The first scout ships of the Chrysallaman Empire made contact in 1947. Their mission was simple: find a suitable planet for colonization. Earth—HG-281—was the perfect target. Rich with land, minerals, and water, the blue planet could boast only of a primitive race of defenders known as Humans, bugs who could be easily squashed by the might of a single Chrysallaman’s mind. When one of the scout ships is unexpectedly brought down, the advance party is forced to return to their home planet 30 light-years away to report and regroup. In their wake, they left behind a broken ship, dead crew members, and a young alien boy who would grow to become one of Earth’s greatest assets—and her greatest ally.
The lizard-like aliens would be back, and in force. Mankind must prepare a strategy capable of defending against not only superior technology, but superior psychic ability and strength. It will take an elite group of military personnel, brilliant scientists, a sombrero-wearing alien, and another generation to plant the seeds that will grow into a World Wide Defense, the likes of which the Chrysallamans have never known.
> 'Best sci-fi book ever.' C. J. Anaya Author of The Healer Series
> 'Outstanding sci-fi novel, humorous and very intelligent.' Kitty Smith. Top 500 Reviewer
> 'This is an especially fine debut novel.' Grady Harp, Hall of Fame. Top 100 Reviewer
> 'Exciting and thrilling start of the F.O.R.C.E. science fiction series.' Bits About Books
> 'It kept me wanting to read from the very beginning.' Deneale's Book Buzz
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Levi Garret is a holdover fro a forgotten time. Found frozen in suspended animation he was revived with no memory. Discovering a knack for finding trouble and a love of investigation he roams around shaking trees and solving crimes.
Ladies love him, bad guys fear him, and the police tolerate him.
The human race is in trouble. After narrowly claiming victory in the first invasion, an assault by advanced militaristic aliens armed with light speed capable spacecraft is a continuing threat. Even so, Chrysalis is in danger, and Whatsit is determined to rescue his fellow Chrysallamans. It's a task he knows he cannot accomplish without the help of his human brethren. With the threat of future attacks looming, the humans will have to decide whether it's best to go on the defensive at home on Earth or take the fight to its source and save the Chrysallaman race.
They live among us. We know they are there. No government can control them; no authority can stop them. Some are evil. Some are good. All are powerful. They inhabit our myths and fairy tales. But what if they were real, the witches, wizards, and fairy godmothers? What if they were called "adepts" and an ancient evil stalks them? An assassination attempt on the head of the American Meta Association guild sends adept Peter Branton looking for who wants him and his leader dead. Finding the beautiful, shape-shifting assassin leads him to his real enemy, an enemy that is much worse and much more dangerous: living gods of Atlantis. Branton must team with up with his would-be killer and a mysterious warrior to defeat the gods of strife that are intent on starting a war that could devastate all mankind.
Through stunning images, including 75 illustrations created exclusively for this book, 25 remarkable and memorable technologies from the world of sci-fi are explored.
With expertly written text by NASA insider Rod Pyle, each concept is explained and dissected to reveal the real science behind it. Some are temptingly within our reach—such as cyborgs and artificial intelligence—others are further off, but fast approaching reality (think bio-ports or cloaking devices). All are fascinating and make wonderful explorations into the science of the future as we understand it today.
Aria Vanir, psychic tween girl from Virginia Beach, trusts only her mother with the knowledge of her predictions and remote viewings. When Aria connects with technically and spiritually advanced aliens—the Gallions—she instead confides in her best friend, Tommy Manger. His unexpected anger and betrayal threatens to end their friendship.
Nashata, Queen Supreme of the Gallions, leads a diplomatic mission with her royal family to Earth so she can test Aria for potential first contact. The queen trusts only this “youngirl” with the secrets of her people.
When the Gallions beam Aria, Tommy, and Aria’s tomboyish teen sister, Jackie, aboard their spaceship, Aria’s typically passive mother makes a daring move to save her daughters. None of them realize that the military has sent Aria’s Navy SEAL father, William, on a mission to capture the good aliens or destroy their spaceship. Worse, William has no idea that he’s putting his daughters and their friend in harm’s way.
