in First Kiss Romances

The Dashing Sir Jerod


The next morning, Lord Gareth waited by the front door until I finally made my departure for the day. He spoke with me as though we had no intense discussions the previous day. He was very congenial, very courteous—very fake. But I easily escaped him once I reached the stable. My horse was already saddled and ready to go. He impatiently barked for a servant to gear up his horse, and by the time the servant arrived, all that remained of my presence was the dust kicked up by Ruby’s feet.

I spent most of the morning just lying in the meadow and staring at the sky, which made Ruby so bored that she often nipped at my hair. I simply wanted to forget about the mess at home and relax. I could not succeed in my battle against the unwelcome guest with distress clouding my mind. After a few minutes, I closed my eyes and drifted off under the warm gaze of the sun.

A loud, sharp sound made me jump. My eyes shot open, and I saw Sir Jerod’s face hovering overhead. His hand was clamped over his mouth as his eyes laughed. “I apologize, m’lady,” he said, his voice quivering with a suppressed laugh. “I thought I might wake you before you receive a permanent blush.”

I slowly rose and stared at him, unsure of his meaning.

He nervously added, “You are fair-skinned, m’lady. Too much sun might burn you.”

I felt my face, which did feel a little hot. But I wanted to ease his concern. I grinned and said, “With any luck, I will sprout freckles.”

He grinned and held out his hand. “You do not want freckles, m’lady, believe me.”

I took his hand, and he helped me stand. “You mean I would be less attractive with freckles?” I quickly added with a laugh, “It is only a joke, I only mean to tease you. I would never think you so unkind.”

His eyes wrinkled with amusement as he pulled me to my feet. When I stood balanced, we were only within inches of each other. I could smell the physical efforts of his morning chores, but rather than rank, it smelled comforting, warm, and real. He didn’t try to hide himself under perfumes or cologne like…well, like Lord Gareth and all the other suitors who tried too hard. I could tell that Sir Jerod tried hard as well, but with things that mattered.

I expected him to back away, but his eyes were hooked to mine. Like Lord Gareth’s smile, I felt like there was something more going on behind his gaze, and it did frighten me—but not in a way that made me want to run. He said, “My lady, nothing could make you less beautiful than you are right now, not even time.”

Something rushed through me and stirred my heart like ringing a bell. I’d been complimented before, but this was so different, so honest. I had very little experience in dealing with this sort of compliment; normally, I would smile, bow my head, and say, “You’re very kind, I thank you”, but I couldn’t get myself to say anything that would do justice to how his words made me feel. He must have acknowledged something about my awkwardness, because he didn’t wait for a reply. Instead, he invited me to his homestead to enjoy a slice of his mother’s saffron honey bread before he started practice. I followed along like a sparkling trail following a shooting star.

The field behind his home had an archery range, a hanging practice dummy, and a post for knife throwing. He asked if I would like a chair, but I said I’d like to sit on the sunny grass. Then he took me over to an empty patch of the field where a blanket was already strewn across the grass, a paper parasol sitting on top—he knew I would choose the ground instead of a chair. I sat with my skirt hems circling around me and opened the parasol to keep the heat off my dark hair. “I know there is more than one event,” I observed, “but is there more than one tournament?”

“Only one,” he replied. “Well, for me. For us. The tournament is traveling to each fief, collecting the champions from each. Your father’s fief is the last to be visited, which means I’ll be up against the realm’s finest.”

He exhaled some nerves. I smiled and said teasingly, “I would be happy to compliment your abilities and assure your victory, but I have yet to see you perform.”

“Then I’ll delay no longer. I begin with archery. It’s less physical exertion but requires focus and patience. I feel it’s a good way to warm up my senses for training.”

“Proceed, sir knight.”

