Spotlight & Giveaway: Sight Beyond the Sun, by Melody Johnson

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Sight Beyond the Sun

Love Beyond Book 2

by Melody Johnson

Genre: SciFi Romance

 

Separating truth from lies is impossible in the game of spies…especially the lies you tell yourself.

A prison break.

Adrenaline junkie and explosives specialist Kinsley “Switch” Morales had a chip on her shoulder long before being caught in what she suspects is some sort of intergalactic human-trafficking ring. Aliens not only exist, their reptilian bodies are stronger, their honed reflexes faster, and their shiny scales nearly impenetrable. But nothing will curb Kinsley’s resolve to commandeer their spaceship and return home to Earth—even if that means crawling behind enemy lines and cozying up to their uncompromising captain.

An undercover mission.

When Raveno Hoviir catches Kinsley outside her cell, wreaking havoc in his control room, he sees more than just her strength, resolve, and courage. He sees a golden opportunity to finally root out the traitor under his command and prove his brother’s loyalty before the coming revolution. After so many years undercover, Raveno is finally one mission away from saving his planet from its tyrannical ruler. He’s sacrificed everything to protect his people—his love life, his anonymity, his left leg—but in his efforts to right his father’s wrongs, has he inadvertently become the very monster he plans to overthrow?

An unlikely alliance.

As Kinsley and Raveno each attempt to exploit the other, they find more than just leverage for their separate missions. Inexplicably, they find common ground in their mutual devotion to family and service. Kinsley knows all too well the grief and guilt of making the wrong decision in the field, but will Raveno keep his word to send her home if she flips loyalties? Is Raveno’s softening heart compromising his judgment, or is Kinsley’s intelligence accurate? Separating truth from lies is impossible in the game of spies. Seeing beyond their surface differences and trusting in love again may be the only way to save both their people—and each other

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Beyond the Next Star

Love Beyond Book 1

 

An intolerable order. A desperate charade. A deadly secret…

Before Commander Torek Renaar can return to active duty, he’s ordered to purchase an animal companion to help relieve his PTSD symptoms. But having been a caretaker for and lost a loved one, keeping even one little human alive is a challenge he feels doomed to fail. It doesn’t help that his animal companion is the newest, most exotic breed on the market, demanding constant attention, daily grooming, and delicate handling. If she doesn’t die first in his incompetent care, she’ll be the death of him.

After witnessing the murder of her domestication specialist, Delaney McCormick allows her new owner to treat her like the pet he believes her to be. If anyone suspects she’s more intelligent than a golden retriever, her murder would be next. She endures the humiliation of being washed, the tediousness of being trained to “sit” and “come”, and the intrigue of hearing private conversations. But in Torek’s care, she finds something unexpected on this Antarctic planet, something she never had in all her years on Earth while house-hopping between foster families: a home.

As companionship grows to love, must Delaney continue the charade, acting like an animal and hiding from the murderer waiting for her misstep? Or can she trust Torek with her secrets, even if the truth threatens everything he holds dear—and both their lives?

**Also available in Audiobook !**

Audible * Amazon Audiobook * iTunes

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Melody Johnson is the award-winning author of the “out of this world” Love Beyond series and the gritty, paranormal romance Night Blood series published by Kensington Publishing/ Lyrical Press. She graduated magna cum laude from Lycoming College with her B.A. in creative writing and psychology.

Earning the 2021 Maggie Award of Excellence, Beyond the Next Star (Love Beyond, book 1) is an exciting branch from Melody’s paranormal romance roots, keeping the dark grit from her Night Blood Series and taking it to new worlds. Her first published novel, The City Beneath (Night Blood, book 1), was a finalist in the “Cleveland Rocks” and “Fool For Love” contests.

When she isn’t writing, Melody enjoys swimming, hiking, reading, and exploring her new home in southeast Georgia. Stay in touch with Melody on social media or her website: authormelodyjohnson.com

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads


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Spotlight & Giveaway: Observer, by Robert Lanza & Nancy Kress

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I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the OBSERVER by Robert Lanza & Nancy Kress Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

 

Title: OBSERVER

Author: Robert Lanza & Nancy Kress

Pub. Date: January 10, 2023

Publisher: The Story Plant

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 368

Find it: Goodreads, books2read

 

A mind-expanding journey to the very edge of science.

Caro Soames-Watkins, a talented neurosurgeon whose career has been upended byncontroversy, is jobless, broke, and the sole supporter of her sister, a single mother with a severely disabled child.

When she receives a strange job offer from Nobel Prize-winning scientist Sam Watkins, a great uncle she barely knows, desperation forces her to take it in spite of serious suspicions.

Watkins has built a mysterious medical facility in the Caribbean to conduct research into the nature of consciousness, reality, and life after death. Helped in his mission by his old friend, eminent physicist George Weigert, and young tech entrepreneur Julian Dey, Sam has gone far beyond curing the body to develop a technology that could solve the riddle of mortality.

Two obstacles stand in their way: someone on the inside is leaking intel and Watkins’ failing body must last long enough for the technology to be ready.

As danger mounts, Caro finds more than she bargained for, including murder, love, and a deeper understanding into the nature of reality.

A mind-expanding journey to the very edges of science, Observer will thrill you, inspire you, and lead you to think about life and the power of the imagination in startling new ways.


About the Authors:

 

About Nancy Kress:

Nancy Kress is the author of thirty-four books, including twenty-six novels, four collections of short stories, and three books on writing. Her work has won six Nebulas, two Hugos, a Sturgeon, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. She writes frequently about genetic engineering; including the acclaimed science-fiction novel Beggars in Spain. Kress’s fiction has been translated into Swedish, Danish, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Polish, Croatian, Chinese, Lithuanian, Romanian, Japanese, Korean, Hebrew, Russian, and Klingon, none of which she can read. In addition to writing, Kress often teaches at various venues around the country and abroad, including a visiting lectureship at the University of Leipzig, a 2017 writing class in Beijing, and the annual intensive workshop TaosToolbox. Kress lives in Seattle with her husband, writer Jack Skillingstead, and Pippin, the world’s most spoiled Chihuahua.

