Rating – 5 Meows!!! That’s the cat’s pajamas!
Blurb – Intelligent races travel through wormholes to explore the farthest reaches of the galaxy. Thewls inform Humans of a looming threat. Lokians are a ravenous race of space bugs. They harvest technology from advanced civilizations and integrate with it to mass produce living ships, dangerous vanguards, and formidable legions.
Captain O’Hara of Phoenix Crew travels with Thewls to retrieve an ancient vessel from a mysterious race simply known as travelers. Can a single craft be the key to saving the galaxy? Why do Thewls believe the travelers once visited Earth? Does O’Hara and Phoenix Crew have what it takes to obliterate the space bugs?
Price – Free
My Review – I saw on Goodreads that Lokians 2 had just been re-released and the cover was super cool, so I went looking for the first title, Beyond the end of the World, Lokians 1. I was not disappointed. In fact, I was quite impressed. Beyond the End of the World reads like a Mass Effect video game, and being a gamer girl, I loved every minute of it, from the smexy Riley O’Hara to the gruesome, drool dripping Lokians, I was hooked.
There’s a ton of action, and at times there’s a ton of dialogue and exploration. It’s the kind of balance you want in a book. From frozen, inhospitable, alien planets to sterile ships with freaky aliens, everything in the book was balanced.
In short, the Navy discovers some alien beacons. Then, they make contact with a race known as Thewls. The Thewls tell the Humans that there are dangerous aliens called Lokians, and the Thewls want to help the Humans in case of an impending Lokian attack, only thing is, the Thewls want something from earth.
They think that their old benefactors have something to do with Humans, but O’Hara and the crew talks the Thewls into searching elsewhere, and what they find is something both amazing and astonishing. If you like scifi, or if you just like to read period, I recommend Beyond the End of the World, Lokians 1. Awesome.
Here’s an excerpt from Beyond the End of the World, Lokians 1, a scifi novel-
In an effort to calm his nerves and drown his sorrows, Swain went to the weapons’ lab, an entire deck of the Carrier. Thewls there were kind and patient, explaining everything he needed to know to perform repairs himself. An engineer showed him a hologram.
“It’s a magnetic field containing photons,” the engineer started. “Essentially, it works like a windshield in which two panes of glass sandwich a thin sheet of plastic. In this case, two magnetic fields sandwich a sheet of photons. The fields arrange the photons in a particular way to prevent the passage of atoms.”
“Here, let me show you how to retrofit your gear,” the armorer said as he nabbed some Human equipment.
Together, they replaced the battle damaged plating from Swain’s suit with an Element-115 alloy. Oddly, the Thewl word for it sounded like a baby choking on a fur ball, so Swain jokingly called it Swainium, which to his surprise, they liked. Swainium plates were lighter, more durable, and slightly more flexible, which gave the big man an idea; fashion bullets from the material to refill the Human crew’s magazines.
Since Thewlian guns were too wide to be carried by Humans, and creating smaller ones took a great amount of time, new ammunition was a simpler solution. After a thorough examination of Thewlian technology, Swain retired to his sleeping quarters.
The rest of the crew was already sleeping. They had been onboard for over nine hours by then, not a long time for Phoenix Crew, but recent events had left them emotionally exhausted. Even Adams and Franklin napped. Nightmares awakened some of the crew while others only tossed and turned.
Zakowski, who was an early riser anyway, rolled out of bed and marched for the mess hall. When he finally found it, he nabbed a tray and piled on all kinds of weird looking foods. DeReaux and Fitzpatrick joined him by the time he sat down.
“It seems none of us are sleeping well, eh,” he asked.
“God, what did I grab? What is this,” Zakowski chuckled.
DeReaux sighed, “Eez not French koo-zeen.” He pulled a fork from a pack and stuck it into Zak’s food. It looked like brown mashed potatoes. Surprised by the flavor, he crinkled his face and said, “Oh, it tastes like fried apples, actually. It’s not too bad.”
Zakowski then realized he didn’t bring his utensils. Shaking his head, DeReaux went to the Thewl cook and returned with plates for himself, Fitzpatrick, and Day who stumbled in looking disheveled. The three of them stared at their friend, who had resigned himself to an immense, alien spoon as long as his forearm and nearly as thick. They smiled, ate, and talked about their training, the mission, Adams and Franklin, the Thewls, and the Lokians.
“So, this is all pretty fucked up, am I right,” Fitzpatrick remarked.
“It’s something. I don’t even know where to begin,” Zakowski chimed in.
