“Launch Sequence” cover reveal

Hey, all. Jeff Brown (http://www.jeffbrowngraphics.com) just finished the cover for “Launch Sequence”!

Launch Sequence is a two-part sequel to “End of the Line.” Right now, LS’s manuscript is in Sirena’s hands (my new editor/proofer) and it should be ready to publish within a week or two!

“Launch Sequence” – the sequel to the bitter, dark science fiction novel “End of the Line”

Launch Sequence – Chapter 5

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

FIVE

“Granite Base, this is Alpha-1. Launch Sequence stand-by.”

“Roger Alpha-1. Begin activation sequence.”

I listened to the comm chatter from Launch Control and the pilots while my goggles displayed vast amounts of information. The engine bay information window was bordered in red that turned to yellow as the Icarus’ power plant ramped up for blast-off. There were only two weapons pods, both defensive in nature, though I wondered how effective they would be should we pop out of the mountain only to find a thousand Kai warships waiting for us. I cycled through the acceleration creches, finding my parents’ two rows down from me, both a healthy green.

“Admiral Shaw, we’re cleared for launch,” the pilot’s voice said over the comm. Captain Jun was a female according to the display data next to her name, but she sounded like the gruffest, toughest Marine my brain could imagine.

“Roger that,” my father replied in a tight voice. “Let’s light ‘em up and get the hell off this rock ASAP.”

I turned my attention back to the engineering window. The fusion reactors had been steady at five percent until a few minutes ago when they began to slowly climb into the thirty percent range. I watched, holding my breath involuntarily, as the numbers inched into the low forties, then suddenly ramped up to ninety before leveling off and continuing their journey to one hundred. I expected the ship to vibrate or hum just like in all the movies, but I felt and heard nothing. I wasn’t sure if the gel in my creche was dampening any sensations. I could still hear the muffled noises of the last few sailors climbing into their own creches after securing the rest of the passengers. Continue reading

Launch Sequence – Chapter 4

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

FOUR

Mom and Dad talked for a while, though not before sending me off to a corner of the room to read. I had finally calmed down enough to begin once again daydreaming of the strange, shiny ship being prepped a dozen meters down the corridor from me. I felt ashamed that I had cried like a baby, but my mother forced me to admit I’d sneaked enough looks at the holos on the Wire to have a terrifying grasp of what the Kai did to their enemies.

Both Mom and Dad admitted to being just as frightened. When I asked how come they didn’t seem scared, my dad looked away when my mom said they had both done their share of crying over the last few years and didn’t have much—if any—tears left in them. The thought of crying so much that I couldn’t cry ever again scared me almost as much as what I’d seen the Kai do to our colonies. The only thing more terrifying, according to Dad, was how once the Wire went dead, truly awful things happened.

There were rumors the aliens harvested humans for food, used them in disturbing genetic experiments, even dissolving every living person in giant vats of acid. The tales that made me shiver were the ones describing how the Kai set everyone on fire.

I’d burned myself with a nanosolder tool when I was eight. It took almost a month for the wound to completely heal, and hurt even with the pain blockers the doctor prescribed. I shivered again at the thought of that kind of pain all over my body. Continue reading

Launch Sequence – Chapter 3

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

THREE

I tried to raise a single eyebrow again, as this was certainly different than any of the True Responsibilities I’d imagined.

“Hey, good one!” he said with a laugh, and it even made my mom chuckle. “You almost got it.” He changed back to Serious Dad. “Denny, you don’t pay much attention to the news, do you?”

“Not really,” I answered.

Adult news was usually boring unless it had footage from one of the colony worlds under attack, or an important space battle (but those were typically labeled “disasters”). Mom never let me watch any of those news stories, and had done her best to firewall my comm so I couldn’t pull grisly details (and pictures or video) from the Wire. I knew why she didn’t want me to watch them, at least I thought I did, and it had to do with her own experiences in combat.

Mostly, the news always sounded like a bunch of voices all talking at once. Today in blah blah blah, this bad thing happened, a lot more bad stuff happened, here’s the weather and then sports. I did my best to tune it out, but because of my accelerated schooling, thanks to both of my parents being officers in the military, I knew a lot more than most of my peers about what was happening in the galaxy.

I didn’t seek out the news that most adults paid attention to, but I didn’t ignore it either. A lot of the stuff going on around the galaxy made no sense to me for a long time, but I’d learned a lot of “context” (a concept I still struggled with) which made connections between people, places, and events easier to understand. Ever since I found out about Mom and what happened to her at Janus, I paid more attention than ever to any news that entered the small bubble of my world. Continue reading

Launch Sequence – Chapter 2

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

TWO

The elevator opened up into a cavern so large I couldn’t see the far wall. Part of what was blocking my view of the other wall was a starship. I didn’t know how I could know that based on the limited section of it that I could see, but inside, I knew. There was an army of men and women in white lab coats scurrying around the ship like ants around their queen. I looked up toward the ceiling, but there didn’t seem to be one. The walls rose straight up until the darkness swallowed everything. The ship didn’t look like any ship I had ever seen before. It wasn’t that it was so alien that I couldn’t have imagined it, but it was just so… different.

