Dead Beckoning


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The fearsome Corsairs had waged a campaign of terror against the Human colonies for nearly a century, plundering and dominating the space lanes that crossed the Terran Empire, at will, all the while keeping the location of their base a closely guarded secret. Then one day, quite unexpectedly, the Corsairs luck finally ran out…

After nearly two days of fierce fighting, the Battle of Turtle Island left the skies of the Corsair world darkened with their dead. In orbit, the remnants of the once feared Black Fleet drifted, blazing… while below, the Corsair civilization breathed its last. The Terrans had finally defeated the dreaded Corsairs.

For a while, the terror seemed to be over, but not just yet.

Not all the great Corsair figures of legend had been killed or captured – a few had slipped through the net.

“Dead Beckoning” is the tale of Adam – a former Corsair captain working to expunge his bloody past by doing good – starting by helping the imperial star ship Antares to track down and capture one of the most powerful and feared Corsairs in legend: Sona Kilroy… aka The Hammer.

Like every warrior who leaves home to go to war, Adam hoped to return to the arms of his love – but Adam wasn’t exactly a soldier, and Marsha… well, Marsha wasn’t exactly standard spec either… but if he did return at all, he hoped to return to her.

For Mykl d’Angelo and Ripley Jones, Joe Lofflin and Dellon Bennett, Space Fleet was more than just a job – and the Antares and Mordrake more than just ships – they were home and family.

“Engela’s eye for the quirky humor of even the darkest situations sets her writing apart from the masses. Her fiction combines oddball humor, in the tradition of writers like Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams, with the best of traditional science fiction.” – Sarah Rutledge Fischer, Focus Mid-South Magazine.

“Dead Beckoning” is the third title in the Galaxii Series by Christina Engela.

Details:

  • Published: Second Edition, June 12, 2018
  • Words: 51,980 (Flowing Text eBook)
  • Pages: 172 pages (6×9 format paperback)
  • Duration: (to be announced) min (eBook narrated by Nigel Peever)


Synopsis: [Spoiler Alert]

Dead Beckoning” is the third book in the Galaxii Series, packed with comedy, suspense and action, and tells the tale of Adam – a former Corsair working to expunge his bloody past by doing good… Starting with helping Mykl d’Angelo – captain of the imperial star ship Antares to track down and capture one of the most powerful and feared Corsairs in legend: Sona Kilroy… aka The Hammer.

Meradinis! The Turtle Island of the stars! For generations, the very name had inspired both fear and admiration for the legendary Corsairs… Admiration because of what they’d done to survive, for their pride and their fire – and fear, because most of civilized space lay on the receiving end of that fire. The space pirates’ ancestors had left Earth once, fleeing the devastation of another war, to seek their fortunes in the Outblack – only to find it hard to thrive without all they’d left behind… The Corsairs arose from people who’d eked out a bare and harsh existence in the Outblack of deep space, to become the biggest, most crippling threat to the much larger and more powerful Terran Empire’s trade, shipping and colonization program – like a phoenix rising from its own ashes!

For nearly a century the Corsairs raided Terran colonies on the edge of known space while they were young and tender and less able to defend themselves, changing and adapting to suit every tactic or strategy employed against them by their opponents: the Terran Space Fleet.

Of all their weapons, secrecy was their greatest – because only the Corsairs themselves knew how to find Meradinis, in the deep dark wastes of the Omegan Quadrant – and it kept the Space Fleet at bay for a very long time. Then one day, their luck ran out – the location of Meradinis fell into the hands of the Terran Empire, and they did not delay in taking action!

Swiftly, Meradinis fell under Terran attack – and with the weight of the entire Terran battlefleet hammering on their doors, Meradinis fell. The dark dream was over. The Terrans weren’t merciless in their future plans for Meradinis and their distant cousins, the Corsairs – but they were harsh. Those living on Meradinis would be confined to the planet, and an embargo on unofficial travel to and from there would be imposed for the next 20 years while the populace adjusted… to becoming citizens of the Terran Empire.

In the meantime, those who plied the trade of the space pirate – those who’d survived the battle and proudly walked the walk of the Corsair – would be rounded up, arrested and sent to face Terran justice. As the last shots faded and as the skies of Meradinis below were darkened by the drifting shadows of their smashed ships in orbit, the big names in Corsair society fled into the darkness any way they could…

For one such name, it’s a running battle. His ship had survived the Battle of Turtle Island – but only just – and seeing that all was lost, he’d made a bid to escape – and fled the system. In vain, it seemed – for a Terran warship – I.S.S. Indomitable – had spotted it and is pursuing him!

