THE ETERNAL EMPEROR
Hard to find though it might be, The Covenanter was packed arses to carapace with beings from every corner of the Empire. Be they ET or human, they all seemed to be having a loud and boozy good time.
Mahoney even saw traditional enemies like the Suzdal and Jochians competing in round-buying generosity. The main thing seemed to be that they were all space rats together, from greasy engine devils and brawny bosun’s mates to tight-fisted merchant captains and rumpled techs, who all seemed to be wearing glasses, whether they had faces or not.
The bar was decorated Antique Space style, with mysterious bits of machinery, oddly shaped tools, and colorful emblems and banners from the distant past where – as the old timers liked to say – beings were beings and interstellar jumps frequently ended in maiming and even death.
As Mahoney followed Janiz the crowd magically parted before her. And what a magical sight she made: all that bounty contained in a short emerald green tunic, cut low to better display her creamy white charms. Long legs sheathed in thigh-high boots. Fiery red hair spilling over pale shoulders.
On one side was a long bar - made of a material so black it seemed to devour light rather than reflect it. In the center was a jumble of tables and chairs of both human and ET design. Booths lined the other three walls.
One of the booths, Mahoney noted, had a drawn curtain. As they approached he spotted a brass place plate at the base, which read: Booth C. Reserved.
Janiz called out, “Raschid, honey. Your guest is here.”
The curtain parted.
Lounging in the booth was The Eternal Emperor.
“Slide on in, Ian,” the Emperor said. “The narcobeer’s fine.”
The Emperor’s spymaster grinned. “Music to an Irishman’s heart, boss,” he said and slid on in.
As chief of the Emperor’s Mercury Corps – along with its super secret blackarts ancillary, Mantis Section – Mahoney was one of the few people who knew that his boss was wont to – as he put it – “go walkabout” without any notice.
He’d disguise himself as an ordinary citizen. He favored the guise of a chief engineer, hinting that such a role came from his very distant past.
How distant? No one really knew. All histories that dealt with the subject strictly avoided that sort of speculation – much less scholarly study. There were rumors – the sort of rumors only a spymaster would hear – that certain historians who had expressed interest in that area were soon contacted by a rich benefactor who steered them into some other fascinating subject of study. Years of fully-funded research guaranteed. The few who resisted in the spirit of academic freedom tended to disappear, and never be heard from again.
The walkabout business was the Emperor’s way of what he called “rejoining the herd.”
“What everybody’s really talking about, is what I want to know,” he’d say, when letting down his hair to booze with Mahoney.
“Are they working? Kids doing okay? I know they think the government’s full of drakh – and it sure as clot is – but are they really mad about it? Or just blowing steam? I want to see it up close and personal, not through the filter of one of Parliament’s functionaries.”
And so the supreme ruler Mahoney was presently looking at did not resemble anyone the royal courtiers of Prime World had ever seen. He was wearing a merchantman’s uniform that had survived many orbits, with tattered Chief Engineer tabs on either shoulder and a greasy Space Workers Union seniority badge pinned to his chest.
He was a big man. Handsome. Age? A drinking buddy might guess he was thirty five going on forty. Strong features, marked by steely blue eyes that had a slight Asian cast to them.
When the Emperor spoke, he sometimes used unfamiliar words – words that when Mahoney looked them up were last spoken in antiquity. Sometimes when asked a question he’d drift off into extended thought, as if the question had triggered some memory so buried in the distant past that he’d have to peel back the layers century by century.
His moods could be mercurial, although he was always deadly calm in a crisis. At the moment, the Emperor looked cheery – a man looking forward to a boozy night on the town. Ending with some nice soft and fragrant company.
Janiz spoke up, startling Mahoney, who’d momentarily forgotten she was there.
She said, “You look like you could use another, Rashid, honey.” She turned to Ian. “How about you, sweetie? What’s your preference?”
Mahoney nodded at the Emperor’s setup. “Same as the boss,” he said. “Narcobeer with a synthalk back.”
Janiz laughed. Ian liked the sound of it. She said, “You a barrel bombardier too, honey?”
Mahoney frowned. “Barrel bombardier?”
“That’s what he calls them,” she said, nodding at the Emperor. “Barrel bombs. Drops the shot glass into the mug of beer – bombs away! So I named him the Barrel Bombardier.”
They all laughed and then Janiz collected the Emperor’s empty glasses and ankled toward the bar. Mahoney couldn’t help but gaze lustfully at those swaying hips.
“She’s all that… and more, Ian,” the Eternal Emperor said, reading his thoughts.
Mahoney swung back, feeling a bit guilty. He said, “Is she… uh.. I mean are you and she… you know…”
“On and off,” the Emperor said. “More off than on, these days. We had quite the fling twenty years or so ago. Met her on walkabout. She was taking business classes, or some such, by day. Little Joygirl work at night. Down on her luck when we met. Run over by a bad choice in boyfriends, or something. I was down myself. It was a bad time in the throneroom, I’ll tell you that.
“Anyway, we clicked. Got her a place. Some off-the-books government work. And told her I’d mostly be off on merchant runs and I’d see her when I could. Meanwhile, she could do what she liked.
“Eventually the passion cooled, as they say, but we remained friends. So I set her up in business.” He waved around the room. “We own it together with me playing the part of the very silent partner.”
Janiz was coming back through the crowd, carrying a tray of drinks.
Mahoney said, “So you and she… are… uh…”
The Emperor laughed. “Sorry, Ian. Out of luck tonight.”
