So far the book is well over half finished, and the writing continues at a good pace. The pace is so good, in fact, that I announced the release date of this book last week. The EBook will be available on September 7, 2015, and I can't wait for your to read it. I'm so eager to get it in front of you, that I'm putting this and one more sample chapter up. Please feel free to discuss what you've read so far in the comments section, I love seeing that kind of discussion.
If you want to read the earlier chapters first (which I absolutely hope you do!), here are the links:
Prologue: Freeground Alpha
Chapter 1: Day One
Chapter 2: Patrol
Chapter 3: The Message
Chapter 4: Parallels
Just in case you haven't read any Spinward Fringe at all, you can download the first book, Spinward Fringe Origins, for free wherever quality Ebooks are available. Here's a link to a copy on Smashwords or Amazon.
Now, with no further delay, here's Chapter 5 of Spinward Fringe Broadcast 9: Warpath!
The Codis System
The deep pore cleaning was always refreshing. A pretty, ultra slender attendant bot in a short red and green kimono handed Governor Tate a large towel as he exited the treatment booth.
“There is nothing like steam and a nano scrub to make you feel fresh and new,” he said to her.
“Yes Sir, will there be anything else, Sir?” she asked.
“No, you just get in there and work your magic. The jets have to be cleaned as often as possible.”
“Yes Sir, thank you sir,” the bot replied. He would be almost convinced that she was human, except for her perfect obedience, that was something he’d had some difficulty inspiring with human servants in the past.
He towelled off as he walked into his living room, not thinking for a moment that he was being watched.
“Now that’s something I’ll never un-see,” said a voice from the large recliner in the main area of his large, lavishly furnished home above the clouds. “You should look into the new fitness meds, I hear they have versions that won’t trigger an allergic reaction or extreme flatulence for cases like yours, where you’re a little over the ten percent body fat margin.”
“Who let you in here?” Governor Tate asked, embarrassed, outraged and alarmed. He ran for the door of his study, where a rack of rare weapons awaited, only to have it close swiftly before he could grab one.
“I’m in your computer system, Governor,” the stranger said. “No running, no hiding, and no sicking your poor, mistreated attendant bot on me. I’m amazed that you’ve had her for four months and still haven’t named her. I think I’ll call her Nancy, she looks a bit like a Nancy to me.”
Governor Tate wrapped the towel around his waist, leaving his round belly hanging over. “I don’t know who you are, but you’re in more trouble than you could ever imagine. I’m the master of eleven inhabited worlds, and a fleet like you-“
“Nancy!” the stranger cried, snapping his fingers. “Get the Governor here something to wear, his uniform should do.” He leaned forward and regarded Governor Tate with an impish grin. “You know who I am, just give your grey matter a minute to work through all those faces in all those reports. I’m somewhere near the top of the pile, I guarantee it.”
The man’s manner was infuriating. He was completely dismissive of the Governor’s position and somehow in control of everything around him, so it seemed. There had to be a crack in the man’s armour, or a piece of information that could help Tate out of his predicament, then this unwelcome guest would pay for his insolence. “I don’t recall seeing you anywhere,” he told the stranger. The man had hair down to his shoulders, a square visage, and eerily penetrating blue eyes. Details of his face shifted under the skin, then the lips expanded at the corners, and the nose flattened, shortened and Governor Tate recognized his visitor. “You are wanted for questioning in multiple sectors,” he said, calming down. It was Wheeler, a man with a fleeting relationship to the Order of Eden at best. “Not to mention, you’re still technically the property of Regent Galactic.”
“So, your war torn toy is here,” he replied, sitting back in the chair as he watched the helper bot deliver a dark green uniform to the Governor. “You Regent Galactic people get a real twist in your knickers when your technology grows a mind of its own. You know how to make us look good though, I’ll admit.”
“I’ll never trust this one again,” the Governor said as he pulled his trousers on. “It took five months for the fabrication centre to get her just right, but now that you’ve been in her head….”
“Then I’ll take her. I’m sure you can have something else made,” Wheeler replied. “Maybe something with a more human shape. The ultra slim models never really look human, do they?”
“What makes you think you’ll walk out of here with anything? Even your freedom is a long shot at this point. I don’t care that you’re a murderer, or that you may have had something to do with the leadership changes at the top.” Governor Tate told him. He only needed to know who his visitor was so he could read the situation and find his footing. Wheeler was a destructive force, even when he failed in his mission there was some kind of wreckage left in his wake. Even still, the only reason why Wheeler would beg an audience with the highest power in the Codis solar System was because he wanted something, and there were a number of things Tate could think of that Wheeler could deliver.