I loved science fiction, both books and movies, though I hadn’t been allowed to see any of the scarier adult versions. I thought I had an idea of what every ship ever conceived of would or could look like. This one didn’t resemble a rocket, the old NASA space shuttles, nor even the Terran Navy’s almost uncountable variations in ships. It didn’t look like any of the Kai ships I had seen on the news and in documentaries.

As I walked along the new yellow line in the floor that began to glow once we stepped out of the elevator, I tried to figure out where the cockpit was, where the engines were, where the airlock for letting crew members in and out could possibly be on the massive vessel before me. The ship looked like a giant, slightly flattened egg with a polished silver outer hull that returned weird images of us as we walked by it. The reflective surface made me think of a funhouse mirror in the way that it distorted every shape it captured. Twice as we continued toward wherever Mom and the yellow line led us, I noticed that some of the reflections would simply wink out, almost as if we had become vampires for a few seconds. Continue reading

Launch Sequence I – Chapter 1

“Launch Sequence I” is the first story from “Genesis-6,” the (much more uplifting!) sequel to “End of the Line.”

 

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5

*

ONE

My mother held my hand so tight it began to hurt. She gave me a soothing look, but I could see the fear in her eyes. I didn’t really understand what was happening, but I knew all of the adults were scared. The thunderous booms that filtered down through the underground complex resonated regularly. Every thump caused Mom to jump a little, and each time she would squeeze my hand even tighter.

“Mom, you’re hurting me,” I said after another powerful explosion made the world around us vibrate.

“I’m sorry, honey,” she replied, relaxing her grip, then giving me a quick hug while holding a small smile on her face for a few seconds. “I’m just nervous.”

Another boom, this time louder than any previous, rumbled down the walls. I could hear other children crying, whimpering in the line all around us, along with the voices of parents doing their best to soothe them. Just like my mother was doing for me. I wondered again if I was dreaming.

—|—

A week ago, I was playing in the park, beating my friends at video games, and practicing with my school’s basketball team. At twelve years old, I didn’t pay much attention to the adult things like the news unless my father left the tablet screen open to the cartoons, though some of the cartoons made no sense. Chancellor Ryley was a woman who looked almost like my mother, and I didn’t understand why some cartoons showed her as a donkey, or why the aliens we were at war with were stuffing apple pies into her exaggeratedly large mouth.

Sometimes I liked to read the sports section. Earth was two hundred light years away, but they had all of the best sports leagues, as some sports couldn’t be played on colony worlds if the gravity or atmosphere wasn’t right. Once in a while my own name was in the local sports section, along with those of my teammates. Sometimes we got our pictures in the news as well. My father printed a hardcopy of the time I made the news by scoring the winning basket in the championship game when I was eight.

It was a distraction from the hushed whispering—sometimes even shouting and shoving—the adults did over what was happening in the Coalition. All of us kids were told not to worry about any of that, only to focus on the next game, the next day, the next homework assignment. It was easy for me, though it made me uncomfortable around certain adults, as they sometimes forgot to stop worrying and focus on the next game, day, or work assignment. Continue reading

Story Counter – updated 7/1/2016

Rough draft / editing status

Transfer – 100% / 100% edit (131,150 words / 400-ish pages)
The Big BhangPUBLISHED!
CountdownPUBLISHED!
Genesis-6:
1. Launch Sequence I – 100% rough draft / 0% edit (29,245 words)
2. Launch Sequence II – 45% rough draft / 0 edit (40,000 words est.)
3. Genesis-6 – 15% rough draft / 0% edit (unknown – 75,000 words est.?)
4. Killswitch – 65% rough draft / 0% edit (25,000 words est.)
5. Rebirth – 35% rough draft / 0% edit (25,000 words est.)
Extraction – 66% rough draft / 10% edit (125,000 words est.)
Razor’s Edge – 25% rough draft / 0% edit (60,000 words est.)
It’s Harder This Way – 100% rough draft / 25% edit (30,000 words)

(Eh… I’m on a bit of a terror at the moment and books are finally getting knocked out)
(and yes, that IS correct… “It’s Harder This Way” is the sequel to “It’s Better This Way” and it’s getting written right now. Should be done with the rough draft by the end of March. Full novel!)

Exchange Rate: 8-Jeff

Exchange Rate: 1-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 2-Allyson
Exchange Rate: 3-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 4-Allyson
Exchange Rate: 5-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 6-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 7-Allyson

8 – Jeff

+2

“Mr. Charles?” Becky asked. Jeff’s head jerked toward her. “Mr. Charles, Dr. Maser wishes to see you.”

