Hi, kids! As some of you know, I’ve been working on several projects and they’re coming to fruition (I know, I know. FINALLY!). One of those is the third installment of my Far Seek Chronicles, the ongoing space opera adventures of Torri Rendego, her crew, and soldier Kai Tinsdale, who serves in the hated Coalition’s military. For those of you who read this series, you know what the situation is between Torri and Kai. For those who don’t, here’s the link to the series info here on my site. You’ll find links to excerpts, as well.
I’m hoping to get number 3 (I’ll announce the title later on, and post a much longer excerpt as we get closer to publication) out by the end of the summer, and I hope to have the manuscript into the publisher in the next couple of months. At which time it’ll undergo editing and re-writing and all that. Hopefully book 3 will be ready early fall.
Stay tuned for more news/fun stuff with regard to the Chronicles!
In the meantime, here’s a teaser from Book 3.
Teaser, book 3, Far Seek Chronicles
2012, copyright 2012, Andi Marquette
From the air, Koto looked like a massive wheel that someone had pushed onto its side so that it rested on top of Hanzey’s thick, endless jungles. Ten spokes — corridors — radiated from the large central hub outward to what Kai surmised were separate hangar facilities, and smaller corridors spiderwebbed off the larger ones, but remained within the tight wheel formation that Koto mimicked. Home, Kai thought, watching the holographic film of the planet below, for at least the next few Earth months. Another military base. Another posting. Another Coalition whim, this one only six hours old. She’d had only that long to collect her gear and prepare to board the lander for Koto. Typical, she thought, irritation once again settling in her gut like bad food.
She glanced at a group of five passengers on the other side of the lander’s lounge, who sat chatting in the lyrical tones of a local dialect, civilian employees from the cruiser that had brought them all to Hanzey’s orbit. Another group of six monopolized a different table, talking in Empire and drinking beverages from the ship’s stores.
Kai, however, was the only military personnel on the lander, and the only new military officer to be posted to Koto in over one Earth year. And that made her suspicious about what might really be going on here. The Coalition never made decisions one could take at face value, and as good as she was at rooting out smuggling rings, whether like-mind or not, Kai had a feeling that wasn’t the reason she’d gotten this posting, no matter what her orders said. The Coalition often reacted to rumors, and those had been circulating for a year, now, about potential like-mind cells coalescing for an uprising. No matter how the Coalition chose to word her orders, this wasn’t about smuggling.
Kai left the lounge and took the few steps down the narrow corridor to retrieve her duffel from a storage area near the disembarking point. She slung the duffel over her left shoulder and waited at the back of the lander for the door to open and ramp to descend. The group of civilians behind her had resumed their chatting and Kai half-listened as they discussed the different drinking establishments and other amenities at Koto. … After thirty more seconds, a soft hiss indicated that the crew had disengaged the vacuum system and the door opened outward. Kai waited until the ramp, wide enough for one person at a time, had locked into place. Another tone sounded and she descended the ten feet to the hangar floor, where a black-uniformed soldier approached her. Kai took a couple of steps from the ramp to allow passage and waited.
“Commander Tinsdale,” he said in Coalition. He stopped a few feet from her and saluted, right fist against his left pectoral. Six fingers, Kai noted as he unfurled his hand. Asalian, most likely. Perhaps even a native Hanzien. “Welcome to Koto.”
She nodded and read his name tag. “My thanks, Corporal Somi.”
“Please follow me. Captain Wei will brief you.” He saluted again, spun in a crisp, formal movement on his heel, and started striding away from the lander, to Kai’s left. He was a good six inches shorter than she, so she easily kept up, though she suspected, from his smooth, tight movements, that he was more than capable of besting someone larger and heavier than himself in physical combat. Understated but confident, this soldier. She’d know soon enough whether he was an exception or the rule here. The personnel files of lower-ranking officers didn’t necessarily indicate whether someone had true leadership abilities. The Coalition often promoted people on the basis of family ties and favors, so Kai engaged a healthy skepticism when she checked them, and if she wanted more accurate information, she had ways of getting it.
Somi led her across the hangar, half-empty at this hour, to an open corridor about ten feet wide and eight feet high. He pressed his palm against the panel on the right and Kai did the same. The Koto security system would record her biometric data and convey it to the proper officials here and back on the cruiser that had brought her. Commander Kai Tinsdale, properly verified and registered at her new posting, she thought sarcastically.
“This way, please, Commander.” Somi beckoned her down the corridor and stopped at a door on the left. He placed his palm on the reader and the door slid open, half into the ceiling, the other half into the floor. She followed him inside what she recognized immediately as a guard station and security check. Ten soldiers manned various control panels, monitoring images of Koto and its surroundings. Two plotted recon paths on a floor-to-ceiling holochart and two others were engaged at a holomap of the planet. The one gray-uniformed officer in the room looked up from his station. He stopped what he was doing and headed toward them. Somi saluted.
