The congregation of the Church Of The Universal Location sat hunched over their holo boards, crystalline light wands flickering as they built a wondrous image.
Swirling numbers and symbols cometed across uttermost space, leaving glowing trails and bursts of light as miniature suns bloomed, then died; planets were ripped from orbit and thrown into one another, shattering into great sparkling clouds of rock and ice and dust.
In the center - directing the congregation like an orchestra – was the dark, slender figure of Bishop Shaklin, waving elegant arms to the rhythm of inner music, beaded dreadlocks clacking, keeping time.
As exotic and complex as the slowly developing scene on the Holoimager appeared, Shaklin devoted only a small part of his brain on the group’s mutual task: navigating the tricky shoals of the Possnet Sector.
It was a desolate place, created by a billion-year-old disaster. It was like the island chains on ancient Earth, where continental shelves collided and volcanoes erupted on the floor of the seas, dribbling out land masses in the form of molten lava.
And like the islands, the desolate mini-worlds of Possnet Sector were inhabited by beings who had fled famine and pestilence and the wrath of others.
It was an ideal “Hole In The Wall” for criminals and terrorists and pirates like Venatora and her Himmenops. They were by far the most powerful and feared of the Possnet pirates and if Venatora drew Aces in her deadly game for the Emperor’s Imperium X she would rival the Eternal Emperor himself out here in the Fringe Worlds.
And if he tried to send the Imperial Guard in after her, the Emperor’s losses would be enormous.
The Flame sat on the very edge of her mini-kingdom. Shaklin jabbed his wand at one section and a red light started flashing. Directing his congregation to follow his lead, he waved his wand and more red lights popped up.
Some of the lights represented Venatora’s fortresses, all defended by her Zabanya guardswomen. Most were mine fields carefully laid out to confound even the most sophisticated battle computers. The mines were the best one could buy on the black arms market and were quite capable of taking out an Imperial battleship if an over confident ship’s captain became careless.
Venatora had been pressing the mutineers to conclude the deal. Zheng and Rual were all but convinced, especially as the anxiety level of the other crewmembers rose to the overboiling point.
Still, Shaklin urged patience. He appealed to the greed of Zheng and Rual, pointing out that the Emperor could easily outbid Venatora and there was no reason to believe that he’d ever let all that Imperium X loose on the black market.
Shaklin, however, was mainly concerned about what kind of lonely existence they were all in for if they had to take refuge in the Possnet Sector for the rest of their lives.
“We can never leave,” he told them. “The Emperor will have a price on all our heads. Why, some of the other pirates might even be tempted to betray us to the Imperials.”
“The clottin’ Emperor will never give us amnesty,” Rual insisted during one heated discussion. Rual was starting to get over excited, pacing up and down, waving her arms. “And even if he does agree, how do we know he’ll keep his word?”
Shaklin knew that much of Rual’s reluctance was that he wanted avenge himself on Gregor. He had some sympathy with that view, although violence was abhorrent to all members of the Church Of The Universal Location.
At the perfect intersection of locus points there would be eternal peace and plenty for all beings who dared travel the soul-wearying path of enlightenment.
He and his people had been on that long journey as far as anyone could remember. In the distant past, of which there were only oral records – tales told on wintery nights – his people had always been on that Road To Salvation, be it across desert wastes, briny seas, steaming jungles, or bitterly cold and dark Uttermost Space.
No, he would avoid violence – unless it was absolutely necessary to protect himself and his congregation.
Besides, he doubted they could trust either one of them. When it came lies and betrayal, he suspected the Eternal Emperor and the Pirate Queen were equals.
And it was for this reason that Shaklin was desperately seeking a third way.
He and his congregation had been swept up in the mutiny. Gregor was a cruel master and it was a wonder his throat hadn’t been cut long before.
And so the congregation had rioted and mutinied with the others. Shaklin was ashamed to admit that they had allowed greed to color their thinking as much as the others. Dreams of enough credits to free themselves from all duties except the search for the Universal Location.
The Elders had been predicting a breakthrough for several decades now. Shaklin wondered – no he prayed – that this mutiny would turn out to be a nugget of luck that would fund that final breakthrough to The Other.
But then reality had set in. And the viciousness of some of their fellow crewmembers – especially the ringleaders, Zheng and Rual – was appalling.
Once he’d recovered his senses, Shaklin started to plot another course. They would have to go along with the negotiations. Buying time to find another path.
There was a small escape craft on the Flame that Shaklin had been secretly rigging for a long jump. They would need supplies. And, yes, as much as he abhorred the idea, they would need weapons as well.
In the game between Venatora and the Emperor, there was sure to be a moment of maximum confusion when he and his congregation could slip away.
And the next thing anyone knew, they’d be gone.
Shaklin smiled to himself. He might have even found a way to take a few of the ore cars with them. They could be sold for more than enough to fund years of travel and research.
Just then – on the far edge of swirling image – he saw a blip. Just a drop of golden light.
There it was again.
Then it was gone.
Shaklin turned his head. Across the chamber, Zheng was slumped in a gravchair, while Rual paced nervously back and forth.
Every once in awhile Zheng would take a surreptitious nip from a silver flask, his pink tongue darting in to lap up the spirits. Rual’s long, skeletal face seemed more drawn than usual. And her huge, never-blinking eyes seemed to stare into nothingness.
There was another blip on the Holoimager. A drop of gold that appeared and then vanished so quickly you wondered if it was imaginary.
And then it came again, and Shaklin looked over at Zheng. Rual, who could never stay still for a second, saw him turn.
She elbowed Zheng.
Zheng looked up – expectant. Struggling to hide sudden fear.
And Shaklin mouthed the words, “They’re coming.”
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A True Story About A Boy,
NEXT: THE GANG OF THREE
*****CLICK THIS LINK
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.
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.
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.
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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 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.