He grinned with a bow. “With your ladyship’s permission.” He stepped up to the line of dirt he had scratched into the ground, picked up his bow, and chose an arrow from the quiver. Carefully and solidly taking his stance, he drew the arrow on the bowstring and stared silently toward the target across the way. I had seen archers in tournament before and would impatiently watch from the stands as they appeared to do nothing but stand for untold minutes before finally taking their shot. But now closer to the competitor, I could see that there was much being done. I could see his muscles flex and tense as his fingers settled into their proper grip. His eyes narrowed in deep concentration. Just as I could transform from silly girl to proper lady, he transformed from charming young man to disciplined warrior. I felt a rush of excitement in my blood as he released and let the arrow fly. The strike of the arrow piercing the canvas seemed to echo in my ears—it landed just outside the middle mark. I applauded more raucously than was dignified.

Sir Jerod bowed and wiped his brow. “I thank you, gracious audience. But if I am to be the champion, I will need to improve.”

“May I suggest something?” I crossed to the target, removed the arrow, and flipped the target so the backside was facing out. Then I walked back to him to return his arrow. “Sometimes the markings on the target are distracting. Try instead to simply aim for the center of the blank canvas.”

He looked confused, and I wonder if I may have even frustrated him. He drew the arrow, took greater care aiming, and shot. I went to the target and pushed the arrow where it was until it came out the other side. Then I flipped the target back to the marked side to show him that he landed a perfect bulls-eye.

“Did you notice a difference?” I asked.

“Without the markings to guide me,” he said, “I took my time and focused harder.” He smiled at me in disbelief. “Where did you learn that?”

I smiled, suddenly feeling awkward. “My mother enjoyed archery. I would shoot with her from time to time. I learned from her.”

There was a soft light in his eyes as he passed his bow to me. “Show me.”

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Angela’s Feelings


An excerpt from Lily Carwyn’s Heartwhisper Cove

I didn’t bring my mobile pad, though, being too worried about it getting broken or lost like it almost was yesterday, so I didn’t really know what I would do with my time. I kinda spent the morning staring across the water and absent-mindedly doodling in the sand. Then I found a really big stick and used it to draw bigger shapes, cutting deeper into the sand until the darker layers showed, making it easier to see my drawing. I started off with a circle, then I added wavy triangles like sun rays, then I just kept adding on more and more shapes. It was so random, but I really got caught up in it. Elliot would kick over some of my lines sometimes, but I couldn’t be too mad at him since I started taking up a lot of our beach area—not many places for him to run without ruining my drawing.

By the time I was heading to the snack bar for my now-traditional lemonade, I was a little sun-parched and more in need of a cold drink than ever. But as I walked up to the counter and saw Thorsen there as usual, I suddenly thought about how gross I probably looked. I stood there quietly for a second, almost thinking of walking away. He didn’t see me, anyway; he had his back turned, facing the open fridge.

“Hey, kid,” he said, making me jump. He turned toward me with a lemonade and set it on the counter. “Anything else?”

He looked at me, waiting for a response. I never noticed before how green his eyes were. But when I realized I was staring, I felt a shiver of embarrassment go up my spine and blinked. “Ah, do you have any of those ice cream sandwich cookies?” I didn’t realize until it was too late I had tacitly refused the gracious offer of lemonade.

He turned to the freezer chest and opened the lid. “So I guess you weren’t sick.”


He handed me the ice cream sandwich cookie. “You weren’t here yesterday.”

I couldn’t believe he noticed—or, I dunno, cared?—that I had been gone. My eyes awkwardly darted down. “Uh, no, I just wanted to stay in the house and cool off.” Then I thought of something to do and pulled out my wallet.

“Ya-huh,” he said like he didn’t believe me as he rang up my purchase. Then he leaned his forearms on the counter, and I felt tense, like he was crossing into my space bubble. “It’s no big freaking deal if you’re scared of the water, you know. Just don’t be such a wuss about it.”

My stomach stopped sloshing nervously. “A wuss?”

He shrugged. “I mean, I’ll give you some credit for picking up Crag; I mean, most girls get freaked out by anything with six legs…” That’s when, looking over his shoulder, I saw the crab I had found on the beach before sitting in a glass tank. “…but you wussed out over a couple inches of water, and in front of your nerdlinger brother. That’s pathetic.” Then he casually turned around and started throwing his pocket knife at the menu board like it was a dart. Then he would pull it off and throw it again.

