New Release – Blood Fever by Simone Beaudelaire

Today I have a New Release for you from my friend Simone BeaudelaireBlood Fever is a vampire romance adventure.  I have read this book and loved it.

Blood Fever

 

Description1

It is the spring of 1945 and the War in Europe is ending, but in New Orleans’s French Quarter, the sultry nights conceal a danger even greater to the future of humanity. Standing alone against this ancient, bloodthirsty evil, scientist Philippe Dumont races against time to cure a disease that resembles yellow fever… but is not.

Budding researcher Daphne Delaney joins Philippe in hopes of preventing an undead despot from launching his own quest for global dominance. Daunting though the task may seem, neither Daphne nor Philippe can grasp the scope of the danger they face, nor of the passion they will find in each other.

From urban New Orleans to the depths of the bayou, Philippe must chase the monster who terrorized his youth to save the woman he loves. But the Vampire King will not rest until both lovers belong to him… for all eternity.

This is a steamy romance and includes graphic sex scenes.

Trigger warning: This book contains scenes of non-consensual sexual contact.

Links7

AMAZON US       AMAZON UK

WEBSITE       TWITTER       FACEBOOK

AMAZON AUTHOR

Cover Reveal – Intrinsic Connections by Mistral Dawn

reblogged from – http://mistralkdawn.blogspot.com.au/

#CoverReveal: Intrinsic #Connections! 🙂

Hey Everyone!! 🙂
I promised you a cover reveal for Intrinsic Connections, and here it is! 😉  Julie Nicholls is the artist and she’s incredibly talented. Julie not only creates book covers, she’s also an author! 🙂  If you’d like to see more of her fantabulous work, you can check it out here: Julie’s Website.
At the moment, I’m working on edits, but I promise I’ll keep you posted on how that’s going. I really hope it won’t take more than a month or two to get this book polished up.  In the meantime, here’s a little taste. 😉
Excerpt from Intrinsic Connections:

Thoughts and questions spiraled through Petri’s head faster than she could register them. She felt like if she could just catch hold of one, the spinning ball would unravel and everything would make sense again. But try as she might, she couldn’t seem to follow any one train of thought to its conclusion. Indecision paralyzed her.

She knew what she wanted; to get herself and her friends away from the terrifying alien as quickly as possible without anyone getting hurt. But things had changed too fast for her to process the new situation properly, and she didn’t know where to start. All she could do was stand and wonder at the weight of menace such a small, unprepossessing, apparently innocuous creature could convey.

Petri had never seen an Arcanum before. Few had and lived to tell of it. But, in spite of their reclusive nature, every now and again a member of another species would escape with their life from an encounter with the Arcanum. So, there were plenty of tales about what they looked like. And, Petri noted, some of those stories even approached the truth.

On its surface, the Arcanum didn’t appear dangerous. It was short, much shorter than even her own four-foot-two-inch height, and exceedingly slender. The creature’s arms and legs looked like delicate twigs that could easily be snapped in two by an average-sized human. But its head was enormous, bulbous with large, lidless eyes, slits for a nose, and no mouth. Perched atop its reedy neck, the head had an almost farcical appearance. Like a child’s balloon with a face drawn on it.

But, in spite of its almost comical appearance, the Arcanum was shrouded in a miasma of danger. It wasn’t hostility so much as supreme indifference. There would be no threat from the Arcanum. It would simply exterminate them. With no more thought than she would give to stepping on a bug.

The alien was cadaverously slender and, since it wore no clothing, Petri could see that it bore no obvious signs of the being’s gender. Its skin was pale and sickly looking, like one of the corpses that were pulled from the underworld gutters every morning, and it added to the eerie quality of the creature. A baleful, golden glow smoldered in the Arcanum’s eyes. Those glowing eyes were one of the few elements that were consistent between the scattered accounts of encounters with the Arcanum. Petri’s own eyes glowed when she was in the grip of strong emotions and when she used her power. That trait was what had betrayed her on Upworld. No other known species had such eyes, and now Petri knew why others found them so memorable. The light in the alien’s eyes held her transfixed; as if she were looking into the fabled torment that awaited sinners in every religious mythology anyone had ever tried to sell her. But, unlike those stories, the Arcanum’s eyes made her believe.

