Prelude to Sorrow

Prelude to Sorrow

"Prelude to Sorrow," wherein the bitter end determines how all will begin again.

Fight or Die — again! The task force dispatched to eradicate the Horde menace on far Exordium has failed, and for those left alive, that axiom rings true as never before… Marooned out of time and out of place, survivors lick their wounds and struggle to recover while the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance. But fate is not yet finished with the Ninth . . . Defenders of humanity mount a last-ditch attempt to end the enemy onslaught once and for all.  Will the IX and its allies vanquish their foe, or will their heroic resistance end in defeat? The IX: Prelude to Sorrow, the final installment of the bestselling “The IX” Trilogy

Order Now!
About the Book
[excerpt from Prelude to Sorrow]


Chapter One

Just Another Day


Pain, as overwhelming as it was uncompromising, dominated Revan Caspar’s world.

Each ragged breath impaled him afresh upon a bed of internal nails. Every time he attempted to clear his airway of blood, he did so at the risk of forcing his esophagus against what felt like shards of glass embedded in his throat. And any endeavor to move only served to threaten the eggshell fragility of his skull.

Revan knew he was dying, but he was beyond caring. So frayed were his senses, he truly believed his nervous system had been pulled from his body and stretched across a torture-rack of flames and ruin, where they were now being mercilessly strummed by a demented emperor he’d once read about from Earth’s history.

Helpless to do anything else, Revan submitted himself to misery and lapsed into unconsciousness.

Time passed.

When his eyelids fluttered open once more, Revan had regained his sensibilities enough to realize he was still strapped into his seat, even though that seat seemed to be listing to one side at a crazy angle.

The emergency restraints must have triggered. He stared blankly around. But that can’t be right. This doesn’t make sense.

A jungle of smoldering, blackened reeds and bulrushes intruded where the main screen of a pristine flight deck should be. To one side and slightly behind his station, the remains of a starship command-and-control center lay in ruins. Shattered and twisted, instrument boards and display panels were scattered in a haphazard fashion among pools of oily water. Popping and sizzling, most spat sparks and vented acrid fumes into the air as their interior components continued to burn.

Light, blazing and bright, crested a distant ridgeline, forcing Revan to squint and turn away. Sunrise, here? But it’s the wrong color . . . However, the dawn brought with it a clearer picture of his surroundings, along with the truth of his predicament. Within a heartbeat, Revan was reliving the horror:

The advance against Exordium after the Omega Protocol had been enacted; the disciplined bustle of ingrained procedure as the order was given for low-orbit cold-start ignition of the Slingshot engines; the chill that had frozen his spine as the vortices commenced ravaging the night sky, ripping a hole in reality and swallowing them whole; the terrible realization that in the face of such storming might, the three-mile long, state-of-the-art dreadnaught was nothing but chaff.

Revan would never forget the terrible shrieks resounding through the Shadow of Autumn as she protested the abuse wrought upon her, nor the calm tenor of Seraphim’s voice, issuing orders and dictating events for the record as if this were just another day and all the fuss would soon be over.

Then the contractions had started. Rhythmic compressions that rendered any form of logical thought impossible and made him feel like every molecule in his body was being compacted into a screaming nub of insignificance. That was the instant Revan thought he might die. But fate, it seemed, had other ideas, for the crush of oblivion abruptly gave way to relief; a kaleidoscopic rush of blue and white and star-spangled midnight as the Shadow of Autumn was vomited free of the maelstrom like an armor-plated pinwheel on steroids.

At the time, he hadn’t appreciated they were somewhere else entirely. Not until the pull of the brave new world claimed them, and made haste to gather the condemned shell of Arden’s pride to her bosom. In fact, so sudden was the transition that Revan was reminded of the instant you emerge from a waking nightmare. One moment he was spinning; weightless, senseless, oblivious to circumstance, and the next his bowels were gripped by an unseen hand and wrenched up through his diaphragm and into his throat.

