian engineers aboard the Constellation for a final set of diagnostics, they can also assist with any issues that the Shogunate encounters getting things set up.”

Alannis sighed, “I’ll assume I’m there as Princess Alannis Giovanni rather than newly minted Ensign Alannis Giovanni?”

“No,” Lucius shook his head, “You get to wear both hats.  Congratulations.  Captain Beeson will be our official representative and Mitchel Kondas is our diplomatic envoy.  But the way things work there is they like to take the measure of the dynasty they’re dealing with.  They’re very much traditionalists.”  That was an understatement from what Alannis knew.  The Shogunate contained several colonies founded by Earth’s Japan.  All three of the central, founding colonies harkened back to a more feudal style of governance, each of them paying notional obedience to their Emperor, who had mostly symbolic authority.  They also strongly valued military tradition, which meant her presence as an officer and the Emperor’s sister should carry some weight.

“Okay, do I have any talking points?” Alannis asked with resignation.

“Nothing so pushy,” Lucius grinned.  “Just set a good example, tell some war stories, and generally make friends.  Let Ambassador Kondas handle the rest.”

“Great,” Alannis sighed.  “Anything else I can help you with?”

“That’s plenty for now,” Lucius said.  He nodded over at where Anthony had taken the ball and started running.  “Maybe you should spend some time with your son?  It’ll be a long time before you see him again.”

It was as blunt as he could be without crossing a line and it set Alannis’s back up.  She forced herself to give him a smile.  “He’s having fun, I don’t want to interrupt.”

“You’ve only got so much time before he grows up,” Lucius said, “you don’t want to miss out on this part.”

Alannis closed her eyes.  It wasn’t that she didn’t love her son… it was just that he looked so much like her ex-husband that she felt physically ill when she thought about it.  Bad enough that the bastard had hacked her implant to get her pregnant, he’d also signed on with the pirate Lucretta Mannetti.  After Lucius had captured the renegade Admiral, they’d turned up more information that showed Reese had done some extremely questionable work, often involving human test subjects and alien equipment.

At best, Reese was a criminal who had betrayed her trust.  At worst… well, he had betrayed everything Alannis believed in.  “It’s not easy for me, okay?” Alannis said.  “It’s different for you.  You love Kandergain,” Alannis waved a hand at Kaylee as the girl tackled her son.  Kandergain was some kind of super-psychic and was Kaylee’s mother.  She’d left because she didn’t want to endanger Lucius or her daughter by drawing her enemies down upon them.  “Me… I hate Reese.”

Lucius looked more than a little uncomfortable.  Long before she’d even met Reese he had been Lucius’s friend.  It was through her brother that she and Reese met.  Reese was charming, handsome, intelligent… and he only ever cared about himself, she thought bitterly.

She could see the discomfort on her brothers face and Alannis gave a sigh.  “Alright… when I get back from this assignment, I’ll take some time off, I’ll spend some time with Anthony, okay?  I’d do it now, but I’ve got to report in this afternoon.”  She didn’t mention that she’d asked for an early report time, partially out of excitement to get to her first assignment and partially because it gave her an excuse not to guilt-tripped by her brother.

Besides, she thought, it’s not like I even know how to be a parent.  Her father had led a failed coup against Emperor Romulus II and her mother had committed suicide when she was only a few weeks old.  She and Lucius had been raised by their grandmother.

Alannis could tell that Lucius wasn’t happy with her answer, but he didn’t push her.  There will be time later, she told herself, when Anthony is older, I can explain it all to him.

Somehow, that didn’t make her feel any better.

***

 

Sanctuary Station, Faraday System

United Colonies

June 21, 2407

 

“Sir,” Alannis said, “Ensign Giovanni reporting for duty.”  She gave a crisp salute and then passed over her orders.”

Captain Beeson returned the salute sharply.  Despite the fact that he must have known she’d be reporting, he took the paper copy of her orders and examined them carefully.  “Everything is in order,” he said and passed them back.  “Chief Donnitz will want to in-process you, but I’d like you to tour the ship, first.”  He looked over, “Lieutenant Perkins!”

The tall, gaunt Lieutenant snapped to attention, “Sir?”

“Please give the ensign a tour of the ship,” Captain Beeson said.  He frowned then, “And if you see Lieutenant Commander Bowder, please introduce the XO to our new officer.”

“Yes, sir,” Lieutenant Perkins said.  He jerked his head at Alannis and then headed for the back hatch to the bridge.  Alannis gave a parting salute to the commanding officer and then followed.

