Exodus: Empires at War: Book 12 is finally here for the US, and here for the UK. I know I have been promising, over and over. I have been asked over and over. I kept meaning to finish. I started this book while on the Sail to Success cruise, along with book four of Machine War. I thought I would start on both, then decide on which one to do first when I got home. I decided on book 12 of the Empires at War series, and had planned to have it done by the end of January or beginning of February. And here it is, almost through with April, and I finally finished. So, what happened?
Well, I have the book contract with Arc Manor, and the publisher hired one of the best editors in science fiction to work with me. Seriously, one of the best, which goes to show how important the publisher thinks that project is. Also, I went on a trip out west to meet about the project, traveled to see possible settings for a post-apocalyptic series. Then there was the alternate history series I want to do. And Exodus is getting hard to keep fresh. One of the problems with a long series that I didn’t realize when I started it. I had planned on twenty books when I first started. Now it’s looking like fifteen, with five or six in the Machine War spinoff. And then maybe another series in the future, either going back in time to look at the beginning of the Empire through a series of stand alones, or into the future and a new threat. Or maybe both. Twelve is a complicated book, involving a lot of story lines, and it was difficult to keep everything together, especially when other ideas were crowding into my mind. Anyway, enough of the excuses. The book is here, I hope everyone enjoys it, and now it’s time to get to work on the next one.
So here’s the plan, for now. I will start in on Machine War 4, estimated time of release in mid-June. Then I want to tackle the next book in Refuge, which has at least two books to go to reach a logical finish. Then on to books 13 and 5 of Empires at War and Machine Wars respectively, followed by book two of Theocacy, which will finish the year for releases. I have one or two short stories to put out for anthology invites, and of course I will need to work on the new traditionally published military science fiction/space opera series. I got a very nice deal on this series, which the publisher is hoping will turn into something big, with other authors contributing on an invitation basis. Oh, and I need to finish up the fantasy that caught the interest of another editor and a big time agent. So I guess my work is cut out for me, and I need to work a lot harder than I have been. But first, let’s enjoy the new book. Here’s an excerpt:
Samantha Ogden Lee was a cousin in the Imperial line, not in a direct path of succession. Several dozen people would have to die for her to ascend the throne, and that was not her wish or desire. Everyone knew that all of the close line had the gift to various degrees. Sean was said to have it to an extent unseen in generations. She had it as well, not to his level, but powerful enough, though she was careful to keep her ability hidden. She knew that many people thought the prophetic dreams were the visitation of demons, the more superstitious of them, and those would treat her as someone possessed.
There was nothing supernatural about the gift, at least not according to the scientists who had studied it through the ages. They still didn’t really understand it, only that the source came from the still spooky environs of quantum physics. All she knew about it was that she wished she didn’t have even a smidgeon of it.
She felt the dread within her sleep as her dream changed, taking on the familiar aspect. The unreal of the dream state took on a clarity that seemed all too real. A scene of people standing on the roof of a building. Around it stretched a city that showed the destruction of the strike the Cacas had visited upon it. She could tell it was Capitulum. And from the damage she could tell it was either in the recent past or the near future. From the scaffolding surrounding some of the buildings, and the work robots restoring the surfaces of damaged buildings that hadn’t fallen in the attack, she guessed the near future. Very near, in fact, since there was still so much work to be done.
Then her attention was captured by the people on the rooftop, which she recognized as the landing platform of the office building the Fleet was using as their headquarters for the time being, until the massive damage to the Hexagon could be repaired. Most of the people were in uniform, though there were civilians intermixed with the spacers, and everyone had their attention turned to the sky.
Samantha’s dream self looked up with them, to the bright disk of the G class primary that Jewel orbited. At first, she couldn’t tell what was going on. It took almost a minute to determine what was causing their attention to focus on the star. The disk of the star had visibly shrunk as she watched. It was a slow process, until she remembered how large it actually was, and how distant. Then the magnitude of the problem became apparent.
“It’s getting brighter,” yelled out one of the bystanders. It did seem to be, and that could only mean one thing. The star was compressing inward, and that was increasing the rate of fusion in the center. If it kept up?
The heavens flared, blindingly bright, and everyone cried out as they tried to cover their eyes, too late. All were permanently blinded, except for Samantha, who was not really there. Their burned-out eyes could eventually be restored, but they would not be given that time. Clothing and skin smoked, then flared into vapor. The entire city followed suit, buildings made of materials that should not have been flammable burning away in seconds.
Samantha’s view shifted out, to see the seas boiling, the exposed rocks left behind by the ashed forests glowing, then flowing.
Her view shifted further out, until she was looking down on the world, and the far disks of New Terra and Ariel, both glowing from the brilliant reflected light of the exploding star. Moments later the shock wave hit, and all three worlds flared even brighter, then turned into exploding fragments of rocks, some the size of continents. Those huge structures came apart in seconds, until the three worlds were gone, their glowing particles propelled outward from the explosion.
What the hell happened? thought Samantha. She knew what had happened. The star, a G class that couldn’t possibly supernova, had just done so. She just didn’t know why it had happened. An instant later she was sitting up in bed, sweat falling off her face, soaking her bedclothes, her breath coming in gasps.
The enormity of the dream struck her, some of the images fading away, others etched within her mind. The star had gone supernova, against all the laws of physics. A moment later the legends were assaulting her mind. How the ancients had messed with the time stream, and had brought disaster to living systems.
Sean needs to know about this, she thought. Someone was going to do something in the Empire that would lead to a disaster that would dwarf anything the Cacas had done. And Sean needed to know. At that moment she wished again that she was the regent, a position no longer needed now that Jennifer was functioning fully as the empress. But with the loss of the position, she had also lost her access to top levels of Imperial secrets. She had been happy to be relieved of those duties, and had hoped that she might take up a position in Fleet intelligence. Now she wished she still had her access so she could see what might be going on.
“Get me the Emperor,” she said to the apartment com system. “Utmost urgency.”
She waited impatiently as the com system queried the Imperial government net for a minute. It normally didn’t take that long, and she wondered if Sean was engaged in private business, maybe with the empress. He would be pissed, because if he was in range of the com net, her code words would get her through to him. Well, he could go ahead and be pissed. This was too damned important. Whatever was going to happen might not occur for weeks to months, or it might happen this day. She had a feeling it was going to be a lot sooner than a week.
“The Emperor is not available at this time,” said the voice of the com system.
“I did not understand that reference,” replied the literal system.
“Get the Empress. Utmost urgency.”
“What is it, Sam?” answered the voice of Jennifer, her voice heavy with sleep, almost sounding drugged.
“I’m sorry to bother you, Jennifer. But I had a dream. One of the kind that haunts our family.”
“I didn’t know you got those, too.”
“Unfortunately, yes. Or maybe fortunately in this case. Something really bad is going to happen, and soon. I need to talk to Sean.”
“Sean is out at the Donut, Sam. Something to do with hitting the Cacas before they hit us.”
“You mean before their next attack comes at us,” said the confused Samantha. The Cacas were already in the middle of an offensive against the Empire, one that was not going all their own way.
“No. The attack they pulled on us several months ago. The one that almost killed my child.”
By the Gods, no, screamed the thoughts in Samantha’s head. “He must not do that. Don’t you see. That’s what triggers the supernovas.”
“We need to get through to Sean. Right now. If we wait it will be too late.”