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The Stark Divide -Virtual Book Tour

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Sci-Fi
Date Published: 10/10/17
Publisher: DSP Publications
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Some stories are epic.
The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.
Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.
From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.
Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.
Book One of Liminal Sky

EXCERPT

 

Colin hurried back to his own quarters, frowning.

A biological agent. It had to be terrorism. The Interveners or one of the other quasi-religious sects?

It must have been introduced by someone back on Frontier. How had they done it?

There were layers upon layers of security for anything entering the ships at the station, and he’d personally checked the backgrounds of everyone who worked on or near the Dressler. If there was an Intervener among them, he had no idea who it was—and there were only two other people on board.

He just hoped that this agent, whatever it was, didn’t have a taste for people.

Dressler, have you finished the diagnostic?” he asked, entering his cabin. He pulled out some antiseptic wipes and cleaned his hands vigorously, just in case.

“Negative, Captain.” The ship’s normally dulcet tones sounded rough. “My internal systems are running more slowly than normal.”

Something else to worry about. “Estimated time to completion?”

“Fifteen minutes, Captain.”

Colin closed his eyes and thought of Trip. Out there somewhere in a ship of his own. What if this was bigger than the Dressler?

He didn’t want to panic his partner, but he had to know.

He tapped his loop. “Dressler, patch me in to Captain Tanner.”

“One moment.”

“Hey, Colin.” Trip’s voice boomed in the small cabin.

“Hey, Trip. Where are you?”

“Just closing in on Frontier Station, so I’m a bit busy. What’s up?”

Just hearing the man’s voice calmed Colin considerably. “Just wanted to say hello. We’re in slowdown, approaching Ariadne. Hey, everything okay there?”

“Everything’s fine. Looking forward to seeing you in a couple days.”

That made Colin’s legs go a little wobbly.

“Hey, is everything all right?” Trip asked.

“Yeah, fine so far. I’ll keep you posted.” He didn’t want Trip to worry, not yet. It might be nothing.

“Gotta run. Love you.”

“Backatcha.” He sighed in relief. Trip was okay. He tapped off the loop.

As he saw it, he had three options on the Dressler.

One, fix the problem, whatever it was. Dr. Anatov was one of the primary experts in ship genetics, so they had a fighting chance there.

Two, try to make it to Ariadne, where they could await rescue. He considered this the most likely option. The ship had enough oxygen to sustain them for some time, provided she held her structural integrity.

Three, abandon ship. He resolved to do this only in the direst of circumstances. The three of them could only survive a short time in the lifeboat, and they would be hard to find in the vastness of space, even with an emergency beacon.

Dressler, where’s Hammond?” he asked. He had to do something.

There was a short but noticeable pause in the response. “Hammond’s in cabin three.”

The first thing to do was to finish the inspection.

 

 

 
About the Author

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Enticed into fantasy and sci fi by his mom at the tender age of nine, he devoured her Science Fiction Book Club library. But as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were in the books he was reading.
He decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at his local bookstore. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He loves to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.
Starting in 2014, Scott has published more than 15 works, including two novels and a number of novellas and short stories.
He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own lives.
 
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The Stark Divide – Blitz

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Sci-Fi
Date Published: 10/10/17
Publisher: DSP Publications
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Some stories are epic.
The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.
Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.
From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.
Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.
Book One of Liminal Sky
EXCERPT



“DRESSLER, SCHEMATIC,” Colin McAvery, ship’s captain and a third of the crew, called out to the ship-mind.

