Fractal Space, my newest science fiction thriller, is almost ready to be published! I’m happy to announce that my newest novel is completely finished and just waiting to go through a round of edits before it hits the publishers. In an attempt to get your whet your palette, I’m making the first chapter available for free below! Also, check out the prologue for even more background. As always, you can sign up on my ARC or email lists on the right side of this webpage to get the most free content before it hits the masses. Enjoy!
Brokk is the chosen one. His golden skin proves it, his supreme leader has given him the warships, and the dead have accepted his sacrifice. With an armada of battleships and forty million soldiers, Brokk will be chancellor of the Tassian system by nightfall. Even the best of plans can come unraveled, and for Brokk, the desperate moves of a vagrant named Casika risks destroying everything he set in motion.
The battle for Tassi begins with an artillery barrage so vicious the sky itself is darkened. Find out how it ends.
Fractal Space: Chapter 1.
Brokk stared intently at the red streaked sky as beads of sweat rolled off his golden skin. The eight foot tall, broad shouldered behemoth was large, even for Jarkian standards; but he was a half-breed, and mixes between Tassis and Jarks were known to be some of the most formidable warriors in the galaxy. In part, this is why the Jarks were able to live a relatively peaceful existence – there were few people that cared to challenge them and even fewer that lived to brag about victory against the massive creatures.
Unfortunately, there was another reason the Jarks remained largely unchallenged in their corner of the galaxy. All the planets in their solar system were oversized and orbited either too close or too far from their star. While two of their planets remained in the habitable zone, they just barely did so. The Jark home world, and the one that Brokk currently resided on, was a wretchedly hot planet with an immensely dense core. Its sheer size exerted such gravity on the creatures that were unfortunate enough to live on this planet that their appearance was significantly different compared to more fortunate life elsewhere in the galaxy.
Their second planet, Coridon, rested just within the habitable zone on the other side. While Jark rarely dropped below 120 degrees Fahrenheit, Coridon was a winter wonderland that never rose above 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The two twin planets, enormous in size and barely habitable, had masked the Jarkian existence for millennia and allowed them to develop into the race they were today with minimal interference. When the Jarks finally did announce themselves to the other races throughout the galaxy, a galactic order had been established and few cared to break galactic law and challenge the new race.
This peace, however, didn’t prevent the Jarks themselves from seeking something greater. For centuries Brokk and his forefathers had been taught about a great injustice that was dealt their ancestors by the hands of the Tassi. They knew there was a solar system that was rightfully theirs, a solar system that they had been cheated from, and one that would make life easy for all Jarks if they could get it back. Even though Brokk had never seen a picture of Tassi, he felt it calling to him. Returning to Tassi was his destiny.
Brokk stared intently at the sky because tonight, this very night, he was to command a legion of starships to attack the Tassi system. He had studied for years and understood Tassi tactics. Scouts had already been dispatched and reported the size and location of Tassian defenses and Jark artillery was prepared to fire interstellar munitions at his command. Most important of all, the loosely affiliated galactic order was too incompetent to halt their unannounced advance. By the end of the month, the Tassi system would belong to the Jarks and Brokk would become their chancellor.
Brokk was ripped from his reverie by his best friend, Lago. The two had grown up together, fought together, and were now going to the prized system together. There was only one final matter to attend to: a sacrifice to the dead in exchange for a blessing on their campaign; a tradition that dated back far beyond his ancestors, and a tradition Brokk would certainly not forsake.
“Dreaming about Tassi?” Lago shouted with a smile from behind. Lago was a pure breed Jark and was significantly stouter than the golden skinned half breed. Lago’s skin was a reddish bronze and was covered in a swirl of curly dark hair. He stooped slightly, preferring to rest his thick arms on the ground to support his large torso. While the Jarks often walked upright, the thick atmosphere and weighty gravity caused them to develop a preference of resting on all fours.
Despite his cave-like appearance, Lago was a brilliant mind that was devoted to the study of applying astrophysics towards military tactics. The two of them were inseparable and despite having no blood connection, were closer than brothers could ever hope to be. At Lago’s approach, Brokk brightened and any fear or doubt he had about the mission before them suddenly dissipated.
Brokk, whose Tassi genetics insisted he remain standing upright, spun around to greet him. “Lago! I had hoped you’d come find me!” he responded, smiling and opening his arms for a warm greeting.
