Articles for September 2014

Asylum Chapters 7 & 8, on deck! (Alpha Versions)

Chapters 7 and 8 are ready for your delectation. If you are on this list, you ought to have received them. If you were overlooked, as always, drop us a line or leave a comment.

Enjoy and fire when ready!

Chapter 7:

The gentle light of the new-risen sun filtered through the heavily laden boughs of the peach trees to fall across Mariwen’s face, accentuating the eloquent curve of her cheek and the perfect shape of her lips, while emphasizing the extraordinary warmth of her flawless latte complexion. It was a famous face—indeed, one of the most famous in charted space—revered for its beauty. Such an inadequate word. To say Mariwen Rathor was beautiful was to state that which was blindingly obvious, and indeed, the multitudes were blinded by the captivating trademark smile, the lambent sensuality, the penetrating look in the dark eyes that could kill at a mile. But those were merely the tools of her trade. The essence went much deeper than that; a sublime quality, richer and more invisible, that defied description—and it was gone. In its place was a look of peace, as serene as this perfect morning with the dew-scented air barely stirring and the tiny droplets on the leaves catching the light in a myriad rainbow glints.

To Antoine Rathor, standing at his sister’s shoulder as she gazed up at something that had caught her attention in the branches above, that was the cruelest cut of all. The peace was manufactured, the serenity medically induced. This early walk in the peach orchard was actually a medical exercise: Mariwen’s time sense remained dislocated and carefully planned excursions like this were calculated to steady her perception of the passing days and hours, and help her sort prior memories from present existence. …

Chapter 8:

Kris opened her locker and, reaching far back on the top shelf, took out the metal case there. It was somewhat bigger than the bronze boxes the CEF shipped off to the families of those killed in action, weighed about the same, and served a related purpose: safeguarding critical items, such as service records, and anything else the owner could fit into it. It was equipped with a recovery beacon and built to survive the most catastrophic events. Officers and enlisted alike called them DMBs: Dead Man’s Bank.

She set it on the compartment’s small desk and sitting, opened it with her ID tag. Most people’s DMB held a few mementos, maybe some credit chips, and for the pessimistic (or well-prepared, depending on one’s point of view) a last letter to be sent to family or friends. Other than her service records and a sheaf of official documents, Kris’s DMB held just two envelopes and a dented tin cup. …

Asylum Chapters 5 & 6 now ready! (Alpha versions)

The next two chapters are available to our loyal readers. If you have received the previous chapters, we should have sent you Chapters 5 and 6 by now. If you have not gotten them yet (and want them), email us or leave a comment. If you are new to the party, leave a comment and we’ll get you caught up.

Chapters 7 and 8 will be ready by the coming weekend.

Enjoy and keep in mind that we value your feedback!

Chapter 5:

“Heya, Captain! What the hell’s up now?”

Walking across the melt-rock paving of the open concourse that connected the flyer park with the rambling eyesore of Saarland District Headquarters (formerly a school, a casino, and—according to local legend—a brothel), behind which rose the steep stone-dotted scarps that threw the heat of the blue-white primary down on Port Lux, Minerva Lewis turned at the sound of the familiar voice.

“Hi, Anders. Wish I knew. What’ve you heard?”

A short lieutenant with a gymnast’s build, her company XO, sauntered up. “Seems we’ve been amalgamated.”


“Yeah, they brought the what’s left of the company here. Just got in a few hours ago.”

“Who with?”

“The 321st and a two platoons of the old 35th. They haven’t told you yet?”

“Nope. They sent this squirt around out of calling hours—too green to know you don’t pass out in a whore’s rack with your uniform on.”

“So he had seen a naked woman before.”

“Dunno. But he has now. Why?”

“They were still laughing about it when I reported to the new CO. Y’all made quite an impression, I gather. You’d think nobody ever pulled a gun on him neither.”

