Monday, April 20, 2015

Brightwill II Is Coming...

Work on Spinward Fringe Broadcast 9 is going very well, and there's more real news on that coming next week. This week I'm happy to bring other news to the table.

Great news for everyone who loved the first Brightwill novel: Work started on developing a second and a third book set in the same universe, featuring many of the same characters about three months ago.

What does this mean specifically? Well, right now I'm finishing "test chapters" wherein I try writing a good opening chapter and another chapter where the featured character begins telling a story, much like in the first Brightwill.

While that's being done, I'm figuring out what Brightwill II is about, specifically, what the ending is, and roughly how the story will go, beat by beat. These plans sometimes change a lot during the actual writing of the book, sometimes they only change a little, but it's important to have a frame to hang a novel on.

I expect all this work will be finished in a couple weeks, then I'll be able to actually start writing the text of the novel - the really fun part - when I'm not working on Spinward Fringe Broadcast 9. 

Why is there going to be a sequel? Well, I fell in love with these characters. Much like with Spinward Fringe, the characters are drawing me back into the world of Brightwill, and they have stories to tell. I'm certainly not doing it for the money, because the first Brightwill is not very popular and it just didn't sell well. I'm happy that it's free now so a few people have little to lose if they want to give it a try. It's also easier to point friends to Brightwill so they can give it a try for free.

I'm keeping Brightwill II short, and only writing it in my spare time, when I'm not focusing on Spinward Fringe, because I love both universes.

I'm proud of both universes, and taking time in each of them is a great deal of fun. I hope to have another Brightwill novel out sometime this summer along with a Spinward Fringe novel.


[Brigthwill is free wherever Ebooks are sold. If you'd like a print copy, they are available through Amazon, and some signed copies will be available on EBay soon.]

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Spinward Fringe Broadcast 9 Prologue: Freeground Alpha

It's my pleasure to present a brand new prologue to Spinward Fringe Broadcast 9: The Gathering. This prologue is unique in the fact that it is not so much the beginning of a new storyline, but an answer to a few questions (what happened to Freeground? and others...), and the natural continuation to a story that began way back in Broadcast 0.

Before you read any further, you should know that there are MAJOR SPOILERS for anyone who hasn't read the entire series. That's Broadcast 0-6, The Expendable Few, as well as Broadcasts 7 and 8 (in that order).

I hope you enjoy this, it's the raw copy without any work from my editors, so this is what most of my work looks like before they get their hands on it.


Spinward Fringe Broadcast 9: The Gathering

Written by Randolph Lalonde, 2014-2015
Copyright © 2015 Randolph Lalonde
Spinward Fringe is a Registered Trademark of Randolph Lalonde
All Rights Reserved
3rd draft

