Sample Chapters from Book 2 Revenge of the Spiders

Sons of Neptune Book 2: Revenge of the Spiders

Excerpts from Selected Chapters

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

Short excerpt from Book 2 in the post-apocalyptic sci-fi series: Sons of Neptune 

Chapter 1

Silver and blue gliders, small spaceships with crews of two and three, crisscrossed the open sky. Some flew at extremely low altitudes, and one even clipped the flagpole from the highest tower at the Peak Lodge.

Other than attacking the nerves and spirits of the humans below them, so far the ships did nothing more than make passes over the land.

As more Sayan ships whisked over the hotel, their distinctive whir, a high-pitched buzz, woke Sam early in the morning. He tucked his head underneath two pillows, but soon gave up and tossed them aside.

The boy popped his head out of the second-story window to see another ship swoop down and fly past the building. Low and steady at less than two hundred feet, its engine hummed quietly, almost peacefully, yet with that same irritating buzz he had grown to hate. Much like a beautiful cobalt-blue marlin slicing through the sea, it owned its own space, and today it owned the skies. The morning was starting out clear and warm for its flight to terrorize the humans. The sun hatched a sparkle off its wings.

~Scanning us, he thought. The invasion continues for them.

After their first victory against the Sayans from Neptune's largest moon, Sam's confidence was high. Not all the others shared his optimism, but they worked to hide it. He was sure they could leverage help from Dexter into either a winning move, or at least a compromise with the enemy, and he convinced his friends to stand by him. While they might not get their planet back, they could share it with the Sayans, if Sayans do indeed share.
That was yet to be seen.

Now that he was back at the Peak Castle Lodge, he had enjoyed a peaceful night of sleep that carried him long past the sunrise. He might have slept longer had the choir of spaceships not broken his dreams.

Sam looked down at his hands and flickered a blue spark between them. The odd circumstance of his alien heritage had not yet found a resting place within him, or ceased to trouble his mind. He told himself nothing had changed; he was still the same young man.

~When all the dust settles, the facts remain. I was born on Earth. I am an Earthling.

And another voice in his head kept taunting him: Yeah, keep telling yourself that, kid. The voice sounded like Kermit the frog.

After a quick shower, he slipped into his favorite blue flannel shirt – now torn at the pocket and right sleeve, and showing far too much wear – and crept downstairs to the hotel dining room. Tina was already awake and making instant coffee. Bohai, wearing a tight black t-shirt that showed his athletic build, was helping her.

Mark was eating cereal with powdered milk and reading the back of the box; both his sneakers were untied. His deck of Magic: The Gathering cards lay next to him on the table, as it never left his sight. The scene could easily have befitted a normal world – a world that was not twisting toward a grisly end. The three of them looked unsuitably tranquil for the apocalypse, and it made Sam laugh inside.

“Who's in the tower?”

“Jason,” Tina said, pouring hot water into a cup of instant grounds. “It's his second home, but at least his arm is healing fast. Stu's out front with George, fixing one of the tanks, or at least trying to. The others are still sleeping.”

“How was it here, while we were gone?” Sam asked.

“It was nerve wracking, but okay.” She forced a smile, which looked partly genuine. “We worried a lot, and Lucy detoxed a little. The kids played in the yard, and sometimes Mark helped keep watch.”

Sam ran his hand over Mark's head and ruffled his hair, “Is that right, Marko Polo?”

Mark made a “thumbs up” sign, and continued to read his cereal box. There was a Frooty Loopy challenge to solve a puzzle on the back.
Bohai stirred sugar into his instant coffee, tasted it, and grimaced. “This is Earth's greatest loss. No more real cafes.”

“Did you really bring two buildings down?” Tina asked.
Sam stirred his own cup, and sat down. “Not completely, Just a couple of floors.”

“What do you mean?” Tina asked.

Bohai continued his rant. “I mean, I'm not asking for a mocha latte, but a real cup of java would go a long way toward healing my inner spirit.”