“Probably haven’t. Training ain’t shit these days.” …

Chapter 6:

Commander Trin Wesselby, Director, Pleiades Sector Intelligence Group, lay back against the mattress of a bed in a third-rate hostelry, located in the inaptly named Crystal City, and sighed. Nick Taliaferro, the retired Chief Inspector of the Nedaeman Bureau of Public Safety, lying next to her, emitted a self-satisfied chuckle. The tiny room, which existed for a single purpose and rented by the half-hour (with an hour minimum) was short on furniture, space, and everything else. The bed and a small lavatory niche took up most of it, and the appurtenances provided by the management were limited to three towels, one of which could be rigged across the niche’s entrance by guests with a yen for privacy. The floor would do as a place to put your clothes—if you wanted something more, you had no business being there. …

Asylum Chapters 3 & 4 ready for release! (Alpha versions)

The alpha versions of Chapters 3 & 4 are now available! We are releasing these chapters only as PDFs at this time. As before, if you’d like a copy, please leave a comment. We will email you the PDF unless you tell us otherwise. If you want to continue to receive the new alpha-version chapters as we release them, say so, and we’ll email them to you as they become available. (As much as we love to see comments here, we don’t see the need to make you ask for them each and every time.)

Enjoy and remember we love feedback! (Chapters 5 & 6 are on deck for early next week.)

Chapter 3:

Captain Minerva Lewis, CEF Marine Corps, opened her eyes to an insistent pounding. Blinking away the haze that was a remnant of the night before—three types of cognac, four varieties of scotch, and other drinks more dubious and less memorable—she identified the pounding as being from the door to their room, not her cranium. Sliding out from under the dark lean muscular arm that curved over her hips, she took her sidearm off an end table and cocked it while groping for her boots with the other hand.

“What the fuck?” her companion muttered, shaking sleep-tousled dark chestnut hair out of her light green eyes.

“Some dead asshole,” Lewis muttered. “Just doesn’t know it yet.” She slipped her boots on and stood, otherwise naked, while the woman behind her also retrieved a holstered weapon. The pounding redoubled. “Stay there. Watch my ass.” . . .

Chapter 4:

Forty-eight hours later, supported by a cocktail of carefully blended painkillers and duly admonished by the ship’s doctor about her immoderate behavior, Kris walked in the wardroom with one arm in a sling but under her own power. The nanocytes had done their ticklish work—a not exactly painful process but one that produced a singularly annoying crawling sensation—and were now breaking down and being flushed out of her system as fast as her overworked kidneys could manage. They had given her some pills to help with that along with strict instructions to scrupulously avoid rich food and strong drink—clearly someone’s idea of a bad joke.

In truth, it wasn’t as much of a joke as Kris had first thought. The atmosphere of rejoicing that flooded the carrier after the battle had been tempered by the loss of many friends, but it was rejoicing nonetheless. There was no shame in feeling elation at still being alive, and if there were friends to be mourned, that mourning could go forward just as well, or even better, in good fellowship and strong drink as in sorrow and tears. . . .

Are you feeling Alpha? (Updated)

10/5 Update:
We are progressing towards the beta draft, based on feedback from readers like you. Part 1 has been changed significantly as a result, so we will not we won’t be sending out the old, obsolete alpha chapters at this point.

Dear Readers,

We are finally ready to release the first sample chapters of the third book. Today, we are offering the Prologue and Chapters 1 and 2 to interested parties. Be advised that these are alpha drafts, and please adjust your expectations accordingly. We are releasing these chapters only as PDFs at this time. Given the early nature of the drafts, feedback is eagerly solicited! (And we are not amiss to having typos pointed out either.) If you’d like a copy, please leave a comment and let us know if you’d rather receive the PDF via email, or download it from the site. (Note: We will have to email you the link to download the PDF, as we are not posting those in public at this time. So please request the PDF only if you are okay with us contacting you via email.)

Below are brief excerpts from the beginning of each of the chapters.