A three-dimensional image of the ship appeared above the smooth console. Her five living arms, reaching out from her central core, were lit with a golden glow, and the mechanical bits of instrumentation shone in red. In real life, she was almost two hundred meters from tip to tip.
Between those arms stretched her solar wings, a ghostly green film like the sails of the Flying Dutchman.
“You’re a pretty thing,” he said softly. He loved these ships, their delicate beauty as they floated through the starry void.
“Thank you, Captain.” The ship-mind sounded happy with the compliment—his imagination running wild. Minds didn’t have real emotions, though they sometimes approximated them.
He cross-checked the heading to be sure they remained on course to deliver their payload, the man-sized seed that was being dragged on a tether behind the ship. Humanity’s ticket to the stars at a time when life on Earth was getting rapidly worse.
All of space was spread out before him, seen through the clear expanse of plasform set into the ship’s living walls. His own face, trimmed blond hair, and deep brown eyes, stared back at him, superimposed over the vivid starscape.
At thirty, Colin was in the prime of his career. He was a starship captain, and yet sometimes he felt like little more than a bus driver. After this run… well, he’d have to see what other opportunities might be awaiting him. Maybe the doc was right, and this was the start of a whole new chapter for mankind. They might need a guy like him.
The walls of the bridge emitted a faint but healthy golden glow, providing light for his work at the curved mechanical console that filled half the room. He traced out the T-Line to their destination. “Dressler, we’re looking a little wobbly.” Colin frowned. Some irregularity in the course was common—the ship was constantly adjusting its trajectory—but she usually corrected it before he noticed.
“Affirmative, Captain.” The ship-mind’s miniature chosen likeness appeared above the touch board. She was all professional today, dressed in a standard AmSplor uniform, dark hair pulled back in a bun, and about a third life-sized.
The image was nothing more than a projection of the ship-mind, a fairy tale, but Colin appreciated the effort she took to humanize her appearance. Artificial mind or not, he always treated minds with respect.
“There’s a blockage in arm four. I’ve sent out a scout to correct it.”
The Dressler was well into slowdown now, her pre-arrival phase as she bled off her speed, and they expected to reach 43 Ariadne in another fifteen hours.
Pity no one had yet cracked the whole hyperspace thing. Colin chuckled. Asimov would be disappointed. “Dressler, show me Earth, please.”
A small blue dot appeared in the middle of his screen.
“Dressler, three dimensions, a bit larger, please.” The beautiful blue-green world spun before him in all its glory.
Appearances could be deceiving. Even with scrubbers working tirelessly night and day to clean the excess carbon dioxide from the air, the home world was still running dangerously warm.
He watched the image in front of him as the East Coast of the North American Union spun slowly into view. Florida was a sliver of its former self, and where New York City’s lights had once shone, there was now only blue. If it had been night, Fargo, the capital of the Northern States, would have outshone most of the other cities below. The floods that had wiped out many of the world’s coastal cities had also knocked down Earth’s population, which was only now reaching the levels it had seen in the early twenty-first century.
All those new souls had been born into a warm, arid world.
We did it to ourselves. Colin, who had known nothing besides the hot planet he called home, wondered what it had been like those many years before the Heat.
About the Author

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Enticed into fantasy and sci fi by his mom at the tender age of nine, he devoured her Science Fiction Book Club library. But as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were in the books he was reading.
He decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at his local bookstore. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He loves to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.
Starting in 2014, Scott has published more than 15 works, including two novels and a number of novellas and short stories.
He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own lives.
Contact Links
Purchase Links
Reading Addiction Blog Tours

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In the Beginning – Blitz

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Sci Fi/Space Opera
Date Published: Sept 5th 2017
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The origins of Judeo-Christian religion and mythology come together in this mature science fiction page-turner.
To combat overpopulation on the planet Orion, the government releases a birth control virus to keep women from becoming pregnant. Only the brightest and most attractive of their species are allowed to mate. But the virus rages out of control, killing both mother and child. Attempts to develop a cure fail. They only have one option left: search other worlds for advanced societies that may be able to help.
The two most intelligent minds on Orion—and former best friends—Lucifer and Zues band together to search for a secret planet. When they finally arrive, they are greeted with unexplainable death and destruction. This planet is not the answer. Something doesn’t add up. They discover an extra unknown planet in the solar system.
The new planet is covered in lush land masses and bodies of water. Different species of hominids run—and mate—freely. Fire-breathing dragons guard the land. Lucifer is determined to figure out who or what created this planet. He thinks it just might be the key to saving Orion and the Orionites.