“Commander Tinsdale,” he said in Coalition. “Welcome. I’m Captain Wei.” He saluted and stood at attention. Another Asalian, Kai gauged from his digits. Like Somi, he wore a standard-issue utility cap, so she couldn’t tell whether he had the twin skull ridges from front to back that would definitely mark him as such, but his stature, facial structure, and fingers indicated that was probably a major part of his ethnic make-up. He stood taller than Somi, but still slightly shorter than she. A long scar marred the left side of his face, from beneath his eye to his chin. Interesting, that he’d chosen to keep it, as she’d kept the one on her own cheek.
“Captain. Thank you. At ease.” She lowered the duffel to the floor but Somi took the straps from her.
“I’ll take care of this, Commander.” He hefted it easily to his right shoulder and retreated from the room.
“Please, join me.” Wei walked Kai to an anteroom whose entrance shimmered with a forceshield that dissipated when he placed his palm on the reader. Once inside, he activated the shield again and motioned her to one of the thickly padded chairs near a large viewport that looked out over the hangar. He waited for her to take a seat then sat down opposite her.
“I trust your journey was acceptable,” he began.
“It was. Thank you.” As comfortable as the chair was, she didn’t sit back. She’d checked Wei’s file upon receiving her orders. As a ranking officer, she had that privilege. Solid soldier, twenty Earth years of service, ten on Hanzey. He’d seen combat in the Collapse, and received commendations for valor. Kai noted that he did not wear the evidence of that on his uniform, something she appreciated. She’d learned quickly after graduating from the Academy that those Coalition officers who broadcast their awards hadn’t earned them through traditional military channels. They were, instead, decorations for how well they kissed Coalition ass.
“If I may, Commander, conduct business straight away?”
“Thank you. As you’re aware, Major Vic requested your assistance with regard to potential like-mind smuggling cells. We have reason to believe that one has established a foothold on Hanzey.”
Kai’s orders had stated as much. “What makes the major think it’s like-mind?” Kai opted not to question that something had been found, which she still doubted, and instead followed Wei’s lead.
Kai waited, studying his expression, which remained as intractable as his pale blue eyes.
“My apologies, Commander. I cannot elaborate further at this time,” he finally said. “The major will ensure that you are briefed at greater length.”
“I see. And when will that occur?”
“Five days,” he said, apologetic. “The major was called offworld while you were in transit. I have instructions to ensure your comfort until she returns.”
“I appreciate that. My orders, however, include an investigative directive.” She stopped, to ascertain how Wei would react to her pulling rank.
“Major Vic apprised me of that,” he said with no hesitation.
“Then I’m sure the major informed you that I am fully authorized to conduct reconnaissance operations, Captain, and that I intend to begin in thirty-six hours.”
Wei half-smiled, as if he’d anticipated this. “She did, Commander, and I am to ensure that you have a patrol available at your request. Would you like to choose its members yourself? I can provide files of twenty available soldiers should that be the case.”
Kai nodded in acknowledgement of his — and the major’s, obviously — preparation. Vic had clearly done her own investigation about Kai’s requirements and preferences with regard to a new posting. She smiled back. “That won’t be necessary. I’ll need five who are familiar with the area and can work individually and with teams.” She placed that statement between them, letting him know that she left this decision up to him, and respected his judgment in the matter.
“Done,” he said in a tone that seemed to convey relief, though in the stilted formality of Coalition, it was difficult, sometimes, to pick up on undercurrents. “Which shift would you like to start with?”
“That’s currently the sixth hour, each day. I’ve arranged your quarters near this hangar for your convenience.” He stood abruptly and saluted. “Forgive me, Commander. I must return to my duties. It is a pleasure, however, making your acquaintance. I look forward to working with you.”
Kai stood as well and saluted him back. “Many thanks, Captain. Should you require my services earlier, please don’t hesitate to enlist them. And please do inform Major Vic of my arrival.”
“I will. Corporal Somi will escort you to your quarters.” He motioned at the door, through which Kai could see into the outer room, though the forceshield allowed no sound through it. She waited for him to disengage it and followed him out of the anteroom. Somi stood at attention next to the doorway.
“Corporal,” Kai greeted him.
“Thank you again, Commander,” Wei said with another salute. She responded in kind, something that the soldiers present in his command would notice that she’d done. She was the new person here, and though only Major Vic outranked her at Koto, soldiers paid attention to how newcomers treated their commanding officers. Wei, though reserved, was the kind of military man she appreciated, and she wanted his squadron members to note that.
“Commander,” Somi said. “Please follow me.”
She did, feeling several pairs of eyes on her back. Those in this room, she knew, would take their observations of the stranger to their fellow soldiers, and they’d do a little digging on this Commander Tinsdale if they hadn’t already and the squadron members who ended up in her first patrol would want to be there, if only to gather more data about her. Kai was betting on that, and the sooner she could get soldiers on her side, the more leverage she’d have here. She had four days to make an impression, and she’d make sure it was the one she wanted to leave.
There you go! Stay tuned… 😀