Sona Kilroy is a Corsair – but not just any old space pirate – he’s the most cunning, vicious and dangerous of them all – Sona Kilroy, ‘The Hammer’ – until moments ago, the Admiral of the Black Fleet – and brother of the Patron of the Black Palace! The odds seem hopeless, as his ship is taking a pounding under fire from the pursuing warship, which is also faster. He knows he can’t outrun it – and he knows he’s running out of time quickly.

With his ship on the verge of destruction, he and a few survivors abandon it in a shuttle, which isn’t likely to fare much better! Kilroy employs trickery and subterfuge to find a way out of his predicament. He allows the Terran warship to latch onto the shuttle with a tractor beam and allows them to bring it aboard. The Terrans demand his surrender, and as he and his crew move down the ramp to meet their captors, he puts their plan into action – risking everything in one last desperate gamble! He does the seemingly impossible – he captures the very same Terran warship sent to capture him!

Nearly four months later, the Terran starship I.S.S. Mordrake is on Tremaine undergoing repairs following damage sustained in a battle with a Corsair raider. Joe Lofflin, the former first officer, has in the meantime been promoted to Captain of the Mordrake, and while the ship’s been in repair for almost two months, the crew’s been on shore-leave. He and Ensign Dellon Bennett had gone on that date and hooked up as he’d hoped they would, and now share a motel room in the capital city of the colony.

In the meantime, Terran Space Fleet Intelligence has discovered that a small surveillance base in an asteroid field has been destroyed – with reports indicating that a Terran warship was responsible – the very warship last heard from while in hot pursuit of Sona Kilroy some months before!

Since disappearing from sight, and using the stolen warship I.S.S. IndomitableSona Kilroy has set about gathering Corsair stragglers and rebuilding the Corsair culture on another world in the dark depths of the Omegan Quadrant, from where he threatens to wreak piratical vengeance upon every Terran colonist in deep space – and further, it seems he’s already put a bounty on the head of one of his former colleagues for good measure!

Before long, Captain Lofflin finds his boredom with the niceties of living on Tremaine alleviated when the Mordrake is recommissioned and he’s given a directive to rendezvous with the I.S.S. Antares, one of the Mordrake’s many sister ships. For Joe, it’s a chance to get back into the swing of things after months of shore leave on Tremaine following serious repairs to his ship. Space Fleet hastily charges the Antares and the Mordrake, two very experienced ships, with the task of bringing Kilroy to heel!

The I.S.S. Mordrake and I.S.S. Antares under way together.

For Captain Mykl d’Angelo of the Antares, dealing with Corsairs is not a safe bet without the assistance of someone who knows Corsairs – and Kilroy intimately, so his first goal is to find and recruit the man formerly known as Blachart the Bloody.

Adam

Blachart is a reformed Corsair who is making the most of his new pardon from the Terran government – and going by the name Adam. He’s only just begun to forge a relationship with Marsha, a girl who came to the fringe to make a fresh start, and to get away from her former male past. For Marsha, life out on the fringe is definitely not what she expected, and for her, having met someone she can finally feel safe and open with is a relief met with the counter-weight of risk to her safety by whatever it is this man in her life has got himself into.

Mykl finds Adam on a barely-established brand new Terran colony called Caries, and it is on the morning after his release from the local jail that the two meet. Two suspiciously Corsair-like individuals had been found dead in Marsha’s bar at the spaceport, and a dozen slightly pale and wide-eyed witnesses had suggested – although it was clearly self-defense – that Adam was the man the Sheriff needed to talk to about it. It’s truly amazing what can be got up to with just a bar-stool and a couple of shot glasses, after all.

Adam is recruited by Mykl d’Angelo – the closest thing Adam has to a friend in the universe – to join the task force to help them hunt down Kilroy, to end the threat of Corsairs once and for all, and to put an end to the bounty on his life! Adam is keen to get this over with for two big reasons – the main being to get Kilroy’s price of his head because the fallout presents a real danger to anyone Adam risks getting close to, and secondly, because he’d really, really like to leave all this Corsair stuff behind him. Adam joins Mykl and the crew of the Antares to embark on a wild adventure to find, capture or end Kilroy – before it’s too late!

But nothing’s ever that easy. Kilroy is a slippery character, and a worthy opponent. Time and again he evades capture. In the meantime, he’s been a very busy boy – he’s set up a new base deeper into the unexplored wastes of the Omegan Quadrant, and he’s been gathering Corsair stragglers and ships to his cause – a New Meradinis.

