Saturday, April 22, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats - 020.16

I sat alone on the roof scanning the plain below with my field glasses. I tapped the temple piece to zoom in tighter. Travis had been gone for six days, two over what he estimated.

He refused to take anything will him when he left. No supplies or any weapons that might have made hunting easier. He said he didn’t want to give his fellow prisoners anything they could turn on us if they chose to take it away from him.

Thomas didn’t want him to go and begged him to stay. There seemed to be some story beyond what I had been told – some reason to worry about a more dangerous threat.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Massive Sci-fi Giveaway!

I belong to this group and hope to be in their next giveaway.

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1 Lucky Grand Prize Winner will also receive 20+ signed books, including Cyberstorm by Matthew Mather, Aye Robot by Robert Kroese and full series from Tom Reynolds, Rachel Aukes, M. Pax and Nathan Van Coops! Enter here:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats - 020.15

“I am sorry… Captain,” Ma-rye-a apologized in that stilted voice she had acquired since Callen brought her back online after the accident. “I can’t release them.” By ‘them’ she meant Sam, Cassie and Horus. “Have analyzed my systems… releasing would overload my programing… crash it again. Working at only fifty percent capacity as is… Without refitting station, or Daniel’s help… I am at the best Callen and Travis can manage.” 

By ‘Daniel’ she meant my IT Guru guy who had taken my talking ship and made it practically a human named Ma-rye-a.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Sorry to Disappoint

I hope you will forgive me for leaving you hanging this week.
I am off to Wencon - a Pop Culture Convention
Going to do a bit of smoozing and hopefully sell some books.
If you are in the area, drop by.

I promise a longer post next week to the serial story, Academy Brats!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats - 020.14

Well, it would be thirty-seven days until we were rescued, if I could believe Travis. And, why wouldn’t I? He had been stuck on this rock for over twenty years. I figured I could depend on him to know when the low atmosphere drone would pass-over. That gave me thirty-seven days to prepare so that drone would not miss us. I wanted to get my passengers off this planet and to the academy.

If they were late, my contract stipulated I would burden the cost of tutors to get them brought up to speed. If they were so late they didn’t make it into the current term, then I would have to take them back home and make the trip again at my expense for the following term. In either case, I was out funds I had planned on using for other things. Luckily, I allowed for wiggle-room in my transport schedule. I thought the kids might like to arrive early and get settled in since living in a big city was not something any of them had experienced before.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats - 020.13

“Let’s make a pact.” Travis put one hoofed foot out and rose. He reached down and took the Scatter from Thomas. “You kids play nice while the Captain and I discuss our steps to get you all off this rock.”

I nodded toward my passengers. “Consider Thomas our guest.” I looked at Callen. “Why don’t you see what you can do about helping Ma-rye-a get Moby back online. We have more mouths to feed now.”

Travis motioned me into the bay and toward my pod. I looked down and noted his hooves were wrapped in small leather pouches. “That’s why I didn’t hear you coming,” I commented.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Epic Saga Continues...

For the price of a fancy coffee, you can go on the Adventure of a Lifetime...

Join this character-driven space opera with book one to explore the known verse and meet our three heroes as their friendship grows and they fight the good fight for those oppressed, both human and alien.

Or order "The Beast Within" for your first summer reading escape. Government secrets, chaos and murder trail their alien fingers through this volume.

The Star Traveler Series

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats - 020.12

Author's Note: Sometimes when you are doing a 'free write' as I do with this blog, just 'winging it' each Saturday, you might see something you want to change in order to make the story better and move it along. I changed one sentence in the previous post, but it made a world of difference to how this week's episode reads. Happy reading as...

The story continues...

Travis escorted me out to the ramp where I found the kids all sitting placidly across from Thomas as he held Tiff’s Scatter on them. Travis had asked me to carry the sandwiches and chips. Perhaps to keep my hands full or maybe because he was hungry. Kelexion’s were big creatures and known for their appetites.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats - 020.11

“It’s gorgeous from up here,” Mims said.

