Paginations

Excerpt

Gabriel’s Revenge Excerpt – The Shadowy Benefactor


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A loud bang startled the man sitting on the couch. He looked up from his reading to see that a large painting on the far wall had fallen onto the floor, and was now leaning against the wall. The glow from Earth in the skylight illuminated the painting like it sat on display in a museum.

He set his flexscreen down and picked up the half-empty wine glass from the table in front of him, then stood up. He walked over to the painting and stared down at it, slowly sipping his wine. He didn’t question why the painting had fallen. It wasn’t the first time. Nor would it probably be the last, he thought.

It was an oil on canvas work depicting his hometown, a riverside village on the outskirts of Buenos Aires called Ramallo. It was a poor slum, commonly referred to as a villa miseria, with tents and shanties scattered amongst cheaply made prefab housing units and textile sweatshops. Ramallo was where he and his three brothers and one sister had grown up, trying to scratch out a life without falling prey to the gangs and the stims and the gunrunning and the thievery. He, as the oldest, had taken over his mother’s role after she disappeared following a civil war, and had raised the others as best he could. Yet he still saw his sister and one brother die at the hands of rival gangs. He had blamed himself for being weak and passive, and swore then he would never allow such weakness to interfere with his life. Or his plans.

The villa miseria was long gone, having been swept away by the massive asteroid-induced tidal surges that began the Dark Days. Many towns nearby had pulled through because their structures were newer and stronger than Ramallo’s. That was in no small part due to Ramallo not giving in to the corruption and gangs, and therefore not having the means or funds to improve their small village. And it had perished because of that. He had seen what power and influence could do, and what the lack thereof could lead to. And it had guided his life ever since.

He had the painting commissioned a few years before the Shanghai asteroid, and the artist had done a superb job of showing Ramallo in its finer days. The various colors of the rooftops were shown in beautiful contrast to the stark prefab units, with the sun gleaming over Rio Paraná in the background, and there were no signs of the ragged tents and corrugated metal shacks. The artist had signed the lower right corner without any flourish, just a simple “Ekaterina 2138.”

He brought it with him wherever he had gone, including the isolated and cold moon. But as he stared at it on the floor, he remembered the last few times it had fallen. Each time, it had preceded some disastrous downturn in his life, almost like the old wives’ tale of if you straighten a picture on a wall, someone close to you would die. He had always thought of that tale as absurdly negative, but this painting almost seemed to sense what was coming — whether it was the mining incident on Ganymede, the death of his wife Marianna in a car accident, the Poliahu mission Tevez had fouled up resulting in their self-imposed banishment to Luna, and others — so he had learned to listen to it.

He snorted as he stooped down to pick up the frame. Listen to a painting, he thought. I’m turning into an old woman.

***

Enjoy the genre, like the scene? Gabriel’s Revenge is now available for all e-book platforms. Get into the trilogy with book 1, Gabriel’s Redemption, and book 2, Gabriel’s Return. Thanks for stopping by!

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Excerpt from Gabriel’s Revenge – Chasing the Station

The Trilogy Concludes

“Closing, sir,” said Stirling. “Slowly but surely.”

McTiernan clenched at the armrests of his command chair, staring at the main wallscreen that showed the computer generated image of their course. The icon for the Marcinko was inexorably drawing closer to the icon representing the out of control skyhook station. The computer superimposed their courses, showing intersection in less than five minutes.

At this distance, they still were not able to visually see the cable itself. Being only sixteen inches in diameter, and matte black, they’d have to be right on top of it before even the long range visual sensors would catch a sniff of it. But the asteroid on the far end was in sight. And still moving.

“Lieutenant Commander, time to flipover,” he called out.

Vaillancourt answered without taking her eyes from her screen. “Ninety seconds, Captain.”

“Mister Giroux?”

