Read a sample : Twilight of the Gods

 

On this page you can read the first Chapter of my eighth Sci-Fi book “Twilight of the Gods”, available on Amazon kindle. If you like it, please don't hesitate to share this page via the social media buttons at the bottom of the page.

 

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't read the previous books, reading this sample can spoil you on some of the storyline, which I don't recommend.

Artwork by Christian Kallias

Chapter 1

     Chase looked at Thor’s face currently displayed on the Hope’s holo-screen. Thor was imposing. Very muscular and with large shoulders. Like Kvasir he had luminous tattoos on his face, but their shape and positioning was different. Thor’s tattoos were more prominent on his forehead, around the nose and eyes and on his chin. They blinked rapidly right before he spoke.

     “I don’t like repeating myself, Captain Athanatos. Have Kvasir sent to my ship immediately.”

     Chase couldn’t let Kvasir be judged and killed without lifting a finger to try and at least repay him for his help. Without Kvasir they wouldn’t have defeated Gaia 2. And Chase could not bring himself to just deliver him to Thor without a fight.

     “I’m sorry Thor, but no.”

     Thor’s eyes blazed as he narrowed them. His tattoos flashed even stronger than before. The tone of his voice was ice cold.

     “This is not a negotiation, Captain!”

     “Nonetheless, my answer still stands. Kvasir has risked his life to help us defeat Gaia 2, and his actions were what saved the planet below, even if you’re the one who had his finger on the weapon trigger that finally brought her down. I can’t reward Kvasir by giving him to you to be executed. Surely you can understand that.”

     Thor stayed silent for a while, his steel gaze locked on Chase.

     “I could take him by force, and you do realize that there’s nothing you could do to stop me.”

     “I believe that neither of us wants a conflict, Thor. I’m not saying I’m not willing to negotiate a solution that we both find acceptable. I’m just saying that I can’t grant your request right now. I’d like us to meet and discuss this face to face. And if we’re being forthcoming, I should add that we’ve defeated the Zarlacks multiple invasions and the Furies on a few occasions. You might have noticed the Olympian ships in our fleet as well. Not to mention that while your ship’s technology seems incredibly advanced, you’re at a serious disadvantage numerically speaking at the moment. I have no doubt that your three ships could do incredible damage, but we both know you’re not sure you could win this battle.”

     “You’re playing a dangerous game, Captain.”

     “It’s not the first time I’ve been told this. Many have promised my imminent demise before you, and well, as you can see, I’m still here.”

     Chase caught a glimpse of Sarah’s wide-open eyes and connected with her telepathically.

     Are you nuts, Chase?

     I’m perfectly fine; I know exactly what I’m doing, love. Don’t worry.

     She shrugged and he had to suppress the urge to smile.

     For once I’m with her on that one, said Argos in Chase’s thoughts.

     Eavesdropping are we?

     Give him Kvasir before he decides to cut our ships into thin sushi slices like he did to that monstrosity of a Gaian ship earlier on.

     I’m not giving him Kvasir, Argos; he’s our ticket to forging an alliance with them, can’t you see that?

     Argos sighed.

     Thor blinked, which by Chase’s count was the first time he had seen the Asgardian do this since his face filled the holo-screen.

     “What is it you propose exactly, Captain?”

     “I propose you come on board my ship where we can sit at a table and discuss this in a civilized and amicable way. How does that sound?”

     Thor let a small, throaty growl escape as his tattoos momentarily flickered then lowered in intensity.

     “Very well, I’ll be over right away. Please drop your shields so I can teleport onboard.”

     “If you don’t mind, Thor, please give us a little time; I need to check the state of things on the planet and visit someone first.”

     The Asgardian made a grimace and showed teeth before regaining his composure. Chase could feel he was testing the man’s patience.

     “How much time do you need, Captain?”

     “About an hour, maybe less.”

     “Very well, but Captain…”

     “Yes, Thor?”

     “If you try to escape or trick me in any way—”

     “I know, you’ll shoot us down. Duly noted. See you in an hour.”

     The holo-communications turned off and everyone’s sight fell onto Chase.

     Chase shrugged. “What? I got us an hour to find a way to turn this mess of a situation to our advantage.”

 

*   *   *

 

     Oryn followed Chase to his ready room.

     “Ballsy move,” she said with an uncharacteristic smile.

     “I don’t like being put against the wall.”

     “I had noticed that about you already. What are you going to do about it though?”

     “I have to find a way to play this to our advantage, if we could bring them to the fold, have the Asgardians join the Earth Alliance—”

     “You’d gain a great ally to fight us.”

     Chase raised an eyebrow. “Us?”