The descent into madness had consumed him.

Graced with a forward outlook, Revan had been forced to watch as spars, struts, antennae and thermal panels were plucked from their moorings like feathers and consigned to the kiln of virgin atmosphere. Reacting on instinct, he fired all forward-facing thrusters and deployed whatever air-brakes remained. To no avail. Now fully in the grip of the planet’s gravity, a terrible juddering shook the Shadow of Autumn from stem to stern, and as the great craft lost integrity, she rolled and pitched violently. The shuddering worsened as more crucial systems sheared free, and a tympani of strikes began reverberating through the hull. Revan knew each musical chime announced the loss of another vital component. When the forward sensors eventually shorted out, Revan was aghast to see the ground still rushing up toward them at a mind-numbing twenty-six thousand megs per hour.

“Brace for impact in ten seconds,” the cool, level tones of Seraphim announced. “Emergency buoy armed. Activating crash restraints and diverting all remaining power to forward shields. Disaster management protocols online. Stand by . . . Buoy away. Initiating override lockdown. Brace—brace—bra-”

Seraphim never completed her sentence, for everything devolved into a cacophony of chaos as bedlam reigned free; a holocaust encapsulated in whirlwind fragments of fervid violence and touching scenes from his early childhood. Then a cliff must have fallen on them, for everything went black.

Revan’s vision eventually refocused on a rising sun which had now cleared the ridge. Determined to free himself, he fumbled for the clasp to his harness, his efforts rewarded by a stab of agony and a host of fireflies dancing across the back of his eyelids. Nevertheless, the brief drop to the floor was worth it, for he was now in a better spot from which to survey the immediate vicinity. Coaxing air into his shattered lungs, he struggled into a sitting position and prepared to take stock.

The shell of the command module loomed over him, warped into outrageous shapes by the interaction of heat and pressure. Revan was reminded of a sight he had once seen, deep in the Kireáth Desert on Kirban, where the hulking remains of a rhiodon lay baking in the sun, its great ribcage picked clean by scavengers.

Brackish water and all manner of foul liquids seeped into the compartment, bringing with them the unwanted devotion of thousands upon thousands of inquisitive insects, each insistent on examining every scratch or wound Revan possessed. Outside, birds chirruped and the calls of other small critters echoed back and forth in whooping counter-plays.

The fact that he had been involved in the mother of all crash-landings finally registered. But how long ago did this happen? Dazed, Revan’s gaze wandered the desolation in the hopeless search for something familiar, something that might give him the slightest spark of hope. And how in Pherôn’s name did I survive? Survivors!

That thought snapped him awake.

Craning his neck, Revan turned to look for his co-pilot, Ferell Hernias. While Ferell’s seat was intact, all that remained of his friend was one blackened boot in the footwell and an unsightly red mark across the seat itself where something large and bloody had been dragged across it. From what Revan could see, the stain was still wet.

A wave of nausea swept across him, and the wind shifted, bringing with it a noise that seemed out of place.

Is that someone’s voice? Revan cocked his ear and strained. Seraphim?

“Warning, containment breach. Emergency beacon activated. Warning, containment breach. Emergency beacon activated. Warning . . .”

The automated response held his attention. But then he became aware of another, nearer sound. Something big and heavy was sloshing toward him through water.

His heart lifted. Rescuers?

A throaty roar reverberated through the air and all the other animal sounds fell instantly silent.

At that moment, Revan knew; whatever had taken Ferell was returning for him.


With a sharp intake of breath, Sam Pell suppressed the chill radiating through his bones, blinked his frost-encrusted eyelids open, and awoke to all-encompassing gloom.

A disembodied entity droned on in the background, competing against impressions of confinement and confusion for dominance. “. . . augmentation completed. Brainstem energized, cerebral activity returning to normal. Circulatory shunts retracting.”