The ensign held up a hand. “Captain, I’ve got…” He tapped at a few icons on his screen. “Four tugs. Three are projected to be where we need them to be, the fourth is going to be a bit behind. I’m having the computer redirect that one further up the trajectory. I’ve got calls into two more, but I don’t think they’ll make it in time.”

McTiernan looked at the main screen, where the computer had added the mining ship icons. He grimaced as he saw the tight window of opportunity. He felt the Marcinko straining at the max accel run, her engines’ thrum more of a roar. A distant corner of his mind played out the situation on two different paths. One where they caught the station, and one…

“Ensign, any word from the station itself?” he asked.

Giroux turned around, and McTiernan saw the sadness in the young man’s eyes. He knew the answer before Giroux even opened his mouth.

“Nothing, sir. No answer to comm, all channels. I don’t even know if it’s worth…”

“We have to try, Mister Giroux,” McTiernan said. “Even if the possibility is remote.”

“Aye sir,” Giroux replied and turned back to his screen.

“Five seconds to flipover. Engine cut off,” called Vaillancourt. The sound of the engines faded, and the bridge was left in silence as the Marcinko performed her end over end turn to begin the deceleration. McTiernan took a deep breath as the pressure in his chest ceased and the bridge went back into weightlessness.

“Captain!”

McTiernan looked away from the main screen towards LaFuente, who was excitedly signaling from his Sensor station. He waved for him to continue.

“Sir, I picked up one of the skyhook cars. It appears intact!”

He squeezed his armrest hard enough to feel the plastic underneath buckle. Maybe…

“Put it up on the screen, max resolution.”

The wallscreen changed from the course trajectory plot to a grainy video image. Mars’s shadowy outline appeared on the left third of the screen, just a sliver of red showing as the sun set across the planet. The computer outlined the skyhook car location in blue. The car wasn’t visible.

“Mister LaFuente, can’t you get it any closer?”

“Trying, sir,” the young man said, tapping furiously at his screen.

McTiernan squinted, trying in vain to make the image clear up. Suddenly the screen flickered and the skyhook car came into view.

“Got it, sir! I messed with the algorithms, and…”

The seaman’s voice trailed off as he looked up to the screen. McTiernan’s heart caught in his throat as he stared at the image.

The skyhook car, a boxy structure slightly larger than a standard ship-to-surface shuttle, was tumbling, and to the bridge crew’s horror, was entering Mars’s thin upper atmosphere. Pieces of the car were breaking off and bursting into pinpoints of light. Now that the image had cleared up, it showed the car itself starting to glow around its edges as it rolled slowly.

“Sir, can we…” Giroux began.

“No,” McTiernan said. He surprised himself with the sadness and resignation in his voice. “It’s too late. God rest the souls of anyone in that car.”

Several moments of silence passed as the crew watched the skyhook car tumble and break apart. With one last burst of light, the car disappeared from the image.

Vaillancourt cleared her throat. “Sir,” she said in a low voice.

McTiernan gritted his teeth. He knew those cars could hold a hundred people or more. People with families, children, people heading off planet on vacation. A hundred people…

He pulled his eyes away from the screen. “Yes, Karlyn.”

“Sir, ten seconds to decel.”

He nodded. “Very well. Mister Stirling, have the battlecomp shut down all active jammers and stealth systems. No need to sneak up at this point.”

Stirling acknowledged the order, and Vaillancourt began her countdown. The main screen switched back to the trajectory plot and McTiernan unconsciously cinched his belt tighter. He fought to push the image of the tumbling skyhook car from his mind. It was replaced by thoughts of what it must be like on the station as it headed away from Mars.

He squeezed his eyes shut as the Marcinko lit her main engines for the decel, and the pressure returned.

***

Enjoy the genre, like the scene? Gabriel’s Revenge is now available for all e-book platforms. Get into the trilogy with book 1, Gabriel’s Redemption, and book 2, Gabriel’s Return. Thanks for stopping by!