He grew serious. “They’re getting to me, Ian.”
Mahoney didn’t have to ask who They were. “Yeah, I know boss.”
“And Janiz… Well, she has the way of…”
He let the rest trail off as Janiz reached them and started unloading her tray. She looked at Mahoney. “You look lonely, honey,” she said. “Some silly woman disappoint you?”
Mahoney sighed. “I wish,” he said.
But then, the whole situation suddenly struck Mahoney as incredibly funny. He started laughing and kept on laughing until it turned to coughing and the Emperor was slapping him on the back.
“Drink up, Ian,” he said. “A barrel bomb will cure what ails you.”
And so he did. Dropping the shotglass of synthalk into the mug of narcobeer, then chugging it down in one long pull.
He set the empty mug down. Burped. “I’ve taken my medication,” he said, “and I feel much better now.”
More laughter. Finally, Janiz ankled away to tend her other customers.
Then the Emperor reached under the table and palmed a button. The curtain closed and all sound from the outside vanished. Mahoney realized this was state of the state of the art security stuff. Impervious to electronic penetration.
The Eternal Emperor leaned across the table. “Now, tell me, Ian,” he said. “What the clot are we going to do about those damned mutineers?”
NEXT: THE MUTINEERS
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THE TIMURA TRILOGY: When The Gods Slept, Wolves Of The Gods and The Gods Awaken. This best selling fantasy series now available as trade paperbacks, e-books (in all varieties) and as audiobooks. Visit The Timura Trilogy page for links to all the editions.
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MY HOLLYWOOD MISADVENTURES
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A NATION AT WAR WITH ITSELF: In Book Three Of The Shannon Trilogy, young Patrick Shannon is the heir-apparent to the Shannon fortune, but murder and betrayal at a family gathering send him fleeing into the American frontier, with only the last words of a wise old woman to arm him against what would come. And when the outbreak of the Civil War comes he finds himself fighting on the opposite side of those he loves the most. In The Wars Of The Shannons we see the conflict, both on the battlefield and the homefront, through the eyes of Patrick and the members of his extended Irish-American family as they struggle to survive the conflict that ripped the new nation apart, and yet, offered a dim beacon of hope.
LUCKY IN CYPRUS: IT'S A BOOK!
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Here's what readers say about Lucky In Cyprus:
- "Bravo, Allan! When I finished Lucky In Cyprus I wept." - Julie Mitchell, Hot Springs, Texas
- "Lucky In Cyprus brought back many memories... A wonderful book. So many shadows blown away!" - Freddy & Maureen Smart, Episkopi,Cyprus.
- "... (Reading) Lucky In Cyprus has been a humbling, haunting, sobering and enlightening experience..." - J.A. Locke, Bookloons.com
NEW: THE AUDIOBOOK VERSION OF
THE HATE PARALLAX
THE HATE PARALLAX: What if the Cold War never ended -- but continued for a thousand years? Best-selling authors Allan Cole (an American) and Nick Perumov (a Russian) spin a mesmerizing "what if?" tale set a thousand years in the future, as an American and a Russian super-soldier -- together with a beautiful American detective working for the United Worlds Police -- must combine forces to defeat a secret cabal ... and prevent a galactic disaster! This is the first - and only - collaboration between American and Russian novelists. Narrated by John Hough. Click the title links below for the trade paperback and kindle editions. (Also available at iTunes.)
THE SPYMASTER'S DAUGHTER:
A new novel by Allan and his daughter, Susan
After laboring as a Doctors Without Borders physician in the teaming refugee camps and minefields of South Asia, Dr. Ann Donovan thought she'd seen Hell as close up as you can get. And as a fifth generation CIA brat, she thought she knew all there was to know about corruption and betrayal. But then her father - a legendary spymaster - shows up, with a ten-year-old boy in tow. A brother she never knew existed. Then in a few violent hours, her whole world is shattered, her father killed and she and her kid brother are one the run with hell hounds on their heels. They finally corner her in a clinic in Hawaii and then all the lies and treachery are revealed on one terrible, bloody storm ravaged night.
BASED ON THE CLASSIC STEN SERIES by Allan Cole & Chris Bunch: Fresh from their mission to pacify the Wolf Worlds, Sten and his Mantis Team encounter a mysterious ship that has been lost among the stars for thousands of years. At first, everyone aboard appears to be long dead. Then a strange Being beckons, pleading for help. More disturbing: the presence of AM2, a strategically vital fuel tightly controlled by their boss - The Eternal Emperor. They are ordered to retrieve the remaining AM2 "at all costs." But once Sten and his heavy worlder sidekick, Alex Kilgour, board the ship they must dare an out of control defense system that attacks without warning as they move through dark warrens filled with unimaginable horrors. When they reach their goal they find that in the midst of all that death are the "seeds" of a lost civilization.
TALES OF THE BLUE MEANIE
NOW AN AUDIOBOOK!
Venice Boardwalk Circa 1969
In the depths of the Sixties and The Days Of Rage, a young newsman, accompanied by his pregnant wife and orphaned teenage brother, creates a Paradise of sorts in a sprawling Venice Beach community of apartments, populated by students, artists, budding scientists and engineers lifeguards, poets, bikers with a few junkies thrown in for good measure. The inhabitants come to call the place “Pepperland,” after the Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” Threatening this paradise is "The Blue Meanie," a crazy giant of a man so frightening that he eventually even scares himself.