Happy Labor Day! Can you believe that summer is nearly over? This has been the fastest, yet slowest, summer of my life with everything going on in our country and in the world. Here's to brighter, happier, healthier days ahead.
I've got some big news! Two books in the Inherited Stars Series are on the jump deck and readying for launch in the next month! Today I'm posting snippets to give you a look into both stories.
First to publish will be SpyDog. It's an expanded version of the USA TODAY Bestselling Pets in Space® 4 story that takes place at the same time as the anchor novel, Inherit the Stars. If you read and loved the novel, you should really enjoy this concurrent, high-stakes adventure that takes place during the turmoil just prior to Operation Reset.
SpyDog Scene Set-up
Network deep cover agent Rigel Blackline and his partner, StarDog/SpyDog Maura, are headed for his transport off planet Banna when the ship is destroyed right before his eyes. In a busy spaceport swarming with enemy patrols, he has to act fast to avoid capture...or worse.
Behind him, the staccato of footsteps announced the arrival of an Ithian Alliance patrol, propelling Rigel to his feet and into the cover of the nearest hang. Inside, he hunkered down behind a discarded crew cart. He needed a better place to hide. The prize he and his StarDog were carrying could never fall into enemy hands.
The footsteps drew nearer, the sounds echoing off the high, steelonate walls of the surrounding hangars. He’d be discovered in moments. Rigel made a quick inspection of the empty hanger, his attention locking on the rust-stained chiller unit. He crept to the access panel, pulling a tachi-set from his vest pocket. After springing open a uni-key, he inserted it into the grimy lock of the chiller’s service panel. The lock clicked and the panel door popped. Rigel threw himself inside the unit, pretzeling his legs around the chiller’s pipe-and-conduit innards and hauling the satchel with his StarDog inside.
He reached out and swung the door shut, wincing at the squeal until the lock reset with a click.
When his inquisitive comrade growled, he gave a quiet hiss. “No noise!”
Outside the unit, intermittent footsteps drew closer, moving cautiously over the gritty substrate of the hangar floor. Stalking his position?
The chiller kicked on with a rattle and a laborious hum. Rigel gritted his teeth. The noise would help mask his location—if the lurking presence just outside didn’t already know he was there—but it was going to get awfully blasted cold in an awful gigadam hurry.
As if on cue, the pipes pressed to his field vest chilled. In mere sectas, the frigid surfaces were unbearably cold. Haley’s Crest! He was going to freeze to death in a tropical climate. At the sound of chattering teeth, he glanced down at the satchel draped across his lap. Sixth Hell, they both were.
If the information his StarDog carried never reached Admiral Mennelsohn and the Command crew on MONA Loa, it would be catastrophic. The data could essentially turn the tide in the insurrection against the Alliance. It was his mission to ensure it got there at any cost.
He could best whoever hunted him, but not the laws of thermodynamics. There was only one course of action available to him. Get the upper hand.
Rigel braced his shoulder against the inside of the access door. It gave way with a creak, spilling his upper body onto the hard hangar floor as he drew his laze-pistol from his shoulder holster.
Rigel jammed both elbows into the dirt to steady his aim and got a bead on his stalker. She scowled down at him with black diamond eyes, giving him a look fierce enough to slice through bone. Mouth set hard. Body sleek with lean, solid muscle. And her own laze-pistol leveled right between his eyes.
When his transport is destroyed before his eyes, agent Rigel Blackline and his bio-engineered StarDog partner wind up marooned on a planet buzzing with enemy patrols. Worse, they carry time-sensitive intel that must be delivered to their contacts on a distant space station—data that could defeat their ruthless enemies.
Rigel’s only hope is to reach another Network ship before they’re captured, but things get complicated when they cross paths with Sona, a savvy warrior-class Rathskian female. She claims to be a friendly, but he suspects the vixen is a dangerous counter-spy sent to intercept him and his StarDog. His intuitive sidekick’s immediate bond with Sona is even more baffling.
Rigel decides “capturing” Sona as an enemy asset and delivering her to his superiors may be his best option, but Sona has secrets that threaten more than just Rigel’s self-control. Her knowledge of Network dealings are on a level even he isn’t privy to. Is she truly an ally, or is he playing directly into the hands of a dangerous double-agent…in more ways than one?
SpyDog is now listed on my website and vendor links will be published as soon as the book goes live. If you'd like to follow my book news via my newsletter, you can sign up here:
SpyDog will be followed by the huge and much-anticipated release of Pets in Space® 5 on October 6th, including my latest Inherited Stars Series story, Juggernaut. White brainstorming it, I decided Juggernaut would be the perfect story to reveal something huge about my Inherited Stars universe that I originally planned to reveal in a later book -- and StarDog CaSandra is instrumental in the reveal. There are some definitely ties between the two stories, but Juggernaut takes place five years before SpyDog. Here's the scene set-up, snippet and blurb from Juggernaut.