     “Force of habit. My world has been shaken to the core in the last few hours.”

     Chase chuckled.

     “What’s so funny?”

     “I’m sorry, Oryn, let’s just say I’ve been there.”

     “What’s next? Are we going to Erevos to kill my non-biological father? I feel like ripping his head off.”

     “As enticing as that sounds, not right away. I promised your real father a visit. He has answers for me as well, but that is contingent on him seeing you first.”

     “I’m not sure I’m ready for that right now, Chase. Until an hour ago I didn’t truly believe Zeus could be my father; I don’t know that I can see him right away. Will you give me some time to think about this? Not to mention I’m not exactly presentable right now.”

     Chase hadn’t thought of that but they were both covered in blood and bruises, their clothing shredded. Oryn’s armor was cracked in several places.

     “Let me help with the physical damage—”

     Oryn raised a hand.

     “No, that’s okay, Chase. While I can’t heal as fast as most Fury men can, my faster female metabolism usually doesn’t take long to repair the damage. Plus I suppose you have regeneration units onboard?”

     “I could have you right as rain in less than ten seconds.”

     “I know, but as weird as it may sound, I kind of need that pain right now. It gives me something else to focus on rather than the turmoil in my thoughts, if that makes any sense.”

     Chase smiled.

     “It makes perfect sense, yes. I’ll have someone find you some quarters so you can take a shower and rest.”

     A small tear traveled down Oryn’s cheek.

     “Thanks, Chase. For everything. And for what it’s worth; I’m sorry I tried to kill you.”

     “I’m getting used to that,” said Chase with a chuckle. “I’m really glad I managed to get through to you, though.”

     Oryn wiped the tear with the back of her hand.

     “But before you go get some rest, Oryn, can you tell me anything of value in regard to your father’s plans? His next target maybe?”

     Oryn’s face dropped.

     “What is it?” asked Chase, concerned.

     “Droxia! He’s going to finish off Droxia. In fact, his forces could already be on their way, or worse, be there already. I’m sorry Chase, after all that has happened, it had slipped my mind.”

     “Dammit, I can’t leave before we see Thor, and I can’t let Droxia fall.”

     Chase thought of Ryonna and made a mental note to go see her as soon as he could spare it. They had agreed that once the Gaia 2 situation was resolved, he’d give her command of a ship to try and rescue Tar’Lock’s people from the Fury’s mind control.

     The corner of Oryn’s mouth curved into a smile. “I might have an idea about that.”

     “I’m listening.”

     “Let’s tell Thor my Fath—” she corrected herself, “that Arakan’s next target after Droxia is Asgard. That will surely get Thor’s attention.”

     “But is it?”

     She shook her head. “Olympus is his next target. I know him better than he knows himself. But I must warn you Chase, Arakan is sick, mentally I mean. Lately he’s been talking to himself.”

     Suddenly, a golden glow warmed the entire room.

     “I’m sorry for intruding,” said Ares.

     “Don’t you ever knock?” asked Chase.

     “Technically I don’t have a physical body, so—”

     “Alright, but Ares, we were kind of in the middle of something.”

     “I know, sorry, couldn’t help but eavesdrop.”

     Chase sighed and wanted to reprimand his old mentor for his attitude. Ares should have learned from the time he listened to Chase and Oryn on Kvasir’s planetoid prison. But he decided to let it slide; they had bigger fish to fry. Chase gestured toward Ares.

     “Oryn, this is Ares, my former mentor, he’s the one who initially trained me and helped me get a grip on my powers, before Argos killed him.”

     Oryn couldn’t help but let a chuckle escape her.

     “That’s not funny,” said Ares.

     “I’m so sorry, Ares, but you three must really get along like a house on fire.”

     Chase laughed. “Good one.”

     Ares stayed stoic in his golden energy form. “Right. Though, I must admit that lately Argos is growing on me, and I never thought I’d say that in my entire life.”

     “I know the feeling,” said Chase. “He’s really not the same Fury we met a year ago.”

     “Well, neither are the both of you. Enchanté, Oryn,” Ares said with a pause and a gracious bow, “I’m glad to make your acquaintance.”

     “Nice to meet you too, Ares.”

     “You two have had to face many changes, but I just thought you should both know that Arakan isn’t talking to himself. He’s talking to someone, something. I really can’t tell, but I was on Erevos while you were fighting Gaia 2 inside her own matrix—”

     Chase saw Oryn’s strange look. “Long story, I’ll brief you later,” he told her.

     She acquiesced. “Go on, Ares.”

     “At first I also thought he was mad and talking to himself, but then I saw and felt a strange energy in the throne room with him shortly before Aphroditis forcibly removed me from there. I can’t explain it but I can tell you Arakan’s not talking to himself.”

