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"We’re going to put the frighteners on them," Sten said. "If we do it right, when we pop up on their vid there’s won’t be a clean pair of skivvies on the ship.”
His eyes swept over the faces of assembled officers of the Jo’l Cash, pausing just long enough to look into the eyes of each being to make sure he had their full attention.
He stopped at Captain W’lson, who was clearly uncomfortable in a subordinate role. Beside her, Mk’wolf was paying close attention to his every word.
“But here’s the main thing,” Sten continued, “yes, we want spook them. But not so much that they take to their heels.”
W’lson frowned. “But if they run,” she said, “We need to be ready to give chase. We can’t give them time enough to jump.”
Behind him, Sten heard Alex mutter a curse – but in a brogue so thick that W’lson was unlikely to take offense if heard it.
“Negative,” Sten said. “First off, we have to keep in mind that we have their navigators to deal with.
W’lson snorted derision. “They’re just merchantmen,” she said. “What kind of training can they have? Nothing to compare to our people, who are graduates of the Imperial Navy’s navigation school.”
“If we underestimate our enemy,” Sten said, “the game will be lost before we begin. We’re not talking about ordinary navigators, you know. These beings are most likely as good as – and maybe even better – than any ship drivers in the Imperial Navy.
“If we go scrotes to the wall and just charge the Flame Shaklin will jump the ship to the other end of the Possnet Sector faster than an Altarian spider strike. And we can say goodbye to any kind of a deal and hello Queen Venatora.”
He fixed W’lson with a hard stare. “And while you are it, say goodbye to your career because the Emperor will have your guts for a winding sheet.”
But W’lson was a stubborn clot. An old line officer who couldn’t get over her resentment of having to take orders from a much younger person.
“How do you know they won’t just run, then?” she said. “We go boo and they do a million-klick jump. What’s to stop them?”
Something his father had told him flashed into Sten’s mind. It was about a strange little pest that gorged on his old man’s crops back on his homeworld – before he and Sten’s mom had sold their souls to the Vulcan Factory Store. And in that memory he sensed opportunity.
Sten knew the session with W’lson and the other officers was being vidded throughout the entire ship. And that many of the many crewmembers aboard the Jo’l Cash – especially out here on the fringes of the Empire - were more than likely ex farmkids, just like his dad.
He perched on a counter edge, putting himself and - he hoped - the whole ship – at ease.
“My old man grew up in the boonies,” Sten said. “Farmboy. Sharecropper’s kid. Knew what it was like to stare up the butt of tractor drone so old and rusted out that half the time you had to push it by hand across the field.”
He saw smiles on the faces of Mk’wolf and a few of the other officers. He’d sussed his audience correctly.
“What Dad remembered most was being hungry. Belly pinching your backbone hungry. Clottin’ farmlords took ninety clottin’ percent of the crops.”
There were nods from Mk’wolf and the others. They knew what he was talking about.
“So Dad was always on the lookout for something to catch for the family pot.”
Sten paused. A reflective smile twitched his lips. “His mom had this big stew pot – probably so old it was made out of iron – hanging over an actual fire. They used methane piped in from the drakh pits for fuel.”
Shook his head in admiration of that old pioneer stock. Then went on:
“The old man said there was this one critter – it was small and furry and a champion babymaker. They could eat a sharecropping family out of house and hut in a single planetfall. Lepus, I think he called them.
“Anyway, my old man figured what’s fair is fair and if these little bassids were getting fat from eating up all his family’s crops, why he’d find a way to eat them. Turn that stolen fat into some kind of use.
“So he’d hunt the little suckers. Every morning he’d fill his pockets with rocks and take a stroll along the field. Find himself a Lepus trail – their drakh gives them away… eat so much they’re always poopin’.”
Mk’wolf snickered. He’d been there.
“Pop said that the problem was they had a sixth sense for danger. You’d barely lay eyes on them and they’d take off. And fast – why, he said they were faster than a pair of juiced up speed rails.
“At first he thought they had him beat. No way could he chase them down. But then he saw that they’d only hop like hell for ten, fifteen meters or so. Then they’d stop. Look back to see if you had given up the chase.”
Sten shrugged. “Guess a lot of other critters did just that. They’d see how fast a Lepus could hop and they’d give up practically before they started. Throw up their paw and go, oh drakh, and look for some nice non-hopping berries to munch on.”
Some of the officers laughed. W’lson glowered at them, but they paid her no mind.
Sten continued: “But Dad saw that the Lepus were both lazy and curious at the same time. They didn’t want to put out all that much energy. Plus, they wanted to see what the clot you were up to.
“So, they’d plump down and wait. If you ran after them again, they’d take to their heels and off they’d go. They’d let you spend all day, stopping and starting until you were too tired If there was even going to be supper, that is.”
The pretty young lieutenant next to Mk’wolf frowned at this, shaking her head. Sten guessed that she’d known what it was like to go to bed hungry.
“But my old man was determined to fill that stewpot no matter what,” Sten said. “So he started studying on the Lepus. He’d run a few steps. They’d hop a couple of hops. Until, little by little he’d only be maybe ten meters away.”
Mk’wolf laughed. “Until he was in rock range,” he blurted. Then he blushed like a kid for speaking out of turn.
Sten laughed, as did the others. “Until he was in rock range,” he repeated. “He kept one clutched in his hand just waiting his chance. And when the right time came-“
He pivoted, then sidearmed an imaginary rock. Hard!
“And, bam! He had him a Lepus for the stew pot. First day he got half a dozen and his family ate like farmlords.”
The payoff was greeted with laughter and applause - as if everybody had been enjoying a viddie, instead of yawning over a headache-inducing lecture from the Big Man In Charge.
Sten let everyone have a good laugh and chatter amongst themselves for a few minutes, then came off the bench. He stood ramrod straight.
“Except, we’re going to go one better,” Sten said. “We’re gonna give them a choice.
He held up a clenched fist.
Sten let the hand drop. Gave them a big grin.
“Or, they can climb into the stewpot themselves.”
As if on cue, Alex came in: “Ah’ll wager our Sten’ll hae them beggin’ fur th’ salt an’ pepper.”
Laughter, then Ida called out:
“Got a visual!”
NEXT: CAT AND MOUSE
Ever since my British publisher put all eight novels in the Sten series in three omnibus editions, American readers have been clamoring for equal treatment.
Well, my American publisher – Wildside Books – was listening and beginning today Volume One in the three volume omnibus series is available all over America. The omnibus includes, Sten #1, Sten #2 – The Wolf Worlds, and Sten #3 – The Court Of A Thousand Suns. Isn’t this a wonderful country? And isn’t Wildside a wonderful publisher? Stay tuned for when the others will be available. Kathryn and I will start reading proof on Sten Omnibus #2 by week’s end.
CLICK THIS LINK TO GET
THE STEN OMNIBUS #1
THE STEN OMNIBUS #1
Here's where you can buy it worldwide in both paperback and Kindle editions:
A True Story About A Boy,
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.
Here's where you can buy it worldwide in both paperback and Kindle editions:
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.