The planet is in ruins. Humankind struggles to survive.
Hayden is a Sheriff in a world without law. A good man in a world gone bad. He knows the fallout of an alien attack when he sees it. He's never seen anything like this before.
Isaac is a Marine in a world without order. A good man with troubles of his own. His mission was to protect the innocent, including his son. Instead, he's the only survivor.
Two good men. Two frightening discoveries. Two paths to one inescapable truth:
The invasion may be over, but the real fight is just beginning.
Release date: March 11, 2019
Publisher: Independently published
Print pages: 324
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No Planet for Good Men
The machine made a loud gurgling noise like the sound of water draining from a bathtub. Only it wasn’t water. It was too heavy. Too thick. And it wasn’t draining from a bathtub.
At least, it was no bathtub Isaac had ever been in before.
After that came the cold. His body—already dry even though the liquid had just flowed out from around him—shivered and shook, the skin on his arms pimpling in reaction.
It continued with a humming sound. A thick, rough churning and then the sound like someone flushed a toilet. Isaac blinked a few times. A thin film rested over his pupils. He reached up and wiped it away. At the same time, the lid of the not-bathtub began to rise. Cool air flooded into the pod, causing him to shiver even more. He needed clothes.
Isaac grabbed the sides of the pod, pulling himself into a sitting position, surprised to find he felt pretty good, all things considered. His muscles were still strong, his body ready to get back in motion.
He turned his head, quickly scanning the room.
Trying to remember.
He squeezed his eyes shut and lowered his face into one of his hands.
He forced himself to shut down the nearly overwhelming guilt and sadness. It wasn’t going to help him right now.
He gathered himself, grabbing the side of the pod and swinging his legs out over the lip. Extending his feet until they reached the cold tiled floor, he looked up at the display next to the pod. His face was on the left—his name, rank, and status on the right. The screen had a crack down the center, the glass broken. It was covered in dust.
He stared at the image, still trying to catch up to the present moment. He barely recognized his face. How had he wound up here?
The last thing he remembered was the explosion.
And his son.
His heart began to pound. In his mind, it felt like it had happened minutes ago, as if there were no break in continuity between that moment and this one. As if the rest of the complex was still on fire. He needed to get out there. He needed to help. There were sure to be injured. There were sure to be casualties.
He clenched his eyes shut. Someone had put him in stasis. The fire had to be out or it would have consumed him. His son…
Nothing could bring Jason back. Nothing could save him.
He looked across the row of five matching pods to the door. It was closed, and the small reinforced window at the center suggested only darkness beyond.
What the hell?
He returned his attention to the display. He reached under it, grabbing the small keyboard and pulling it forward. His eyes swept over the data on the right as he began tapping keys.
Name: Isaac Pine
MOS: 5815 - Special Reaction Team
Reanimated, as if he had been raised from the dead. The scientists needed to work on the messaging. He tried to bring up the system’s menu. A login box appeared over his face, an eagle and star logo—the symbol of the United States Space Force Marines—above the account and password fields.
He typed in his credentials and hit the enter key.
The message appeared beneath the input boxes, vanishing a moment later. Isaac took a few long breaths. He couldn’t figure anything out if he couldn’t calm himself. He continued to shiver, though he was becoming more accustomed to the cold and his body was beginning to regulate better.
He tried again, watching his finger tap each key to ensure he was getting it right. He was glad he could still remember.
“Shit!” he snapped, the word echoing in the room. He shoved the keyboard back. All he wanted was to check the damn timestamp.
How long had he been in stasis?
He didn’t remember asking to be placed in hibernation. He didn’t remember anything after the explosion. That wasn’t true. He remembered it had been his duty to prevent it. It was also his job as a father to protect his son.
And he had failed at both.
The thought nearly brought him to tears. But he couldn’t spend time on that right now. He didn’t have the luxury of self-pity. He was a Marine, damn it. His mission wasn’t finished.
Maybe it was just starting.
He crossed to the pod opposite his. Empty. He walked down the line, looking into the small glass window of each one. Empty. Empty. Empty. Empty.
All of them were empty. Now his was too.
What the hell was going on?
Why was he the only one who had been placed in hibernation?
He reached the door and turned around, looking down the line of pods again. The lid of his chamber was at a ninety-degree angle, having just opened. The third pod on the right had an open top too.
Someone had used it.
He hurried back to that pod. The display was dark, a web of cracks across the glass. He pulled out the keyboard and tapped on the enter key, hoping the screen would come on. Who had been in here? When had they left?