Website | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub

About Robert Lanza:

Robert Lanza is an American scientist and author whose research spans the range of natural science, from biology to theoretical physics. TIME magazine recognized him as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” and Prospect magazine named him one of the “Top 50 World Thinkers.”

He has hundreds of scientific publications and over 30 books, including definitive references in the fields of stem cells, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine. He is a former Fulbright Scholar, and studied with polio-pioneer Jonas Salk and Nobel laureates Gerald Edelman (known for his work on the biological basis of consciousness) and Rodney Porter. He also worked closely (and co-authored papers in Science on self-awareness and symbolic communication) with noted Harvard psychologist BF Skinner. Dr. Lanza received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was both a University Scholar and Benjamin Franklin Scholar.

Lanza was part of the team that cloned the world’s first human embryo, the first endangered species, and published the first-ever reports of pluripotent stem cell use in humans.

Lanza and his colleagues were also the first to demonstrate that nuclear transplantation could be used to reverse the aging process and to generate immune-compatible tissues, including the first organ tissue-engineered from cloned cells. One of his early achievements was his demonstration that techniques used in preimplantation genetic diagnosis could be used to generate human embryonic stem cells without embryonic destruction.

He and colleagues have also succeeded in differentiating human pluripotent stem cells into retinal cells, and has shown that they provide long-term benefit in animal models of vision loss. Using this technology some forms of blindness may be curable, including macular degeneration and Stargardt disease, a currently untreatable form eye disease that causes blindness in teenagers and young adults. Lanza’s company received FDA approval to carry out clinical trials in the US using them to treat degenerative eye diseases, as well approval for the first human pluripotent stem cell trial in Europe. The first patients reported improved vision in the eyes treated with the cells, which The Guardian said “represents a huge scientific achievement.”

Dr. Lanza and his colleagues published the first-ever report of human pluripotent stem cells transplanted into human patients. The patients who received the stem cell transplants say their lives have been transformed by the experimental procedure–they report that they can use their computers, thread a needle, or even go to the mall or airport on their own.

Lanza has also been a major player in the scientific revolution that has led to the documentation that nuclear transfer/transcription factors can restore developmental potential in a differentiated cell. One of his successes was showing that it is feasible to generate functional oxygen-carrying red blood cells from human pluripotent stem cells. The blood cells were comparable to normal transfusable blood and could serve as a potentially inexhaustible source of “universal” blood. His team also discovered how to generate functional hemangioblasts – a population of “ambulance” cells – from hES cells. In animals, these cells quickly repaired vascular damage, cutting the death rate after a heart attack in half and restoring the blood flow to ischemic limbs that might otherwise have to be amputated.

Lanza and a team lead by Kwang-Soo Kim at Harvard University have also reported a safe method for generating induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. Human iPS cells were created from skin cells by direct delivery of proteins, thus eliminating the harmful risks associated with genetic manipulation. The Editors of the prestigious journal Nature selected Lanza and Kim’s paper on protein reprogramming as one of five “Research Highlights.” Discover magazine stated, “Lanza’s single-minded quest to usher in this new age has paid dividends in scientific insights and groundbreaking discoveries.” Fortune magazine called him “the standard-bearer for stem cell research.”

Dr. Lanza has received numerous awards, including being named one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World”; the 2013 Il Leone di San Marco award in Medicine (The Italian Heritage and Culture Committee, along with Regis Philbin [in Entertainment]); including an NIH Director’s Award (2010) for “Translating Basic Science Discoveries into New and Better Treatments”; the 2010 ‘Movers and Shakers’ Who Will Shape Biotech Over the Next 20 Years (BioWorld)(along with Craig Venter and President Barack Obama); the 2007 100 Most Inspiring People in the Life-Sciences Industry (PharmaVOICE, “For his discoveries ‘behind the medicines making a significant impact on the pipelines of today and of the future'”; the 2007 Outstanding Contribution in Contemporary Biology Award (Brown University, “For his groundbreaking research and contributions in stem cell science and biology”; the 2006 All-Star Award for Biotechnology (MA High Tech, for “pushing stem cells’ future”); the 2005 Rave Award for Medicine (Wired magazine, “For eye-opening work on embryonic stem cells”); and Lanza is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering; Who’s Who in American Education, and Who’s Who in Technology, among others.

Dr. Lanza and his research have been featured in almost every media outlet in the world, including CNN, TIME, Newsweek, People, as well as the front pages of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, among others (his work has also been the cover story of US News & World Report, Wired magazine, and Scientific American).

In 2007, Lanza published a feature article, “A New Theory of the Universe” in The American Scholar, a leading intellectual journal which has previously published works by Albert Einstein, Margaret Mead, and Carl Sagan, among others. His theory places biology above the other sciences in an attempt to solve one of nature’s biggest puzzles, the theory of everything that other disciplines have been pursuing for the last century. This new view has become known as Biocentrism. In biocentrism, space and time are forms of animal sense perception, rather than external physical objects. Understanding this more fully yields answers to several major puzzles of mainstream science, and offers a new way of understanding everything from the microworld (for instance, the reason for Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and the double-slit experiment) to the forces, constants, and laws that shape the universe. Nobel laureate E. Donnall Thomas stated “Any short statement does not do justice to such a scholarly work. The work is a scholarly consideration of science and philosophy that brings biology into the central role in unifying the whole.”