We were all standing on the landing ramp of the pod bay looking out over the valley below. From up here, safely tucked away on our rock shelf, the golden valley rolled out before us dotted with oasis’ of green trees. We could see small herds of the grazing animals and the sky was a drift with the red birds sailing on the lower wind currents.

It was a beautiful sunny day with pristine white fluffy clouds salted throughout the sky. Some, we were even above, and they cast shadows across the plains below as they drifted to the west.

Off in the distance I could see the remains of an ancient civilization. It was a large ornate entryway carved into the cliff face on the opposite side of the valley. At one time, far earlier in its history, this planet must had housed a civilization which died away before it was chosen as a penal planet. That entryway might be where the criminals took shelter. I would pull out my binoculars later and have a closer look. Right now, I took a deep breath and thanked all the little miracles which had come together in order to get us this far safely.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats - 020.10

“I hate to nag, but if you guys don’t put a move on, we are going to have uninvited company on the bridge very soon!”

All night long we’d been listening to the criminals digging below Ma-rye-a in an effort to get to the broken gun turret and into the ship. They were here now and prying at the make-shift plate Drake and I bolted across the opening. There was enough of a gap that we could hear their voices drift up as they strained and cursed. I could make out at least six distinctive possible intruders. Far more then I was willing to deal with the kids aboard. I wanted out of here.

Sam, with the aid of Callen’s hands, had been working all night to get the power back up. “Get the engines back up,” had become my manta over the last few hours. If we could just harness hovering power it would be enough, although full-out thrusters would be my preference. I really wanted to get the Hell Out!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats - 020.9

I gave Callen some meds for his headache and applied a cranial patch to his temple in case it was a concussion which had taken him out the better part of the past two days. It was the best I could do considering I did not have the med eval system or Horus to confer with.

Callen was a good sport and once his headache started to subside he insisted on moving to the bridge to see if he could fix Ma-rye-a.

I sat down in my pilot’s chair after I rigged some dim lights so Callen could work. I was keeping an eye out the front viewport for the return of the criminal element we had a glimpse of earlier in the day. It was a little past midnight and the rest of the kids were on the bridge with Callen and me.

Tiff and Mims were sharing the co-pilot seat. Oh, to be young and slender again.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats - 020.8

“Ladies and gentleman, grab your weapons! Tiff go to your station. Mims and Drake report to the bridge!”

I ticked through the preparations I set up with the teens in my head. They were all armed. It turned out Mims was the most familiar and practiced with a weapon. She went target shooting with her father at the local course. It was a little father-daughter time they shared each week. I gave her my back-up blaster.

Tiff was not as knowledgeable so I gave her the Rafter Scatter I had onboard. It had a wide enough spread that if she aimed it in the general direction she would hit something. I assigned her the duty of watching over Callen during any crisis. That put her in a more confined area with only one way for them to get in to her, and her to point her weapon.

Drake was husky enough to handle the turret gun from the Maximum Jacket Driver. I unmounted it and affixed the optional tripod to the gun. This also got it out of the turret and the hands of the inmates of the planet, should they find that way into the ship. Drake could carry it to an area, set up and no one would be able to get past him.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats - 020.7

Sorry for this chapter being late this week. Got a case of flu in the house and it is taking up a lot of my time. This chapter is short, but I promise more next week to make up for it.

Chapter 7

I flopped down in the chair next to Callen’s. I had removed his helmet and manually checked his vitals – they were all within acceptable limits, but he was still out.

“I can’t find anything wrong. We’re just going to keep an eye on him and wait for him to come around.”

“They’ll have a med-team when they send the rescue vessel,” Tiff said.

Okay, now this was going to be the hard part, as if having a comatose youngster wasn’t enough. I cleared my throat of the lump that had immediately jumped into it when she said rescue vessel. 

“There won’t be a rescue vessel coming soon.” That wasn’t a lie. 