I huffed. “I don’t need to stand here and be judged by some…”
Before I could get my insult out, his shoulders started shaking.

He turned around, laughing. “You are so easy!”

He was joking? “You think this is fun for me to be insulted by you?”

“It’s fun for me,” he said, flicking his pocket knife closed.

His smile was a little crooked. I tried to stay angry at him, but his smile disarmed me. I couldn’t believe how much effort it took me to grimace and walk away.

“Hey, kid, wait up, come on!” he called.

I almost stopped, but I pushed my resolve harder and crossed the beach with my ice cream cookie sandwich. After eating, I kept drawing in the sand, but I barely paid attention. My mind kept wandering to Thorsen. I always hated when one of my friends would tell me about this guy she had a crush on, and how it was one of those jerks who did nothing but insult her every time they talked, and they both just thought it was funny, like it was playful teasing.
I always called her an idiot for it.

I couldn’t believe she kept getting involved with guys who had nothing nice to say about her; she couldn’t see that they were so obviously jerks. But here I was, falling into the same stupid kind of crush. I mean, Thorsen always insulted me, laughed at how “pathetic” he thought I was, and his favorite toy was a pocket knife.

I would have been surprised if he’d never been to juvenile hall. So why did I feel so weird about him? Because he kind of helped me once? Because he served my favorite lemonade? I was being a nitwit. Thank God the vacation would be over in three days. I’d go home and never seen him again, until maybe next year, and by then, I’ll have forgotten all about him.

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This is a Battleship


Despite Flight Deck One’s seven-acre area and it’s five-story-high ceilings, The murmur of hundreds of people engaged in hundreds of conversations was loud enough to fill the precisely filtered air with a dull roar. A row of Tarantula-Hawk gunships was arranged behind the seating for the Argent crew, and Wildcat fighters were parked on opposite sides of the dais set up for the crew address. The vessels were a reminder to everyone present the magnitude of the firepower at the command of the young Skipper. In light of the non-public political situation, they were also meant to remind anyone with designs against DSS Argent what they were up against.

Argent’s majestic raptor-adorned logo was emblazoned on the wall behind the speaker’s platform, and a royal blue banner depicting Captain Hunter’s rank insignia and the Argent’s designation was draped across the front of the lectern.

At the precise moment the briefing was set to begin, the marine sergeant stationed at the egress hatch closest to the platform barked the command to come to attention loud enough to pierce the noise. The abrupt sound of virtually an entire battleship crew snapping their heels together exploded like a rifle bullet and echoed twice. It was suddenly quiet enough to hear Captain Hunter’s footsteps on the deck. He arrived at the lectern and set down his tablet.

“Be seated.”

A short burst of noise preceded total silence once again.

“I have ordered a standing yellow alert.”

A careful murmur quickly subsided.

“A Gitairn sensor beacon in Sector Eight last reported a transponder reception from the starship Dunkerque over sixty hours ago. The Dunkerque is a Strike Cruiser with a crew of 200 officers and men. Vice Admiral Hughes is in command. He is in the sector to show the flag and establish a forward post from which to observe activity along the Reach. Since the Sector Eight contact, there has been no sign of the Admiral’s ship or any other contacts in that region of space.”

Hunter paused. The crew listened attentively and silently.

“I have orders to navigate to the last known position of the Dunkerque and conduct search and rescue operations. There may be hostile forces in the area. We are authorized to defend ourselves and any friendly vessels. We will enter Gitairn space in approximately 28 hours. Between now and then our new department chiefs will schedule four sets of combat readiness drills, one for each watch.”

The Captain closed his tablet.

“I realize we’re still a shakedown ship with a shakedown crew. But I expect all of us to perform to the best of our ability. This is a battleship. Let’s make sure nobody forgets it.”

The sergeant barked again and the crew returned to attention. Hunter gathered the items off the lectern and stalked off the platform.

“Have the senior staff assembled in my in-board cabin in ten minutes.”