You can read more about Dr. Robert Lanza’s work at:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub



Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card, International.

Ends January 24th, midnight EST.

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Tour Schedule:

Week One:

1/9/2023

Mythical Books

Guest Post/IG Post

1/9/2023

A Dream Within A Dream

Guest Post

1/10/2023

Lady Hawkeye

Excerpt/IG Post

1/10/2023

Books and Kats

Guest Post

1/11/2023

Fire and Ice

Review

1/11/2023

#BRVL Book
Review Virginia Lee Blog

Excerpt

1/12/2023

Wanderingwitchreads

TikTok Review/IG Post

1/12/2023

Nerdophiles

Review

1/13/2023

@carlysunshinebooks

IG Review/LFL Drop Pic

1/13/2023

Rajiv’s Reviews

Review/IG Post

Week Two:

1/16/2023

Emily Ashlyn

Facebook Review/IG Review

1/16/2023

Two Chicks on Books

Guest Post/IG Post

1/17/2023

@froggyreadteach

IG Review

1/17/2023

@allyluvsbooksalatte

IG Review/TikTok Post

1/18/2023

Sadie’s Spotlight

Spotlight/IG Post

1/18/2023

the book near me

Review/IG Post

1/19/2023

The Momma Spot

Review/IG Post

1/19/2023

Jazzy Book Reviews

Excerpt/IG Post

1/20/2023

Nagma | TakeALookAtMyBookshelf

IG Review

1/20/2023

Books a Plenty Book Reviews

Review

 

Book Blitz & Excerpt: The Fall of Titan + Giveaway

FALL OF TITAN

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the THE FALL OF TITAN by H.G. Ahedi Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

 

About The Book:

Title: THE FALL OF TITAN (Realm 1)

Author: H.G. Ahedi

Pub. Date: November 12, 2022

Publisher: H.G. Ahedi

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 338

Find it: Goodreads, Books2Read

Read for FREE with a Kindle Unlimited Membership! 

In the twenty-fourth century, a sophisticated security system called the perimeter guards the outer rim of the solar system. Governed by Titan, a powerful space station, the perimeter is almost impenetrable. Emmeline Augury, an astrophysics cadet on Titan, believes in a family folklore about a mythical device with unlimited power. Recognizing its scientific and military value, she uses unorthodox methods to follow a trail of cleverly concealed clues. Her search uncovers an ancient plaque, which reveals a star map of a secret network of portals leading to the device, the key that opens the doors to the seven realms. Suddenly, the key to absolute power is in her grasp, and everyone wants a piece of it, especially the power-hungry Orias queen. What began as a scientific adventure turns into a dangerous manhunt when an Orias fleet attacks Titan. The queen threatens to slaughter everyone unless she is given the device. When the fate of Titan and the seven realms hangs in the balance, Emmeline must make a choice. Will she save her home or the device?

 

Get all the books in the Realm Series now!


Excerpt:

Chapter 1

The Orias

SATURN
The silence in space was always uncomfortable for Argon Keston. But today, he didn’t know if it was the silence or the reason he was out here. For the third time, he checked the
environmental controls. The temperature was normal, but he still felt cold. He rubbed his hands together and surveyed the beautiful view on the screen. He admired the massive rings. It was an extraordinary sight, and yet he knew that within seconds of opening the airlock, deadly gases would kill him.
Atlas was one of many squadron ships. The semicircular spacecraft was ten feet wide and fifteen feet long. Her weapons were located at the edges. The pilot’s cockpit was in the elongated section, which emerged from the middle. Three other fighter ships just like her hid in the vast outer rings of Saturn. Behind them was a sea of millions made up of millions of rocks and asteroids of all sizes. Monitoring. Waiting.
Argon was a young, slender man who was quiet and gentle with kind green eyes and thick brown hair. He was amiable and innocent looking and preferred to keep a well-trimmed beard, which made him look a bit more mature.
Today, for the first time, he wore the uniform of the Imperial Command: a black half-sleeve t-shirt with navy-blue trousers and a high-neck maroon jacket. All his life he wanted to command his ship and fly into the unknown, but today he was getting first-hand
experiences of the dangers of space. Wearing this uniform, he actually felt the burden of being a fighter, a leader, someone responsible.
Argon moved back and forth, waiting for the signal. It had been six hours. Too much time had passed.
It had all begun two months ago on just another day on Titan. Lieutenant Adrian Olson and his team had been conducting a routine survey of the perimeter. Unexpectedly, they’d detected an unusual energy signature, and there it was: an unidentified spacecraft.
Adrian had hailed the ship immediately. But the alien ship had been beyond communication range and had disappeared within minutes. Two weeks had passed, and the unknown visitor had reappeared with two of its friends, this time closer to the perimeter.
Their arrival had sent a wave of excitement through the citizens of Titan. They’d tried to contact the three ships, welcoming them to their home. But the outsiders had remained silent. The ships had drifted close to the perimeter and began scanning. Alarms had gone off, and Titan’s patrol ships had been dispatched. The alien ships had quickly disappeared but had left a sense of restlessness in their wake.
Argon wanted to believe they were explorers, but he did not. These aliens frightened him. He felt as if the cockpit of Atlas turned colder. He recalled the meeting on Earth with the Imperial Command. Some believed invasion was inevitable, while others sought more diplomatic methods.
He wondered about their choices. Did they have any? Could today be the beginning of an interstellar war that would change their lives forever? Would they survive? Would he see his family again? No one he knew had experience with war. For generations that had lived in peace, interstellar war was a frightening concept. But leaving Titan or any other colonies undefended was not an option.
Since their first appearance, the crew of Titan had kept looking for signs of the aliens, and the Imperial Fleet remained on standby. Days passed, and things began to settle down. Everyone thought they would never come back. Argon wished it too, but his wish was not granted. Twelve hours ago, Adrian had detected the unusual energy signature again. Like it or not, it had begun.
Admiral Jacob Donavan was in charge of the fleet, and his priority was to take a diplomatic approach. He wanted to communicate with the aliens. Argon’s squadron was a backup if things went south. Argon wasn’t sure the admiral’s plan was going to work. In fact, no one knew if anything was going to work. They had limited ships, resources, and fighters. The admiral had full confidence in the fleet. But Argon didn’t think he was qualified for this mission.
Argon had just finished training as a pilot, and before he could think about his future, these aliens had appeared, and he’d been appointed as the squadron leader. He was surprised; he thought Byron Thames, his best friend, would have been a better choice. But the decision wasn’t his to make.
A large asteroid drifted in front of his viewscreen. As if they were a family, three small asteroids followed the larger one. The cloud of dust particles surrounding the ship dispersed momentarily, and Argon saw the perimeter. A vast security system built by his ancestors to protect Earth and other colonies like Titan. At this distance, it looked like a glowing chain of stars.
He looked to his left and saw a small yet powerful ship belonging to Byron Thames. Not too far away from Byron’s ship was another craft. It appeared almost like a ghost, flooded in the gases of the planet’s rings. Argon knew Micah Dew was out there, waiting. He was surprised he had remained silent for so long. To his right was the fourth ship. Its pilot, Clio Ranger, was a patient, quiet, intelligent young girl.
Argon’s eyes drifted toward the panels. Adrian hadn’t contacted them. Maybe it was a good sign. But he knew they were out there. Suddenly, the silence was broken. “They’re here. Be ready. The fleet is approaching the gates,” a voice crackled on the radio. Straightening up in his chair, Argon was about to power up the engines, but he stopped. The admiral had told them to power down their ships. He thought this would help them remain undetected. Personally, Argon thought the aliens wouldn’t care. He thought they were here for something, searching for something. Their scans bothered him. One day, he would have his answers, but today, he would settle for defending his home.

