Friday, 19 January 2018

Aftermath by E.A. Copen

Soldier. Traitor. Savior.

In an empire where political power is everything, Captain Timothy Val wants one thing: to serve his empire with honor and distinction. But after a mission to quell a revolt goes terribly wrong, Timothy is branded a traitor and barely escapes with his life. His only hope of regaining his lost honor and clearing his family name rests in the hands of a senator planning to use him as the face of a revolution.

With an intergalactic war looming and civil unrest spreading through the empire, Timothy must tread carefully. Assassins wait around every corner, and his new allies have made him powerful enemies, enemies that may not be entirely Human.

To save the empire, Timothy will have to betray every oath he’s ever taken.

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Aftermath: Chapter One excerpt:

Fire swallowed the shuttle behind Epsilon One, sending twisted shards of metal into the Olarian atmosphere. The blast was close enough that an impact warning appeared on the visor screen inside Captain Timothy Val’s helmet. Timothy tapped the side of his helmet to silence the alarm and flexed his gloved fingers. He turned away from the blue hue of the shuttle’s kinetic barrier flickering in the window and ground his teeth. The sensation made him cringe.

Another blast exploded, and the blue hue turned to static for a second. The metal plating groaned. The shields will hold until we hit the ground. Timothy grimaced. They have to.

He stood. An explosion rocked the shuttle and sent him scrambling for one of the handholds in the ceiling. Hands shot out to steady him from both sides. When the shuttle stabilized again, he acknowledged the gesture with a bob of his head and gripped the next handhold tight, working his way down the line of men toward the exit hatch.

He stopped by Private Malor, the newest member of their team. The man sat with his head bowed, one thumb against the bridge of his nose. His gun rested against one leg. He whispered a hurried prayer and passed the circle of beads between a thumb and forefinger.

“Put those away,” Timothy ordered, and shoved the assault rifle back into the private’s hands. The prayer beads clattered to the floor. “You’ll do more damage with this.”

Malor let the gun fall into his lap, staring at it with reddened, droopy eyelids. “Is it true what they’re saying?”

“Is what true?” Timothy snapped.

“That half of the 51st battalion got wiped out by rebels at Den-Mak. Here at Olarin, they’re supposed to be even better armed.”

Timothy frowned behind his helmet. “The fifty-first did their job, Private, and shot rebel supply lines to hell. The people at Olarin haven’t seen a supply truck in weeks.”

The man next to Malor shifted and leaned forward. “Don’t matter how many guns they’ve got if they’re too weak from hunger to aim.”

Malor lowered his gaze to the string of prayer beads on the floor and shook his head. “Why in the hell are we even here? Since when do we put down our own people? It’s not right, Captain. I’ll burn for this. We all will.”

Timothy knelt and picked up the prayer beads. “We’re here because the empire demands it. We go where the crown commands.” He tucked the prayer beads into Malor’s pocket.

“It’s not right,” Malor repeated. “This is their home. They’ve got a right to defend it. They’ve got a right to choose to be part of the empire or not. Don’t they?”

The captain picked the gun up and forced it into Malor’s arms. “A soldier’s job isn’t to question, Private. It’s to point and shoot…

About the Author:

E.A. Copen is a prolific speculative fiction author living in beautiful Southeast Ohio with her three kids, three cats, a dog, and a husband. She writes everything from space opera to weird west and all the strange genre mashups in between. When she’s not chained to her keyboard working on her next novel, she enjoys exploring old graveyards and other creepy places. On weekends, you can find her time traveling with her SCA friends, at least until she saves up enough money to leave the Shire and become a Jedi.

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