Exordium of Tears by Bestseller @WestonAndrew is a Christmas Festival pick #sciencefiction #giveaway
Title: Exordium of Tears
Author: Andrew P. Weston
Genre: Military Science Fiction
Fight or die.
A brutal tenet by which the refugees from Earth – including the lost 9th Legion of Rome; the 5th Company, 2nd Mounted Rifles; and the Special Forces anti-terrorist team – were forced to endure while the Horde menace existed.
Now that threat is over, the survivors long to settle down and reclaim the lives stolen from them. However, such aspirations remain beyond their reach, for shadows loom on the horizon that not only threatens the future of Arden, but the universe too, revealing once again that…
Death is only the beginning of the adventure.
Specialist Joe Stark led the assault group toward their target. Situated in the foothills on the outskirts of Floranz, archives suggested this abandoned facility was once a storage depot for aqua-generator energy cells. Heavily damaged during the initial Horde purge, recent scans had confirmed that one level in particular had escaped destruction, and was, therefore, a possible security risk.
Armed with Heckler-Koch G40As, Joe and his commandos had been dispatched to check and, if need be, sanitize the area before sealing it.
Behind him, Sergeant Andy Webb, and Corporals Richard ‘Fonzy’ Cunningham and Stu Duggan stood prepared. They signaled their readiness to breach.
Although the layout was still fresh in his memory from the repeated run-throughs they had completed back in Floranz, Joe brought up the internal schematics of the building and meshed them to the optical overview of their HUDs.
Most of the structure was below ground, with only one access point. Good news for them, for it would ensure a narrow route of approach. While chokepoints were usually avoided, this time the arrangement would work in their favor, for nothing could get out unless it passed them first.
As they closed on the outer hatch Joe issued final instructions, and felt the familiar tingle of impending action infuse his senses with a heightened state of awareness.
“Switch to internals. Active camouflage engaged. Set eye patches to rotating frequencies, with sonic primary. Weapons hot. Good hunting, gentlemen.”
Andy and Stu sprinted ahead and took up positions on either side of the entrance. Fonzy followed, and swiftly but methodically examined the integrity of the door.
“Seal looks intact,” Fonzy announced, “stand by . . .”
He removed a black box from a pouch on his belt and placed it against the smooth metal frame. Four red lights blinked on. A faint electronic ticking could be heard as the LEDs pulsed back and forth along the readout bar. Gradually, each one turned green.
“Locks disengaged.” Fonzy altered his grip and looked toward Joe. He nodded. “Opening on three . . .”
As Fonzy prepared to count, Joe unclipped a small orb from his harness and stood ready. Designed to incapacitate ogres, the orbs employed a triple-tiered defense. A microgravity pulse to disrupt esoteric thresholds; a hypersonic disruptor to confuse the senses; and an iron sulfide solvent mist to discourage frontal assault.
“Three, two, one . . . Now!”
Joe tossed the flash-bang inside and everyone stepped back, just in time to avoid the concussive blast that issued from the gap.
A flurry of activity followed as Andy, Stu, and Fonzy peeled inside, one after the other, weapons ready. Joe was hot on their heels, delivering a calm and measured commentary as he went for the folks back in the control center.
“Stairwell accessed. Area is clear and free of obstruction . . .”
It had been a long time since anyone had passed this way, and as Joe faded into the darkness, his infrared and ancillary sensors took over. Within a few steps, he discovered how stale the air was. He glanced at the info-screen strapped to the inside his forearm. Despite his concerns, however, the readout indicated the mixture of gases was well within safety limits.
For now. I’d better keep an eye on that in case toxicity levels rise.
“Thirteen steps until split landing. Thirteen more until primary gantry. Blueprints of this outpost are confirmed as accurate so far. No sign of hostiles. We are now approaching the first tier in standard formation. Wait . . .”
Joe and Fonzy lingered to provide cover while Andy and Stu checked the only room on that floor. Bread and butter stuff for experienced operators.
Flash-bang, pause, weapons to the shoulder, rapid entry, back to back, opposite arcs, friend or foe . . .
Like a well-oiled machine, the team descended to the next floor, where the same procedure was employed again. Then again. Over and over, down and down, one after the other, until after more than five minutes of high intensity repetition, the final level came into view.
“Control, this is alpha-one,” Joe announced. “We have gained the basement area. Substructure appears intact. There are signs it may still be powered by emergency backups. Wait . . .”
They stepped out into the vestibule of a pristine passageway. Lights blinked on overhead and cascaded off along the corridor toward a heavily armored door twenty yards away.
Joe surveyed their intended path. A series of barely discernible flagstones covered the floor. Unusual, for the Ardenese normally dressed the internal halls of their fortified structures with seam-free embellishments. Then he noted the parallel grooves running along the top and bottom of the walls on both sides.
A rail system perhaps? Movement and pressure activated?
Joe waited for the enhanced optics to confirm his suspicious. Sure enough, they detected a concealed energy source near the far end of the passage.
He tapped Fonzy on the shoulder and pointed.
“Active defense grid ahead. Isolate its command frequency and shut it down.”
Fonzy dropped to one knee and produced a device that looked much like the radar guns used by twenty-first century police officers to catch speeding motorists. To it, he attached the same black box he had used earlier.
Once assembled, Fonzy aimed the contraption along the hall, activated its scope, and gave a quick thumbs-up.
Next to him, Andy selected a spare magazine from his ammo-pouch, leaned forward, and slid the casing along the decking. No sooner had he done so than the interior illumination dimmed, and a metallic girdle detached itself from the distant doorframe. Running flush to the walls, it slid toward the waiting soldiers.
A prickling sensation crawled across Joe’s skin. A concentrated mesh of crisscrossed beams flashed into existence between the brackets to form a network of coherent light.
“Deploying countermeasure,” Fonzy warned.
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Share a holiday family tradition:
As I got older, we used to gather together at midnight on Christmas Eve/Day and raise a toast to those loved ones we’d lost during the past year. It was a solemn occasion, obviously, as it highlighted the fact that death was/is a sad fact of life. But we’d use the occasion to celebrate their life, and express what we’d seen during the year that they might have liked as a gift, and why that particular item reminded us of them.
Some people might think that a bit quirky, but we ended up doing this every Christmas as it kept those who had departed fresh in our minds and hearts, and reminded us what it was about them that we loved so much.
Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood:
The reason why Exordium of Tears is perfect for putting readers in the holiday mood pretty much relates to the above answer. It touches on a subject that has affected so many families over the years, especially those with members serving in the military. In most cases, we get to see those loved ones again once their tour of duty is over. In a similar vein, Exordium helps the reader to reflect on how special ‘family’ is, and how important it is to keep our kinfolk close to our hearts – always!
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Runs December 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on January 4.
Andrew P. Weston is an international bestselling author from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats. An astronomy and criminal law graduate, he has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Science Fiction Association, British Fantasy Society and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.
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