DeReaux gave him a sideways glance. The trouble Zakowski was having with his spoon was too funny.
“You can begin by eating with your fingers instead of trying to navigate that thing into your mouth,” DeReaux joked.
“That’s not what I meant,” Zakowski clarified.
“We can start by honoring fallen comrades,” Day whispered.
The four stopped in their tracks. It was true. They had yet to give thanks to heroes who gave their all in the battle against the Lokians.
“You know, I always thought Imes and Becker would eventually get back together,” DeReaux smiled half-heartedly. “Everyone knew they still had strong feelings. After all, I could never get her alone…so, that’s got to tell you something.”
“’Cause you’re such a Don Juan, and all that,” Fitzpatrick snipped.
DeReaux shrugged, “Yeah….”
“Ya’, I totally know what you mean. I guess it’s no surprise they died for each other. For us,” Day said, ignoring DeReaux.
They all nodded in agreement. “What about those two agents, huh? Boy, that was really something…I wonder who they really are,” Zakowski said.
“No kidding. Between them and Thewls, I don’t know who’s more impressive,” Day added.
“I have to say the agents. For business types, they sure can deal some damage,” DeReaux claimed.
“Really makes you wonder what more we’ll come across. This is pretty serious stuff. We still have to find these travelers, and if we don’t…. can you imagine having to fight off hordes of Lokians,” Day trailed off.
“They’d devastate Earth and the colonies,” Zakowski added. “That’s for sure.”
“Wonder how the cap’ is holding up? You know how he gets,” Fitzpatrick said.
“He doesn’t know how to let his feelings out… I thought he and Korit were going to fight back there,” DeReaux responded.
They took a pause, scrutinizing each other. They knew they were lucky to have lived through the mission; if experienced Thewls faced death against a couple of Lokians, even the best trained Humans stood little chance, but they had survived, in part to their training, in part to their comrades. Moments of silence passed. They finished their food during the interim.
Elsewhere on the vessel, Franklin awoke the captain. “What is it? Results,” O’Hara muttered into his comm. unit.
“Yes, actually. They found that the stone reacts to light, but they haven’t found anything specific yet,” Franklin replied.
O’Hara got up and did his business. He saw the Thewl with whom he shared a room was still passed out in bed. In the latrine, he looked himself over by a mirror, shuddered at the memory of men screaming and fighting, donned his dress uniform, and finally went to the lab, where he met with Franklin and Thewlian scientists. They gathered in a smaller subdivision of the lab, an area not overly crowded with equipment and separated by a thin sheet of plastic.
“We found that it reacts to light energy. Something about the frequencies and how photons affect the material,” one Thewl said.
“Yes, but we haven’t found a specific frequency which makes it do anything more than vibrate a little,” another added.
“I recovered this from one of the Lokian bugs,” Franklin said and held aloft a small, metallic chip.
It was little more than a shiny square with a round depression. On one side was a slit. Franklin placed his thumb over the depression. Blue light emanated from an edge. It mimicked a tiny, but powerful L.E.D. flashlight. He pointed it at the ziggurat. Nothing remarkable happened. He smiled and began handling the carving.
Everyone looked on while he rolled it one way and looked at it. Then, he rotated it and touched it. He pulled and pushed on it, prodded all over its surface, and clicked his tongue. He put it down, and furrowed his brow, shrugging as everyone looked at him askew. Surprisingly, the object’s levels rotated of their own volition.
Franklin picked it up again and carefully observed the item. A slot had opened on the bottom. He slid the square, lighting device inside—a perfect fit.
“Mac and cheese, I’ve done it,” he said.
O’Hara was overly concerned with the marvelous display of light shooting out of the carving to comment on Franklin’s asinine expression. Unfortunately, the lab was too bright to distinguish anything. Someone turned off the lights in the room. What shone on the walls were layers of star charts.
“I, I think I recognize some of these,” a Thewl mentioned.
Too many people cluttered the lab, and the shelving, stored objects, and packaging containers distorted the images. One Thewl suggested taking the carving to a resting quarter. The technicians nodded in agreement. Everyone milled to the elevators, and from there, they went to an engineer’s room, where he called for the admiral.
Yew spoke as soon as he stepped in the room. “Very good. We need to cross reference all these charts and see if we can decipher the meaning behind the display. Hopefully, it’s more than a desk lamp. I recognize some of these systems, too, but some of the layers are obscured by the others….”
