Guest Posts · Library Happening

Epic Fantasy and Space Salvage with authors Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin

Happy Halloween readers!

It’s the time of year when we look forward to scary movies, bonfire stories, costumes, candy AND the annual Days of the Dead Blog Tour!

We are getting straight to the treats by giving you all a glimpse of what keeps our friend and author Gail Z. Martin so busy. Below is an excerpt of just one of the many releases Gail has had in 2018. Take a look!

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Assassin’s Honor

Buddy flick epic fantasy! Friends since their orphanage childhood, Joel “Ridge” Breckinridge and Garrett “Rett” Kennard rose through the ranks of the Landrian army together, from teenaged conscripts to seasoned fighters. Together, they became the most feared team of assassins in Landria, surviving longer than most in their profession by virtue of excellent fighting skills, legendary bravado, peerless strategy, and an uncanny synchronicity. Henri, their long-suffering squire, tends to the thankless jobs of provisioning and logistics, while Ridge and Rett fight and recover.
When wandering mystic Yefim Makary becomes the darling of disenchanted aristocrats, Rett and Ridge fear Makary—or the Witch Lord, as his followers call him—is a threat to the crown, although King Kristoph and his council consider him merely a passing diversion. The two assassins risk everything to uncover a plot that runs through the highest levels of society. Can they stop the traitors and win the king’s trust before it’s too late.

 

 

Copy of Assassin's cover high res (1)

 

Assassin’s Honor

By Gail Z. Martin

 

Assassin’s Honor – Chapter One (Excerpt)

 

Breaking glass and the crack of gunfire were Ridge’s signal to move, as Destwiler’s skull exploded from the matchlock’s shot, spattering the crate of weapons with blood and bone. The boy screamed in terror, a thin, shrill sound.

Ridge spun around, grabbing two throwing knives from the top of the stash in the box and had them hilt-deep in each guard’s ribs before their swords cleared their scabbards. He dropped the heavy crossbar to lock the door to the office, and dodged back to the box of weapons, reclaiming his own array of swords and knives before teasing out a long fuse from the bottom of the crate. Then he strode over to Destwiler’s corpse and pulled the key and its strap around what was left of the man’s head.

Ridge removed the warrant from inside his vest and read out the charges as required by law. “Roan Destwiler. By order of King Kristoph of Landria, you stand condemned of crimes against the kingdom and the throne too numerous to note, but most grievously the kidnapping of Kelvin, son of Thad, Lord of Wendover. You are sentenced to death, summary execution, without notice or reprieve.”

He rolled the warrant up and tucked it into Destwiler’s bloody vest, a formality. Ridge bent down to search Destwiler’s pockets, curling his lip at the still-warm blood that soaked the shoulders and sleeves of the man’s coat. He found a parchment note tucked beneath the vest and took it to read later.

 

Assassin’s Honor – Chapter One (Excerpt)

 

He rolled the warrant up and tucked it into Destwiler’s bloody vest, a formality. Ridge bent down to search Destwiler’s pockets, curling his lip at the still-warm blood that soaked the shoulders and sleeves of the man’s coat. He found a parchment note tucked beneath the vest and took it to read later, figuring that anything Destwiler found important enough to carry on his person bore looking at closely.

“Are you stealing from him?” Kelvin asked, still eying Ridge with a mixture of fear and awe.

Ridge replied without looking up. “I’m trying to find the keys to those manacles, because I sure as hell don’t want to have to carry you and them out of here, and we need to leave.” He took the iron key off the strap and then stood and crossed the distance to where Kelvin huddled against the wall.

He stared at Ridge in wide-eyed apprehension, unsure what to make of his terrifying rescuer. His wrists were badly bruised from the weight of the iron, and the mark on his cheek suggested Destwiler or his guard had backhanded the child at least once.

“I’m here to take you back to your father,” Ridge said quietly, approaching Kelvin as he would a spooked horse. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

“Are you a Shadow Killer?” Kelvin’s tone shifted, still frightened but clearly intrigued.

Ridge had always hated that term—he argued that it made it sound like they killed shadows.

 

Assassin’s Honor – Chapter One (Excerpt)

 

They wove a crooked course over the rooftops until they were several blocks north and a couple of streets west of Destwiler’s building. Ridge chanced a look over his shoulder and saw the glow from the fire in the distance. With the amount of gunpowder Rett had packed into the crate, the whole building would burn like a pyre.

