Sometime on Sunday I will be releasing my fourteenth novel on Kindle, the sequel to The Deep Dark Well. The Deep Dark Well has done well for me as my third biggest seller. It also started the whole recent success thing off with its free promotion in September of 2012, in which over four thousand books were given away. Since then it has sold a steady twenty books a day, not anywhere near the numbers of the Exodus series, but still respectable. Any way I count it there are about 6,000 copies of The Deep Dark Well out there, and I felt a sequel, turning it into a true series, was just a smart move. Also, several reviewers have asked to see more of that Universe (which is the same as the Exodus Universe, but forty some odd thousand years in the future). I am also planning Book Three in the series, which will make it a true trilogy, as well as a second trilogy, of which the first book, Theocracy, is already in finished first draft stage.
In The Deep Dark Well Kuiper Belt Miner Pandora Latham, an Alabama girl, jumps through a wormhole to an enormous space station in the future. The Donut was once the center of Galactic Civilization, the home to millions of Wormhole gates which connected an Empire. Pandi lands on her feet in this future and her actions impact the course of civilization in the Galaxy. To Well and Back is set two years after the events in TDDW. Pandora Latham is now a true warrior of the future, and she and Watcher have plans to resurrect Galactic Civilization. After several jaunts around the Supersystem, the collection of solar systems in orbit around the Black Hole, Pandora finds she must come to the aid of her friends from the Polytheistic Kingdom of Surya against their enemies, the Xenophobe Fanatics of the Nation of Humanity. Surya and the Nation are locked in a struggle for supremacy in this part of the Galaxy. The Nation has boosted its tech base from reverse engineering the hardware stolen from the Donut in book 1, while Surya has done the same with aid of Pandora and Watcher. But the Nation has a plan to destroy the Suryan presence in the Supersystem and make it a human only collection of worlds.
To Well and Back is a little bit more of a military science fiction novel than TDDW, though it could also fit in the Science Fiction Adventure category. Caution, there is adult language and sex in the novel, not enough to drive it over the border into erotica, but it is there. I debated on whether to tone it down some for younger readers, but decided that this book is for adults, and maybe some precocious children like myself who weren’t too warped by reading novel with sex in them as a child. There is also extreme violence, as befits an age in which very powerful weapons are used on often unprotected soft bodies, and even armor is not proof against everything. If that kind of story is not for you then I would steer clear of To Well and Back. But if you like page turning adventure it is a novel you might want to give a try. And now for an excerpt.
“The damned thing disappeared,” yelled the Tactical Officer on board the flagship Dolphin.
“How?’ yelled back Commodore Valaris Midas, who was now the task force commander with the complete destruction of the battleship Eel with all hands. And one of the ships in his own division was drifting in space after the near miss by another weapon.
“I have no idea, Commodore,” said the man, shrugging his shoulders. “They have some incredible stealth for us to have missed them coming in. But we had a good track and lock on her leaving. We should still be seeing her.”
And that was what the Admiral was trying to warn us about, thought the Commodore, remembering the garbled grav wave message that had appeared on their com system as soon as they came out of Alcubierre. Of course the warning didn’t really match the reality.
“Another message coming in from the Admiral,” called out the Com Tech, and then Gerasi’s face was back on the screen.
“That ship is extremely dangerous,” said the Admiral, his eyes blazing out of the screen. “Take all caution, and use all resources to destroy it.”
“Acknowledged,” said Midas, knowing that his words would take twenty seconds to reach the Admiral. “We…”
“She’s back,” yelled the Tactical Officer, and Midas looked over to the side viewer to see that the red vector arrow had reappeared. And another four smaller arrows had separated and were moving toward his force.
“How in the Hells did she do that?” yelled Midas, watching as vector arrows left his task force and crawled toward the enemy with pitiful velocity numbers beneath them. The incoming missiles had numbers that were anything but pitiful, moving at fifty thousand kilometers a second while pulling thirty thousand gravities of acceleration.
“All ships,” he yelled, hoping that his order would actually mean something. “All weapons fire at those missiles.”
Fast they might be, but the battleships could still track them, and lasers could still intersect them. Those beams struck out at light speed, and missed as the missiles started moving in evasive patterns, while strong jamming blanked the tracking systems.
“What the Hells,” yelled Midas, seeing the tactical screen turn to a mass of static, with the red vector arrows of missiles jumping all over the place.
By chance one of the lasers still struck a missile, and it turned into an expanding pinpoint of eye hurting brilliance. Another missile got struck in the blast and detonated as well. That left two still heading for a target, and fortunately for the Nation task force they both picked on the same ship. Either warhead would have demolished that battleship. Two doubly demolished it, which meant naught to the men who died. They really didn’t care if they were blown to molecules or to atoms. The effect to them was the same.
Midas swore as he watched one of his ships blow up, then swore again as his own ship shuddered and warning klaxons sounded.