Juggernaut Scene Set-up
Lieutenant Commander Dekessa "Dek" Garr serves on a top secret security detail safeguarding a find in an ancient underground lava tube on planet LaGuardia. She's answering an order to report to the security force commander immediately.
A breach in the rock ceiling high above the complex illuminated the underground lair in daylight hours. The opening had been sealed by a plasma barrier, allowing light to pass, but not weather or the prying eyes of air- or spaceborne spy craft.
Their overlord enemies, the Ithian Alliance, were always watching. Especially this planet.
“Dek,” the commander acknowledged in a gruff rasp when she entered his office.
“Commander?” Like him, she’d never been one to waste a word.
She nodded and eased onto a bench in front of his workstation, powering down her pulse rifle and placing it in the weapons keep at her left. Standard procedure in the presence of the task force commander.
“Change of detail,” the commander informed her without preamble.
What? Had he finally found an excuse to boot her out of his unit? She and the commander had been at odds since the day she first entered his realm, three calendars and two begrudging promotions ago.
Commander Tapp turned away to pour a cup of kinna from the brewer on the makeshift credenza. “Effective immediately, you’re temporarily assigned as the acting commander of this task force.”
Dek overrode the compulsion to jump to her feet. What the Hades? Self-discipline prevented her from vocalizing her outburst. Or even subvocalizing it. “Acting commander,” she repeated, as if it was no surprise at all.
“That’s right.” The commander lifted the brewer to her. “Kinna?”
“No, thank you, sir.” Dek scowled and cocked her head. “You’re putting me in command of the task force for what purpose?”
“I’m needed elsewhere. You’ll be in charge in the interim.”
Dek tamped down the thousand questions bubbling up in her mind with a deadpan acknowledgement. “I appreciate the opportunity, sir.”
He gave an apathetic shrug. “No one else has a detailed working knowledge of Site D operations.” He took a sip of his kinna, grimaced, and spoke again through gritted teeth. “As my second-in-command, you’re the best option I have for the job.”
Somehow, she didn’t think it was a compliment.
Their relationship had always been professional but never pleasant. She was well aware of his opinion that she was too young for second-in-command status, not to mention the wrong gender. Apparently, he discounted the many calendars she’d served the Network in a variety of capacities—dating back to her mid-teens. And the crushing sacrifice she’d made in the line of duty.
Lieutenant Commander Dekessa “Dek” Garr is second-in-command of a security force that protects a discovery buried deep inside an ancient lava tube. The implications of the find are staggering, and the stakes are high if their enemy—the Alliance—ever learns the truth about Site D. When her commander suddenly departs with zero warning and a mysterious visitor arrives, her job becomes a whole new level of complicated.
Sno Telon has an exercise to perform, and he isn’t about to let anyone stop him--including the dedicated acting commander known as Dek. But when his partner, CaSandra, a bioengineered dog-cat-weasel-mongoose, takes an immediate liking to the team leader, Sno realizes there’s much more to the woman than harsh words and hard scowls.
When Dek is attacked by an invisible foe who infiltrates the off-limits excavation, she immediately suspects Telon as the obvious culprit. But her interrogations of the man don’t go as planned and an unlikely bond forms between them as they reach a startling conclusion. Could the invisible perpetrator actually be an Alliance spy who’s about to blow open the secrets of Site D?
Can Dek trust Telon and his StarDog partner to help root out a possible Alliance operative, even if it means breaking every security protocol in the process? If her instincts about Telon are wrong, Site D could be lost forever…as well as her life.
ABOUT PETS IN SPACE® 5
It’s time for an escape! Pets in Space® 5 is back for the fifth amazing year! Escape to new worlds with twelve of today’s top Science Fiction Romance authors. They have written 12 original, never-before-released stories filled with action, adventure, suspense, humor, and romance that will take you out of this world. The giving doesn’t stop there. For the fifth year, Pets in Space® will be donating a portion of the first month proceeds to Hero-Dogs.org, a non-profit charity that supports our veterans and First Responders. If you are ready to forget the world around you and make a difference while you are having fun, grab your copy before it’s gone!
Read more about Pets in Space® 5 and see vendor links here: Pets in Space Antho
Thanks for stopping by Spacefreighters Lounge this Labor Day to catch these snippets.
Have a great week!