TITAN, DECK 1, BRIDGE
“Well?” asked Commander Anastasia Waters. She stood in the middle of Titan’s bridge with her legs apart and her arms folded. The perimeter glowed brighter than any stars she could see. Her big black eyes remained glued to the viewscreen. Anastasia was an athletic long-legged woman with thick, wavy hair tied up neatly in a bun. She wore bellbottom trousers, a black body-fit sleeveless top, and a navy-blue turtleneck jacket. She was the commander of Titan, one of the most powerful space stations built by man. But at the moment, she felt powerless. Imperial Command had ordered her to stand back, and not join the fight. She was to wait and watch the fleet engage the enemy and she didn’t like it.
Lieutenant Commander Adrian Olson turned. He brushed his auburn hair with his left hand, and his deep blue eyes dropped to the floor for a moment. “The energy signature has reappeared. But this time, it’s stronger.”
Anastasia knew he was worried. Adrian was of middle size, and an ordinary build. The clean-shaven man was known for his sensitive nature, and his down-to-earth attitude which had worked a lot in his favor. She knew her crew preferred working with Adrian to the previous second in command of Titan. Anastasia knew he would be an excellent commander, but for some reason he held himself back.
“What do you mean?” asked Anastasia.
“Their ships emit a peculiar energy signature. When the first ship appeared two months ago, the energy signature was detected because we were surveying that section of space. Otherwise, we would never have known the ship even existed.”
“And this time?”
“It’s the same energy signature, only stronger.”
Anastasia nodded.
The bridge was a disc-shaped hall. Two doors opened into elevators that connected it to the ten decks of the space station. The lights dimmed. An alarm went off. Anastasia lowered herself into her chair and crossed her legs. Her eyes remained fixed on the viewscreen. Waiting. Anticipating. Part of her wanted to join the fight; another part told her to obey orders. She felt as if she were fighting herself.
Lieutenant Evan Weeds sat opposite Adrian and was busy monitoring communications and operations. He was a stocky man of average height with a round face, a sharp nose, and thin dark-brown hair.
To Anastasia’s right, Titan’s tactical officer, Lieutenant Edward Ward, stood with his arms crossed. He watched the movements of the fleet on the screen like a hawk.
Anastasia gently tapped her feet and swirled. The scientists were huddled together near the science station. From experience, Anastasia knew that if Dr. Chris Kent had found something, he would have told her already. He would have told the entire quadrant. “Anything, Doctor?” she asked despite knowing the answer already.
Chris turned. “Nothing yet.”
Anastasia raised her eyebrows, and without a word, she turned back to the viewscreen.
“Commander, the signal is gone, and a cloud has appeared,” Adrian announced in an edgy tone.
All of Anastasia’s breath left her. The viewscreen glowed. She leaned forward to see a vast cloud of purple and blue raging through space.
“It looks like a storm,” muttered someone.
“Lieutenant Weeds, contact the Freedom,” Anastasia ordered. “Yes, Commander.”
“Can you see the cloud?” Anastasia asked Admiral Donavan. “Yes,” Jacob’s calm voice echoed on Titan’s bridge.
“I think we should call for reinforcements.”
“Don’t worry. We can handle this. Our priority is to make contact.” “We’ve tried that before and failed,” said Anastasia.
“I know,” Jacob replied. “But we should try again.”
“I insist that we call reinforcements or let Titan . . .”
“No. We cannot defy the orders of the Imperial Command.” “Fine,” Anastasia replied reluctantly. “Good luck, Admiral.” “Thank you. You never know. We might make some friends today.”
Or our worst enemies, thought Anastasia. The purple storm disappeared, and ten ships appeared beyond the perimeter. The computer announced, “Spatial anomaly Orias detected. Alert. Alert. Spatial anomaly Orias detected. All officers report to your stations. All officers report to your stations. All civilians return to their quarters or remain in secure locations.”
“Orias?” asked Anastasia.
Adrian turned to face her. “Well, we had to call them something. Since I detected them first, I thought I could name them.” “What does Orias mean?” asked Evan.
“In mythology, it means ‘noblemen of hell,’” Adrian replied calmly. The bridge became silent, and all eyes fixed on him. Anastasia was fond of her crew’s quirkiness, and often indulged them. Another time, Anastasia would have laughed her heart out, but today was not that day.
“How many times have I told you to stop reading those stupid books?” muttered Evan. His eyes met Anastasia’s. She tried not to smile.
“Ahem. I-I thought it would . . . be interesting and funny,” explained Adrian.
“It’s not,” Anastasia told him.
“Commander,” said Chris. “Our initial scans show no humanoids or any signs of life on those ships.”
All heads turned toward the doctor, but Anastasia couldn’t look away from the viewscreen. “Drones?” she asked as ten Earth ships flew past Titan.
“The alien ships have the same energy signature as the cloud but no engine or life signs that we can detect. But something tells me they’re more than just drones.”
Anastasia twirled on her chair. “What do you mean?” “It’s a hunch. Since we’ve never encountered these . . . Orias before, our technology may not be advanced enough to detect them.”
“You mean you don’t know,” said Adrian.
“Not at this point.”
Anastasia turned her attention back to the screen.
“Commander, we’re ready,” said Cyr Storm, Titan’s engineer. “The shields are up and at full power. All systems are ready to go. The weapons are fully powered, and we have enough fuel in case we have to head back to Earth.”
Cyr’s words gave Anastasia some comfort. “Excellent.” “Commander, the fleet is nearing the gates of the perimeter,” announced Evan.
“When the fleet is ready, open the gates,” Anastasia instructed. Never had Anastasia thought she would be thankful to have the perimeter to guard their home. It had been built before her time, and she’d always thought it was a pain. All her life, she’d hated taking approval for what she loved to do: explore space. When she’d been captain of Marion, she’d had to go through tedious procedures involving long and detailed paperwork. It was frustrating when bureaucrats tried to control the tiniest aspects of her projects. A female voice broke the silence on the bridge. “Emmeline to Commander Waters. Emmeline to Commander Waters. Are you there? Commander?” Emmeline was an enthusiastic astrophysicist cadet who worked under Chris. Anastasia felt his eyes on her, but she ignored him. She pushed the green button on the small screen on the hand rest of her chair. “Yes, Emmeline.”
“Commander, has the anomaly disappeared?”
“You mean the cloud?”
“Yes.”
“Yes. It’s gone. The alien ships are here.”
“Warn the admiral not to engage the alien ships if the cloud appears again,” said Emmeline. “I repeat do not engage the alien ships if the clouds return. It’s—”
“Lieutenant Weeds, relay the message at once,” Anastasia said. “Emmeline, explain?”
“It’s a theory. I think the cloud is a gateway. My scans . . .” “A gateway?” asked Anastasia. “To where?”
“I don’t know!”