“Here,” Rett said, coming to a stop at the edge of a building with a stout, solidly built chimney. He secured the rope and held it out to Ridge, who grabbed hold, turned, and stepped off into the night.

Kelvin stifled a cry as Ridge rappelled down the side of the building. At the bottom, he stepped away and whistled, Rett’s signal to descend. Ridge spun and faced an empty street.

“He’s not here,” Ridge grated.

“He’ll be here,” Rett replied, unperturbed.

Racing hoof beats thundered in the night, and a black carriage turned the corner so fast it rose up on two wheels. The wild-eyed black stallion bore down like it meant to trample the three of them, reined in at the last moment by the short, balding, pudgy driver.

“Right on time!” Henri, the driver, exulted. Ridge glowered but said nothing as Rett threw open the door of the carriage, and they climbed inside, Kelvin between them. The carriage started up at a gallop before they had taken their seats, throwing them against the sides.

“Hang on,” Ridge advised Kelvin. “The driver is a madman.”

 

*****

Gail Martin, Dreamspinner Communications

Gail Z. Martin is the author of Scourge: A Darkhurst Novel, from Solaris Books. Gail is also the author of Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel and Trifles and Folly 1: A Deadly Curiosities Collection, the latest in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC; Shadow and Flame is the fourth book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga; The Shadowed Path (The first Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures collection), as well as Iron and Blood a Steampunk series, and Spells, Salt, & Steel, both co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

She is also author of Ice Forged, Reign of Ash, and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen); The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities and Tangled Web. Gail writes three ebook series: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures and The Blaine McFadden Adventures. The Storm and Fury Adventures, steampunk stories set in the Iron & Blood world, are co-authored with Larry N. Martin.

Gail’s work has appeared in over 35 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Heroes, Space, Contact Light, With Great Power, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Cinched: Imagination Unbound, Realms of Imagination, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens, Gaslight and Grimm, Baker Street Irregulars, Journeys, Hath no Fury and A Haven Harbor Halloween.

 

*****

As an added BONUS we are very excited to also share an excerpt of Larry N. Martin’s new release

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The Adventure Begins…

Star Force pilot and hero Wyatt McCoy left his medals and career behind after the Rim Wars, disillusioned and bitter when he learns the truths behind the conflict. He takes his converted gunship, the Nellie B, and heads to the Near Fringe, salvaging derelict ships and abandoned stations and mining colonies. Dr. Beth Parker is a space archeologist, documenting the history of planetary expansion and colonization for Kalok Enterprises and the Interplanetary Mining Guild. A piece of alien technology embeds itself in Beth’s arm, giving her the ability to see the energy impressions of long ago people and events. When Beth uncovers proof of genocide that could bring down the big mining companies, she’s the target of assassins. Wyatt makes a split-second decision to intervene, launching them both into a high-stakes cat-and-mouse game with some of the most powerful organizations in the system. They can prove Kalok and Interplan killed millions—but can they live long enough to tell their story?

 

SALVAGE RAT

By Larry N. Martin

 

Salvage Rat Chapter One (Excerpt)

 Gunshots went with the territory, no matter how much Wyatt intended to avoid trouble. But here and now? This was not part of the plan.

Space salvage was not for the timid or those with a tender conscience. Wyatt was neither. When the first shot sizzled past his shoulder, he had nearly pried out the last of the electronic panels he had come for, panels that were worth more for the rare metals in their components than for their long-outdated tech.

He dove for cover at the next junction in the corridor and wondered how anyone knew he was on the old, abandoned mining colony. No one else was supposed to be there, let alone be shooting at him. He had scanned the place thoroughly. They must have come in after he’d already entered the mining base.

Then he realized that for once, the shooters weren’t after him.

They were shooting at a woman who appeared to be running for her life. She tore past him without a glance, and he noticed her civilian jumpsuit and lack of weapons.

In that split-second, Wyatt’s battle instincts kicked in, just as a pack of six security men in gray uniforms raced down the corridor with guns drawn. Part of him knew he should stay out of it, that it wasn’t his fight, let alone a fair fight. He knew it, but he leaned around the corner, aimed, and shot anyhow.

“Dammit! She’s got back-up!” one of the Grays swore as Wyatt’s shots clipped three of them before they got a bead on where he was. Outside, those would have been kill shots, since “winging” someone in a pressure suit was as good as putting a bullet through their head. But he had coaxed the old mine’s main gravity and air recycler to working again. With only emergency lighting operational, the corridors had deep shadows.

