“Dangerous Bait” – Excerpt from DEAD MEN… (Section Psi)

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Calliope McKinney has the dubious honor of being a member of one of Mars’ famous First Families, and Psi.  But when her position as a member of a prestigious family places Calli in the middle of a fight for the survival of all Psis on Mars, she’ll have to decide where her loyalties lay, and whom to trust, because if she’s not very careful, she could end up dead.

 

“Dangerous Bait” – Excerpt from DEAD MEN… (Section Psi, Book 4) –

 

“What are you doing, Calli?”  Cade murmured the words into the headset, aware she could hear him, but that she couldn’t respond while the mark was with her.

“Sounds to me like she’s got his number.”

Cade turned toward MCAR Homicide Detective Stefan Theonides, seated next to him in the surveillance flier, and scowled.  None of these people got Calli – not like he did.  Even the people she worked with; hell, even her own brother, from what he saw of Lance McKinney, didn’t get Calli like Cade did.  He knew what drove her, how isolated she felt out here in the real world.  It wasn’t that she couldn’t relate, either.  She tried harder to be noticed than anyone he ever met.  Like now.

Cade swore beneath his breath, wishing he knew more about Martian culture, so he could properly profile how dangerous this creep was.  The anxiety that threaded through Calli’s voice told him he probably wouldn’t like the answer.

He heard Calli’s sharp intake of air, and a noise like some kind of weapon being released, and tensed.

“Talk to me, McKinney,” he ordered in an undertone.  They’d been unable to set up visuals, in case the perp was watching the park beforehand, and now that lack could put Calli’s life in danger.

“What do you need a shankblade for?”  Calli’s voice came through clear, but Cade frowned at the unfamiliar reference.  He glanced at the man beside him as Theonides swore beneath his breath.

“A shankblade is a weapon crafted up on Satan’s Tit.  It’s a titatone blade, housed in something innocuous-looking, and undetectable to contraband scanners.  Usually, the blades are coated in nuerotoxins.”

Cade’s blood froze.

“Calli, get the hell out of there!”

“I think you know,” came the cold voice of their mark, closer than it shoud have been to the microphone.  Hell, it sounded like the asshole was breathing in her ear.

“What do you want?”  Calli’s snapped response was followed by a rustle of movement that Cade hoped like hell was her moving out of range.

“Why, the Muse, my dear.  She will make such an interesting addition to my…collection.”

That tore it!  Cade was on his feet, and across the surveillance flier’s bay before he heard another word.  He’d just reached the door when a scream reverberated  through the vehicle that sent terror slicing through his soul.

Look for the first book of Section Psi, ILLEGAL PURSUIT, coming from Esther Mitchell and Desert Breeze Publishing, soon!

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“Betrayed” – Excerpt from ILLEGAL PURSUIT (Section Psi)

SectionPsidecalWhen the past becomes the present, the greatest terror isn’t what happens next, but what might not happen at all. Detective Jack Peterson was a normal guy, and a member of the Martian Colonial Armed Response, until a shuttle crash left him stranded in the midst of one of Mars’ dangerous Dead Zones. He survived, but his ordeal in the Dead Zone left him battling for his life against the dreaded Martian Fever, and his scars run a lot deeper than his skin, his genetics forever altered. Jack’s never fully accepted the changes he’s undergone, and refuses to learn how to make use of his Psi abilities. But when he’s faced with losing the woman who gives his life meaning, he’ll have to accept that his abilities might be the only way of saving her life.

“Betrayed” — Excerpt from ILLEGAL PURSUIT (Section Psi, Book 1)

He was going to kill her!

Jack slammed his fist into the metal and concrete amphitheater wall and swore beneath his breath. Even physical pain wasn’t enough to drive away the sting of her manipulation. It would be an understatement – and a fatal one – for anyone to think he was angry. He was damned well beyond angry. And, to make matters worse, the woman whose beautiful neck he wanted to throttle so badly was long gone. Rage and hurt knotted together in his gut, a typical reaction to one of Kathrin’s stunts and, like normal, he honestly wasn’t sure what he wanted more – to throttle her, or hug her. At the moment, he’d put his money on throttle, if for no other reason than that he was twice as angry at himself as he was at Kathrin. He let his guard down. He thought he was safe with Kathrin.

