Welcome to Utopia—humanity’s second home for over two centuries. It is a
world controlled by the military and corporations, waging war with advanced alien races, but 18-year-old Carter Sanders is
about to change the rules of the game.
Freshly conscripted into boot camp, he needs all his brains and ability to
survive skirmishes and develop allies among his fellow-recruits who resent
his privilege. Training exercises in weaponry, close-quarter combat,
strategy and tactics, and missions test his bravery, while female recruits
test his moral fiber in close situations.
When bionic upgrades for soldiers become mandatory, Carter feels he needs
to take a stand. Can he and his mismatched fellow-recruits get their message
about preserving morale through to the top brass? Will they survive sadistic
drill sergeant Banes before they’re sent off to battle giant, scaled Lorgans
on unknown worlds?
The Commander – Guardian of Utopia is the first book in the US version of the epic New Adult military sci-fi
fantasy Omni Legends series.
About the Author
Born and raised in Hesse, Germany, Kevin Groh imagined stories and other
worlds from early childhood on. In elementary school, he concocted stories
to entertain teachers and family. Kevin first visited the US when he was 8
weeks old, returning periodically to see two aunts. He fell in love with the
openness of Americans and the non-judgmental environment that accepted him
for who he was — a gamer and a nerd. Passionate about the English language,
Kevin mastered it by reading, watching movies, playing video games, and
After high school, Kevin apprenticed as an industrial clerk, and then
completed a Bachelor’s degree as an industrial engineer with a focus on
electrical engineering. Eventually, he decided to put his own stories on
paper, and by his early 20s, became a sensation in the German sci-fi market.
His Omni Legends book series includes the best-selling subseries, “The
Commander,” “The Black Wanderer,” and “The Shadow Guard.” Kevin was an
Amazon Kindle Select All-Star in sales every month from August to
December in 2019. The young author is now ready to entertain a US readership looking
for its next page-turner.
When he’s not writing or gaming, Kevin enjoys working out and discussing
philosophical questions with his girlfriend. He also loves recording his
audio books and mastering accents. Russian-accented English is one of his
best. He is a member of the German “Autorenwelt” community of
selfpublishers, as well as “Lovelybooks,” a network for organizing book
clubs and readings.
Spinning away from Mars was not what Marcus thought would be the best part of his day. Coming out of his escape; he finds an enemy waiting in the wings of his ship that he has to make a deal with, a commune that has some interesting customs, a colony of Alters, and even an old “friend” who helped him escape his Eridani overlord. But, his friend cashes in that chip. He wants Marcus to help lure a mutual friend, Lash, into the Belt and set up a trap using a Judas Contract.
“I’ll try not to, Spider. Stay out of my head. And by the way, the ship’s name is Junker Blues.”
About the Author
Always been a fan of science fiction and fantasy. Been writing it for years and will until I am have been lowered into the ground. My first novel, “Mostly Human,” has been in my head and on paper for years. There are more stories of 4Pollack and working on the next one as fast as I can. Also, I have spread my areas into urban fantasy noir with “Janus City,” space Opera with “Blood for the Empress” and even military sci-fi with “I.S.S. Starkiller.” And now, I must go back to my scribblings.
Angela Hardwicke isn’t just any private eye. She’s a PI from
Eternity, the cosmic realm responsible for the design, creation, and
maintenance of the Universe.
When accountant Gil Haberseau hires her to find an intern with stolen
corporate files, Hardwicke soon finds herself embroiled in a deadly case of
lies, intrigue, and murder, clashing with vengeful gangsters, MinderNot
rallies, and a madman who’s come a long way to get what he
In Russ Colchamiro’s thrilling Sci-Fi mystery Crackle and Fire,
Angela Hardwicke learns once and for all that when it comes to being an
intergalactic private eye, there’s no telling what threats she may
face on-realm and off… including the demons that lurk deep within her
Bonus story included! The AI-themed Angela Hardwicke murder mystery,
“The Case of Jarlo’s Buried Treasure”
At first glance there’s nothing special about Wazon Road. Just another hipster club along another hipster side street along Cobblestone Alley. The usual multi-color strobe lights and flashing orbs are in sync with the electronic music.
Yet there’s an energy here. An expectancy. Heads are bobbing.
Maybe it’s the booze and sweat and even the sweet peppermint being pumped into the air. Or maybe it’s the drugs—I spot four dealers and five prostitutes I know—but I’ve been to enough of these events to know there’s something else going on.
Normally I would’ve gone classic Hardwicke—pinstripe suit, fedora—but not tonight. My outfit needs to fit the occasion.
