Archive for August, 2014

Temp cover for a new collection

As I am working on putting out all my Echoes of Elder Times stories into one book, I decided I needed to work on a cover.  Now this is not quite right but I thought why not show you folks what it will look like.

echoes-starter-cover

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Speeding along at Warp…what a second…am I really? a new excerpt from Escape

Yup, I am still working on Escape as of today. I have gotten the heroine out of the clutches of the pirates but we aren’t home free yet.  In fact…no wait I can’t tell you what is next…mostly because it is still working its way through my cerebellum. This story is one of the slower for writing that I have so far, mostly because I am not used to space battles.  Yes that is what is holding me up right now.

The novel is now almost 50K, which is a good thing right?  Here is an excerpt from the latest chapter i am working on.  Having fun with Babe, the AI computer that is Quirin’s ship. She at times acts like a teenager as you will see:

 

There are rumors of an elder alien race that has given advanced technology to the elite Hunters of the League. The scout ships that are used by the League have some advanced weaponry, but the rare Hunter ships are said to be a treasure trove of this alien science. The AIs that are the heart of these ships could be considered the very best of Human technology, but there are those who want to know more. No Hunter ship has ever been examined by outside agencies. When they are damaged, they are taken directly to special bases run by the Hunters themselves. There have been attempts by various illegal groups to capture and study one of these sentient ships. None have resulted in new knowledge. When the Hunter part of the Hunter/AI teams is killed, the ships self-destruct or dive into the nearest sun. The explosions are so intense that there is little more than dust left, floating through space.

An article in Human Scientific by Professor Lucian Drago

 

Babe floated through the dark of space, just outside of the range of the sensors on the pirate base. A sleek black ship filled with technology that made her unique, she scanned both the star lanes for incoming traffic and the various communication channels. Bored, as she often was when her partner was off ship, she listened to Adam as he performed, kept an eye on both Quirin and Harold and ran the thousands of small calculations that every space going vessel needed.

The one thing that the self sentient machine wished for was a body that would allow her to interact with the world more closely, but the Lords of Space and Time did not, in their great wisdom, believe that AIs should be contained in the fragile shells of mobile forms, so they were not.

Babe watched her partner as he moved through the air ducts of the pirate base, at the same time keeping up light banter with her friend, Harold. “You understand, don’t you, my friend?”

“Not really, sweet heart, but you are the expert in this, not me.” Harold’s voice was amused. “I really can’t hear those tones you keep raving about. Yeah, the kid is good, probably one of the best, but well, it is just music to me.”

If Babe had eyes, they would be rolling and Harold knew it. Over the years of his friendship with Quirin, he had come to know the spirit of the AI inhabiting the ship. Babe was one of the most intelligent of her kind, but she acted at times like a teenager. At the moment it was like she had a crush on Adam, which he knew would amuse the boy. In the long decades of their friendship, Harold had seen her go into raptures over a number of singers.

Like the human women they were supposed to be patterned after, AI ships developed quirks and interests outside of their duties. While age had crept up on him, he did not see its marks on either Babe’s gleaming hull or Quirin’s face. Something about the joining of ship to Hunter had changed his friend. Now, nearly sixty years later, Harold thought of the ship as a daughter, instead of the interloper who had changed his best friend. Teasing her was like teasing his nieces and he did not get to do it enough.

“I know you are limited by your human auditory nerve, but if you would just go in for that upgrade I told you about, you would see that I am right. There is something very different about how Adam controls the auditory fusion of the notes. Like now,” she piped the song Adam was singing through to the speakers of the skip. “He is using that empathic broadcast ability he has to make the guards relax and there is a flutter just on the outer edge of the human auditory range.”

“Sweet heart, I told you, that upgrade is not something that a human can afford. Never mind that a man my age should stay out of operating rooms.”

“Aw, Harold bear, you are not old! Quirin is months older than you are and he had the upgrade!” Babe sounded truly annoyed that he had referred to his age. The ship did not like to admit to herself that any human who was not paired with a Hunter ship would age and die long before she thought they should. At eighty years old, he was on the downward side of life. While the normal type humans could expect a lifespan exceeding one hundred and fifty years now, those of Heavy-world decent had barely past the century mark. The Hunters, on the other hand, could live on well past the common. In fact there was no known case of them dying of old age. Hunters died in the saddle, to quote an old saying.

“Shhh, my shiny sweet…” Harold started to calm her when she interrupted.

“Oh, now that is interesting. There is a Shade on the pirate base.” She was silent for a moment and then sighed. “Darn. I would have loved a sample.”

“A Shade?” Harold shuddered. He had heard things about those creatures. That one was on the Dragon’s Rest was not a good thing. “So?”

“Quirin took it out neatly.” He could hear the pride in her voice. “Would you like to see him in action, Harold bear? I can pipe the recording of the fight to your station on the skip.” Harold was not sure, but there seemed to be a minor lag to her voice, as if she was talking to him and the hunter at the same time.

“Naw, that is okay, little dear. Just let me know how the rescue is going.” Harold tensed up as he waited. He had three he had come to care for inside that hive of scum and villainy and felt useless sitting on the skip waiting for them to arrive. Being the get away driver was not something he had ever thought he would be back in his days at the academy.

