Books, Books and More Books!!

Books, Books and More Books!!
Publications from Taki Drake

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Bridge of Honor Snippet - Next Standard of Honor Backbone Novel

Time for a Saturday Snippet! This one is from the next Standard of Honor mainline book - Bridge to Honor. I hope you enjoy it - Zhanna and Dascha are having LOTS of adventure and action!

Remember - this is not edited and my change before publication!

------------------------Snippet 01-------------------------

The air was thick with perfume. Zhanna could smell some of her favorite flowers from back home, but there were other, more exotic odors that teased her nostrils and set her afire with curiosity. The smell was sweet, but the sad young woman was conscious that every day she was reminded that this was not home. Home but not home, the differences sometimes scraping her nerves like sharp fingernails down an open wound.

Here in the garden, she could sometimes forget the strangeness and the desperate need to adjust to a new world that she woke up with every morning and carried into her slumber at night. Here, the garden was quiet, and she could find peace.

Zhanna and her Familiar, Dascha, sat in the unusually warm sunlight on a bench near one of the ponds that had developed over the last couple weeks in her backyard. If she turned and looked closely, Zhanna could see the structure of her house from here. << How can I call it home, when it is so huge? Perhaps palace would be a better term. >>

<< Stop working yourself into a tizzy! My Witch, things have changed, but at least we are alive! >>

<< You are right, Dascha. I just feel like I’m a child in grown-up clothing, and pretty soon, everyone’s going to know that I’m not up to my responsibilities. >>

Zhanna felt the deep vibration of her Familiar’s purr. It was like an aural hug that communicated all of Dascha's love and belief. The weary young Witch relaxed into that sensation, treasuring the affection and letting the soothing sound of the resonant hum relax her tense muscles and enclose her in arms of peace.

Lost in that ease, Zhanna felt a sharp pang of danger and Dascha’s mental whisper of warning. The cat said, << Zhanna, be cautious and do not move quickly. Please stay calm and carefully open up your eyes. >>

<< What?! >>

<< Please, my Witch. Do exactly what I tell you. >>

Zhanna could never remember a time when Dascha had sounded so wary, even frightened. Even amid battle, her Familiar had never sounded this way. Unsure and terrified.

The young Witch carefully opened her eyes and began to straighten her spine. As her eyes started to focus, the surprising presence of a small creature directly in front of her yanked on her control like a runaway horse attempting to flee a horrific enemy. Blinking several times to clear her vision, Zhanna stared in amazement at what had to be an unknown species of Hidden Folk standing in front of her.

The small creature was less than 2 feet tall, with eyes of a glowing blue and with a striped pelt. Heavily furred, it would have looked cuddly like a child’s toy if it had not been armed with two wicked looking blades. One was a saw-toothed dagger that looked like a sword in the creature’s hands, while the other a triple-bladed stiletto. The paws that held them were rock steady, and the balanced stance told her that she was looking at a fighter.

Zhanna caught the eyes of the Hidden Folk in her own and saw buried fear and iron determination in the glowing orbs’ depth. Despite the characteristics that made Zhanna think of stuffed toys and dolls, she knew this creature was dangerous.

The silence dragged on until the young Witch regained her equilibrium enough to ask, “What is it that you seek? Also, why do you approach me with a show of deadly force?”

The shock of her speech drew an involuntary gasp from her Familiar and a startled blinking from her visible opponent.

Zhanna spoke mentally to Dascha, saying, << Dascha, I doubt if there is only one. If this were an assassin, they would have already hurt me. See if you can sense any other stranger in the area. >>

Still frozen in place, the would-be attacker and Zhanna kept gazing deeply into each other’s eyes. After a few seconds, Dascha answered her Witch, saying, << Three others. Two in the undergrowth to your right by the edge of the pond and one up on the left in a tree. The one in the tree appears to have a bow. >>

There was still no sound or reaction from the fighter standing within stabbing distance of Zhanna. Deciding that her response had shocked the Hidden Folk stranger, Zhanna tried one more time, asking, “What is it that you seek?”

Finally, the stranger responded, speaking in an understandable, high voice, “What sort of Witch are you? You do not stink of corruption like a Blood Mage. But you are not frightened and hiding like one of the Nature Witches that cower in order to survive.”