Prologue: Freeground Alpha

Holographic images were not Admiral Jessica Rice’s preferred method of watching anything, but there was something about watching news about Ayan Anderson as a full sized hologram that made her feel better overall. She admitted her desire to make amends and accept Ayan as her daughter to no one. When the burden of command lessened, and she had time alone, the young woman was always in the daydream future the Admiral tried to avoid indulging in.
“-through this conspiracy of ownership and the denial of rulership, Commander, or shall we call her ‘Queen’ Ayan Anderson has barely represented her settlements to the rest of the Rega Gain system,” said the announcer over the holographic playback. “This news agency wasn’t allowed access to their monitoring systems, so all our information is from testimony, our news gathering drones, and stories from the Stellarnet. This reporter is fairly confident in saying that, while it seems like the Queen of Haven Shore turns a cold shoulder towards the people outside her safe haven, those who have been fortunate enough to make it through her recruiting process are happy with their placements. They are given accommodations in trade for labour that are becoming increasingly rare as the fringes of human territories falls to the Order of Eden, corporate rule or lawless chaos. It’s old socialism, or a new trade of freedom for safety, labour for a cot under a shield. Or, is it?”
Admiral Rice watched as holographic footage of Ayan arriving with a recruitment ship amidst a razed landscape. Small downed ships, pools of toxic materials and broken earth surrounded her and several heavily armed soldiers as they ushered people who looked no better than their surroundings into combat shuttles. Footage of what looked like a military complex followed, taken from a great distance by one of the news drones the announcer mentioned, Admiral Rice supposed. She immediately recognized it as a prefabricated Order of Eden base that Ayan’s people had converted.
Several still images of Ayan and members of her council followed as the announcer continued. “With the history of selective humanitarianism Ayan has become somewhat well known for, I can’t help but wonder why her Haven Shore council seems to have turned against her, along with Haven Shore’s original populace. Information recently obtained by this reporter has revealed that fewer than forty one percent of her voting population supported her continuing activities on the Council, and she has not participated directly in proceedings for over a month. Even though she is the sole owner of nearly all of Haven Shore’s assets, and has strong ties to the new Triton Fleet, I cannot help but wonder how much of the peace Haven Shore seems to enjoy is just an illusion created by her and the British Alliance.” Admiral Rice couldn’t help but scowl at the supposition. “How about you go get recruited and find out for yourself,” she said in response to the story, dismissing the hologram with a flick of her wrist.
“I’m sorry, Admiral, it was the best recent news story I could find in the Sunspire’s database,” said the gentle voice of Gus, her personal artificial intelligence.
“Don’t give it a second thought,” she replied. It was time for her to walk the ship, and she wouldn’t do it without looking like a crewmember. Admiral Rice took her sidearm, a stout, powerful plasma pistol, from her side table drawer and slipped it into the holster on her upper thigh. “Next time I’ll have you review it for me though, then you can relay the facts.”
“Along with the best images of your daughter,” Gus said into her sub-dermal earpiece.
There was no arguing with him, after a year of using Gus, he’d learned everything there was to know about her, twice. The first time he’d become highly competent at predicting her moods and needs, he had to delete himself as a failsafe when political enemies managed to hack into his database. They got nothing, but she would make them pay for the setback as soon as she found out who was responsible, because Gus had to start learning all over again.
“How is the Freeground Alpha doing?” Admiral Rice asked.
“The wormhole generator is almost finished charging, and all remaining residents have evacuated to the primary ring,” Gus replied as he provided an image of the thick inner ring of Freeground. The lights from thousands of transparent metal windows made it look alive, well inhabited compared to the rest of the station. Most of the original rings surrounding Freeground Station were completely dark, abandoned as all but the most steadfast citizens left for other parts of the galaxy.
“Perhaps this is the wrong image,” Gus said, changing the view so it focused on the lighted main ring.
“It’s all right for me to grieve, Gus,” Admiral Rice said. “This is the home I came to love, and it’s near the end of its decline. That’s some consolation.”
“Ah, Freeground’s population increased to two hundred ninety eight thousand and three last night, Admiral. Two children were born, both boys.”
“Thank you for the silver lining.” She made sure her uniform was in good order, a thick armoured red and black vacsuit, before leaving her sparsely decorated quarters. The Ironside was a fine ship, one of the last produced by Freeground Shipyards. It was a direct descendant of the improved Sunspire design, and had already seen nineteen engagements under the command of her captain, Harold Behr, a man only a few years her junior, but somehow he looked twenty years older. It was his twelfth ship, and he’d only lost one in combat.
She walked the well polished metal halls from her quarters to the port gunnery section, then to engineering. Only two crewmembers saluted out of the hundred or so she passed. They were new, unaware that she’d put out a standing order that crewmembers were to disregard the tradition of saluting the Admiral if they were working unless they were addressed.
“Admiral, we have an emergency,” Gus announced in her subdermal communicator. The left side of Admiral Rice’s vision was filled with an overlay of scrolling sensor data from the Ironside. She was receiving it at exactly the same time as the bridge, and recognized what was happening immediately.
“Channel open to the bridge,” Gus informed her.
“Captain,” was all she had to say.
“I know, this is the largest incursion yet,” Captian Behr replied, “Battle Group One is already responding with energized flak bursts, we’re moving into position.”
It had become standard operating procedure over the last four months, since the Isek began their attacks. Opportunists to the core, a large faction of their society recognized that, with the Order of Eden on one side, and no major allies on the other, Freeground was truly alone again in a vast empty span of space. The Isek began jamming Freeground’s communications, then they begain bombarding missions. They realized after losing an outer ring and nearly a quarter million people in one of the first attacks, that energized flak and energy shielding was their only defence. The outer patrols were only so effective, the fleet they had was not large enough to maintain their borders.