The two embraced each other and separated again. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world. We’ve come here together every time before leaving home… You know how much I like the cliffs.” Lago responded shifting his gaze to the city beyond.
Brokk knew, and Brokk loved the cliffs himself. The massive rock structure jutted out over the volcanic rock below and provided a spectacular view of both the city and the sea, and no matter which way you turned, the ferocity of their home world was captured in an unmistakable majesty. The outcropping’s thickness allowed it to hang for hundreds of meters beyond the shore line – and the men always insisted on stepping out onto the farthest point.
“Did I ever tell you why I come here each time?” Brokk asked.
Lago, now standing upright and shoulder to shoulder with Brokk, shrugged, indicated he had never thought about it. The star they orbited was a red giant, at the end of its stellar lifespan and rays imbued with deep reds and oranges constantly bombarded the atmosphere of their massive home world. Red clouds, engorged with a mixture of water and sulfuric acid, stretched across the burnt orange sky.
“This is why we’ll win,” Brokk answered, giving him a moment to reflect before continuing. “Look at this place. It’s awful!” he joked. “There isn’t anyone tougher than a Jark.”
Lago laughed. “You have to remind yourself that?” he asked still chuckling.
“It helps,” Brokk responded with a grin. Brokk turned his shoulders and pointed towards the sky to show Lago what he was looking at before he arrived. Just off the nose of the cliffs to the north, a massive battleship could be seen maneuvering along the skyline. The ships bronze, dual pronged nose was unmistakable against its dark grey exterior. It was Brokk’s; the head of the armada conducting its final checks before joining the remainder of the fleet in the upper atmosphere. “Are you ready, Brokk?” Lago asked.
Brokk stared at Lago for a moment longer, before returning his golden eyes to the horizon. “I’ve never been more ready in my life, Lago.” he insisted. “We’re a battle hardened fleet, and with you by my side, we are unstoppable. The promised system will be ours again.” Brokk looked down at his red and black battle uniform. Red was reserved for ship and fleet commanders and helped the crew tell them apart in the heat of a battle. On his wrist was a holographic display that could project information anywhere. In battle, he often allowed it to hover data in the corner of his eyes so that he could see everything at once; during planning sessions the device depicted three dimensional displays to help his commanders visualize the battlefield. Today, he simply used it to tell the time.
“The artillery bombardment should be commencing soon. We’ll start getting updates within the hour.” Lago responded.
Brokk smiled. Jark artillery was second to none in the known universe. They had developed a weapon that was capable of firing explosive ordinance from outside a planetary system by creating temporary shortcuts through space. The Jarks would chose a planet not more than a few light years from their target, establish an artillery platform, and then create temporary wormholes with which to sling rounds onto the planet below. The system was stealthy and dreadfully effective. Best of all, it was nearly immune to a counter attack. An entire planet’s computer systems and defenses would be consumed by locating and defeating the source of the barrage while the armada attacked from the opposite side.
“I’m going to reward you when I become Chancellor,” Brokk said. “You’ll live better than you ever have.”
Lago didn’t respond and the two turned to walk back down the rock face towards the offering below. An infant Jark lay helpless, naked, and screaming on a black stone platform. The hardened volcanic stone rocked gently as it floated in a soupy mercury pool that bled from the planets interior. Brokk’s watch flickered and vibrated on his wrist indicating it was time to ask the gods to bless his cause. On cue, six Jark priests, robed in gold, stirred the mercury bath beneath the child. As they stirred, they hummed in monotonous unison.
The words they sang were unknown to all but the six that sung them. This was the language of the dead, and as they stirred the mercury it began to boil, reflecting the deep red streaks from the sky above. The silver soup bubbled and popped, the baby rocked violently back and forth, and the priests suddenly erupted in loud chanting, inviting their dead, the souls of billions to accept this innocent sacrifice and give them the military victory they required.
Hands now appeared, filthy, hair covered hands, coated in the slime of the mercury and taking on the colors of the sky above. Brokk counted one at first, but like the heads of a hydra, the hands slithered and grabbed at the rock, desperate for the crying infant bathed in the warmth of the life that he possessed. Suddenly, the rock flipped, the hands disappeared, and the humming stopped. Their ritual was over, the dead had accepted Brokk’s sacrifice; he would achieve the victory he desired.
Silently, the six priests and two commanders descended from their rocks to their city below. “I think I’ll miss this city,” Lago finally said.
“We’ll build an even greater one on Tassi,” Brokk boasted.