He recognized the stern but feminine inflection from somewhere, but it sounded far-away, muted somehow, as if gravitating toward him through variant layers of awareness.

Sam grimaced and smacked his lips in revulsion. Bloody hell, did a skunk give birth in my mouth while I wasn’t looking? He took several quick gulps of air and was stunned to feel his own breath hot against his nasal passage. And why am I wearing a mask?

Fighting against the fugue clouding his thought processes, Sam reached up, felt along the front of his respiratory enhancer, and unclipped the binding.

“Pod one defrosted,” the mystery voice announced, “automated procedure for pods two through thirteen commencing in—three, two, one . . . initiated.”

A name surfaced amongst the surging swells of his memory: Seraphim.

“Powwer reserves noww critical,” Seraphim’s voice groaned to a halt, “instiiituuting looockdoowwwn prooo-”

Vermillion radiance bloomed beyond the gray. Diffuse in nature, its warm glow nevertheless reminded Sam of the sunsets he used to enjoy on his many holidays to the Greek island of Kos. The hiss of pneumatic seals releasing made him jump, then the whine of hydraulic motors intruded. He felt his own platform rise, and as it rotated into an upright orientation, the outer casing peeled away.

I’m in a cryonic chamber.

A string of white neon strip lights illuminated, revealing the interior of an elongated compartment containing two score similar tubes. From what Sam could see, most of them were in the course of thawing out.

He stepped down and something hard and heavy clanged against his leg before clattering to the floor. Glancing at his feet, Sam was astonished to see a Heckler Koch G420A machinegun with quad-column magazine attached lying on the deck next to a Haz-Ent helmet and gloves. Only then did he realize he was still dressed in combat armor.

The looking-glass of faltering uncertainty shattered, and the stark clarity of recent events came crashing back down on him:

The anger and frustration of realizing they had been outwitted, and his impotent fury over Mohammed’s execution; his relief when the Ballarat arrived, and shortly thereafter, the EMT shuttle; the eagerness of his comrades to redress the injustice by getting back into the thick of the action; everyone’s calm acceptance of impending death when the order for the Omega Protocol was passed.

And in particular, Sam recalled with stunning lucidity how Seraphim had defied the odds by extending a miraculous lifeline. He could hear her voice in his head, as if she were speaking to him now . . .

“Captain Pell, call your team and the crew of the Ballarat. Have them congregate within cryo-bay one in the aftercare section of the main hospital deck of the EMT.”

“Why? If you’re thinking of sedating us, you can forget it. I’d prefer to face the end standing and with my gun in my ha-”

“You misunderstand, and I don’t have time to debate the issue. Order them inside, now, on the double, and I’ll explain as much as I can in the several minutes we have left.”

Sam had complied, of course; what else could he do but give his companions something else to concentrate on in their last moments?

Seraphim’s phototronic thoughts, however, were focused on anything but death.

As he’d rushed to chivvy the other crewmembers toward the medibay, Sam had been stunned by the AI’s revelation.

“You are aware, of course, that the Shadow of Autumn is unlike any other vessel in the fleet? That she is, in fact, the first of many warships that will eventually become the Trojan Project?”

“I am. But how does that bear any relevance?”

“In a nutshell? Her superior design is reflected throughout every system incorporated within her operational framework. Including the EMT capability. That’s why this shuttle is as large as a small corvette. She was created to function independently under hazardous situations where she might be required to traverse an entire battle sector before being able to rendezvous with her mother ship. Why do I stress this? In the rush to prepare the Shadow of Autumn for the Exordium mission, not all the modular systems were swapped-out. In particular, this craft still retains its primary engine.”

“You mean the aqua drive?”

“No, Captain, and that’s my point. This shuttle was designed with a restricted rip-space drive capability. Doctor Miller didn’t have time to retrograde the EMT as well as the main ship, so he merely allowed the uritium-lydium injectors to cool, with the intention of completing the refit once everything was over.”

