I recently released another collection of Exodus stories in the Tales of the Empire Series. Exodus: Tales of the Empire: Book 3: Capitulum is a collection of five stories about the capital of the Empire. It can be found on Amazon.UK here. I have wanted to do this book ever since the release of Beasts of the Frontier. The first two books in this series did very well. Exploration Command sold over 5K books, while Beasts did 4K. To put this into perspective, a lot of anthologies put out by well-known authors, some NYT bestsellers, don’t do as well. So, I started on the title story in this collection two years ago. It fills in a lot of details in the backstory of the Empire, tales I didn’t have the space to include in the novels, which already had too many characters according to some.
Capitulum revisits the Yugalyth problem, and the investigation by Capitulum PD Lt/Fleet Intelligence Captain Ishuhi Rykio and his team. In Emigration we look at the attack on the Jewel system and Capitulum through the eyes of a married couple. Prior to the attack, he wants to stay in Capitulum, the safest place in the Empire, while she wants children, something hard to do on reproductive restricted capital planet. Capitulum turns out to not be so safe after all. In Search and Rescue the attack is examined from the perspective of a Customs/Search and Rescue cutter in the twin planet system. In Dead Eyes the master assassin Angel Martinez, the Angel of Death, is given and assignment to take out a member of the Elysium Embassy Staff. And in the process meets up with a man as deadly as he, Cornelius Walborski. And finally, for those who wanted to see a stronger Empress Jennifer, we see her in her role as a physician, facing the deadliest organism ever released in Imperial Space. It’s think on your feet or die for the good doctor.
People have asked me why I do these kind of books, and just don’t concentrate on the main Exodus: Empires at War series. I love that series. It was responsible for my ability to become a full-time writer. However, it is difficult to keep a long running series fresh. Sometimes I need more time to come up with ideas. Sometimes the new ideas are popular, sometimes not. Sometimes the motivation is there, sometimes not. I have always said that I could never get writer’s block. This is true, because I have hundreds of ideas, most of which don’t fit into the Empires or War storyline. So I write other things. Sometimes they do well, sometimes not, but I still feel compelled to write them. That will continue on into the future.
So, if you want to learn more about the background of the Empire, get this book. $2.99 for 67K words of stories, about the same per word as my novels.
The back of my house after the storm.
Michael caught me completely off-guard. I came back from the FSU Women’s Soccer match on Sunday, November 7th, to see the news that there was a tropical storm off Yucatan that was predicted to head right for me. It took off at warp speed, throwing fish and dolphins into the air in passage. By Tuesday night it was right on target, and I thought it would go right over Tallahassee. It was predicted to be a Category 2. No big deal. I live in a brick house and have been through many 1s and 2s. Then. Overnight, it was upgraded to a Category 3 and predicted to be a 4 before hitting the coast. And then it was predicted to become a 5, with 150mph winds. Yikes. At least the plot was showing that the eye was not going to pass over my house. Kudos to the National Weather Service for their prediction of timing and path. Not so much for the strength prediction. If I had know that a Category 5 was heading my way I would have thrown the cats in my car and headed to Jacksonville.
The only real damage to my house.
At most we got 80 mph winds in twenty to thirty second gusts. Not enough to rattle my double paned windows. Enough to make some noise dropping branches on my roof. And definitely enough to drop a monster tree on my back fence, thankfully completely away from the house. It did take out my back fence, my side fence, the power lines, the traffic light on the road behind me, and blocked the road. The trifecta. Power went off at just after 1PM, while I was updating the storm on Facebook and following it on a webpage. Just as the eye was touching the coast. I didn’t get my power back until Sunday afternoon, and cable wasn’t on until Wednesday, on and off until Friday afternoon. It really set me back on a number of projects. I’m finally getting it under control.
No way through for a car, but the guy on the bike got through.
I was ready for this storm, kind of. After Irma last year turned out to be nothing by the time it got to us, and completely missed the target. I got a generator, plenty of candles, lots of rechargeable devices. Water and food. Didn’t have enough gas for the generator and ended up throwing out everything in my fridge. All of the devices save one didn’t live up to my expectations. And the full gas tank in my car was inaccessible to syphoning. So, I learned, and will be better prepared for the next one. It wasn’t fun living in a cold, dark cave for five days, especially when I had stuff I needed to do. Still, I was much better off than people to the West of me, or those on the coast who lost their entire towns.
Glad it wasn’t me/
And now the excerpt:
Another holo popped up, showing a schematic of the robot, large areas blinking red.
“The damned thing is attacking the robot,” exclaimed Chan, her voice actually rising. “Its structure is as tough as battleship armor, and large sections of it are being dissolved.”
“What about the walls of the chamber? The door?”
If it was attacking the robot with so much fury, what was it doing to break out of that room. Its function was clear, get into the population and infect as many people as possible. There could be no end to that. It could infect everyone in the city who didn’t get out in time, then move across the planet, doing the same. If people got off the planet by ship or wormhole, carrying the substance, it could establish itself on other worlds. Jennifer doubted it could destroy the Empire. But if it even damaged several worlds, including Jewel, the heart of the Empire, it could devastate the industrial efforts and moral of the nation.
