Thursday, 25 December 2014

Eden's Endgame Xmas Teaser - Quickspace

Eden's Endgame got its first (5*) Amazon review today, "Awesome Finale to the Eden Series." And in the Xmas spirit, for those awaiting the release of the Kindle version on Jan 2nd, here's the 2nd teaser (I released the Prologue yesterday), the first part of chapter one, where a ship is foundering in Quickspace...

Chapter One

Louise could hold her breath a long time. Thirty seconds earlier she’d been standing on the bridge of a Q’Roth Battlestar with three of her Alicians and ten Q’Roth warriors, including the captain. They’d begun a routine Transpace jump, the last on her journey to the Alician homeworld Savange, taking back their precious cargo of sixty human captives. Three seconds later the front part of the ship had been breached by a vortex of unknown origin. Now she clawed her way toward an auto-sealing hatch as air roared past her, dodging equipment and anything else not lashed down as it flashed past. She snatched a breath then held it again. The doorway to the next section of the ship, where sanctuary lay, was closing. In fifteen seconds she’d be locked into a vacuum.
Louise’s face stung with the cold. She slit her eyes almost closed to stop them freezing, and pounded her Q’Roth claw into the metal floor to prevent herself sliding into oblivion. A sharp-edged metal object hurtled towards her, ricocheted off the corridor wall and narrowly missed her face. It caught her second-in-command, Arteus, who screamed as he tumbled into the vortex devouring the ship. Louise hauled herself forward, her eyes set on the closing hatch.
The Q’Roth captain overtook her, his six powerful legs and sharp claws finding better purchase. The exit was almost sealed, but they both kept going, moving faster as the airstream diminished. The captain punched a claw into the last sliver between the closing hatch and its frame, and roared as he brought all his strength to bear against the motors trying to protect the rest of the vessel. He forced open a narrow gap, his upper legs shaking violently with the effort. Louise scrambled over his blue-black trapezoidal head and squeezed through, landing hard on the deck.
She made a quick assessment: the captain was wedged in the crack, unable to get through, while air continued to bleed out of the ship. Grabbing a handhold with her Q’Roth claw, she drew her pistol with her human hand, and fired repeatedly at him until he began to lose his grip. Louise let go and slid towards him. She braced herself, one foot on the hatch, the other on the frame, and fired point blank at the two remaining claws keeping the hatch open till they glowed red. Her pistol’s charge ran out. The captain still clung on.
            She yelled through the wind, feeling the tug on her lungs. “You’re already dead, don’t take the ship with you.” 
            The captain’s six vermillion eyes flared once, then settled to a deeper red.
“It’s yours, for what little time you have left.”
He let go.
            Through the sealing hatch, she watched him topple backwards, then regain his footing and rise almost casually, then stride towards the vortex that had already swallowed his entire bridge crew and three of her Alicians. Its swirling blue and white surface crackled with sapphire arcs of electricity that lashed out at the captain, flash-frying him before it sucked him into its depths. He did not cry out.
She wondered if the vortex was some new weapon. There were no stars behind it, which meant the Battlestar was outside normal space. She had a hunch what was causing it. Just before the hatch sealed, she calculated how quickly it was eating the kilometre-long ship, how much time she had before the next breach, and the one after that, which would wreck the Battlestar and empty all its occupants into the vortex. Twenty minutes, call it eighteen to be on the safe side. She began a background mental count, a trick she’d learned from her Alician mentor, Sister Esma, a lifetime ago.
            At last the hatch clunked into place. She sat with her back against it, her chest heaving, and checked herself over: ears ringing from the decompression, all exposed flesh seared with frostbite, lungs raw. Good enough. The air was thin and cold, so she took a few long breaths, then got to her feet. She stared down at her new Q’Roth claw; it had been meant as a temporary replacement, though it had probably just saved her life.
            She ran along the corridor, but as she reached the next hatch two Q’Roth warriors emerged and barred her way, towering a metre above her.
            “You killed our captain. We watched you on the monitors.”
            She stood her ground. “He put me in charge, you heard that, too.”
            Their eye-slits pulsed a brighter shade of red. “We heard, though we do not know why.”
She took a deep breath. “We’re foundering in Quickspace. The ship will be catastrophically breached in sixteen minutes. I know what is attacking us and how to stop it.”
They said nothing, but she knew Q’Roth psychology: she had to give them more or they’d kill her, and one of them would become captain, though not for long.
            “All remaining crew must assemble in the battle bridge in the aft section,” she said.
            Still they barred her way. “And where are you going?”
            “To my two ships, in your hold. That’s where the problem is. If I don’t join you in fourteen minutes, void them into space and fire on them. Destroy them and everyone on board.”

            They let her through. Louise sprinted down the corridor leading to her two Raptors, knowing that the Q’Roth wouldn’t wait fourteen minutes.

more tomorrow...

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