Sample Chapters from Book 3: The Last Starbase

Sons of Neptune Book 2: The Last Starbase

Excerpts from Selected Chapters



SPOILER ALERT!  If you have not read Book 1 Earthweeds, and book 2, there are spoilers below


Short excerpt from Book 3 in the post-apocalyptic sci-fi series: Sons of Neptune by Rod Little


Chapter 1



Multiplied by a hundred, the unmistakable cold hiss of a lizard is the stuff that nightmares are made of... the grim specter of what is to come.
The pack of lizards descended on Shane. He waited patiently for them while thinking about the river Styx that formed a boundary between Earth and the underworld. Perhaps his thoughts strayed because the boombox he held was playing “Come Sail Away” – the full twenty-eight minute version. Or maybe it just seemed that long today.
“Come on guys,” he goaded the creatures.
Shane stood up from where he had been crouching, and put the boombox on his right shoulder. The music was attracting the horde; they gravitated toward any new sound. He took a few steps backward, and then a few more. Then he quickened his pace until it became a full run.
The writhing horde of lizards moved like a dark flood down the hill, some running, some rolling over each other, in their rush to find the source of the noise. At the bottom of the hill ran Shane, now racing to stay ahead of them as fast as his legs could pound. He was exactly where he needed to be. After setting off the explosion that had initially gathered this attack, there was little room for error. He ran toward the sedan with its front door open, and jumped inside, then snapped the door shut. His finger punched the boombox “off” button.
There he hunkered down on the front seat of the car, a blanket over his head, and a cloud of perfume choking him – to mask his scent.
“Twenty yards,” he whispered into the walkie talkie. “Almost here, get ready.”
Jason waited further down the street, at the bend where it curved to the right. He had explosive devices already in place to be triggered by remote control. Now he climbed the tree beside the road and took up a vantage point forty feet high.
George already stood on the roof of a hardware store a mile away. They were trying to lure the creatures into an alien compound that held a squadron of men and ships. Since the lizards were not dying off, but continued to adapt and thrive, George had put a plan in place to use the beasts to their advantage.
“If you can't beat 'em, join 'em,” he had said. And he was right. But the plan was risky, and right now it seemed downright foolish, despite this being their eighth time at this.
Cold had set into the air. With November in full swing, all warmth had abandoned Pennsylvania, but – unlike the spiders – the lizards had not migrated south. They stayed and continued to be a thorn in the side of every survivor.
“Let's point those thorns in the other direction,” Jason had agreed during the planning stages. Now he, too, was feeling foolish for taking such a risk.
The horde reached the dented black sedan where Shane bravely hid. He signaled through the walkie talkie, and Jason fired his flare gun, then set off a round of explosions near his section of the street. The commotion attracted the dragons like sharks to chum. They spun to the right and barreled forward.
Noise meant one thing to these beasts: prey.
Forward momentum kept the swarm moving toward Jason, and eventually toward Mitch, who waited for the right moment and also detonated explosives on his stretch of the road. From atop the third floor roof, he watched the creatures advance on him. They bit at the air, their tails slapping the ground and each other. One bit another in its frenzy, and both creatures spun into a death spiral in the midst of the foray. The loser became a meal, and several others stopped to feed on its body.
Mitch feared this might slow the pack, so he fired his pistol in the air. This got the others back on track. They sprinted furiously ahead, toward the gates of the alien compound. That's when George raised himself on one knee and revealed himself on the roof of a shed close to the compound's gate. He hoisted his RPG and fired a rocket into the stone gateway. The gate exploded and burst open, allowing the tide of lizards to sweep through the opening and into the alien camp.
It had worked!
“Rock and roll, guys,” Shane breathed into the walkie talkie. “Stage two. Quickly.”
He estimated three hundred lizards in this pack, and most of them passed into the camp without hesitation. They moved like a school of fish, one following the other. Three stragglers remained behind, distracted, but Shane was already out of the car and chasing them on foot. Soundlessly he drew his longbow and shot each one in the head.
Jason swung down from his tree and landed on the grass below. He grabbed the coil of barbed wire and ran toward the camp gate. There was no fumbling or doubt in their movements, all four men worked together in precision, a well-oiled machine. They had practiced this many times.
George and Mitch were already driving the stakes into the ground on either side of the gate opening. When Jason reached them, they quickly spread the barbed wire across the gaping stone mouth, locking the creatures inside.
“Let those Sayans chew on that for awhile,” George grunted, but when he said “Sayans” it sounded more like “Seens.” They finished up and started walking back to the sedan.
“Let the lizards chew on them,” Jason agreed.
Shane patrolled the perimeter with his bow, and watched for stragglers in every direction. One lone raptor came out of the weeds, and he put it down quietly.
The four of them piled into the black sedan and started the engine. Shane put the car in drive, and they sped back up the hill, the tires spinning up dust in their wake. They retook the main street and hit fifty miles per hour on their way back home. Each mile that carried them further from the alien camp afforded them a bit more sense of relief.
Their goal was to make the lizards more of a nuisance to the aliens than to themselves. They wanted the Sayans to kill off their mutations on their own.
“If you've got too many enemies,” George had said, “turn one enemy against the other. And so on.”
Whether these random acts of sabotage were working or not... only time would tell. It had been two weeks of raids like this, and no sign yet of any reaction from their invaders.
And no word yet from Sam, Bohai, and Walter. They could only hope that the ship hadn't exploded along the way, or that a swarm of Sayan gliders hadn't taken the big ship, somewhere out in space. Or that some other alien warship hadn't swallowed them.
Best not to dwell on it, Shane thought. Just put it all in drive and move forward. We've got work to do.
“This was our best timing yet,” Jason bragged from the passenger seat. “No hitches, no glitches. We were in and out like a Vegas gambler. I have to say, we're gettin' good at this.”
“Fantastic,” said Shane. “I'll put it on my resume.” His sarcasm stemmed from worry and fatigue. He hadn't slept much lately.
Mitch sat with George in the back seat and said nothing. They watched the buildings disappear, as the city fell behind. The country roads led them back to their ski lodge hotel, the Peak.