New Release – Vanish by Becca J. Campbell

reblogged from: http://www.beccajcampbell.com/vanish/

Vanish: A Sweet Romance with a Fantastical Twist

VANISH

Readers say,

An amazing story that will make your heart swell

Eva has two secrets. The second is that she periodically vanishes into thin air.

Usually, Eva’s spontaneous disappearances last only a few minutes, but on the day of her high school graduation, she vanished for nearly ten years. For a decade she was invisible and intangible–unable to be felt or seen or heard. She can’t imagine a worse torture than standing on the outside looking in.

Now she’s back, but it’s not enough to be tangible once again. Eva needs to find a way to stop vanishing permanently. Which is why she’s facing her ten-year class reunion–and her ex-boyfriend. The clue to stopping her disappearances must be tied to him, intertwined with their past. Unfortunately, approaching him is awkward-level five billion, considering he broke up with her ten years ago.

When Eva starts getting threatening texts from an unknown source, she realizes the reunion has just gotten even more complicated. Especially when she discovers that source has found out about her second, worse secret.

In order to find the key to stop her vanishing, Eva must battle grudge-wielding friends, relentless old crushes, and a classmate with a vendetta against her. And, in the meantime, hope she doesn’t vanish again. Because somebody wants her gone for another ten years.

Vanish is a sweet romance with a fantastical twist. It’s the perfect blend of Magical Realism and Romance. If you enjoy charmingly quirky characters, a love story that will tug your heartstrings, and an emotionally rich storyline, download this book today.

Purchase Vanish Now

Download Vanish from Amazon

Eternal Dawn by Jade Kerrion

Today I have a latest release for you by my friend Jade KerrionEternal Dawn, book two in the Aeternae Noctis series.  I have read this series and I highly recommend it.  Start with book one Eternal Night.

Eternal Dawn

 

Description1

Nothing false endures forever. Especially not love…

All parents in Aeternae Noctis have lost children to the culling, among them, the herbalist Rafael Varens. Once more, humanity’s remnants rise in rebellion against the ruthless rule of the three immortal icrathari and their vampire army. Yet again, they are crushed.

When the icrathari Siri seeks a salve for her chronic pain, she and Rafael strike a bargain. He will cure the poison in her blood if she expands the settlement and frees the children, including his son. Their tentative alliance ushers in unexpected friendship, until it is shattered by the cruelest betrayal.

From the darkness below the earth, an ancient and implacable enemy rises, twisting their pain and turning Rafael and Siri against each other—his first step in the destruction of Aeternae Noctis…

Enjoy the thrilling sequel to the award-winning fantasy, Eternal Night.

Links7

AMAZON US       AMAZON UK

WEBSITE       TWITTER       FACEBOOK

AMAZON AUTHOR

New Release – Destined for Shadows by Susan Illene

reblogged from http://www.susanillene.com/2017/03/25/destined-for-shadows-ebook-release/

I am happy to announce that Destined for Shadows is now available.  This is the first novel in the Dark Destiny Series, which features two of the side characters from the Sensor books.  Cori and Bartol both have dark and disturbing pasts that haunt them, but they are explosive when they’re together.  Follow their journey as they learn to overcome their obstacles and maybe eventually find love (this is a slow burn romance).  I have decided to give them three books, so there’s plenty more to come from them this year.  You can also expect to see many of your favorite characters from the Sensor Series to find out how they’re doing.

Check out all the details below, including the summary and retailer links. Hope you enjoy!

SUMMARY

Cori Marsh might have a shady past, but at least she’s human, which is more than she can say for her new neighbor. Bartol is something else—a nephilim who just got out of a century-long sentence in Purgatory that damaged him both inside and out. He’s as intriguing as he is grumpy, and she’s determined to fix him no matter how much he tries to push her away.

