PRODIGAL (Book 3 of the Maelstrom Chronicles)
by Jody Wallace
Release Date: September 2016
Genre: SF romance
Rating: R (profanity, violence, sex–all the good stuff)
From: Entangled Select Otherworlds
Buy Links: Amazon, B&N, iTunes, Kobo,
He nearly destroyed the world, but with her help, he can save it.
Adam Alsing—at least that’s what they tell him his name is—has no idea who he is or why he’s huddled naked in the snow next to a mysterious silver pod. When a gorgeous, no-nonsense sheriff by the name of Claire Lawson rescues him, she explains the planet’s under attack—and he’s been missing for over two years. The problem is, what he doesn’t remember can kill them.
Keeping the peace in her post-apocalyptic town is all the trouble Sheriff Claire Lawson can handle. Until the MIA Chosen One—the guy who could have prevented the apocalypse—interrupts her supply run. The Shipborn aliens want to study him, and what’s left of the Terran government wants to lock him up. But his charming demeanor and his desire to help, along with his sexy smile, has Claire fighting her better judgment to keep Adam around. For now.
Book 1 of the Maelstrom Chronicles is ANGELI.
Book 2 is TRAITOR.
Read Scene 1 of TRAITOR from Ship’s POV at Literary Escapism.
Read a Tour of the Universe article about sentient space ships at Bitten by Romance.
Listen to a Blog Talk Radio show with Linda Mooney where we talk PRODIGAL and peens.
**** EXCERPT FROM: PRODIGAL****
Chapter 1, first 1200 words — join my newsletter to read the whole first chapter for free!
Claire flipped down the visor of the Humvee when the late afternoon sun nearly blinded her, reflecting off the white of the latest snowfall. She and two other loads of able bodies out of Camp Chanute were returning from a hardware- and tech-foraging mission to the mostly deserted city of Bloomington, Illinois. The long, straight roads, free of debris and stalled cars, didn’t lend themselves to ambushes— humans or monsters. Detritus littered the highways to the north, thicker as the roads approached Chicago.
She didn’t make foraging trips toward Chicago if it could be helped.
But the visor didn’t cancel out the glare. She blinked and squinted. Her eyesight had been enhanced by her Shipborn associates, enough to ascertain the flash of light wasn’t reflecting off the snow. For that kind of glint, it had to be a metallic object.
An object that hadn’t been there when they’d driven this road this morning. She knew this highway well, and that huge field had dead corn in it. Nothing else.
“Slow down,” she told the driver. “You see that?”
Will shook his head. “I just see snow. Snow and old, dead corn. Maybe it’s one of the Children of the Corn.”
“Shut up.” Not visible to the human eye, then. Claire flicked on the radio to talk to the supply truck. Dixie had the best binoculars. “Dix, what do you make on the right side of the road? Far midfield.”
Static crackled through the speaker before Dixie’s response. “I don’t see any…wait. Huh. There’s a big silver thingamabob, but sugar, I don’t know what it is. Weather blimp or something? Could be Shipborn.”
“That doesn’t make sense. Will, get us closer.”
Will stepped on the accelerator, increasing speed until the object came into focus—sleek and silver, possibly some kind of vessel. No landing marks around it, but no snow built up on it, either. Didn’t look like Ship 1001 or its shuttles, which tended to be roughly triangular. More like a giant pill, so brightly silver it was almost white. Hard to see against the patchy snow. Was that a window? A door?
The sun emerged from behind a cloud and sparkled on the metal again, obscuring the details.
“I’m going to check it out. Hold position,” she advised Dixie before directing Will off road.
When the Humvee thumped through the corn stubble that rose above the snow, she pressed a hand against the ceiling to keep from bouncing into it. A gentle rise ahead took them out of sight of the object.
“Be careful,” Dixie chided over the radio. “Last time you went to check something out, that group of survivalist dregs from Chicago ambushed you.”