Startled in turn by the fact that the Hidden Folk spoke understandably, Zhanna answered as best she could, “I am Zhanna Artyrofna, a Witch of a different world and time. Unfortunately, I don’t know how magic users are classified in this world, so I cannot tell you what type I am in a manner that will make sense to you. Perhaps, if you explained the names of the different types of witches, I can be more informative.”

Dropping the blade tips down from a battle-ready position, the small creature took two steps closer to Zhanna. The two, stranger and Witch, were so close together that the young Witch could feel the air movement as the little one took a deep breath, inhaling her scent.

<< Zhanna, the Hidden Folk fighter is exhausted. If I didn’t know better, I would say that she is in battle shock. >>

<< I agree. I’ve seen too many others that have suffered from the same thing. >>

Spinning so abruptly that Zhanna almost shot to her feet, the small fighter turned toward the group that Dascha had identified near the pond shore and shouted, “Martya, she is not a Blood Mage. I am not sure what she is, but she has no stench of evil, and she has a Familiar.”

Zhanna took a breath in, partially in relief, and also to provide her the air necessary to speak when every word that she thought to say was erased from her brain as a terrified and exhausted young girl of no more than five crawled out of the underbrush and stood up.

Both Dascha and Zhanna watched in stunned amazement as the little girl scrambled to her feet, and charged toward the seated Witch, crying, “Please, please, help my Baba and the others. We have been hiding and running, and they have almost caught up with us. Baba has been hiding everyone so that the bad men cannot see us, but she is very tired. Please don’t let my Baba die too.”
------------- End of Snippet 01 -----------

Friday, October 25, 2019

My short stories are on both Wenebojo and in Halloween Anthologies!


I really appreciate the fact that I have some of my short stories going up on the bookcast streaming service, Wenebojo. I had two episodes of Traditions of Childhood, from the Unfettered Mage series that were free for a day, and all of my stories that are in the three Halloween anthologies being rolled out within a month.

Being part of something that makes stories more accessible to people, irrespective of their ability to read quickly or challenges they might have hearing and seeing, is very rewarding.

I hope you have time to visit Wenebojo.com. I know that my readers that have signed up for the subscription service are delighted with it. Many of them have children or grandchildren and the license that allows four users at a time is very cost-effective for them.

We have been told that there will continue to be a free episode available leading up to Thanksgiving in the US. Instead of only having one day to experience the bookcast episode, the November-featured episodes and authors will be changed every other day.

Here is the video that Wenebojo just published and if you would like to see the anthologies, they are available on Amazon. They are Tricky Treats, Haunted Hearts, and Treated to Tricks.

Enjoy!



Monday, October 7, 2019

A Special Trick or Treat Story from Life's Garden in a new Phoenix Prime anthology

In plenty of time to enjoy before Halloween, the Phoenix Prime group has published a new anthology called Treated to Tricks. I am pleased to say that my story, Everyone Loves Halloween, is in there.

The stories that I write about contemporary life have been scattered among a large number of anthologies over the last few years. Later this year, I will be publishing a compendium of those for easy reading.

I hope that this tale is one of your favorite treats this Halloween. Look for a few more this month from me, as I get closer to finishing Unfamiliar Pathways!


The anthology is available on Amazon and Amazon KU, and if you wish to learn more about it and the other great stories it contains, you can click to the page on this link.

A New Unfettered Mage Story

Traditions of Childhood is a standalone story in the Unfettered Mage series that takes place around the time of  Mage and Mate. I loved writing this tale about how traditions and ceremony to help anchor people in a new home.

Of course, not is all that it seems in what starts out as a loving gesture from a grandmother to her grandchildren. I hope that you will enjoy it!


The book is available on Amazon and Amazon KU. To see more of it, click here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Mage and Mate - The Next Unfettered Mage book is released!


Welcome to the third book in the Unfettered Mage Series, Mage and Mate. This was both an exciting and terrifying book to write. It is the first book in this series where I chose to work with a collaborator.

I was blessed to find a collaboration partner that I thought would appreciate the world that I had started to build and one would that add a new spice to the mixture that I cook up every time I write. I found that person in another Phoenix Prime author, Paul C. Middleton.