But Cori has her own problems. A man from her past has returned to Fairbanks, Alaska to seek revenge. While she can hold her own against the average person, this guy is no longer human, and he’s determined to make her pay for what she did years ago.

If she’s to survive the danger coming for her, Cori will need the help of her supernatural friends—especially Bartol. And if a little romance develops along the way with the nephilim? Well, at least she’ll have gotten his mind on something besides what he went through in Purgatory.

Word count: 92,000

Add to your Goodreads list here:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33833791-destined-for-shadows

*I will post updates on the paperback and audio formats as I have them.


RETAILER LINKS

AMAZON US     AMAZON UK

AMAZON DE     AMAZON AU

AMAZON CA    AMAZON FR

NOOK   KOBO   ITUNE

Cover Reveal -Destined for Shadows by Susan Illene

reblogged from http://www.susanillene.com/2017/03/06/cover-reveal-for-destined-for-shadows/

I am excited to reveal the cover for Destined for Shadows to you all today, and if you keep reading, there is a giveaway to go with the post!

This is the first book in the Dark Destiny Series (a spin-off of the Sensor Series).  Both this book and the second one will feature Cori and Bartol as the main characters.  Originally, I’d planned to give them only one installment, but with their histories and obstacles to overcome, I felt there was a lot to tell that probably wouldn’t fit into just one novel.  After I conducted a poll last spring among readers, I found everyone who responded agreed and thought Cori and Bartol needed at least two books.

COVER ART– Victoria Miller

PHOTOGRAPHER– Josh McCullock

MODELS– Samantha and Max Radcliffe

 

SUMMARY

Cori Marsh might have a shady past, but at least she’s human, which is more than she can say for her new neighbor.  Bartol is something else—a nephilim who just got out of a century-long sentence in Purgatory that damaged him both inside and out. He’s as intriguing as he is grumpy, and she’s determined to fix him no matter how much he tries to push her away.

But Cori has her own problems.  A man from her past has returned to Fairbanks, Alaska to seek revenge.  While she can hold her own against the average person, this guy is no longer human, and he’s determined to make her pay for what she did years ago.

If she’s to survive the danger coming for her, Cori will need the help of her supernatural friends—especially Bartol.  And if a little romance develops along the way with the nephilim?  Well, at least she’ll have gotten his mind on something besides what he went through in Purgatory.

Expected release date- March 25th, 2017

************

We conducted the photo shoot for the Cori and Bartol books back on February 6th.  I was lucky to find a husband and wife model team who fit close to what my characters looked like, and it definitely helped show the chemistry between them for the various poses we used (some of the ones you see in the video were for promo and others for the covers).

Because Bartol has burn scars on one side of his face from his time in Purgatory, I wanted that reflected on the model for the cover.  I hired a fantastic makeup artist, Celeste Raquel, to handle it and thought she did an amazing job. It isn’t an exact replica of how Bartol’s scars would appear since his are a little more extensive and influenced by magic, but it’s fairly close.

Celeste and her assistant, Mauri, also had to do a major tattoo cover-up job because the models had tattoos the characters did not. In addition to that, we had to put a wig on the female model so her hair color and style could match Cori’s from the book.  It took several hours to prep the models, but I am very pleased with how the shots turned out.  It was definitely worth all the effort.

 

And now for the giveaway details!  Three lucky individuals will receive an ebook copy of Destined for Shadows the day before it releases.  All you need to do is leave a comment on this post http://www.susanillene.com/2017/03/06/cover-reveal-for-destined-for-shadows/ (not Goodreads if you’re reading from there) and make sure you put a valid email address in the appropriate field so that I can contact you if you win.  This giveaway will remain open until March 15th, and the winners will be announced shortly thereafter.

Also, if you’d like to add the novel to your Goodreads TBR list, you can do so here.

