Friday, March 23, 2012

Only three people have read this scene through...

That's right. This book is so fresh and new and shiny only three people other than myself have read this scene in full... and I'm sharing it with you. This is the very first scene of chapter one of Phoenix Rising Book One: Janus -- coming in May.

Are you ready?

Thursday, 8 January 2054
Aretu and Raxo Embassy

United Earth Protectorate, Capital City
Alexandria, Seat of Virginia
North American Continent

11 Months After the War

"We've secured the perimeter and have men on the protestors, sir."

"Understood, Captain." Lieutenant Colonel Connor Montgomery stood at the top of the steps leading into the Aretu and Raxo Embassy, scanning the group of twenty-or-so people forming a protest at the bottom of the embassy stairs. They held up signs demanding the ambassadors "Go Home!" and "Get off Earth!" while others were more colorful in their suggestions.

He knew his team member's underlying message. It grew harder every day to tell Friend from Foe. The sign-wielders could very well just be a group of peacefully protesting Separatists, or they could be Xenos. Xenos looked like every other Human -- or Areth, as the case may be -- walking the streets. Except Xenos took their beliefs to the extreme, and weren't afraid to spill blood to prove their point. The saddest part was they were Humans, and they had no qualms about killing other Humans in their pursuit of purity for the Human race. Kill Humans to purify Humans.

Which was what had earned them the name Xenos. Xenophobes on a global scale. To the extreme.

All he could do was be as aware as possible.

A family of four walked twenty yards north of the embassy entrance. Across the street, a man dressed in rags had been slouched in a doorway for over an hour. He'd taken several long swigs from the bottle resting between his feet. Could be a drunk, could be a ruse.

Random pedestrians moved along the dank street. The afternoon thunder show had driven most inside except for the diehard. The rain had left a raw nip in the air and darkened the pavement with the quick shower. At least it helped with thinning out the crowd.

At the base of the stairs half a dozen news agencies camped out waiting for the ambassador to exit. The talks between the ambassador and the Presidential Council for Planetary Reconstruction had been going on for three days, and they were near a settling point, and everyone wanted to break the news first.

Then there was the usual gaggle of grinning females hovering outside the concrete barriers on the opposite side of the staircase from the protestors, charismatic young women who wouldn't be deterred by just a little rain. Wherever John Smith was, so were the women. Connor shook his head. He'd be the first to admit he didn't have a clue about women, but he couldn't figure out what had so many going gaga over the ambassador.

Connor tipped his chin toward the crowd and spoke to his 2IC, Mel Briggs, who held her post on the other side of the door. "Hey, Mel. You're a woman, right?" His answer was a half-hearted "hey!" before he continued. "What about Smith has the women all over him?"

"Why? Need some tips, Montgomery?"

He chuckled and looked at Mel over the top of his sunglasses. "I'm doing just fine, thank you."

"If you say so, sir."

Connor chuckled. In truth, there was really only one woman he focused on these days -- Mel. After years of working side-by-side with her, he finally had begun to see the woman who had been there all along. Problem was, he was her commanding officer. "Just answer the question, Briggs. Is it just the alien thing?"

"What alien thing are you talking about?"

Connor rolled his head back, grinning. "You know. Women get all gooey at the idea of being with an alien."

Mel chuckled. "No, sir. It's most definitely not an alien thing." Connor stayed quiet, waiting for her to elaborate. After a pause, she huffed. "Okay, so maybe a little bit. But, he's also powerful. He's sexy. He's intense."

"Sexy?" Connor looked at Mel again over his glasses. "Are you kidding?"

Mel smiled slowly. "No, sir," she answered, dragging the words out. "He's got those great angular features. Sharp cheekbones. Defined chin--"

"--Big nose. Big ears," Connor interjected.

"Long, lean body--"

"He's tall and skinny!"

"Those gorgeous blue eyes." Mel shook her head. "You could take a lesson or two from Ambassador Smith about how to deal with women. He doesn't talk, he listens. And looks directly at you the whole time with those great eyes--"

"Alright! Alright!" Connor held up his hands in surrender. "I get it. Actually, no, I don't get it but I've heard enough."

Mel smirked and shifted her stance, her hand resting on the hilt of her pulse weapon. Connor had been reluctant when Colonel Goldberg first assigned Mel as his 2IC five years earlier. She was slight of build, and just cleared his shoulder, but he soon learned her size was an asset. She was assumed to be weak because of her stature, but Mel could lay a 6-foot-4 man out on his stomach with his hands and feet hogtied before he managed to say "Hey, baby". She could drink half the squadron under the table, but could buff her nails and comb her hair and silence a crowd when she walked in. With short golden-brown hair and matching eyes, and a bright smile, Mel Briggs was a looker. She also never seemed to be lacking for company, so maybe she did know what she was talking about.

But still, John Smith sexy? Even his name was ordinary.

He just didn't get it.

The small electronic earpiece molded into the canal of his ear twittered softly before he heard Lieutenant Halliwell's voice. "We're on our way down, sir," Halliwell informed him.

Connor nodded to the three Firebirds standing ready at the foot of the stairs, and to the driver waiting outside the armored hovercar. When he heard approaching footsteps inside, he turned and gripped the curved door handle. Mel matched his move from the other side of the entrance, and in unison they pulled open the doors.

