Digital Assassin 2


Every eye on the Mule watched a screen, and every screen showed the battle of their drones against the mammoth’s defenses. The giant ship’s standard drives kicked in, thrusters bursting as she tried to outrun the fleet of attackers racing toward her.

Mule’s drones were about the size of a typical planet-side transport, the main difference being these were armed with energy cannons. Engines occupied the remainder of their mass, leaving no room for passengers.
The drones quickly formed a swarm that buzzed around the ship, blasters shooting at the drives and defense cannons.

The ship’s defensive guns fought back, firing bolts of raw energy in smooth computerized precision.

The drones operated on a subset routine monitored by LuteNet. The passenger liner’s defenses were controlled by StarCen, the AI system for the Star League. Although the networks remained in constant communication with one another, they fought from time to time. Especially now, during times of war.

The two great governmental bodies controlling inhabited worlds were the Star League and the Planetary Republic, the AI for which was known as PLAIR. Differences of opinion in the ideal form of governance resulted in the split ages ago. Control in the Star League coalesced around a top-down hierarchical structure. The Planetary Republic insisted on representative democracy and gave lip service, at least, toward the rights of the governed to choose their leaders.

Tensions remained high between the two, with occasional flare-ups. But three years ago relations deteriorated into war. Territorial disputes erupted over the Seychar System, a 15 planet collection of mostly gas giants along with one habitable world in its Goldilocks zone, and a certain chunk of rock orbiting further out.

The chunk of rock had a name: Gotha Mu. Someone from Seychar finally sent over a probe to take core samples from the dwarf planet’s surface. The samples revealed heavy traces of Element 79.

Gold.

Almost immediately, the neutral Seychar System, which had always leaned toward the Republic in galactic politics, was claimed by the League for the “safety of its citizens.”

The Republic objected. The League thumbed its nose at the Republic, quickly landing troops on Seychar and sending a mining party with warships to orbit around Gotha.

Republic forces showed up, their captains demanding the League ships leave. Meanwhile PLAIR and StarCen amped up their quantum-computing quarrel. The captains on both sides were surprised when their respective AI systems took over and engaged in combat.

When the space dust settled, PLAIR won the day, barely. One Republic ship survived the mutual slaughter. No StarCen ships remained intact. PLAIR informed StarCen that Seychar and all other planets in its solar system, including Gotha Mu, were officially part of the Republic. Further incursions would lead to additional reprisals. StarCen ignored PLAIR and began pooling resources for fresh attacks.

Over the next six months, an astonishing five billion credits worth of ships, supplies, bases, buildings, and ports were destroyed in wide scale combat. Not to mention the human toll, which quickly stretched into hundreds of thousands of lives lost.

A small handful of planets remained officially neutral in the conflict. Most of these held insignificant resources and were not pressed into allegiance with either side. Lute was an exception. Lute proudly swore fealty to no system other than itself. A planet with a lawless reputation, where anarchy reigned for many years until some semblance of democracy took root, Lute attracted drifters, outlaws, and people running from debts and other responsibilities. A bevy of brilliant programmers who landed there built up the planet’s own AI system. They called it LuteNet.

LuteNet was accepted, begrudgingly, by her larger siblings StarCen and PLAIR. If, that is to say, an artificial intelligence network could begrudge. For all their complexities, the massive quantum-computing systems were not human. Even though they could easily pass the Turing Test.

Lute had resources needed by the warring parties. In particular, she had a small fleet of independent warships. These attack vessels were often used for piracy, and their official existence was frowned upon by the larger governments in peacetime. But the Republic needed help. So following the principle of, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” the Republic extended a diplomatic olive branch to Lute along with a lucrative cooperative agreement.

The end result of that agreement, at the moment, involved Ultima Mule’s drones attacking the League’s transport ship.

Digital Assassin 1


Phoom!

Light spiderwebbed across the holoscreen, making Rodrigo Diego-Rodriguez jump in the pilot’s seat. When it dissipated a ship remained, filling up the area in front of his command console.

The vessel looked powerful and dark, with sleek gleaming metal glinting in the starlight. And it looked big, he thought. Much bigger than a typical spaceship.

He quickly relaxed and stretched happily, flexing muscular arms and clasping hands behind his head. His grin flashed bright white teeth. They matched the white t-shirt he wore above gray pants and brown combat boots. His dark hair was cut short, military style.

He touched the implant below his ear and mentally slid through the contact list. His eyes stopped on “Raleigh, Christopher.” Focusing, he made the connection.

He said, “We got one, Captain.”

The reply came back instantly.

“I’ll be right there, Roddy.”