We embarked on the book that I thought would be the planned Fleet Genesis, but soon ran into trouble. There were so many wonderful, rich ideas, but we could not do them justice by trying to cram them into a single book.

The result was a book split into lengths that were more reasonable. Sort of...

Even this portion of the original is well over 80K words! Since what was supposed to be Fleet Genesis now has been expanded into multiple tales, we have a great start on the next one (actually 5!). The next book is almost half-written and its title is Social Combat. It will be followed by Elemental Connections

Paul and I hope you will enjoy this story and we both are committed to not making you wait so long for the next one. Please let me know what you think of it! 

I will be here... writing!


Thursday, August 8, 2019

Unfettered Mage Book - Snippet 07


The book is getting closer to done! I pleased with the progress and hoping to get this out in the next 10-14 days! In the meantime, here is another snippet!

Remember, this is not edited!!
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ForceX Bar, Arkken Port

It had been a short drive to the Marine bar known as ForceX. The drinking establishment had been the first place that Ruth had planned on visiting when she landed on the planet. It was here that she had returned the effects of Sarge Brandark, the man who had sacrificed himself on the slave ship to allow her to live.

Holding Sarge’s wake there had led to other significant events in the short time that the Mage had been on the planet Arkken. If Ruth could’ve called anyone on the world an ally, she would’ve used that term to describe the bartender at the ForceX Bar.

Luka Grission was not just the bartender, he was part-owner of the drinking establishment itself. Tied tightly into both active and former military circles, he was a good source of information, and both Pawlik and Ruth valued him as a person of honor.

That was why Ruth was there.

Pawlik had gone out to another meeting with some of his political contacts, leaving the Mage at loose ends. While the nobleman was gone, a message had been brought in tagged for Ruth’s attention. It was a note from Luka, saying that he had some crucial topics to discuss with her and hoped that she would be able to stop by within the next day or so.

Of course, she’d been ready to take off immediately. Her security detail put their collective foot down and insisted that she wait for them to prepare. Jenna resisted all blandishments and took the time to assemble a security detail. Ruth fussed and fumed, but the delay wasn’t that long. By the time they took off from Borachland Castle, it was still less than an hour between Ruth getting the message and their shuttle leaving.

The big hurry may have increased their discomfort, Ruth thought to herself. However, it’s good for them to stop thinking of me as a package that needs to be moved around. This package has legs, and they can lead, follow, or get out of the blasted way.

Walking through the doors of the ForceX Bar still gave Ruth the shock of going from full light to almost complete darkness. At least at this point, it was a known feeling. Pausing for a short moment to get her bearings, Ruth was nearly overrun by one of her security detail.

Smiling at his muttered apology, Ruth walked over toward the bar and called out, “Hi Luka! I hope you have started to stock the better liquor because I really could use a drink and I don’t want to drink any wimpy stuff.”

The bartender let a hearty belly laugh loose and reached below the bar to pull a bottle and several glasses. “Hello, yourself. I suppose we should be honored that the Lady Mage is visiting us.”

“Only if you want me to drink you under the table at the insult,” Ruth replied.

“No, no. Anything but that! Think of the terrible things you would do to my reputation if I allowed that to happen.”

“Then you better not give me any further snobbish words, because we are here for good companionship and drinks before we have to take off for home again.”

“Obviously, you’re going to need some people to drink with you. It wouldn’t be any fun to drink by yourself, and I know better than to try to tempt your bodyguards.”

“I suppose you’re right. Do you have any recommendations for someone who’s not going to get freaked out by drinking with a non-Marine? Preferably, someone who won’t hit on me.”

The bartender chortled and looked around the room, making a show of his slow perusal. There were very few people sitting in the bar at that point, but the Mage made special note of several of them. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed that Jenna had stiffened when she had seen two of the same three that Ruth had marked.

Ruth heard Jack, Jenna’s AI weapon, say, << Isn’t that the Major? I thought he was acting more like a hermit these days instead of drinking at a bar. >>

Jenna replied silently, surprising Ruth because she very seldom did that when the Mage was around. In a quiet mental voice, the former Marine said, << Yes, if you think that it is Major Alan Culhane. >>

<< OK. Now you can explain to me why that dimwitted excuse for an officer, Lieut. Trempal is slumming in a Marine bar. >>

Before Jenna could reply to Jack, a new mental voice interjected, << I think he was here because he had been ordered to spy on the occupants of the bar. However, when Alan and I showed up, his orders changed, and now he’s here to try to see who we might meet with and what other bits of meat he can scavenge. >>

Both Jack and Jenna exclaimed in unison, << Frag him! >>
-------------------------------------------

Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Snippet 06 from the new book in the Unfettered Mage Series!

