“I do believe in ghosts” — these ghosts are real #SpaceOpera #MFRWhooks

"I do believe in ghosts" -- these ghosts are real #SpaceOpera #MFRWhooks

"I do believe in ghosts" -- these ghosts are real #SpaceOpera #MFRWhooks

In Lights Out, a story in the Expanding Universe (Vol 4), you're asked to believe in ghosts of a different kind. These ghosts are special ops soldiers resurrected to fight an enemy that is immortal.

I do believe in ghosts!

Twenty-four hours later, healed and at attention, Tornahdo endured a tongue-lashing by no less than the Ghost Corps Colonial Armada Commandant General. What a mouthful for such a tiny person. He wouldn't have thought he'd rated an officer of her rank.

If a general had thousands to command, why was she slapping around a master sergeant? In the regular army, they'd berated him at the lowest level of incompetence. And what was his sin? Getting killed in battle. If you came back to life, why was that wrong?

Plus, if a soldier sacrificed himself saving a platoon, you didn't write him up. You bestowed a medal.

Treat the regular army like this and that whole death-and-rebirth thing was never going to catch on.

While the general droned on about the expense of rebirths and the protocol for ghosts, he counted bullet holes in the fence outside the window. Sixty plus on one panel. Over forty on another. Wasted firepower. Probably a human.

Ultras tended not to miss.

"Are you listening to me, Master Sergeant?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Repeat what I said."

Tornahdo spat it back.

Clasping hands behind her, the general paced. "You were inducted into the corps and promoted because you had the highest rating from a commanding officer I'd ever seen in the regular army. Now that I've reviewed your record, I'm wondering if he inflated your value to get you out of his unit."

He'd wondered the same thing.

"You've been written up for insubordination three times. What is your problem with authority?"

"Ma'am, I have no problem with authority." Imbeciles, yes, but that was another story.

"The death and rebirth of a ghost means the salvation of mankind. Isn't that why you enlisted?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"The purloined blood of an Ultra runs in your veins. Do not take it for granted. It costs the corps a fortune. Do not forget."

Not likely. The corps reminded him daily.

The word purloined hadn't been used in his hearing before. Now that he thought about it, how did they get the Ultra blood infusing his body? Were captives volunteering?

Surely not. Their hatred of mankind was legendary.

What did it matter? Ultras were the enemy. They deserved no mercy.

Lights Out

Part of the anthology The Expanding Universe 4: Space Adventure, Alien Contact and Military Science Fiction, edited by Craig Martelle

He can save mankind. After he does one important thing. Die.
Join the Ghost Corps, they said. You'll live forever, they said. You'll save mankind, they said. They didn't say that to do it, first he had to die.
When Tornahdo signs on the dotted line, he puts his life into the steady hands of the mighty Ghost Corps. Three grisly deaths and three agonizing resurrections later, he's assigned duty on the space station Enderium Six.
He's facing his most dangerous mission yet, the very reason the corps exists.
Do they expect him to win? Fat chance. Tornahdo and his team are already dead and this mission is codenamed "Lights Out." No, there's more to this than he can see.
To discover the truth, he must face an unbeatable, unkillable enemy, and this time--somehow--find a way to keep himself alive...


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Blinding flash of light: his enemy peered down #SpaceOpera #SciFi

Blinding flash of light: his enemy peered down #SpaceOpera #MFRWhooks

In this scene from Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas, the hero is trapped in darkness within a lifepod without one spark of light. Rather than being put into stasis, his captors have left him to rot. But there's one small problem: Pietas is immortal.

Facing Blinding Flash of Light

The infernal, cheerful whistling began again. Pietas tried in vain to escape the sound. Shackled at the ankles, hands bound behind him, he remained flat on his back. There were no comfort choices inside his pod.

No. Not his pod. He would never claim such a place.

The prison pod. The nightmare pod. A casket for the living.

Would that whistling never end?

Whoever guarded him whistled, night and day. He must have lips made of steel. How a human kept that up day after day was beyond him. Or perhaps... Did an Ultra guard him? Had one of his people come to free him?

Pietas opened his mouth to call out, and clamped it shut.

If it were one of his people, he needed to wait for them to act. They would do so when the time was right. For now, he suffered bouts of agony as feeling returned to his hands and then left in repeating cycles. His metabolism healed him, but brought pain. He focused on that, accepted the pain, welcomed it, and examined every step of its journey through his body. What one understood, one could bear.