Roddy smiled at the three-dimensional image displayed before him. The screen stretched three meters long, making it appear the front part of the bridge was transparent and open to space. The holoscreen looked as realistic as possible, but Roddy knew if he walked into it he’d bump into the wall instead of drifting off into space.

But Roddy was not thinking about that. He was thinking about the Wu Drive incapacitation grid he and the other crewmembers had assembled in this sector.

The Wu Drive, Roddy would be happy to tell anyone who listened, was developed by Elixabeth Wu, a researcher working for LSU back on Earth many years ago. Faster than light travel remained impossible, per se. But teleportation proved easier to accomplish. Researchers were able to port small items short distances in the lab, starting at the molecular level. They worked their way up until finally they could move large objects long distances.

Wu had the brilliant idea of attaching a teleportation device to a space ship. It worked as an engine of sorts, porting the ship from point to point instantly. The engines could port ships out of the solar system in a matter of seconds. Computers were developed to plot courses so that ships would not pop into the middle of a star or other undesirable locations.

All of a sudden, deep space travel became attainable, and humans spread out to explore the Milky Way.

Roddy would be happy to share this, but it was common knowledge. He smiled, though, wondering what Elixabeth would think about the results of her invention. No doubt she’d be happy to know that people finally realized her name was spelled correctly, just the way her parents intended, with an ‘x’ instead of a ‘z’ in the middle . . .

The door to the bridge opened and Christopher Raleigh walked in. Taller than Roddy by a couple inches at six foot three, or 190 centimeters, he too looked young and fit. He had dirty blond hair and bright blue eyes allegedly able to steal the heart of any woman from Lute to Telluride Prime.

Not that he cared. The captain was a famous bachelor, avoiding entangled relationships in favor of his ship.

“What did we get, Roddy? Oh . . .”

Roddy grinned at him and said, “That’s right. ‘Oh.’ This, Captain, is a Mammoth-class, A-level transport ship. We got ourselves a real honey pot.”

Raleigh nodded at the column of figures floating in the air next to the ship’s image.

He said, “What are the numbers, Lootie?”

LuteNet responded, her voice seeming to originate out of thin air.

She said, “Scans indicate 1,102 humans onboard, Captain. I sense an abundance of biocollars. I’m opening a line of communication with StarCen to determine if indeed all the biocollars represent indentured servants.”

Raleigh said, “A hold full of indents, huh? That would explain why they need such a big ship. Humanitarian standards dictate size and living space requirements based on passenger volume.”

“Yes it does,” Roddy rubbed his hands in delight. “What do you figure? About ten thousand per indent?”

Raleigh chuckled and said, “Probably double that. With the war going on, there’s not too many new servants coming online. These will likely fetch a premium. But don’t start counting your credits yet, Roddy. First, we’ve got to capture her.”

He made a mental command and shifted his neural com to the ship’s public address channel.

“Okay, people! We’ve got an A-level Mammoth-class transport in our net, with about 800 indents onboard plus a couple hundred other folks. This should be a very lucrative haul if we can reel her in. Kim and Pak, send out the drones!”

“Aye, Captain!”

One of them had hailed back to him on the neural network, but he did not see which one. The two men often worked as a single unit.

Roddy and Raleigh watched as 200 attack drones sallied forth. They launched out of Ultima Mule’s transport bay, filling the bridge’s holoscreen as they screamed toward the giant ship.

—-

Author’s Note: Thanks for supporting this work! Your support helps it continue growing. Download Book 1 from Amazon here, complete with bonus chapters. Bonus chapters are also available, along with advance copies before they are published, on Patreon.

Digital Assassin is Released!

I’m happy to announce that Digital Assassin has been released, first in the Pirates of the Milky Way series.

Here’s the blurb:

New technology allowed humans to reach for the stars. Now technology has led to war.

Opposing AI systems battle in a monumental struggle for control of the galaxy. But one planet remains a refuge of independent thought. Lute is home to pirates, harboring ruthless companies of warships hunting for prey.

The pirates are offered the spoils of war, for a price. Captain Christopher Raleigh leads his crew in an effort to snag a lucrative transport on the opposing side. Along with the ship, he snares the Tetrarch’s daughter and several hundred indentured servants.

But not all are who they seem. As the bodies pile up, Raleigh has to figure out who is telling the truth and decide if the spoils of war are truly worth it.

I’m on my way with Book II, which should be out next month if all goes well. In the meantime, you can read the latest chapters on Patreon.

Introducing Pirates of the Milky Way

I’m serializing my latest novel, Pirates of the Milky Way, on RoyalRoad.com. We’ve got digital assassins, indentured servants, evil ambassadors, spymasters, space battles, ray gun snipers, and lots more. That’s just in book one!