 

Excerpt
Hippolyta cleared the launch tube and dived down into the planete’s atmosphere. It only took her a few seconds to begin to get a full view of the alien planete. She had heard the rumors that this planete wasn’t actually a planete—that it was artificial or something like that. Sure looks real to me, she thought as she made her approach. The closer she got to the actual planete itself, the more amazed she became.
This place is huge, and it’s gorgeous. It’s perfect. No pollution, no buildings, nothing covering up its inherent natural beauty. It is too perfect; maybe this place isn’t real after all. It’s too good to be true, too beautiful to have just happened by chance.
She found herself completely mesmerized by the incredible landscapes, gigantic bodies of sparkling blue water, and enormous amounts of vegetation existing all over this untouched planete. Then as if out of nowhere, she saw it. Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit! It was one of the gigantic flying beasts that were supposedly capable of breathing fire or something like that. She had been briefed on their existence. She had even been shown pictographs, but she quickly realized that until this very moment, when she was seeing one of the great beasts with her own eyes, she hadn’t really believed it.
She brought her Vimana to a complete stop and hovered in midair, not moving at all. She knew that she was in no real danger. Her Vimana was cloaked, and the miniature arc-core power source that Vimanas used was completely silent. Flight operations of Vimanas in general were completely silent. There was no exhaust or propulsion system to speak of. Vimanas moved air and space around them; they didn’t actually move through air and space, although it seemed as if they did.
“What a majestic creature! Hera, help me!” she heard herself say. Hera was Hippolyta’s grandmother. She was the greatest female warrior in Orionite history. So great, in fact, that the Orionite government deemed her worthy of deification. Hippolyta knew that it was disrespectful to say her grandmother’s name aloud since she had been made a deity, but when she was alone, where no one else could hear her, she often did. It just made her feel better.
For a few moments, she sat there completely still, in wonderment of the sheer power and grace that the creature possessed, and then said to herself, “I am going to have to go in for a closer look at this magnificent beast.” Hippolyta moved her Vimana slowly toward the creature. She was able to match its speed and came up along the side of the winged beast.
It looks like it has armor plating on its chest and head. I’d like to see it shoot some fire out of its mouth, as Mikael said it could, she thought.
Then suddenly the beast flipped end over end and turned toward her ship. Hippolyta brought the Vimana to a complete stop and didn’t move a muscle. She was holding her breath, she realized. It appeared as if the creature were looking directly at her. What the fuck? There was no way this thing could know that she was here. She was completely cloaked and completely silent. And that was when it came.
Hippolyta got her wish as a gigantic superhot blue-and-white ball of fire shot out from the creature’s mouth and totally enveloped her Vimana. “Fuck!” Hippolyta screamed as her Vimana began to plummet toward the surface of the planete. She attempted to regain control of the craft, but her flight systems were not responding. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the craft began to come back online, and she was able to reestablish control of the ship.
“Holy fuck! How did that thing see me? Must have some kind of infrared vision or some bullshit like that. That’s fucked up!” she said as she evened out her flight path. She got on the horn and spoke into her comm unit. “Olympus actual, this is Sergeant Hippolyta requesting immediate assistance. My ship has been damaged, and I may not be able to make it back into orbit.” She waited for a reply for one second, two seconds, three. “Olympus actual, please respond and advise.”
There was no answer.
“Oh, this is seriously fucking great. Fireball must have fried my communications array. Shit!” She continued on her flight path and tried to decide what to do. She’d probably be able to make it back to the Olympus; she just didn’t know how much damage the ship had endured. Then she saw, or rather sensed, a very large shadow looming over her. She looked up and saw the same creature directly overhead.
“Mikael said these things never left their own territory! Well, that was a total fucking lie! Mikael, fucking dumb-ass son of a bitch, give me good intel before you send me out on a mission! I am so going to kill that motherfucker when I get back! How the fuck is this thing tracking me?”
And then the shadow grew larger. She looked up and saw the great beast descending on her, producing a brilliant stream of blue-and-white flame from its mouth. She put the Vimana into a dead drop and pushed it to its top speed. See ya, you son of a bitch, she thought as she escaped her pursuer. She had started to approach a landmass to the southwest of where they were setting up the Atlantis base when she saw the creature again; it was right on her tail. The beast was matching her speed. She couldn’t believe it. That’s not possible, she thought, and then she saw the flame coming toward her again; this thing was not going away.
She dropped the Vimana down to an even lower altitude and began to follow the path of a wide winding body of water. She was using this winding river like a highway. She had grown desperate to escape the flying menace, but she still couldn’t keep herself from marveling at the incredible beauty and splendor of the untouched waterway that she was using to help navigate her flight path. Then even at this low altitude, she felt the shadow of the creature creep over her Vimana once again.
