Wednesday, February 3, 2016



“Venatora is a splicer,” Mahoney said. “One of the oddest forms of that breed – and I use the term very loosely – that I’ve ever encountered.”

They were in a dark, empty utility room deep in the bowels of Rec Area 477. The walls were black with mold and Mahoney’s wavering holo image floated ghostlike above the floor.

He made snipping motions with two fingers. “Bits of one species joined with another. In her case, a little Himmenops, a lot of human. And a large dollop of something extra that turned her into a Himmenops queen.”

“It’s more than a dollop,” Sten said. “And it doesn’t just work on Himmenops.”

Alex grinned at this. “Aye, the wee lieutenant was quite taken with the bonny lass, sir,” Alex said. He put a hand over his heart, a sure sign that a Bobby Burns poem was coming on: “Had we ne’er lov’d sae kindly/ Had we ne’er lov’d sae blindly…”

Sten wanted to tell him to stifle it, but with the boss of the Mantis Section present, all he could do was glare.

Mahoney chuckled. “From what Rykor’s operative reported,” he said, “your lust quotient was off the charts.” 

Rykor was the head of Mercury Corps' Psy-Ops and it was hardly surprising that she had an operative or three on the premises. Probably the Joygirl Sten had his eye on before being summoned.

“I admit Venatora got to me, Colonel,” Sten said - an understatement of staggering proportions. “But I maintained control through the whole operation, sir. I had the upper hand the entire time.”

“Our reading exactly,” Mahoney said. “But next time you meet, she’ll have your measure.”

Sten’s heart gave an involuntary bump. “Meet, sir?”

Alex said, “Ah think th’ Colonel’s tellin’ us, laddie, ‘at we hae a wee mission tae perf’rm.”

Sten was still young enough and new enough to the Mantis game to resent being manipulated. “You mean this whole thing was a setup, sir?” he asked. “The leave. The choice of this hellhole for a vacation spa. All for me to meet Venatora?”

Mahoney shrugged. “We didn’t expect the Xypaca business,” he said. “That was just pure dumb luck. However, Rykor predicted you would be irresistibly drawn to her.”

Sten frowned. “How could Rykor-“

Mahoney cut him off with a raised hand. “You’ll have to ask her,” he said. “It’s a doctor/patient thing.”

Rykor, the walrus-like being with an oh-so elegant mind, had been one of Sten’s keenest mentors from the start and had done a great deal to heal the wounds left by the loss of his family on Vulcan.

Sten sighed. He was whipped. “What’s the operation, sir?” he asked.

“Mutiny,” Mahoney said.

Sten gawped in astonishment. As did Alex and Ida. Even Doc twitched - momentarily ruining his mask of supreme serenity. 

Mutiny was unheard of in the Imperial Guard.  The penalty for mutiny was death. And anyone associated with the mutiny – no matter how official the capacity – was in danger of having a permanent black mark on his record.

“Not to worry, lads,” Mahoney said, reading their thoughts. “You’ll get nothing but kudos for this. There’ll be no blowback, or black marks on your personnel file.”

Sten grimaced. “You mean as long as we are successful, sir,” he said.

Mahoney waved an impatient hand. That went without saying. In the shadow world of Mantis Section, winning was always the only option.

He went on to outline the situation. The crew of a merchant escort ship had mutinied. Stealing a fortune in Imperium X in the process. Moreover, the mutineers were using the Imperium X as a bargaining chip. 

They were demanding a fortune in credits, and either amnesty from prosecution if the Emperor was the highest bidder, or asylum in the pirate world, if Venatora was the winner. 

“The boss wants this handled as quietly as possible,” Mahoney said. “No battleships. No military posturing, or noise of any kind.” He shrugged. “Besides, the pirates are dug in too deep to get at easily. One false move on our part will drive the mutineers right into Venatora’s shapely arms.”

“Why hasn’t anyone done anything about her before?” Sten asked.

“We should have taken care of this problem long ago,” Mahoney admitted. “But this whole Imperium X boom caught us flatfooted. And now Venatora and the other pirates have the Possnet Belt so fortified that the cost in money and blood to root them out will be an embarrassment to the Emperor. An embarrassment that couldn’t come at a worse time.”