Lucky for me I don’t give a comet’s gas what these club punks think, so I busted out my black leather pants, leather boots with buckle clasp, white T-shirt, maroon lipstick, and thin-cut leather jacket. It’s got enough pockets to conceal what I need, but flows easily with my movements. No gun, but I’ve got my taser if I need it.
And if Wazon Road is like every other hipster club, there will be enough action to keep even the most focused mind distracted.
Since it’s a private galaxy unveiling, there’s some deep pockets in attendance. Waylan Gir is sipping a martini by the bar. Sarna Ri’n is in the VIP section, no doubt surveying for another sucker to bilk, and Evelyn Aaer-Von-Maroo, in her royal blue crepe-knit trumpet dress with off-the-shoulder neckline, is making her way to management’s private box overlooking the club.
She’s worth a second look.
I hate being in nightclubs more than I hate eating P’linco mushrooms, but you pick up a ton of actionable intel there. When money’s in the room, leeches follow.
A confection of magenta, yellow, and emerald lasers crawl along the ceiling. The music intensifies as the speakers unleash a gorgeous alto voice, nearly operatic, the woman producing a wordless song, a rolling stream of escalating and de-escalating aahs.
Nini hands me a cold beer. “Cheers.” She clinks it against her pomegranate cocktail. “You look hot tonight. Nice to see you out of uniform.”
She’s one to talk. Whistler was right. Damn.
Nini’s rocking a silver cowl sequined dress with an open back and split side. It dangles from her small, black body. If she wants a friend tonight, she’s getting one. She works long shifts in the ER covered in every fluid that can come out of a person’s body, but when she’s off duty, she’s glam all the way.
“I’m looking for Strident Eyes,” I say. “I bet there’s someone in the management box, but I can’t get up there.”
Nini raises her eyebrows, hands me her drink. She lets her hands fall along her hips, shuffles her dress, and puckers her ruby-painted lips. She’s even got my motor running. She winks at me.
“I saw Evie von M up there. I’ll give it whirl.”
Eighty or so guests undulate on the dance floor. Magenta lights flow over them. I stop a barback as he loads a black tub of discarded drink glasses, soggy napkins, chewed-up straws, and an empty prophylactic pill bottle.
“Strident Eyes,” I say. “You seen?”
He broods, as if I’m overlooking the obvious. I slip him a few credits. The barback gestures with his head. “Over there. By the tables.”
“I see ’em.”
He pulls away into a streak of light, revealing a MinderNot tattoo on his forearm.
“Nice ink. How goes the rebellion?”
“It’s not a rebellion,” he huffs indignantly “It’s a statement. The Minders need to unfuck E-Town before E-Town fucks us. If they don’t, we know once and for all there are no Minders. It’s the great big lie. Total con job.”
“One person’s lie is another person’s mantra. Sometimes the reverse. And usually… both at the same time.”
“Be ignorant if you want. But this town is fucked up. Way more than usual. If the Minders are really running the place… then run it. If not, we gotta tear this muthafucka down and start doing shit our own way. Fuck the Minders. They’re already fucking us.”
Ah, youth. So much angst and nowhere to stick it. They’re still too young to accept that responsibility isn’t a dirty word, but rather one of the most critical elements of self-worth. Yet they’re old enough to have learned that life is a helluva lot harder than they ever thought it would be. So they pick a new boogieman and call it a cause.
The MinderNots are pushing back against the forces of the Universe, convinced anything they can say, think, feel, or do will change the fabric of Existence.
That the MinderNots can exert control.
Who knows? Maybe they can. Wouldn’t be the craziest thing I’ve seen.
But this guy’s right about one thing. The Minders do need to get their shit together.
I’m about to make my way over to the Strident Eyes table when the club goes dark. There’s a collective murmur, then silence.
Normally I’d switch on my plasma sensor contact lenses that enable me to see and identify various particles floating in the air. Another one of Bernice’s little toys. But I forgot to put them in. I also forgot the scout orbs they synch to. They’re damn useful when doing recon. Roll them on the floor and they give a ground-up view of any room. Always nice to know what you’re walking into.
I reach for my leather jacket. With a press on the zipper, the teeth doubling as a fluorescent green glowstick—thanks again, Bernice.
A hiss of steam emerges from the center of the room, pushing everyone back. Outlined in purple fluorescent light, a square reveals itself on the floor. Ten feet away, another purple outline.
With an electrum hum, white panes alight within the purple-outlined squares. Platforms rise.
Standing atop the squares, one each, are a man and a woman.
Bindu and Barkley. The galaxy designers.