“Requesting more men,” the Gray spoke into his link as the others opened fire from where they’d taken positions at the next cross-corridor. One of the shots barely missed Wyatt’s ear.

“Screw that,” Wyatt muttered, getting in a couple more shots to pin down the Grays and then running like hell as he followed the path the woman had taken. He took the next right and headed down a long hallway with doors on both sides. Probably the offices for the old mining colony, he thought. Wyatt picked a door and dove into the darkness seconds before he heard the Grays clear the corner. The security guards thundered past, and he leaned back against the wall and let out a deep breath.

Definitely not one of my smarter moves. Damn.

“Who the hell are you?” It was a woman’s voice.

Wyatt blinked in the dim glow of the emergency low-level lighting. He wondered briefly if he should feel grateful or cursed that fates had him choose the same hiding spot as the woman. He took a moment to check out his surroundings. The room looked as if the mining bosses had just walked out and left everything behind—furniture, files, even the pictures on the wall. Very likely since it would have cost more than the stuff was worth to ship it home again, Wyatt thought. Which was what brought him to the mine in the first place.

Most of the time, salvage meant boarding derelict ships and recovering anything useful or saleable. But when space stations and colonies started being built, occupied for a short time, and then abandoned and left to rot, the laws were expanded. Even a hundred years out of date, usable stuff in good condition brought good money piecemeal, especially with the homesteaders out on the hardscrabble moons and the Fringe. Enough to keep Wyatt in fuel and supplies for a while.

Vandals and thieves had been picking at the place for a while, though it was off the main trading routes. Wyatt had a map and blueprints he’d picked up from a trader on Gascon—the great-grandson of someone who had worked in the mine’s construction crew. This job was supposed to be an easy in-and-out. Not anymore.

“You’re welcome,” Wyatt said to the figure in the deep shadows. “For shooting at those Grays back there.”

She snorted. “They’ll think we’re together. So instead of just shooting me, they’ll shoot both of us.”

Wyatt could only make out her silhouette, but it looked as if she had a weapon trained on him. He pondered for a moment as he clearly remembered her hands were empty when he saw her pass.

“You didn’t come in with us, and no one else is supposed to be here,” she whispered. “So what are you doing here?”

“Freelance salvage,” Wyatt replied. “This site just crossed into ‘fair use’ status. It’s been abandoned for a century, so I’ve got a right to be here.” Take that. I know my salvage laws, even if I bend them now and again.

“Kalok Enterprises,” she said. “We founded this colony. And you’re wrong. It’s ours for another three months. The clock starts from the Stellar Commission’s license date, not the Interplanetary Mining Guild acquisition date.”

“Details, details,” Wyatt replied. She came here with the people trying to shoot her? So maybe I’ve got what she needs—a way off this rock. Wyatt slowly stepped closer. He kept his left hand away from the gun on his hip and kept the gun in his right hand pointed at the floor.

“That’s close enough. Who are you?”

“Wyatt William McCoy, salvage reclamation specialist. And you are?”

“None of your business.”

“Remember, I have a ship, and you don’t,” Wyatt said. “Want to reconsider?”

She was silent for a moment; her weapon still pointed at his chest. “Oh, what the hell. I’m in deep shit now anyway,” she said finally.

 

Salvage Rat – Chapter Two (Excerpt)

 

Given Rum Row’s reason for existence, old beat-up ships were not a big surprise. Rum Row’s hub was a declassified Potocnik-wheel space station, which had been built by a government or corporation that decided, after a while, that they didn’t need it anymore when the Sonovan Waystation closed. Someone had figured out how to add a lot more docking ports, and Rum Row was born. Traders of every description and port of origin docked their ships, opened shop, and stayed until they sold their cargo or the people they stole it from caught up with them. The station also got a fair number of ore traders, independent asteroid prospectors, small cargo ships, salvagers, mercenaries, thieves, vagabonds, traveling performers, and old-fashioned sex workers. They were the respectable visitors, coming for a little rest and relaxation, or to do some business, or a little of both.

“So where’s Miss Liddy and how do we find her?” Beth asked as Wyatt navigated through the crowd at the bazaar.

“We don’t,” Wyatt replied. “She finds us—if she wants to. We’re supposed to be at Rummy’s Bar at oh-eight-hundred. Which is in ten minutes.”