He should know better, should have been prepared for this. He’d been here, in this catch-twenty-two between duty and friendship, before. Six years ago, it was Xander Mylonas who hadn’t listened, too obsessed with his pursuit of justice, at any cost, to see any of the dangers to himself or others. And the worst part was, Jack wasn’t sure Xander was ever sorry for what he did.

Jack winced as one crystal clear reminder chimed in his brain. Kathrin wasn’t Xander. She was everything but immune to the feelings of others, and he could at least understand her crusade, even if he saw the dangers to her she refused to acknowledge. Jack squeezed his eyes closed and pinched the bridge of his nose between two fingers as he fought to control the frustrated urge to burn something.

Kathrin was different, no matter how he looked at it. The whole damned situation was. Hell, he’d been falling for her since the first day he looked into those indigo eyes. She used his feelings for her to manipulate and distract him, and the betrayal stung. But what hit him hardest was knowing, after that kiss, she had to know how he felt about her. And she still used him.

The need to burn something, to release the pain and tension Kathrin’s betrayal stirred in him, grew unbearable. He was going insane with the heat of rage pulsing in his body. His blood was boiling, and his skin felt hot and too tight. If he didn’t release this energy soon, he was afraid he’d explode.

His gaze cast wildly around as the pressure built, and he snatched up a trembling fistful of discarded plastisheet fliers, relief pouring through him at the feel of combustible material in his hand. Eyes closed, he focused the energy into his hands, the same way he did when he charged his Wulf-120. Heat swelled in his blood, and fire licked through his pulse like lava rushing toward release. He could feel his hands growing hot and saw the glow of red against his eyelids that told him his ability was gathering power. He caught the acrid scent of smoke and flesh before there was an audible hiss, and the pages burst into flame. The fumes of burning plastic and acetate reached his nose, and, within seconds, the fliers were a pile of melted goop in his hand. It left a disgusting mess, but at least his temper disappeared with the flames, and he could think rationally again.

As calm settled over him, Jack drew a deep breath of relief and stared at the goop in his hand as it cooled and hardened into a plastic lump. He couldn’t help but wonder if that lump was a sign of how close he really was to the edge. Funny, how the mere sound of Kathrin’s voice was capable of calming him, making him sane, while her actions inflamed his rage, and abilities. She had the power to destroy him with her little crusade. And that was the most troubling thought of all.

“In Harm’s Way” – Excerpt from Dead Men… (Section Psi)

SectionPsidecalAnyone who knows me knows I have a lot of faith in and respect for science. I believe that, in time, science will answer a lot of questions that are currently mysteries, and will allow us to travel to and live in places where at current we can only imagine what life would be like.

My love for science is part of what inspires me to write Science Fiction, to ask the “What if” question of science and technology. What if we could? What if we found ourselves exposed to new things we can’t even currently imagine are out there. History and science have proven that the coming together of an established society and a society or location completely unknown to them often results in situations outside of human control. The influx of Europeans into the New World sent the Native American death toll spiraling from disease alone – exposure to viruses and germs they lacked the immune system to combat.

So, what would happen if you took humanity from its home planet, and found a way to make human life possible on Mars? We can send all the robots we want – we still have no idea what kinds of pathogens or problems we might encounter from the natural environment of Mars, alone.

This “What if?” was the inspiration behind Section Psi, set in the 25th century, after portions of Mars have long been colonized. However, a virulent infection known as Martian Fever is still a very real threat. No viable vaccine or cure has ever been manufactured for it – disaster has dogged every one ever created. It strikes nearly 75% of the children born on-world. While most recover with little to no lasting effect, some children suffer genetic mutations to their brain and body chemistry, turning them into what are known as Psis – people with extrasensory and paranormal abilities. And children aren’t the only ones at risk. All new arrivals to Mars risk the same infection. While most adults arriving never even contract the Fever, those who do and whom are genetically altered by it suffer far worse than children do.

So how do you police a group of people with paranormal abilities written into their DNA? You form a special off-shoot of the on-world police force, designated solely to deal with crimes against and committed by Psis – Section Psi.

Hope you enjoy!  As always, please leave comments and let me know what you think!