“Aye, sir,” the sergeant replied before saluting.

The Captain stalked down the corridor.

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Lexicon Hollow Free Book Offer!

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Advanced Negotiations from the Million Dollar Artist Series


It is always better to conduct high-value negotiations in person. In person you can employ a large number of psychological strategies that are either very difficult or impossible over the phone or via e-mail and texting. If the value of the deal exceeds $200, arrange it so you can see the other party during talks. Even Skype video chat or Go To Meeting is a good substitute if you can’t be there in person. Otherwise, eject. You’ll be putting yourself at a disadvantage if you try to do heavy negotiating where you can’t control the process.

Silence always works in your favor. Later we’ll learn about time and how time always works in favor of the seller. Don’t be tempted to fill all available quiet time with babble. Be quiet. Listen. Let your client get nervous and start running their mouths again. The more they talk, the more likely they are to talk themselves into hiring you at twice your normal rate.

Inexperienced people have a bad habit of talking instead of listening. By sitting there and watching your adversary, you are putting them in a position where they must demonstrate a mastery of the rules of negotiating superior to your own. Since you are reading this book series, the likelihood they understand the skill better than you is quite slim indeed.

As I have advised many of my clients before, I have negotiated with companies that could eat most American employers like a breath mint. I have marketed, studied and written about billion-dollar properties and consulted on million-dollar projects. You are getting advice from someone who has been in rooms full of people with average net worths in the eight figures. I’ve seen it all. You have to be quiet and listen if you want to land the big deals.

Commensurate with the concept of being quiet and listening is learning not to babble. Inexperienced negotiators have a disastrous habit of never using punctuation. Their sentences go on for page after page. Once they get started talking, they won’t stop. They start out the negotiation calm, cool and collected and four minutes later they turn into a Monty Python skit. And the more they talk, the faster they lose the deal.

So the rule is no sentences longer than eight words. Eight words and stop. Let your adversary speak. Use this rule early in the negotiations. As talks proceed, you can relax a little, but always be aware of the human propensity to get anxious and start pulling the cord on the outboard motor that overwhelms all other sound in the building and talks you out of the deal.

Also be sure to maintain eye contact. Don’t fidget. Don’t scribble. Under NO circumstances have a little fiddly object in your hand or hands. Put your phone away. Sit up straight, relax and look them in the eye.

This gives you a baseline relaxed frame of mind you can develop later in the discussions by getting up and walking around. Referencing objects or presentation materials, looking out a window or handing paperwork to your adversary are just a few of the things that are possible when you aren’t distracting yourself by rolling ball bearings in your hand and muttering about strawberries.

Eye contact also gives you the opportunity to establish an emotional connection with someone. When people think they “understand” you they are usually more likely to trust you. By maintaining eye contact and building emotional rapport, you will increase the likelihood of building such a connection and increasing the possibility your adversary will trust you more easily. This can turn a “well, I don’t know” into an “I’ll think about it” and that can often be the difference between a “no thanks” and a “when can you start?”

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Jessica Defends the Renegade Fighters!


Jessica bolted. Talitha reacted instinctively and dropped her own pack. She ran in a hopeless pursuit, attempting to stop her friend from doing something terribly reckless. Talitha knew better than to run towards danger. She thought everyone knew that. The only problem was Jessica was a faster runner.

Her friend was racing directly into the teeth of a raging onslaught. Talitha knew under any other circumstances all her friends would agree this was certainly no place for a sixteen-year-old girl. Talitha also knew better than to try and predict the actions of a girl in love.

Only her natural cautiousness saved her life. Talitha hesitated for only an instant, and that prevented two oncoming enemy soldiers from flanking their position. They would have surrounded the two girls had Talitha not turned to confront them. Instead they charged right at her. All she saw was burning yellow eyes, green skin, tusks and helmets.

An arrow sliced out of the darkness. Talitha turned away, putting her hands up out of instinct. She felt power surround her, then heard the arrow’s shaft splinter against her shield. She opened her eyes just in time to see one of the nearby tree branches fall out of the leafy canopy above them and slam against one of the creatures, knocking it to the ground with a thudding grunt.