About the Author
Russ Colchamiro is also the author of the rollicking sci-fi adventure,
Crossline, the zany sci-fi/fantasy backpacking series Finders Keepers,
Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, editor of the sci-fi-themed mystery
anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, and co-author and co-editor of Murder
in Montague Falls, a noir-inspired collection of novellas.
Russ is also the creator and host of Russ’s Rockin’
Rollercoaster podcast, where he has interviewed several NY Times and USA
Today best-selling sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery authors. Russ has also
contributed short stories to more than a dozen sci-fi and fantasy
He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children.
For more on Russ and Russ’s Rockin’ Rollercoaster, visit
www.russcolchamiro.com, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @AuthorDudeRuss,
‘like’ his Facebook author page
www.facebook.com/RussColchamiroAuthor, and watch his podcast on YouTube at
These are dark stories that will make you wonder, think and hopefully
appreciate life if it ever gets back to normal again. Welcome to the worlds
I created and learn about the odd relationships and people that experience
life in ways you might not want to endure. What if your life was not your
own? What if you had to conform to the laws and mores of others? Each story
is unique unto itself and each will give you pause for thought I hope
as you enter the worlds I created.
WHAT IF? FRAN LEWIS
These are stories just to entertain, and were put together to share with readers. My sister Marcia always said to be original and try new things and new ventures. She is the reason I write and created my YA series, my non-fiction books, and why I heard her voice in my head saying, “Give it a shot.”
These are dark stories that will make you wonder, think, and hopefully appreciate life if it ever gets back to normal again. Welcome to unusual worlds, thought provoking stories, and one poem that will make you wonder about life and relationships in general. What if the world was in a different place? What if your life was not your own? Think about this as you read each story, and decide how you would react to living in some of these different worlds. What If?
One Race: One World: The Year 2050
It was now 2050 and the world had really changed. There were no more planes or trains. All you needed to do was think about being somewhere and you were there. The government, in order to save money on gas and fuel, had banned cars, buses, and any means of transportation, and implanted chips in everyone’s arms that helped transport them to wherever they wanted to go, including the past.
A huge explosion had occurred, and all that was left in the world were twenty countries, with only twelve hundred people in each country. Most people had not survived the explosion, which had caused most of the countries to just disappear into space forever. No one really knew if anyone was out there or if these people survived somewhere, and no one really cared enough to find out.
One man called The Ruler headed all the countries, and assigned one person as the Chief of Law and Enforcement in each country. Under this person, five people helped to enforce the rules and the laws.
Then, one miserable day, someone decided there were too many wars, too many hate crimes, too many people being killed on the streets, and too much traffic and congestion on the highways. The government hired several scientists to find a solution to the problem, and that was how everyone in the entire world wound up multicolored.
Because of all the wars and fighting and hate that took place in the past, the government created a way to eliminate the many different races in the world and opted for only one. Everyone looked the same. Our faces might have looked a little different, but our skin colors were the same—multicolored. They did this so that no one would insult, mock, or hurt anyone because of their skin color. They eliminated houses of worship so that everyone was nonsectarian, and no one would be discriminated against. However, what they could not eliminate were our thoughts and desires to make changes in our lives, even though they tried.
Everyone that lived here had a job that paid the same amount. No one, no matter what they did or what career they chose, was paid more than anyone else. We never had to worry about being laid off. Unless we decided to move somewhere else our job stayed the same, and there was no room for advancement—ever. Everyone did the same thing every day. Nothing changed. Life was supposed to be anger free, insult free, and most of all, calm and tranquil. HOW DULL AND BORING! (OH! I am not supposed to say that. Opinions are not allowed here.)
One morning I got up and got dressed to go to my boring job as an accountant with the only accounting firm in this city. I went over the books daily, entered my accounts in their daily ledgers, and did taxes for some of the companies in this city. It was grunt work, and nothing exciting ever happened at work or anywhere else.
Walking to work as usual, I began remembering how it was only twenty years ago when there were cars, trains, and people running and yelling for cabs and trains to wait for them at the station. I missed the newspaper people on the street and the vendors selling hot coffee and bagels from their pushcarts. Those were the days. I loved the way people had looked and the different races and nationalities that lived here. Learning from other people was what made life exciting.
Then the unexpected happened. A new family with two children moved in down the street from me. These two kids were not going to conform to our way of thinking, and decided it was time to shake things up—and they did. One morning when going to school they each wore something other than the school’s drab gray uniform. The girl wore a pink and green dress with flowers, and the boy wore something blue, and a shirt that said, “I hate being the same. Different Rules.”