“So,” Lieutenant Perkins said, “Find your way to the ship with no problems?”  The Lieutenant seemed familiar for some reason.  He had a twangy accent, most unlike the prim and proper Nova Roman or the core worlds.  He was tall, taller even than her ex-husband, with closely cropped dark brown hair and dark brown eyes to match.

“Yes, sir,” Alannis said.  Sanctuary Station was the Fleet’s new military station in orbit over the gas giant Sanctuary.  Unlike the older Skydock Station in orbit over Faraday, the Department of War had designed  station purely for construction, repair, and docking of military ships.  While some of the docks had been online and functional for over two years, much of the rest of the station still wasn’t operational.

The Constellation’s berth lay at the very first of a long chain of military docks.  Only two other ships shared the space, the Constellation‘s two sister ships, neither of which had been commissioned yet.

Most of the system’s other military traffic was in orbit over Faraday.  In fact, other than the shipments of personnel for the new ships and deliveries of materials and supplies for the shipyard, there wasn’t much of any activity around Sanctuary Station.  I suppose that was some of the idea behind putting it out here, she thought, fewer prying eyes to see military secrets.

She followed Lieutenant Perkins down the corridor.  Everything had a new and shiny feel to it. The markings on the walls were crisp and sharp, the gray paint was clean, and there were no scuff-marks anywhere to be seen.

“So,” Perkins said, “we actually finished our trial cruise and official acceptance two days ago.  Until then we only had two thirds of our personnel complement.  You’re the first of our new officers to arrive, so you’ll get the pick of the Ensign’s quarters.”

He turned down a corridor and then paused.  “This is officer country.  XO and Chief Engineer’s quarters are fore and aft respectively.  Further down the hall you’ve got the shared quarters for lieutenants… and then there at the end there’s the Ensign and Midshipman quarters.”  He hiked a thumb over his shoulder, “Captain’s quarters are back towards the bridge.”

Perkins continued on, “You saw the bridge, we have two engine rooms for our two reactors, forward and aft.  Weapons control is broken down by forward and aft as well.  You know about the new armament?”

Alannis frowned, “I’d heard some, but just rumors.  The manuals aren’t available even in secure systems yet.”

“Well…” Lieutenant Perkins gave a wry grin over his shoulder, “that’s probably because we’re rewriting the manuals just about every day.”  He ducked under a low pipe without looking and then led her down a ladder.  She didn’t know how he managed the tight confines of the ship without injury.  She felt claustrophobic as they took a particularly narrow ladder.  “The reason we’re not taking the drop-lifts, by the way, is they’re offline for calibration,” he said.

“Oh,” Alannis said in reply.  She rather hoped they’d locked down all the access doors to the shafts then, otherwise a crewman would be in for a rather big surprise when they stepped into open air and the gravity system didn’t catch them.

“This is forward weapon control,” Lieutenant Perkins said as they came into the chamber.  It didn’t look like much.  The beam generators were four bulky pieces of equipment with piping and conduits coming off.

“No, no, no, no!” A man shouted.  “You stupid imbecile, this is a piece of equipment that generates and accelerates high energy exotic particles… do you really want to kill us all!?”

Alannis turned and saw a short, balding man in civilian garb waving his hands in the air in front of an enlisted man.  Alannis recognized Rory after a moment, the short, chubby engineer was some kind of expert on alien technology or something.  Her brother had mentioned that he had him working on a variety of projects, apparently this was one.

The Weapons Tech looked like he wanted to do nothing more than escape.  “Uh, sir, I’m just doing maintenance…”

“Just following orders, is it?” Rory demanded.  “Do you think that will excuse you when you destroy not just this entire ship, but the station we’re docked with!?”

Almost on cue, Feliks, Rory’s constant companion, stuck his head out of an open maintenance hatch.  The tall, skinny engineer had a pair of glasses perched on his nose and he had a patient expression, “In all likelihood, what he has done would only destroy the forward end of the vessel.”  His rough Centauri Confederation accent gave his calm, soft-spoken tone more weight.

“Only?  Only!?” Rory demanded.  “I happen to currently be in the forward end of this vessel!  And you didn’t consider the consequences of the reversed polarity on the power junction… did you?”

Feliks cocked his head as he considered that “No.”

He pulled out his datapad even as Rory turned to face Lieutenant Perkins.  “I demand that this man be fired immediately!  He jeopardized the lives of the entire crew and especially the passengers!”

“He means him,” Feliks said helpfully without looking up as he tapped at his datapad.

“I am a nearly irreplaceable engineer with both incredible talent and unrivaled credentials,” Rory said.

“What did Technical Specialist Spurlock do?” Lieutenant Perkins asked in a resigned tone.