I’ve got to get the hell out of here, she thought. She didn’t know where to go; she needed a place to hide. The shadow grew larger as the beast began to descend upon her ship. She saw a clearing to the north of the jungle. There, right there. She flew her Vimana through the clearing and a little way into the jungle itself, where it would be under the cover of some large trees.
She didn’t know if this would work. Her Vimana was already cloaked, but it felt better than being out in the open, waiting to be burned alive and eaten. She sat there holding her breath for ten, twenty, thirty minutes, waiting for the blue-and-white flame to cook her where she sat, but fortunately it never came. After she got herself together and after many more failed attempts at contacting the Olympus, Hippolyta decided that it was time to try to make it back to the mother ship, but for some reason, she just couldn’t bring herself to go. Maybe it was fear of encountering the giant flying reptile again, or maybe it was something else. She had been entranced by the beauty of the surrounding jungle the entire time that she had been hiding from her tormentor. She decided that she was going to get out of her Vimana and take a look around.
Just for a few minutes, she thought. The beauty of this place was pulling her toward it; she could feel it. Sergeant Hippolyta popped her cockpit and was the first Orionite person to ever set foot on Terra Firma. She stomped on the ground. Felt like ground to her, but the grass was so green; the skies were so clear. It was familiar but different. It was better…much better. She was nervous about it, but she decided to remove her flight helmet as well. Mikael had said that the air was breathable. Let’s find out, she thought. She removed her helmet and held her breath for a very long time. Then in one big gasp, she sucked the alien air into her lungs.
“Great Hera!” she said to herself as the clean, oxygen-rich, alien air hit her lungs. This is magnificent; this is intoxicating! I feel incredible! Her head felt light; she was initially a little woozy. She had never experienced such raw, untouched, and unpolluted air as this. It was truly a beautiful experience. She lay down in the soft green grass and just soaked in the beauty of the place for a long time. She felt at peace; she felt happy. She felt, maybe for the first time in her life, that she was at home. After spending some time lying in the grass and soaking in the astron rays, Hippolyta sat up and looked around. The jungle was gorgeous. She wanted to go see what was back there, and so she did.
She walked through the jungle and again marveled at its untouched beauty—the plants, flowers, trees all so complete and untouched by the hand of man. She came around a turn, and that was when she saw them. There were hominids up in front of her. “Oh shit!” she whispered to herself as she ducked down behind a rock formation. They didn’t see her.
Thank Hera, she thought. She spied on the hominid creatures for quite a while. They were completely naked and without shame. They were bathing themselves and one another, she noticed, in what must have been a hot spring of some kind. There was a small waterfall up over their heads. The water was clear and beautiful; she could see their forms clearly. They were beautiful, magnificent specimens. They were much taller than the other hominid species she had seen in the pictographs; they were almost as tall as she was.
They don’t have any pictographs of these hominids up on the Olympus, she thought. Their skin, eyes, and hair were so dark. Their bodies were so muscular, their thighs and buttocks so strong, their breasts so firm and full. Sergeant Hippolyta felt something begin to stir down deep between her thighs, a feeling she had never felt before. What the hell is that? she wondered. She shifted on the rock that she was sitting on, but no matter which way she tried to sit, she could never get comfortable. She continued to spy on the hominids bathing in the hot spring.
They’re all female, she suddenly realized. There wasn’t a male among them, and she slowly began to understand that she liked that. Her breathing began to get heavy, and she began to perspire in the heat of the jungle. She began to tug and pull at her flight suit; her skin felt flushed. Other parts of her body began to feel flushed as well. Certain parts of her body began to swell and ache that had never swollen or ached before in her entire existence.
Then as if she were having an out-of-body experience, Sergeant Hippolyta removed her flight suit and her undergarments and stood up on the rock that she had been hiding behind. She stood completely naked for all these gorgeous female alien hominids to see. She wanted them to see her. She knew that she should be embarrassed by her swollen genitalia that could easily be seen through the clear pubic hair that all Orionite women possessed, but for some reason, she was not. She stood tall and proud and naked.
The hominids in the hot spring did see her. They did not seem afraid, however. They seemed curious. Hippolyta slowly stepped off of the rock face and made her way down toward the all-female tribe and then slowly entered the water. It was warm and inviting; it felt so good as the water rose up above her thighs and began to make contact with her swollen and aching clitoris. The alien females began to slowly move toward Hippolyta; they still seemed unafraid. They began to stroke her clear hair. They looked into Hippolyta’s large blue eyes; they explored her face, her nose, her ears, her mouth, her lips, and her neck. Then they began to explore other parts of Hippolyta’s anatomy.