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Excerpt from Gabriel’s Revenge – Renay in Trouble

The Trilogy Concludes

The cot creaked again as Renay shifted her weight. Her arm was now throbbing almost as much as her head. After the tube ride, the next thing she remembered was this room, now, and she wracked her brain to try to figure out the timeline and which tube they took her through. Arsia Mons had four, each leading to other domes with their own branches, so any guesswork was just that: guesswork.

She reached out to the table and gave it a tug. It was firmly fastened to the wall. However, of the four support legs beneath it, one wobbled a bit as she pulled. With a glance up at the now-invisible A/V bug, she got up off the cot and positioned herself between the bug and the table, and sat down on the floor. She made a show of stretching her good arm up and over her shoulder, grabbing onto the edge of the table that was behind her head. She grunted with the effort, hoping the person or persons watching would assume she was working out kinks. She raised one leg at a time, alternating, as if to stretch her hamstrings.

She turned her body slightly, and reached behind her lower back with her wounded arm. The pain shot through her like a laser, and she felt the bandages stretch. Wetness ran down her arm as she pulled at the loose table leg, all the while shielding her actions from the bug. After a few pulls back and forth, the leg came free, and she gasped with the effort. She slid the thin piece of metal down the back of her pants, down her left leg, leaving just an inch above her waistband.

She released the table with her other hand and stood up carefully, not wanting to injure herself further by slicing open her femoral artery with a jagged table leg. The end of the leg ran down to just above the back of her knee, so she could still walk normally, but sitting down on the cot could be challenging.

She walked over to the corner of the dark room where the A/V bug was stashed. Pressing her hand against the soaked bandages, she looked up into the corner.

Oye, banditos,” she called in her best accent. “Ayuda me. Mi brazo está sangrando.” She hoped that meant her arm was bleeding. With her neuretics offline, she now realized how much she relied on them. There was only so much she was able to pull from high school Spanish.

A few seconds passed with no response. She tried a different approach.

“Please,” she said in a weak voice. “My arm is bleeding badly. I need some help.” She started to cry, sniffling loud enough for the bug to pick up, she hoped.

A few more seconds passed, then the light came on. She blinked away her fake tears.

“Move to bed!” the voice commanded.

She obeyed, walking backwards with her head down, keeping the table leg out of sight. As she reached the cot, the door hissed open and red light spilled in, framing a large man in the doorway.

“Hurt?” he said.

She nodded, biting her lower lip. “My arm is hurt bad, I need a doctor.” She pointed to the bloody bandage covering her upper arm.

The man hesitated, looking over his shoulder for a brief second, then back to Renay. He seemed to come to a reluctant decision.

“I fix,” he said, and stepped into the room.

Renay sprang towards him. She pulled the table leg from her pants and swung it over her head in one smooth motion. The metal rod caught the large man over his right eye and he grunted in pain. He went down on one knee, holding up his arm.

She pulled the table leg back and swung again, this time sideways. The rod smashed into the man’s temple, and he dropped to the floor soundlessly.

She didn’t waste any time, knowing the entire scene had just played out on a video monitor somewhere. She stepped over the man’s unconscious form and into the doorway.

A hallway extended in both directions with no other doors in sight. Ruby-lensed lightstrips illuminated the corridor in a bloody glow. She heard a voice from one end of the hallway, so she padded across the threshold of the doorway and started running in the other direction, still clutching the table leg.

After a few dozen feet the corridor floor started to curve upwards, like an underground tunnel, but before her amped-up brain could process the information, a bolt of electricity shot through her system. Her already-frazzled nervous system was overwhelmed with the charge and she dropped to the floor. The table leg clanged on the metal decking. The last thing she saw before fading were the guard’s worn brown shoes in front of her eyes.

***

Enjoy the genre, like the scene? Gabriel’s Revenge is now available for all e-book platforms. Get into the trilogy with book 1, Gabriel’s Redemption, and book 2, Gabriel’s Return. Thanks for stopping by!

