Ooh, I can’t wait to show this to S.K. [Reading the back of a new book.]
“The President of the Unified Collaboration of Systems, along with hundreds of the civilians, had been ruthlessly murdered. There was little need to speculate who had done it—for the instigator was quick to take full credit for the act:
The renegade Sector Command Admiral, Maros Krador.
While Sector Command forces search in vain for the traitor, Krador begins to amass a fleet of warships from a secret base, setting himself on a course that is sure to leave a wake of destruction throughout the entire Beta Sector.
The last team of elite covert agents sent in to eliminate Krador was never seen again, yet the Unified Council and the secretive Office of Special Investigations knew what needed to be done. They would need to try again . . . and there was only one agent they could trust to get the job done.
Unfortunately, Angelika Jordan wanted nothing to do with it.”
Hey, everyone! It’s Thursday and the coffee is brewing. I’m waiting for S.K. to arrive, which is kind of strange, because . . . well, I don’t want to talk about her while she’s not here, but usually she’s at my place bright and early on Thursdays, waiting outside my back door with her green coffee cup. Actually, she’s usually tapping on the door with the cup, and there have been a few times when I’ve just found her in the kitchen. If I’m not fully awake, it gives me a little bit of a start. But she sent me two large bags of Rain City Crunch for my birthday, so I am pretty sure I’m going to keep her around for the rest of my life.
I think I’d better call her to see what’s up. [Calls S.K.’s cell.] Hey, S.K.! Why aren’t you here yet?
SKA: I’m busy.
ER: I had something really cool to show you and thought we could talk about it while we had our coffee today, and now you’re going to miss it. Stephen Fender just released his new book! It’s called—drum roll, please—
[S.K. obediently taps the phone for a drum roll, while performing a flawless eye roll.]
Origins: Traitor Winds.
SKA: I know. That’s why I’m busy doing . . . oh, who knows? Something. You found another “S” in your life, and I don’t know how I feel about this.
ER: Another “S”? Wha—? Oh, Stephen. He’s just . . . he’s just Stephen . . . um . . . I don’t know why you’d feel anything but excited. It’s a book! A new book! [Making happy faces . . . over the phone. Realizes what a huge fail that is and stops.]
SKA: But, but . . . I feel threatened and you want me to be excited? About Traitors?
ER: Well, yeah, because I’m not a traitor. And Stephen isn’t, either. He just wrote a book about one. And he didn’t come for coffee. Did you think—
SKA: Oh, but I thought—
ER: No, no, no. You have NOT been replaced. Not a chance. I just wanted to take a moment today to tell everyone about his book, because I finished it. I mean, I finished editing it. I didn’t write it, after all. But I invested a significant portion of my time in it. Well, not as much as Stephen did. I’m pretty sure he worked more hours on it than I did. He said he did, anyway. Come to think of it, he had a smart answer for everything I said. You’d think he owned it or something. Oh . . . wait . . .
Um . . . so it’s a book! A new book! [Makes happy faces again. Stops abruptly. Again.]
SKA: Oh wow, okay. That does sounds awesome! And what was your favorite part? If I like it, I might just read it.
ER: Here’s one I think is funny because it reminds me of people I know who hate to fly. Listen to this:
Angelika Jordan, her slim fingers curled securely around the edge of her armrest, hated flying with a passion. It was one of the few things in life that she truly loathed, and she put it at the top of her personal list of dislikes, right above people who absently popped bubble wrap or drivers who failed to yield to oncoming traffic. Given the right time and proper equipment, she could easily handle the latter two. However, because she had yet to master her fear of flying, the interstellar transport she currently found herself encased in was a necessary evil in her life. With all the tight turns and stomach-turning descents, the pilot of this particular craft seemed to be the devil himself, treating the graceful shuttle like it was his personal sleigh ride into the pits of Hades itself.
“We’re descending through three thousand feet now, ma’am,” Satan chimed serenely over the craft’s address system. “We’ll be on the ground in just under ten minutes.”
Angelika closed her eyes just as a final blast of turbulence rocked the craft. She offered a silent prayer—the same as she’d done a thousand times over a hundred landing pads on dozens of worlds—that she would land safely, just as she had nine hundred ninety-nine times before.. . . and then they (of course) land safely, but she's still pretty tense . . .
The shuttle touched down without incident, and it wasn’t until Angelika heard the high-pitched whine of the engines’ reverse thrust that she realized the craft had landed. It was then that Lucifer’s voice came over the PA once more.
“We’ll be maneuvering out to hanger sixteen in just a moment, ma’am. Please remain seated until the transport has come to a complete halt.”
Remain seated, Angelika scoffed as she brushed a strand of hair behind her ear. As if I had any intention of doing otherwise, you sick, sick maniac. Where did you learn to fly, anyway? Besides, I’m the only one on the shuttle, and you’re sitting less than ten feet away. Why use the bloody PA when you can just as easily turn around, talk to me, and pretend you’re human and have a soul? Yet with all her internal bickering, all she said was, “Thank you, Captain.”SKA: Ooooh, Angelika . . . I can’t wait to meet you.
ER: You’d like her. She’s a tough cookie.
SKA: Okay, I’m in. You got more for me?
ER: Oh, yeah. This one sort of sets the stage. The Sector Command forces are in space, in the middle of a war, and realized they’ve walked into a trap. The ships in Captain Rothchild’s fleet are either dead in space or on their way to being there. As the captain prepares to make the most of what little time they have left, the crew finds themselves facing an unknown ship—a late entry to the battle.
Rothchild pivoted his chair toward Quel-Sa’s sensor station, intent on asking her what had just happened, when she likewise turned to him to make an announcement.
“Captain, there’s another ship entering the quadrant.”
It was too much to hope for a miracle, but Rothchild made the query anyway. “One of ours?”
Quel-Sa’s dark eyes narrowed as she studied her display. “No, sir. That is, I don’t think so, sir.”
Stephen had never known Quel-Sa to give such enigmatic answers. The fact that she seemed unsure was more than enough to enhance his curiosity. “Explain.”
“The design of the hull seems to be a conglomeration of UCS and Jidoan technologies.” Talia Quel-Sa then turned to face her captain with a look of apprehension. “We don’t have anything like that in the fleet, sir. At least, not that I’m aware of.”
With a heavy sigh, Stephen turned to regard the view of empty space stretched out before the cruiser Tripoli. There was only one answer to the riddle, and he instantly knew exactly who that ship belonged to and who was captaining her. He felt a sense of satisfaction at having achieved the goal originally set forth to him by Sector Command several months earlier. The reports about the traitor being on Jido were spot-on, and now Rothchild had confirmed it, but he also knew that he probably wouldn’t live through the day to report it to anyone in the Unified government.
Set several years prior to the events of the Kestrel Saga novels, Origins is a new series that chronicles adventures taking place during the Great Galactic War between the Unified Collaboration of Systems and the Kafaran Alliance.
Not only is Traitor Winds now available on Amazon, but The Kestrel Saga, a three-in-one Kindle compilation which includes The Army of Light, Icarus, and Second Earth, will be on sale this Saturday, March 8, for half price all day. Get the whole set!
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