Sam’s heart had leaped at the news. “So we’ve got FTL?”

“Not yet. As I say, the engine was powered down in preparation for a future revamp. In order to reboot the system, I have to initiate an emergency cold-start by forcing highly energized electrons directly into the capacitors. The only way to do that, to stand any chance of escaping in time, is to flood the engine deck with lethal levels of radiation. Even then, the acceleration quotient may overwhelm the inertial dampeners and crush everyone. That’s why I need you all inside the cryo-tubes. As we speak, I am configuring pods one through thirteen for exogenous and endogenous suspension. I will effectively render every one of you into a temporary cryptobiotic state. Hopefully, it will be enough to sustain you against the boosted acceleration and gravitational warping created by the rip-drive interface as we punch out of here, and the radiation that comes with it . . .” Seraphim paused, then declared, “you have sixty-three seconds remaining before the first Leviathan is detonated. I recommend you urge the stragglers to hurry. What I propose is dangerous as it is. I cannot delay much longer . . .”

It had been a long-shot all right, Sam thought, submitting our fate to the whim of some arcane artificial entity.

He looked around the darkened chamber and the serenity afforded by its gently beeping consoles and softly twinkling lights. “And it looks like it worked. It actually worked.”

As Sam made his way toward the exit, he passed several other pods and could see they were entering the final stages of the reanimation cycle. Eighty-four seconds? Good, that’ll give me just enough time for a quick scan of the hospital level. And once I’ve had a chance to nip along to the bridge, we’ll soon discover where in the seven hells we are.

The door rolled back and Sam came up short.

Everything looked much as it had before he’d submitted himself to the cryogenic process. Including the main cargo bay hatch, which was still wide open. A brilliant strip of sunlight highlighted the pattern of each floor tile in that area while splitting the rest of the deck into two distinct caverns of shadow.

Sam caught sight of his reflection in an adjacent panel.

What the fuck? His hand shot up to his face. We must have been out of it for some time for me to grow a beard like this . . . He stepped toward his image and certain other details began to stand out: the unkempt length of his hair; the puffy texture of his skin, an aspect that normally only appeared if he’d slept way past the alarm; the indentation along the normal contours of his face, marking where the mask had been pressed into his skin for a prolonged period.

An unsavory aroma made his nose wrinkle. He stepped back and sniffed. Jeeesus, that’s bad! I hum like the residue on a whore’s knickers.

“Seraphim?” he called. “Sitrep.”

He might as well have been speaking to an imaginary friend.

Something he’d overheard while clawing himself back to consciousness tweaked at his recollections. “Seraphim, this is Captain Sam Pell. If you are unable to manifest, a verbal reply will be sufficient.”

A gentle breeze, moaning and meandering amongst forgotten packing crates, was the only reply he received.

Realizing he was on his own for the time being, Sam strolled toward the open hatch. Once again, the view caused him to stop dead in his tracks.

There, not seventy yards directly in front of him, stood the administration block of the complex they had assaulted back on Exordium, proud as punch and bearing the wounds of the conflict for all to see. Riddled with pockmarks and marred by multiple scorched areas, it basked in glorious sunshine as if this was any other summer’s day on campus.

A glint, vivid and sharp, caught Sam’s eye. Looking beyond the building and down across the vast shimmering plain to the southeast, he was able to make out the crystal spires of a distant city.

He gasped. “That must be Barsoonet.” He shook his head in denial. “But this can’t be right. I heard Seraphim confirm the Omega Protocol. We felt the ship juddering as she coaxed the rip-drive back to life. Then everything . . . everything . . . How can we still be here?”

He advanced a few steps down the gantry and halted again.

True to form, the laboratory wing lay to his right, just beyond the bow of the shuttle. To the southwest, the bulk of the astrometrics and deep space observatory lingered, close to the edge of the cliff.

Though commonplace, something about the scene bugged him.

