I am excited to welcome author WC Bauers, who is celebrating the release of his second Chronicles of Promise Paen novel, Indomitable. Just as exciting, he’s giving us a glimpse into his world with this bonus scene from Indomitable.
Lieutenant Paen barely survived her last encounter with the Lusitanian Empire. She’s returned home to heal. But the nightmares won’t stop. And she’s got a newly reconstituted unit of green marines to whip into shape before they deploy. If the enemies of the RAW don’t kill them first, she just might do the job herself.
Light-years away, on the edge of the Verge, a massive vein of rare ore is discovered on the mining planet of Sheol, which ignites an arms race and a proxy war between the Republic and the Lusitanians. Paen and Victor Company are ordered to Sheol, to help hold the planet at all costs.
On the eve of their deployment, a friendly fire incident occurs, putting Paen’s career in jeopardy and stripping her of her command. When the Lusitanians send mercenaries to raid Sheol and destabilize its mining operations, matters reach crisis levels. Disgraced and angry, Promise is offered one shot to get back into her mechsuit. But she’ll have to jump across the galaxy and possibly storm the gates of hell itself.
Just Breathe: A Promise Paen Tiny Tale
“Reentry’s going to be a real ch-bit.” The pilot’s voice resonated throughout the light attack craft’s main compartment.
“A what?” asked Promise over a closed link.
“Private, think, then speak. Understood?” The platoon sergeant’s words were tempered with the driest wit in the company.
“Oh. Right. Roger that.” I am such an idiot. “Very funny, sergeant.”
Promise’s eyes drifted to the upper corner of her heads-up display. A dearth of stars wrapped about a half-shrouded, aqua-green world. A small, heavily cratered moon floated to the galactic north of the planet. The moon’s near side was marred by lunar seas.
“Triple-check your restraints and your toonmate’s. Web tight. Welcome to sour skies.”
Friction-fire licked the craft as it descended into Ballanor’s upper atmosphere. Private Promise T. Paen held fast to her webseat’s arm rests as the bulkhead at her back and the deck platting beneath her mechboots began to oscillate so ferociously that he feared the craft would break apart. Though her helmet was locked and sealed, she’d turned on her pickups, and by the sound of it Chaos was pounding on the hull of the LAC with a mag hammer. The cabin lights flickered before going out completely. Reds came up seconds later. Promise clenched her teeth so hard her jaw hurt.
A particularly rough jolt slammed Promise forward and into her web restraints, and then backward, into the bulkhead behind her. The restraints did nothing to check the fear-pumped tactical warhead that detonated in her heart’s core. Because her externals were off no one heard her yelp except her AI, Mr. Bond.
“Would the private care for something calming?” asked Mr. Bond. Her AI had a habit of trying to manage her during tense situations.
“No. I’m. Fine. I’m—” Her scream was almost on pitch.
“Steady, Paen. You’ll hyperventilate.” The sergeant wasted no words.
Months of Reentry and Reorientation training hadn’t quite hardened into subconscious thought; hadn’t quite made the R&R checklist automatic. B.R.E.E.S. (pronounced br?z). When followed properly, the BREES checklist made drops routine. Promise ticked off each letter as the LAC groaned about her.
Breathe. Inhaling through clenched teeth began to dry her mouth. But at least she wouldn’t bite through her tongue.
Relax. How am I supposed to do that when…oh, dear God, when is this going to…?
Empty. Empty stomachs and bowls went hand in hand on a drop. Addressing either during a planetary insertion was not recommended. The mechsuit’s fore and aft connections were measures of last resort. Every Jane and Jack knew that.
Stay Seated, Stay Secure. Emphasis on stay. Staying seated and webbed during a drop should have gone without saying. Concussions were still possible for mechsuited Marines. Combat helmets still cracked. Promise had never forgotten the training vid of the woman’s jelly smeared across the bulkhead door. The “casualty” had stood, during a routine drop, to retrieve a rifle that had broken free from its rack.
Safety. Safety everything, every weapon, every trigger, every time. Every mechsuit was programmed to lockdown its weapons suite during reentry. Friendly fire incidents were bad enough on terra firma. In space, a hypervelocity round could punch through a LAC’s hull like carbonscreen and vent the entire cabin. Yes, there were emergency systems in place to prevent such a catastrophe but even those could fail. A smart Marine double-check her gear and flipped the manual safeties on, too. Smart Marines lived long enough to re-up or muster out.
The hammering on the hull lessened and then stopped and with it Promise’s nerves began to settle down. She closed her eyes and exhaled. Thank the Maker. I just need to get through this.
The sound of shearing peristeel and mortal screams wrecked her momentary respite. The sudden impact obliterated the foreword section of the craft and with it the LAC’s crew. A microsecond later her AI initialized her mechsuit’s crash protocols, and a bubble of cerulean energy enveloped her armor. Breakaway charges detonated seconds after that, and then she was outside the hull and plummeting through too-thin air. Flame engulfed her.
“Would the private care for something calming now?” asked Mr. Bond.
“Shut. Up.” snapped Promise through gritted teeth as she tumbled out of control.
In an unforgiving minute BREES went out the airlock with the rest of her company. Promise screamed for help and creamed her skivvies. Her AI, Mr. Bond, activated her emergency medical subroutines, and flooded her system with combat stabilizers. A preternatural calm stabbed the fear-hub of her mind. Promise wanted to cry out but couldn’t catch her breath. Friction-fire gave way to blue skies and cloud-covered land far below.
One, and then two, and then a dozen icons appeared on her HUD. Survivors. She wasn’t alone.
You’ve got this, P. Steady. She remembered the sergeant’s words; simple words that would carry the day.
She gasped for air.
Meet WC Bauers!
W. C. Bauers works in sales and publishing during the day and writes military science fiction and space opera at night. His first novel, Unbreakable, was an Amazon and B&N “SF/F Best Book of the Month” pick for January 2015. His second, Indomitable, releases July 2016.
Bauers’s interests include Taekwondo, military history, all varieties of Munchkin, and drinking hot cafe. He lives in the Rocky Mountains with his wife, three boys, and the best rescue in the world.
Want to purchase WC Bauers’s novels?
The Chronicles of Promise Paen