“Not you! I'm asking Sam, what happened?”
“We sliced a few layers off the Steel Tower.”
“High floors,” Bohai added. “From floors fifty to sixty.”
“No way,” Mark said. He pulled himself from the cereal box and scooted closer. “Did you bomb them with the tanks?”
“Sort of.”
“Cool. Can I see?”
Sam leaned in and whispered, “No.”

Excerpt from Book 2  Chapter 2

Two Russian helicopters circled the snow-covered landscape surrounding the US research compound at Nunavut, Canada – site of the project code-named: Helium. The soldiers were heavily armed and prepared to take the lab and its station by force, if necessary. And force would almost certainly be necessary. Blissfully unaware of events unfolding back home in Moscow, they still thought their mission was active. They had been hiding deep in the Arctic Circle with total radio silence for three weeks, and now all the men were anxious to capture their target and report their success back to headquarters. The captain was eager to collect his accolades, and maybe even a promotion.
“Glory awaits us,” shouted the captain over the noise of the turning rotors. His body leaned forward in its seat, both hands on the gear strapped to his chest. He was ready to disembark the moment the helicopter touched the ground.

No one tried to hail them on the radio, and no voice warned them to get clearance first. There was a disturbing absence of life at the camp; no soldiers walked outside on the field to confront them. Zero resistance thus far, and that unsettled the Russians even more than a big show of force would have done. This didn't feel right to the mission's captain or his team.
The two flying machines landed on the soft field of snow to the left of the laboratory, sinking into powder before hitting the frozen ground beneath. The blades spun the top layer of snow around them like a swirl of cold dust.
The helicopters shut down slowly; the last blade gyrated to a stop, and a strange silence moved in to take the place of the motors. The soldiers stepped from the machines in single file and fanned out across the white plain. Their boots crunched into the ice and echoed across the landscape. No Americans, Dutch or Swedes came out to oppose their incursion. The Russians had crossed over restricted airspace and landed in a highly controlled zone, but no one tried to stop them.

Is this a trap? Do they know who we are?

The captain's concerns deepened.

Two faces appeared in the window, visible through filmy glass, staring back at the invaders. They watched the Russians with no expression or movement. Two soldiers raised their rifles and aimed for the faces, but did not shoot. They waited for orders.

The captain was first to enter the laboratory building, followed by his right guard. He spouted a few words in Russian, and the two Americans raised their hands, noticeably frightened. They looked to be in their thirties, but the lines at the corners of their eyes were those of an octogenarian. Whatever had happened in this place, this had been a bad week for them – for everyone here. 

“We're just scientists, here on research,” one of them said. “We don't want any trouble.”
“Trouble?” the captain asked.
“Are you back from Elk station? You have some information for us? What's happening back home?”
“What you are babbling about...?” asked the captain. “Is what? Where is the artifact? You know what I mean.”

One of the Americans asked: “The artifact? That's why you're here?” As he spoke, he glanced out the window. To the Russians, he had betrayed the base's biggest secret with a single look in the wrong direction, but the Americans still seemed confused about the Russians' presence, why they were here.

“Now we know direction to look,” said the captain's right guard lieutenant.
“Thank you,” smiled the captain to the two American scientists. “You look tired. Please rest.”
He raised his rifle and fired two bullets. Both of the American scientists fell dead to the ground, each with a hole in the head. The captain turned to his guard and said in Russian, “Precision. I am the best shot. The best.”
The right guard emphatically agreed and called two men in to help remove the dead bodies.

Outside, the captain took three of his men and trekked forward on foot across the ice into an expanse of nothingness. The cold sweeping wind bit at their faces, bitterly so, but they did not even adjust their thick parka hoods. They forged on, tracking their target. An orange rectangular flag in a snowbank proved they were on the right trail.

After an hour of trudging through the snow, they could see a dark shape in the distance. Little doubt remained that this was where the artifact was buried. The captain could feel success within his grasp. On this day, he still thought a promotion was waiting for him back home. For that matter, he still thought a home was waiting for him back home. Clueless, they marched on.

As they closed the distance, they could see the shape they chased was a dark-green tarmac covering something that must be huge, with a dozen tent poles underneath to prop up the corners and the center area. Upon reaching the first opening, the soldiers stood on either side and waited for their commander. It was his privilege to go inside first.