Soul-sucking black shades and vicious flying red daemons, the most common varieties of the interdimensional entities currently attempting to destroy their planet, weren’t the only dangers on post-apocalypse Earth. The Shipborn had helped quell the worst of the human-against-human atrocities, but their code wouldn’t allow them to lord over the planet the way Claire sometimes wished she could.
Her fellow Terrans could be a bunch of fucking idiots when they half tried. The planet was in shambles after the entity invasion that had begun in California over two years ago, making it increasingly impossible for the natives to police the masses and maintain any semblance of justice. That was why she and her team had set up a civilian settlement in Illinois instead of seeking the dubious safety of the Eastern states in the so-called safe zone.
Claire shoved her coat sleeve off the blaster band around her wrist and opened the window. “Come on, Dix. Bygones. Respect the badge.”
“Sure, Sheriff.” She could practically see the other woman’s dimples. “But I’m still telling Tracy and Mayor Newcome on you for not calling this in first.”
“If I reported it,” Claire answered reasonably, “I’d just browbeat everyone into agreeing that I should check out…whatever it is. This saves time.”
Both men in the Humvee with her chuckled. Claire might run Camp Chanute with military precision, but she didn’t insist on mealy-mouthed respect from her people.
She sure as hell didn’t give any mealy-mouthed respect to anybody, so it would be hypocritical of her to demand it. She was a stubborn asshole according to her sister, and a foul-mouthed sourpuss according to Dixie, but she wasn’t hypocritical.
They crested the rise almost on top of the silver object. About forty feet long, and narrow, with rounded ends. Couldn’t tell heads or tails on it. This close she didn’t see any doors or windows. The whole thing looked like a single piece of metal—no joints.
“What the hell is it?” Will said. “Some kind of rocket?”
“I don’t know.” Tactanium, the non-Terran metal favored by the Shipborn, was pale silver like this thing, but not as glossy. The surface of the object was practically mirrored, and the bullet shape was completely unfamiliar. “Shit. Guess I need to check it out with a sensor array.”
“You should have worn it in the first place.”
“I hate the way it feels.”
“I’ll wear it,” he offered. “I like talking to Ship.”
“Nah, I got this.” The creepy little piece of advanced tech gave Ship 1001, the nosy sentient AI spacecraft that the Shipborn called home, access to her brain, and that didn’t always mesh with her plans.
Will brought the Humvee to a stop a decent distance from the object. Claire and her deputies—really, most Terrans in general—relied on native tech for communications, transportation, and daily activities. Though she was favored by the Shipborn, having given birth to the current general’s daughter a year and a half ago, Shipborn tech wasn’t infinite. The Shipborn were cut off from their people now and trapped in the Terran system with limited supplies. That was what happened when you violated your society’s laws just to save some measly primitive planet.
With a grimace, Claire plucked the translucent jumble of wires from an inside coat pocket and flipped down the visor mirror. Aligning the endo-organic end with the neural implant in her temple, she allowed it to squiggle beneath her dark skin. It sank into place inaudibly, but she felt the vibration of it in her skull. She nestled the rest of the wire around her short, tightly curled black hair like a crown.
The crown that made her the Queen of Assholes, but hey, she got shit done.
She focused the array’s nano-computer on the object, activating the scanning feature.
It didn’t register. At all. No power source, no metal, no nothing. It was as if the object wasn’t there.
“That is not good,” she said to her men. “Sensor’s not picking it up.”
“A mirage?” Will suggested, staring through the windshield. “Light rays could refract off the snow.”
“That is one solid-ass mirage.” Claire swung open the door of the Humvee, and the other two did the same. She hadn’t needed to give the order to free their tactanium blaster bands from their parka sleeves.
A warning pinged on the sensor as the scan completed, presenting her with some information that was almost as worrisome as a vessel her sensor array couldn’t detect. “Folks, I’m picking up signs of entity activity. Past few hours.”
“Shouldn’t be any shades here.” Will scruffed a hand over his chin. “Do you think this is one of those invisible shade hits?”
“We’ll look for bodies,” Claire said grimly. A whiff of rotten garbage reached her, confirming what her sensor had already warned her about the shades.