Welcome to my stop on the SHADOW CALL by Adrianne Strickland & Michael Miller! I am excited to be posting an Excerpt + the Giveaway.
SHADOW CALL Info
Title: SHADOW CALL
Author: Adrianne Strickland & Michael Miller
Pub. Date: April 17th, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
His throne. Her rebellion. Their war.
Qole is the youngest starship captain in living memory on her homeworld of Alaxak and has spent her life hunting a dangerous energy source called Shadow. Alaxans distrust and evade the galaxy’s royalty as a rule, but Qole is now harboring the exiled Prince Nevarian Dracorte, along with some very conflicting feelings about it—and him.
Nev’s feelings are just as complicated, but not towards her. When it comes to Qole, he knows one thing: he’d do anything to stay with her. But when Alaxak is attacked and Nev finds himself framed for murder, he realizes the only way to help Qole and her people is to fight for the throne that should be his. To become the royal she might hate.
As for Qole, she would never have imagined herself as the leader of a rebellion. Despite that, she soon realizes that hiding from her power is no longer an option. It’s time to answer the call, even if it kills her.
Book #1 Info
Title: SHADOW RUN (Kaitan Chronicles #1)
Author: AdriAnne Strickland & Michael Miller
Release Date: March 21, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
About the Author
ADRIANNE STRICKLAND and MICHAEL MILLER met in their hometown of Palmer, Alaska, where they agreed on 99% of book taste and thus decided to write together. Adri spends her summers as a commercial fisherwoman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and the rest of the year writing. Michael grew up off the grid in a homestead in Alaska and now works in IT and tech. This is their second book together.
He barely managed to straighten out in time before colliding head-on with yet another asteroid.
Just another day fishing for Shadow in the Alaxak Asteroid Sea.
“Sorry. I assumed he’d seen it, or I would have shot it,” Eton said from his perch up in the weapons turret.
“Great Collapse, Arjan,” I said, “that was too close. Watch your blind spot!”
“Captain, word choice,” Basra warned off-comm from his station below me, visible through the grating under my feet. The gender-fluid, slightly slouched twenty-five-year-old beneath me was not only the best trader in the galaxy and so knew how to read people like infopads, but he was also Arjan’s boyfriend. Or girlfriend, depending. His appearance and expression were neutral at the moment, only his eyes sharp in his handsome, coppery face.
It was too late to take back my words.
“Yeah, well”—my brother’s voice was bitter, cracking, furious—“that’s a little hard when I’m missing an eye.”
Sure enough, the asteroid had been on his left, on the side where he now wore a leather eye patch to cover the empty socket. I usually tried to position the Kaitan so the mag-field net wasn’t on his left, but sometimes it was simply impossible.
“I offered to be his spotter,” Nev muttered from the copilot station. That console had never been used until now, except by me as a child when I’d watch my father fly. I didn’t turn to look at him, trying to keep my focus. I wasn’t used to having company up here.
My hand tightened on the throttle. Nev’s past—a royal among us commoners—made it difficult for some of the crew to accept him. Maybe, in some ways, for me too. And somehow it was even harder to accept him here in the copilot’s chair than it was in my captain’s quarters. Our differences were easier to ignore behind closed doors, without an audience.
For Arjan, having anyone in the skiff, helping him fly, would have been much worse: an admission. My brother couldn’t fly nearly as well now. He was putting us all at risk. I’d been trying to give him time to adjust, but I couldn’t deny it anymore.
I eased off the throttle, making our course less deadly and forcing Arjan, on the other side of the net, to slow with me.
I hoped Nev would keep quiet, but he added, more loudly, “Maybe next time, you’ll let me—”
“I don’t need your help, Prince,” Arjan hissed through the comm. “Don’t you think you’ve done enough already, hey?”
I tensed. Nev’s guilt over what had happened was huge, as was his desire for forgiveness, his hope that he was one of us now.
The word prince made it clear that he was not. Not forgiven, not one of us.
“Nev doesn’t have to be the key,” Basra said crisply from below. “You know I can help you. Bionic replacements are—”
“Astronomically expensive,” Arjan shot right back. “I don’t feel like being indebted to any more rich people, unlike some of us.”
Both Basra and I sat back in unison. I wondered if he felt as stung as I did. Basra wasn’t just a rich person. He was also deeply in love with Arjan.
I felt stung for a different reason. Yes, I’d used some of Nev’s remaining funds to rebuild the Kaitan. Not only had I repaired all the damage we’d taken and installed a new mag-field net, but I’d upgraded the ship’s electronics, weapon systems, and containment hold.
The latter was now strong enough to contain a large amount of Shadow until it could be pumped off. This way, we didn’t need a loader—someone who had to risk their life near-constantly by filling smaller canisters with a substance that could drive them mad or burn them to ash in a heartbeat. Nev was probably happy to pay for that, since I’d first hired him on as our loader, back before we knew he was a prince. Before everything had fallen apart.
But it wasn’t like I’d just accepted his charity. He was the reason the ship was in shambles in the first place, and part of the reason Arjan was missing an eye. He owed us, not the other way around.
And yet Arjan refused to accept anything from him or anyone else.
“Just get the damned bionic eye, Arjan, so you can stop nearly killing us.”
