Book One Chaos Station
“You’re not real. Felix Ingesson is dead.”
The war with the alien stin is over, but Felix Ingesson has given up on seeing his lover, Zander Anatolius, ever again. Zander’s military file is sealed tighter than an airlock. A former prisoner of war, Felix is attempting a much quieter life keeping his ship, the Chaos, aloft. He almost succeeds, until Zander walks on board and insists that Felix isn’t real.
A retired, broken super soldier, Zander is reeling from the aftereffects of his experimental training and wants nothing more than to disappear and wait for insanity to claim him. Then he sees footage of a friend and ally—a super soldier like him—murdering an entire security squad with her bare hands and a cold, dead look in her eyes. He never expected to find Felix, the man he’d thought dead for years, on the ship he hired to track her down.
Working with Felix to rescue his teammate is a dream come true…and a nightmare. Zander has no exit strategy that will leave Felix unscathed—or his own heart unbroken.
From his shaded booth, Zed scanned the bar’s patrons for his contact. The dark, anonymous interior could’ve belonged to any bar on any station or colony in human space. It suited this sort of establishment, making sure it didn’t stand out in anyone’s memories—perfect for Dardanos Station and its rough complement of miners and support staff.
Fifteen men and women, all worn thin by the physical demands of mining the asteroid belt, sat at the bar or the tables. Some were twitchy, their eyes in constant motion as they scanned their surroundings—junkies searching for their next hit of whatever drug they could afford, maybe, or ex-soldiers who’d never quite figured out how to hit the off button. Two in particular had a haunted look about them, quiet, subdued, as if the galaxy had kicked them in the balls so many times that they expected nothing more. Zed knew that look; he saw it every morning in the fucking mirror.
War would do that to you.
Unless Elias Idowu was the sort to wear a shitload of tech—not bloody likely, since jump-space messed with cybernetics and implants, rendering them useless—the captain of the Chaos had not yet arrived.
Zed turned his attention to the wall of garish holo ads and tried to ignore the floating freeform versions that approached his table to entice his creds to leave his hands. Some days he wanted to shake the people around him and demand whether they remembered that six short months ago, humanity had been at war. Everything was just so bloody normal at times, it made his teeth ache. No, he didn’t want to sample the “Station’s Own!” beer. He was good with the generic piss sitting in front of him, seeing as he’d hardly touched it. Unlike the fifteen men and women surrounding him, he hadn’t come here to drink. The bottle was a shield, a reason for him to sit and watch the news program on the holoscreen without the notice of anyone but the ads. The sound was off, the anchor’s lips moving out of sync with the music pumping through the bar. Didn’t matter, he’d seen the report often enough to repeat the reporter’s words even without reading her lips. The image that flashed across the screen still caught him off guard, though.
So familiar and yet so freaking different. He always remembered Emma with a smile, triumph flushing her olive skin after a successful mission. Her green eyes glowed and her smile was wide enough to encourage creases in her cheeks. He’d appreciated her beauty like one might appreciate a work of art in one of Earth’s museums, with a twist in his chest and a spurt of thankfulness that he’d been allowed to witness it.
The woman staring out of the holo had dead eyes. The creases that had enchanted Zed had been etched into her skin, around her mouth, at the corners of her eyes, beneath them. Emma looked like she hadn’t slept in weeks—a state Zed knew too well.
He gritted his teeth, staring at her image until the news switched to the video that had captured Emma’s fall from grace. The security footage of a hydroponic square on Chloris Station was grainy and too distant to get the details he wanted, but he’d know Emma even if she was little more than a collection of blurry pixels. He recognized her movements. The speed of them, the accuracy, the deadly intent. She took out a squad of station security in a matter of minutes, her body her only weapon.
Zed had studied the footage, trying to find some clue to explain why Emma had attacked and killed so many. There had to be a reason. He refused to believe the assertion that Emma had acted without provocation. She wouldn’t. That wasn’t their training.
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JENN BURKE: Jenn’s always been drawn to weird and wonderful stories, particularly those juxtaposed with our normal, boring world. Her love of the written word prompted her to get a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Ottawa, and she’s spent the years since working in corporate and web communications—and dreaming up weird and wonderful stories of her own. A self-confessed geek, Jenn loves spending time in the worlds of video games, surfing her favorite websites, reading all the romance novels she can get her hands on, and accumulating an impressive collection of nerdy t-shirts. She currently lives outside of Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband, two kids, and her writing helper, Alenko the husky.
Jenn is the author of HER SEXY SENTINEL, a paranormal romance from Entangled Publishing, and the co-author of CHAOS STATION and the Chaos Station series from Carina Press.
KELLY JENSEN: If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Born in Australia and raised everywhere else, Kelly now lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter and herd of four cats. After disproving the theory that water only spins counter-clockwise around drains north of the equator, she turned her attention to more productive pursuits such as reading, writing, writing about reading and writing stories of her own. She also enjoys volunteering at her local library, playing video games and holds a brown belt in Kiryoku, a martial art combining Shotokan, Aikido and Tang Soo Do. Her family is not intimidated by her.
Kelly is the author of Less Than Perfect, a tale of love and adventure in post-apocalyptic America, and “Domestic Bliss”, a story of love and robots. It’s not kinky. Well, maybe it is. She has been writing reviews of books and video games for web and print magazines for over ten years. Her book reviews can be found at SFCrowsnest, Goodreads and on her blog.
Currently, she is working on several projects, including a science fiction romance series co-authored with her best friend and writing partner, Jenn Burke. The first book, Chaos Station, is due out in March 2015 from Carina Press.