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.
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. …
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.” …
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!