 

“In Harm’s Way”  – Excerpted from Dead Men… (Section Psi, Book 4)

At the Section docking hanger, Calli powered down her Flitter and unstrapped her helmet as she made her way into the nearly deserted facility.  She dropped the helmet on her desk and kept going toward the Lexus Chamber.

“What are you doing back here?”

Calli stopped as Bethanie stepped out of the lab, and her own brows lifted in mock surprise.  “I could ask you the same thing.”

Bethanie grinned.  “I never left.  I’m running a hazardous chemical analysis that’s very sensitive.  I can’t leave until it’s done.  What’s your excuse?”

“I had a breakthrough.”

“More like a breakdown,” a new voice said, and Calli swung around to glare at Cade accusingly.

“You followed me!”

“Damn straight I did, darlin’.  You’re determined to kill yourself.”

“Go to Hell!” She brushed past him to reach the Lexus Chamber.  If she was lucky, he wouldn’t follow her.  But, of course, she wasn’t that lucky.  She could hear his booted feet on the concrete floor behind her.  She ignored him, setting up for a direct jack-in that would allow her a straight free-dive into restricted space.  She had a name to find, and she didn’t have time to scour the Lexus for a back door.

“Do you even know what you’re doing?”  Cade’s hand slapped over the power conduit, keeping her from plugging the jack in.

She jerked back and glared at him again.  She sure as hell knew what she was doing, unlike him.

“I’m working.”

“Bullshit, angel.  You–”

”Like you’d know.”  She straightened then, her breath frozen in her lungs and her eyes wide as what he said finally registered.  Angel.  “What did you call me?”

He frowned, as if replaying his words in his head, and she swore she caught the flicker of panic in his eyes, if only for an instant.

“Nothing.  Calli, you haven’t worked this hard on a case in years, from what I’ve heard.”

Her eyes narrowed.  “From who?”

“Your brother.  The captain.  Hell, everyone.”  He gave her a strange look she couldn’t decipher.  “They all say you’re a workaholic, but that you’ve never taken a case personally, before.”

She rolled her eyes.  “Who says it’s personal?”

“Please.  You’ve been ready to go to the wall – Hell, you hacked an Earth Council facility – for this case.  I want to know why.  What makes this case different?”

She glared at him, even as her suspicion meter pegged out.  Just how the hell did he know what she did in her home Lexus Chamber?

copyright 2008 by Esther Mitchell

Section Psi – Coming Soon from Desert Breeze Publishing

Writing Crossroads and Publishing Options

I’m at a crossroads, of sorts, with my writing. I have two currently published series with books still due out, and two more under consideration. Over the past three decades I’ve been writing, and especially over the past decade I’ve been published, I’ve undergone a lot of changes and growth as an author, and now I find myself at a crossroads I can honestly say I never really considered hitting.

 

For most of my writing career, one of my major points of focus was to get published. It was a dream that kept me going, and writing, through some very difficult straits in my life. My drive was always to be published by an actual publishing house – whether small or big press didn’t matter to me.

 

In 2004, that dream became a reality. While my first attempt to publish had fallen flat before it even got a running start, in 2004 I started with a publishing house that was also in start-up. I have to admit, I was leery at first, but eventually was won over, and so began my journey as a published author. I was doing well enough, but I was also becoming disillusioned, and quickly. The publisher wasn’t a good fit (as I feared from the beginning), and the changes that were being made to my books and my vision for my career were disheartening. Then, in 2007, that publishing house closed its doors and I (and the other authors there) had a fight on our hands, getting our rights to our work back. That scarred me, made me even more wary than before. But I still had a dream to pursue.

 

The next publishing house to come along and request my work had a difficult time getting me to agree, but promises were made, and I eventually agreed to give them a chance. I should have known better, but when that also disintegrated, my growth was spiraling the wrong way. I was starting to question if it was even worth writing, anymore. Yet, I couldn’t give it up, either. Writing was part of my identity, now, and I knew I needed to keep going.

 

I found two wonderful publishers, who treat me and my writing with respect and dignity. Under The Moon currently publishes my Underground (Science Fiction) series, and Desert Breeze Publishing is running my Legends of Tirum (Fantasy) series and Project Prometheus (Paranormal/Military) series, with my Section Psi (Science Fiction) upcoming.

