Wheee, release day has finally come!
The Prime Rift is out now on Amazon, and I’m super excited!
I had a blast writing this novel. I hope it will be a fun, exciting read for you!
If you’re still on the fence, here’s an excerpt from the first chapter. 😉
The Prime Rift
I rub my itchy fingers, watching the other Senators’ arguments explode yet again. They’re wasting precious time sparring over administrative issues, and it’s becoming deadly.
I groan loud enough to make Amharr glance down at me. He breathes out a gust of bitter fumes, and resumes his disengaged observation of the free theatrical. I stare up at the heavy crystal chandelier hanging over the projector, wondering what the hell I’m doing here—what Amharr’s doing here, wasting thousands of years’ worth of knowledge about galactic politics and military tactics on this bunch of paper pushers.
I see Cris has spaced out too. He’s calmly watching the commotion, hands clasped behind his back, gaze moving from one Senator to the next. I hope for his own sake that he’s working in the background, taking care of Erano’s cyber security. I don’t want to worry about his priorities too.
“—dismantling surveillance tech to build their own weapons!” Visconti slams his hand on the tactical desk.
Rossini throws her manicured hands up. “That’s why we need Law Enforcement!”
I can’t stand this any longer. “What we need is a Starforce,” I say, walking up to the desk. “We have to set up our own fleet of warships, manned by all those unemployed Ticks you keep complaining about. And we have to upgrade our defense grid by a factor of ten.” The Senators glare at me like they’ve never seen me before. But I’m not afraid to glare right back into their stubborn faces. “I think we can all agree that Erano is in crisis. But while we stand here arguing which district will blow up first, nothing’s being done to protect the colony from external threats.”
“Internal stability takes precedence,” Goldilocks says. “Right, Governor?”
“We’re out of time,” I retort, not giving De Luca a chance to get drawn into the argument. “The only reason the TMC hasn’t found out about us yet is because Cris is monitoring all data traffic, shielding us from their spyware. But no amount of cyber dancing will fool them once their first ship breaks orbit.”
“No one’s coming here,” Visconti says. “We barely got any drop-ins before. Why would they send any now?”
“How long do you think it’ll take them to realize we’re not delivering goods anymore?” I ask. “A week? Maybe two? Once they find out we’re—”
“We’ll run out of food in three days, not weeks,” Goldilocks blurts. “That’s a lot more important than some TMC requisitioner griping about our delivery schedule.”
I lean forward with my hands flat on the desk. “They’ll send in a warfleet, not some functionary in a shuttle. The TMC doesn’t tolerate side-steppers, and you know it.”
For once, I don’t get an onslaught of arguments in reply. And now that I’ve got their attention, I push again for the only thing we’re really doing this for: “We have a limited window of opportunity.” I lean over the table and look at each of them in turn. “We have to get other colonies on board before we lose our advantage. We need allies. But we have to rid them of the TMC first.”
Rossini gapes at me. “You want us to invest in other colonies?”
The industrial Senator clears his throat. “And how would we free them? We’re a small industrial colony at the edge of Confederate space. We’re facing six other colony systems, with thirty-two worlds between them, and over seventy TMC divisions, each with their own fleets.”
Rossini huffs, straightening her jacket. “We shouldn’t go poking into the hornets’ nest. We should tend to ourselves first, set up a proper Law Enforcement and—”
Everyone picks up their arguments again, rising to a shouting match.
I slam my hands on the desk. “You’re all gonna be dead soon. You’d be dead already if Amharr and I hadn’t taken down Hades and saved your sorry asses.”
Some of them look over to Amharr, who’s still standing quietly aside.
“You want a statue, or what?” Rossini retorts.
I clench my jaw.
Governor De Luca lays a soft hand on my shoulder. “We are deeply grateful for your deed, but—”
“That doesn’t mean you get to make decisions for us,” Rossini spits at me, then turns to De Luca. “Miss Harber has no business attending our Assembly meetings, or questioning our decisions.”
“Which decisions?” I blurt. “All you’re doing is wasting time we don’t have. The TMC will notice we broke loose and come to crush us. Even if we survive and somehow keep our freedom, which we won’t, the Ascendancy will tear through us like a scythe.”
Visconti rolls his eyes. “Which is it, now? The Ticks or aliens we should worry about before we treat our wounded?”
“The Ascendancy is the most powerful—”
“Then why don’t you come and tell that to the people. Come give a speech about your Ascendancy in Newton Square. We have a collapsed research tower burying an entire housing unit—twelve hundred civilians, families with children. Tell them we need to worry about aliens first.”
I swallow dry, my whole body shaking.
“It’s not that we don’t understand your point,” De Luca tells me calmly. “We just have to address our problems in a logical order.”
“But we’re not addressing defensive strategies at all,” I say. “And we might need them a lot sooner than you think. General Hurst is on his way here right now.”
“Oh, so we have a third menace now?” Rossini chuckles.
“He’s coming after Amharr and me. It puts everyone here in great—”
Visconti leans over the tactical desk, pointing at me through the brightly-lit projection of Erano. “Then leave San Gabriel. Problem solved.”
“A rogue General can’t be that much of a threat,” Goldilocks says.
“He has a fleet. We have to upgrade our defenses!”
“If you’re willing to finance it yourself, be my guest, upgrade away,” Rossini says, waving her manicured fingers at my face.
I take a deep breath, restraining the rage bubbling up inside me. Then I press my hands on the desk’s console, and cut off the projection.
Sparks ignite on my hand, electric arcs jetting out of my fingers and whipping the desk, as I connect to its computing unit and take control.
The Senators, De Luca, even Cris, go quiet as a new projection forms. The blue light of the projector coalesces into a slowly swirling galaxy. Amharr comes toward me quietly, his nearing presence pulling at the edge of my awareness like an approaching magnet. I make the galaxy turn and expand under the Senators’ eyes, and zoom in on the Milky Way’s bright, bulging center. Among the many stars, right at the edge of the bulge, a conglomeration of worlds shifts into view. Thousands of worlds connected through an enormous, intricate web of light illuminate the Crystal Hall.
I look at the Senators’ faces as the scale of the web begins to sink in, and their attention shifts back to me.
“This is the Ascendancy’s core,” I say. “This is the ancient galactic Empire in the shadow of which we have just flickered into existence. It’s spanning thousands of worlds, and thousands of species, most of which are millions of years of evolution ahead of us. We are nothing compared to them. We’re an anomaly that needs to be cleared out of their way.”
“But how do we even face that?” De Luca asks, staring at the glowing projection. “We stand no chance.”
“Not alone,” I say. “Not this one colony. No matter how much you repair and polish it. We can’t just rebuild Erano. We have to turn it into a stronghold. And we have to find a way to free the other colonies, whatever sacrifices that entails. Or all of this—” I gesture around the room, “won’t matter a thing. Our whole species will be erased.”
Everyone stares at the projection, their scowls fading beneath the harsh light.
“Sounds like a cheap VR space opera,” Rossini mutters, breaking the spell.
Goldilocks huffs. “Why don’t we just let the Ticks fight the aliens?”
“Forget the aliens! We’ve got teenagers building FTL engines with scavenged tech,” Visconti yells.
I’ve had it.
I clench my fingers on the projector’s surface. The web of stars contracts, pulling the entire galaxy in toward its center, collapsing the galactic arms and merging the stars in a gigantic, cascading implosion. The unbearable brightness winks out as the desk’s computer shuts down.
I pull my hand back, and in the tiny window of silence I’ve created, Amharr speaks.
Want to know what happens next?
Yeah, it’s mean to tease people… But you know you like it. 😉