The other creature took a crossbow quarrel in the back and pitched over past Talitha, landing on its twisted, grimy face. The bespectacled girl stood there holding her breath, trying to process what had just taken place.

Jessica wouldn’t have believed she could run as fast as she did. Enken was perhaps thirty yards ahead of her, and the oncoming group of vicious-looking attackers was another twenty yards ahead of him. She felt like her heart was on fire. She gathered huge desperate breaths and the adrenaline surging through her legs and arms felt sharp and knife-like. She flew into the camp like a windstorm, hair twisting and swirling behind her.

She knew she was going to die right there, right then. All she could see was Enken. All she could think of was the look in his eyes when he held her hands close to his heart. She was ready to accept whatever happened, as long as she was by his side. She would have given anything at that moment to be in his arms, even if they were dying and she had given her life as well.

She knew he was real now. He wasn’t just a dream. She wanted him to know she was real too, and that she understood what he was trying to say. Even if his words hadn’t inspired the dull men he had tried to lead honorably, his words had inspired Jessica. She wanted him to know she would follow him. She would follow him anywhere for one chance to call him by name again and see him smile.

She was ready to give her life for one kiss from her beautiful, handsome boy.

All she could see was Enken. She didn’t notice what was happening around her. She didn’t see what she was becoming.

Had someone been on the scene quickly enough and asked Talitha what she saw, they might have gotten a straight answer one minute and a different one the next. All she knew before she saw the bright light was her friend, Enken and roughly a dozen enemy soldiers were converging at breakneck speed.

She could have sworn she saw Jessica carrying a sword, but she couldn’t say for sure where she had found it. The fires in the camp reflected from its golden blade. Enken engaged the creatures with a mighty cross-parry and mortally wounded one before a second raised its own blade behind him.


The Vicereine Wants Her Rings Back


A knock sounded at the door. There was instant silence. Jessica felt her muscles tense. Talitha’s grip on her arm tightened. The bearded man got to his feet quietly and knocked twice. Two knocks answered. He removed the barricades. Enken entered with two women wearing dark shawls. They quietly gathered the two children Jessica had rescued and led them away.

“We have to hurry. Time is short.” Enken invited the girls to follow him. They all hurried to the front door where he hesitated and then ducked suddenly. “Too late!”

“What? What’s out there?” Jessica whispered urgently. The light of angrily burning torch fires danced outside the dirt-smeared windows.

“The owner of your ring.”

“Which one?” Jessica asked.

Enken’s face blanched when he saw Talitha’s ring and the gleaming emerald setting.

“I did not think it possible!” Enken whispered, gazing at his hands as if trying to come up with some reasoning for the unexpected. Jessica leaned forward on her knees and placed her hands on the floor. She moved close and looked him in the eye.

“Are you going to tell us what’s going on?”

“Nobody knew what happened to the other rings. They were only legend!”

“Well now they’re jewelry! Who is out there? Why are you hiding? What is so special about these rings?”

“I stole it.” Enken said with a sheepish grin. “I thought I could use Dawnsong against our enemies. And the Vicereine wants it back. Seems I can’t hide from her for long.”

“Why didn’t you just use it yourself?” Jessica asked insistently.

“It’s too small for me.” Another sheepish grin.

Jessica’s expression told Enken she was not amused.

“Who is the Vicereine?” Talitha asked.

Another shout followed by a cry of pain sounded from outside. Jessica and Talitha lifted themselves up with tense fingers just high enough to peer out the house’s front windows. The grounds of the outer keep were bathed in shadows. The torches were still burning with a brilliant hot orange light, but their flames seemed choked by encroaching darkness. A figure stood at the entrance where the two guards used to be.

She wore a dusty tattered robe and a threadbare cowl. Locks of long gray hair were visible across her shoulders. Around her waist were iron chains anchored by bleached skulls. Slung across her back was a malevolent-looking scythe with some kind of black fluid dripping from its blade. On her shoulder was a tiny black horned owl.