This did not go over well, and they were taken into custody by the guards in their school and promptly suspended. This did not stop them. They started screaming and yelling all sorts of words we had not heard before. “One race is not what we are supposed to be. I hate this planet. I hate all of you.”
I could not believe my ears. This was grounds for banishment into the Devoid Zone. These two children had painted stars all over their faces. Their younger sister decided to paint her face one color. Who in today’s world had a face that was one color? Everyone here looked and dressed the same. It prevented jealousy, arguments, and fashion wars. How dare they go against the laws of this state?
Walking to school they had met several of their friends, who just ran away from them. They were afraid of what might happen to them if they were seen with anyone that was different. Kids were not supposed to make any decisions, and neither should the adults.
The person in charge of handling this case was the police chief, who had a force of about twenty-five officers for the entire country. This was the first time a serious crime had been committed where banishment might be the final sentence for these children and their parents. It was not that people didn’t steal or try to hurt others, but for the most part in this country, where nothing changed and our days and nights were exactly the same, it was rare that the police were needed.
Police Chief Robbie got the call from one of his officers who had spotted the two children running down the street, yelling, “Down with being the same. Different is in. This is stupid. I want to dress the way I want and not the anyone tells me to.” This would never do. They could not be allowed to think for themselves. What would happen if everyone in all the twenty countries decided to change things? What would happen if everyone in these countries decided to think for him or herself?
Police Chief Robbie and three of his officers arrested the entire family that night. These people would ruin their perfect country. Just think: Children would start to ask questions in school. Children might learn from other kids the right things, and maybe even the wrong things, to do. Cars and buses might be brought back, and then there would be too much pollution and noise.
I loved having the chip in my arm, just thinking about where I wanted to go and instantly getting there. If everyone looked different and people had a voice in the government, there would be wars, fighting, and arguing, and the world would go back to what it was before the mass explosion.
You decide: How do we get a little of both? Wars are horrible and everyone gets hurt on both sides. Hate is awful, and no one wins.
What do you think? Just think—2050 is not too far away.
About the Author
Fran Lewis is the host of MJ network on Blog talk radio and is a reviewer
for most publishing companies. Just reviews is her sight. Fran is a reading
and writing staff developer who worked with students for 36 years in a New
York City Public School. She is a member Marquis Who’s Who, Cambridge
Who’s Who and Who’s Who of America’s Professionals.
The world you know is dead. We did this to ourselves.
The epidemic struck at the end of the Third World War. Fighting over oil,
power, and religion, governments ignored the rise of an
antibacterial-resistant plague. In just five years, the Earth was
annihilated. Only one city survived—Etyom—a frozen hellhole in northern
Siberia, engulfed in endless conflict.
The year is 2251.
Two groups emerged from the ashes of the old world. Within the walled
city of Lower Etyom dwell the Robusts—descendants of the poor who were
immune to the New Black Death. Above them, in a metropolis of pristine
platforms called lillipads, live the Graciles—the progeny of the
superrich, bio-engineered to resist the plague.
Mila Solokoff is a Robust who trades information in a world where knowing
too much can get you killed. Caught in a deal gone bad, she’s forced to
take a high-risk job for a clandestine organization hell-bent on
Demitri Stasevich is a Gracile with a dark secret—a sickness that, if
discovered, will get him Ax’d. His only relief is an illegal narcotic
produced by the Robusts, and his only means of obtaining it is a journey
to the arctic hell far below New Etyom.
Thrust together in the midst of a sinister plot that threatens all life
above and below the cloud line, Mila and Demitri must master their demons
and make a choice—one that will either salvage what’s left of the human
race or doom it to extinction …
Bronze Medal Winner — 2019
Independent Publisher Book Awards — Science Fiction
Four years have passed since the lillipads fell and Etyom slipped into
darkness. The New Black Death has mutated again, spreading to near
epidemic proportions. What little order existed in Earth’s last city has
disintegrated into chaos.
Rippers roam the Vapid, robbing and leaving their victims butchered. The
Robusts have spilled out of their broken enclaves and hide in any dark
corner that will conceal them. Meanwhile, the elite Graciles, fallen from
their pristine towers in the sky, have all mysteriously disappeared.
Demitri is a prisoner in his own mind. His demon, Vedmak—now known as the
Vardøger—is manipulating Demitri’s body to execute a secret plan far more
disastrous than even the Gracile Leader dared.
Mila, her status among the fractured resistance elevated to that of
Paladyn—a protector of the people—leads the fight against zealots intent
on destroying what little remains of Etyom. It is a responsibility she
never wanted, a calling that prevents her from doing what she truly
Yet, Mila should be careful of what she longs. Caught between
annihilation and loyalties that refuse to die, she must reconcile a single
immutable truth: following your heart comes at a price.