That was the first and last mission that Sergeant Hippolyta ever flew for the Olympus arc vessel. She was never heard from again.About the Author

 

BCE is originally from parts unknown and currently resides in areas of the planet yet to be explored. His favorite pastime is reading old encyclopedias while eating Peanut M&M’s. He does believe that the warehouse depicted at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark actually exists. He has only one goal left in his life that he wishes to accomplish: to live long enough to see the aliens return so he may look over at his beautiful wife in her nursing-home bed and say, “I told you so.”

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Battle Born: Defiant – Blitz

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Sci-fi
Date Published: August 2017
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Rivals, enemies, lovers, Jenna and Drex are soon all three. She wants him, nearly as much as she resents him, so how can they ever hope to build a future together? Jenna has good reason to despise all Rodytes, but that doesn’t keep her from longing for Drex, thinking of him night and day, and finding incredible pleasure every time they touch. Still, happily ever after is built on trust, and Jenna will never trust a Rodyte.
Drex is determined to prove to Jenna that he is different. He never expected to find a mate, so he refuses to let her slip away. He will court her with ruthless patience, wear down her emotional defenses until she understands that she is the most important person in the universe to him. But hostilities between humans and the battle born are rapidly escalating and the couple keeps getting caught in the middle. Can they overcome their pasts and focus on the future or will the conflict consume their love?
 
Excerpt
Her easy dismissal of something so vital, unleashed his predatory instincts. She only shrugged away his interest because the pull hadn’t yet engaged in her. Once his taste spread through her mouth, her body would ache with need and her blood would sizzle through her veins, “pulling” her toward him. In ages past, any Rodyte male would have tossed her over his shoulder and escaped to some private location where they could fight this out in bed.
“This is about so much more than children.” Stalking toward her with obvious intent, he spoke in a low, almost menacing tone. “Once a Rodyte male has found his mate, she becomes the most important person in the universe. Protecting her, providing for her, and pleasuring her are all he can think about. Why should I ignore what every cell in my body is demanding?”
She backed up, fear flickering through her gaze. “If you touch me, I’ll scream.”
“You have nothing to fear from me.” But he kept right on coming, only stopping when her back pressed against the wall. He placed his hands on either side of her head, caging her with his big body. “Breathe in my scent, let it wash over and sink into you.”
“This is pointless.” She sounded a bit more assertive now, but her lips trembled. “I don’t feel what you’re feeling.”
“Not yet,” he whispered as he lowered his head. She jerked her face aside, so he kissed her cheek and jawline. “Kiss me, Jenna. See if my taste excites you.”
“No,” she said firmly. “I don’t want to be excited by anyone right now. I—”
He turned her head and cut off her words with his mouth. Her lips pressed together, unmoving and unresponsive. His instincts demanded that he open her mouth and stake his claim with the thrust of his tongue, but she’d likely bite him if he forced this on her. Besides, he wanted her wild and willing, not resentful and resigned.
“What are you so afraid of?” he whispered the words against her stubbornly closed mouth. “Nothing is more natural, more fulfilling, than touching and being touched by your mate.”
Her hands came up and shoved against his chest. “Back off. Now!”
“Kiss me once, and I’ll let you go.” He brushed his lips over hers, coaxing, teasing.
“No means no, asshole.” She brought her knee up hard, barely missing his crotch as he quickly turned away.
With an exasperated sigh, he pushed off the wall and motioned toward the door through which they’d escaped. “Enjoy the party.”About the Author

