Some 200 kilometers away from the planet, in the middle of Clarion’s solar system, a spare Wu Drive floated, rotating slowly.
Suddenly, a cube of seawater appeared with two figures wearing space suits in the middle.
The water sloughed off them in slow motion, instantly separating into globules floating lazily through space.
Then the figures disappeared.
A moment later, a smaller amount of water mixed with silt appeared, this time encapsulating a sensor the size of a soup can. A second later, the sensor disappeared.
Then the Wu Drive disappeared.
In the disembarkation zone aboard the Ultima Mule, the two figures in spacesuits appeared, three centimeters off the floor. Their feet thumped down to the deck as the last of the water fell, succumbing to the ship’s gravity field.
Decontamination rays swept them, killing off microorganisms.
When the rays stopped, Raleigh reached up to his neck and pressed a latch. His suit relaxed and pulled away from the helmet. He took it off and looked at Jillian with a smile.
She followed the procedure and took her own helmet off. The suit relaxed and her hair came loose. Freed from the suit, she shook her head and it rippled in all its glory.
Her heart stopped when she caught Raleigh’s eye.
“You came for me.”
“I couldn’t leave a crewmember behind.”
“StarCen said you were dead. I had to pretend that I was glad, but it tore me up inside.”
“As far as she knows, we are dead. We wanted to keep it that way. I was a little worried you wouldn’t recognize me.”
“When you gave me an order, I knew it had to be you. I didn’t know how it could be you, since you were dead. But . . . nobody gives orders to the Tetrarch’s daughter. Except my Captain.”
She took a step forward. The suit seemed to sense her will, and slid down her body into a sort of puddle at her feet. His suit reacted likewise, sliding off him.
The moment seemed perfect. She wrapped her arms around him and they kissed. Her lips parted to let his tongue in, and their bodies pressed together in a passionate embrace.
Back on the bridge, Granny cackled and put an unlit cigar in her mouth. The holovision showed the disembarkation deck in perfect clarity.
“Okay, Lootie. Who wins for first kiss?”
“That would be Mr. Escobar, Quartermaster Wilcox. The date and time he chose is closest.”
“That son of a gun. Okay. When we get back to where you have us officially alive again, deposit the winnings in his account.”
“Will do, Quartermaster.”
Maxwell grinned and said, “How much is he going to get?”
Granny said, “Hey, Lootie. How much did Escobar win?”
“He will receive 42,100 credits. As per the arrangements, you will receive 4,600 credits in your role as pool organizer.”
Granny glared at the ceiling. The AI did not have to mention that last part.
Maxwell said, “Hold it. You mean you get something for setting up the bets?”
She spread her hands wide and said, “The house always wins, Max. You should know that.”
He chuckled and rolled his eyes.
“You’re always full of surprises, Granny.”
They returned their attention to the couple in the disembarkation zone, still passionately embraced. Jillian lifted a leg and wrapped it around Raleigh’s.
“You know,” Granny said, “I used to be quite the kisser back in the day, too.”
“Was that before you started chewing on those stink sticks?”
Her face dropped and she turned to stare at Maxwell.
Without taking the cigar out she said, “Watch it, fella. You may be the biggest on this ship, but I can still whup ya.”
He chuckled and raised his hands in defeat.
Max said, “I wouldn’t doubt it, Granny. I wouldn’t doubt it.”
Raleigh walked into the mess hall holding Jillian’s hand. The entire crew stood up and applauded.
Jillian smiled, clearly embarrassed but with happiness on her face.
Raleigh raised a hand for silence, and eventually everyone sat back down.
Pak spoke up before he got a chance to say anything.
“Where to now, Captain? Back home?”
Raleigh shook his head. He said, “Everybody thinks we’re dead. I say that gives us an opportunity. Maybe we can wreak a little vengeance and make some profit while we’re at it.”
Everybody leaned forward, anticipation quickly filling the air.
Raleigh said, “Lootie, do you still have any drones at Pegasi?”
“Yes, I do, Captain. Three survived.”
“Do any of those have eyes on the station at the moment?”
The mess hall’s holovision blinked and showed Pegasi Station at a distance. An Eagle-class warship slowly orbited around her.
“Crew, the Excelsior is still undergoing repairs at Pegasi. They are not expecting us. I say, we give them a visit.”
A cheer went up in the mess hall as the Ultima Mule popped out of existence from its orbit around CSNP908.
The third book in the Pirates of the Milky Way series is Condor Rising. Chapters are available now on Patreon. Above is another fine cover by Jacqueline Sweet.
Clarion’s Call, second in the Pirates of the Milky Way space opera action adventure series is out!
Here’s the blurb:
The SLS Excelsior has a million credit bounty on her, and pirate captain Christopher Raleigh leads his crew to claim the prize. But with the Digital Assassin and the Tetrarch’s daughter onboard, no plans can ever be safe.
When Space Marines recapture Jillian in the midst of battle, Raleigh and his crew have to find a way to get to Clarion and take her back. Or die trying . . .
Hope you enjoy! I hope to have the next one out in April. For the latest chapters in the Pirates of the Milky Way serial, please visit my Patreon page.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!