Adams entered at that point. The agents eyed each other before giving their attention to the dazzling patterns of light. The captain sat back lazily, staying out of the way. Though he was interested, whatever was going on was beyond his area of expertise, and after the last mission, he wondered if he really had an expertise at all. Once the admiral left, the other Thewls went to retrieve some computers and scanners.
“Hm, it’s difficult to discern one thing from another,” Franklin said, breaking the silence.
“He’s right. Shut all the lights off,” Adams commanded. The remaining Thewl holding a scanner shrugged and turned off all the lights. The charts shone over everyone’s face “I wonder….”
“You think so, too,” Franklin asked.
The blue glow rendered them all discernible even with the lights off. There was something unnerving about the faces of the agents. O’Hara wasn’t able to put his finger on what it was, but something about their visages bothered him.
“What is it,” the Thewl asked.
“Try adjusting the lighting in the room,” Franklin said.
“Our lights are either on or off.”
“Mmhm,” Adams groaned.
He started searching the foot lockers and removed robes the Thewls wore in their downtime. He tossed one to Franklin and one at the captain. It landed on his face. For a second O’Hara just sat there wincing beneath the garment. It smelled like machine oil. He slowly removed it to observe the agents attempting to obscure the lighting in the room.
“Turn the lights back on,” Adams said.
The Thewl nodded and did so. By holding the garments up to the juncture where the ceiling met the walls, where lighting crept through all over the ship, they managed to darken the room, thus separating portions of the chart. O’Hara helped to finish dimming the room.
The brighter it was the more difficult it was to see the charts, and when it was totally black, all of the charts shone at once, but the proper degree of brightness masked only layers at a time, thus revealing different information. “Well, there you have it,” Adams beamed. He glanced at the captain and smiled briefly. “Light and energy…light energy. The travelers appear to have a proclivity for playing with photons…or something.”
After that, the scientists broke to study each chart in the hopes of learning something, anything. It turned out that some of the charts contained known systems and listed planets of interest. Some of those planets were labeled rest stops, or way points, or worlds, which supposedly inhabited life. Other charts were so far removed from Thewlian data bases, they set them aside for further studies.
From the Carrier, the Humans hoofed it back to the Explorer. “Star charts, huh?” the captain whispered.
“Good a place as any to start looking for them, the travelers. Hopefully we can figure out where we’re supposed to go,” Adams replied.
“Hopefully, otherwise,” Franklin derided.
He looked at Adams and made a face implying something, maybe defeat, or maybe it was hunger. O’Hara wasn’t able to guess, and he had the feeling they were going to undertake some sort of rogue action.
“Otherwise what,” he asked.
“Otherwise we have to copy the intel and make our own judgment call,” Adams answered.
“You know, not once have I seen either one of you act surprised at all…ever…with anything that’s taken place.”
“Why would we be,” Franklin asked.
Stopping at the elevators, O’Hara stirred. “So, you have data on a few alien races, but nothing on Thewls or travelers?”
“That’s correct,” Franklin replied dryly before stepping inside the car.
O’Hara stepped in next followed by Adams. “What else do you have information on?”
“We have historical data, but I assure you, none of it is germane to our current situation,” Adams replied.
“Mmhm. Okay, so…where did you two come from?”
“Oh. We’re doing introductions now,” Adams said, sardonically.
“A little late for that I think,” Franklin said to Adams.
They smiled, looking at O’Hara, who was not amused. They rode down rapidly, and the movement tugged at their stomachs. Once the door slid open, they stepped out among Thewls, who nodded.
“Our headquarters are on Earth. We used one of our special ships to get to Eon,” Adams finally answered.
“What? Why,” O’Hara asked. “How did you even know what was going on? I mean, obviously Admiral Lay had something to do with it….”
“We’ve been in touch with Lay for years,” Franklin replied.
“Well, not us. He means The Bureau,” Adams corrected.
“Lay has Bureau ties?” O’Hara exclaimed. “All this time, that…okay…not important. The Bureau didn’t know about the Lokians? I would think a cosmic threat so detrimental to all civilizations would have popped up somewhere.”
“Valid point, I suppose,” Franklin said to Adams.
“We knew about the Sumerians coming into contact with some unknown race, but we knew far less than Ambassador Weh on the subject,” Adams explained. “What little we do know is that they vanished after providing the culture with the study of astronomy.”
“Look,” O’Hara started, bluntly. “I need to know what you know in order to keep my crew alive. As you’ve already seen, this is not a joking matter.”