First Chapter – Blood of Denebria by Jean Kilczer

Today I have a First Chapter for you from Blood of Denebria, book four in the Star Sojourner series by my friend Jean Kilczer.  This is a great series.

jean-blood-of-denbria

 

Description1

A sinister alien race invades a peaceful planet, planning to eat its inhabitants. Jules Rammis has another heroic mission to accomplish.

Jules – telepath, astrobiologist and reluctant hero – has faced many nasty aliens in his adventures. But never a race so sinister, so cruel, that it invades the peaceful planet of Denebria specifically to use its people as a food supply.

Jules is drawn into the fray when his former father-in-law, retired Counter-Terrorist Captain Joe Hatch, convinces Jules to accompany his undercover team to Denebria, posing as a consultant. Jules must attempt to discover the BEMs’ homeworld in a mindlink with a BEM leader, and allow the Worlds Alliance Forces to engage the brutal race on their own turf.

It should be a walk in the park, but the BEM’s show more resourcefulness than anyone expected, and Jules and the team find themselves in a fight for their lives. Jules is compelled to increase his powerful tel abilities even further, but is it enough to vanquish the BEMs’ All Mother, or has Jules finally met his match?

The fourth book in Jean Kilczer’s Star Sojourner Series, Blood of Denebria is a standalone novel and can be enjoyed even if you haven’t read other books in the series.

chapter

 

I watched stars streak by through the viewport as our small ship plunged out of control toward the deadly radiation zones of the inner galaxy. The Instrument panel sparked. Burned wires dangled as Sojourner made erratic jumps.

“Chancey!” I yelled into my BioSuit mic as I tried to loosen a strut that held the airlock’s damaged outer door shut. “The damn thing’s jammed!”

“Give me sixty seconds, Jules,” he said evenly. Chancey doesn’t get shaken. He burned through a tie-down on the lifeboat and snapped the clamp open. I continued to tug on the strut as he kicked off and floated toward me. His muscular body stretched the form-fitting suit around his biceps and chest as he grabbed handholds and pulled himself along in zero gravity. His black, sculpted features were grim in the airlock’s flashing warning lights.

“Mayday. Mayday. Mayday!” Joe Hatch called in his gravelly voice through his mic and held down the transmit button on the Star Positioning System. “This is the starship SL-5 Sojourner. Our ship is damaged and making unprogrammed jumps. Four adults onboard. Calling anyone. Request assistance. We are launching the lifeboat.”

“We’re trying to,” I said through my teeth and gripped the wrench tighter. My stomach lurched as the ship jumped again. I yanked on the strut. “Hang on, Huff!” I yelled to my Vegan friend. His thickset body was stuffed into a Terran BioSuit and his movements were awkward and stiff. He nodded his white-furred snout which was jammed against the helmet. I heard him whine as he tried to untangle a maze of exposed sparking wires on the lifeboat’s bow with broad, gloved paws. “I’m hanging good, my Jules Terran friend,” he said, “and wish I were not being so bounced!”

We were silent as Joe tried again. “Grave and immediate danger,” he rasped into the unit. “All vessels, warp through our distress call to Operations on planet Alpha.”

When no response came, he glanced at me and Chancey and shook his head.

“Hurry up, Chancey!” I called as he approached, and yanked again on the jammed strut.

He reached me and gripped the wrench alongside my hands. With our boots braced against the wall, we pulled hard. I felt the strut move. “It’s loosening!” I said.

“Yeah.”

“We are about to abandon ship.” Joe said into his mic. Joe’s a retired captain with the Counter Terrorist Force of W-CIA, and my former father in law. We’d been in some tight spots together on planet Fartherland against General Ki Rowdinth, but I’d never seen his face so drawn, the lines of age so deep beneath his prominent nose and under the white stubble of his beard.

Grav adjusters swung wildly from Earth’s G- force to zero and back again, slamming us against the wall, then releasing us to float. With the airlock’s twisted door half blown, the danger was that one of us would be thrown out into space.