“What did he do… what didn’t he do!” Rory waved his hands in the air.  “He could have killed all of us!”

“Rory,” Lieutenant Perkins said in a level voice, “No one on this ship was intentionally trying to kill you.  If you would please explain to me what the issue is, I’ll address it.  If you keep having histrionics, I won’t be able to fix the problem.”

“You can’t just fix this kind of thing,” Rory said.  “He used the wrong torsional wrench on the power conduit bolts, which meant they were too tight.  I’d give it a ninety percent–”

“Hmm, fifty percent at most,” Feliks disagreed, still without looking up.

“…seventy percent chance of those bolts shattering when the main weapon systems fired, which would have caused a power disruption to the the main power junction.  In turn, that would have overridden the particle generator’s regulator and caused it to detonate like a bomb!  He did that on all four of the beam generators!”

“Ah!” Feliks said with satisfaction, “I found an error in your calculations!”

“What?” Rory spun and ripped the datapad out of Feliks’s hands.  “That’s nonsense, there’s no way I made a mistake…”  he trailed off.  “Huh, what do you know.  I guess I was off, by a factor of ten.”

“So it wouldn’t destroy the ship?”  Ensign Perkins asked.

“Oh, no,” Rory waved a hand, “It would have vaporized the entire ship and station.  That’s fascinating, I’m already seeing some implications and possibilities to deliberately build some sort of exotic particle bomb…”

“Yes,” Felix replied, “the issue would be generation and containment due to the rapid decay of the exotic particles…”

Lieutenant Perkins rolled his eyes and then signaled Tech Specialist Spurlock to come over.  “Can you fix the problem?”

“Yes, sir,” the young man said.  He looked both painfully young and very nervous.  “I caught the issue and I just tried to get them to calibrate the torsional wrench to the right level, sir.”

“Right,” Lieutenant Perkins said.  “Get it fixed and then get Petty Officer Pine to look it over.”  He rubbed a hand down his face as the Tech Specialist hurried away.  “Why did we get saddled with that pair…” he muttered, just loud enough that Alannis heard.

She didn’t say anything.  The two engineers had begun a heated argument which involved much hand-waving and finger pointing.  Thank God I’m not stuck in engineering with those two, she thought.  She hoped to be assigned to the tactical department or at least the navigational department.  With her scores, she figured either one would be a good fit.

“Well,” Lieutenant Perkins said after a moment, “We’ll just move on, I’ll bring you past forward engineering next…”

***

Snippet Three

The Sacred Stars Coming Soon

The Sacred Stars, book four of the Shadow Space Chronicles, is coming soon!  You can expect it in early September (probably just after labor day).

You can never go home.

Alannis Giovanni has followed in her family’s footsteps and joined the United Colonies Fleet.  As a bare Ensign, she’s been assigned to the Fleet’s newest, most powerful cruiser, the Constellation, on it’s maiden voyage: a simple show-the-flag mission that should be good for her to learn what it is to be an officer.

But things are never simple.  At their most distant port, they come across allies in need.  The Ghornath species are in search of their origins and an array of enemies are trying to stop them.  The crew of the Constellation will have to face pirates, aliens, and uncover a ten thousand-year-old secret in order not just to save their allies, but to thwart a threat that might well catch the rest of the Fleet off-guard.
 
These battles will test Alannis, force her to grow and become the officer that her position and blood demand of her… yet the greatest threat may be one she is the least prepared to face.

Kal’s May 2016 Forecast

May is here!  I’m excited for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that I’ve started work on The Sacred Stars, the next book of the Shadow Space Chronicles.  This one takes a step back from the huge battles of The Shattered Empire and The Prodigal Emperor and has a smaller cast as well.  If all goes well, I’ll have it done by the end of the month, which means out to my alpha readers in June and published in early July.

In other news, Fate of the Tyrant is almost ready.  It wraps up the initial trilogy of the Eoriel Saga and paves the way for the rest of the series.  I’ll do a final round of edits and then I just need to wait to hear back from my alpha and beta readers.  Look for a blurb and snippets as well as the cover to appear over the next few weeks.

In other news, I’m finishing the final setup for a store here on the website as well as coordinating things with Sutek Press to start selling signed copies of my books there.  I’ll post more when it’s all ready to go.

Next month I start work on an urban fantasy book I’ve had knocking around in my head for a while.  It’s another book I’m going to send to publishers, so don’t expect to hear much about it right away.

Oh, yeah, and a little movie called Captain America: Civil War comes out this weekend.  I’m going to see that.  Maybe twice if it lives up to the hype.  Expect a review on Monday.

That’s all for now.  Thanks for reading!