I did hope the drones would report in their logs that a ship entered their airspace, maybe even report Ma-rye-a by name. Then a sharp attendant at LockDown Inc. would see the log entry in the billions that passed by on his monitor, would flag it, contact his superiors, who would then contact the Galactic Forces, who would in turn send a rescue ship.

Yeah… Right… In truth, the attendant on the monitor at LockDown Inc. was probably a bored, overweight watcher with a Rank Tussle comic in one hand and a Vudu pastry in the other, who could care less about the measly pay he received for keeping an eye on the screen. The notice would most likely scroll past before he even looked up from ogling Miss Monthly Universe.

“You sent out a Mayday, right?” Drake asked.

“I did, but I can’t confirm it was heard.” I felt they deserved the truth. I also felt the kids needed to know where they were so they would give their circumstances the proper respect. I didn’t want them getting curious about our situation and unlocking the bay door to go out and take a look around. We were safe at the moment. It would take a lot to break into Ma-rye-a. Drilling or cutting equipment I didn’t think they would have on a penal planet. “When Ma-rye-a left the Window, she landed in a red zone.”

“Like a penal planet – red zone?” I swear I saw Drake’s Adam’s apple take a leap.

“Yes, that’s the reason we crashed - the drones fired on us.”

Tiff huddled closer to Mims in the chair next to mine. Drake leaned over the back of it and placed a reassuring hand on Mims’ and Tiff’s shoulders. They were pulling together, which was good.

Mims put her arm around Tiff. “The drones will file a report.”

“Yes,” I assured them all. “They will and hopefully the attendant on the other end will see it and send a rescue ship.”

“Because, even if we get Ma-rye-a up enough to send a message, the drones will block it.” Drake was catching on.

“Yes, the drones are very effective in keeping communication and vessels from reaching or leaving a penal planet.” I confirmed. “When you go through the Valarian Mapping Academy they present a full day course on red zones. Nothing larger than the descent pod, the criminal is delivered to the planet in, is allowed through the red zone. My hope is we can get Ma-rye-a back online, but even if we do, there is no leaving the planet without a Galactic Forces escort.”

“So, we’re stuck here?” Tiff looked like she was going to cry.

I leaned over and put my hand on her knee. “We’re safe in here.” I stood up. “I think we all need a cup of something warm and maybe we can find some of Moby’s cookies in the galley.” I looked at the girls. “Can you see if you can rustle us up some? I want to stay here with Callen.”

Mims and Tiff rose immediately. They wanted something to do – something to occupy their minds and hands. They headed out the door leaving Drake behind.

“What happens if the guys out there find the cracked gun turret?” Drake had reported that the turret had a large torso sized boulder stuck through it.

“It looks like Ma-rye-a embedded herself pretty darn deep into the side of the foothills we hit. I am hoping no one can see the turret, and if they can’t see it, then they won’t try to dig to it as a means to get in.” I placed my hand on Drake’s shoulder. “Let’s just hope that LockDown Inc.’s attendant is monitoring his screen.”

“And not reading or pigging out on Pastel Pralines,” Drake said with a shrug.

“My thoughts exactly.”


I assigned each of the three kids a shift when they would watch over Callen. I still couldn’t see anything wrong with him. He just continued to sleep peacefully in his C-chair.

I worked on trying to get the gun turret door closed. It would have been easy enough for me to do if it had not been damaged in the belly slid Ma-rye-a did when we crashed. It was bent and it would not give. Unfortunately, there were no other hatches to close and lock between the turret and the bridge.

I kept looking out the two ports on the far side of the ship that were not obscured by the rocky cliff we appeared to be wedged up against. The window in my room looked out over an expansive plain. There was scrub brush, tall grasses and a few sparse trees. I could see at least three different grazing-type animals and had glimpses of some unusual birds with inordinately long tails and wide dual wing sets.

One small corner of the viewport on the left side of the ship was also clear. From there I could see the mountain range and the lower foothills we hit as it snaked out in front of us and to the left.