No matter how badly I want it to be different this time, in the end I still die.
We all do.
I lie on the cot, cold sweat clinging to my skin, arms raised to my face, stuck like a marionette tangled in its own strings. The dream feels so real. Another breath—count it out. In, two, three, four. Out, two, three, four. My heart slows, my mind no longer caught in the grip of the terrifying dream: a battle in which I play a critical role, yet I’m no soldier. This nightmare stalks me night after night, and even though I know I’m dreaming, I’m powerless to prevent the inevitable—the coming of Death.
The alarm on my personal electronic device, or PED, chirrups three times: 05:00. Not much sleep during the dark hours, again. I squeeze my shoulders, rubbing away the dull, muscular ache, and try to remember the fading embrace of a brother who now feels far away. A deep breath in, a slow exhale out. Get up already, Mila.
The frigid floor stings my bare feet. I shrug into a few less-than-clean garments and pull on my boots. The stale smell of the attire fills my throat. A shiver crawls across my skin. Sard, it’s cold. Gotta find something warmer. After rummaging through a pile of soiled clothes that lie in the corner of my room, I pull out a short leather jacket, its collar lined with fur—though from what animal is unclear. Shaking it hard a few times, I stare at the fur lining. I know the lice are in there somewhere. No time to try and clean it now. The jacket slips over my shoulders, the ice-cold collar snugging up around my neck. It stinks like dead rat.
My PED and my precious collection of writings go into my satchel, carefully so as not to crush the worn old picture that lies at the bottom. I fish out the faded image of Zevry and me. I can be no more than eight-years old in this photo. He’s grinning, as usual, with one arm wrapped around my shoulder. It was taken more than twenty years ago—yet little seems to have changed. Still have roughly cut short hair, now with a streak of color in the front. Still have a lean, almost boyish frame—though I’ve added some piercings and tattoos over the years in an attempt to distinguish myself. And then of course there’s my scar—cutting its pink path across my forehead and left eye. Slashed deep into my face not long after this picture was taken, it’s a permanent reminder you don’t walk the streets alone in a place like Etyom.
No time for this. I stuff the picture back into my satchel and head out the door without locking it. Anything worth stealing is already on me—and it wouldn’t take much to force the door to my closet-sized room anyway.
My boots creak on the rickety stairs leading into the bar below. It’s quiet now, a far cry from the bedlam hours earlier. Smoke hangs lazily in the air, like the memory of an old ghost.
“Come on, Clief.” I cough. “How do you breathe this stuff night after night?”
The man at the bar raises his head but continues to wipe down the counter. “Oh, it’s not that bad. Sorta like burning plastic.” He offers a tired smile. “Off so early?”
“Every day.” Still pinching my nose and squinting, I make my way toward the door. “I’m serious. Get some fresh air in here. That botchi is going to scramble what’s left of your tiny brain.”
He huffs out a laugh. “And that out there? That’s where you get the fresh air?”
“You know what I mean.”
As I push open the door, the wind hits me like a frozen punch in the mouth. Going out in this icy hell never gets easier. The streets are dark and cold, shadows upon shadows concealing the horrors of Etyom. It’s hard to believe this place was once considered a haven. Long ago, it was a vast, sprawling gulag-turned-mining community called Norilsk. Between World War III and the New Black Death, nearly nine billion people around the world lost their lives. Those who were left fled their homes and cities in search of someplace safer. For many, this barren hellhole was it. The conflict hadn’t fully destroyed the city, and the New Black Death struggled to take hold in the brutal Siberian climate. Survival was possible here.
A mass migration followed; the Russian government was helpless to stop it. Outside Norilsk, organized social structure, at least the way people understood it then, gasped its final dying breath. And then, silence. Communications with the outside world went dark. Zev said anyone who hadn’t died in the war succumbed to the New Black Death. It was then everyone here knew they were truly alone. They chose to isolate themselves, even renamed the city Etyom. My brother and I weren’t born for another few hundred years, the descendants of those who fought to survive. We’re fighters, Mil.Survivors.Nothing can keep us down. That’s why we’re called Robusts.
About Stu Jones
A veteran law enforcement officer, Stu Jones has worked as a beat cop, an
investigator, an instructor of firearms and police defensive tactics and
as a member and team leader of a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team.
About Gareth Worthington
Gareth Worthington BSc PhD EMBA is a trained marine biologist and holds a
doctorate in comparative endocrinology. Gareth works in the pharmaceutical
industry helping to educate the world’s doctors on new cancer