NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON/KU! Star Forged, Book 1 in the Ascension Gate Series
Nothing could’ve excited Trent Helms more than the gateway as it opened in the stars above. This was it—the moment he’d been training for, the moment that pulled his entire future together. He and the other Space Fleet Marines gathered with officers and senior NASA officials, watching as purple and blue light flowed through space like a door to heaven.
They’d opened this particular door before for testing and probes, and while no images had made it back, readings had. Results indicated at least one potentially habitable planet in what they’d named the Krastion Galaxy. This information was enough that, on this night, Trent and the other teams would be the first humans through. They’d be the first to investigate the other side, to learn if there was indeed another option for expanding beyond the Solar System.
And maybe, if they were lucky, they’d discover signs of life.
“I hope you have your big-kid undies on, Gunnery Sergeant,” Colonel O’Donnell said, a grin spreading across her normally stern face as she slapped Trent on the shoulder. “I almost shat myself just looking at that thing. Imagine actually flying through it.”
“An image I’m sure to carry with me through the gate, sir,” he replied with a chuckle. “But we won’t have to imagine flying through the gate for long. I want to be the first ship through.”
“Damn right,” she said. “I take care of mine, just remember that. You and me, we’ll shove the rest of them aside if we have to.”
He laughed. “Whatever it takes, sir.” (more…)
VERY UNEDITED (Please excuse typos)
Valerie glared at the man running along the alley, the Pallicon she had told to meet at the exact spot he was running away from. Dammit, how was she supposed to make any progress when these bastards kept trying to betray her?
“Didn’t I tell him he had one hour to get back to me?” Valerie asked.
“I still say that was generous,” Robin replied. She stood next to Valerie on the rooftop under this wide dome of the moon hybrid space station on the outskirts of the Vurugu planetary system. Her body armor hid her petite but curvy frame, a fact that Valerie was glad about—less distractions always meant for better mission accomplishment.
And at times, the younger woman’s body could certainly be a distraction.
Their mission was paramount. A journey through a foreign galaxy to find a legendary Lost Fleet while also hoping to track down an evil shapeshifter and stop him from raising an army to face off against the Etheric Federation. Hell, if that wasn’t a challenge worth writing home about, Valerie wasn’t sure what was. Except that, lately they had been spending a lot of that time simply flying to reach their destination, which meant a lot of downtime. It had been a time of getting to know her team better—such as the fact that Corporal Flynn enjoyed air drying and didn’t seem bashful in the slightest, or the fact that Sergeant Garcia snored like three bears trying to kill the fourth, with loud snores. (more…)
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…)
I wanted to share this start to the short story I included in the anthology with CC Ekeke, Chris Fox, and JN Chaney. Why? Because I think it’s going to be a big part of one of my next two solo projects. Let me know what you think please.
(Also, we always appreciate people buying the anthology – it’s in KU!)
Bloodbag Suppressors: A young Marine wants more than anything to go fight “goldies,” an aggressive alien race. To do so he means to join the best of the best—an elite squad made up of vampires, the only race able to truly cause damage to the enemy.
Brent pulled at his other hand, trying to keep his elbow bent as best he could to avoid Sarah’s near perfect arm-bar she had on him. She was strong, he’d give her that, but he wasn’t about to tap out, not today, not with the panel watching from behind their protective glass.
He shouted in frustration, then rolled into it and let his elbow land extra hard on her throat just long enough to break her hold so that he could regain his footing.
It wasn’t technically a strike, and though her eyes flashed red, she only snarled slightly at him before leaping up and preparing to take him down again. But this time, he was ready—a quick side-step as she leaped forward, and he faked a roundhouse kick with his right leg before bringing out his ka-bar knife to slash down across her neck and then, while she was still cursing him, bring the blade up and into her chest.
This time there was no question she was going to hurt him. She pulled him close, ignoring the blade still in her chest, and looked about to tear his neck off when a voice crackled over the loudspeaker and said, “Very well done. Sarah, if you’d please…”
Her nostrils flared and she licked her lips with a menacing look, but the red glow faded from her eyes.
Before letting him go, she leaned in and said, “If I see you out there, you’re fucking dead. Remember that, blood-bag.” Her warm, moist tongue flicked at his neck, and then she had released him and was walking away.
At the doorway, she stopped, pulled the knife out, and threw it so that it stuck into the matt at Brent’s feet.
She mouthed, “Fuck you,” before disappearing through the doorway. The metal clanged shut behind her.
“Now, Brent, move on to the shooting demonstration,” the voice on the speakers said.
He gave the panel a nod, trying to clear his head. He had to admit, he’d nearly pissed himself when Sarah had thrown the knife like that, and been even more terrified when her mouth had been at his neck, but he couldn’t let them see any weakness.
He approached the rifle rack and took down his favorite plasma blaster. Waiting for it to recognize him by placing four fingers on its side, he closed his eyes and focused. If he pulled this off, he’d be one of the elite. He could finally say he joined the 15th Marine Space Fleet for a reason. His father would look at him from Heaven or wherever the hell people went when their planets exploded while still inhabited, and Brent could stand with pride.
“If you’re ready,” the speaker voice said. “Commence.”
Brent opened his eyes to see the yellow strip along the side of the blaster, signaling it was synched with him and ready.
He turned to the wide, open room. It reminded him of the hanger bays they’d practiced fighting skills in at boot camp, two years ago when he had no idea what he was getting himself into.
Little did he know at the time that, had he stayed behind and went to The Empiric University like his father wanted, he would’ve died alongside everyone else he’d known his whole life.
Sometimes, he wished he had, but that was before he was given this opportunity to join the elites fighters, to be one of the best.
And to get his fucking revenge.