The adjusters swung back to E-force and our sudden weight as we yanked on the strut finally broke it free.

“C’mon,” Chancey said.

We went to the outer door and yanked it open to the eerie blackness of space, speckled with distant stars.

“Where the hell are we?” I whispered.

Chancey shook his head.

I listened to Joe’s continued distress call. “Any luck?” I asked him as Chancey and I made our way back to the lifeboat.

The look he gave me said more than his words. “I’m afraid we’re out of range.”

And out of luck, I thought. “I’ll lend you a hand,” I told Huff, and untangled two hot wires.

“Lend both of the hands, Jules,” Huff said. “This tangle of biting snakes needs the long human tentacles.”

“Hang on!” I yelled as Sojourner made another unscheduled jump. I tried to steady my breathing. I was using up air too fast, but we were still heading into some heavy radiation zones.

Joe set the SPS unit on Alpha’s Guard Station, though we had little hope of contact, and clamped it to his metallic waistband as the grav adjusters shut down again. The freed lifeboat tilted and floated into a wall. “Let’s go!” he said, “before the damned thing leaves without us.” He pulled himself inside the lifeboat and held open the door.

Chancey took the pilot’s seat and started the engines. Joe sat beside him and activated the distress signals on the heads-up holo display. Huff and I squeezed into the rear seats. It was tight quarters, to say the least. I helped him strap in, then clamped my own belts and stared out the viewport as Chancey guided the small craft through the torn outer door and into the vast silence of deep space.

“Does anybody happen to know why that ship attacked us?” I asked. “And who the hell were those crotefuckers?”

“The ship isn’t from any known system,” Joe said and studied the display. “I suspect we encountered a warship from the race that invaded Denebria.”

“They could’ve easily destroyed Sojourner,” Chancey said, “instead of just crippling her. I wonder why they didn’t?”

“Maybe they are not killers of people,” Huff offered.

I glanced at him.

“Maybe they are like the floe breeders of my homeworld who bite the tails off squigglers that crawl  onto their ice.”

“They bit off our tails all right,” Joe muttered.

A sense of desolation crept into my soul as Sojourner disappeared in another warp jump. Huff leaned his helmeted head against me and I patted his forearm. I watched over Joe’s shoulder as he studied the holo for Earth-type planets where we could land and await rescue.

Rescue, I thought, that would probably never come. “You see any promising planets, Joe?” I asked.

“The Search program located two possibles.” He pointed to two blinking dots on the holo. “They’re both E-types, but….”

I bit my lip as I waited.

“They’re both designated hostile-eight,” he finished.

“That’s a pretty high hostile rating,” Chancey said.

“Any chance on the Denebrian star system?” I asked.

“It’s off the map,” Joe said.

“My people have a saying for times like this,” Huff told us.

His people had a saying for every nuance in life. “OK, Huff. What do they say?”

“If you are lost in one of the oceans, do not search for rescue. Remain on your ice floe and let the rescue search for you.”

We were silent. The lifeboat was not capable of making jumps, and there were millions of “ice floes” out there.

I leaned back and closed my eyes. This was supposed to be a short trip to planet Denebria, where the gentle Denebrian folk were under attack by an aggressive race. We were supposed to drop off Chancey, a W-CIA undercover agent. As a telepath, I had agreed to attempt a probe of the invaders’ minds for clues as to their motivations, and possible methods to turn them back.

I pictured Shannon, my girlfriend from the Irish community on planet Fartherland, at home with her family and friends of dwarfs and tall people. I think we both knew from the beginning that we were star-crossed lovers, to coin a phrase. With no work for an astrobiologist in the small mining town of Gorestail on Fartherland, and with Shannon’s growing desire to return to her people and start a family, we both knew that the love affair was over.

After this supposedly Sunday jaunt, I was supposed to continue my work at the Los Alamos National Lab on blackroot, a strange animal-plant I’d run into, literally, on planet Halcyon, and visit my daughter Lisa on weekends.