Confronting her in the moonlight were two men. One was armed with a knife. The other had a formidable looking club. Jessica’s heart almost stopped when she saw the woman’s eyes glowing red from under her cowl. Chilled air seeped under the door. Talitha saw frost floating over the ground outside. It scattered the moonlight across the water and bloodstains.

The man with the knife advanced a few steps. Talitha was almost sure she heard him growl a threat of some kind. Jessica gripped the windowsill tightly as his body spasmed. The shadowy woman squinted. A moment later his knife seemed to take on a life of its own. It turned in his hands and suddenly the man was staggering and fighting his own weapon. His arms trembled desperately as he put every ounce of strength into keeping the razor-like blade away from his belly. His comrade looked on in horror as the man staggered once again. The knife was inches from his body. The woman stood motionless as the man stabbed himself up to the knife’s hilt. His body slumped in the mud, impaled.

The other man backed away. Icy particles in the air swirled around him. Still the woman did not move. Jessica heard an otherwordly shriek. The two girls looked up into the darkness. Talitha gasped, her face white in the moonlight. A winged fiend that looked very much like a gigantic vampire bat dove towards its hapless victim. The man turned to run, but the creature swept across the ground and was upon him in an instant. It wrapped its wings around his face and drove foot-long fangs into his neck and shoulder. His body absorbed the spectral black wings and wicked claws. The creature sank into his skin, leaving only the man’s desiccated ashen body frozen on its knees, head thrown back in a motionless scream that nobody would ever hear.

The woman casually produced a gnarled walking stick and advanced into the outer keep’s courtyard. She looked stooped and moved laboriously. Nevertheless, Jessica realized she would be at the door in moments.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have stolen that ring.” Enken sounded like a teenager home long after curfew.

“It’s a good thing you’re cute,” Jessica said.


“Because if you weren’t, I would pinch you so hard right now.”

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The Spruance and the Constellation Attack!


Petty Officer Isabelle MacAllen activated the Spruance’s dorsal autosystems. A rather significant portion of the vessel’s circuitry suddenly came to life as the battle computer drew power from the vessel’s main reactor assembly and activated the cruiser’s defensive weaponry. What Isabelle didn’t know was the communications system she had just verified was using the Perseus command net to activate autosystems in all the other vessels at the same time. Formerly quiescent circuitry, processors, battle software and weapons aboard six other vessels responded. Isabelle watched it all happen on the main viewscreen in a series of attractive overlays around the edges of the display.

“What’s happening?” she asked, confused by what she was seeing.

“You just told the ship to get out its big club and go hit the bad guys with it.”

A brilliant flash of light filled the Spruance bridge. Then another. And then a third. The angry white bursts of weapons fire reflected from the face and eyes of Petty Officer MacAllen as she sat motionless at the pilot’s station, watching in open-mouthed awe as the Task Force’s datalinked battle computers she had just ordered to open fire launched a defensive strike at the incoming enemy formation.

From aboard the nearby destroyer Constellation, the scene was no less impressive. Spruance’s main batteries thundered away, firing in skillfully echeloned sequence. Thousands of miles distant, the first wave of proximity bursts shook the enemy formation to its core. Ten megaton blasts slammed battle screens and disrupted communications. Moments later, the Sarn battlecruiser Venom opened up with its rapid-fire disruptor batteries as it broke range.

Spruance shook like it had been caught in an avalanche.

“Fasten your shock harness, Isabelle.”

Aboard the Constellation, Lieutenant Commander Ray Flynn had been issuing orders quickly and efficiently since the first detonation, and now he was about to answer the Sarn fleet’s challenge with everything his fairly substantial vessel had to offer.


“We have three full spreads of wide-spectrum weapons standing by!” shouted Tactical Officer Ria Cooper from her multi-level advanced combat station. Around her glowed curved displays featuring sliding status updates on all twelve of her vessel’s missile batteries. As the prototype and namesake for its class, the DSS Constellation was the most “broken in” of Skywatch’s missile fleet. Its weapons systems had been studied, improved and optimized to the point where her engineering staff, tactical officers and crew knew more about space missile combat than any other group of 100 people in the known universe.