Antares and Mordrake begin their quest by picking up Kilroy’s trail – and finding that it’s made up of bodies… in this case, bodies of Space Fleet prisoners, crewmen from the Indomitable. Blachart blithely informs them that Kilroy had made them walk the plank, figuratively speaking – out an airlock. The bodies are marked with a beacon and left for another ship to collect later. Next, they examine the destruction at the small secret asteroid base, and using the information at their disposal, follow Kilroy’s trail to Yalta 3, where they inadvertently fall into an ambush which Kilroy sets for them. A number of star-marines are killed in an explosion, and Mykl d’Angelo – as task force commander – takes the loss very personally and blames himself.

The game isn’t over however, and while in pursuit of the Indomitable, the task force resorts to trickery to convince Kilroy that he’s given them the slip. Taking advantage of the older Indomitable’s shorter sensor range, Mykl and Joe pursue the Corsair carefully at long range, and follow him to his end destination – Endicor. From a safe distance, they determine that a base has been set up on the surface, a base concealed by a kind of camouflage field which prevents them from seeing what’s inside. In the meantime, the Indomitable departs and the task force seizes the opportunity to send down a recon team to scout the lay of the land on the surface.

Blachart aka Adam leaves for the surface in a shuttle flown by ensign Brenton, a hot-shot pilot – but despite their best efforts, the mission is spotted and the shuttle fired upon by a Corsair patrol. The shuttle crashes on the surface, near the Corsair compound, and from then on out, Brenton’s life is in the capable hands of Adam.

The pair make it past a few unlucky Corsair ground patrols to the compound and through a gate in a light deflector shield covering it, into a small very rustic new settlement called Freetown. While there, Brenton and Adam blend in, dressed like Corsairs, and stop in at a tavern to figure out how they’re going to get back out again. Their shuttle is wrecked, and they’re outnumbered by thousands of Corsair ruffians. Suddenly the patrons in the tavern begin to sing – and much to Adam’s surprise, he finds that the song is about him – a hymn of hate directed against the Corsair traitor Blachart! Brenton finds it very funny indeed, and imbibes a little too much alcohol, making the rest of their stay in Freetown something of an escapade.

While there, Adam also learns that the Patron – the leader of the Corsair civilization from Meradinis… and Kilroy’s actual sibling – is also on the planet. Adam decides on a course of action – the chance of capturing Martel the Mighty is just too good to pass up! Following a discreet exit from the tavern, he drags Brenton along to a ship parked inside the town which acts as the Corsair’s new headquarters – draws his gun and blatantly begins to cut his way in through the guards!

He relies upon his experience and knowledge of the Corsairs way of doing things, and puts it to good use. The ship is also running the town’s electricity grid, and Adam’s first port of call is the engine room – which he sabotages – and while the stardrive’s reflex furnace is building up to a massive critical mass, he sets about clearing out the rest of the ship. In the middle of this, he contacts Mykl via com-link and notifies him that they will need to be picked up in low orbit shortly. Then he flushes out Martel the Mighty, cornering him in an escape pod.

With just minutes to spare, Adam launches the pod – and while it ascends rapidly, a wrestling match occurs inside the pod over a weapon dropped by Brenton. Just then, Freetown disappears in a bright ball of flame. The three occupants of the pod are pulled out using a transmatter, and arrive safely aboard the Antares, and Martel is taken into custody.

The Second Battle of Turtle Island occurs just after this, and a climactic confrontation between the forces of good and evil takes place, while the fate of the civilized galaxy hangs in the balance.

The Mordrake is destroyed by internal fires after a collision with a Corsair ship, but the bulk of her crew survive and are rescued by Antares – and a battleship, the I.S.S. Alexander arrives to turn the tide against the Corsairs.

Afterwards, Indomitable is left a blazing ruin, Freetown is a smoking crater on the surface of Yalta 3 – and the Black Fleet is a debris field. With the threat of a Corsair renaissance now in ruins – and his own continued existence and freedom in jeopardy, Kilroy decides it’s time to make a discreet exit. He sets a timer in a slam-torpedo in Indomitable’s magazine, and then beams down to the surface using the explosion to cover his escape.

Initially Mykl, Ripley and Adam are puzzled by the event – and the sensor readings, and believe for a moment that Kilroy has died in the explosion, but Ripley picks up on an anomaly in the readings. Having discovered that someone had beamed down to a cavern beneath the surface of the planet, Mykl is spurred into action – and heads down to the transmatter with Adam in tow. His intentions are to follow Kilroy into the bowels of Yalta 3 – but Adam has other plans.