It was make-and-mend day for the Halith Imperial Navy’s Kerberos Fleet, riding peacefully at grav anchor within the vast encircling embrace of Janin Station. Officially, it was a day of rest when the usual chores like ship drills, weapons exercises, sensor sweeps, and watch standing were suspended but in reality it was the busiest and least welcome of the eight days of the naval week that ruled the lives of Halith mariners—especially when the fleet was lying up at a comfortable port like Janin.

Watch standing and sensor sweeps were little more than formalities for a fleet at Janin: not only was it the second-largest free structure ever built by Man—only the astounding bulk of Kazanian Station, orbiting the prime world of Halith Evandor itself, surpassed it—but it was also the most heavily fortified place in existence. The station itself was unarmed (its real estate being too precious to waste on weapons), but the star system in which it resided was, in fact, one vast fortress. Hundreds of picket vessels ceaselessly patrolled the outer approaches to the system while a combination of light-speed and gravitic sensors that could detect incoming starships over a full day out provided warning. The inner system was protected by a multilayered network of hunter-killer satellites, and finally the station itself and it’s supporting moon base were guarded by a ring of monitors. …

Chapter 1:

The fighter ghosted up on the carrier, dark and quiet, showing only a faint ultraviolet nimbus from the leaky power plant. All around, the wreckage of battle orbited, mostly cooled by now to invisibility, but here and there floated brilliant star-like objects: the stasis bottles that contained the antimatter fuel for hypercapable warships. These beacons for the dead would shine for decades, or if they were massive enough—like those of the fleet carrier LSS Camperdown and the light carrier IHS Revanche, both of which had exploded with the loss of all hands—for centuries, casting their piercing blue-white light through the battlespace. Elsewhere, wounded leviathans wallowed in clouds of their own debris and crystallizing atmosphere: a thousand kilometers away to port, LSS Blenheim drifted, a swarm of consorts giving what aid they could while damage-control teams fought desperately to save the battleship’s life. Five hundred klicks below, the heavy cruiser LSS Jellicoe, tumbled helplessly, awaiting the coup de grâce that would blow her fusion bottles and add her star to the rest. Much nearer, LSS Ramillies, mauled but alive, worked frantically to clear her fouled desk and recover the last of her pilots.

In the cockpit of her fighter, Ensign Loralynn Kennakris could perceive none of this. Her forward screen was a scorched ruin, most of her instruments were hash—all she had left was the beacon indicator on her omni display. She kept an iron hand locked on the controls, waiting until she got close enough for her maser to be heard with what was left of her battery power. The range rings ran off the edge of the omni, one by one, much too slowly for her taste. As the last ring grew outwards, she keyed the mic.

“Trafalgar, this Echo 1-4. I’ve got a problem here.” …

(More of the beginning of Chapter 1 may be read here.)

Chapter 2:

Kris came to in sickbay, unable to move, her body suffused with a deep burning ache. A medical corpsman was hovering over her, intent on a scanner, and did not notice she was conscious until she tried to clear her throat.
“Hey,” he said with what he obviously thought was a reassuring smile.
“Wha . . . why . . .” She tried to force the words out but they would not come.
“Oh, nothing worry about,” the corpsman said, as he put a mask over her nose and mouth. Something sharp and bitterly cold shocked her throat and lungs. “We gave you a paralytic. Can’t have you moving until the assessment’s done. That’ll be a little bit.”
The vapor left a sour caustic aftertaste on her tongue but mucus clogging her throat was gone. She tried again. “Why . . . why’d . . . I pass out?” …

Chapters 3 and 4 will be released next week. We hope you enjoy!

That Glossary . . .

Gentle readers,

How useful are you finding the extensive glossary included in MWB? Should it be also included in Asylum? Or would it be better to offer it as a separate document through this site?

If the latter, what do you think of including a much shorter version in Asylum, focusing on new terms and personalities introduced in that book?

Weigh in! Your opinion counts!