The captain lifted the tent flap that opened into the giant tent, pulled it back and shined his light inside. The bright white beam flickered off something bronze, and the captain's smile widened. This was the glory of their mission.
They had found it.
“The artifact, Comrades. It is ours.”

His lieutenant stared ahead into the tent, his eyes wide with a mixture of wonder and fear, and he whispered, “Victory is ours, my Captain.”
Another man made the sign of the cross. And silently prayed.

Short excerpt from Book 2  Chapter 5

Commander Lusus of the fourth Sayan regiment was considered to be one of the right-hand men to Axius, leader of the rebel faction on the moon world of Neptune II. Since Axius remained in Los Angeles to capture the west coast, that made Lusus the highest ranking officer of the rebel forces here in the eastern region. And he intended to take this part of the planet by force within two weeks.

The rest of the Sayan squads had either joined his rebel forces or scattered temporarily to the sidelines. Many did not want to commit, in case the rebel faction failed, but they were encouraged to see the rebels using weapons to achieve their goal: the conquest of Earth. Some were even delighted.
Others considered it heresy, and devoted themselves to prayer and meditation. While they had no means to stop the rebels, they did wield great influence with their people back home – the sheep who followed their dogmas without question. However, Axius was already securing that loose end. New laws were clamping down on the people even now, today, and religion would no longer be allowed as a means of questioning the government on Neptune. Allegiance to the President was first above all else.

A lieutenant approached the commander.
“There is movement,” he said quietly in his ear.
“What? Where?”
“An armored vehicle and a passenger vehicle. They are crossing over the bridge into the city.”
“What for?” Lusus couldn't imagine why anyone of these Earthling mice would come out of hiding, and he had no patience for minor nuisances.
“No idea, Sir.”
“Keep an eye on them, but don't bother me with details. If you have to, kill them.”
“As you wish, Commander.”
And then Lusus thought of something, and added, “I would like to have an armored vehicle.”

* * *

The trip to the landing site was unchallenged by either the aliens or their mutations. Again the road lay empty; only their two vehicles traveled on its long, cracked pavement. Only the sound of their two engines disrupted the stillness of the dormant, ghostly landscape.

Dexter seemed different, more calm. Since his encounter with Kiern, he had found an inner tranquility that had been lacking since that fateful day when he was first exiled to Earth. The killing of Kiern had exercised some demons inside him, and now gave him at least a partial inner peace. Still more demons whiled away in his head, many more, but Kiern's death mollified Dexter for now. The other dark spirits would rise again soon enough – he wouldn't rest until he had his brother's head on a plate, but not today.

Dexter, tell me something,” Bohai asked, as the van sped on toward the city center and the landing site. The windows were rolled down, and the wind was almost too much. “Is Sam more powerful than most of your people? That man, Kiern, he looked surprised.”

Dexter smirked and turned to Sam when he replied, “I saw you take down hundreds of mutated lizards. I saw your power arc. No one on Neptune II can do that. Either being a half-breed, or living on Earth since birth... something has altered you. You are not the same as other sons of Neptune. You are stronger.” He tilted his head, then added with an uncharacteristic hint at humor: “Maybe it's your multicolored vitamins.”

“And your home world?” Bohai asked. “Neptune Cali..?”

“Neptune Caliphen. No. These small powers were developed only on Neptune II, Triton. Centuries of living under the ground, it caused us to evolve.” A crease formed on his brow as he raised his hand, palm up, and a tiny spark lit. It barely displayed the power of a firefly. “But our powers are not great, and mine have almost completely disappeared.”

“So Sam here is strong,” Bohai insisted on a clear answer. “He could defeat any of the Sayans in a fight.”

That question surprised Dexter. “Defeat them? In what way do you intend to defeat them?”

“In a battle, hand to hand combat.”

“This is no joke,” Dexter scowled. His face turned red. “They intend to take your world from you. They have waited a long time to get a planet where they can live above ground, to feel the sun on their skin again. Nothing short of a miracle will stop them.”

Book 2 of this apocalyptic Science Fiction series is on sale now in Kindle and paperback
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