You can catch book one, with a new chapter coming out every day, over on Royal Road. You don’t have to subscribe to the site to read, but if you do subscribe it will keep track of your progress for you.

Dwarves and Wizards has been released!

I’m pleased to announce the conclusion to another trilogy. Dwarves & Wizards marks the third and final book in the Forlorn Dagger series. I have greatly enjoyed the characters in this story, and so far it’s the longest one I’ve written, clocking in somewhere close to a quarter million words total for all three books.

Click on over to Amazon to take a look. It’s on sale for 99 cents.

 

Introducing Quantum Magic

 

I’ve had some short stories out on Instafreebie (now Prolific Works) for some time as a way to offer free items to newsletter subscribers as well as promote my book review and discussion site readper.com.

I decided to collect those stories and put them in one volume, then I added a new one that is previously unpublished, Mark 2.

If you like science fiction and fantasy short stories, give this one a click. It’s only 99 cents.

It’s October – Time for Rick or Treat!

Rick or Treat is out!

This one took a bit longer to edit than expected, but the timing worked out anyway. In my ongoing urban fantasy series about resurrected people fighting evil fae across multiple timelines and realities, Nancy Chance was finally reunited with her beau Rick Strickland, only to lose him again in an attack on Headquarters.

Rick finds himself dropped into a doomed airliner headed to London. The crew has been poisoned, and nobody knows how to fly. Good thing Rick used to be a pilot in his past life!

He finds himself in a strange world, where the American Revolution failed and Texas is the dominant republic. The Nazis control most of Europe and haven’t started World War II, at least not yet.

He’s alone with no help from home and no way to get back. Worse, the fae have their sights on this alternate, and the Nazis are planning something evil for the upcoming All Hallows’ Eve Ball.

Hope you enjoy this one.

JR

Next up: Rick or Treat

 

The third installment in the Fae Killers series is on the way next: Rick or Treat.

Our Story So Far
In the first Fae Killers book, Tiff in Time, readers were introduced to Tyfainne, a little girl whose parents were killed in a Viking raid. The Walker, a man who travels among the many alternate universes, discovered her and took her “home” to raise her up. She becomes an excellent fae killer.

The fae are creatures existing between the physical and spiritual realm. They are evil, and scattered among the alternates soon after the first, or original, earth (aka O-Earth) was created. The Walker and his recruits track down and take these guys out, though often not without difficulty.

In the second book, Ghost of a Chance, we meet Nancy Chance, killed while working as a private investigator in New York City during World War II. She receives the opportunity to go back to her own timeline and track down her murderer where she reunites with Rick Strickland, her old flame.

The next book in the series is coming out hopefully later this summer or early fall, depending on revision and editing. It follows Rick’s forced trip to a strange new world that has deviated quite a bit from O-Earth. In this world, World War II never happened, and the old European kingdoms are still largely intact. Nazi Germany exists, but has not yet stirred up too many conflicts. The American Revolution was quickly squashed, leaving the colonies east of the Mississippi in a largely agrarian state, completely dependent on the United Kingdom. Texas, on the other hand, has grown into a full-blown Republic west of the Mississippi, and captured most of the bravado and independent spirit the Americans on other alternates have.

Into this milieu, Rick must try and stop the Nazis, avert war, take out the local fae, and hopefully find his way home again.

The current story arc calls for five books in this series. Hope you enjoy it!

Cybershot debuts

The third and final installment in the Empathic Detective trilogy is out! Cybershot: An Empathic Detective Novel debuted yesterday on Amazon.

In my opinion, this is the most exciting book in the trilogy. And, it wraps up all loose ends, although of course there is always a possibility of more Empathic Detective novels in the future.

Take a look and see what you think.

Get ready for Cybershot!

 

In 2016 I wrote the first Empathic Detective novel and submitted it to Amazon’s Scout program. It was selected for publication, picking up an apub contract and has sold very well ever since.

Last year I submitted the second Empathic Detective novel, Ghostsuit, to Scout and it too received a publishing contract with apub.

Alas, Kindle Scout is no more so the third and final installment in the trilogy, Cybershot, will go through regular channels with Amazon’s KDP.

Look for this title to come out sometime next week, I hope. Right now we’re just waiting for the all clear from KDP.

Here is the blurb:

An ancient organization has created a psychic with untold power. Raising the boy in secret, they hope to make him a world leader. But he escapes and heads for Texas to find his father, Gerald Bryce, the empathic detective. When someone tries to warn Bryce, a criminal mastermind uses the latest technology from neural immersive video games to kill the informant. Now Bryce and his partner must race the clock as a level three psychic terrorist battles the military for control of the city, and perhaps the world.