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An excerpt a day keeps the anticipation at bay… Gabriel’s Revenge

It’s official! Gabriel’s Revenge, the final installment in the bestselling scifi-adventure trilogy, is complete and will be uploaded to Amazon and BN in time for the holidays! Here’s a snippet:

 

Gabriel had just cinched his straps when the Marcinko’s engines ignited, pressing each of them back into their seats in the shuttle. He heard Olszewski mutter a curse from next to him. He looked over at the private with a raised eyebrow.

“Sorry, sir. I’m a ground pounder. I hate this shit. Necessary evil to get me where I need to go I guess, but doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

Gabriel turned back to the front of the shuttle. He stared past the pilot’s helmet and out the viewport, where he could see a sliver of starry space. The ventral bay doors had begun to open.

He closed his eyes and linked his neuretics in to the Marcinko’s battlecomp feed. He saw with some satisfaction the other five in his team all did the same. He knew some did it for the thrill of watching the battle unfold, some for the situational awareness. Whatever their reasons, he didn’t blame them. It wasn’t just a learning experience for him either. He wanted to see the enemy. And see them destroyed.

The specialist that had loaded them and their gear, Allen, was also their pilot. His hand flew over the switches mounted in front of him as he prepared the shuttle for launch.

“Sirs and ma’am, hold on,” Allen called out. “The captain’s got some rapid maneuvers planned, and we’re getting spit out in the middle of them. Hope no one ate lunch yet.”

“Keven?” It was Sowers’s voice.

“Zip it,” said Brevik. “Watch.”

Gabriel kept his eyes closed and let his Mindseye show him the situation.

The Marcinko went to full power and arced down towards Mars. Gabriel felt his chest squeezed by the G-forces and tried to control his breathing as he saw multicolored stars behind his eyelids. After a few seconds the heavy acceleration eased and the stars cleared, leaving him more able to focus on the Mindseye feed.

The battlecomp tagged the blockade fighter with a red icon. The projected path of the Marcinko was just outside of its orbit, but Gabriel saw the flight path of the shuttle, once launched, went almost directly through the red icon. He remembered McTiernan’s order to the tac officer to ‘remove it from the equation’, so he was not surprised when he heard the clank of the internal missile launcher falling into place in front of their shuttle.

The rotating launcher spat two Jayhawk missiles, then immediately swung back up to the ceiling of the docking bay. Another clank sounded throughout the cabin as the launch arm grabbed the shuttle and set it into position above the open ventral doors. The Marcinko began its release maneuver and Gabriel was pressed into his seat. With a loud hiss of hydraulics that could be heard even within the pressurized cabin, the shuttle fell from the docking bay, and he went weightless.

Gabriel’s Mindseye painted a vivid image of the scene around them: the Marcinko peeling away from their position, the two Jayhawks going hypersonic in front of them, and the dusty orange globe below them. The serene image lasted only a split second before Allen fired the shuttle engines and initiated the descent.

The picket fighter never stood a chance. It was only using station-keeping thrusters and apparently not expecting an attack, especially one that came from a hole in space. The Jayhawks were on it before it even had an opportunity to light its engine.

“Hold on!” yelled Allen. Gabriel opened his eyes to look out past the pilot. The explosion of the fighter loomed ahead and grew quickly in size as the shuttle accelerated towards Mars. A sound like nails on metal decking rattled through the cabin as the debris from the explosion peppered the hull of the shuttle.

“We’re clear!” The pilot turned to look over his shoulder. “Everyone A-OK?”

Gabriel saw Olszewski raise a thumb next to him, then heard a retching from Takahashi behind him. He ignored it — at this point he was used to it — and stared out of the pilot’s viewport.

Ahead of them lay Mars. And Renay.

***

Enjoy the genre, like the scene? Get into the trilogy with book 1, Gabriel’s Redemption, and book 2, Gabriel’s Return, available for all e-book platforms using the links on the right of this page. Thanks for stopping by!

