Here is an exclusive, available nowhere else excerpt from my new novel, DEBT’S HONOR:
Jefferson Odett would have been fine if he’d just kept going, but he had to stop when he heard the voice of a dead man.
The shuttle settled down on a featureless plain on a dirty ball of a planet that was their rallying point before the troops were sent again to engage the enemy. A light drizzle from the perpetually overhanging clouds turned the ground into a sloppy mud pit and Odett’s boots squelched in and out of it with every step. His mood was already grim and this weather improved nothing.
He spied a part of the field that looked a little more passable. The mud was broken up by large rocks. He was making towards it when his communicator chimed. Updates. Orders. He didn’t bother opening the message. There would be plenty of time for that once he was warm and dry.
The first of the temporary shelters came into view. They were pre-fab constructs that had the benefit of being a barrier against the elements and little else. There were groups of them arranged to some order by various commanders. Individually the arrangement must have made some sort of sense but to Odett’s eye it was just a jumble of small huts surrounded by miserable figures wearing rain gear and looking as grim as Odett felt.
His own men were some yards away yet. He could not tell where. There was a map on his communicator but Odett did not want to look at it right now. He wanted to concentrate on his footing. He trusted he would stumble upon his men sooner or later or they would stumble upon him. They were bound to be keeping an eye out for him.
As he leaped from one rocky outcrop to another, trying to avoid a muddy patch in between, Odett heard the voice that made him stop. It belonged to a man he thought had been dead for over two years.
“I saw the bladeships with my own eyes…” the voice was saying. “I saw it carve up the transport like it was nothing! I barely escaped with my life!”
Odett looked in the direction the voice had come from. A group of soldiers were gathered round to hear the tale the voice spouted. They were an Earthborn division. Odett could tell by their uniforms and their gear, which was new and up to date and hardly used. He pushed his way through the group of soldiers, garnering stern looks as he did so, but he didn’t care. He had to know.
There he was, surrounded by a group of admiring Earthborn soldiers, looking clean and scrubbed as if he hadn’t had to lift a finger for anything.
Odett could see he was a captain now. Unlike Odett, he likely hadn’t earned the title. He’d probably purchased it with the prize money he’d been awarded for the capture of Albert Carlysle, a wanted prisoner that Odett had, in actuality, recognized and captured – a prisoner who had saved his life aboard the Emperor Malthius.
That was the last time Odett had seen Winters aboard that damned ship. Odett had assumed Winters died with all the other soldiers.
But here he was, telling his tale to a rapt audience.
“The thing… the Kreoch ship… just clamps on to the unsuspecting ship. The Kreoch warship is like a great knife that cuts into the ship, ripping it apart.”
Odett sighed inwardly. Everyone knew that now. When he’d told the admiralty about it after he’d made it back to Earth they had a hard time believing his incredible story. Since then there had been documented proof of the existence of the Kreoch bladeships, and the unimaginable damage they cause to hapless vessels unfortunate enough to encounter them.
“How many Kreoch did you kill?” a voice asked.
Winters shrugged and smiled. “I don’t know. It was all a blur and I didn’t keep count.
“Hard to kill Kreoch when you’re cowering in a lifepod,” a voice countered.
Odett was somewhat surprised to realize that the voice was his own. He’d thought it and said it aloud without meaning to.
DEBT’S HONOR is available at Amazon in e-book and in paperback.