Great Collapse. Leave it to Telu to speak the truth nobody else wanted to. Our hacker, my childhood friend, sat at a station near Basra’s, her eyes focused on her feeds, alert for any drones she would have to reroute. The spike of black hair slashing her face and the stark lines of the tattoo around one eye made her look as sharp as she was.
“How about you stop being a bitch—” Arjan began.
“How about,” Eton snarled through the comm, “I shut you all up with a few plasma missiles?” We had those now, thanks to Nev. Even Eton, my huge surly weapons tech, grudgingly appreciated those upgrades. Still, he couldn’t keep from adding, “Or maybe we can all agree to just launch Nev out of the airlock, and I shoot him instead.”
“All right, pack her up,” I said. “Get back to the ship, Arjan.”
“What?” Arjan demanded. “No, we need to finish this run. We still need to make our own money, remember?”
“If you guys are going to bicker like children, we’re going home. Children can’t make Shadow runs. You act like this, we’ll actually die, not just nearly die.”
“Now,” I snarled.
Only the roar of his engines answered me. The skiff shot forward, and I had to lay on the throttle myself to keep up.
“I can’t hear you!” he called. “Comm is cutting out.”
That was a steaming pile of scat, and he knew it. It would serve him right if I didn’t keep up and let him reach the end of his tether to come to a neck-whipping halt, but I didn’t want to hurt our equipment. There was no way I’d be willing to ask Nev to buy us a second net.
Maybe its destruction would be unavoidable, because Arjan was heading right for an even denser cluster of asteroids, interwoven with thick bands of Shadow that flowed in a glittering purple-black river against the brightness of the molecular clouds in the background. Both Basra and Telu swore beneath me. A run like that would have been tough in the old days. Now, as much as I hated to admit it, it would be nigh impossible.
“Yeah, I know,” I said in response.
“Qole,” Nev said, his tone calm but edged with concern. “That won’t only be difficult for Arjan. Remember to let me help you. You’re not alone.”
The problem was, even back when Nev hadn’t been up here, I hadn’t felt alone. I’d had help; it just wasn’t of the human variety.
I sensed it, as Arjan careened toward the rivers of Shadow in his skiff: the ripple, as if he’d reached out to touch it. My brother had been avoiding any blatant use of Shadow longer than I had, but now his need to prove himself seemed to be overcoming his fear of the substance and what it could do to us. His very rational fear.
Despite that, it called to me—or at least to the Shadow already inside me, lining my bones and veins like soot after generations of my people’s exposure. I wanted to answer. But that was why Nev was here. With his support, I wasn’t supposed to purposefully draw on large amounts of it or ignore it, because either extreme seemed to trigger hallucinations and bone-deep weariness or violent mood swings. But it was a fine line to walk, especially if that line traversed an asteroid field.
My hands tightened on the controls, my focus sharpening.
“Qole . . . ,” Nev repeated.
“You’re a decent pilot, Nev, but you’re not this good,” I said through gritted teeth.
“I don’t have to be. I just have to help you be good enough.”
“I’m going to use it if I have to, Nev. I can’t let him kill himself.”
“You won’t have to,” Telu said. “I can hack his controls, force him to return.” She spoke over the comm, not caring that Arjan could hear.
I shook my head, even though she wasn’t looking up at me. “That could get him killed, we’re already too deep in the asteroid field. He needs full control. Eton, be ready to blast the net apart if it catches and he’s in trouble.”
“Roger,” Eton responded, “though I might not be able to get it in time.”
“Idiot,” Basra murmured. “If he doesn’t die, I believe I may kill him.”
“Get in line,” I said.
But Arjan didn’t die. The skiff rolled and dipped, pivoted and rose. He wasn’t just threading a needle; he was threading a dozen at the same time. He must be using so much Shadow, his eye would be fully black with it by now. What he was doing was amazing, and yet keeping up with him in the Kaitan was even harder. The skiff was far smaller and more maneuverable. I heard the roar of photon blasts as Eton shot debris out of my way, while I did my best to dodge the bigger asteroids. Nev was my backup, his hands sure and swift on the controls, adding thrust where I needed it and giving me an extra pair of eyes. He watched readouts I couldn’t pay attention to and made minor adjustments to avoid collisions that wouldn’t have been fatal but would have caused damage. “Large one, fast approaching, bearing one- three- seven— blasted hell!” Nev shouted, as I barely reacted in time. The surface of the asteroid came so close to the viewport I could have counted the craters in its surface before it went whiz-zing by. I ground my teeth. I could still do this without . . . Then I saw the drone, breaking away from the other side of the asteroid where it had been clinging. It must have been powered down so Telu couldn’t detect its signal, but I’d gotten too close to its defense field. Drones didn’t like that. Without a hacker, there wasn’t much to do but run as fast as you could. Attacking a drone would lead more than just that one to retaliate, since they re-sponded to destructive threats by beaming alert signals to their companions. Not even their masters could reprogram that function, not since the know- how to do so was lost in the Great Collapse. Hundreds of thousands of drones interlaced the systems, and they could theoretically overwhelm any fleet. But we had a hacker.
Want more? Go to MNBernard Books on 4/27 for the next part!
3 winners will receive a finished copy of SHADOW CALL, US Only.
Ends on May 4th at Midnight EST!
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