I am hard at work writing the next book in the Unfettered Mage Series. The flow of the story arc has changed a bit with all of the voices that need to be heard. Finally, this has the right shape and I expect to publish the book in the next two weeks!

In the meantime, here is a little snippet from the story for your entertainment.

PLEASE remember, as usual, this is unedited!



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Of course, she wasn’t alone. Even now, in the protection of Ruth’s private quarters, she had a bodyguard. Jenna was on duty and stood within the room. The former Marine was armed and exuded danger and power.

The Mage glanced at her companion, words flowing through her head,
I think I’m doing pretty well to adjust to Arkken. I’m coping with bodyguards following me everywhere and living in something that looks like a cross between a medieval castle and a modern tech fantasy. Spaceships and swords. Who would’ve thought the reading of my youth would make this seem familiar?

Outside of the people at the castle, and those that had been on the slave ship with her, Ruth did not know many people. For the most part, her schedule was her own, and she told people when she wanted to talk to them.

The alert tone of the communicator on the wall of her room was even more startling because she had expected to be totally undisturbed. The source of the call was hidden, an icon going the equivalent of what on earth would have been an unlisted number notification. With a wide-eyed glance at Jenna, Ruth asked, “Who do you suppose it is? I don’t know that many people.”

Jenna frowned and said, “Even more importantly, how did they get your number?”

“Only one way to find out. Let me answer it.”

The bodyguard moved to be out of the view of the caller but pulled a recording device from her belt. At Jenna’s nod, Ruth tapped the icon to accept the call.
Shocked, the Mage recognized the man whose image now showed. Unsure of why he was calling her, Ruth greeted him by name, “Senior Auditor Rick, what a surprise. To what do I owe the honor of your call?”

The slender, precise man twitched his face into the approximation of a smile. Leaning slightly forward toward the screen, he said, “I wanted to extend my thanks and the gratitude of others in the Auditors Guild for your handling of the misfortunate audit problems. We deeply appreciated your cooperation in this and wanted you to know that nothing like that will ever happen again.”

Ruth knew how mortified the man must feel and how important it was to the Auditors Guild that they were seen as incorruptible and perfect. It had never crossed her mind to trumpet the fact that they had made an error. Any gratitude for her perceived forbearance was simply a plus.

“You are very welcome, and I truly hope that you never have to deal with something like that again.”

When Ruth would’ve ended the call, Auditor Rick raised his hand to stop her, and said, “It occurred to me after we had left our meeting that there might be some information that someone raised in the Alliance would have that you are missing.”

“Yes, I’m finding all sorts of holes in my understanding and patching them as quickly as I can. I just hope that nothing critical is missing. I would hate to have people injured or other accidents happen because of my ignorance.”

“With that in mind, several of us prepared some information packets that we thought you might find useful. I am transmitting them over to your incoming message queue now. Some of them concern local laws and regulations as well as the definition of the powers and responsibility that an Unfettered Mage holds. 

 “Additional information covers similar topics for anyone wearing the circlet of the Archmage. Since there hasn’t been either a powerful Fettered Mage or any Unfettered Mage in multiple millennia, you might find it difficult to find those guidelines.”

Ruth smiled in gratitude, and said happily, “Thank you! That will be very helpful.”

Looking satisfied, the dignified Auditor added, “Some of the other packets of information cover areas that might actually be dangerous for you and your people. After so long, the existence of an emerging Unfettered Mage may excite some of the more radical organizations throughout the galaxy. While most of these tend to be poorly funded and not particularly powerful, many of them have members that are fanatics and will go to great lengths to cause you harm.”

“That sounds perilous, and frankly wasn’t something I expected to hear. Are there any specific groups that you think would be the most concerning?”