Anything-but-Ordinary is Cyndi’s creed and her writing reflects her dedication to the concept. She writes in a variety of genres, but she seems happiest in outer space. Her books frequently appear on Best-Seller lists, and TAKEN BY STORM was named Best Fantasy/Science Fiction Romance of the year by Romance Reviews Today.
She lives in Colorado with her high school sweetheart turned husband of many years. With a pampered cat curled on the corner of her desk, she dreams of fascinating worlds and larger than life adventures — and wouldn’t have it any other way!
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The Slant Six – Blitz

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Sci-fi / space opera thriller
Date Published: March 31, 2017
Publisher: Darkwater Syndicate, Inc.
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The year is 2252 and Loman Phin is in trouble. A washed-up channelship racer turned freelancer, he hits pay dirt with his latest mission: a fortune is on the line if he can transport forty-three kilograms of human skin to a remote villa on Pluto’s moon, Nix. Little does he know his very life is at stake when he gets caught up in an ancient feud, chased by a space vampire, and forced into a death-race by the king of Ceres. Meanwhile, danger is always hot on his heels in the form of a massive space freighter out for Loman’s blood. With just his wits, his friends, and his beat-up cruiser, the Slant Six, Loman sets out on the most dangerous adventure of his life.
Excerpt
Loman squeezed the control stick, his knuckles turning white. The Slant Six blasted from the tunnel directly into traffic, crisscrossing the expanse of Island Earth Grand Central Station. The little channelship was a mere speck of dust inside a giant tumbling drum of organized chaos.
“Twelve o’clock!” Portia pointed to a great lumbering whale of a black Bentley that sailed across their trajectory, blithely unaware that both ships were on the verge of becoming unrecognizable husks of burning scrap.
Loman jerked the stick to the left and pushed it downward. With an abrupt drop they angled sharply underneath the leviathan. As she lifted off the seat, Portia felt her stomach clench into a knot. She clapped her hands to her mouth to keep from vomiting and kept them there until the feeling passed.
The Slant Six shuddered as its roof scraped the Bentley’s hull; the shrill noise curled her toes. No sooner had they cleared the Bentley than another vessel, with the image of a blazing comet stenciled on its side, cut into their flight path.
“Comet!” Loman snapped the stick back and to the right. They shot upward with a starboard roll, just missing the Comet as it barreled past.
Loman leveled them out in time to avoid a row of cruising channelships awaiting their turn to launch. The Slant Six weaved in and out of the slow moving ships so quickly that the line appeared to be standing still. Loman continued to navigate the quickly eroding pattern of traffic inside the station.
The mouth of the main tunnel came into view, with open space beyond it.
“There she blows!” he said. “Our egress to free space.”
Portia gave a weak nod. Whatever flaws the man had as a human being, she was thankful he more than made up for these with his piloting skills.
Island Earth Grand Central was utter bedlam as the other pilots reacted to the rogue channelship. Several ships spun in directionless circles while others bumped each other like a flock of feeble-minded geese in flight. Sirens from the station patrol blared, but it was already far too late for anyone to catch the Slant Six sprinting toward the exit.
The colossal dexelized head of the Abacus materialized to block their departure from the interchange. You’d think her gently drooping face would look a hundred times sweeter on such a titanic scale, but nothing could be further from the truth. At fifty meters across, those normally soft wrinkles became deep, dark chasms; her rubicund cheeks expanded into twin reproductions of the planet Mars—acrid and inhospitable.