“Get a look at the door before the robot goes down,” she ordered Kellis.
The scientist nodded and moved the camera, getting a grainy image of the door. The lens was already under attack, and with the push of a panel Kellis rotated another one from out of the storage compartment and into place.
The door that had sealed the room was almost gone, only a few strands left. The contamination tent was also dissolved. While the clamshell door was showing sign of severe damage. Kellis panned the camera, showing that the walls were also in bad shape. A pan up showed that the vent cover was almost gone as well, and soon the contagion would be flooding the ventilation shafts. Most would be swept away by electromagnetic waves into the furnace that filtered the air. No matter how tough this thing was, it couldn’t survive the ten thousand degrees of plasma the air would be swept into. But not all of it would be swept away, and some would eventually get through the ventilation system and out into the hospital.
If only we had the warrant officer in one of the isolation rooms lower down, thought the Empress, mentally smacking herself that they hadn’t done so. There they could have flooded the room with all kinds of hard radiation, of even superheated plasma itself. Here, they were helpless.
Possibly the Marines could burn it out with their particle beams. She had her doubts. They might be able to spray the room and get most of it, but surely some would get away, attacking them and everyone else on this ward.
Jennifer reached over onto Kellis’ board and hit a panel.
“This is an Imperial order. All personnel on the ward are to move themselves and their patients to the break room at the end of the corridor. Any patients who can’t be moved are to be sealed in their rooms. I know that’s not what most of you would want, but it’s the best we can do. Repeat, everyone evacuate, seal the patient rooms, and seal the breakroom.”
“You think it’s going to break out?” asked Sean, his face appearing in a holo bubble.
“I think so. And the only thing we can do right now is buy time.”
“I want you out of there,” hissed her husband. “Now. We can set up isolation on the other side of the doors and make sure you’re okay. But I want you out.”
“And I’m not coming. Not while I have patients in danger here.”
Sean didn’t say another word, probably realizing it would do no good, though his eyes continued to plead with her. Finally, he shook his head. “I won’t try to force the issue. This is your area. But please, try to survive. This galaxy will be a cold dark place without you.
“Chan,” said her husband, shifting gears. “Find something to stop that thing. I’ll give you a duchy for your trouble.”
“I don’t need a duchy, your Majesty,” said Chan, her sense of being offended echoing in her voice. “I just need the kingdom you provide for me here. My best people are working on it. We’re fabricating the things in the lab as we speak, so we can figure out how to kill them.”
“Is that wise?” asked an alarmed Jennifer, imagining the contagion getting out in the research laboratories and running amok.
“We will be reproducing it on an isolated lab asteroid, one with an antimatter device ready to turn it to plasma. If it gets out the casualties will be minimal.”
Jennifer wondered for a moment why Chan had such a facility, unless it was to investigate bio weapons of her own. The doctor part of her didn’t like that idea, though the Empress part saw how it might be necessary to save Imperial lives.
“I wish there was some other way to do it,” said Chan, true regret in her voice. “If we had a sample of what you have there, or from the other outbreaks, it would go faster.” Now her voice was brimming with excitement. “Still, we have your scans, so we should be able to replicate them from nanotech.”
“Do you have all the data you need?” asked Sean, rushing his words, a sign that he was anxious.
“Not really,” admitted the admiral. “We can build their physical structures. What we can’t do, without a physical sample, is reconstruct their programming. We’ll just have to hope that doesn’t contain some unexpected surprises.”
Jennifer wanted to say that all surprises were unexpected, lest they not be a surprise. Since that would add nothing to the conversation, she kept her mouth shut, something she had learned in medical school.
“I’m shooting over some more information to you, Admiral,” said Dr. Kellis, pushing panels on his board. “That’s probably the end of the robot. I have eight more diagnostic chambers, but the contagion has eaten into the core of the machine.”
The Empress did some quick calculations in her head. “It must have between six and eight hundred kilos of mass now. If it gets to us here, figure a couple of thousand kilos just from the living matter it absorbs.”
“We’re not going to let it get that mass,” said Sean in a soft voice, trying to calm herself and himself at the same time.
“How did you control the contagion on the other breakout points?”
Sean was silent, and Jennifer thought about how difficult this must be for him. He already had so much on his plate, and now he had to worry about something out of his area of expertise.
“If I may, your Majesty,” said Chan, an edge of anxiety in her voice as well. “The two ships were vaporized by other vessels. One of the facilities was hit with a gigaton warhead, the other with multiple particle beams.”
“That is not going to happen here,” blurted Sean.
“Your Majesty. You know that if that thing breaks containment, we’re going to have to do the exact same thing here.”
“Will be dead and her mass feeding that thing,” said the Empress. She didn’t like that thought any more than did her husband. But she had to face reality here. Once she and the others here were gone, it wouldn’t matter. “You will have no choice. I don’t think sending in more Marines is going to be the answer. Unless they can blast every particle of it, it will escape. And you will again be left with the decision to vaporize the entire building.”
Next Up: A series on Adventures in Indie Publishing, as I detail some of the new things I am trying out to increase exposure and sales.