Syndicate Wars False DawnThe shockwave from the explosion caused by Samantha corkscrewed down through the silo’s tight corridors, setting off alarms, swatting people down to the ground, and tearing doors from their hinges.

The blast door in the sleeping quarters rocked on its hinges, knocking Renner and Quinn to the ground. Quinn looked up, everything hazy and unfocused. She’d heard the detonation and immediately thought that a small bomb or a large grenade had gone off.

“The door!” somebody shouted from behind.

Quinn looked up to see that the blast door was dangling from one hinge. Quinn saw Hayden leap over her, then Milo, Hawkins, and Eli. They grabbed the upper edge of the door and put their weight against it, trying to rip it completely free.

Two hands grabbed her and she looked up to see Cody, smiling.

“This is our chance,” he said.

She nodded. “I need to find Samantha first. Then I’ll deal with the others.”

“GET BACK!” Milo shouted.

Cody pulled Quinn back as Hayden shrieked and pulled at the door. For several minutes the Marines rocked the door, eventually tearing it from its hinges. With an ear-shattering BLAM! the cement-infused door hit the floor. Renner rose, broken knife still in hand. He held it over his head at the ready, peering out through the open door, ready for anything. More sirens began wailing and smoke and motes of dust filled the air, obscuring visibility. (more…)



Defending the LostPrince Edward Island

Cammie had been on the island for a few days now, but she still felt her nerves act up when she had to go out and talk to the people. She lingered in the doorway, looking back at Royland and considering how glad she was that he was here with her.

In another version of their reality, one where Valerie would have tasked her alone to take charge of this former pirate group, she would likely have torn them all to shreds by now. Well, maybe not all of them, but the ones who looked at her funny. And that had been a damn lot of them.

“Do you have to go?” Royland asked from the table where he sat looking out at the sunlight sparkling on the water. She knew he longed to walk outside freely during the day, but she would trade that for his speed and power any time.

“It’s our duty now, isn’t it?” she replied. “They say the guy was caught breaking into her house with a knife in his hands.”

“But we don’t know who to trust here.”

She nodded. “That’s the role we’ve stepped into. These people have been told they need to rob and steal to survive, and that murder is okay if it helps you get ahead.”

“Are we any different?” (more…)



Defending the Lost

Outside Toro

Robin paced the deck of the airship, ignoring the recently recruited pirate slaves and even the occasional glance from Valerie. All she could think about was that they were rapidly approaching Toro, the place where she hoped she could liberate her parents from captivity.

A memory kept flashing through her mind, incessantly harassing her. That night when the vampires had come.

It had been a peaceful night, one spent listening to her dad go on about his plans for them.

“When we’re through this and we’ve settled down,” he had said, “we’ll have the biggest house this side of Chicago. That’s what I’ll build for you. There will be grand windows with a view of the mountains so you’ll always have something to inspire you when you’re painting, dear.”

At the time she had loved the idea, since she was always painting when not out gathering berries or helping her dad hunt. Now it was different; painting seemed like the stupidest waste of time.

“We don’t need a big house,” her mom had countered, lowering herself to the log he sat on and wrapping her arms around him. “Just one that keeps us together and warm.”

“As long as it will give you two some privacy,” Robin had joked, flicking a small twig at them. “Keep it clean.”

“Robin!” Her mom gave her a scolding look. “You should be happy your parents still love each other.”

“She should be happy we’re both alive, given this hellhole of a world,” her dad had said, voice raspy.

It was the first time she heard him talk so negatively, as well as the first time she’d seen that look in his eyes—terror.

Her mom had given her a glance that said, “Not now,” and soon they had gone to bed in their one-room shack. Robin laid there staring at the two of them, wondering what had spooked her dad so. She promised herself she would find out in the morning.

Except that morning had never come. Not really, anyway. Just as she was nodding off, the front door had been kicked in by a man with glowing red eyes and then two more had swept in with such speed and power she was sure they were demons.

It hadn’t taken long for her discover they were vampires. They had soon made her one of their own and sent her mom and dad off to be sold as slaves.

There had been so much screaming, shouting, and struggling that night. She remembered the smell of piss, though she didn’t think it came from her, and something gripping her arms so tightly she had thought it was all over.

But the image that really kept haunting her was the terror in her father’s eyes before they had gone to bed. That loss of hope.

She couldn’t shake it from her mind, no matter how hard she tried. No matter what sort of distractions she put in its place.

“Robin,” a voice called, and she looked up to see Valerie giving her a worried and caring smile. “We’re here. We’re landing right now. Are you ready?”