Can Aria succeed in her quest to meet the alien queen in person, despite the fears and disbeliefs of those closest to her?
I quickly flagged down one of the casino workers—I swear to you that it seemed to be a requirement for employment at this hotel that the women all had to look like they’d just stepped off the photoshoot for the latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue—and the platinum blond pixie cut, would make any man quickly forget the throaty beauty in the café, whose name I didn’t bother to read smiled and pointed in the direction of the blackjack tables.
I hurried over, hoping to find Charlie, and grab onto the one lifeline I could count on to help drag me back from the edge and make some sense out of whatever the hell was going on. It wasn’t hard to find him at all once I got to the area; his booming laugh at some joke he’d just heard was a welcoming beacon to my ears.
When I got to his table, the first thing I noticed was a ridiculous number of chips piled up around his area of the table. Much like I had seen at the baccarat table earlier, it looked like everyone at the table was doing well but Charlie’s stack was approaching Mount Olympus in size. He was good at this game, I easily admit, but not that good. No one was.
The second thing I noticed was the enchanting young Carrie—still in her hotel uniform but her nametag was now gone—draped on Charlie’s right arm and looking like she was there to stay. That wasn’t the least bit ridiculous at all. He was good at that too, as I’ve mentioned before, and he really was that good in that arena.
“Hey, Pete,” he exclaimed when he saw me. “Pull up a chair and join us.”
“Not right now thanks,” I said. “Hey, I think they got our bags mixed up and one of mine is in your room. I was hoping you could let me in so I could get it.”
That seemed to me to be a perfectly reasonable explanation to get Charlie out of the casino where I could talk to him without any unwanted eavesdroppers. Unfortunately, my lifeline went and threw me the anchor and sank my plan in less than a heartbeat.
“No problem, buddy, here’s the key.” He flipped his room card in my direction with one of those Friday night goofy grins of his face that I knew all too well. “Just leave it in my room. I don’t think I’ll be needing it.”
Somehow, Carrie managed to snuggle even closer to Charlie than she had before. Even as I snagged the tumbling card out of the air, I tried to come up with some excuse, some pretense to get Charlie up and moving. But something in both of their expressions told me that it wouldn’t matter one bit what I said or did next. Charlie wasn’t moving from that chair anytime soon and when he did, he wasn’t doing it just to go off somewhere with me.
I’d lost my wingman, my lifeline and maybe my only hope of figuring out what had happened to us. Charlie turned back to the table, and his new girlfriend, without so much as another word in my direction and I stumbled away without any direction in mind other than to get away from the creature who’d once been my best friend.
Before I realized it, I found myself in an abandoned area of the casino, empty chairs stacked around a few unused card tables and standing face to face with Liz. How long she had been watching me, how much she had seen, I simply did not know. But there she stood with an odd, sad look in her eyes.
“Aren’t you going to ask me how you can be of service?” And I am sure there was more than a hint of bitterness in my voice, certainly more than she deserved to be on the receiving end of.
“No,” she replied without reproach for my tone. “At this moment, Mr. Childress, you are looking for any exit that will lead you back to the outside world. I simply can’t help you with that. All I can suggest to you is this—perhaps you are looking for the way out of here in the wrong direction.”
“What does that mean?” I asked in confusion.
Something from behind me suddenly caught her attention at that moment. Her eyes quickly flickered to whatever it was for a brief moment before returning to meet mine.
“Your room opens up to the central park,” she said after a moment’s pause. “We see so very few of our guests ever bother to go out and fully explore it. Perhaps you should visit it. You may find it to be peaceful and relaxing.”
She moved suddenly then, as if to walk past me without another word. But just as she drew even with me, her lips just inches from my right ear, I heard her whisper in a tone almost too soft for me to hear.