“Now hold on there, sugah,” the trembling speech of the Abacus boomed throughout the station, filling it full of saccharine and horse sense. “If you don’t change direction, you may end up where you’re heading. Slow down and land at the nearest pulpit. What do you say, sweetie?”
“How does she know it’s me?” Portia asked aloud without having meant to. She leveled an angry glare at Loman. “You idiot, why didn’t you cloud our i-dents?”
“Don’t sweat it, Little Miss Moonbeam,” Loman chuckled. “It’s a canned warning. She doesn’t know us from Adam.”
Loman rocketed the Slant Six up the left nostril of the monstrous Abacus. He’d gotten them safely into the tunnel, and so all they had to do now was survive these last couple kilometers of intermittent darkness as they blasted down the flashing passageway.
Punishing vibrations shook the Slant Six, rattling her from stem to stern. Sitting on her hands, Portia gripped the bench seat even tighter. The shaking grew worse by the millisecond, threatening to tear them apart.
“Damn,” Loman growled through the noise. “Not again.”
“What is it?”
“Ah, the vibration damper ring tends to slip when using emergency propulsion for too long… it happens.”
“It happens?” Portia was aghast. “That’s all you can say? It happens?”
“Don’t worry, she can take it.”
A sizeable chunk of outer skin plating tore off the nose of the channelship. The twisted section of hull slammed into the forward transom and proceeded to bounce along the length of the Slant Six, banging and clanging as it went flying off into the blackness. Portia and Loman looked at each other, she with worry and he with what had to be feigned confidence.
“Not an essential piece, not really.” He smiled weakly. “Nothing I can’t handle.” Loman begin furiously adjusting his rheostats. “All it takes is some extra pressure to compensate for the weakened hull segment and bingo! We’re good to go.”
The Slant Six was still shuddering as she shot out of the open crater beyond the domes of Island Earth. Portia felt the g’s push against her chest as they broke from the weak gravity of the moon. At last, they catapulted into the cosmos, free from the constraints of artificial atmosphere and away from confined spaces.
Loman wasn’t smiling as he made a few more corrections on a console glowing cool blue from the hot ice beneath its surface.
The vibrations instantly stopped and the roar of the ship’s emergency thrusters was silenced. All went quiet as sanity finally returned to their encapsulated world. The absence of sound was pure manna for Portia’s ears.
“We’re using her magneto-static drive now,” said Phin as he let go of the control stick. It retracted back into the floor panel.
The Slant Six settled in and drifted silently into the expanse of stars.
“That’s better.” Portia smoothed down her hair and flattened out the wrinkles on her disheveled gown. “You will intersect with the channel and head to the Kuiper Pass near Triton. You’ll get more instruction once we’re there.”
“Whatever you say… whoever you are,” he muttered.
About the Author

Born and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida, Christopher Cobb ventured off to the wilds of New York City for several years to experience the world of acting. Finding it a cruel and inhospitable world, he hid high in the Appalachian Mountains of North Georgia for a time. Having grown weary of snow and perilous black ice, his life path took him back home to south Florida where he earned college degrees at Florida Atlantic University. He now lives in Jupiter—the city, not the planet—with his true love and talented artist, Alicia, their two weird cats, Simon and Weezy, and his amazingly wonderful daughter, Emma. He is a member of the Bloody Pens Writers Group, as well as the Florida Writer’s Association and intends on writing more exciting books for publication. All this makes Christopher a very happy man indeed. Visit him at www.chrisfcobb.com.
 
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