“We’re all cracked, but sometimes those cracks are just what we need to get results.”
– Captain Thomas Withers
The Endurance adventures end on June 24, 2016 with the fifth installment, Wet Ducks. The book is available for pre-order now! Read below for a blurb and a free sample chapter!
Back Cover Copy:
No one hides from the Haxozin Sovereignty forever.
The alien conquerors have finally located Earth, home of the explorers who have undermined their empire at every turn. They launch an all-out attack to rid themselves of rivals once and for all.
Only a handful of people escape: the disgraced crew of the UELE Endurance.
With humanity’s future hanging in the balance, Captain Thomas Withers and his ragtag crew of misfits must scour the galaxy for the one weakness that can topple a thousand-year-old empire. Enemies lurk on every side. Few expect the crew to succeed.
But Thomas and his team work on the Endurance. They’re used to bad odds. One way or another, one thing is clear: Earth’s worst space police are now its only hope for survival.
In this scene from early in the novella, the crew of the Endurance must rush to Earth to warn their superiors of an impending attack by the tyrannical Haxozin. The strategy they enact is a bit … unorthodox.
It was more than “kind of” dumb. Thomas sat in his chair, surrounded by Ivanokoff and two other officers manning the bridge’s front consoles. A screen hanging from the ceiling over the viewports showed one of the interior security camera feeds. On it, they watched the security chief’s progress. Areva Praphasat was dwarfed by her spacesuit, yet somehow she still moved with serpentine grace.
She stood in the center of the Endurance’s main loading ramp, anchored by tethers affixed to hooks in the bulkheads. The airlock between her and the rest of the ship was sealed, her progress only visible through the visual feeds from the ship’s security system.
The bulkhead to space was open. Far beneath the edge of the ramp, Neptune’s gas oceans glowed with ethereal light, the planet’s reflection of the sun unblocked by the satellite rings and space lanes seen in settled regions of the solar system.
Thomas tried to ignore the enormous projectile gun in Areva’s hands and instead focused on the bridge’s other hanging monitor, which currently showed a feed from the reactor room. He tapped his ear-mounted intercom interface. “Habassa, time?”
The engineer spun and waved at the camera before tapping his own interface. “Thirty seconds, Cap. We’ve got the main reactor feeds offline. The D Drive will start up all on her own.”
“You’re sure this won’t blow up the ship?”
“Yes, Cap. I can’t scientifically guarantee everything will be fine, but the statistical chance of implosion or explosion is very small.”
“Good. Praphasat, you catch that?”
The spacesuited figure in the airlock flinched at her name before answering over her own open intercom line. “Yes, sir. Am I still on the monitor?”
Thomas managed not to sigh. “Yes, Lieutenant. It’s a necessary precaution.”
Areva Praphasat didn’t like being watched. Or seen at all, if possible.
Thirty seconds ticked by. Thomas watched the stars through the viewports and tried not to think about how distorted they were about to become.
His earpiece buzzed. “Ready, Cap,” said Matthias.
Thomas leaned forward, hands folded to stop them from shaking. “All right. Fire it up.”
Energy thrummed through the deck plates, vibrating up Thomas’s legs. Bulkheads rattled, and unsecured equipment crashed to the floor. One unoccupied stool at the front of the bridge began stuttering its way toward the rear hatch.
This was such a bad idea.
At the same time, the stars warped and twisted, dissolving into spirals that rotated both directions at once, and simultaneously rushed forward to swallow the ship and charged away to leave it alone in darkness. Black space itself rippled, bunching up like carpet in impossible contortions, shapes that only existed in theoretical math and nightmares.
Thomas tore his eyes from the chaos happening outside the ship and swallowed the nausea that crawled up his throat.
Matthias spoke again. “We’re four-dimensional, Cap.”
“I see it.”
“We can start moving any time.”
Thomas focused on the non-distorted floorplates. “Praphasat, one shot. Now.”
He didn’t watch the monitor, but he heard Areva’s grunt as she discharged the rifle.
Ivanokoff gave a grudging humph. “I should have done it.”
“This is her job,” said Thomas.
“It is my gun.”
“And it’s my ship. My orders.”
Ivanokoff gave up, though he muttered, “I wanted to test the vacuum firing feature.”
Thomas chanced a glance at the viewports. Space was still misbehaving outside, refusing to abide by any patterns his brain could follow. Instead he looked up at the monitors.
Neptune was gone. More writhing stars filled the view outside the open airlock.
“Habassa,” Thomas said, “it’s working.”
“I see it on scanners, Cap,” said Matthias. “The shot gave us a push, but we’re still drifting too slow.” Someone in the background screamed, and Matthias hushed them. “Sorry, Cap. Officer Lee got scared.”
“We just passed through some space debris. Boy, imagine if we returned to 3D space with that inside our hull!”
Thomas ignored his own surge of panic at the thought. “Praphasat, fire again.”
The spacesuited body on the screen hefted the gun and pulled the trigger. Another small grunt from Areva’s comm line.
“That’s it!” shouted Matthias. “We’re going a fraction of a kilometer per hour. At this rate, we’ll reach Earth in … three minutes.”
“Don’t bring us out inside a satellite,” Thomas said.
“We’ll stop outside the ring, Cap. It’ll be fine.”
Thomas focused on his breathing, in and out. It would be fine.
“Praphasat,” he said, “close the hatch and get back inside.”
The spacesuit waved an acknowledgement, and then Areva began pulling herself along one of the tethers toward the airlock controls.
At two minutes to go, she triggered the outside door closed.
At one minute, she repressurized the airlock and clomped back through the hatch into the ship proper.
At thirty seconds, the sickening view through the bridge viewports flashed from black space to earthen brown for the blink of an eye.
That was an asteroid, Thomas thought. We just flew through solid rock.
This was such a bad idea.
At ten seconds, he gripped the arms of his chair and forced himself to focus out the viewports.
At five seconds, one of the other officers covered her mouth and gagged. Thomas pushed down his own wave of nausea triggered by the sound.
At one second, he crept forward to the end of his seat. The chair creaked under his weight.
The rattling in the bulkheads ceased.
The view through the ports resolved, the stars spinning back into points of light, space flattening to its proper texture. Yet something was still off. The sky was too full.
At minus one second, Thomas stared through a haze of laser fire crowding the space between a ragged handful of UELE vessels and a hundred five-pointed star ships encroaching on his homeworld.
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