“You might even find it very enlightening, Mr. Childress.”
Then she was gone, moving on into the casino to engage some of the other guests in conversation. As I turned to watch her walk away, I noticed what it was that had distracted her earlier, what had appeared to make her suddenly cautious not only in what she said but how she appeared while saying it.
Standing out there in the middle of the casino, clearly scanning the crowd for someone in particular, was the hotel’s manager. But before he could look over in my direction and take notice of me, I darted toward a much darker area of the casino and eventually made my way back around to the entrance without him seeing me at all. For a reason that I could not put a logical explanation to, I suddenly had a very strong urge to be as far away from that man as I could possibly get myself and do it as quickly as I could.
Even within the seemingly limited, but very gilded, confines of this nightmarish trap that I found myself in.
The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of . . .
When private detective Rick Bailey is hired by the exotically beautiful and outrageously wealthy Princess Nora, he thinks it'll be easy money. Escaping from her rebellion-torn kingdom, the princess has lost her handmaiden, Lores: the only person who knows how to find the hidden royal jewels.
But when his search for the equally lovely Lores turns deadly, Bailey realizes that there is more to this case than it first seemed. When someone tries to kill him, he discovers that the roots of evil run deep.
With his own set of values and sense of honor, Bailey must keep one step ahead of murderous mobsters, secret government operatives, and a genetically enhanced Lores as he races across the galaxy in search of the truth. The only things he knows he can trust are his eight-foot-tall ladybug-like girl Friday and a powerful weapon that responds to his thoughts.
Will Bailey find the treasure of the black hole in time and will he survive long enough to discover why it is something worth killing for?
Sewer-rat children screamed obscenities at one another and laughed. Somewhere far away, a siren wailed. Late-afternoon faces gloated down at the spectacle and faded from my view. I felt her claw my hand and heard her weep. I never did learn her name. My breath whistled through red-stained nostrils. Warm blood lazily oozed out of holes somewhere in my chest. Useless arms and legs lazily stretched out to enjoy the last of the sidewalk’s heat. Death straddled me and hummed a playful tune. I half closed my eyes and smiled back. Everything was going to be OK.
■ ■ ■
Even in a Sarjeta (the Gutter), there is always somebody lower than you.
If you’re faster or stronger, someone else pays a price. Could be money. Or favors. Could be that someone weaker pays the ultimate price: his or her life. I’m better than most people stuck here because I dream big. And dreams will show me how to escape this shithole.
The wind scattered dirt and grit, biting my face and the window’s ledge that faced out at Canto do Diabo (Devil’s Corner). The streets of the Gutter dead-ended here, where wall graffiti and littered garbage stopped and the Prodigal Son resided. I was lucky to be this close to the charity’s main building.
Lank curtains hid the waiting room. Several coffee-colored men, coughing up throaty words and inhaling Turkish cigarettes, stood outside by a front door painted red, the dark color of worried eyes. One of them looked at me as I approached. I tried not to fidget with the waxy pouch in my hand. He signaled something, and I was quickly surrounded by four pairs of uncertain eyes.
“Você fala inglês?” the one man said. He grinned, and I spotted gold bordering three missing teeth.
“Yes, sure,” I said.
His greasy thumb gestured at the other three. “These clowns don’t. So you talk to me, OK?” His accent wasn’t Portuguese. Or English.
“Sure,” I said.
I glanced at his face, spotting a tattooed circle on his left cheek. Despite his smile, I sensed something darker hiding behind the mask he now wore.
“A delivery. For him.” I placed the pouch into the gold-toothed man’s hand. My fingers touched his slimy palm, causing me to shiver for a moment.
“Come back next week.”
“What about my money?” I asked.
“Next week. You’ll get another package and your money.”
All four men stared at me. I couldn’t read their alien faces. The tattooed guy jabbed his finger at me.
“You know, I see something in you. Maybe something great, huh?”