“Well, Quirin has taken out the guards. Hey! He needs to damage that Delacruz. He just hit the Dancer with his blaster…oh it looks like she is okay, but she is going to need some stitches on that I think.” Babe kept up a running dialog for a few more minutes and then she let out a very unladylike string of curses. “Damn those animals. What in all that is holy are they doing warping into this part of space today! Harold, I thought you said those Masters would be coming in tomorrow?”

“What! Report!”

“Vector six two niner. Three ships, two corvettes guarding what looks like a Masters yacht, though why they call those things yachts I have no idea. I mean, come on, they are crammed full of armaments and have engines that rival the League scout ships.”

“BABE!”

“Oh, sorry.” She did not really sound sorry as she powered up her engines and maneuvered out of the asteroid she had been hiding in. “Harold, looks like we will be having a bunch of guests soon. It looks like it will be a tight squeeze. You are going to have five more guests than we expected. I will get rooms ready but you need to have the skip open and powered up. Looks like it will be a close one.”

Harold cursed fluidly in three languages as he powered up the skip. A small shuttle like ship that normally only held four would be pushed to the limit with nine, but if the Hunter was bringing others then he was sure they were necessary. He tapped the com and listened for his friend’s voice.

***

Having yet another character I can play with is at times both daunting and fun. This character has no body, so to speak, yet has a soul, more of one than the villains have. What she will evolve into who knows but she will be around in more than just this novel. I have her in at least one other book, more likely three or four, but that all depends on if people actually read my work. So folks if you want more of my work, try picking up, reading and reviewing what I have up all ready.

 

Excerpt from the WIP Escape

Escape

 

Yup thought I would put up an excerpt from my current work in progress. Now generally I put up a page over on Wattpad but that is from the beginning of the book.  Here is the most recent bit I am working on from chapter eighteen!…Yup I am that far into this attempt at space opera!

***

If you asked the Hunter later just what made him duck and swing about, he would toss off a remark about being the best of the best, but it was really a slight tingle along the back of his neck as if the hairs there were lifting. With the grace of a panther he slide under the swing of a long bone blade as it swept over his head. Spinning about, he narrowed his eyes, calculating before he pulled a hilt from behind his back. With a flick of his thumb the telescoping mono-serrated vibra-blade snapped out and he spun, aiming at a slice that should have opened the belly of whatever it was that attacked him.

Flickering between invisibility and solid form was a rare creature. Known only as Shades, they were one of three phase shifting humanoids that occupied this section of space. Hired generally as assassins, it was surprising to see one working as a guard for the pirate king. Easily seven feet of bone and muscle, they had natural weapons in the long bones of their forearms. Rumored to be stronger than the steel used to make starships, the bones could cut through flesh like a hot knife through butter. With their native ability to phase in and out, they tended to not register on any sensor technology currently in use. Even the most advanced technology that the Hunters kept under wraps had difficulty detecting these aliens.

Each Hunter goes through training that most soldiers and assassins would find themselves washing out of in the first few months. Quirin had specialized for a time in hand-to-hand combat before moving onto the various forms of bladed weapons that could be wielded by the human form. His additional connection to Babe, gave him faster reflex times than any flesh and blood creature should have and that was what saved him this time. Like when he synced with the ship and became the ship, the place he went was intensely focused. He was no longer the amusing Quirin, he was the blade and death incarnate.

When the Shade managed to suck what little gut it had in and avoid the first slash, Quirin brought the blade back. Spinning the hilt in his hand and facing the blade once more at the creature. What followed was a series of slashes, leaps and flying drops of blood. The fight was nearly silent, the only sounds were the occasional grunt from Quirin and then an almost too high pitched to be heard shearing sound as his blade removed the Shade’s head from its shoulders.

He stood panting, looking down at his opponent. Pulling his mind back from the intense focus of the fight was taking him longer now than it did in his training days. The rush of endorphins and the hypersensitivity was addicting and the more a Hunter fought that way the more they had a chance to be lost to it. Babe’s voice filled his mind with soft, almost chants, soothing nonsense syllables that she had found would relax her mind partner and let him drop out of that fighter’s trance. “Come back to me, Quirin. We have a job to finish.”

A slow, lung expanding breath and his eyes closed briefly. Quirin nodded and hit the button, collapsing the blade back into the hilt. “Damn,” he sub-vocalized, “Babe, you seeing this?”

The body became solid when the head bounced across the hall, but as Quirin watched it slowly went to powder, sinking into itself till all that was left was a vaguely humanoid shaped pile of ash on the floor. He looked over to the head and watched as it did the same. “This would explain why there have been no studies done of these aliens, Quirin. Can you scoop up some of the ash?”

***

Quirin is becoming an interesting character for one that is not the hero of the piece right? Trying to do an older style of science fiction here.  This is a part of a series but the hero/heroine of each book does not move onto the next.  No, that is what Quirin does. He moves through space and books!  I like him and Babe, his AI computer with attitude.  Hopefully you readers will like him too!  Back to rescuing…yes that is what he is up to right now…saving the heroine…can’t believe I am making a more traditional heroine who needs to be saved but that happens right?