For a moment everyone grew silent. A trace of grief was tangible. The sterile setting was a perfect facsimile.
“Truthfully, there isn’t much left to discuss,” Adams said, solemnly.
“As Weh explained, the Lokians constantly evolve and shift tactics. All we can do is learn as we go,” Franklin added, grimly. “I know you expect us to know a great deal what with our clever mystique, but that’s exactly why we’re here. We don’t know anything.”
“That, uh…that kinda’ sucks,” O’Hara griped. “I’m going to check on my crew. I think I’ve been avoiding things for too long as it is. Excuse me.”
“Captain,” Adams called. “It’s best to take time for yourself in these cases. It wouldn’t do to approach your crew while riddled with guilt, which if I may add, you should not even be feeling. We all did what we could with what we had.”
“I agree. You lead us quite well. Admiral Lay himself could not have done a better job,” Franklin commented.
O’Hara smiled faintly, nodded, and took his leave. As he traversed the ship to find his crew mates, he thought it was nice to know they felt he was competent. The truth was that although they were weird guys, he liked them. During his journey through corridors, passing Thewls either raised a hand or said hello.
Before the captain reached crew quarters his comm. unit dinged. “Yes?”
“Captain, this is Admiral Yew. Please report to the Carrier’s bridge.”
“Copy,” he rolled his head to loosen his shoulders, silently thankful that there was something preventing him from discussing his feelings with his crew.
Back at the Carrier’s bridge, he learned that they had found a route plotted between certain planets, which seemed to end in a system clear across the galaxy in the Scutum-Centaurus arm. Thewls claimed that a planet called Sahagun was the end of the travelers’ journey, though they admitted it might have been the beginning of their journey. Either way, it was as good a planet as any to survey.
Adams and Franklin walked into the room seconds later. “We found something then?”
“Good job, all of you,” Yew said. “Yes, we have something.”
“We’re plotting a course for this place, right,” the captain asked.
“We have to clear it with our superiors, but that is the logical course of action,” Yew replied.
The three Humans exchanged glances. “I was unaware admirals reported to anyone,” O’Hara was in disbelief.
“We have a collection of leaders aboard the Carrier vessels. I am the leader of this one,” Yew replied. “Each Carrier has an admiral, but there is a governmental body, which ultimately decides things, which affect the entirety of our race. As you know…there are not many of us left.”
“I see,” O’Hara said before engaging the ambassador, who sat in a large chair at the far end of the bridge.
“What is it, Captain?”
“I would like to suggest that we begin building relations in order to unite against the Lokians. If the travelers aren’t on Sahagun then I need to return to Eon. I also need to inform Admiral Lay as it is.”
“I am in agreement. We are close enough to Earth now, and as you know, we would like to land there….”
“Allow me to confer with Adams and Franklin; they have some knowledge on these matters,” O’Hara said and half turned to look at the two men. They were standing by the entryway with hands clasped in front of their bodies. “We’re close enough to Earth to land. Do we inform Earth’s government of the Lokian threat? Is there some sort of protocol, or can we just tell them to prepare?”
The agents exchanged a glance and smirked. For an unknown reason, the action irritated him. He thought it was fatigue.
Adams spoke first. “We’ve already contacted The Bureau.”
“Right, they’ll take precautions and spread the information through proper channels,” Franklin added. “You really don’t need to concern yourself with anything outside of finding the travelers.”
“We’ll make sure the ambassador establishes contacts within The Bureau,” Adams consoled.
“What about Admiral Lay? Should I get in touch with him for a debriefing?”
“Don’t you think we handled that,” Franklin chuckled. “We keep him up to date with everything…including your performance.”
Everything’s resolved then. The captain pondered the implications of landing on Earth. That’s a bad idea. I guess I just need to focus here. O’Hara walked back to the ambassador. Weh’s expressionless face and ever open eyes left him wondering how he was going to take a negative reply.
“The Bureau is taking care of everything, and there is no need to land on Earth.”
Weh nodded. He then explained the proposed journey to Sahagun, a seven day flight across space by way of numerous, coalescence jumps. O’Hara was relieved there was no argument over avoiding Earth.
“Send me your agents. I would like to speak to them.”
“Of course,” O’Hara replied, marched over to the suits, and let them know as much. “Well,” he mused, “guess it’s time for the talk….”
He left the Carrier, and back on the Explorer, he checked his comm. for the time, 07:47 Earth hours. The captain knew his crew well, so his first stop was his own room. There, he rummaged through his pack for utensils, and finally went to the mess hall.