Military science fiction with romantic elements
After Air Force pilot Steve Richardson crashes his F-35 in the mountains of Afghanistan, the last thing he sees before blacking out is the UFO that caused his flame out.
And it's coming for him.
Steve didn’t expect to survive his injuries, but he did...to find that the universe, as he understands it, will never be the same again.
Steve is aboard the space carrier SWS Nautilus, flagship of the Solar Warden fleet—a military arm secretly tasked with defending Earth from an extraterrestrial threat he can hardly believe is real.
Asked to join the program, he struggles to master technology half a century beyond his training and experience. But he has to learn it if he’s going to help defend humanity from complete and utter annihilation.
And he has to learn it fast.
The Nautilus is under attack, the enemy vanguard is on its way and the aliens may not be the only ones who want to see him fail.
“Tell me about Sandy Cooper,” Scarecrow asked as they sat down opposite each other.
Later that evening, Scarecrow invited Major Cooper to meet with him to discuss her feelings of loss. She was reluctant at first, but Scarecrow’s sincerity convinced her to relent. They went to the wardroom and found a secluded booth in the rear dining room, where Cooper would feel comfortable speaking without anyone eavesdropping.
“I know Major Cooper – I receive instruction from her for six hours every day. I know she’s professional and makes the EDF Marine Corps proud. But I know very little about the woman behind the uniform. Tell me about her.”
Cooper stared at Scarecrow from behind a coffee mug. After several moments, her demeanor softened and she decided to let him in. “I was born in Richmond, Virginia. I’m not going to tell you my age, because that’s need to know, and you don’t need to know.”
“It’s alright,” he assured her. “A gentleman never asks a lady her age.”
“A gentleman, huh?” Scarecrow deflected her gibe with a smile. She sighed as she continued. “I hail from a long pedigree of Marine Corps officers, all the way back to my great grandfather who was with the United States expedition to Korea in 1871. I’ve lived on my share of marine bases. Dad was a major general.”
“I can relate. My father was an Air Force Chaplain. We moved around quite a bit, too. But Illinois was always home.”
Cooper smiled and motioned to herself. “Richmond. I have four brothers, all of whom joined the corps as well. Both dad and they taught me how to take care of myself, and not to let anyone,” her eyes bored into his as she spoke, “take advantage of me.”
“I’m glad they did,” Scarecrow replied.
“But my mom,” she stared off into the ether as her face broke into a fond smile at her recollection, “taught me what it means to be a woman, and to never forget that’s the foundation upon which everything else rests.”
Cooper was constant in her vigilance, always searching for a hint of something, anything that would provide an indication that Scarecrow had an ulterior motive. She hadn’t fully let her guard down, but Scarecrow gave her no cause to think she shouldn’t.
“The Marine Corps has always been at the forefront of my family’s lives. We all bled khaki and olive drab. The day I graduated from high school, I enlisted. I attended college and went through OCS, and graduated at the top of my class.”
“Good for you.”
“It wasn’t easy,” Cooper said with a solemn tone. “Being a woman in the Corps is tough, especially when you look like I do. And trust me,” she waved a hand in front of her ample breasts, “these don’t help at all. I’ve lost count of the number of times a senior officer assumed they could get me out of my uniform by promising to make things easier for me. Of course, I refused every proposition, which only served to make things that much more difficult.” She stared at him for a time. “I see the way you look at me …”
“Oh! If I’ve offended you in any way, I’m so sor–”
“Steve. You misunderstand. I think it was Marilyn Munroe who said, ‘all a girl really wants is for one guy to prove to her that they’re not all the same.’” Her eyes were locked on his. Then she smiled. “Relax. You passed. You’re one in a million.”
One in a million. The statement made Scarecrow feel like he’d been handed the keys to the kingdom. He tried not to let it show.
“I had to earn every accolade, every promotion with one hand tied behind my back. I had to be better than all the men at everything. As much as I hate to admit it, there are plenty of guys in the Corps who don’t want to see a woman in a position of authority, especially over them. They don’t like girls bein’ on top …” Cooper flashed a wry smile. Her expression morphed to one more somber. “I never traded on my father’s reputation, or my brothers. I got where I am today entirely on my own merits.”
“And now you’re a major. A company commander,” Scarecrow said. “I understand what you’re saying. The Air Force is not much different. Women are mistreated and passed over no matter how hard they work to prove themselves. The Air Force Academy has certainly had its share of scandal.” He winced. “But the fact you’ve made it as far as you have without any help speaks volumes about your commitment and determination. You have my utmost respect, Major.”
“Thank you. And we’re off-duty, so you can call me Sandy.” Scarecrow smiled at her offer of intimacy. “But in order to maintain my position, and hopefully continue to move upward, I can’t let my guard down for even a moment. As I said, I have to be stronger, faster, smarter, tougher, harder, and more unyielding than the men I command. If I show one iota of weakness, then they’re like sharks. One drop of blood in the water, and there’s a feeding frenzy. I command 500 marines. I have to be better and badder than each and every one of them or they won’t follow me. That’s also why I insist on being addressed as ‘Sir.’ My first sergeant is the only one I allow to address me as ‘Ma’am.’”
Scarecrow’s eyes confirmed his compassion and understanding for Cooper’s plight. “I agree with you about having to work so hard at everything to maintain the respect of your men. But you’re using your pain and your grief to fuel the tough marine major. You can’t continue to do that. You have to let it go. If you’re not careful, you’ll lose your humanity along the way. That’s why we’re here. Why I’m here. I want to help you deal with the pain that you’ve been burying for so long. I don’t want you to lose the best part of yourself by allowing it to swallow up who you are.”
“And who am I, Steve?” There was that stare again.
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What’s your favorite part about being a romance author?
I’m not really a romance author, but I do inject romance into all of my stories. Stories are about relationships, and romance is a big part of that. I enjoy writing about what I believe is a healthy romantic relationship, from my own experience and what I’ve gleaned from the 38 years I’ve been married. That includes all the warts, because no relationship is perfect. There’s lots of room for conflict!
Here’s my tip to add romance to your love life:
Men, put your partner’s needs and desires before your own. Always.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs February 1 – 28
Drawing will be held on March 1.
Award winning author Peter Fuller worked in the Military History Department of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta, Canada for eight years. He has studied military history for decades, written numerous articles and lectured at major museums and universities on the subject of military history. He has also been a regular panelist at NORWESCON since 2017. He has studied the UFO phenomenon since grade school. He is a member of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), and has had a few "close encounters" of his own. Most recently, he interviewed the son of a United States military officer about his late father's work on several special access projects for the secret space program.
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