The first novel I wrote as an adult was ambitious to say the least. Titled Tomorrow’s Demise, it details the lives of a broken people on a desert world struggling for survival. Genetically created monsters called Berserkers kill at will. A handful of those brave enough become Slayers and are all that stand between life and death. They are aided by the arrival of the Imperium’s assault division. Complete with monsters, pirates who float over lava seas, an intergalactic war, and political maneuverings Tomorrow’s Demise spawned an entire universe for me to explore.
Crimson Spiders is the first side tale featuring a few of the main characters BEFORE Demise. While I am still trying to get Demise published you can find Spiders on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Enjoy this excerpt.
Turgan River Valley. Planet Shaalam IV. C Company Headquarters, 3rd Battalion 1st Special Operations Command. Captain Orna Malago, commanding.
Ten figures huddled around the holographic map display. The non-infra red light was the only one in the command bunker. Various clerks shuffled around them, each performing an integral part in the company’s combat operations. Most of the line soldiers passed foul glances at them, for they were the fortunate ones who never had to worry about shooting it out in the mud or seeing their best friend die in their arms. These were the paper pogues, but at times, some of the most important troopers in the unit.
Each of the ten troopers staring at the map wore the standard gray uniform of the Imperium infantry. The gray had hopelessly stained from weeks in the field. Stacks of body armor and weapon packs cluttered the limited open spaces in the bunker. They kept a hold their individual weapons. No trained soldier was dumb enough to be caught without one in their hands, especially in the middle of enemy territory.
Captain Malago ran a hand through her sandy hair, a look of disdain furling her brow. She’d been a combat commander for almost two years, and out of everything, this was the part she hated the most.
“Listen up. This valley is the center point for the whole damned sector, and it’s all ours. Battalion wants us to open it up for them so they can begin funneling in the ground troops.”
“One company through all this jungle? Sounds like suicide to me, boss.”
“Perhaps you would care to tell the Colonel that, Sergeant Kimel?” She hated being interrupted, even if the man had a point. A good soldier never questioned authority. That was the first thing the Academy taught. If the situation wasn’t so dire, Kimel, known as Snake Eyes to his troops, wouldn’t even be in this meeting. An indig mortar round took out the platoon sergeant a few weeks ago and that left Snake Eyes in charge. It was one of the little parts of the war that people back home, whichever planet they were from, would never find out about.
Snake Eyes rubbed the tiny red spider engraved on the left breast of his body armor and smirked. Malago was such a kiss ass, never once bothering to speak up to any superior, even if it meant her people getting killed in the process. But he knew when to keep his mouth shut. A man just couldn’t make sergeant without that instinct.
She’d only been in command for the better part of three months. Hells, she hadn’t even been assigned to the battalion when they made planetfall. She’d been incredibly hesitant when the orders came down to assume command of C Company. The Crimson Spiders, so aptly named for their decorative emblem on their armor, had one of the fiercest reputations in all of the Imperium. Who in their right mind would willingly step in and try to establish command in the middle of a combat operation?
“He’s right you know, Ma’am,” First Sergeant Derlnth told her.
“Orders are orders, First Sergeant. Mine say I need to tear a hole through enemy lines so the rest of the army can assault. Division’s been stalled for too long. Don’t make this hard, Top. The mission is a go at zero four hundred.”
First Sergeant Derlnth blinked his middle eye. Each of the three was capable of singular movement and control. His steel gray skin blended almost perfectly with his armor. He was a Crendaphidian, one of the hardest warriors in the entire galaxy. Still, there was something about this mission that didn’t sit well.
“What kind of support are we getting? Latest intel says the Xemp’s got one, maybe two brigades of reinforced infantry down there. We’re good, but not that good.”
“Division has given us a clip of gunships,” she answered.
Madness. “What about artillery?”
“None. Secrecy is our largest asset, gentlemen. The rest of the brigade attacks once we have the far end of the valley secure. We are all alone until then.”
A hushed silence settled in the bunker. The severity of the mission sunk in.
Malago looked at each man in turn. “I suggest you go brief your people and get some rest. Tomorrow’s coming early.