Ambassador John Smith and his son Silas moved into the dim afternoon light, flanked on each side by Firebird soldiers. Connor moved into position beside the ambassador, his hand on his pulse pistol. Silas held his father's hand, his dark eyes wide as they moved into the street.

"Good afternoon, Ambassador," Connor said as he took up position. He leaned forward just enough to grin at the young boy clinging to his father's hand. "Hi, Silas. Remember me?"

Seven year old Silas -- although by what Connor understood, no one could be positive about the boy's age since his mother was dead, and John Smith had effectively adopted him after the initial Sorracchi attacks -- looked up at Connor with wide eyes and nodded. A toothy grin spread his lips. "Yes, sir."

"We need to talk," John said with his head turned toward Connor and away from his son. His elongated vowels and lilted accent made him sound like he was from Manchester, England rather than an alien planet on the other side of the galaxy. "Silas is more frightened now with your men hoverin' than he was after the inner-city bombin's. Is this necessary?"

"President Tanner thinks so," Connor answered, keeping his attention on their surroundings as they walked down the stairs. "He can't let threats against your life go unanswered. Both you and Ambassador Drucillus Clodianus Hiacyntus are vital to the continuation of relations between Earth and your worlds."

John snorted. "Whose been preachin' the party line to you, my friend?"

Connor couldn't help his grin. "Doesn't help when your sister is married to the President of the World." As pretentious as the title sounded, Connor knew President Nick Tanner felt the same way.

As they neared the bottom of the stairs, the cluster of women to their left called out to John, reaching out past the barriers as if he were some 20th century singing star. The news reporters lunged forward, shouting the ambassador's name and rapid-firing questions at him.

The ambassador turned to the reporters, not addressing one in particular, and grinned amicably. "I would prefer no' to comment until we've completed the discussions. Thank you." With that simple statement, he turned and angled his son away from the screaming crowd and toward the hovercar.

"You know, Ambassador," Connor said, reaching for the hovercar door handle. "Security would be a hell of a lot easier if you didn't attract every single female within a--"

His words trailed off as one particular woman caught his attention in the crowd of ladies who wanted to have John Smith's alien love child. While the other women blushed and cried, calling out John's name, she stood apart. She wore nondescript, government-issue clothing in drab olive green, much like most civilians wore since simple staples like clothing had become short in supply and high in demand. They were sturdy and simple and easy to produce in large quantities. She was beautiful, with rich brown hair and as far as he could tell, dark eyes. But, it was her expression -- the smug calmness -- that caught his attention.

"John, get in the car," Connor said in a low, but stern voice. He tapped his earpiece. "On alert," was all he said.

Every Firebird within the perimeter drew their weapons. Connor stepped around John so he stood between the ambassador and his son and the beautiful woman with the cool expression. Connor stared at her through his sunglasses, and she stared right back. Then a small, almost indiscernible smile bowed her lips.

The hairs on the back of Connor's neck stood to attention and he shoved John toward the door just as she took from the pocket of her jacket a small, metallic ball with red lights blinking around the circumference.



  1. Ah geez, Gail. That's just enough to drive me crazy. I'm ready for this book to come out already! Can't wait. If this is any indication it's going to be fantastic read.
    Grinning from ear to ear,
    Barbara S.

    1. Thank you, Barbara. My fear is I took too long to get the new series out there. But, I'm very very proud of the end result. I can't wait to see what readers think of it. :-)

  2. Hey, I'm a reader and I love the story. I've never been a fan of futuristic fiction, but this story could change my mind. Awesome tale. June F.

    1. I'd love to be the one to change your mind, June. Phoenix is in the future, and there are many things different about our world, but there are many things grounding them in the present. It's not all foreign and strange.

  3. Sounds amazing. I love the hook you left us on! Way to stimulate interest in the story!

    1. Thank you, Jillian. I was hoping to hook, and hook good. :-)

    2. You're a right royal hooker!! LOL!

  4. It was fun to read your work, Gail. I am nerdy when it comes to the futuristic tales, but think it would be fun to read your story and find out what they are all about.

    1. Thank you, Paisley. I try to paint a different world without it being so lost in tech to be -- to pardon the word -- alien. Give me a try, I bet you'll like me.

  5. Gail, you have 'hooked' me-a nonfiction/women's fiction reader! Love your imagination and plot and story, too! Awesome.

    1. Thank you very much, Jude. I'm happy to think I might be able to get someone to try something new.

  6. I already like you, Gail. I'll make a deal with you - once I finish my fifth story I need to get done for you and any edits you send me on the one due out in August, I will settle down and read your story. I love learning new things. My friends were stunned and shocked when they learned I never saw any of the Star War movies and I was banned from my Playground Writers group until I at least watched one of them. :)

    1. Wow... no Star Wars, huh? Well some of the geek-pop-culture references might be lost on you. :-) Not so much you'll be lost, but you might not chuckle as much as a Sci Fi Geek.

      But, sounds like a deal to me.

  7. Loved the excerpt. When will the new book be out? Makes me remember that I need to go back and read the oringinal series to refresh my memory of all the characters and where we left off awaiting this new addition to the series! BTW did you take tips from George Lucas in making us wait long long periods of times for the next installment?

    Barb F. Aiken SC

    1. Hi, Barb

      Janus releases 21 May. I didn't INTEND to have such a gap between, I'd wanted this out last year, but it just didn't happen. The next in the series -- Triad -- will be out in December.

      yes, be sure to refresh your memory. A lot of old faces will be back again.