“It’s different somehow.” Then he looked up. It wasn’t until Sam found it necessary to shield his eyes that the penny dropped. “Hang on; it’s far too bright here. And that’s not a brown-dwarf aurorae.” He spun on the spot. “So where the fuck are we?”

A slight vibration trembled up from the ground, along the decking, and into his legs.

Hello? What the . . . ? A surge of adrenaline coursed through his body. No way! Is Marcus still fighting in the caves beneath us?

Behind him, Sam heard the cryo-tubes opening in tandem.

“I’d better go and help the others. Umpteen heads are better than one, and the sooner we sort out our immediate situation, the sooner we might be able to discover how we got here . . .” he glanced around for a final time, “wherever here is.”


A lurid flash accompanied a strangely disassociated sensation of falling. Then an impact rocked Marcus to the core, snapping his head back so violently that it almost sent him sailing into oblivion. By Pluto’s beard! What in the . . . ?

Racked by pain, Marcus did his best to ride the distressing swell coursing through his body. As the vengeful tide began to ebb, he flopped over onto his back and lay there, gulping like a fish, waiting for coherence to return.

Around him, a discordant sonata of bangs, crashes, yelps of surprise and growls of anger alerted him to the fact he was not alone. He smiled a bloody smile. I’m glad others are here to share this joy with me . . . Wait a minute. Others . . . ?

It all came back:

The Ninth’s heroic last stand in the face of certain death—an act embodying the true nature of the Legion—and a clear statement to the Horde that none would live to tell the tale; the stab of realizing he’d never see the one he loved again; a deeper impalement, that of betrayal, as it was revealed who had sided with the enemy; horrified suspense as droves of ogres thrashed about on the cusp of a transmutation that would induce thousands more of their kin into being; the sudden reversal of gravity; hurricane forces slamming everyone into the roof and shredding equipment and strata alike; creation made manifest within the maw of a cosmic paradox, a glittering wormhole of prismatic reflections, redolent with power and purpose; the crushing finale as actuality turned inside out, spreading their atoms across the plane of eternity and squeezing them out of existence.

A rubber band effect snapped Marcus’ mind back to the present. So where are we?

Denying the protests radiating from each of his vertebrae, Marcus used the legs of an overturned chair to drag his weary husk into a more or less upright position, and surveyed his own little pocket of purgatory.

Although most of the open space was filled by a maze of mangled computers, generators, and all manner of unrecognizable scrap, sparse illumination was nevertheless afforded by a number of ghostly holographic projections interpenetrating those few workstations and monitors that had somehow managed to remain intact. I know this place. It’s the control chamber we . . . But that was destroyed . . . wasn’t it? By their scant light, Marcus could see that, like him, many of his men had been unceremoniously dumped atop various piles of debris—some in ones and twos, others in a mass of tangled limbs and lost dignity. Regardless of their predicament, each mound quivered with kicking feet and probing fingers, and much to Marcus’ relief, increasing volumes of complaint or query.

“Oh, my back!”

“What in Hades’ name happened?”

“Gods, man, get your knee off my balls. I don’t want to spend the rest of my afterlife walking with a limp.”

“Is this it? Did we perish?”

“This doesn’t look like any description of the underworld I’ve ever heard of.”

“Will you move your blasted knee? How will I ever be able to father children again?”

“You can’t now, fool. We’re . . . dead?”

“I wouldn’t be so sure. Where’s Charon? Where’s the Styx come to that? This . . .”

Ignoring them, Marcus attempted to make better sense of the apparent conundrum. His consideration was drawn to the blinking lights and subtle background hums issuing from some of the machines along the far wall.

We still have power and some of those consoles look operational. But how? Where is the energy coming from?

An odd slurping sound from the shadowed apex of the cavern made him look up. There, a barrage of giant saclike bubbles congregated, floating about and jostling each other as their rippling sojourn brought them into frequent contact with their neighbors. Most were opaque and undulated wildly, as if full of cavorting hares. Several more translucent examples hovered lower, and possessed a phosphorous glow that distinguished them from the rest.