     “Aphroditis did what? I thought she was in the machine?” inquired Chase.

     “She still is, but she somehow managed to pull me toward her. I didn’t really have much time to talk with her. That’s when I came and took you out of your StarFury when you passed out from fighting with Gaia 2.”

     “That changes everything then,” said Oryn.

     “How so?”

     “I thought he was senile. In the last war with all your people, the old Alliance, he was mortally wounded. He suffered a brain injury and we had a scientist make him a concoction to treat that wound, though it did produce side effects, such as a rather terrible temper and even cruelty. But if he’s not talking to himself, perhaps he is being manipulated. Which is ironic really.”

     “Why is it ironic?” asked Chase.

     Oryn released a long breath of air before talking.

     “’Cause that’s what I was trying to do with the technology I used on Miseo. Get control of the throne without anyone knowing.”

     “Looks like someone beat you to it,” said Ares.

     “This is all well and good,” said Oryn. “But if you’d like to save Droxia, we’d better get a move on.”

     “Right, tell me more of your plan.”

 

*   *   *

 

     Kvasir joined Oryn and Ares in Chase’s ready room.

     “Where’s the Captain?” he asked.

     “He’ll be right back. He’s briefing Sarah, Daniel, Chris and Argos on our situation. Please sit,” said Ares as he gestured toward the nearest empty seat.

     Kvasir sat down only to get back up as the doors of the ready room opened. Chase entered the room with a concerned look.

     “Sit, Kvasir.”

     Kvasir’s tattoos flashed quickly as he sat once more.

     “I’ve let Thor know we’ll be seeing him earlier than scheduled. He seemed pleased with that.”

     “I’m not surprised,” said Kvasir. “The sooner he can deliver me to Odin, the better for him. And then shortly after, my life will reach the end of its run.”

     “Not if I can help it.”

     “Captain Athanat—” Kvasir saw Chase’s grimace toward hearing his formal address. “Chase—”

     “That’s better.”

     “Chase, I’m both honored and grateful that you’d like to plead for my life. But you can’t possibly put the Earth Alliance in jeopardy for my sake. I knew I was signing my death warrant by calling in that favor with Thor. I have accepted my fate.”

     “Perhaps, but I haven’t. And the next time you want to do something like that, I’d appreciate it if you ran it by me first.”

     “There won’t be a next time, Chase. One day after I am returned to Asgard, I will be publicly judged and sentenced to death.”

     “We’re not there just yet. Trust me on this one, okay?”

     Kvasir’s tattoos pulsated intensely for what felt like a long time before gradually dying down.

     “Alright. I don’t know what you have in mind, but thanks for trying.”

     “You’re welcome. Let me talk when Thor arrives, okay? It’s probably best you don’t take an active part in the conversation.”

     Kvasir nodded.

     Chase telepathically sent a message to Sarah letting her know they were ready and she could drop the shields and give Thor the coordinates of the ready room.

     A blue-green halo of light formed and multiple circles of lights traveled back and forth from top to bottom as Thor materialized into the room.

     Thor was taller than Kvasir. And while he was not as tall as Ryonna, he still managed to give a more impressive presence. He wore a majestically crafted silvery armor. Chase especially liked the pair of engraved dragons on the neck portion of the armor.

     That feeling was amplified when Chase felt a powerful aura behind the cold Asgardian. He sensed a very powerful warrior and he discovered with surprise that he hoped to one day fight him. Hopefully not as enemies, though.

     “Hello, Thor. Thanks for coming onboard.”

     Thor, who was at least two heads taller than Chase, looked down upon him.

     “Captain. Can we please get this over with? I didn’t come here for pleasantries, and I hope you understand that my main goal remains to get Kvasir back to Asgard with me. And I’d rather not start a war in the process.”

     “Believe me, Thor, we don’t want that either.”

     Thor sat at the conference table and his eyes quickly measured everyone with an intense look while his tattoos pulsated slowly. When his gaze met Kvasir, his look intensified, something Chase didn’t think was even possible. Neither did he expect the cold aura emanating from him to be so powerful. Kvasir looked down as his own tattoos died down in luminosity.

     “Thank you for seeing us, Thor,” said Chase.

     “You haven’t exactly given me much of a choice, Captain.”

     “I feel I owe Kvasir for all the help he’s given us.”

     “Even so, I’d be remiss if I didn’t advise you against blindly trusting Kvasir’s technology and methods. Many people lost their lives and he has a propensity to disobey orders and to do whatever he so pleases. Hence, his current predicament with the Asgard council.”

     Chase had to force himself not to smile. He was, after all, exactly the same. Orders be damned as long as he got things done.