Sighing, the Auditor look suddenly tired. Running a hand across his face, he scrubbed his eyes for a moment and looked deeply into Ruth’s eyes across the electronic interface. “Some of the worst ones go by names that cover their fury at the galaxy in general and twisted logic with labels that proclaim them to be on the side of good. Two of the worst are the Protectorate Cadre and the Order of the Just. Most of the others are just flash and no substance.”

Ruth sighed in dismay and heard a very soft echo from Jenna. Once again trying to look appreciative, the Mage responded, saying, “Thank you again for your consideration, Senior Auditor Rick. I will definitely delve into the information you have sent me. I will also make sure that all the necessary people on my staff see it.”

The man nodded in acknowledgment and ended the call, calling out an ending farewell, “You are very welcome, Mage. The Auditors Guild always balances its transactions.”
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Snippet 01 from the next book in the Familiar Magic Series - Unfamiliar Pathways


I am hard at work on multiple books right now. One of them is another adventure for TT, the scarred, white Persian Familiar. I thought you would find this snippet interesting.

Remember that this section is unedited, please.
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Exhausted, TT collapsed onto the stony ground and panted, breath burning in her throat and swirling with the taste of sweat in her lungs. She couldn’t remember a time in her life that she had hurt more or been as tired. All the young cat wanted to do, was lie still and try to remember how to breathe. It was soon evident, that was not going to be an option.

<< Come on, TT. We need to move faster! Lives could depend on us, and we shouldn’t be this slow. >>

<< At least, let me catch my breath! >>

<< The Trials won’t give you the time to relax, and you know that real life doesn’t either. >>

<< I am still recovering! >>

<< Welcome to the real world, Princess. Now, get your furry white butt up and let’s run through this course again. >>

Slave driver! TT thought to herself. Even though Dascha was her best friend, the Familiar didn’t understand that others might be just mortal. Well, that isn’t really fair, either. Dascha is just trying to whip me into shape for the Trials. After all, we don’t have much time to get ready. And I did promise to help her exercise her skills, too.

TT wasn’t exactly sure how she had gone from helping Dascha to prepare for the Familiar Trials and practicing for them herself. The white Persian had tried to argue that she was not a Familiar any longer, but that certainly hadn’t worked. Dascha’s response had been short and sweet.

<< You are still a Familiar! That didn’t change simply because you had a creep for Witch who repudiated and tried to kill you. It just means that you are unbonded, and that is no excuse for letting your skills deteriorate. >>

Frustrated, TT had complained in turn to her Uncle Jack, but he had been even less sympathetic. First, he had made a hissing sound of derision and then treated her to his distinctive stare that said how much he was disappointed in her attitude and behavior. When he thought that she had gotten that message, a verbal chastisement was added.

TT had never heard her Uncle Jack sound quite like he did that day, when he said, << Many Familiars go through periods where they are not bonded. I still consider myself a Familiar because I have the capability of supporting a Witch, but I am simply not connected to one right now. In the future, you may choose a new Witch, and it would be pretty stupid for you to have let your skills wither. >>

Stumbling over her words in a rush to explain, TT found herself whimpering and whining. Jack listened for a little while before interrupting her, << I know the whole situation was horrible. You almost died and encountered a very evil magic user. I also know that you’re scared to touch your skills for fear that exercising that part of your abilities might bring her back. That won’t happen. >>

<< The danger is too great! She found me before by my abilities. What if she finds me again? >>

<< Then Zhanna and Dascha will protect you. I will help you. You have friends here and allies. Trust in us, even if you can’t trust yourself. >>

<< It would just be safer for everybody if I never touched my magic again. >>

<< You can let that disgusting excuse for a Witch triumph and avoid your own strengths to stay hidden. But ask yourself this question. Why would you want to give her that power over you? Does she deserve to destroy a beautiful, strong part of you? Are you still letting her win? >>

The young and scarred white Persian had no response to that. Neither Jack nor Dascha pushed her anymore that day, but nightmares plagued TT’s sleep that night.

The overwhelming waves of pain that the Witch that supposedly loved her Familiar had inflicted crashed against the young cat’s subconscious like ocean waves pounding on the shore. A parade of images appeared and disappeared, like a roster of all those that helped her. TT's sleep was fragmented, and she woke more tired than when she went to bed.

Dragging her aching body out of the warm bed by Baba’s fire in the new cottage, TT walked to the practice yards that Dascha was using for training and conditioning. Without any further discussion, the white Persian began to mirroring Dascha and Jack’s exercises. Neither of the other two cats made any comment, respecting both her presence and her courage.