One such spherule flared. Bursting with a loud pop, it drenched the vicinity in a shower of effervescent spray and more than a dozen unhappy soldiers. Falling to the floor in an untidy heap, some were knocked senseless, while those retaining their consciousness displayed such confusion that it was quickly apparent they had no comprehension of where they were or what was happening.

A tang of ozone drenched the air and Marcus felt a telltale rush of wind. A vacuum? He began to rise. Did these anomalies protect us in some way? But if so, how were they formed, and . . . ?

“General!” Somebody had spotted him, triggering a rush of questions.

“Sir, where are we?”

“Where are the golden meadows? Shouldn’t we be able to see them in the distance? All there is here is darkness.”

“General, what’s happened to us?”

“And what of the ferryman? There’s no river?”

“How will we reach paradise?”

Marcus struggled to his feet and raised his fist, giving everyone a target on which to engage their scattered wits. Projecting his voice so they could all hear, he responded to the last person first. “I don’t think we’ll be seeing the Elysian Fields just yet.”

“But why, sir?”

That point echoed around the room several times before Marcus motioned for silence. “Don’t you get it?” He turned on the spot and spread his arms wide. “I may be mistaken, but I’ll bet my retirement in Gaul, Arden, and anywhere else you’d like to wager that we’re not actually dead yet.”

His statement was met by looks of stunned incredulity from most of those present, but not all.

“Do you think we did it again, sir?” a well-known voice called out.

To one side, Felix Nerva, the Ninth’s aquilifer, fought his way out from the middle of a pile of splintered furniture. He grinned, and with a flourish, produced the Legion’s standard for all to see. “We did, didn’t we? We’ve cheated death for a second time.”

By all that is holy, he saved it!

Amid a chorus of cheering and whistling, Felix planted the banner firmly into the back of an upturned table. Despite the gloom, nobody could miss the burnished sheen of the targén’s wings. A tangible mood swept the cavern.

“I knew it.”

“Persephone smiles on us.”

And from somewhere in the darkness on the far side of the chamber, “Ha! Did I not say that Pluto was with us? Death has tried to stop the Ninth from fulfilling her destiny on many occasions, remember, and failed.”

“That it has,” Marcus boomed, cutting back in on the exchange before it ran away from him, “and to answer your question, Felix; yes, it does appear that fate has graced us once more.” Then his tone became more ominous. “So don’t get complacent. Since when have we ever been spared the fate of mortal men, other than to face further contention?”


“We’re with you, General.”


“For the Ninth.”

“For the Ninth,” Marcus repeated, “an army unlike any other. Born in fire. Forged in war. Tempered in battle. Sadly, I fear we may have a long way to go before we can rest on our laurels.”

As had happened so often whilst serving with these men, Marcus was overcome by strong emotions. Struggling to swallow a knot in his throat, he met the eye of every legionnaire he could see. A wasted effort, for the tenor was spoilt when he was compelled to leap out of the way as another membrane ruptured above him, depositing an entire contubernium at his feet.

He was saved by an unexpected ally.

“I think I’d agree with you there.”

Tiberius? Marcus spun to face his second-in-command, and watched as Tiberius Tacitus hobbled toward him like an arthritic decrepit. “As I live and breathe,” Marcus teased, “feeling the effects of old age, are we?”

Ignoring the jibe, Tiberius continued to make his slow and painful way across the impromptu junkyard, and took the time to crack several neck and back bones into place on the way. Only once he could move more freely did he reply, “If you don’t mind, I’m just a little stiff is all. There’s not a lot of room inside . . .” he glanced at the bobbing circus above them, “whatever these damnable things are, and they aren’t too fussy about where they drop you off, either.”