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New excerpt from Gabriel’s Revenge, Book 3, releasing in December!

Coming into the home stretch to get Gabriel’s Revenge, the final installment in the bestselling scifi-adventure trilogy, released! Here’s a bit from an early scene:

 

Gabriel felt the tension of the bridge atmosphere ratchet up a notch as he pushed his way through the hatch. The last time he had been here, several hours ago, he had created quite a scene. He caught more than one surreptitious glance his way from the bridge crew. He gritted his teeth and pulled himself hand over hand along the railing set into the back wall of the bridge, towards McTiernan.

“Commander,” the captain said as he noticed his presence. “You’re looking much more rested.”

Gabriel squeezed one hand on the railing, slowing his approach to a stop. He gave a slight push downwards and his feet hit the deck. He straightened his other hand and pinched the material of his pants on the side of his thigh, coming to attention as best he could in zero-G.

“Captain, I must apologize for…”

“At ease, Commander,” McTiernan interrupted, holding up a hand. “I understand. I do. I’d probably be in the same mindset as you right now if I were in your situation. No need to apologize. I’d apologize to you for calling you back before the transit, but you’re needed.”

McTiernan tapped an icon on his command chair armrest. One of the wallscreens at the front of the bridge flickered, then came to life, showing a tiny blinking icon against the blackness of space.

“We received a tight-beam transmission from this ship a few minutes ago. Actually, ship is far too strong of a term.”

He pressed a few more icons and data streamed along the right side of the screen. “It’s twelve feet long, not much bigger than a communications drone, and heavily shielded. Honestly without the transmission, we would have never seen it.” He gave a small smile. “We’ve got the best sensors in the business, and supposedly the best sensor operators as well.” He cleared his throat and one of the bridge crew cringed and ducked his head a bit.

Gabriel pursed his lips. “What was the transmission?”

McTiernan nodded to his communications officer. “Put it up, Ensign.”

Giroux turned to his console and tapped at it. A tinny voice came from the bridge overhead speakers.

“NAFN Richard Marcinko, this is Corporal Lewis Grienke aboard the MDF packetship Shadow. Coded message for Commander Gabriel. Please respond.”

Gabriel turned to McTiernan with his eyebrows raised. “There’s a man in that thing?”

McTiernan nodded. “Yes, we were as surprised as you. Damned thing is less than five feet across. Must have been like flying in a coffin.”

An image of the drop capsules screaming through the atmosphere of Poliahu flashed across Gabriel’s mind. “Been there, done that.” He squinted at the image on the screen. “Have you responded?”

“Yes, Ensign Giroux confirmed the receipt of the tight-beam with our own. The corporal is asking for you personally and will not release the message without your code.”

Gabriel shook his head. “I have no idea what code he’s speaking of, but I guess you’d better get me on the line with him.”

McTiernan waved his hand to Giroux and he opened a channel. “The packetship is still half a million miles or so away, so there’s a three second lag each way.”

Gabriel nodded. The overhead speaker beeped with the opening of the comm link.

“Corporal Grienke, this is Commander Evan Gabriel. I received your transmission, but I do not have a code.”

After a few seconds, the overhead speaker crackled. “Thank you sir, voice code received and accepted.”

Gabriel glanced at McTiernan, who merely shrugged his shoulders. “Didn’t think it would be that simple,” he said in a low tone.

“He found us, Commander,” McTiernan replied. “He probably isn’t too worried about imposters at this point.”

Gabriel nodded. “Go ahead with your transmission, Corporal.”

Before the voice returned, Giroux called out. “Captain, I’m receiving a data stream overlaid on the transmission. It’s clean. Shall I put it up?”

“Go ahead, Ensign, same screen.”

The image of the ship and its statistics disappeared, replaced by a schematic of the solar system. The Ryokou wormhole was a green square, surrounded by several red dots, with Mars a flashing yellow circle. Numbers scrolled down one side of the screen showing distances, projected armament, positioning, open corridors, and other tactical data.