An Ultra does not seek to escape pain. If one inflicts pain, one must bear it. Pain must be borne. Pain is a warrior's ally.

He hovered in a nightmare-filled, windowless, endless monotony of thirst and hunger.

Punctuated with unending lilts of bouncy, alert, happy, chipper whistling.

At first, he'd welcomed the sound. The rising and falling notes broke the tedium of everlasting darkness. It stopped for brief periods, but began again soon after.

He'd considered calling out and asking them to stop. He had gone so far as to open his mouth. But asking implied weakness. He acknowledged no tool of torture.

Beg mercy from humans? Never.

This was not stasis. Stasis meant cessation of thought. Of emotion. A dreamless kind of sleep. The end of awareness. A not-time.

They'd frozen his people in these pods, but they'd imprisoned him.

Or perhaps his blood ran so hot, no human force could freeze him.

The tune changed.

For the love of all that's holy, will you shut up!

Blessed silence fell. But then a blinding flash of light blared in his face like a blast of horns.

What fresh perdition was this? They'd tortured him with darkness. Now they'd torture him with light?

Pietas tried to force his eyes open, to face the torture, but after so long in darkness, the light stabbed his eyes. He twisted his head to avoid it.

"You-- you're awake?" The startled voice hovered close, muffled by the pod. "Security! Security! Prisoner Six-Six-Six is out of stasis! I say again, Prisoner Six-Six-Six is out of stasis!"

The alarm in the male voice gave Pietas a measure of pride. Even imprisoned, he engendered fear. They had taken away his name, and given him a number that among humans meant a demonic beast.

Let the legend of Pietas--by name or by number--bring fear straight into the heart of man. No... let it bring terror.

His eyes adjusted to the light, and he focused on the face hovering over the small window above him.

Was that...Ghost Six?

When the immortal Pietas is marooned on a barren world with no food and few survival tools, he knows it could be worse. He could be alone. But that's the problem. He's not.

Half a million of his people sleep in cryostasis, trapped inside their pods and it's up to Pietas to free them. He can't release one at a time. It's all or nothing. Over five hundred thousand hungry, thirsty, homeless immortals will call on him for rescue and he has no way to answer.

Universal book link http://books2read.com/u/3R1kev

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The galaxy will never be safe for humans #SpaceOpera #MFRWhooks

The galaxy will never be safe for humans #SciFi #SpaceOpera

His people permit him no choice. He must attend insipid peace talks on Enderium Six and what's worse, be polite. To humans.

In this scene, Pietas has been betrayed and trapped, and now they're coercing him to enter a lifepod.

Humans!

The leaders of his people gathered in sleep around Pietas, sealed inside their curved, steel stasis tubes.

He folded his arms. "Feast your eyes, vultures." He lifted his chin. "You think to imprison me? You think to bring me down like a hunted animal?" He indicated the other life-pods. "I will not cower before you. I will not bow. I will not kneel. I will not serve. I will never submit. Humans were made to be ruled, not by my people, but by me."

The silhouettes above him contrasted with the bright light behind them. One by one, they slipped away, until one remained.

"Fighting us accomplishes nothing." The disembodied voice echoed in the chamber. "Enter the pod, Pietas, or we'll siphon the air. You'll die."

"I'll revive. I've died countless times. I do not fear death. Death fears me."

"So be it. Since you're so set on dying, have it your way. I told you if you didn't cooperate, I would detonate the bombs within the hostages you took aboard your ship. See for yourself."

On the opposite wall, an image of his ship sparkled into life, and a bloom of light filled the screen. A mass of debris shot in all directions.

"Your crew has ceased to exist."

"That image is a farce. You would not dare to destroy the council's flagship, and you will not destroy the council. You are cowards. You lock us away in a barren room and threaten our people. This is why humans do not deserve freedom. You are worthless, miserable liars."

"Believe me, your crew is quite dead. The universe is a safer place for it."

"Untrue. It will never be safe for humans. Especially for you."

Bringer of Chaos: the Origin of Pietas by Kayelle Allen


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Book Hooks is a weekly meme hosted by Marketing for Romance Writers as part of the MFRW Authors Blog. It's a chance each week for you the reader to discover current works in progress or previously published books by possibly new-to-you authors. Thank you for stopping by. Please say hello or leave a note in the comments.

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