Admiral Rice reviewed a segment of the sensor data and shook her head, walking into a lift at the same time. The readings indicated that the Isek were sending clusters of missiles in from almost all directions. “Battle Groups Two, and three are to fall back to the departure point, reinforce the energy shielding surrounding Freeground’s primary ring. We are leaving, Sir.”
“Aye,” Captain Behr replied.
Admiral Rice signalled the Sunspire, the lead ship for Battlegroup One to disband and begin their faster than light journey immediately.
When Admiral Rice arrived on the bridge, he was finishing relaying the orders to his staff, who were calmly conducting themselves. She took the seat beside him and immediately began monitoring the countermeasures. The gleaming hull of the Ironside was as yet untouched by the long-range attacks as her many gun emplacements fired a stream of counterpunch rounds. They were made specifically to halt and obliterate incoming projectiles head-to-head, and the computer was managing their firing patterns so well that they were able to contribute to the defence of Freeground Alpha.
“Freeground Control reports that they only have enough power to create a wormhole to the near side of the Ironhead Nebula,” Captain Behr said. “It’s a no-go, Ma’am.”
“We’ll see,” Admiral Rice said. “Open a channel.”
Captain Behr nodded at his communication’s chief, a young man who looked more like a security chief from his build. He opened a channel and put the communications on the bridge’s secondary display, a hologram just to the left of the middle of the room.
“Admiral Rice,” said the responder. He was a thin-faced man who always looked a little too high strung for her liking. He wrung his hands, chewed his fingernails, or scowled when he though no one was looking. Just a few years ago, the Admiralty would not have accepted him in their ranks, but needs forced them to advance people who barely made the grade.
“Admiral Pallon,” she replied. “We knew this would come, the Isek want to wear us down before they send their cruisers in to take the last segments of Freeground.”
“We do not have enough power in the capacitors to open a wormhole through the Ironhead Nebula. We will arrive on the inside edge, possibly sustain damage thanks to the particles there, and we will definitely be in Order territory,” Admiral Pallon replied, turning away from the holographic receiver.
“If we do not take this opportunity, while our ships are shielded and we have this much power in hand, we will not be able to leave at all. I am not looking forward to fighting to the death, or becoming the newest resident in the Isek slave camps,” she told him. “I’ve already ordered Battle Group One out of the area, and the rest are falling back.”
“Get them back in the field! Our defence will not be effective if-“ red light flashed on Admiral Pallon’s end, bathing the side of his face in its hue.
With a glance at her command and control console’s screen on her wrist, Admiral Rice could see that Freeground Station had been struck by a group of missiles. Dormant sections had lost shielding, and were open to space in hundreds of places. They were already empty, powered down for the most part, but the decompressing hull of the massive structure warned at the fate that awaited the main ring of the station, Freeground Alpha, if something wasn’t done.
“Pallon, deactivate the shielding surrounding the abandoned sections of Freeground and apply the energy to the wormhole generator. It’s the only way.”
“I’m sorry, Admiral Rice, I can’t split my attention between convincing you that we are on the right course, and keeping things running smoothly,” Admiral Pallon said.
Admiral Rice was out of her seat and on her way to the main communications console the moment Admiral Pallon’s image disappeared.
“Give her command control, Lieutenant Feng,” Captain Behr ordered as she arrived and pushed the heavily muscled communications officer out of the way.
“Aye,” he replied, standing back and watching as he resumed his duties at another communications console.
“Captain, I regret to inform you that I am about to violate several military and civilian laws, and you’ll probably have to take me into custody when I’m finished,” Admiral Rice said.
“I have no idea what you’re doing or what your intentions could be, so I see no reason to interfere,” Captain Behr said, feigning ignorance.
“Captain, she’s entering Freeground Alpha’s remote command codes, probably so she can-“ a junior communications officer started. He was silenced with a warning look from Lieutenant Feng. “Right, can’t tell what she’ll do Sir, probably nothing to worry about,” he trailed off.
The main display at the front of the bridge focused on the primary ring of Freeground Station. Its dark hull was alight in places as hundreds of weapon emplacements fired at incoming missiles. Blue light began to shine from several rows of old emitters built into the broad surface of its upper sections. They formed a glowing ring, crowning the thickest, oldest section of the station for several seconds before a high-compression wormhole opened above it.
“Helm, get us into formation and inside that wormhole as soon as Freeground Alpha is under way,” Captain Behr ordered.
“Aye, already on it, Captain.”
“Admiral Rice!” shouted Admiral Pallon over the communications band. “You will be court martialled for this!”
“I don’t care if both of us aren’t admirals when this is over,” Admiral Rice shouted back, “As long as we’re both free and alive, I’ve done my duty.” As if to punctuate her statement, emitters on the opposite side of the Freeground Alpha ring pulsed to life, pushing the massive ring into the wormhole above it.
The threshold of the wormhole was surprisingly rough, and Admiral Rice couldn’t help but wonder for a moment if she’d done the right thing as she watched old armour plating lift and detach from Freeground Alpha as it transitioned from normal space into the wormhole.
“Battlegroups Two and Three are in position, Group One is already out of the area,” Captian Behr reported.
“Proceed through the wormhole, this end will only be here for fourteen more seconds,” Admiral Rice said as she checked the energy readings scrolling across her vision.

All that remained of Freeground Fleet, thirty-eight ships, made it through with three seconds to spare, and for those scant seconds Admiral Rice watched as thirty-four massive, lightless rings were pulverized by Isek missiles. They were the longest three seconds of her life.