“Commander, I have a message from Major Andon,” Grienke’s voice continued. “He sends his regards and his congratulations for a mission well done on Eden, but has a significant warning to pass along. And yes sir, he used the word significant. You should be seeing the data I collected on my flight out. It was…tight…getting through undetected, as the wormhole approach is littered with Chinese fighters armed to the teeth. I’m sure they didn’t see this packetship, but they probably picked up the wormhole transit. I fully expect them to know you’re on the way. Major Andon’s warning is that these fighters have orders to shoot the Marcinko on sight, no questions asked.”

Several seconds passed in silence. Gabriel squeezed the railing hard enough to make his knuckles go white. “Just like Eden,” he said under his breath.

Grienke went on. “I’ve sent you the data on the wormhole area. I’m also sending you data on the Mars blockade ships as best as we can detect. The bulk of the Chinese ships are at Ryokou, only a handful around Mars. They seem to be putting quite an effort into blocking your entry into the system. Major Andon has also enclosed data on the situation on the ground, which is a second packet I’m sending you.”

Giroux raised his hand. “Received, Captain.”

“Corporal, stand by to be picked up,” said McTiernan.

A few seconds ticked by as the light speed transmission went out and was answered.

“Ah, sir, I’m supposed to continue on to Calypso to be attached to the MDF training force. This mission sort of dovetailed with my schedule, blockade or not. Lucky me, right?” A small laugh came through the speaker. “And while it’s a bit tighter quarters than I expected, I’d rather keep going than join you in a firefight. No offense, Captain.”

“None taken, Corporal,” McTiernan replied. “Safe travels, and thank you for the information.”

“Thank you, sir, and good luck. Shadow out.”

McTiernan shifted in his command chair to face Gabriel. “What is it with the Chinese connection?”

Gabriel shook his head, still staring at the solar system schematic. “Wish I knew, Captain. But I get the feeling we’ll find out soon enough.”

***

Enjoy the genre, like the scene? Get into the trilogy with book 1, Gabriel’s Redemption, and book 2, Gabriel’s Return, available for all e-book platforms using the links on the right of this page. Thanks for stopping by!

 

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Excerpt from the forthcoming Gabriel’s Revenge, Book 3!

How about a little space battle to whet your whistles? Gabriel’s Revenge, coming soon! Oh, and a little mockup of the cover-in-progress…

 

The black hammerhead shape of the NAFS Richard Marcinko slid through the wormhole terminus in a crackle of electromagnetic energy. Her hull shimmered as it dumped the extra charge into space and quickly faded back to matte black as the nanopaint exterior absorbed light. Her onboard stealth systems kicked in, rendering it nearly invisible to sensors.

A Ventura-class stealth cruiser normally carried two aerospace shuttles and an internal launcher with a capacity of twenty Jayhawk light missiles. The Marcinko had recently undergone a refitting with a new, more aggressive system, eliminating the second shuttle and modifying the launcher to only hold eight missiles. The recaptured space in the ventral bay was given over to one of the newest offensive weapons systems in the North American Federation Navy, and the NAFS Richard Marcinko, CAS-408, became a true warship.

As the Marcinko crossed the EM threshold of Ryokou, the ventral bay doors slid aside and four large pods were ejected, each on a thick carbon-carbon filament tether. Using small puffs of hydrazine, they stationed themselves in flanking positions in formation around the Marcinko. Two pods remained above the plane, one on either side, and two were below, forming a W shape. The original engineer who designed the system said during testing he thought it looked like a wolf’s teeth from the front, and the name Fangs Out stuck.

Each pod held twelve hypersonic Arrowhead antiship missiles, independently fired and guided by the Marcinko’s powerful battlecomp. The Arrowheads were much larger, faster, and held a significantly more powerful warhead than the Jayhawks cruisers were normally armed with. They were typically only found in ships of the line because of the storage space and launch area needed. By having external tethered pods, smaller ships like the Marcinko could now be armed with much more massive ordnance, making them far more deadly.