The display remained dark. Dead. It couldn’t be reanimated.
He lowered his head. He needed to think.
And he needed some damn clothes.
His uniform should have been beside his pod. He was pretty sure he hadn’t walked from the MP Station or the barracks in his birthday suit. Then again, he wasn’t convinced he had walked at all.
He remembered the explosion and nothing after. Nothing except the loud gurgling of the stasis chamber draining of its life-preserving gel.
But SRT didn’t have clearance to use the pods. He would never have put himself in one. Someone must have brought him here while he was unconscious. Someone had taken off all his clothes, lasered off all his hair, and put him in the pod. Someone had activated it.
It didn’t matter yet. He needed to catch up to the present. If there was anyone else in the complex, he needed to find them. Maybe they could tell him what had happened and why he was in stasis.
Maybe he would get lucky, and they would tell him the alien invaders were gone, and the planet was safe again.
Isaac approached the door to the hibernation chamber. He stopped to look through the glass. Only the emergency lighting in the floor was active, small LEDs barely illuminating the floor and walls directly beside them. The complex was on emergency backup power, likely pared back to the bare minimum. Had his pod drained because the facility was out of energy to feed it?
His hopes of finding someone else alive in the complex faded. If there were no power, there wouldn’t be any people. At least he could move through the corridors in his present state without startling anybody.
He turned the handle on the door and pushed it open. It took a little more effort than he expected, the hinges beginning to rust from disuse. How long would it take for them to oxidize to the point of becoming difficult to move? A year? Ten? A hundred?
Isaac smirked. There was no way he had been in stasis for a hundred years.
He moved out into the hallway. The hibernation chamber was connected to Research Lab C, the stasis tech still under development. Once they were completed, they would be installed on the generation ships the United States Space Force was in the process of building.
If you can’t beat them, get the hell away from them.
That was the motto among the scientists and engineers that made up the bulk of the facility’s workforce. Everything they studied, everything they planned, everything they built was supposed to help meet that goal.
Maybe not everything.
The explosion hadn’t come from Research Lab C. It hadn’t come from the robotics division, the genetics lab or the SIP. Isaac didn’t know the exact cause, but he knew it had come from behind what the other members of SRT called the BFD. Big Fucking Door. Or as they liked to say, “the big fucking door is a big fucking deal.”
It was a misnomer. The door wasn’t any bigger than any of the others. It was standard height and width, made of thick steel and guarded by both a biometric automated security system and a Marine. And not just any Marine. MOS 5815. Special Reaction Team. Which itself was out of the ordinary. The SRT reacted to threats, thus the name. They didn’t stand guard over a door that by all accounts didn’t need guarding.
Except when Colonel Danforth ordered it.
Isaac didn’t know why SRT was assigned to the door. He didn’t know what was behind it. He barely even knew the small group of people who had clearance. They mostly came and went in the short downtime when there wasn’t a physical presence at the door, as if they didn’t want anyone to see them. He would have believed that too, except they had come or gone while he had been on watch a handful of times in the six months since his assignment at the complex. He knew their commander was a woman he swore had RBF. SRT called her BB, short for Bird Bitch, because of her thin frame, sharp nose and sour expression. She was joined in there by a group of men and women who looked like they were frightened of her. The guy with the glasses was Dexter. The handsome guy was Face. The too-muscled woman was She-Hulk. No one knew their names.They never spoke to any of the guards. Not even a good morning.
It was clandestine black ops bullshit. At least, that’s what Corporal Davis had said once in Colonel Danforth’s earshot. The comment got him latrine duty for a week.
Isaac smiled at that memory. It was one of the good ones from his time with the SRT. He had been a sheriff before he had been a Marine. Before the aliens came and the world went to hell.
He cut himself off there. He couldn’t go any further without risking his focus. His story wasn’t unique, not in the aftermath, but that didn’t make the emotions any less raw or the losses any less personal. Everybody handled their grief differently.
He continued down the corridor to the lab. The pods were set back from everything, the conditions meant to simulate real conditions on one of the ships. The scientists had tested them by putting one another into hibernation for up to a week at a time and then waking the subjects similarly to how he had awakened. They weren’t only interested in the function of the technology, but also in the capacity of the person after they revived. They measured everything, physical and psychological.
He reached the door. It was hanging open a few centimeters, the room beyond it as dark as the corridor. He pushed it open the rest of the way, squinting to see better.
His eyes landed on a white lump on the floor beside one of the computer terminals. The tile around it was dark and stained.