That had been the plan. But the best laid plans….

Joe’s SPS suddenly crackled. “Mayday,” a voice came through in stelspeak. “Sojourner SL-5. This is Denebrian Outpost Deep Station warping through.

“Oh my God!” I clutched the backrest of Chancey’s seat.

“I knew that one of the Ten Gods would hear our prayers,” Huff whispered.

“We followed your ship’s jumps and we are homing in on your signals,” the voice said with metallic overtones. Was that the radio, I wondered, or the alien’s own timbre?

Chancey glanced at Joe, who was staring at the holo display. “I don’t recognize the accent,” Joe said, “and we’re too far out for a Denebrian station.”

“That’s what I was thinking,” Chancey said. “I’d say we run silent.”

“I should’ve known it was too good,” I muttered.

“There they are.” Joe pointed to a blip on the holo.

I watched him flip a row of levers as he shut down the signaling systems. “What about those two planets?” I asked.

“Once we land this boat,” Chancey said, “we’re committed. She can’t drive off-planet and she can’t make jumps.

“On the other hand,” I said, “our air supply here is limited.”

He nodded and steered the boat toward a star system.

“Chancey.” Joe pointed to a small rocky outer planet with a moon in tow. “We’ll hide out behind that one.”

Chancey nodded and turned toward the planet.

“This is Deep Station,” the voice came back. “We just lost your signals. What are your coordinates?”

Joe shut off the SPS unit.

“Wait a minute,” I said. “Can you hide in the shadow of that nighttime moon? I want to try for a telepathic probe of the ship.”

Chancey glanced at Joe.

“It’s worth a try,” Joe said and looked back at me. “See if you can get an image of their home system while you’re at it. The Worlds Alliance would like to know just where the hell they came out of. If we ever get back there to tell them.”

I nodded and lowered my head. With my eyes closed I mentally opened my mind to the void outside our boat and imagined myself drifting toward the starship, about two hundred yards away. It took a while, then I felt that strange, uneasy break between mind and body. My stomach clenched and I grabbed Huff’s forearm. He pressed it against me for reassurance. The prospect of probing alien mentalities, especially a warlike race that had attacked a peaceful people without provocation, was not conducive to a peaceful state of mind.

“I will hold your body and protect your living life in the arms of my being,” Huff said.

I felt the frigid black indifference between stars open up around me. The physical sensations ceased and there came that strange feeling of drifting, not through space, but through vibrations at the core of energy. The universe sang. I willed my kwaii, what we Terrans call soul, to move through the subliminal music and toward the alien ship.

The gray hull sparked with electrical streaks through glassy tubes, but metal was no more than the barrier of water when you dive beneath the viscous surface. I went through it and into the ship.

I mentally gasped and almost backed out at the alien nature of the chamber. I had entered some kind of a nursery. In the yellow lights, strings of burgundy eggs hung like dark grapes on vines from the convex ceiling, except that these grapes had eyes and gulping mouths within their fluid-filled sacs. Perhaps a hundred vines swayed in the flow of air from wall vents. Behind the transparent ceiling, blue and green liquid swirled, came together in emerald shades, then parted again.

Damn! I thought as a thirty-foot long amorphous alien with bulging egg sacs protruding from beneath her mantle floated above the ceiling, enmeshed in stems of the branching vines. She was attended by the vague forms of much smaller creatures who scurried around her body. One mounted her rear and heaved against her in what I assumed was a transfer of sperm. The other fed her dark chips. Her body undulated and eggs slid down vines like tiny droplets of black rain. The egg cases that touched the soft, white-furred floor beneath, bulged like glistening ripe melons, with developed fetuses that wiggled within their translucent shells.

And I thought blackroot was strange!

Could this be a warship? I wondered.