FREEDOM
Jacob sat silently on the bridge of Freedom. He had received Emmeline’s message. That girl knows her stuff, he thought. But she’s naïve and needs to learn a lot.
His chair was in the middle of the small bridge. His crew moved around the bridge effortlessly, preparing for battle. The computer made announcements from time to time. A continuous alarm echoed in the background.
The admiral didn’t take his eyes off the viewscreen. He was a hefty man with black eyes and short, curly hair that was beginning to turn gray. A snake tattoo ran down the back of his neck and disappeared into his uniform. As the biggest member of his family, he’d been nicknamed “the giant.” He lived by two rules: enforce the law and stay in control.
Freedom, the ship he commanded, was just like him, old and stern. It was a medium-sized craft, roughly fifty meters long and twenty meters wide. Loaded with powerful phasers, torpedoes, and multiphasic shields, it was one of the best ships in the fleet. The craft had withstood the test of time. It had helped discover and study numerous nebulas and explore uncharted planets and solar systems. It had also helped set up new space stations and carry food and medicine. Most of all, Freedom had been successful in finding three new homes just like Earth. Jacob had felt dejected when they’d had to return to Earth report to the Imperial Command and reassess their plans. Then the Orias had appeared, and everything had changed.
For the last decade, Jacob had used Freedom for exploration. The last time he remembered using the phasers was to blast an asteroid. Today, he might use it to begin or end a war.
Freedom was followed by a small group of ships. Jupiter and Marion were fine ships, almost of the same size, but they were more powerful than Freedom. The rest of the ships were smaller and equipped with the latest technology and weapons.
Having nine other Earth ships did not give Jacob any comfort. Most of them had been standing in the space dock two weeks ago, and their commanders had never left the solar system. His attempts
to gather more ships with experienced commanders had failed. Prometheus was the nearest ship and his greatest hope, but it was in a part of space affected by an ion storm, which was likely to interfere with communications. Since he’d never heard back, Jacob didn’t know if Captain Lockhart had received his messages.
The viewscreen of Freedom displayed the glowing perimeter ahead. In front of them was a magnificent sparkling vertical web of white and blue color. It reminded Jacob of a magical web in a children’s story he’d read to his granddaughter. The princess powered the web telepathically, and it had kept her kingdom safe from monsters that lurked in the darkness beyond its borders. Today, the perimeter that separated Jacob from the Orias appeared no different.
With a heavy heart, Jacob said, “Lieutenant Weeds, we’re ready. Open the gates.”
“Yes, sir,” Evan replied.
The bright light in front of them disappeared, and a huge spiral opening appeared. Jacob turned to Eugene Walker, Freedom’s pilot. “Eugene, take us out.”
“Yes, sir.”
Freedom, along with other Earth ships, passed through the gateway. When they cleared the gates, it closed behind them. Never had Jacob felt so vulnerable and alone, not even when he had taken Freedom through uncharted space. He stared at the ten alien ships approaching the perimeter. The Orias ships were long and cylindrical. They reminded the admiral of missiles his ancestors had built in the twentieth century, though these were longer, heavier, and had a slightly different design. The cylinders were curved into spikes at the ends.
“Open a channel,” Jacob told the communications officer. “Channel open, sir.”
“This is Admiral Jacob Donavan of Freedom. We represent the Imperial Command, which governs this section of space. We are a peaceful race eager to open communications.”
A minute passed in silence.
“Perhaps you can start by identifying yourself,” Jacob added. The alien ships kept moving forward.
“Alien vessel, I advise do not enter this region of space without authorization.”
The outsiders remained silent.
Jacob glanced at his tactical officer. Taking a long breath he said, “If you do not respond, and attempt to cross our boarders we will retaliate.”
The bridge was silent again.
He repeated the message once more and waited. He glanced at his communications officer, who shook his head. “Convert the message in all languages and dialects in the digital library and broadcast it on all channels,” Jacob instructed.
The officer nodded.
The bridge was so quiet that for the first time, Jacob could hear the beeping of the communications console.
“Sir, I’ve scanned the ships. I can detect no power signatures or weapons. As far as I can tell, there’s no one on those ships,” said the tactical officer, Lieutenant Tessa Clark.
“Oh, they’re there . . .” Jacob stopped mid-sentence. The Orias ships glowed red, and their spikes burned like fire. “What the . . .?” A bright flash emitted from the lead Orias ship and hit one of Earth’s ships, blowing it to pieces. Jacob grabbed his seat as the bridge shook. A couple of gasps echoed on the bridge, and the alarm blared.
“Fire!”
Freedom steered toward two Orias ships and launched torpedoes. A huge ball of fire filled the viewscreen.
“Yes! We got them!” said Eugene.
From within the fireball, two alien ships reappeared and flew directly toward them.
