Monday, February 6, 2023

JUGGERNAUT Excerpt: Man Troubles

Welcome to today's excerpt from new release Juggernauta book in the Inherited Stars series. The story is an expanded, revised version of a shorter story originally published in Pets in Space 5 (no longer available).

This comes with a quick reminder the Amazon Kindle book will only be on sale at .99 cents for a few more days. If you're reading this on February 6th, this is a great time -- and  possibly the last time -- to grab it at a bargain price. (Click this link to visit Amazon.)

Scene Set-Up

Lieutenant Commander Dekessa "Dek" Garr is having man problems. No, not the romantic kind. (At least, not yet.) As second in command, she's been left in charge of the ultra-secure Site D, located in an underground lava tube. But her fellow security team members aren't quite sure how to deal with her as their new boss, and the mysterious stranger -- and his StarDog partner -- who has suddenly been dumped in her lap isn't being very cooperative either.

Excerpt from Juggernaut:

Satisfied Telon’s creature posed no threat to her personnel, Dek left Major Remm in charge of getting the man and his pet settled in quarters.

She directed the major to have the quartermaster assign a vacant berth in Block A. Having the mystery guest and his pointy-eared partner quartered on her level would help her keep a closer watch on their activities.

As she made her way to the mess to grab a morning meal, she met Sergeant Garr on the path.

“Congrats…Boss,” he grumbled, clearly not happy with her in-charge status.

Dek ignored his jibe. “Those kids on the beach. They okay?”

“Yeah. Staggered away from the perimeter shortly after you left, shaken, but under their own power. But since when have you been sentimental about interlopers?”

“It could become a security issue,” she clarified. “They might be back. Possibly with friends.”

“Maybe we should just blast them next time.”

Again, she let his insolent response slide off. “We need to consider placing a secondary deterrent at some distance beyond the barrier.”

“What would you suggest?” Garr gave her a scathing look.

“Why don’t you come up with a plan. Put some thought into it and report back.”

“Yes, sir.” Garr performed an exaggerated salute.

“Carry on.” She passed him, continuing her trek to the mess hall, but the cold burn of Garr’s gaze drilled into her back.

Countering his challenge with a tasking was a subtle form of discipline she hoped might temper the junior officer’s streak of insolence. Pulling rank on him on her first day as acting commander would only heighten his belligerence. Better to give him the time to work through his issues on his own. Patience could win wars before they even started.

When she reached her destination, the boisterous din of the breakfast crowd fell to a sudden hush. Ignoring their scrutiny, she grabbed a tray. Conversations picked back up as she went down the line, selecting im-eggs and pancs from the offerings, before turning to make her way to a table with a couple of other members of the task force. Their conversation stopped as she drew near, and they exchanged glances.

“Acting Commander,” they muttered in stereo.

“Sergeant Caffron. Officer Bell.”

She settled and thumbed quickly through the StatCon messages scrolling on her wristcom. While her companions focused on wolfing down their meals, she switched on the surv-cam video to zero in on the site’s visitor. She locked on the feed of Telon milling beneath the ceiling breach, smiling as his little beastie scampered along the fallen jumble of basalt, her fluffy, cream-colored tail a stark contrast to the mottled black rocks. The little critter’s enthusiasm made Dek crack a tiny smile, too.

At the abrupt sound of scraping chair legs, she glanced up. Her two companions gave her stiff nods and walked single file to deposit their trays in the receptacle. She now had an eight-topper to herself in spite of the growing crowd. Obviously, command was going to be a lonely job.

Dek took a couple of bites of her meal and washed it down with a long swig of weak kinna before checking the surv-cam footage again.

Telon—and his little prototype—had vanished.

Dek straightened in her chair, scowled, and flipped through the various surveillance feeds. Quarters block. Zip. Command offices. Nothing. Secure lift entrance—she held her breath—nope. Her guest and his pet had seemingly disappeared into thin air.


Enjoy this excerpt and want to read another snippet? Check out last week's excerpt from Juggernaut here.

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