“We were hit with a particle beam,” shouted the Tactical Officer. “Minor damage to hull systems. Electromag field down over…”
The ship shuddered again, this time a much deeper shake that told of a pounding on the armored hull.
“Antimatter in that one,” yelled the Tactical Officer.
“Major damage to decks one through ten,” called out the officer sitting at damage control.
A woman’s voice came out of the com with a chilling warbling yell, and beam weapons continued to fly both ways as the ship closed. Beams weapons which never missed from one side, and always did from the other.
And then the enemy vessel was again past, lasers and particle beams striking from her stern as she moved at random vectors while fleeing the ships of the Nation.
“She’s gone again,” called out the Tactical Officer.
“I can see that, you idiot,” said Midas under his breath. “But where the Hells has she gone?”
“It has to be a wormhole,” said the Navigation Officer. “It’s from the Donut, as far as we know. And that thing is used to generate wormholes.”
“You must be correct,” said the Commodore, a tight smile on his face. “Did you get a fix on their point of appearance?”
“I have a tentative plot,” said the Nav Officer, nodding. “I can probably tighten it up if she comes through again.”
“Do that,” said the Commodore, pointing at the screen. “No matter what, get a fix on that point. And you,” he said, pointing to the Com Tech. “Get ready to send that fix to all ships. Maybe we can accomplish something.”
“Aye, sir,” said the tech.
“Here she comes again,” yelled the Tactical Officer. The red vector arrow appeared again, heading toward the force at high velocity. Missile arrows appeared again, separating from the ship.
How many of those damned things can that ship carry, thought the Commodore, watching as the arrows continued to separate and single out their targets. The plot erupted with static again, the red vector arrows jumping all over the place. We’ll never get her once she gets away from that hole and starts for us.
The Commodore sweated in his couch, watching the missiles come in. Two more were knocked out this time as well, but the other two went after separate targets, and two more battleships were blotted from the heavens. And then the ship was past and heading for its exit hole.
“What’s the Suryan force doing?” he asked, in a moment of panic forgetting that they were even engaged with another enemy.
“They’re concentrating on the Admiral’s task force,” said the Tactical Officer.
Thank the God for small favors, thought the Commodore as he looked over his mauled force. He had lost four ships, and two of those left were heavily damaged. But not enough to keep them from firing.
“I have the hole plotted,” said the Nav Officer.
“Coordinates sent,” called out the Com Tech.
“All ships to fire all weapons on that point,” said the Commodore. “Maximum power, continuous.”
“We won’t be able to keep that up too long,” said the Tactical Officer, looking back at the Commodore.
“Fire as long as possible,” said the Commodore. “Until the barrels melt, or we’re out of power.”
* * *
“I think you’ve done enough,” said Watcher over the circuit.
Pandora felt the big smile on her face and shook her head. “I’m having too much fun, lover,” she said, watching the approach to the wormhole mouth.
“I could shut down your fun by closing the hole,” threatened Watcher, but she could tell by his tone that it wasn’t going to happen. She had always been good at judging men, and using that judgment to manipulate them into doing what she wanted. It was no different with the superman she had come to know so well.
“Close it down and I’ll just circle back in normal space,” she said with a smirk on her face. “It may take a little bit longer, but I’ll still get er done.”
“You are insufferable,” said the being on the other end of the com link. “They are going to figure out what you are doing and blow you out of space. That is not a warship you are in. And you are even out of missiles.”
“I figure a couple of strafing runs with light amp and particle beams can whittle them down a bit more.”
“And you don’t even have your armor on,” said Watcher, his voice rising in exasperation. “No wonder you didn’t want a visual.”
“I’m fighting a bunch of old Greek galleys in a fighter jet,” she said with a laugh. “What the hell do I have to worry about?”
“They are a little bit more advanced than a galley,” said Watcher, his voice still at exasperation level. “Their weapons can still hurt you. Enough of them can destroy you.”
“They have to hit me first,” said Pandi, watching as the ripple in space that was the wormhole appeared to her front. “Tell you what. I’ll just go in one more little time, then high tail it out of here.”
Communications blacked out for a moment as she entered the wormhole, then came back as she exited the other end of the portal, lined up and ready for another attack run.
“We are taking fire,” called out the ship’s computer as a klaxon sounded. The ship shook and bucked.
“What’s going on?” yelled the voice of Watcher, and then the com was gone. Not interrupted, just gone, cut off.
“We have hull breaches,” called out the computer. “Lasers and particle beams impacting the hull.”
“Shit,” cursed Pandora, looking over the control board, which kept fluctuating between active and down. “Get us the hell out here. Maximum velocity, maximum evasive.”
“Engines two and three are down,” said the computer voice. “More hull breaches.”
The ship continued to shake, and Pandora could now hear the sound of air whistling through, something. And suddenly there was no air to breath, and she felt a moment of regret that she hadn’t put on that armor after all.