I surveyed the fire damage and started a methodical search though Ma-rye-a’s operations system hoping to find the reason she had gone rouge on me. It was a slow process, but I had nothing better to do. I had put the two kids who did not have the ‘Callen watch’ on inventorying the stores we had available. We were close to the end of our journey, so the pantry was not as full as I would have liked. If I had been by myself, I could have done fine for at least six months. I would have lost weight, but hey, I could always use a bit of trimming down. But, with the kids here I estimated we had maybe a month worth of stores – six weeks at the top.

“Captain, Callen is coming around,” Mims announced over the com.

“I’ll be right there.” I pulled myself out from under the main console on the bridge and closed the panel.

That’s when I heard the distinct sound of boots treading on the bulkheads of the bridge above my head.

Art by Sherry D. Ramsey for The Star Traveler Series by Theresa Snyder

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats .020.6

There was fire and smoke on the bridge. The kids were screaming into their com-links. My AI crew were uncharacteristically silent as we plummeted toward Penal Planet #PRA43-6.

“Shields UP! Maximum strength!” I hoped someone on my crew was listening because the ground was fast approaching and it looked hard and unforgiving.

The landscape speeding toward us was mostly barren with rocky outcrops jutting up like thick razors out of the ground. The folks that chose these planets did not necessarily care about how harsh the environment was – they were sending condemned criminals here for life. Criminals my young passengers would be exposed to unless I, and them, didn’t live through the crash.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Star Trader Updates - Academy Brats .020.5

“Captain…” Horus said softly.

I groaned as I turned over. How did parents do this? We were in week three and I had already added ten more ‘don’t do that rules’ to my passengers’ list. Between the arguments over Stellar Speedster, and every other game in the program selection, I needed to put a sound level ordinance (even though they all had headphones) and a curfew in place.

Surprising to me was that Tiff, the one I thought would be the problem child, was really the easiest to get along with and the most obedient. She had withdrawn from the gaming competitions and often set with her headphones on and a tablet linked to Cassie or Moby’s program.

But, the other three were driving me insane. I could hardly wait to get to the Window and one step closer to the delivery of my ‘cargo.’

I rubbed the sleep from my eyes. It was 2:21 a.m. by the digital readout over the monitor in my bedroom.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Star Trader Updates - Academy Brats .020.4

I sat at the table in the galley tapping out an irritated rhythm on the side of my plate with my fork. Moby had called everyone to supper over fifteen minutes ago. I was still sitting at the table alone.

“Ma-rye-a, where are our guests?”

There was an inordinately long pause before she answered. “In the vid room, Captain. You should come join us.”

She didn’t seem distressed in any way. If anything, my ship sounded distracted, which should have raised all kinds of flags for me. Ma-rye-a was always duty bound. I headed for the vid room.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats .020.3

“Captain?” Ma-rye-a softly announced herself, as she brought up my cabin room lights. “We have a problem.”

I am a light sleeper, so I was wide awake by the time she finished her sentence. I tossed back the covers and was slipping on my boots. “What?”

“Drake was violating Callen’s personal space,” Sam piped up. “I had to trank him.”

Oh boy, this was a great way to start the voyage – my security AI tranquilizing one of the passenger.

“Is Callen injured?” I asked, as I headed out the door to their cabin.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats .020.2

The parents departed about an hour ago. Everyone had a tour of the ship and were introduced to my crew. I was sure to point out the emergency supply cabinets, inset in the walls of each of the rooms, which contained helmets for everyone.

After I escorted the parents off the ship, I left the kids to settle into their quarters while I checked our time for departure. I told them I would meet them in the vid room in another thirty minutes. I ran the ship on Earth time just for my convenience and to keep my internal clock in sync. Their home planet day was only two hours longer so they shouldn’t experience too much lag.

I wanted to talk to them all together without the parents before we departed – lay some ground rules for the voyage.

“Per your instructions, our passengers are all gathered in the vid room,” Ma-rye-a informed me. “We have clearance to leave on your command.”

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