Chapter 2 (excerpt):


The ship pitched sharply to port, and that was a first. Until now, the ride had been smooth as silk, like riding a sofa in the living room. But something had hit them. The Praihawk moaned, its lights dimmed. They could feel a reduction in speed and a strange slowing of the ship's systems. The engines thrummed at a lower frequency. It was a palpable feeling, like a downshift. Something was wrong.
The jolt had knocked Sam to the cold metal floor. He and Bohai had been working on changing the air filters when the impact occurred. Now they raced to the bridge control room.
“Piece of an asteroid or a meteor,” said Walter. “Very small, but it hit us. And look ahead.”
The monitors revealed a splash of more objects spread across the black space in front of them.
“More?”
“A meteor shower,” said Walter. “I would have thought the ship's sensors could detect it and evade it, but it hit us. Something must be wrong with the ship.”
“You mean the ship we know nothing about,” Sam said. “That ship? Yeah, something's wrong alright: we're flying through space...”
For almost two weeks they had been sailing on this course looking at nothing but stars on their viewscreens. Having no idea how long it would take to reach the Earthus world, the journey had become tedious and frustrating. Two more weeks, two months, or two years.... they had only hopes and guesses.
“Well at least this breaks the boredom,” Bohai muttered to himself. He took a seat at one of the controls and starting running a diagnostic of the ship's systems. Every day he pored over manuals to learn more and more about this ship. Still, Walter was the expert. He could speed-read faster than the other two boys combined.
“Nothing I can find wrong,” Walter offered. “But you can check again. And we're headed straight for that mess ahead. We need to veer off.”
“Won't the ship steer us around?” Sam asked.
“It does not appear so.”
“Disengage auto pilot?”
“I would not normally advise that,” Walter said as he peered intently into the screen, his fingers nervously hovering over the buttons on his panel. “But we won't live though that up ahead. I'll need to take us around it, manually. And then hope we can re-engage autopilot.”
“But it might not re-start?” Bohai asked. “Is it worth the risk?”
Another projectile hit the side of the ship and shifted it to an uncomfortable slant that knocked the boys to the floor again. Walter held tight to his seat with one hand and the control panel with the other. Within seconds the ship righted itself once more, but its speed slowed.
“You realize this is just dust.” Walter informed them, “These are just tiny bits, only small meteor particles hitting us. If any of those full-sized formations should impact with the ship, it might actually break us open. We'll be dead bodies floating in space.”
“Sweet,” Bohai gasped as he got back to his feet. He checked a bump on his head. No blood. He got back into his seat. “I've always wanted to float in space.”
“But you'd be dead,” Walter said, not fully understanding the boy's attempt at humor.
The ship shuddered.
Sam stood behind Walter and looked over his shoulder at the objects on the main viewscreen. He put a firm grip on the back the man's chair.
“Go ahead,” he told Walter. “Do it.”



Chapter 3 (excerpt):


   Dexter worked night and day to make modifications and tweaks to the stolen glider. He intended to fly it back to Neptune II as soon as possible, but his plan for landing there was weak, at best. As for his plans if he did get back into the city, those were set in stone: get to his wife, and kill his brother.
Beyond that... he could not be sure. 
Although he had put great thought into his life after the deed, no realistic options had yet come to mind. His best guess was that he might bring his wife back to Earth. But that might prove difficult – and unwise – in the midst of the invasion. Staying on Neptune II was out of the question. So, a third option would need to present itself.
Dexter had no third option. Yet.
Time brings everything, eventually, he told himself. 
The glider was in good shape and ready for the trip. He would leave the next day, and in two weeks he would arrive at the moon, Triton, his old home orbiting the great planetary mass called Neptune.
Should he say good-bye to the kids at the Peak? He wondered. He spoke aloud as if talking to his wife:
“I guess I should tell them what I'm doing. After all, I might need their help again someday. My wife and I might need to live with them here on Earth, or out there somewhere on another planet.” 
Sam's crumpled piece of paper still remained in his pocket, and it made a crinkling sound every now and then, the way paper rattles against itself and can never be straightened again.  It was Sam's note asking him to save Camila. This reminder clawed at the back of his mind, but he refused to be sidetracked by a foolish rescue mission. His plan was set, and his next move in this game was 2.7 billion miles away.
“I won't need to tell them,” he resolved. “They'll figure it out when I am gone.”

The entire novel will be available on April 7 ... days away