I didn’t ask what he saw and quickly left. I decided that Devil’s Corner was not a part of the Gutter where I wanted to be alone after sunset.
■ ■ ■
I stood on Amélia’s concrete balcony and gagged. Inside her apartment, sickly sweet beans, dumped out of dented cans, cooked on a hotplate. Two half-naked children with swollen bellies rubbed messy fingers on my sister’s worn-down apron as they cried for dinner. They didn’t know anything else. This was the same meal served at breakfast. At yesterday’s dinner. And the day before. But I’ve walked by the açougue (butcher shop) and seen real meat. I’ve smelled the bloody flesh. Steak and hamburger and food that people with money could buy. I don’t want to eat beans anymore.
Scraps of faded sunlight crawled down the balcony rails, exposing lag bolts desperately grabbing at the block wall. It was a miracle I didn’t fall into the darkened alley below. I could see someone down there licking at the emptied tins we’d thrown out with the rest of the garbage. I shouted at him to get some self-respect, but he just laughed. I kept shouting.
Amélia looked out at me with worried, dark eyes. “You don’t know that man out there. You don’t know what he could do to us. Come back inside.” Both children clung quietly to her, sensing their mother’s fear. My sister tightly gripped the plastic spoon she used to stir the beans. Her eyes pleaded, seeming to say, “At least we eat.”
“I don’t need to be afraid. I don’t need this shit,” I said.
“Please, the children.”
“I’ll be a famous artist. I’ll escape. And you’ll be forgotten.”
Amélia started to cry. I stormed back to my room and locked the door. An hour later, I ignored her knock when she came to ask if I was hungry. Sleep came soon, and I dreamed that the man in the alley chased me. Then my dreams went black, and I tossed and turned the rest of the night.
■ ■ ■
I didn’t know his real name, so I called him Ben. He didn’t mind. Ben dropped my money and this week’s package onto my sister’s flimsy coffee table. I tried to figure him out. I guessed that he was about ten, only two years younger than me. I asked him where he lived.
He didn’t answer my questions. Ben just looked nervously around.
How does someone so young become a collector?
“You alone?” Ben asked.
“My sister is sewing today. She takes the babies.”
Ben wiped his nose. “That’s good. I guess I’ll come back next week at the same time.”
I pointed at the waxy paper. “What’s inside?”
“Don’t ask. And don’t steal anything.”
He looked down at my drawing pad. I had been sketching from memory a park I once saw in the middle of Avenida da Liberdade. His wide eyes studied every penciled line, every cross-hatched tree as if it were the fucking Mona Lisa or something. Ben held his breath, and for a moment he seemed to have transported himself somewhere a million miles away from the Gutter. I bet he had never seen the avenue or anything else like it.
“I take art classes. The church gives them for free,” I said.
“I couldn’t do that.”
“How do you know? Have you tried?”
“I couldn’t do it.”
“I’ll take you. Come back tomorrow.”
Ben looked over the pad once more. He blinked his eyes and swallowed hard. “Don’t steal anything,” he said. And he left without saying good-bye.
Traffic was thick even this early in the day. A line of cars snaked down San Marcos Pass as impatient drivers frequently passed four or five cars at a time in a vain effort to gain a few minutes over the rest.
Suddenly I felt a hard jolt as a car rammed my truck from the rear. My pulse raced. All I could see was a blur of white in my mirror before he hit me again. I heard Zorro barking in the camper and wondered how soon we could get off this horrible road.
Anger replaced fear as I saw the white car fall back and then gain speed for another onslaught. I remembered watching stunt drivers play out this scene in movies. Mike always said the driver should slam on the brakes and let the ramming car take the brunt of the crash—like cars in a demolition derby. He claimed the rear end of a car could absorb more abuse than the front end.
I braced myself and jammed the brake pedal to the floor. The crunching jolt was almost satisfying, but my head whipped back into the headrest. My neck felt sore. I glanced in the mirror and saw that the white hood looked crumpled and black smoke poured from the engine.