-------------------------------End of Snippet --------------------------------------



Saturday, July 13, 2019

A Perfect Writing Weekend!



This is another writing weekend for me. I am hoping to get a substantial amount done, and the setting is good! No extra work, no security calls, I am not sick or hurting more than usual, dogs are content, cat sound asleep in the sunlight on a wooden floor, looking peaceful.



Monday, May 6, 2019

Snippet from Mage Ascendant - a Spanner in the Unfettered Mage Series



This is a small snippet from the spanner in the TUFM series. Remember that it is unedited!
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The hardened mercenary officer dreaded this possibility with a backdrop of fear that goaded him into action, shortening his sleep, and pushing him into a flurry of intelligence gathering. Logic and intuition both told him that this was the most straightforward answer. It was the one most dangerous to him and his, and likely two the Galaxy at large.

If such a Mage had emerged in possession of their powers, how would they contain and control such a force? How could they determine if, and how, to fight that power?

No traditional source of information, no contact, no quiet query Gwilliam had tried resulted in even a hint of the driving force behind the Insectoid disappearance. Solving that mystery would require a defter touch than the Mercenary Commander possessed.

For the skills and power that was required, Gwilliam needed a mind unrestricted by the usual perception of time. With unsettling feelings of dread, Gwilliam acknowledged that something far beyond his talents and skill was demanded.

There was one place he knew to find that talent. It was a dangerous location for him and his crew, especially now. As much as he had cast his mind around looking for another solution, any solution, the answer came back to one option.

He would have to take a trip to the colony of Seers’ Rock.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sunday Snippet - Fleet Genesis - Snippet 2


Note: This snippet is unedited!

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<< Alan, wake up, please. Alan, WAKE UP!! >>

<< What? What’s the problem? >> grouched the man, resenting the interruption of a pleasant dream.

The telepathic touch of his AI weapon finally registered, sending a cold chill down the former Marine’s spine and bringing him to full alert. It had been a decade since he had felt that sort of urgency from the intelligent gun that was his constant companion. He wasted only a brief flash of regret on that memory, having long ago made peace with his altered circumstances.

<< There are people approaching, and the pattern of their movement says that they are not friends. >>

Old patterns reappear under moments of stress and Alan was no different than the rest of his old unit. << Report! >> he demanded.

<< Approximately five minutes ago, two vehicles approached our property. One of them stayed at the end of the drive and remains closed up. The other came halfway down the driveway, and a squad in loosely disciplined order spread from the vehicle leaving the driver inside. >>

<< Are there other signs of activity? >> 

Alan knew that the capabilities of the new weapon that housed his old friend included some features that hadn’t been fully explored by the two of them. The old soldier knew that that was really his fault. 

Arturis, the AI, had tried to share his enthusiasm for his new home, but Alan had sunk so far into despair that he couldn’t manufacture the energy.

Quickly, the AI detailed the invaders’ set up of an observer post within the clump of trees closest to the house and their concealment of manacles in a bag that two men were now carrying toward the front door.

Grunting in effort, Alan swung himself into his motorized wheelchair and strapped the safety restraint across his waist. His mind was working furiously as he considered options, but could not find a clear course of action. 

Quickly, he asked his companion, << Do you have any suggestions? I can’t think of a defensible position here. >>

The AI’s mental voice was hesitant as he said, << You know that I have been playing a little bit with the upgraded capabilities that we have since Archmage Ruth replaced the old gun. >>

At Allen’s acknowledgment, Arturis continued, << Some of those capabilities allow me to monitor and set up other units. Since you have been sleeping so much, I’ve been amusing myself by exploring the things that I can do. Some of your old unit members, both biological and AI, have been generous in supplying items for me to play with. >>

<< Stop worrying about whether I’m going to approve, and just tell me what options we have! We can argue about it later, but you know as well as I do that I’ve just been crawling into a hole. You shouldn’t feel responsible for that. It is my own cowardice, not yours. >>

Alan knew that the AI wanted to reassure him that it wasn’t cowardice, but the old soldier knew that he had been shutting down. He could feel the exact moment when Arturis decided to cut to the chase. 