Sten and Alex had heard backchannel rumors that the Emperor was engaged in delicate negotiations with the Tahn, a rival regime that had been swiftly growing in military might. The Tahn – a formidable ultra-warlike race - had been attracting allies to their cause at an alarming rate. So far, the Emperor had maintained the upper hand, skillfully shoring up his side while quietly undermining the Tahn.

Of course, this whole mutiny business, along with the theft of a spacetrain load of Imperium X, would be portrayed by his enemies as yet another sign of weakness. Not only was security lacking, criminal enterprises allowed to go on unchecked, but the Emperor’s own forces – sworn to uphold his law – dared to defy him.

The Tahn would say this was proof aplenty that the Empire was old and creaky and in desperate need of new ideas and new leadership. Which the Tahn would magnanimously offer to provide.

Sten said, “So, let me get this straight, Colonel. You want us – a combat team – to suddenly become diplomats and negotiate on behalf of the Empire.”

“Ne’er fear, young Sten,” Alex said. “Our wee colonel’s a magician of th’ highest order. Waves his magic wand an’ –poof! – four Mantis killers turn intae nice, gentle tea drinkin’ legates.”

Ida laughed. “Can you all see me in a ball gown,” she said. “dancing the night away with princes and presidents at some gala palace soirée?”

Doc broke in. “I suspect the colonel is more interested in our killing skills than our diplomatic abilities.”

“That’s certainly been taken into consideration,” Mahoney said dryly. “And we have planned accordingly.”

“A couple of observations, sir,” Sten said. “First, to put on a good show we’ll need a decent ship. Nothing too fancy. Out here in rust-bucket land it would look out of place.

“But you have to admit that the Storm just won’t do. We have to show up in something that is at least equal to what the mutineers. But not loaded down with so much armament that it would make them soak their jocks.”

“Their ship is the Flame,” Mahoney said. “Light cruiser. Radoslaw class.”

“Do we have anything similar on hand?” Sten asked.

“As it happens,” Mahoney said, “The Flame’s sister ship – the Jo’l Cash – is being refitted at the same yard where they’re working on the Storm. It’s identical in looks and weaponry.”

“Perfect, sir,” Sten said. “What about rank? They’re not going to believe the Emperor is serious about negotiating if he sends a mere lieutenant. On the other hand, I’m too young to have advanced much higher.”

Mahoney nodded. “Not a problem, lad,” he said. “We’ll make you a flag lieutenant. Nephew to Admiral Mik Ledoh.”

Alex laughed. “Nepotism. Thae’s th’ ticket, sir,” he said. “Every workin’ cheil knows th’ boss’s bairn gits the poshest job.”

Mahoney fell silent. Sten could tell that he was holding something back.

“What is it, sir?” he prodded. “If this is going to work, we have to know everything.”

Mahoney sighed. And told him the rest. Sten’s outraged response was a surprise to the old spymaster.

“Rescue Gregor?” he said, voice shaking with anger. “Begging your pardon, sir, but has everyone on Prime lost their clotting minds?”

“From your reaction, Lieutenant,” Mahoney said, “would I be wrong in thinking that you know Captain Gregor?”

“Know and loathe him, sir,” Sten said. “He was the biggest, most dangerous screwup in Guard training. Nearly got more than one of us injured, or even killed. Spoiled little bastard. Always bragging about how rich and important his father was. Acted like he was better than everyone else. Shirked his work and dumped it on others. Everybody hated him.”

“Maybe somebody shoolda given heem a boot in th’ bollocks,” Alex said.

“Gregor did get the boot,” Sten said. “Right out of the Guard.”

He looked at Mahoney, a glint of accusation in his eyes. “Well sir, seems they let his father buy Gregor’s way back in. Not only that, they gave him rank. Responsibility. And he screwed it up so much that he drove one hundred and twenty nine of our own people so far around the bend that they mutinied.”