I stomped on the gas and gained distance while fumbling in my purse for my cell phone. I really needed to clean out the junk in that mammoth purse! Flipping open the lid, I saw a blank screen and a “searching for signal” message. I threw the useless instrument back into the black hole of my purse and glanced into the rear view mirror.
A knot formed in my stomach as Zorro barked in the camper.
The white car crept closer, like a tiger stalking its prey. Suddenly the car veered sharply into the passing lane, and I realized he planned to push me over the edge by hitting me from the side. I slammed on the brakes again hard, skidding to a stop as the white car shot past. He barely missed an oncoming car and veered back into our lane before screeching to a halt ahead of me.
Stowaway to the Stars tells the story of Larry, an undercover agent for the Interstellar Exploration Programme, who stumbles on a covert operation by Zilon, a ruthless member of the Galactic Union. He finds himself framed by the Ziloni and a fugitive from the Union.
Karen is seeking the man responsible for the death of her sister. But one simple case of mistaken identity and a reckless decision suddenly sees her life in turmoil. She discovers that she is a stowaway on Larry’s spacecraft and her future is now irrevocably linked to his.
Larry’s future looks bleak. His only chance of finding evidence that will clear his name entails a near-suicidal invasion of a Ziloni military base. Karen has no choice but to accompany Larry on his mission, where she is thrown into the strange environment of the Union. Together they face the ultimate test as they battle with the collective might of the Ziloni and the Galactic Union.
Larry eased the thrust stick most of the way forward and the speed began to build. The arc of the Earth moved backward across the canopy, slowly at first but progressively faster until it was out of view, the cabin lights brightening to compensate for the loss of Earthlight. He trimmed the stick to maintain the thrust and settled back for the ride out to the hyperspace boundary.
A few minutes passed peacefully, then a voice behind him shattered the silence. ‘Hello, Grant. I bet you didn’t expect to meet me again.’
He leapt up and spun round. It was the girl from the bar, now sitting in his rear seat and pointing a gun at his head.
Her face was expressionless as her eyes bored into his. ‘I’m going to make you pay for what you did to Rachel. I know you’re responsible for what happened.’
Larry’s jaw sagged as he stared back at her, dumbfounded. How in the name of the seven saints had this strange girl managed to get aboard his ship, why was she mightily pissed off, and why did she seem to think his name was Grant? Before he could frame a suitable reply, a siren on the control console blared.
His world turned upside down for the second time. One glance at the viewscreen told him the worst. He had an incoming missile! And no guard missiles deployed. Shit, he was in deep trouble.
Larry made a rapid decision. A girl waving a pistol at his head or the absolute certainty of death in a couple of seconds from the missile - it wasn’t a contest. He spun back to the controls and located the red trace warning of the incoming missile approaching from the right. He’d have seen it seconds earlier but for the distraction of the damned girl.
‘Hey, arsehole, I’m not finished with you. Listen –’
How could this be happening to him? It was like a nightmare. And the stupid Earth girl who was distracting him hadn’t the faintest concept of what was going on. ‘Lady, shut up and let me concentrate, or you’ll get us both killed.’
He slammed the stick hard left and back. The ship’s gravity compensator had masked the earlier manoeuvring and bone-crunching thrust of the fifty gee drive out toward the hyperspace boundary. But it whined as it struggled to cope with the rapid changes of direction, and the slight lag made him clutch the top of the instrument panel to avoid being thrown about. He was vaguely aware of clattering behind him as the girl was thrown off balance by the same uncompensated forces.
The missile overshot, but a second red trace appeared on the display and an instant later the siren went off again. He slammed the stick the other way, bracing himself again. That missile passed by on the left, but even closer. The girl shouted something else. Forget about her, she probably wouldn’t kill him, but those damned missiles would if he didn’t get his defence missiles deployed fast.
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