Without so much as a nod, she turned and looked at the blur of the city that was just starting to come into view. Was she ready to save her parents and bring a level of revenge to this city that they had likely never seen?

Hell, yes, she was! (more…)



Syndicate Wars False DawnThe fighter turned and Samantha admired the angle of the fighter’s chin, or the starkness of his blue eyes, almost like ice. She hadn’t thought about boys very much, but there was something different about this one. Unlike the other fighters, for instance, he was staring at the videos of the jackasses yet wasn’t braying like some barnyard animal. In fact, he seemed disgusted by the whole thing. Samantha admired that a lot.

“So … what’s your name, soldier?” she asked.

“I’m not a soldier,” the guy replied without turning from the screen.

“You’ve got a gun don’t you?”

The young fighter shrugged. “Doesn’t mean I’m a soldier.”

The fighter looked back at Samantha.

“I don’t mean to be a dick, but I’m supposed to tell you that it’s not going to be like this.”

“Like what?” Samantha asked.

“You saying things and me answering—”

“I’m pretty sure that’s called conversation.”

The fighter turned back to the TV.

“Okay. Cool. So what’s your name?” she asked.

No response from the fighter.

“I mean it’s just common courtesy to give a name when you’re holding someone against their will,” Samantha said.

“If I tell you that, will you be quiet?”

“There’s a strong possibility,” she answered.

“Daniel,” the fighter said. “Just … Dan.”

“Oh, Jeez, I’m so sorry.”

Dan looked back.


“It’s nothing … your name … it’s just … studies have shown that Daniel is a name associated with the least trustworthy people in society.”

Dan’s right eyebrow twitched up. “Says who?”

“The people who conduct such studies.”

He stared at her for several seconds. “Y’know what I think? I think you’ve just got a serious case of Danimosity.”

Samantha smirked. “Do not.”

“You totally do,” Dan replied. “You’re a raving Dan-ti-semetic.”

Samantha nodded. “Good one.” She smiled, realizing she’d been right about this guy. Not only was he cute, but he was completely different than the other schlubs who’d been guarding her. The moment passed and Dan turned back to the TV.

“So what did you do?” Dan asked, eyes still locked on the TV. “I mean nobody told me, but there’s got to be a reason why you’re down here.”

“Oh, it was no biggie at all. I was just accosted by this supernatural being who showed me the end of the world and then taught me how to trigger the stored energy in inanimate objects.”

Dan nodded, evidently not believing a word of this. “Oh, is that all.”

“Exactly,” Samantha replied. “I mean, who hasn’t experienced that.”

A few seconds of silence stretched between them.

“How old are you, Samantha?”

“I thought we weren’t conversing.”

He smiled. She lied and said, “Almost sixteen. You?”


Coolness, she thought. An older guy.

“So where are you from?” she asked.

“Originally from Delaware,” Dan said.

“What’s in Delaware?” she asked.

“A bridge and … there didn’t used to be any sales tax.”

Samantha nodded. “What’s the opposite of a bucket list?”

Dan shook his head. “Dunno. Why?”

“Because based on what you just said, I’m putting Delaware on that.”

Dan smiled.

“You got any family there?” Samantha asked.

Dan pointed to his shotgun. “Nope. Don’t have any at all other than Mary Beth here.”

Samantha nodded. “Happiness is a warm gun.”

Dan looked at her, the levity vanishing from his face.

“I can’t let you go by the way,” he said. “I know your mom was like, a Marine and whatnot, but I can’t help you out if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“How come?”

“I’ve been given orders.”

“Strict ones?”

Dan quirked an eyebrow. “They didn’t mention whether they were strict.”

“So there you go,” Samantha said, flashing the widest smile possible. “Orders aren’t meant to be followed unless they’re super strict.”

Dan shook his head. “I’m sorry.”

Samantha was sorry too. She spotted the lone cookie left by one of her prior guards on the floor and she was sorry about what might happen to Dan and all the others if she ever freed her hands. But her hands weren’t free, which meant that she was righteously screwed.

Her mind wandered to something she’d read in a resistance hideout in the weeks after the invasion. An article in a magazine about athletes who were able to control their immune response and autonomous nervous system primarily via a series of breathing exercises. The idea was through repeated deep, rhythmic inhales and exhales, followed by breath holding, a person could increase oxygen saturation in the muscles and body, thereby helping to focus their mind’s eye. The whole thing sounded a little loopy, but she figured she’d give it a whirl. She had time.

