THE LEVIATHAN CHRONICLES: The Last Stand at Aeprion
by James Mascia
Still reeling from his wife's murder, Joel tries to escape the alien hunter and fulfill a promise he made to her. Years of searching for the fabled planet, Aeprion, has left the space freighter captain torn between giving up the search or giving himself up to Kraxem, an alien hunter.
When Kraxem and his minions attack Joel's ship again, he is forced into the nebula, where he'll have to do repairs. Once there, his thoughts revert back to the final day of Kate's life and the promises that were made. Learning to come to terms with her loss and release the guilt that he feels will be a hard battle to fight, but giving up will prove to be even more difficult and, perhaps, deadly.
Steeling his resolve to forge on, Joel vows to find the fabled living planet before guilt devours his soul and all is lost.
He stopped eating. He’d gone almost a whole day without thinking about her. Now that he had, he was overcome with an emptiness in his chest he couldn’t escape. He stared at the seat at the small table where she would always sit. If he closed his eyes, he could almost imagine she was still there, insisting that even though the food was crap, they could still eat like civilized human beings.
“Dammit!” He tossed the half empty ration pack at her seat, no longer hungry, and left the room.
He couldn’t keep doing this to himself. He knew that. But until they invented a pill that could erase memories, he really had no choice. It was all his fault. If it hadn’t been for him, she’s still be here.
He returned to the cockpit just as the air filled with the wail of the proximity alarm.
Jumping back into the pilot’s chair, he pulled up his sensor logs, and didn’t like what he saw. “Computer, is that what I think it is?”
“It is a Class-B frigate, of Quacock design with an armament of…”
He didn’t need to hear anymore.
The bulkhead groaned as Joel swung the Wanderer around, speeding away from the incoming craft.
He slammed his hand on the console. “How the hell did he find me?”
He’d been careful. Since he’d left the last port, he’d avoided all the shipping lanes, he’d made several course corrections, and he’d even masked his energy output to make it impossible to follow his trail.
“How’d the bastard do it?” he muttered.
“Please restate the question,” chimed the computer.
He didn’t respond to the machine. A warning beeped on the console a second before long streams of green energy burst forth from the pursuing craft and Joel jerked the controls to the right, sliding the Wanderer out of the way just in time. The beam of light passed only meters below the ship.
It had probably singed the armor, but at least no alarms blared. At least there was no lasting damage. It didn’t stop sweat from forming on his brow. It was a little too close, and if he wasn’t careful, he might not escape from the alien this time.
AN INTERVIEW WITH JAMES
-What inspired you to become a writer?
So many things. I will start with the fact that I have always been a writer. I wrote my first “book” when I was still in preschool. I wrote and illustrated it. So, I have always written. What inspired me to make a career out of it? Well, I enjoy reading so much, but was sometimes unsatisfied with stories I read. Knowing I could do better, I did it myself.
I’ve also gotten to meet some of my own favorite authors, Kevin J. Anderson and Timothy Zahn, not to mention some of my favorite comic book creators, Tim Sale, Bob McLeod, and, of course, Stan Lee. I figured, if they could do it, so could I. And so, I did.
-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?
Fly a starship! Duh!
Seriously, wouldn’t you want to do that? Fly through space and see the stars and different planets? If I could meet a few of the alien races that would be a bonus, but I would just like to see places I have never seen before.
-Give us a fun or interesting fact you learned researching this book.
Well, when I researched this book, since I am modelling it after the old pulp sci-fi stories from magazines like Amazing Stories, Future Stories and Planet Stories. And what I discovered when looking through some of these old magazines is that many of the covers are quite close to being considered pornographic. It’s amazing how they were allowed to publish books in the 1930s through 50s with near naked women splayed out on the covers for all to see. I have to say that I was kind of surprised to see that, considering how conservative people were supposed to be back then.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
Well, she’s not from The Leviathan Chronicles, but I still have to pick Christine Carpenter from my High School Heroes series. She’s a snarky sixteen-year-old with the power to read minds. She is very cynical, sarcastic, and to the point. I think we would get along marvelously.
-If you could go back in time and give your pre-published self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Go it alone. When I first published, I was traditionally published with a publisher. However, I have found that I am actually making more money (and more importantly, have more control over my own work) by self-publishing. It is amazing, because everyone always says that you have to be traditionally published to be successful, and that’s what I thought too. But as I’ve said, I am actually having more success by going it alone.
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
There are a couple. I don’t think I will ever be able to write a story where romance was the focus. I can write romantic scenes, however, I doubt I would be able to carry that along for a whole story. I also can’t do horror, because frankly, the stuff I would write would scare even me, and I can’t be afraid to go to my own keyboard.
He fights evil across the known universe and crushes them between his fingers (at least, he does this with his words).
James Mascia is an accomplished writer with a bestselling series, High School Heroes, as well as a bestselling graphic novel, The Poe Murders. He has always been a fan of sci-fi, and is glad to be delving back into the galaxy once again.
James teaches in Maryland, where he also writes. He has a lovely wife and a tiny terror (a two-year-old) driving him mad, but making him laugh.
Find him online:
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