Constellation was the only Perseus vessel with the “globe” configuration and design for its tactical station. The operator was surrounded by displays which were fixed on a freely rotating frame which allowed them to “spin” around the operator. This only operated in two dimensions, of course, as upsetting a bridge officer’s sense of which way is “up” had been tried and failed several times. The configuration itself was spherical, with the tactical officer seated on a magnetically suspended shock frame and able to read displays below floor level, at eye level and above as well.

What this configuration did make possible was the hyper-efficient control of all of Constellation’s missile batteries and most importantly, their timing. There was simply no such thing as an idle weapon aboard the Constellation. If a rack was capable of firing, it had already fired. If it needed to reload, it was already reloading. If the scanner systems were tracking missiles and one or more detonated, they were replaced by fresh warheads within fractions of a second of the firing order.

Then came the spectrum. DSS Constellation had always been capable of configuring missile tracking systems to do just about anything their technology was capable of and several things it was officially incapable of. She could fire track-on-motion, track-on-signature, track-on-radiation, track-on-signal and track-on-targeting warheads. She could set her weapons to go dormant for several minutes and then wake up and attack again. She could configure missiles to track on each other so they couldn’t be jammed. Missiles could be set to attack from as many approach vectors as there were weapons to fill them. There were rumors her tactical section once programmed a missile barrage to look as if it had malfunctioned, turned around in space and began attacking its own ship, only to have it turn back on the enemy at a most inconvenient moment.

Constellation was also capable of conducting positively lethal planetary bombardments with its “Ironwing” class ultra-dense kinetic warbirds. These were essentially 1000-ton nano-particle constructed iron molecule lattices formed into shapes that could be fired from a Constellation class missile rack and equipped with a short-duration anti-orbital rocket. They were rated to impact a planet with Earth-like gravity at roughly 1% of light speed and even without a warhead could cause an impact detonation in the 1000 megaton range.

The Perseus missile ship’s opposite number was the Battle Frigate Ajax, which was able to defend against enemy missiles with very nearly the same deadly efficiency as the larger destroyer. The two vessels operating in concert were like a veteran quarterback and wide receiver. In fact, more than a few of the Perseus crew members referred to the two ships colloquially as “Law and Order.”

“Confirm incoming sequence telemetry with Spruance.”

“Aye. We have active missile slots one through sixty. Spruance is cycling weapons autosystems aboard Revenge, Exeter and Minstrel.”


“Very well. Lock autosystems response codes in echelon order and stand by for a firing solution. Signals, open a hailing frequency to the lead Sarn vessel and engage automatic translation and records computers.” Commander Flynn settled back in his large and intimidating-looking command chair and waited for the inbound signals to clear up the image on the Constellation bridge main viewer.

“We have a bearings match and waveform lock on the battlecruiser, sir.”

“Hailing frequency open, captain and you are patched in.”

“Attention unidentified vessel. This is Lieutenant Commander Raymond Flynn of the Skywatch Destroyer Constellation. We have you under our weapons. You are ordered to surrender your vessel and prepare to be boarded.”

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It’s the PLuto is a PLanet Event!


Theodore Jefferson’s The Incredible Untold Story of Sailor Moon is on sale in February for a limited time, and he is calling all the Lexicon Hollow Authors to assemble! Founding members W. Scott, author of LadyStar, Kin Kan Musical Universe and Fat Guys on Tricycles with Bazookas, Lily Carwyn, author of the 19-title First Kiss Romances Series, and Shane Black, author of the Bandit Jacks Sci-Fi series are all contributing their top titles to make this our biggest book giveaway yet!


Right now, if you buy the Incredible Untold Story of Sailor Moon EPUB edition from the Palace in the Sky Bookstore at up to 30% off the cover price, you’ll get W. Scott’s Kin Kan Musical Universe Book One (a $5.99 value) absolutely FREE!