The AI went back into reporting mode as he said, << I placed observational units that are very small around our property. I also deployed some perimeter defenses that are not individually very powerful but in aggregate will be a deterrent. Additionally, the perimeter of the house is guarded by stronger armor and weapons. >>

The wheelchair-bound former soldier felt an energizing wash of power run through him, and he sat up straighter in his motorized vehicle. An unfamiliar expression stretched his face, and he was surprised to realize that he was smiling.

<< Activate whatever passive protections that we have. Bring any weapons online that we need but don’t fire until they reveal their intentions. >>
<< Done. I don’t think we are going have to wait long since they are climbing the porch steps right now. >>

Alan sent his wheelchair toward his front door while slipping his gun into his left hand. He was almost at the door when the hollow reverberation of strong knocks echoed through his mostly empty hallway.

Boom. Boom. Boom.

Alan chose not to answer that preemptory sound and waited for a moment. He heard the murmur of conversation on the outside of the door but could not make out any specific words. 

Arturis said over their bond, << One of them wants to break in through the window, the other wants you to position yourself right by the door so they can take you out quickly. Apparently, they are after me, but they have orders not to kill you. >>

A sharp stab of fury brought a snarl to the retired soldier’s face as the threat to his companion did what no concern of his own danger would ever have done. The man who had been the leader of the planetary Marines for over a decade, commanding from the front lines, was on the edge of going berserk. Every one of his protective instincts had kicked in and what had been a mild challenge was now something far more severe.

“Maj. Culhane, the Council commands your appearance. You are directed to come with us, so please open the door.”

Arturis murmured, << That is the senior of the two. He probably thinks that we have a camera on the door because he is waving a fancy document in the air in front of it as if we were stupid enough to fall for that. >>

The snarl on the major’s face became a little more amused as he answered out loud, “I think you are confused, sir. I do not live in the town ruled by the Council, and I am no longer a member of the military under their command. In fact, since they disbanded the Navy, they have no military to command.”

Another voice intruded, snarling contemptuously, “You may have been important many years ago, old man, but now you have to obey your betters. Open this damn door, or we will break it down.”

“You are trespassing on private property, gentlemen. Please leave immediately, or I’m going to call law enforcement.”

The angry voice from outside continued at a shouting level, “They won’t do you any good, because we are going to have you gone before then. So open up the damn door and maybe we won’t kill you.”

Arturis said, << All defenses are now on active mode, and the weapons on the perimeter are live. Do you want to direct them? >>

<< You’re the one who’s been playing with them, not me. Don’t respond with deadly force unless they do something outrageous. Then let’s figure out what we are going to do because these jerks have seriously annoyed me! >>

In a private part of his mind, Arturis thought to himself, I suppose it is reprehensible of me, but I can’t help but be glad for the stupidity of these two. And the idiocy of whoever ordered them here. If I would’ve known long ago that attacking us would bring Alan out of depression, I would’ve engineered it myself.

No whisper of that came through their bond, and the old soldier was not interrupted as he listened to the forces outside start to deploy. The low hum of a force field could be felt in the hallway as the house defenses became active and ratcheted up. Curses from the two men on the porch started suddenly as small, and irritating shock attacks began to force their retreat from the house’s foundation.

Trusting his longtime companion, Major Alan Culhane (retired) set about planning the downfall of his enemies with a smile and reenergized appreciation for life.

---------------------------------End of Snippet-----------------------------

Saturday, January 26, 2019

New Covers on Familiar Shadows

I have republished Familiar Shadows under my own name as part of the detangling that TS Paul and I are doing. Amazon is supposed to connect the old and the new, so you should not have to repurchase the book to get any updates. There is one more book to fix, and that should be done in the next week. The new cover on Familiar Shadows looks like this.

The next book in the Familiar Magic series is about 70% done. Its working title is Unfamiliar Pathways. It deals with Paris and TT's former Witch. I think that those of you yelling for her blood will be ... satisfied.

Monday, January 14, 2019

New Anthology Contains Fun Story!

One of my stories has been published in the anthology Footsteps in the Snow. It is the beginning of a series that will be added to slowly over time, one that I have been thinking about for a while. It is light-hearted and fun, and I hope you like it!


It is available on KindleUnlimited and on Amazon here.