As I watched, a large egg case split open. Bubbly fluid leaked out. The brown “baby,” all arms and eyes and tentacles, plopped wetly to the encompassing folds of the furry carpet. His round mouth opened and closed as he gasped in air. Short, prickly hairs, like porcupine quills, began to stiffen and dry. He turned and climbed the vine on slippery tentacles, bit off a smaller egg and chewed it.

Jesus and Vishnu. As an astrobiologist I had seen some strange lifeforms, but these aliens were in a class all their own.

A round chamber door slid open and I instinctively backed away, then remembered that I had no physical substance. The seven-foot tall creature who entered had the largest eyes I’d ever seen on any Earth or alien species. They protruded from his domed head like two golden discs. Nose slits opened and closed as he breathed. His mouth was a downward curve of brown-speckled lips.

He stalked into the chamber on two muscular tentacles with splayed toes. More ropy tentacles were wrapped around his elongated body, with toes and fingers curled. He was all tentacles and head, with a prickly coat of sable fur that rippled across muscles as he walked.

Holy Christ and Brahma, I thought. BEMs! I’d seen photos of them on history cubes and in books. We called them bug-eyed-monsters because no race in the known worlds could pronounce their native name. They were an aggressive people, known for their brutal slaughter of captured enemies during the Twelve-Year- with the Worlds Alliance. Their unchecked breeding habits had driven them to invade inhabited worlds in a quest for much-needed resources. The war ended with their defeat and the destruction of their military machine. That was over a hundred E-years ago. They were never traced back to their homeworld and never heard from again, to everyone’s relief.

Until now. Had they rebuilt their war machine? Then Denebria was probably just the first world in another expansionist agenda. Great Mind, was the Alliance in for an all-out war? I resolved to gather as much information as possible while on this ship and hope that somehow we could relay it to Alpha.

I watched the BEM go to the baby, unravel three more tentacles and pick him up. He tucked the newborn under his short, furred mantle. To nurse? I wondered, as he left the room walking on four tentacles this time, probably to brace himself with the added weight of the infant.

Great Mind, what were you thinking, I thought, when you came up with this one?

I moved into the next chamber, a bedroom, I assumed, of round staggered platforms like spiral staircases. Two adults lay curled on the platforms, their saucer eyes covered by great lids with lashes. Seven infants, ranging in size, slept or played in frosted cubicles stacked along the walls.

I watched the adult with the newborn open an empty cubicle, carefully place the infant inside, and insert a feeding tube into its mouth. Tiny tentacles waved from under the baby’s mantle and a slit seeped yellow fluid. The adult closed the lid and moved among the cubicles, tweaking dials and tapping the covers. The playing babies responded by tapping the insides of the covers.

I willed myself to drift into the next chamber, the galley, where metal straws, each in its own carved sphere, protruded from the ceiling like udders. Three adults clung upside down, their mantles clamped to the spheres, their bodies rippling as they drank through straws. Another BEM sat on a counter, eating curled green chips from a stacked pan. I wondered what the smells and sounds would be like as I drifted through the chamber and into the next one.

And there it was. The heart of the warship. The control room. Holo screens scanned space around the ship. Searching for us? I wondered. The big laser cannons, seen on monitors, jutted from starboard and portside. Only Great Mind knew what other weaponry was contained onboard. Chancey had been right. They could have blown us into the next universe if they’d wanted to. I could only guess at the nature of this ship: reconnaissance, attack vessel, support for ground troops? Or something else. A chill settled in my mind. Were they growing those juveniles as replacements for future lost combat troops?

Fifteen aliens manned the maze of controls in a circle. I saw no insignias nor any other signs to distinguish officers from crew. Perhaps, as with ant colonies, it was the queen who ran the show. If we ever managed to contact Alpha, the seat of the Worlds Government, I would relay that information. Kill the queens and you might abort the attacks on Denebria and other worlds.

I chose an alien who sat at a central console within the circle. Usually a power tag is in the center, surrounded by his officers. I conjured a red coil of telepathic power within my mind and spun it like a spider forming a silk thread. I forced it to spin and grow. A tel probe is no fun. It burns out brain cells and I always end up with a headache. At the least. When it swelled into a small tornado, I threw it at him and probed.

