Today was the release date of Deeper and Darker, the third volume of The Deep Dark Well trilogy. In Volume 2, To Well And Back, Watcher was captured by the Nation of Humanity. Pandora Latham, his lover from forty thousand years in the past, must organize a rescue mission to save Watcher from the hands of the New Galactic Empire, which intends to try him for the sins of his alter ego, Vengeance. The New Galactic Empire has the number, the New Galactic Confederation of Watcher and Pandi has the tech. The question is, will it be enough? Or will the brainwashing tyrant of the New Galactic Empire, the Immortal Emperor Alphonso Kitticaris, reign supreme over a slave empire with no end. Right now the book is available on Amazon here. Later next week I will try to get the paperback version up on Createspace. I have a finished first draft of the first book of a second trilogy set in that Universe, but due to the demand for Exodus, I will be waiting to put it out.
Exodus: Empires at War: Book 7: Counter Strike, should be available by the last week of August. Currently I am at 60,000 words of the hopefully 120,000 word novel. A can be seen above, the cover is ready to go. After that novel I will finish the fourth book of the Refuge series. It will require at least another book after that one to finish off that series, or at least the beginning, though I still have not given up hope on it as a viable effort in the future. And then on to the next Exodus novel. And now, an excerpt of Deeper and Darker.
I’ve got to get out of here, thought Watcher as he severed the link with the ship’s computer. According to the navigation computer the battleship he was on, as well as the rest of the force, was a little over halfway to its destination. They were in hyper VII, with a pseudospeed of over thirty-five thousand times light. The borders of the New Terran Empire were over three thousand light years from the Supersystem, and the core system of that polity was a thousand light years from that border. It was a fifty-two day trip overall, counting time to accelerate and decelerate back down, one that his own ships could make in a little over thirteen days. And just our bad luck that the bastards had to be so close to us.
He had been checking out the databases about the Empire, and what he saw was chilling. They had quadrupled the size of their empire in the last hundred years, and it was increasing at a geometric rate. At its present expansion it would double again in the next twenty years, then again ten years later. And most of the developing powers in that space didn’t have a prayer. There were twelve other multi-star system governments in that threatened space, and none of them stood a chance against the Empire.
It wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t complete dicks, he thought, recalling more of the information he had gleaned from the databanks. The Empire was ruled by a single human male, one who had lived for over five hundred years, and looked as if he had no intention of dying anytime soon. It was a totalitarian regime that brooked no dissension or interference with its plans and policies. Just the kind of government Watcher despised.
Watcher linked back in with the ship, this time going beyond the safe confines that he had set himself, going straight into the heart of the security programs. He had been here before, for fleeting instants, checking out the sensitivity of the programs to intruders, learning what he could get away with. Now he took some steps beyond those boundaries.
He had determined that now was the best time to escape, while they were still outside the borders of the Empire, while he only had to escape and avoid these ships. The only problem was, he still didn’t know if that was possible.
He looked through the security system and noted that all the nearby corridors were empty. There were security personnel on duty in the surveillance room that oversaw this block of cells (and there sure were enough of those on what was supposed to be a warship). The rest of the corridors leading to his planned destination were as empty as could be during the late night cycle of the ship, when the only people up were those who had duty stations to man.
Watcher’s mind, the most powerful organic data processing instrument in the Galaxy since the disappearance of the almost legendary Ancients, moved with ease through the systems of the ship. For a moment he had the access to make the ship do anything he wanted. That access was only momentary, and would give away the game, but he could do it.
He set the security systems to indicate that his cell was occupied, and that the door had remained closed, even while it was opening to his front. The sensors at the security station would continue to monitor his calm heartbeat, while the visual pickups would show a lifelike image of himself, pieced together from hundreds of hours of surveillance recordings, sitting on his bed, or sleeping, or any of a thousand other actions.
Watcher slipped through the door, glancing in both directions, his superior mind filling in every detail with that one look. The cell door closed behind him, and he started moving the direction he wanted, his own location appearing in his optical centers on a schematic of the ship.
The battleship massed fifteen million tons, and measured well over two kilometers by eight hundred meters. There were six thousand people aboard, spacemen and marines. If he had to fight his way through them all he was dead. But so far it was looking very good that he might be able to sneak through to where he wanted to be. After that, it would be up to his skills at manipulating the computer to get off the ship and away, spoofing their sensors and dropping off their plot.