 

However, I’m at a crossroads on the rest of my writing. I’m not sure what I want to do. I have series that I’ve spent a lot of time and effort developing, and having to completely re-edit because the first publisher to have them twisted them beyond recognition. I’m asking myself if I want to take a chance with a publisher, for these books, or if I want to just publish them, myself. The crossroad I’m at is a “maybe traditional publishing wasn’t the way to go” one. Would I be better off, and truer to my craft, to publish the books myself, under my own imprint, than to let someone else get to call the shots?

 

I just don’t know, yet. But, in the meantime, I’m keeping my options open. If a publisher can promise me not to alter my books beyond recognition, and leave me an open-ended clause that says if I don’t like the edits suggested I either don’t have to accept them, or I can yank the book, I’m willing to entertain letting them have an option at my Guardians, Inc. and High Stakes series. But I’m going to be stubborn about the changes I allow to these series… I think they have a lot of sales potential as they are, and I’m still kicking myself for my early allowance of the twisting they underwent.

 

So, let the bargaining begin… You can reach me via e-mail. If I don’t have any option requests by the time the first book is finished, I’ll take that as a sign I’m doing this myself.

Project Prometheus Badge

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The Underground insignia.

The Underground insignia.

“Virtual Reality” – Excerpt from DEAD MEN… (Section Psi)

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The next excerpt comes from a Science Fiction series of mine, set on Mars…

Calliope McKinney has the dubious honor of being a member of one of Mars’ famous First Families, and Psi.  But when her position as a member of a prestigious family places Calli in the middle of a fight for the survival of all Psis on Mars, she’ll have to decide where her loyalties lay, and whom to trust, because if she’s not very careful, she could end up dead.

“Virtual Reality” – Excerpt from DEAD MEN… (Section Psi, Book #4):

Her gaze dropped sadly to the body, again, and she reached to touch Bryana’s hand – something she hadn’t dared to do with the real body.  “Drugs would have messed with the image, eventually, and Bryana was all about her image.”

She blinked, and looked up, surprised to find him crouched on Bryana’s other side, his expression concerned.  “You knew her, didn’t you?”

Calli’s eyes dropped away from his, again, determined to not let him see any real emotion.  Her gaze dropped to Bryana, and she blinked again.  Too bad she couldn’t blame it on allergies, here in the Lexus.  “She was my friend.”

Her gaze focused on Bryana’s hands, which were clenched in fists against her chest.  Calli’s brow furrowed.  A dull glow emanated from the body’s clenched fists.  That was something she couldn’t remember noticing at the real crime scene.  And yet, she must have, to recreate it here, right?

“What is it?”

Calli ignored Drew as she grasped the Lexus image’s wrist, and eased it away from her body.  The arm was stiffened with rigor, and she had to wrestle it over to where she could work the fingers apart.  She stared down at the shimmery, phosphorescent substance that covered the inside of Bryana’s palm.  “What the hell is this?”

He leaned closer, and she swore she caught the scent of him.  No one was that good, when it came to avatar building.  She stared at him, and his eyes met hers as he looked up.  “VRDs.”

“Excuse me?”

“Virtual Reality Drugs.  That’s what killed your friend here.  They’re—”

“I know what VRDs are, Drew,” she cut him off in exasperation.  “They’re sensation enhancers that can fool people into believing that what happens in the Lexus is real.  It could definitely explain why she looks like she’s scared out of her mind.  But how do you translate application of VRDs into the real world?”

He shook his head.  “You don’t.  They don’t exist out there; they’re little more than programming sequence meant to fool the brain.  That’s probably why you saw no signs of this out there.  The drug only shows up here.”

She frowned, knowing he was right.  It was a twisted kind of logic that had originally led to the development of Virtual Reality Drugs.  Mostly, they were used in sexual experimentation, but like everything else, they were quickly perverted into a way to detach from reality, and to take another mind captive.  She shuddered as she met Drew’s gaze again.  “So, how do I find out which VRD did this?”

A small, wry smile pulled up his lips as Bryana’s body faded from view.  “Do you trust me?”

That was the million-credit question, and she hadn’t the faintest idea how to answer him.

“Do I have a choice?”

Stay tuned for more from Section Psi — coming soon from Desert Breeze Publishing !  Meanwhile, check out my website for more of my books, both Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the upcoming release of Project Prometheus!