“Fire at will!” Jacob shouted.
Freedom glided through the debris and fired. The Orias ships’ tails began glowing.
“Change course. Move us away!” yelled Jacob.
A blaze was emitted from the alien ship.
The next moment, an explosion on the bridge threw the admiral to the floor. Darkness engulfed him, and the air filled with smoke. He sat up and looked at his wrist. It was bleeding. He got to his feet and
froze. The two Orias ships had returned their attention to the perimeter. “I thought they’d destroy us,” he muttered. “Report,” he ordered Tessa.
“Sir, we were hit by an electromagnetic charge as powerful as five of our torpedoes. If we hadn’t steered away . . .” “What about the Orias?” Jacob asked, taking a seat, and spinning toward the viewscreen.
“My scans show that there was minimal damage to the Orias ships. But the second torpedo did more damage than the first.” The admiral eyed her. “Any theories?”
“I suppose proximity to the alien ships might have more effect. But I suggest . . .”
Jacob turned to Eugene. “What was our distance from that ship when the second torpedo hit it?”
“Sir, our second torpedo hit it at forty thousand kilometers.” “And damaged it?”
“It appears so, but that Orias ship is still functioning. We need more da—”
The admiral cut him off. “Open a channel,” he told the communications officer.
“Channel open, sir.”
“Freedom to the Imperial Fleet, do not engage the Orias upfront. Attempt to get less than thirty thousand kilometers from them, then fire.”
A blast blinded everyone. Turbulence hit Freedom.
“What happened?” demanded Jacob.
“Sir. Jupiter. Jupiter. I-It’s gone. They have . . .” cried out Eugene. “Engage thrusters. Follow those ships! Do not let them reach the perimeter,” Jacob ordered. He stood up from his chair and approached Eugene. “Continue to maneuver, but don’t fire. Don’t draw any attention to us. Tell me when we’re about twenty-five thousand kilometers away from the Orias ships.”
Eugene nodded. Freedom glided forward.
Jacob returned to his chair. “Chart the locations of all the alien ships and put them on one side of the viewscreen.”
“Yes, sir.”
The view in front of him changed. Jacob watched the Orias ships heading toward the perimeter. They moved in a circular fashion as if connected by invisible spokes. It looked like a giant wheel moving through space.
“Their pattern is interesting. Four ships appear to be keeping us busy while these six head toward the perimeter,” said Tessa. “Yes,” replied Jacob.
“Sir, the fleet is taking heavy damage,” reported Eugene. “Patience.”
“They’re ignoring the fleet,” said Tessa. “As if we were . . .” “Mosquitoes,” finished Eugene.
“Mosquitoes are extinct,” said Tessa.
Jacob jumped to his feet and opened a channel. “Attention, everyone! Six Orias ships are heading toward the perimeter. Focus on one ship. Just one. Destroy their pattern. Fire now! Now!” “What are you suspecting?” asked Tessa.
“I think the six ships will combine their energy and create a very powerful blast.”
“Sir! We’re twenty-five thousand kilometers from the Orias wheel,” reported Eugene.
“Increase speed. Pick one ship and fire. Give it everything we’ve got!”
Freedom’s weapons blasted through the hull of one of the alien ships, pushing it off course. Freedom fired again, and the Orias ship blew into pieces.
“Yes!” cheered Eugene.
Suddenly, another horrific explosion filled the viewscreen. Jacob’s shoulders slumped and holding his head he waited for the bad news. “Sir, it’s Marion,” said Tessa. “It took out one of the Orias ships.” The admiral smiled.
Suddenly, the alien ships broke their pattern and turned toward the Earth ships. Two of them flew in the direction of Freedom. Torpedoes blasted through Freedom’s tubes, disabling one of them, but the second spacecraft dodged the torpedoes.
“Evade! Evade!” shouted the admiral.
“Sir. I’m . . .”
A bright light blinded everyone. Freedom shook, throwing everyone off their seats. Multiple blasts occurred simultaneously. Alarms blared. Smoke filled the bridge.
When Jacob opened his eyes, he saw a huge crack in the roof. He turned. The viewscreen was fractured, and the Orias ship was powering up again. He scrambled to his feet and rushed towards navigation. He entered the coordinates and engaged the thrusters. “Come on! Come on!” he said, pressing the keys several times. But Freedom moved slowly. “Tactical, tell me we have weapons!” he yelled over the top of the screaming alarms.
The alien ship’s tail turned red.
“Tactical?” Jacob asked.
A blaze hit the alien ship, and it turned to dust. Another tremor hit Freedom. Jacob grabbed the console and saw Marion fly past them. “Whew, that was close,” he muttered, making way for Eugene, who took control of the helm. “Report.”
“Decks 5 and 6 have been heavily damaged. Six crew members have been injured. No fatalities so far. We still have power, engines, and life support.”
“What about the fleet?”
“They have destroyed three Earth ships; two ships have taken heavy damage, but the rest of the fleet is engaging the enemy. The Orias ships have turned their attention back to the perimeter. Three ships are engaging us, and the other four have formed the same wheel-like pattern. They’re heading for the perimeter.”
“Damn.”
“I think it’s time to change strategies.” Tessa breathed heavily. The admiral eyed her. “Do we have orders from Earth?” “No.”
He looked at the screen. “Those four ships might be our last hope.”