“And you’re sure she won’t sell us out to Kalok?” Beth pressed.

Wyatt laughed. “That, I’m sure of. Mostly.” He glanced at her. “Are you getting any tips from your ‘friends?’”

“I can see them,” she said while they moved through the crowd. “Holy shit, there are a lot of dead people around here! But I’m not seeing anything that looks helpful. I haven’t figured out how to turn the visions on or off. So far, the tech seems to have a mind of its own and shows me images when it wants. Sometimes, like now, it’s just flashes and other times the vision is more like a news vid.”

No one knew how many people actually lived in Rum Row, and no one would be counting how many died, either. The folks who made their living on the station weren’t much for filling out forms or answering the census. In its heyday, the old space station housed several thousand people, and Wyatt guessed that with all the ships that were docked, that about as many lived there now. Most of those visitors would stay a few days and move on, leaving a skeleton crew of shopkeepers and maintenance workers. The majority were just passing through. Some never left, either by choice or by death.

“Go left,” Wyatt directed, and Beth let him lead. They walked down another crowded side corridor, and then down a back hallway. In the distance, Wyatt heard a ruckus. It looked like some of the locals were taking an exception to the company guards.

They made their way past the fight and found Rummy’s Bar, pretty classy for a Rum Row tavern. Ralph, the barkeeper, looked up as they entered. “Hey, Wyatt. How’s business?”

He shrugged. “Enough to keep me in fuel, food, and a little fun,” Wyatt replied, plunking down some chits to buy a beer. Respectable places elsewhere took credit, but Rum Row was strictly cash. Harder to trace. No one here wanted to leave a trail.

Ralph eyed Beth. “Is she the fun?”

“No,” Wyatt replied with more force than intended. “She’s my new business partner.”

Ralph slid two beers across the counter. “Suit yourself,” he said. He nodded toward an empty table in the back. “A mutual friend reserved a seat for you.”

Wyatt left a tip and headed for the table Ralph indicated, squeezing through the crowd, making sure Beth was following. Some of the patrons played cards or bet at dice, while others hunched over their tables, faces hidden, doing business. In the corner, three musicians tried to make themselves heard over the loud conversation. A couple of sex workers circulated, looking for customers. He wondered briefly if there were any patrons with that kind of wealth. With the sim parlors so readily available, living, breathing comfort was either extremely expensive or extremely risky.

“Picking up anything else?” Wyatt asked, taking a seat with his back to the wall and leaning back to watch the door.

Wyatt sipped his beer and let out a satisfied sigh. Rum Row brewed and distilled its own alcohol, and did a mighty fine job of it. Of course, since the station was located in the no-man’s land between territories, none of the alcohol or other substances were taxed or permitted, which meant the whole enterprise broke dozens of laws in scores of star systems. Someday, maybe one of those systems might be foolhardy enough to try to crack down, but given how heavily armed the station’s patrons and their ships were, it would be a colossally bad idea.

“In a place like this? Plenty. But still just flashes and short clips.” Beth glanced around the crowded room, absently pulling her sleeve down to hide the glow. “Couple of guys with nasty gunshot wounds, over by the door. A lady who got her throat slit, by the stairs. About five people at the bar don’t look like they died violently—maybe they didn’t have anywhere else to go.”

I guess when your luck runs out, you could do worse than being a barfly at Rummy’s, Wyatt thought.

“Anything helpful?”

Beth frowned as if listening to something she could barely hear, and her eyes lost focus. After a few moments, she roused. “A few were killed by Interplan people gauging by the uniforms of the shooters. So I’d assume they and Kalok may both have people on Rum Row. I can’t tell how long ago,” she said, dropping her voice.

“Ralph is all right. He doesn’t sell out his customers. Miss Liddy doesn’t like bounty hunters, so we’re probably safe with her,” Wyatt said.

“I heard you were looking for me.”

 

*****

Gail Z. Martin can be found on Twitter @GailZMartin

Larry N. Martin can be found on Twitter @LNMartinAuthor

AND

You can also find the entire collection of their work at

https://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/

Make sure you visit that website and all of the blogs on the tour for more excerpts, behind the scenes info and fun giveaways!

*****

 

We would like to say a HUGE thanks to you all for your continued support of our little place in the interwebs!

And to Gail and Larry, THANK YOU for stopping by our place on your way through the Days of the Dead!!!

Happy Reading!

~CC

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