Wednesday, March 2, 2016

CHAPTER FOUR: EPISODE FOURTEEN

STEN AUDIOBOOK BLOWOUT! 30% OFF! 
SCROLL DOWN TO END OF THIS WEEK'S EPISODE

CLICK HERE FOR THE PREVIOUS EPISODES


THE GOD BOX

Sten didn’t know what “hunky dory” meant and had no intention of asking Alex. The last time he’d made that sort of error it had gotten him the “Spotted Snake” story, which had taken two small eternities to tell, with a payoff that left him feeling like he’d barely survived a trek through the parasitic swamps of Clamitus III.

But if it meant things were a mound of drakh waiting to be stepped in, then that exactly described the mission from the moment he, Alex, Ida and Doc had boarded the Jo’l Cash.

The plan had been to be as low key as possible. When the ship took on supplies, they’d blend in with the dock workers and crew and quietly make contact with the captain who would stash them in a spare berth until the vessel was well on its way.

Only then would their presence be explained. It was a carefully crafted explanation. To begin with, the very word “mutiny” had nasty connotations. Even the most benign officer must look at her crew at times and wonder if they’d all secretly like to jam her in a tube and deep space her.

If badly handled the news that a real crew had rebelled against their officers would spread through the ship at warp speed and soon everyone aboard would be unnerved, staring suspiciously at one another and concocting all sorts of conspiracy theories. Eventually, it would spread to other ships and then on to the fleets.

Morale, Sten thought, would be so far under the drakh house it might never surface again.

Then, as Mahoney had carefully explained, there was the even bigger picture of what was at stake. The Emperor’s prestige. The loyalty of his supporters and allies. The carnivorous gleam in his enemies’ eyes as they saw him stripped and robbed by small time thugs like a bumbling spaceport tourist who had wandered down the wrong alley.

They also didn’t want to announce themselves to the mutineers aboard the Flame until the last possible moment. The idea was to suddenly pop up just a little outside of what the mutineers would consider their safe zone, and then very slowly, very laboriously, begin negotiations.

“Boredom works wonders in times like these,” Mahoney said. “They’re all on a hair trigger and so when you slow things down it’ll drive them half mad. Then, when you do make the offer, they’ll be so glad to see the back of it they’ll agree to all sorts of nonsense.”

Meanwhile, Mahoney said, he wanted Sten to test the limits of that agreed upon “safe zone,” probing here and there for signs of weakness.

“If we can catch them out before the deal is official, the easier and neater this whole thing will be,” Mahoney had said.

And then, stretching over all the whole clotting thing, was the need to keep the Empire at large from ever learning what had happened in the pirate-ridden Possnet Belt.

“All business must be conducted in absolute secrecy,” Mahoney said. “And I can’t stress the word strongly enough.”

Unfortunately, it was a word that had apparently gone missing from Captain Eddna W’lson’s vocabulary.

At first, everything seemed to be going fine. Sten and the others blended in with the workers, overseeing the loading of a large container marked as “Engine Room Supplies.” In reality, it contained various highly classified weapons, tools, gear and devices produced in Mantis Section laboratories. Known by everyone in the trade as “The God Box.”

Or, as Alex put it: “If yoo’re up drakh creek missin’ a paddle, a god box works faster’n prayer.”

Just as they got it stowed in an out-of-the-way spot in the hold a young Marine approached them. “Which one of you is Lieutenant Sten?” he asked.

Sten said, “That would be me, corporal. Do you have a berth for us?”

The corporal saluted, then said. “Not exactly, sir. The Captain wants to speak to you first.”

He motioned for them to follow, and with some trepidation, Sten and the others fell in behind him. To Sten’s dismay, instead of leading them to some quiet place, the Marine took to the main passageways, where they drew the immediate attention – and curious stares – of the crewmembers.

Then a double bay door opened before them and Sten realized they were stepping into the bridge, where – to his horror - the captain had arranged for them to receive the full honors due an important admiral’s flag lieutenant.

As the pipes shrilled over the loudspeakers and the drawn up Marine squad snapped to attention with much slamming of boots, Sten half jumped across the intervening space and grabbed the captain by her epaulettes.