The Marcinko drifted under gate exit momentum for another few seconds as the tethers tightened, then lit her main engines.

 

Look for Gabriel’s Revenge by the end of the year…and get into the trilogy with Book 1, Gabriel’s Redemption, and Book 2, Gabriel’s Return, available for all e-book formats now!

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Excerpt from Gabriel’s Redemption for #SampleSunday

Lamber and St. Laurent crept up on their first two targets, red outlines in their IR sensors showing the warm bodies huddled behind a ten foot snowdrift about forty feet away from the doors, where the other two figures stood. St. Laurent reached her target first, a man wearing a civilian environment suit. His visor was so iced over that she would have been invisible even without the active camo. With the camo and silent approach, she was able to get within just a few feet of him before he even turned his head. She punched with her battlesuit’s armored fist.

The hardened carbotanium caught the man squarely in the chest, knocking the wind out of him as he collapsed around her arm like a rag doll. She caught the falling body, hoping she didn’t break too many ribs, and lowered the gasping figure to the ground. Taking one of the personnel autorestraints from her belt with the other metal hand, she slapped it over his head and activated it. The net-like device expanded and covered his entire body in less than a second, cinching itself at his feet and sealing. The mesh surface tightened and immobilized him, cocooning the man in a sound- and electronics-deadening Faraday cage, preventing any outbound transmissions from comms, neuretics, or anything else short of two tin cans and a string. The body struggled in the net, but made no sound. She moved on to her secondary target.

Meanwhile Lamber had taken out his primary a little differently, St. Laurent noticed out of the corner of her heads-up. His immobilized target, while showing life signs, also showed no signs of movement, and appeared to be bent at a very unnatural angle.

On the other side of the compound, Jimenez and Sowers were in position. They crouched on the opposite side of a mining vehicle from Beta, two figures that appeared to be smoking and talking in low tones. Sowers sent a quick burst to Jimenez, signaling him to go around the back end of the vehicle as he rounded the front.

They both slowly made their way around the truck, stepping carefully around waste containers. Just as they approached arm’s reach, Jimenez tripped over a half-buried container and fell forward into the snow, not being able to compensate quickly enough for the mass of his battlesuit.

The two sentries looked up in alarm, seeing the indentations in the snow as Jimenez struggled to right himself. One of the men shouted and raised a weapon as a cigarette fell from his lips. Sowers cursed as he caught a burst of a comm. He snapped an active jamming signal out, blocking any further communications from the sentries, but most likely alerting others to their presence.

Stepping forward quickly, Sowers was able to disarm his sentry with a quick chop of a steel arm. He heard the bones snap in the man’s forearm as he screamed in pain. A careful smack to the side of his head knocked him out cold, and his body dropped into the snow.

Jimenez wasn’t so quick as he staggered upwards from his fallen position in the snow, and the second sentry’s weapon spat rounds rapid fire. Jimenez stumbled back under the onslaught of the rounds, but his suit’s carbotanium shell withstood the kinetic impacts. Sowers took a few steps forward and grabbed the assault rifle, yanking it from the sentry’s hands and crushing it, the loud firing immediately ceasing. With his other hand he grabbed the sentry by the front of his environment suit, picked him up, and threw him into the side of the mining vehicle with a loud thump. His unconscious body slid down into a sitting position in the snow.

Sowers went over to where Jimenez was standing to assess the damage. He sent a quick burst to Gabriel to let him know the targets were down, but that it wasn’t exactly quietly. Jimenez sent a neuretics apology to Sowers, who snorted in his helmet. You owe me, buddy, he thought.

Meanwhile St. Laurent and Lamber were both approaching the doors where the other two sentries stood. St. Laurent watched the passive scans in her heads-up, puzzling at one’s unusually small size. Before they were within twenty feet, they heard rifle fire from the other side of the building. Double time, she sent to Lamber, and the two of them sprinted the last few feet to the two figures at the door.