     My kind of guy.

     “Duly noted, Thor. Do you have a rank that I should address you by?”

     “Technically I’m Supreme Fleet Commander, but on Asgard rank means to define one’s function not hierarchy, we don’t formally use them.”

     “If that’s the case, how come you call me Captain then?”

     “Not all species are the same, and sometimes little things will offend someone. Over the past twenty thousand years, we’ve been to war for less than a mispronounced name. One can’t be too careful.”

     “Not something you need to worry about with us; we want peace between our people. And please call me Chase from now on. I’d like it if our worlds became friends.”

     “So you say, but you’re unwilling to comply with my legitimate demand. Which, I should underline, is not a very honorable thing to do after the assistance we provided.”

     Chase knew full well Thor was right. But he had a card to play and an unmissable opportunity to bring the Asgardians to the negotiation table. He could not let this opportunity pass him by.

     “Don’t get me wrong, we’re very grateful Thor, but under our laws, Kvasir has requested sanctuary— and I’ve granted it to him. So you see, we’re in a bit of a bind. But hopefully we can find common ground.”

     Thor’s tattoos flashed more rapidly now.

     “Odin expects me to bring Kvasir back.”

     “And we’ll gladly come along; all I ask is that we’re allowed to discuss his fate. We just have to stop by Droxia on the way. Furies might already be there, and I can’t let that world be destroyed.”

     To everyone’s surprise, Thor got up from his chair.

     “This conflict isn’t any of Asgard’s business, but if you promise me you’ll bring Kvasir to Asgard afterward, I can provide you with a temporary authorization to enter our sector of space. Note that without it, you’d be fired upon. Now if you’d excuse me.”

     Chase rose and so did Oryn.

     “I think it is your business, Thor,” said Oryn.

     Thor’s gaze toward Oryn was glacial.

     “I don’t see why it would be.” Thor said. “We are neither friends nor enemies with the Furies. They don’t dare attack us, and we don’t deem it necessary to intervene. Last time a major race asked for our help, we almost went to war with them as a result of providing such help. Kvasir knows that better than anyone else amongst my people.”

     Chase looked at Kvasir and saw he understood that he should stay silent like they had agreed.

     Chase gestured Thor back toward his chair. “Why don’t you sit back down? I think we’re not done yet.”

     Prior to sitting back down, Thor released an almost imperceptible throaty growl, but all three Furies with acute senses heard it loud and clear.

     Chase and Oryn also sat back down in their chairs. Before she spoke, Oryn’s face became grave.

     “After attacking Droxia, the Furies will launch an attack on Asgard.”

     Right on cue, thought Chase.

     Chase observed Thor’s reaction, whose tattoos blinked so rapidly they looked stroboscopic. He could also feel the Asgardian’s emotional state change from slightly tensed to genuinely worried. There was a moment of silence as Thor pondered his next words.

     “Why should I believe you?”

     “Because I’m Supreme Commander Arakan’s adoptive daughter, and I am privy to his plans.”

     “A defector? I thought Furies were loyal to a fault.”

     “I’m only half Fury.”

     Thor looked toward Sarah, then locked his sights on Argos.

     “So is that one.”

     “The name’s Argos,” he snorted.

     Thor’s tattoos lit up for two seconds at maximum luminosity before fading off. His name must have meant something for Thor, Chase decided.

     “Let’s say I believe you. I am not authorized to engage Furies without Odin’s approval. If I accompany you to Droxia, I won’t take part in any battle unless forced to by either side, but then they’d be signing their death warrant in the process.”

     “Fair enough,” said Chase. “Thank you for your time. We’ll jump to hyperspace within the next ten minutes or so. Would you like to slave your jump engines to ours?”

Kvasir made a throaty noise and Chase started to worry when he spoke.

     “Thor, letting them use the Mjölnir’s hyperspace corridor isn’t against regulations; you could get us to Droxia in a fraction of the normal time.”

     Only the tattoos around Thor’s eyes lit up brightly at the sound of Kvasir’s voice.

     “Very well, but you’re slowly running out of favors, I hope you know that.”

     Kvasir nodded and looked down.

     “If that is all Cap—” Thor corrected himself. “Chase, I’ll be waiting for your transmission when you’re ready to leave. My fleet will open a large enough hyperspace corridor to encompass your entire fleet so you can get to Droxia faster.”

     “Thank you, Thor. Out of curiosity, how fast would that be?”

     “From the moment we enter the corridor, less than an hour. We could get there slightly faster should you like me to treat this jump as urgent.”

     Chase’s purple eyes involuntary flashed. “As a matter of fact—”

     “About forty minutes then.”

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