Blood? If it was, it had dried a long time ago.
He padded over to the lump, kneeling beside it and pulling the scientist from his side onto his back. He almost pulled too hard, anticipating more resistance. The dead face that stared up at him was mostly bone, the skin and muscle almost fully deteriorated.
Isaac pulled back in shock and confusion. The state of the body meant he could probably rule out one year in hibernation, and maybe even five. He didn’t know how long this level of decomposition would take, but it wasn’t a quick thing.
Then there was the fact that the man was dead in the lab, interrupted and killed in the middle of his research. A mug rested on the counter next to the computer, a stained ring around the inside revealing how much coffee had been in it when he died.
Had it happened before or after the explosion?
He returned to the body, examining it for the telltale signs of attack by the invaders. There were no marks on the bone to suggest deep lacerations or bites. There was a hole in the front of the lab coat, and when Isaac moved the cloth aside, he found chips missing from one of the ribs and a spent slug lying with the bones.
The man had been shot. But who could have shot him, and why? Isaac knew society had been breaking down since the initial sickness killed billions. But this was a secured military compound in the middle of nowhere. There was no way looters or a gang had stumbled on the place and gotten through an entire platoon of trained Marines to kill the people inside.
If that were true, then it meant the killer was already inside. It meant the killer was one of them.
“How long have I been asleep?” he asked out loud. He considered taking the researcher’s coat to cover himself, but what was the point? He was alone in here.
He found four more dead scientists in the lab, each of them with a single gunshot wound to the stomach. They had died at their stations like they had never seen the attack coming. Like they hadn’t known anything was out of the ordinary. Isaac didn’t understand how that could be.
He was doing his best not to panic. To keep his head and deal with the situation. He shouldn’t have been in stasis. He shouldn’t be here now. It didn’t make sense.
Nothing made sense.
He turned to head for the door leading out into the main corridor.
He froze, dropping behind one of the counters as the door opened with a gentle squeal.
Isaac remained still, ears sharp as something moved into the lab. A person? An alien? A dog or cat? He couldn’t tell. Whatever it was, he didn’t really want to confront it. He was naked for shit’s sake!
The door slid closed, but not completely, as if there were something on the threshold blocking it. A light snap near the first scientist he discovered confirmed the thing hadn’t left.
It was in the room with him.
Isaac was grateful the last iteration of the pods were designed to maintain muscle mass, electrical charges in the gel stimulating the body. No matter how much time had passed, he had come out of the machine as strong as the day he went in, his fit physique a byproduct of being an active Marine in a world gone mad.
He leaned forward slightly, eyes on the corner of the counter. The only light in the room filtered in from the open doors, barely enough to navigate by. He could only manage to make out the silhouette of the desk across the room and the lump of the dead scientist.
He didn’t see whatever had come into the room, but he knew by the lack of motion at the doors that it hadn’t left.
What was it?
Where was it?
He pulled himself back, quickly scanning his immediate area. His heart was racing, pulse pounding through his temples. Who wanted to wake from stasis to find themselves in a situation like this?
He eyed the corner of the room. If he headed over there, it couldn’t take him by surprise. He considered the position of the exit. If he made a run for it, he might be able to get out before it caught him. Or he could stay put, stay as silent and motionless as he could, and hope for the best.
The last option might have been the smartest, but it was too passive for him. Too dependent on fate and chance. He had lost control of his future already, in ways he was eager to uncover. First came the explosion, then came the pod and now there was this. Long-dead scientists shot in the stomach and a monster lurking in the darkness.
Monsters weren’t new. He had fought plenty of them already.
Just not without any clothes on.
He gathered his legs under him, ready to make a break for the entrance. If he could get out before it got to him, he could swing the door into it and hopefully knock it down. It wasn’t much of a plan, but it was all he had at the moment.
Isaac pushed off, lunging forward and around the edge of the counter. A hiss followed behind him, his stalker losing its prey at the last moment. He didn’t look back, staying focused on the door and his escape. It was a race to the barracks. He had a sidearm in his footlocker. With any luck, it was still there.
The door in front of him swung open unexpectedly, a dark demonic shape greeting him. It hissed when it saw Isaac coming. They had surprised each other.
Isaac slammed into the creature, driving it back into the opposite wall with his shoulder. It flailed and screamed, sharp claws reaching for Isaac. He shoved his elbow hard into its neck, rewarded with a wet crack. It slumped to the floor.
The war clearly wasn’t over.
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