“Stop this,” he hissed. “At once.”

Captain W’lson stared at him in total disbelief, going from deathly pale to purple rage in milliseconds.

She started to protest, but Sten tightened his grip. “Get them out of here,” he said, indicating the Marines. Then he waved at all the officers gathered for the ceremony. “Get them all out of here.”

W’lson sputtered something incomprehensible, but before she could continue, Sten said, “If you don’t do as I say immediately, I’ll get Mahoney on the horn and you’ll be lucky if your next posting is on an ice planet.”

Her dignity in tatters, W’lson seemed unable to move and Sten wondered how the clot she would react if the ship were under fire.

Fortunately, her XO stepped into the breach. A slender, well built human with a hawk face and a healthy cynical nature that had allowed him to survive under the incompetent rule of his captain, Lieutenant Mk’wolf quickly sussed out the situation and got everything under control. 

He moved among the other officers. There were nods and whispers. Shared understanding that once again their commander had them all balancing on the edge of a career ending precipice. Whispered orders. A shuffle of feet. And in a few minutes the bridge was cleared.

When they were gone, W’lson shook Sten off and drew herself up. “This is an outrage,” she said. “An unforgivable violation of every tradition of our service.”

Sten said, “Did you, or did you not receive explicit orders to preserve the secrecy of this mission?”

“Of course, I did,” she replied. “But I interpreted that to mean that those orders applied to outsiders. Not the crew of my own ship.”

Anger nearly overwhelmed Sten. “You interpreted? Why you silly puffed up piece of-“

But the Captain wasn’t having any. Her own temper boiled over.

“Just look at you,” she said, making a wide gesture that took in the four strange beings standing in front of her. “You’re not even in uniform.”

At any other time, Sten’s odd sense of humor would’ve cut in. Because they were indeed a motley crew. Sten wore greasy overalls, with a tear in one sleeve. Alex, the tubby heavy worlder, had let his beard grow for the mission and he had the look of a red-bearded barbarian about to attack a Roman garrison at Hadrian’s Wall. Ida was unabashedly gypsy, sporting rings on every finger, huge earrings on her lobes, and she wore a billowy shift of many colors tucked into super plus-size overalls.

And then there was Doc, the team’s psy warfare op, who looked like nothing more than a meter-high super cuddly teddy bear, instead of a Blyrchynaus, one of the deadliest species in the empire.

And it was Doc who at that moment had the wisdom to intervene. He sidled up to the Captain and from the prickling sensation running up Sten’s spine he knew that Doc was turning on his psionic talents full force.

“You must pardon young Sten, Captain,” he said, practically purring. “He’s been under a great deal of stress of late.”

Although he’d witnessed the effect Doc had on beings before, he was still astonished when he saw W’lson visibly relax, a smile wreathing her broad face.

She reached down as if to pat Doc, who gently steered her hand away. It was all he could do to keep from biting it.

“Why, yes, I can understand that,” W’lson said. Then she looked over at Sten. “Perhaps you would all like a nice cup of tea,” she said. “I usually put on a pot this time of day.”

“Tea! What an excellent idea,” Doc said. Then he took W’lson by the hand. “Why don’t we adjourn to the comfort of your quarters, Captain?” he suggested. “Where we can all get to know one another a little better.”

W’lson started babbling. “Yes, yes… Get to know one another. What an excellent idea. We’ll go to my cabin. Have a little tea. Maybe a nice hot scone to accompany it…”

And with W’lson mumbling happily, Doc nodded at Sten and the others to follow and in a few minutes they were all safely out of sight – if not out of mind – of the ship’s officers and crew.

NEXT: VENATORA

*****


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.

Here's where you can buy it worldwide in both paperback and Kindle editions:

U.S. .............................................France
United Kingdom ...........................Spain
Canada ........................................ Italy
Germany ..................................... Japan
Brazil .......................................... India

*****






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:

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.

Here's where to get the paperback & Kindle editions worldwide: 


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 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.



No comments:

Post a Comment