|Helen’s adventures in the black have just begun. See where destiny has taken her in “In The Shadows”, an Askirti Chronicles short story that is part of The Expanding Universe 3, a Science Fiction Anthology, now available for pre-order.
Twenty-five talented authors. Twenty-five remarkable stories. One incredible science fiction collection.
The universe is expanding and these are some of its stories. Bestselling and debut authors have created worlds where invasions are apocalyptic and space empires are in peril. The universe is beyond our understanding… or is it?
This collection will include new and unique stories from NY TImes/USA Today/Amazon bestselling authors – here they are.
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Empires prepare for war, the likes of which humanity has rarely seen. Jacqueline Campo is once again called upon to jump into the fray, receiving significant backing in exchange for her sentient AI’s cooperation with the military-industrial complex in a race to ready themselves for the coming conflict.
In the middle of it all, Rick learns the truth of his own daughter’s gruesome fate, and Jacqueline receives a family reunion like none other.
As the hand of destiny once again propels Jacqueline into the center of events, this time she discovers the cost may be more than she can bare.
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“THE GREAT THAW!” read one headline. “THE ICE AGE IS OVER!” read another. “IF SHE SEES HER SHADOW WILL SHE GO BACK INTO HIDING!” read yet another.
Rick just sat there, snickering.
“You don’t think you’re newsworthy?”
He laughed some more.
Rick had met her in her suite after he caught the news that she caught the news.
“I don’t want to be news!” she exclaimed.
“Ha, you are, High Queen,” he said with another grin. This comment earning him a couch pillow thrown his direction.
“Look,” he started. “The people just want to know you. You are interesting. And you are the most powerful woman there is!”
“Is that why you are interested?”
I walked into that one, Rick grimaced.
“I’ve always seen you, Jackie. Past the green glowy eye thing, past the reigning fire down on your enemies thing. I will admit, I find that part incredibly attractive! But honestly, I’ve always just seen Jacqueline Campo, the woman. The woman I can identify with. The woman whom I will go any length for. The woman I will wait an eternity for.”
That shut her up.
“I am difficult, aren’t I?”
New tactical plan. Don’t guilt her, he quickly thought.
“You’re hurt,” he said calmly. “The past hurt you. You now have this heritage you were previously unaware of, and now you are thrust into the seat of power. I know your world is spinning right now. It is not difficult for me to care about you, so don’t go there.”
She calmed down, then sat on the couch.
“Seeing the news was perhaps startling to know you’re part of it, and areas of your life that you wish to remain private are right there for all to see,” he said.
“They had a picture of us kissing on the front page of fifteen publications. And those are the ones I could find.”
“Okay, so what? They saw that you are capable of caring, this isn’t something I needed to be informed about, but some nasty rumors were flying around concerning you. This helps people to see you as more like them.”
She took a deep breath.
“You would really wait an eternity for me?” she asked with sheepish eyes.
“Yes!” he quickly answered, knowing hesitation would cost him. Besides, he did feel that way.
I was dead, and am alive again. I have delivered them from the evil ones. Yes, they will love me, they will worship me!
Jackie remembered that seductive thought, after saving the Commonwealth’s home planet of Wellington, her body at the time flowing with incredible power, seductive power.
I remember my neck snapping after we were struck with a skip-jack beforehand, I hit the ceiling so hard.
She grimaced, thinking of her death when the highly illegal missile hit the WFS Nemesis. It was her sentient AI, residing in her head using a multi-dimensional quantum computer, that flooded her body with tiny little machines to perform critical repairs and restart her heart.
Who would have ever thought I’d have nanites, and they could perform an emergency resurrection?
Sprawled out in bed at her cheap hotel, Jackie just looked out the window and sighed.
At least here they leave me alone.
She had reached so far up, having been the executive officer on a ratty little destroyer, then by a fluke of destiny it seemed, she was the XO on the newest, most modern ship in the Westerly Federation, the Nemesis. Then savior of the capital planet for an allied empire.
Doesn’t matter, they threw me away anyway.
What a rush! Playing such a pivotal role in one of the most important battles in the past few decades. At the Battle of Wellington, she discovered she was like a mythical bird able to rise from the ashes.
And they still dismissed me. I barely escaped a dishonorable discharge!
After annihilating tens of thousands of enemies with her abilities, having genetic access to a previously unknown power that was under the crust of that world, she had overcome the temptation to use that use it to seize control over the kingdoms of men. Her reward was being booted from the military.
Perhaps I could use my powers to make them kiss my butt.
She sighed again. It used to be the hunt for justice that was her driving force, knowing she was making life safer for families, for children. Piracy was on the rise, and what pirates did to families, what they did to her family…These past few days, the only pleasure she felt had come from the drug highlights, of which she had been injecting an ample supply.
I have all the power of a god, and where has that got me?
She shoved the pure white hair out of her face, and tied the rubber band around the alabaster white skin on her right bicep, then picked up the needle with her left hand and injected herself again with that wonderful drug that kept her from dreaming.
As she released the band the high from the drug was felt immediately, her body was suddenly feeling oh so good. Closing her emerald green eyes, she drifted off into a dreamless sleep, for which she was thankful. For in her dreams her enemies were there…in her dreams, she was the hunted…in her dreams, she watched her family die a violent death again and again…in her dreams all she knew was terror.
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Jacqueline Campo survived the largest massacre in the history of the Westerly Federation at the hands of pirates and now serves in the military as an officer in her republic’s navy. Her love for those she has lost is the driving force in hunting down and punishing the pirates responsible.
When sent on a diplomatic mission to a competing empire, the Commonwealth, a conspiracy unfolds to prevent the peace at all costs. While mysterious forces work against her, her genes trigger an ancient secret revealing who she is and her part in this universe. Jacqueline finds herself at the center of events that will forever change the course of her life, and that of humanity.