Title: The IX Audiobook
Author: Andrew P Weston
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Perseid Press
Roman legionaries, far from home, lost in the mists of Caledonia.
A US cavalry company, engaged on a special mission, vital to the peace treaty proposed by Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln.
A twenty-first century Special Forces unit, desperate to prevent a nuclear catastrophe.
From vastly different backgrounds, these soldiers are united when they are snatched away from Earth at the moment of their passing. Thinking they may have been granted a reprieve, imagine their horror when they discover they have been transported to a failing planet on the far side of the galaxy, where they are given a simple ultimatum. Fight or die. Against all odds, this group of misfits manages to turn the tide against a relentless foe, only to discover the true cost of victory might exact a price they are unwilling to pay.
How far would you be willing to go to stay alive?
Sometimes, death is only the beginning of the adventure.
To celebrate the audio release of International Bestseller The IX, Andrew Weston and Perseid Press have generously provided “read for free” Audible codes to the first five people who comment below. This is a $24.95 USD value. Hurry, this is a first come, first serve promotion. N. N. Light will contact the winners via email.
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“A good point,” Marcus acknowledged. “But therein lies the wisdom of strategy. Our mission is of the utmost importance. It is vital we locate and secure the site in which the mineral deposits are thought to be located. But remember, because the city has been isolated for so long, we won’t know until we get there how accurate the archives are. Also, the actual Abyss itself and this forest are totally alien to us. They have to be checked out first. We also need to carry the supplies and utensils necessary to quickly establish a base of operations if things turn out favorably. Commander Cameron faced a conundrum. How could he move so much equipment over such a long distance without the need for machines which are needed elsewhere and which might draw our enemy’s attention?”
Gesturing between them, Marcus emphasized, “That’s where we come in. Cavalry and legionnaires. Although we can’t hope to match the speed and grace of a highly sophisticated hover craft, we are nevertheless skilled at transporting large consignments over long distances at a speed unmatched by our contemporaries. And we can do so secretly. Additionally, the defensive measures we now have at our command will protect us, and allow us to set up a considerable series of fortifications from the outset. Just wait until you see what my men can build in a matter of hours. By the time the shuttle runs do begin, they’ll have the luxury of berthing overnight within a city of fabricated domiciles.”
“I’m looking forward to that.” Wilson smiled. “I watched your men drilling a few times back in Rhomane, and it was very impressive. The guys couldn’t believe how quickly you worked. To see it for real will be —”
Both men were disturbed by an outrider galloping full tilt toward them. The rest of the dozing company became instantly alert and began scanning the shadows.
Throwing up a hasty salute, the soldier reined in and addressed Marcus. “Sir, the forest ends abruptly, about a mile ahead. It . . . It’s . . .”
“Spit it out, man.”
“Sir. It’s awesome, come and see.”
Signaling for the immediate group to follow, Marcus put his heels to Starblaze’s flanks and spurred his horse forward. A few minutes later, he reached several other sentries who were waiting to one side of the road. The highway veered away sharply to the southwest, so Marcus was surprised to be led off the tarmac and into the gloom.
An eldritch veil thick with antiquity closed about them. Specimens that looked like a cross between beech and cedar, oak and elm, ash and spruce, each endowed with massive boles, filed off into the distance. Stately monarchs of a forest that seemed to suddenly hold its breath in anticipation. Threading his way between iron trunks and cable-like roots, Marcus wondered what secrets this brooding edifice must contain, and if it would ever be possible to find your way out if a person became disoriented.
You don’t realize how dense this place is until you leave the safety of the main thoroughfare. I’ll have to order markers placed to ensure our more inexperienced travelers don’t go getting themselves lost. And I’ll restrict hunting too, at least until we’re more familiar with the area. Goodness knows how much further it goes.
He needn’t have worried. After five more minutes of painfully slow travel, the swathe drew back and shafts of rose-gold brilliance punctuated the canopy in one place after another.
Everyone relaxed as they sensed a change ahead.
Even so, when the party broke free from dappled shade and rode into the harsh glare of direct sunshine, everyone was taken completely by surprise.
Mars preserve us!
Shocked, Marcus could only stare. I can see why my sentry was rendered speechless.
A shattered plain rolled away on both sides, providing a severe counterpoint to the undulating barrier of the forest’s perimeter. The compact, ruddy surface of the plateau shimmered in the heat of the midday sun. As the mounted group moved out onto the shelf, their movements caused swirls of scarlet dust to dance into the air.
Shading his eyes, Marcus tried to make sense of what he was seeing.
The ground was littered with pock-marks, each of which contained a smattering of gold and red rocks. A foul-smelling steam issued from a number of fissures and scalloped clefts. Wherever the vapors concentrated together, the soil was stained by a copper-colored residue.
Marcus could make out the shimmering white line of a bridge, about five miles away, obviously accommodating the continued course of the main highway. Closer to him, a smoother, rectangular area stood out in stark contrast to their cratered surroundings.
Hmm. Obviously a parking area for vehicles.
As intriguing as these distractions were, however, they paled under the imposing presence of the leviathan before them.
A huge canyon, over seventeen miles across and eight deep, gouged its way across the plane of their sight. Marcus knew from his mission briefing that the company now stood at one of the narrowest points of the Shilette Abyss. The gulf itself stretched away for over a thousand leagues, east and west; and for most of its length, the other side was so far away it would be impossible to see.
He marveled as to how the Ardenese had contrived to construct anything to cross such a gaping chasm, for the cliffs of the valley were an unstable maze of razor-sharp edges and unforgiving rocks that could give way without warning.
There, not three hundred yards in front of them, sat the real surprise. The bluff plunged away to form a huge cleft, a monster fissure over seventy feet wide which appeared to have been hacked into the earth to form a V-shaped crevice.
Cantering forward, the excited explorers discovered a tiered series of shelves, corresponding to levels of strata, leading down the cliff wall.
Andrew P. Weston is an ex-military ex-police expat from the UK who now lives with a large amount of cats in a medium sized house on a small Greek Island.
An astronomy and law graduate, he has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Fantasy Society, the British Science Fiction Association and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.
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Andrew P. Weston Blog: http://theix.blogspot.gr/
The IX Blog: http://theix.blogspot.gr/