The armory he had scoped out was ahead and to the right. Its lock was no more advanced than that of his cell, and the thick door slid in and to the side as he approached. Of course, there was an inner door on a separate circuit, but that was only a microsecond of effort to open it in the same way. Inside the armory was rack after rack of weapons, as well as some various sizes of body armor. No powered armor, which was a bit disappointing, but not really unexpected. Naval powered armor would be stored where the crew could get to it during battle alerts, while the marine version would be kept by their quarters.
It took a little over a minute to strap on some of the body armor, breast and back plate, shoulder pads, forearm and thigh guards, and a tactical helmet. He strapped on several hand weapons, then chose the most powerful rifle he could find. Again, it was not what he would have preferred, but it was the best he could get at the moment.
The armory sealed itself up after he left, and he continued on his way, tapping into the security system to see ahead of him, making sure he was not running into any of the crew. There were some tense moments there, as he saw people wandering halls on several occasions, and once an armed patrol, which made him wonder how much this Admiral trusted his own people
It’s just ahead, he thought, walking down the corridor, his booted feet not making the slightest sound. He gripped the particle beam rifle in his hands, ready for any betraying movement that would warn him of an enemy. The weapon seemed somewhat primitive compared to what he was used to, and he was sure that it was not in the same class as what he had carried off of the station, but hopefully powerful enough to defeat their own armor. The helmet on his head had its com activated, at least the receiving portion of the tactical communications link.
He pushed a small probe around a corner that was the last before the main corridor that led to the hangar. The probe was a small fiber optic line that was flexible enough to shape to any desired configuration. It was attached to his helmet, and gave him a view of whatever the end was pointed to. Now it was giving him a view of two battle suited Marines standing before the hatch that led into the hangar, particle beam rifles in their hands.
Now how in the hell do I get past them, he thought, knowing that if he shot the men an alarm would definitely sound. That concern was rendered moot as said alarm went off, a loud klaxon that sounded through the corridor along with red flashing lights.
“The prisoner has escaped,” came a voice over the tactical com. “Repeat, the being known as Watcher has escaped and is at large on the ship. He is to be considered extremely dangerous.”
So much for caution, he thought, crawling around the corner to expose his head and rifle, sighting in on the first of the Marines, who were now alertly looking up the corridor. He developed an instant sight picture and squeezed his trigger, connecting the red beam from the end of his rifle to the faceplate of the Marine. He kept the beam in contact for more than a second, not sure of how strong it was. The faceplate dissolved in a flash of vaporized alloy, followed by a spurt of reddish steam as the beam demolished the face behind it. The Marine dropped, while his partner swung his rifle around and fired at Watcher, putting his beam just above the superman.
Shit, thought Watcher, as he scooted back behind the corner, the searing heat of the near miss blistering the flesh on his neck. He had made an estimate of the rifle’s power, and while definitely not in the class of his own tech, it was powerful enough to kill him quickly. He expects me to come crawling around again. He’ll be ready for that. So I need to do something different.
Something different was to come rocketing around the corner, leaping forward, his rifle tracking onto the standing Marine, sending a beam out that struck the enemy’s weapon and the hand that was holding the forward grip. The Marine yelled and dropped his rifle, and Watcher swept he beam up into his helmet.
He ran to the hatch while trying to link with the computer and open it. His mind ran into a wall, the security systems up and alerted. Watcher stepped back, aiming his rifle at the hatch with a low expectation of success, but not knowing what else to do. He triggered the beam, letting it eat into the alloy of the hatch. Some metal vapor spurted into the air, but he could tell right off that it wasn’t enough. Thirty seconds of fire and the beam died, and a quick look at the rifle showed an empty proton pack.
He pulled the used pack out of the rifle while looking at the superficial gouge in the hatch. Just as he pulled a new pack from the belt, he heard the approach of armored footsteps, and looked up to see a number of Marines and Spacers heading his way, weapons pointed menacingly.
“Drop that weapon and stand against the wall,” said the Naval officer who was leading the group. “Do it. Now.”
Watcher didn’t think they would be very happy with his killing of two of their own. And I sure don’t want to see what they’re going to do about it. With that thought he slammed the proton pack home and started to close the port.
The sonics sounded, and his muscles quivered as they tried to put him down. He raised his weapon, trying to sight in on one of the enemy. His vision was blurred, he couldn’t see anything, but still pulled the trigger, sending a beam down the corridor. The vibrations intensified as more sonic weapons were brought the bear, and the superman fought against the darkness that was attempting to engulf him. With a sigh consciousness left, and first his rifle hit the floor, then his body, as everything went black.