SATURN
Argon gritted his teeth. He didn’t like their odds. There was still no word from Imperial Command, and Titan was silent as well. People were dying. People he knew. He returned to his chair and opened a channel to Freedom. “Admiral Donavan, this is Argon Keston. Permission to join the battle.”
“Negative. Stay there.”
“Sir, if my readings are correct, the fleet has taken heavy damage. We can help.”
“The fleet was ordered to engage the enemy; the squadron ships are to remain as backup. Those were our orders. We stick to them until the Imperial Command says otherwise. Is that clear?” “Sir, with all due respect . . .”
“Argon. Stay there. That’s an order!”
Argon banged the console. He sat back and listened to the communications between the ships. He almost jumped when he heard another blast. He got up and stood in the middle of the cockpit. If he defied orders, he’d be thrown out of the fleet, and his career would end before it had even started. But if he didn’t act, he risked the lives of everyone he loved. What mattered most to him? He returned to his chair and reached out to his squadron. “This is Argon. I’m going to defy orders and join the fight. If you choose to stay back, I’ll understand.”
“Argon,” said Micah in his husky, heavy voice. “How long have you known us?”
Byron said, “If we don’t join the fight, everyone could die.” “Oh, that’s comforting,” Argon muttered. He pushed the buttons, and the engine roared to life. The tail of the small fighter glowed in the yellow mist. Atlas slowly glided through the rings of the planet, leaving a long trail of dust behind it. Another three ships followed. “Commander Waters to Cadet Argon,” Anastasia’s voice crackled on the commlink.
“Yes, Commander?”
“What are you doing?”
“Commander, I can’t just sit here,” Argon said. “They need our help!”
“I understand, but we have our orders. Turn back.”
Argon huffed. “With all due respect, I can’t sit here and watch people die!”
“Cadet, you’re out of line!”
There was no point in arguing. Argon ignored her messages and charged ahead. He felt as if a sword loomed over him; he was damned if he did, he was damned if he didn’t. He was a man of action, and every fiber in his body told him it was time to act.
As they neared the battlefield, the size and shape of the Orias ships mesmerized him. “Let’s begin with omega sequence,” he suggested. Pairing with Byron, Argon flew closer to one of the alien ships. “Break the wheel?” asked Byron.
“I agree.”
They got nearer to the four ships.
“Distance twenty thousand kilometers,” said Byron.
“Close enough,” Argon replied and fired.
Two torpedoes hit the alien ship, blasting through its hull. Atlas bounced and dipped, but Argon quickly regained control and reduced speed.
“Did you see that?” Byron shouted.
“Yeah! Too easy. I thought we would need more torpedoes.” The Orias ships broke their pattern and turned their attention to the smaller ships.
“Here they come!” yelled Byron.
Argon swayed Atlas away and pushed the engines. The Orias ships followed him. Byron came from behind and fired. Atlas jolted moving away from the blast. Argon turned around and pursued the two alien ships following Byron. Aiming for the tail of the Orias ships, Argon called, “One, two, three, fire!”
The blast from the two Orias ships was enormous. Hundreds of pieces of metal spread through space. Atlas dipped and shuddered. A huge section of debris headed straight for it.
“Whoa!” Argon cried out, whirling the ship out of harm’s way. A piece of debris hit the wing of Atlas. The spacecraft jolted. Alarms blared. Argon punched a few buttons and brought the ship under control.
“Wow. How did you do that?” Byron asked.
“I aimed for the tails,” Argon replied and opened a channel to the fleet. “Attention, everyone. This is Argon. We’ve discovered a flaw in
the enemy ships’ design. To disable them, target the tails at close range. Just be careful not to get too close.”
Argon was about to contact Freedom when he noticed two of his squadron members were on a collision course. “Clio and Micah, what are you doing?”
“You know what we’re doing,” Micah replied.
Argon saw two Orias ships pursuing them.
“They’re going for the death maneuver,” said Byron with a hint of distaste in his voice.
“It won’t work. Abort. Now. Abort!” Argon yelled.
“How would you know? We’ve never tried it before,” protested Micah.
“This is not the time nor place,” Argon said.
“He will not listen to you,” Byron said calmly.
Atlas steered past two Earth ships, chasing an Orias ship. It maneuvered under Freedom and headed for Micah’s location. Clio and Micah were heading straight for each other. The end of the Orias ship following them began to glow.
“They’re going to fire. Change course now!” Argon shouted. “Wait for it,” Micah said.
“I’m coming in.”
“Argon, don’t. I can do this without firing a single shot.” “You’re going to get killed.”
“Argon, trust me.”
Argon shook his head and reluctantly decreased speed. Clio and Micah were getting close. Too close. The Orias ship was right on their tails. If they miscalculated, it might cost them their lives. “Micah, they’re charging their weapons,” Byron said. “You should act now.”
“One, two,” Micah counted. “Now!”
Both squadron ships turned away. The Orias ships fired. The massive beams missed the small ships and hit each other. The blast was gigantic. It created a turbulence wave so strong that every ship in the battlefield shook.
“Woo-hoo!” shouted Micah.
“Yippee!” yelled Clio.
Argon shook his head in dismay.
“That was uncalled for!” Admiral Donavan yelled over the communication system. Argon ignored him. Then Anastasia’s voice echoed in the cockpit. “Commander Waters to Cadet Argon. Commander Waters to Cadet Argon.”
“Yes, Commander. We have them. Just three more to go.” “Argon, Emmeline detected another ship,” said Anastasia. “It masked its signature. It’s heading for the perimeter. I’m sending you the coordinates.”
This was unbelievable. “Affirmative,” Argon said, feeling his heart rate rise. The console beeped. He entered the coordinates. Atlas swayed along the perimeter and headed away from the battlefield. Byron’s ship wasn’t far behind it.
In a few minutes, they saw a new Orias ship. Argon felt uncertain, and his heart leaped to his throat. Why had this ship come in later? Why not join the battle? Did it have a different purpose? Could he stop it?
“There it is,” said Byron.
They fired phasers to sway the alien ship away from the perimeter, but it kept moving. They targeted the tail, but it was resilient.
“We need to get closer,” said Argon. He pushed the small ship. When he thought he was close enough, he pushed the button to fire the torpedoes. Nothing happened. “Oh no! No!” he cried out and pushed the button again.
“Weapon’s system malfunction,” announced the computer. “Byron, my ship is damaged. Tell me you have torpedoes.” “I’m out!”
Byron fired phasers. They did little damage, and the alien craft kept moving toward the perimeter. “It’s not working!” he shouted. Byron ship’s gained speed, moving closer to the Orias ship. Argon pushed Atlas and caught up with him. At least he could fire phasers. They had to stop them, at any cost. They fired again. The Orias ship jolted a bit but kept moving.
“This one is different!” Byron called.
Argon banged his console. “Tell me someone has torpedoes!” he shouted. “Hello! Anyone? We need help!”
The ship’s tail turned red.
Atlas’s proximity alert went off. Argon turned to his scanner. There was a reading he couldn’t understand. “What the hell?” he muttered. His eyes widened as realization dawned on him. “Byron, move away. Move. Move now!” he shouted, hurriedly changing course.
Just behind Atlas, Prometheus appeared. The hefty scorpion shaped spacecraft flew past the small ships. Two torpedoes blasted through its tubes. The Orias ship turned to dust.
“Yes!” cheered Argon.