“Thanks, Becky,” Jeff said, waving her off.

He’d been daydreaming. His concentration level was almost zero, and had been since he’d woken up after saving the girl’s life. Allyson’s life. For some reason, he felt drawn to her, as if some magnetic force kept trying to orient him toward her. It definitely wasn’t a sexual feeling, but it was somehow intimate. As if she’d left a piece of herself in him, and that piece had taken his body over and wouldn’t allow him to function as a normal human until reunited with her.

Jeff rose and grabbed his jacket, sliding his arms into it. He buttoned the front of it as he left his office and headed down the oak paneled hall to Dr. Theodore Walden Maser’s corner office. He stood outside, took a deep breath, then knocked on the door.

“Enter,” Dr. Maser’s muffled voice said.

Jeff opened the door and stepped in, closing it when Dr. Maser, Ted, he reminded himself now that he was a partner, waved at it. He stood between two chairs in front of Ted’s polished cherry desk. The older, graying man behind it waved again for him to sit down. Continue reading

Exchange Rate: 7-Allyson

Exchange Rate: 1-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 2-Allyson
Exchange Rate: 3-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 4-Allyson
Exchange Rate: 5-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 6-Jeff

7 – Allyson

“Full name?” Dr. Mahesh asked, her pen pressed to the sheet in the manila folder, eyes on Allyson.

“L’Tasha Allyson Mosley.”

“Age?”

“Fifteen.”

“Address?”

“1126 North Clark Circle in Borah.”

“L’Tasha, do you know why you are here?”

“It’s Allyson.”

“I’m sorry?”

“My name. It’s Allyson. No one here calls me L’Tasha.”

Dr. Mahesh frowned. “Why not?”

“Because it’s too black.”

“I see.” The doctor wrote notes on her intake sheet, glancing up every few seconds to gauge the teenage girl’s interest in what she was writing. Allyson stared ahead, but it wasn’t a glazed, fixed stare, the kind she’d seen too many times from patients who had threatened or attempted suicide.

Allyson finally looked over at the doctor behind the desk. “Do you?” she asked.

“Allyson, I’m an Indian doctor in southern Idaho. When I’m not at work, I wear a plain sari and receive odd and sometimes unpleasant stares from others. On special occasions, I wear a Paithani, a special, very colorful sari with little bits of cosmetic glass and beads. I imagine that even you would stare at such a sight.” Dr. Mahesh’s voice was soft, her accent very light, and her expression was one of genuine sympathy. “I’m too dark,” the doctor continued, looking down at her hand, “so I have a good idea of where that leaves you.” Continue reading

Exchange Rate: 6-Jeff

Exchange Rate: 1-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 2-Allyson
Exchange Rate: 3-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 4-Allyson
Exchange Rate: 5-Jeff
Exchange Rate: 6-Jeff

6 – Jeff

Jeff pulled the BMW into the garage, making sure he gave Karina’s Honda enough room to get the driver’s side door open. He shut the car off and punched the remote, barely hearing the garage door descend from within the silence his luxury sedan provided. Jeff tried to get his emotions under control, but his mind ran in a thousand directions at once. He felt as if he were spinning out of control and reached out to grab the steering wheel with both hands. When the world and his brain only slowed down a little, he gripped the steering wheel as hard as he could, his thoughts only slowing down long enough to marvel at how white his knuckles were.

The instant he felt a tear slide out of his left eye, he crashed, his emotions boiling over. Within seconds, Jefferson Taylor Charles was a complete wreck, his wracking sobs, snot, and tears making him feel as if he were having a seizure from an allergic reaction. A small part of his mind, the strange, darkly humorous part, let him know that he most certainly was having an allergic reaction. He’d never really wondered if he was allergic to attempted suicide, but the black humor that was rooted deep inside him assured him that he’d passed that allergy test with flying colors. And tears. And snot.

Jeff was so lost within his inner breakdown that he didn’t notice the door to laundry room open. Karina stood in the doorway staring at him. She thought at first he might be listening to an interesting story on the radio, even at one in the morning. They were both NPR junkies, and she’d had to deal with Jessica’s incessant complaints more than a few times after being forced to sit in the car for ten minutes longer than normal while a story on “All Things Considered” or “Fresh Air” wrapped up.

She took two steps into the garage, angry it had taken him another hour to get from The Rest to their home, less than six miles away. Her initial fear that something terrible had happened to him during the short drive home was quickly replaced by the typical annoyance that he’d most likely received a phone call and hadn’t paid attention to the time. For Jeff, for any lawyer (as she soon found out after talking with the spouses of Jeff’s co-workers), it was an unfortunate side effect of the job. Continue reading