The sentries were alerted, and their figures went into crouches in St. Laurent’s heads-up. As she got within arm’s reach, she skidded to a halt in shock. In front of her, in a combat stance, was one of the Poliahu aliens she had seen in the briefings, wearing partial body armor and holding a laser pistol. Before she had time to react, the alien fired, and the light blast splashed across her armored chest plate.

Her electronics squealed in protest as several systems were overloaded. The battlesuit was able to take laser blasts in stride, but not entirely unscathed from such point blank range. Servos froze up, immobilizing her, as the energy pulsed its way throughout her suit. Her training kicking in, she frantically sent commands to her backup systems, rerouting alternate power and e-links in a split second. Freed up from the pulse, she dropped to one knee and reached out, grabbing the alien’s weapon before it had a chance to fire a second time. Fighting the urge to fire her suit’s arm-mounted pulse rifle, she pulled the alien’s arm downwards and pulled the gun from its grip as her other hand grabbed the alien’s armor to restrain it. A detached part of her brain noted the lack of claws on the alien’s hands, unlike what Gabriel had showed the team in the initial briefing.

Lamber had already immobilized the other sentry and turned to help St. Laurent. As he stepped towards the struggling duo, the alien’s small chest suddenly erupted in red gore, splattering on the doors behind it. The lifeless body fell backwards and St. Laurent let go of it. It landed in the snow with a wet thud, and blood pooled around it, quickly freezing in the super-chilled atmosphere.

“Cease fire!” St. Laurent screamed, breaking comm silence. She quickly got to her feet, checking her scans for nearby activity. Finding it clear, she sent a burst to Gabriel.

Gabriel was monitoring from the back and caught not only St. Laurent’s yell, but the angry tone of her burst. He quickly contacted Sabra, knowing it was her Burton round that just took the first life of the mission. He received an emotionless neuretics click in return. He shook his head. Loose cannon, he thought. He sent another burst to Sabra to recall her.

He called for a rally at the main colony entrance, and the team moved out.

 

Like what you read? Pick up Gabriel’s Redemption for Kindle, Nook, and at Smashwords for various e-reader formats. Print version will be coming within days! Oh, and the e-book version now has a sneak preview of Book 2 in the trilogy, Gabriel’s Return. Just a little appetite-whetting for you…

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Excerpt – Gabriel’s Redemption

Quentin Santander sat at the hotel lobby bar, his hand on a lowball glass of an amber liquid, a solitary cube of ice floating in it. He swirled the liquid, the cube bumping against the glass edges slowly in the Mars gravity. The bar was beginning to fill up, miners and office workers getting off shift throughout the dome, looking to spend what little Marscrip they had. Of the many bars in seedy New Cairo, the Bremen Hotel offered the most amount of alcohol for the least amount of money, and the patrons reflected that. Not for the first time, he wondered why he took this assignment on the ass end of humanity. Oh yeah, he remembered. The money.
“Another tequila, Q?” came a sultry voice from beside him.
Oh yeah. The women too. He looked to his left, and there was Zeila, as always. She must have just come down from the suite, he thought. He looked into her eyes. No sign of a dew hangover, that’s a relief. She’s a complete mess after one of those trips.
“Not now,” he replied, looking back at his glass. “I’ve gotta get to work.” He picked the glass up and downed the remaining tequila in one gulp, spitting the ice cube back into the glass and setting it down forcefully on the natural stone bar. Hard enough to break normal glass, he thought. Another reason he hated Mars. Nothing was breakable. And he needed to break things from time to time. Hell, even his shrink said so.
“But Q, I just got here,” Zeila pouted.
“Here,” Santander said, throwing a wad of faded red Marscrip notes on the bar. “Enjoy.” He rose from the bar and made his way through the Friday night crowd out of the hotel, leaving Zeila to her evening.

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