Crucible (The Epherium Chronicles #2) by T.D.
Genres: Science Fiction – Space Opera, Military
Publisher: Carina Press, Harlequin Ltd.
Book two of The Epherium Chronicles
Earth Defense Forces Captain James Hood is on the mission of his life. The Cygni solar system is just one space-fold jump away. One more jump and they’ll have reached the fledgling colony that Earth desperately needs if the human race is going to survive. But a plot to derail him has already damaged his ship, threatened the lives of his crew and cost him time. Time the colonists might not have.
So much depends on him now, but Hood’s confidence is shaken. It’s self-doubt he thought he’d buried, a brutal mind-killer for all military commanders. Yet danger surrounds his team; a brutal insectoid alien race is still out there, intent on eradicating humans, and a greater threat from an unknown, elusive enemy has emerged.
The forces at work on Cygni are like nothing Hood has trained for, tactically or emotionally. When put to the test, he must choose to either trust the unlikeliest of allies, or run and seal the fate of the Cygni colony forever.
What would be the worst type of alien life to meet?
I’ve always wrestled with what type of alien life we might encounter in outer space. Would it be roughly humanoid, insect-like, or even carbon based. Any aliens that are hostile from the get go are bad enough. In a way, we have to look at their side too. How do you think we would react to alien life coming to us?
As for the worst, I have two. One would be the tiny microbe life that could use humans as a breeding ground and there would be little hope to stopping such an outbreak.
When it comes to big bad aliens, well, being over matched by technology is one thing, but I thing those aliens that pretend to be your friend would be far worse. Survival instincts can rally people people to do great things and topple foes vastly superior to them. Take that fear of death away and slowly subjugate them, well. By the time anyone figures it out, it’s too late. I remember watching the early TV version of V and then the remake. Their approach was very similar.
I don’t know what we’ll find out there in space. Perhaps we’ve already met aliens and just not known it. We could be living in a world like John Carpenter’s They Live! I guess I better go check my sunglasses.
The Epherium Chronicles: Crucible
By T.D. Wilson
Carina Press, Harlequin Ltd.
Deep Space Route to Cygni
Sunday, January 26
Earth Year 2155
Captain’s Log, Sunday, January 26, 2125, EDF Armstrong, James Hood commanding. Three days. Probably the longest three days of my career. Three days stuck licking our wounds from a near disaster I didn’t see coming, but through profound actions from our crew, we managed to survive.
It’s been a little more than a week since we left Mars Station en route to the first of at least two new fledgling colonies. Our trek following the path of the colony ship Magellan to the Cygni system has already seen its fair share of setbacks. An attack on the Epherium Corporation’s temporary office on board—the very company that developed and launched the massive colony ships—has catapulted us into a full-blown conspiracy. It seems one of my officers, Lieutenant Commander Walsh, is involved and the potential assailant. Early on, the evidence centered on our best fighter pilot, Lieutenant Krieg. He was framed for the attack at first but has since been exonerated. Afterward, Walsh, along with the help of some unknown force flying a prototype stealth frigate, managed to move our jump beacon into an asteroid field and caused significant damage to this ship. I believe the entire situation was created to facilitate his escape.
The motive for this whole sequence of events appears to be linked to two sets of personnel data. The first list contains records of individuals who had been experimented on in development and in actual flight with Epherium’s Embrace sleeper cell technology. Most of their testing was related to brain activity reinforcement and memory or knowledge enhancements, but there is a darker side to their experiments. One of their scientists discovered a way to use the Embrace units to rewrite a person’s entire personality, and even though Epherium shelved that piece, Epherium unearthed it to reprogram convicted criminals aboard the Magellan and the other colony ships. The revelation by Henry McCraken, the head of the Epherium Corporation’s contingent on board this ship, about the use of the technology is troubling enough. According to my chief security officer, Lieutenant Greywalker, some of the criminals were among the worst of their time. If we arrive at Cygni and this personality replacement has failed, we could be in for a very rude reception.
Our Epherium troubles aside, I’ve kept the crew’s focus on repairs. I know the incident in the asteroid field has cost us valuable time, but our repairs are almost complete. The gunship Percival took the worst of the damage during the first collision with one of the asteroids, but we’ve managed to get her back to 80 percent operational status. Repair crews had to cut her away from our hull, which has caused considerable delay getting us back under way. Two of her gun arrays were destroyed and she suffered a large hull rupture. The damage to the ship was
compounded with the deaths of two of her gunnery crews and the fact that her captain, Will Alford, is still in a coma. While we have more arrays to replace the ones lost on the Percival, it will take more time to finish installing them. I think it’s more important to reach Cygni now at our current strength and continue repairs there.
The stealth frigate we encountered has caused quite a stir back at HQ and with the companies involved in its design. Greer Technologies and Epherium have both denied any involvement in the further development of the ship. The original prototype is still in pieces and its parts were distributed between the two companies. There has been no trace of any information leak of the classified design, nor have there been any sightings or intelligence provided outside of our own. All EDF commands have been alerted to be on the lookout for Walsh and this vessel, but I’m positive both will avoid contact with any outposts for some time.
For now, she’s still out there, but we must press on to Cygni. The delay for repairs has caused us to lose precious time, borrowed as it may be already for the colonists, even the ones with new personalities. I understand the position McCraken was trying to defend for his company, but lifetime-sentenced criminals or not, a death of self cannot be decided with a simple wave of a pen. Due process and all alternatives should have been considered. Now that the program’s existence is known to at least EDF Command, I don’t envy the Epherium executives right now. The problem remaining is how to rectify the matter and not show the EDF as complicit in what transpired.
T.D. Wilson was born in 1968 in Troy, Ohio and has been an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy from a very young age. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and has supported the systems and networks in several of the largest Supercomputing data centers in the world. His early thirst for adventure in reading began as he explored many of the great stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As his reading scope expanded, Mr. Wilson was fascinated by strange new worlds from the magical of Middle Earth and Narnia to the far reaches of space in Star Trek and Babylon 5. As a science fiction author, he strives to integrate a realistic flavor to his worlds by providing his readers a feel for the real science in science fiction. A topic he loves to discuss with his friends and readers. Mr. Wilson still lives in Ohio with his wife and their two sons.
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