Marcus chuckled, and several soldiers nursing fresh bruises whistled in sympathy. But Tiberius wasn’t done. “Whatever my trials and tribulations, I have a feeling they’ll pale in comparison to what’s coming.”

“What makes you say that?” Marcus was intrigued by the tone of his friend’s voice.

“Look around you, General. Do you see any of the Horde lurking nearby waiting to leap out and take advantage?”

Eyes flared. Necks swiveled. Forgotten weapons were brought to bear.

By Pluto, he’s right. We were so busy congratulating ourselves that we completely neglected to check for . . .

At that moment, a particularly large cluster of bubbles wobbled across the ceiling and disappeared into the glassy oculus cut into its apex as a consequence of the Shadow of Autumn’s photonic strike. Without pause, they began their long and arduous passage toward the surface, a mile above.

Tiberius gasped. “You don’t think . . . ?”

“That’s the bloody trouble,” Marcus snapped, “I wasn’t thinking. Reprieve or not, I should have known better.” He clasped his Triari by the shoulder, causing the hardened campaigner to wince. “Sorry, brother, but well done.”

Abruptly businesslike, Marcus stepped back, clicked his fingers in quick succession, and waited for the room to fall silent.

“Tiberius. Organize the first centuria into search parties. Examine every nook and cranny, every abandoned annex and every storeroom until we find the Horde or any evidence as to where they’ve scuttled off to. I can’t believe we’d be lucky enough to have survived while they perished en masse. As you go, keep a lookout for Vergilius and his officers. Once they’re up and about, tell him I want the Second to patrol back along the tunnels and into the Cathedral. He is to liaise with Tacitus—if the third centuria still exists—and together, they are to form a cordon protecting our extraction route. If there’s no sign of them, we’ll just have to do things the hard way and complete a more thorough investigation ourselves as we go.”

“My pleasure.”

“And Tiberius? Stay sharp. We still have a job to do and I won’t rest easy until I have a better appreciation of the lie of the land.”


Marcus turned to find Felix signaling for him to attend the standard. Felix’s other hand was pressed to the earpiece of his helmet, and from the way the legionary was bent forward and staring vacantly off into space, Marcus guessed his aquilifer was listening to someone—or something—on the radio.

His hunch proved right.

Before Marcus had a chance to ask what had transpired, Felix jumped up. “Sir, you’re not going to believe this, but I’m speaking to Lieutenant Webb up on the surface. He’s in sight of the terminus of the new borehole and wants to know if we require any assistance in clearing the nest of vermin?”

Clearing the nest of vermin? Marcus laughed aloud. “Tell Lieutenant Webb, thank you, but no. We’re still assessing the situation down here, but it’s good to know his team is available should we need . . .” He glanced toward the opening and noticed another flight of spherules beginning their ascent up the recently made shaft. Talk about providential? “Although, if he really wants to be of service, I’d appreciate it if he could be on the lookout for floating bubblelike sacs. Tell him, he’ll know what I mean when he sees them. Whatever they are, these things kept us alive, so I’d be grateful if he could prevent any of my men from suffering a rather long drop back down to earth.”

“I’ll tell him immediately.”

As Felix squatted down to pass the message, Marcus had an afterthought.

“Oh, and Felix? It might also be a good idea to let him know that we haven’t found any evidence of the Horde, so there’s a chance some of them might already be out or encapsulated within the vesicles that haven’t burst yet.” He shrugged. “You never know, we might get lucky. So far, this day hasn’t been like any I’d ever imagined.”

To himself, Marcus added, As if life would ever get that easy.

Series: IX Series, Book 3
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Publisher: Perseid Press
Publication Year: 2018
ISBN: 9781948602051
Order Now
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
About the Author
Andrew P Weston

Andrew P. Weston is Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.

An astronomy and law graduate, he is the creator of the international number one bestseller, The IX, and also has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, as well as the British Science Fiction Association, and British Fantasy Society.

When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for and Amazing Stories.

Other Books in "IX Series"
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."