Adam cuffs Mykl to a railing in a quiet stretch of corridor aboard the Antares, and explains that his intention is to go down and face Kilroy on his own. He expects Mykl to stay safe and alive – and urges him to marry Ripley and to leave the Space Fleet and settle down, making a new life for themselves. Angry at the inconvenience, Mykl waits for rescue and ponders where Adam had got the handcuffs from in the first place.

In the cavern, the face-off between old rivals goes down messily. Sona Kilroy, like most ‘respectable’ Corsair captains, has squirrelled away a sizeable collection of loot to see him through lean times – and hidden his treasure trove in the cavern – along with some weapons, and a long-range star-shuttle for emergencies. It is there that Adam and Kilroy fight for their lives – and to finally defeat Kilroy, who embodies and symbolizes his past life – he must willingly choose to sacrifice himself.

Having freed himself from his hand-rail prison, Mykl d’Angelo and a team of star-marines arrives on the scene to discover Sona Kilroy’s body at the bottom of a very steep shaft – and Adam, minus one arm, alive but only just.

After some more medical attention in the Antares’ sickbay at the hands of Dr. Jaki Payne, Adam awakens to the reality that he hasn’t died and has been given another chance to see if he’s worth Marsha’s effort and affections. After saying some tender farewells to Mykl and Ripley – who have decided to ignore his pleas to abandon their careers in the Space Fleet – Adam departs Antares back at Caries, and returns to Marsha. At their reunion, he intimately  whispers in her ear, his true name.

What Comes Next?

That is a good question! Currently there are three titles in the Galaxii Series: “Blachart“, “Demonspawn“ and “Dead Beckoning“. If you enjoyed reading them, don’t despair – Christina has plans for more in future!

The History of “Dead Beckoning”

When I was in high school in 1986, I started working on an intended novel called “The Red Star”.

As time went by, this story morphed and changed, grew longer – and then got split up to make new stories that would become entities in their own right.

“Blachart” was the first of these to be completed, and “Demonspawn” was the second.

A lot of left-over material formed the foundations of what would later become the third book, “Dead Beckoning“.

Dead Beckoning” is the third and latest title in Galaxii, and it was first published in August 2014, shortly after I finally finished writing it!

In fact, a day after publishing it on Lulu, I got approached by a small press which presented itself as a “traditional publisher”, and so it got taken down again, along with all my other titles in the series – since they promised to re-release them all through their label once some editing, formatting and cover design had been done! I was over the moon!

The experience left me disappointed and frustrated however – and things did not go the way I’d hoped. Unfortunately, the company only ever re-published two of those titles – Blachart and Demonspawn, and only ever got as far as doing cover design for “Dead Beckoning“.

By 2016 though, things had changed. The publisher abandoned all its ‘non-purist’ horror writers and cut us all loose, so I went back to indie-publishing again. By July 2016, I republished the Second Edition of “Dead Beckoning” on Lulu.com, using the same cover released to me by the publisher.

In early 2018, I took a look at the channels through which my books were being distributed – and decided that I should also place my titles at Smashwords to gain access to their distribution network also. Smashwords have different publishing formatting requirements to Lulu, and and so, while I was busy releasing “Blachart” via Smashwords, I discovered that I had to reformat the entire manuscript to meet their technical specifications! It looked daunting at first, but I’m a quick study and in the end it wasn’t as hard as I initially thought.

While I was at it (the most dangerous words known to humanity) I spotted a couple of editing errors in “Dead Beckoning” left over from my “traditional” publishing days, and set off to check the whole manuscript for more. This sparked off another edit, and then I added a little bit here, and a little bit there… and before I realized it, a drastic complete rewrite was underway!

I evaluated each sentence. I added a stack of more material… back-stories and extras that would enrich and enhance the overall experience of what I had envisioned as the Galaxii Series! Two weeks later, the Second Edition of “Dead Beckoning” was finished, completed with a fantastic new cover I’d designed, which would also form the basis of a template for the entire Galaxii Series, and which I also modified for my other series, Quantum and Panic!

In 2019 I revised all the covers to further refine the brand and their look!

  

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One Of The Best Voices In Sci-fi Right Now

“Quite simply, Christina Engela is one of the best voices in sci-fi right now and to not read her work would be to miss a treat!

If you like classic space opera with an ultra-modern twist, you should check her out. Having read previews of her forthcoming work [Dead Beckoning], I can guarantee you the best is yet to come…” – Mark Woods, author of ‘Fear of the Dark’ and ‘Time of Tides’, 2016.


If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to christinaengela@gmail.com or use the Contact form.

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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2019.

 

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