“You’re forgetting they also stole all that Imperium X,” Mahoney said dryly. “A bad apple skipper wasn’t their only motivation. Greed obviously had something to do with it.”

“Th’ wee Colonel has a point, lad,” Alex said. “Mebbe this Gregor is a screwup ay th’ first order. But I’ll wager a black-hearted pirate whispered in their shell-likes, promisin’ grand fortunes fur aw.”

“Sergeant Kilgour is right on the mark,” Mahoney said. “We have intelligence that several crew members were contacted by Venatora’s people. A deal was obviously made. At the opportune time the crew would mutiny, seize the cargo and live like royalty the rest of their days.”

“But that’s not exactly what happened, is it, sir?” Sten said.

Mahoney sighed. “No, it didn’t,” he said. “The crew mutinied on schedule, but apparently not all of them agreed with their leaders.”

“Let me guess, sir,” Alex broke in. “They’re sayin’ they nae be traitors, but jist honest Guardsbeings who hae bin badly used by their officers.”

“So, they’re frozen in indecision, right sir?” Sten said. “They got their blood up, but now a large minority of them are sorry. And they are looking for a way out.”

“All we have to do,” Mahoney said, “is beat Venatora’s price.”

“And amnesty, sir,” Sten said. “You said they wanted amnesty.”

“That I did,” Mahoney said. “And you can offer it to them.”

A long silence followed. As Sten and the others thought this through, Mahoney could tell they were all riddled with doubt. He did't blame them. Mutineers and mutiny had that affect on anyone in His Majesty's service.

Finally, Sten said, “So, we’ll be giving them our word, sir?” Sten ventured. “About the amnesty?”

“You will,” Mahoney said.

“They’ll get the ransom money, then go free,” Sten pressed. “That’s what we’ll be saying, right?”

“Yes,” Mahoney said. “That’s exactly what you should say. And you should also swear them to secrecy. Not a word of this incident can get out.

“If it does, amnesty is off. And they will all be given fair trial and then shot.”

“So as not to encourage similar incidents, right, sir?” Sten said – rather tentatively. Suspicion prickled the back of his neck.

“Exactly,” Mahoney said. “After they agree you just have to give us a whistle and I’ll have a task force near at hand to take charge.”

Sten thought a minute, then said, “What about Venatora, sir?” he asked. “She’s not just going to stand by and let all this happen without interfering.”

“I don’t expect she will,” Mahoney said.

“So what should we do about her, sir?” he asked. “What are your orders?”

“The Emperor wants her dead,” Mahoney said. “Just as dead as she can be.”

Mahoney’s holo image started to waver, then just before it blinked out, the Colonel leaned in and his image steadied for a moment.

“Don’t forget Gregor,” Mahoney said. “His daddy wants him back.”

And then he was gone.

“Clot Gregor,” Sten said. “And clot his daddy, too.”




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. 

NEWLY REVISED KINDLE EDITIONS OF THE TIMURA TRILOGY NOW AVAILABLE. (1) When The Gods Slept;(2) Wolves Of The Gods; (3) The Gods Awaken.


Tales Sometimes Tall, but always true, of Allan Cole's years in Hollywood with his late partner, Chris Bunch. How a naked lady almost became our first agent. How we survived La-La Land with only the loss of half our brain cells. How Bunch & Cole became the ultimate Fix-It Boys. How an alleged Mafia Don was very, very good to us. The guy who cornered the market on movie rocks. Andy Warhol's Fire Extinguisher. The Real Stars Of Hollywood. Why they don't make million dollar movies. See The Seven Pi$$ing Dwarfs. Learn: how to kill a "difficult" actor… And much, much more.

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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.



A True Story About A Boy,
A Teacher, And Earthquake,
Some Terrorists And The CIA

LUCKY IN CYPRUS is a coming-of-age story set in the Middle East during the height of the Cold War. An American teenager – son of a CIA operative – is inspired by grand events and a Greek Cypriot teacher. 

He witnesses earthquakes and riots and terrorist attacks, but in the end it is his teacher’s gentle lessons that keep him whole.

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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,



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.)


A 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. 



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.

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