 

About H.G. Ahedi:

I am H.G. Ahedi, writer of the award winning science fiction series Realm. I dabble a bit with crime fiction too. I am the owner of the most vacant apartment in Sydney (it has minimum furniture and more books). My plants do not survive (I have buried four) and if you buy me a good cup of coffee – we are friends forever!

My dream is to find a way into the fictional world, and write about it in real world. I would love to have a cup of tea with Agatha Christie and solve a case with Sherlock Holmes. And of course pick their brains for my books. I spend my weekends with box of popcorn and TV series (mostly sci fi and mysteries). My real life is a bit more sensible or rather boring. I have done a PhD (I don’t know what I was thinking) and right now I spend my day handling a database.

So what have I written?

Stella is free book is available on my website : https://harbeerahedi.com

Mysteries/thrillers – Black Moon, Calculated Murder, Haunted, Shadow Pandemic and Shadow Fraction.

Science Fiction – Transcendence, Realm 1: Fall of Titan, Realm 2: Poseidon, Realm 3: Icarus

Do I do social media? A little bit…

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub


Giveaway Details:

Win the entire Realm Series!

Ends January 31st, midnight EST.

Giveaway Link:

https://harbeerahedi.wordpress.com/2022/12/20/win-3-action-packed-science-fiction-books/

 


Tour Schedule:

Week One:

1/10/2023

Sadie’s Spotlight

Excerpt/IG Post

1/11/2023

Mythical Books

Excerpt/IG Post

1/12/2023

#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog

Excerpt/IG Post

1/13/2023

A Dream Within A Dream

Excerpt

1/14/2023

Two Chicks on Books

Excerpt/IG Post

Week Two:

1/15/2023

Lady Hawkeye

Excerpt/IG Post

1/16/2023

Nerdophiles

Review

1/17/2023

GryffindorBookishNerd

IG Review

1/18/2023

Rajiv’s Reviews

Review/IG Post

1/19/2023

Brandi Danielle Davis

IG Review/TikTok Post

1/20/2023

Emmiepooh2

IG Review/Facebook Post

1/21/2023

Review Thick And Thin

Review/IG Post

Week Three:

1/22/2023

@carlysunshinebooks

IG Review

1/23/2023

the book near me

Review/IG Post

1/24/2023

A Blue Box Full of Books

IG Review

 

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