“I’m going to make you the leader of the Order of Eden,” Wheeler said. “You’re one of the only Governors who have passed on the framework program, and have been smart enough to stay away from the current leadership.”
“Powerful people who get too close to Eve or that Beast tend to end up in their place with no hope of advancement or dead, with very little in their epitaph,” Governor Tate said. His bot brought him a mug of nutmeg cocoa as he sat down in a firm armchair across from Wheeler. The drink was an all natural treat, the ingredients cost thousands of credits when they were available.
“Very good, Nancy, now could you record everything that is said here?” Wheeler asked. “I really do plan on taking you with me, and we’ll make more than point zero zero seven percent use of that wonderful brain of yours.”
A sip of his drink revealed a perfect texture, flavour and temperature, something he’d been trying to have his bot, Nancy, to master since she’d entered his home. “I don’t know if I want control of the Order. They’ve fallen in line behind Eve, and the military feeds on the image of the Beast. They’re zealots, near crazed.”
“Then the Regent Galactic Forces, corporate control,” Wheeler said, “That’s even easier. You’re right, the Order is so crazed now, it’s like a bag of flaming cats. That is, except for the segments of the Order you already control. I hear recruitment is down thirty five percent thanks to Valent’s game of Chinese Whispers.”
“It’ll come back up. People want the community and opportunity Order membership brings, and if I can do that without demanding the fervour that Eve does, then they’ll see the rational choice.”
“That’s not going to be possible. Eve is coming here,” Wheeler replied. “Just something I heard on the Order of Eden Command Network. She’s going to gather your Order members into the fold.”
“What? She travels with so large a group, getting her onto this side of the Ironhead Nebula would be a massive undertaking, I would have heard something,” Governor Tate said.
“No, not if she had a double spreading her message elsewhere. She wants to surprise this sector, appear as though by some miracle,” Wheeler said. “It’ll work for some, and the rest of the Order followers here will see that, by taking her lead they can elevate themselves faster than they could if they just stayed here, fighting in your ranks. You’re about to have a workforce shortfall on three of your planets, probably four. All the biggest ones, really.”
“And you’re going to tell me that you have the solution, that you can put me in a higher position than the Mother of the Order?”
“No, I’m going to put you up as her equal. I’ve seen across this digital landscape, the plains that remember our footsteps like they are pressed into stone. The Beast hates the zealotry and sacrifice that Eve demands as much or more than you do. He could use an ally in Regent Galactic too, especially on this side of the Iron Head Nebula, where the majority of their resources and fabrication assets are. If you drop all your suppositions about him, and forget his public persona, which is a farce, if you ask me, you’ll find that he’ll become an easy ally. I can get you in front of him through his own secure network, and I know you’ll be able to take it from there if you respect him.”
“That’s all, just respect him,” Governor Tate said, deeply interested. The Beast commanded forty two battle groups at last count, half a billion souls engaged in military service, and his forces grew every time they conquered a new outpost or world. Even his manufacturing capabilities were growing, especially over the previous two months. “There has to be more to it.”
“There is, I knew the man, even before he changed. I’ll walk you through it step by step, I’ll even vouch for you. Once upon a time I had a hand in getting him into his position. But first, you need to agree to give me a carrier group. I’ll fight your war my way, and I’ll bloody all the enemies you have on this side of the Nebula. You think this is power? This solar system? It’s a great money generator, and, yes, you could build something impressive here, but you haven’t seen real power until the local systems start paying you to tribute, until an entire sector feels they need to consult with your people before they do so much as take a deep breath. If you want to be remembered, to have the kind of power that generates a legend that can out last Earthen Pharaohs, then let me help you, and give me what I need to draw blood from your enemies.”
“A carrier group, that’s-“
“A pittance,” Wheeler said as he accepted an amber drink from Nancy. “Regent Galactic is waiting for a great leader, and you could be it. You just need the right backing.”
“Exactly,” Wheeler replied. “And I need a carrier group. I need one of those carrier groups you have in orbit to get a few things done. All I want is Tamber, in the Rega Gain System. The rest is yours, along with the credit.”
“One moon you intend to capture yourself?”
“Yes, get the carrier group ready this week, and I’ll get you on the fast track to becoming the greatest leader this galaxy has ever seen. You have the mind for it, you have the fortitude, and now you’ll have an in-road thanks to me.”
“They’ll need two weeks to prepare, in the meantime I expect to see significant process, I need to see this is working before you go on some warpath.”
“Now, how do we get started?” Governor Tate asked, truly excited for the first time in years.
“Well, for a start, you’ll never call the leader of the Order Military the Beast again. Call him General Clark Patterson. He was human once, and he had a good soul.”