And was beaten back by a swarm of tel links. This was a communal mind! They descended like bees to sting my mind. I threw up mental shields as they tried to shred the coherence of my thoughts in a tsunami of deep probes.

Uh oh. I backed toward the hull. Time to leave this tangled web. But my shields were forced down in a synchronized attack.

Mind thief, one sent. What are you doing here?

Intruder, another shouted within my mind. Intruder! Intruder!

Invader of the homeship!

I’m leaving, OK? I sent. I’m going now. Bug off.

They conjured a mental curtain that blocked out the control room and the ship’s hull, leaving me lost in a void without reference points. I tried to squeeze out of the  spider web by moving toward an image I projected of the lifeboat. A tel force came through, stronger than the others. A thought in their native tongue plowed across my mind and left erratic furrows like spaces in my thoughts.

Was that the queen?

The curtain dropped. I was suddenly released, as though the web was ripped aside. I willed myself out of the ship and fled back to Sojourner, followed by a swarm of tel links that struck at me like bee stings until I entered our boat and my body.

The sensations of living flesh grew around me in layers. A murmur of voices. “I think he’s back,” Chancey said. I felt the pressure of the seat and my BioSuit and helmet against my body. The taste of air was stale as I drew in a long, shuddering breath. I opened my eyes. They ached from the sudden glare of light and I tried to rub them, but my fingers hit the helmet. Huff and Joe and Chancey were gathered around me.

“Jules Terran,” Huff said, “is your mind with your body again?”

I nodded.

“You were out there a long time, Chancey said. “What happened, tag?”

“Did you find out anything?” Joe asked.

“They’re BEMs, Joe,” I told him. “The Denebrian invaders are BEMs!”

Joe straightened. “Are you “Are you certain of that? Nobody’s heard from them for over a hundred years.”

“They’re back,” I said. “I’ve seen the photos of them on old cubes.”

“How come the Denebrians never told Alpha that they’re BEMs?” Chancey asked.

“The Denebrians were never in contact with them,” Joe said. “They wouldn’t know a BEM from an Altairian guzzler. They’re a clannish race. They weren’t interested in history beyond their own planet and the BEMs didn’t attack Denebria in the Twelve-Year-War.

“I’ll bet Denebria was on their short list,” I said, “before the BEMs’ defeat.”

Huff drew back his lips and shook his head, a sign of fear among Vegans. “Is my homeworld Kresthaven also on their list of shorts? We are also clannish about our clans.”

“I hope not, Huff,” I said.

Chancey sat and stared out a viewport. “I thought they got kicked down the technological ladder after their defeat, Joe.”

“They climbed back up,” I said. “Great Mind! I might have led them to us. Let’s get the hell out of here!”

Chancey swiveled his chair to face the instrument panel. “That’s why they didn’t destroy Sojourner.” He started the engines. “They know we’re from Alpha.” He glanced at Joe. “They’d like to know why an Alpha military scout ship was heading for Denebria.”

The clunk of metal clamping to the hull vibrated throughout the boat.

“That’s a tow line.” Joe stood up and stared at a monitor. “They’ve got us.”

“Damn,” I said softly.

“Listen to me,” Joe said. “All of you. Remember your cover. We came as consultants at the request of the Denebrians. We’re not taking sides in this conflict. We’re the avant garde of a peace-keeping force. You got that, Huff?”

Huff nodded. “I am here to keep peace from becoming war.”

“Joe,” I said, “there’s just one problem with that.”

“And that would be?” he asked grimly.

“The BEMs possess a communal mind, and it’s telepathic.”

He sat down hard beside Chancey. “Then we’d damn well better all believe the same lie.”

Links7

AMAZON US       AMAZON UK

WEB/BLOG       FACEBOOK       TWITTER

AMAZON AUTHOR