Leaning back, Samantha commenced inhaling and exhaling. She made sure to do it quietly, so as not to alert Dan. Then she held her breath and released it and repeated the exercise. She did this over and over and on the fifth try, something happened. It was as if she’d been rubbing two sticks together and suddenly she had a spark. Not only did her body warm, but some sensation welled up inside her that she’d only been aware of in the presence of Hadrian.

The feeling was profound and raw and somehow uncontrollable. For a moment she felt as if she had such a deep understanding of the universe that it might stretch her mind past what her body could tolerate. She’d heard of people who tripped on various drugs, and she assumed what she was experiencing had to be similar. She could see sounds with her eyes shut and hear smells and knew then that the moment of her purpose had arrived.

The ground, the room, even Dan fell away and Samantha found herself raptured up, suspended in the air, staring into a roiling void that was blacker than the bottom of a well at midnight. Her hands were still bound, but merely by focusing her thoughts was she able to birth a disturbance in the form of waves that fanned out, undulating out over the void and through the vast expanses of space and time, like a million dollops of creamer dropped in the galaxy’s biggest pot of coffee. And the power, whatever force was inside her, allowed her to influence the physical without physical interaction. She was a weapon, a human IED, an ambulatory trigger.

Her body grew warm and she found herself back in the room and her eyes hopped from the walls to Dan, to the cookie that began to thrum. Reacting to the sound of the cookie, Dan turned and time froze like a snapshot.

“GET DOWN!” Samantha screamed.

Dan did, covering his head as the cookie disintegrated with a cacophonous BOOM!

FROM JUSTIN >>> So this is skipping forward a BIT from our last snippet, but I wanted to do that for a couple reasons. One was that I’m working on a Sam spinoff, and this ‘magic’ or whatever you want to call it plays into that. The second reason is just because I think Sam’s so damn cool. There are the Hadrian parts in book 3 that just knocked my socks off (George wrote a lot of that, so I got to read first draft stuff, and it was fun!)

This week I wanted to make sure I’ve shared Glynn Stewart’s books – because they are scifi with magic too. I might have shared them before, but that’s fine 🙂

So here is Glynn Stewart’s …


A ship that cannot leave
A Mage that will not stay
A meeting of desperations

In a galaxy tied together by the magic of the elite Jump Mages, Damien Montgomery graduates into their numbers—only to discover that without connections, he can’t find a ship and is stuck in the Sherwood system.

Pirates attacked David White’s jump freighter, leaving him with a dead Mage and a damaged ship—stuck in Sherwood, where a grieving father has blacklisted him from hiring a replacement Jump Mage.

When their desperate needs meet, Damien Montgomery is drawn into a conflict with the most powerful criminal organization in the galaxy—and to the attention of the Mage-King of Mars himself!




Syndicate Wars False DawnXan marched down through the main hallway in the bottom of the silo. She was accompanied by a bear of a man in grime-splotched clothing, a resistance fighter from Colorado in his forties named Quarrels, who’d lost most of his right hand during a Syndicate bombing run in the days after the initial invasion. Quarrels had just come in from a long-range patrol and had some rather startling intelligence that Xan wanted to share with Comerford.

They found Comerford in the silo’s command center, seated in a chair, a faraway look in his eye as he peered at war footage on a bank of monitors. When he glanced up to see this raggedy man accompanying Xan, his eyes narrowed.

“This him?” Comerford asked.

“Joe Quarrels,” Xan replied with a nod and a smile. “Fresh in from the world.”

“I heard you were out in the field for the better part of three weeks.”

“More like four, sir.” Quarrels smiled, revealing that most of his teeth were missing. He smacked his thigh and dust flew into the air.

Quarrels extended his hand and the men shook. Comerford glanced down at Quarrels hand, eyes going wide to see that he was missing all of the digits on his right hand except for his middle finger.  (more…)



Syndicate Wars False DawnSamantha picked her way down through an untamed landscape, moving over outcroppings of red rocks, beyond thorny underbrush, and along washouts that had been without rain for weeks. She skidded down over granite cliffs and hopped by piles of moraine, the ground falling off steeply on either side into scrub-studded gulleys.

At a steep hillside, she needled her way down and came to a stop on a valley floor that had the brownish color of river sediment. A fine, white mist hovered over the flat ground, shrouding everything in a hazy halflight. Her mind reeled. She was lost, confused.

“Mom?” Samantha called out, hand cupped to her mouth.

Her voice echoed, but nothing stirred, save a thin breeze that shimmied through a nearby stand of brush. Somehow she’d wandered away from the base and gotten lost. But where was she? What time was it? And more importantly, where the hell were the others? She was alone and felt the bitter taste of abandonment at the back of her throat. (more…)