Never fear, I will continue the blog until the last clotting episode approximately seven weeks from now. The newly published book, however, is a complete write through and there are major differences between the two. It is my hope - and my under-nourished bank statement's plea - that you eventually buy the book. So click on that ever-loving link, Gentle Reader. I'll thank you, Sten will thank you, Alex will thank you, and the Eternal Emperor has vowed to put any penny-pinching shirkers up against the firing wall.
And now we present this week's episode when:
A smile spread across Venatora’s face as the Flame moved closer to her fortress. Soon all that lovely Imperium X would be hers.
She keyed the mike and was about to hail the ship when saw the gunports suddenly yawn open, there was a flash, and a blazing white flare consumed the entire screen. A tremendous force hit the fortress, and she was nearly hurled from her seat.
As if from afar, she heard Marta cry out, “What’re they doing? They’re attacking! They’re attacking!”
Distantly, she could hear other guardswomen shouting. Now came another explosion, and then alarms were blaring and all she could think was that she had been a fool.
The Emperor had tricked her. The mutiny. The theft of the Imperium X. The traitorous conspiracy of Lord Wichman and his son. It was nothing but an elaborate ruse to get her to let down her guard.
And now the Imperial forces would be on her, intent on killing her and destroying The Himmenops Colony.
Cold fury descended, and then an odd kind of calm. She slowly rose, turning up the volume of her power over her women, and soon restored order.
The order remained as a series of jolts rocked the fortress. Her automated defense systems were working and striking back. But unless she moved fast, it might well prove to be too little and too late. Any second now other Imperial forces would join the Flame and wreak destruction on The Colony.
Then Marta shouted that she had reestablished a connection to the outside. Venatora looked up as two guardswomen hoisted a new monitor into place. It blinked to life.
The sight jolted her. What was this?
Venatora expected to see the Flame, accompanied by an Imperial fleet, bearing down on her, chain guns blazing, missile bays aflame. But instead the only thing to appear on the screen was the Flame.
Except it wasn’t attacking!
It was clotting running away!
The charred tail section clearly outlined as it fled a barrage of counter missiles that her automated batteries had unleashed.
And where was the Imperium X? The hundred and twenty five kilometer ore train had simply vanished, as if it had never existed.
Well, of course! She kicked herself for not realizing it before.
They’d hardly risk something so incredibly valuable to bait the trap. She was sure that the after action reports would reveal that the ore train was nothing more than an electronic phantom. Had this always been the case? Had the Imperium X ever existed at all?
Venatora shook off those questions. Silly speculation that should be left for another time.
She would pour it on, by God! She would make them pay!
Venatora issued a stream of orders, and her guardswomen sprang into action. Missiles launched. Mines moved into action. The screen filled with fiery objects all aimed at the departing Flame.
“Shall I scramble the squadron, Ma’am?” Marta asked.
Within seconds, she could send a score of her best Crossbow fighters into the fray. They were small, two-women vessels, but had enough firepower to overmatch ships three times their size. And at their controls were her very best pilots—Zabanya hardened fighters with countless successful ship-boardings to their credit.
Venatora was about to order them into action when it suddenly occurred to her that maybe—just maybe—this is exactly what the Imperials wanted her to do
She had no doubt that Sten’s fingerprints were all over this. The cool trickery he had displayed during the Xypaca debacle was just a small example of just how cunning he could be.
Fury almost overtook her again. He couldn’t hide behind that cocky grin. He was cheating her and enjoying himself immensely while doing it!
“Ma’am? Ma’am?” It was Marta.
Venatora took breath. Cooled herself. Squared her shoulders.
“No,” she said. “Stand down.”
Marta gaped at her. “But, Ma’am—” she stared, but Venatora cut her off with a raised hand.
“That was just a feint,” Venatora said. “The Imperials were testing our defenses. But, rest assured, they will be back. In full force. Next time, we will be ready!”
ABOARD THE JO’L CASH
On the holomap, Sten could see they were approaching the outer edges of Venatora’s pirate kingdom. Beyond lay the No Being’s Land and safety.
He braced himself, fully expecting to be met by all the firepower Venatora had at her command.
Tm’beaty was standing by, ready to unleash thick clouds of electronic flak to confound Venatora’s missile batteries.
Meanwhile, Murgas was primed to take out any missiles that happened to break through.
Ida was using all her skills to retrace the route through the minefield and Kilgour was online with Shaklin, keeping the bishop apprised of everything that was going on.
Doc, of course, was being Doc. Sitting with his paws crossed across his furry little paunch like a miniature Buddha, reviewing everything that had happened and analyzing how everyone had behaved.
Sten turned to Murgas and Tm’beaty. “Report,” he said.
Murgas shook his head. “Nada, Captain. Just that initial barrage, then it stopped.”
“Same here, Captain,” Tm’beaty said. “Figured she’d be trying to turn us into toast right about now.”
Sten glanced at Kilgour, who was listening to whatever Shaklin had to say. He gave Sten a thumb’s all. All was well.
“How about you, Ida?” Sten asked.
“Zip, zero, zed,” she said. “They’re quiet as little mousies over there.”
He nodded at the furry Buddha. “What’s your reading, Doc?”
“Right about now,” he said, “she’s kicking herself for being all kinds of a fool.”
“Sure, but why the silence? The non action? I figured she’d be pouring it on. Giving us all kinds of hell.”
“Which we are prepared for,” Ida said, with a nasty smile. “Boy, did I have some surprises for her.”
“Even so,” Sten said. “She might have gotten in a lucky shot.”
“She’s double thinking us,” Doc said. “That’s her Achilles heel.”
He glanced over at Ida. “Or, her tell, as our gypsy friend would put it.
Ida snorted and shot Doc a middle finger.
Dock turned back with the air of a cat who had amused himself with a mouse.
“Venatora’s double-think habit has led her to believe that we are wiggling our netherparts to draw an attack. And that we have another trick up our—”
He stopped. Looked at his furry paw. Wiggled it. Flashed his fangs in amusement. Then said, “Well, you get the idea.”
Sten chuckled. “Well, she’s right about the trick business,” he said. “It’s just not the trick she’s expecting.”
He looked over at the holomap. They’d crossed into No Beings Land. And safety.
Sten breathed a sigh of relief. Not for himself, but for Venatora.
He hadn’t been forced to kill her, Mahoney or no Mahoney.
NEXT: THE BISHOP AND THE RABBI
NOTE FROM ALLAN: My multi-talented brother, Drew Cole, has just released a marvelous new album of original songs – “The Shook Souls.” Some of the songs will make you cry, some will tickle your irony bone, and all of them will take you back to moments in your life, both painful or joyful, that will never be forgotten. The songs are free, but you can feed the kitty if you like them. Click on this link and hear for yourself.
STEN OMNIBUS TRILOGY
MAKES ITS AMERICAN DEBUT
Well, my American publisher – Wildside Books – was listening and is issuing all three omnibus omnibus volumes on this side of the Atlantic. Sten Omnibus #1 was published
last month. Sten Omnibus #2 debuts this week. Stay tuned for the publication for Volume Three.
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
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.