Friday, December 26, 2014

Compromised (A Gene Bukowski Adventure Book 1)" by Piotr Mierzejewski (Novelette)

Genre:  Science Fiction Espionage

Type of Short Story:  Novelette

Summary:  Follow the exploits of Gene Bukowski and his team from the International Security Assistance Force in this near future Science Fiction Espionage series. This is the first in the series and Gene's assignment is to extract a former witness, and his handler, before the Russian authorities can get their hands on them!


Zaliv Neelova, Russian Arctic

Sladjan Smukavec rubbed his gloved hands together in a vain attempt of staying warm, grateful that he had paid attention to the not so subtle suggestion that he pack for cold weather. Of course, if he were to be honest with himself the suggestion was more akin to a threat, but the sentiment was there. After all, he was a valuable asset to his employer, so it wasn't as if the thugs could do any harm. At least not until his usefulness ended, something he hoped would never eventuate. He just wished that they had told him how cold it would be when they first bundled him into a car. Resisting the urge to stomp his feet, he continued watching as people went about loading the long container vessel.

Then again, the thugs neglected to tell him where he had been taken in the first place.

One thing was certain however, this was no paradise.

Although, for a Russian this far north, it may as well be.

It was isolated, and the digital age seemed to be stuck in a time-warp, dating back sixty years. Of course, until recently he had no idea how long a reach his employers had, assuming that they were just thugs at best and a well organised syndicate at worst. This facility merely represented one avenue available to his employed, something the cybernetic-prostheses surgeon had no thought possible even in his wildest dreams. He continued staring, taking in the white netting and snow that covered most of the facility. Just never mind that the facility was a fully fledged seaport, with pens for nuclear submarines and an accompanying air strip housing state of the art fighter jets.

"I understand you've the best in the business," the woman next to Smukavec said, breaking the sombre moment. Smukavec blinked, and reminded himself who it was next to him. Marya Samsonova had once made history by being the first woman to have earned the position of commander-in-chief of the Russian Strategic Artillery Corps, and eventually rising to Minister of Defence. But that was before the current regime, which had singlehandedly reappointed senior military positions by men and women that were willing to work closer with Europe and the United States. Last he heard, Samsonova had been appointed as the Russian Ambassador to the Peoples Republic of China. So yes, it was initially a bit of a shock seeing her waiting for him. Still, Smukavec knew he had to tread carefully.

"I was the best in the business, General," he said carefully.

Like with the weather, he had been told to watch how he addresses his employer. Yes, she may be a prominent politician and a reputable diplomat to boot, but she had resources that had impressed him--and scared the hell out of him. "But as with everything, the limelight I once enjoyed has moved on."

She pondered that statement quietly while watching the activity around them, and Smukavec tried not to dwell on the fact that he had once been the leading expert on cybernetic limbs and bio-neural operations. The techniques he had developed and technology patented had made him retire early, and make him rich beyond any expectation. It also got him into a lot of trouble later, especially when police arrested him for child pornography. That had been his undoing. It had been a humbling experience, a humiliating one at that. Neither the police nor the jury cared he had revolutionised medicine. All they cared about was that he liked watching children having intercourse.

Suddenly, she harrumphed. Smukavec tensed, reminding himself that the woman beside him controlled a criminal empire that reached beyond the city limits of Saint Petersburg. Finally, she glanced at him, and nodded to the anchored ship.

"There is a fully functional operating theatre aboard, along with the best med-techs and programmers in the Strategic Artillery Corps," she announced in a tone lacking the thick pronunciation so common of her countryman. "There are fifty of my finest men, Spetsnaz soldiers, aboard."

"For security?"


One should never question one's employer, and Smukavec did his best to remain calm, but wasn't about to fool himself. Still, he could not understand why he needed to know that Smaonova had attached fifty Special Forces operatives to the container ship. "No?"

"For augmentation, Doctor."

Suddenly, he froze. Of all the things she could have said, this one he least expected. Still, it made sense. In the time he had found himself employed by her, albeit indirectly, Smukavec had performed limited attachments of cybernetic-prostheses on the occasional thug who had their arm or leg shot off. Full on augmentation was tricky, challenging--and right up his alley. He sighed with relief. The healthier the person undergoing the procedure the better their chances of success. At least that was the general philosophy.

She glanced at him.

"Think of it as a pilot project," she then announced, and patted Smukavec on the shoulder with a woollen glove-wrapped hand. "If you successfully transform more than half of my men, you can assure yourself a long-term consultancy with my newly installed government."

Smukavec paused, and regarded her anew. The current government in Moscow, led by one Alexander Ivanov, was labelled as the first true democratic entity since Yeltsin. Whilst it wasn't without its problems, the regime under Ivanov had modernised economic infrastructures and secured several trade and defence agreements with Brazil and Venezuela. Equally, Russia went from a second rate country to a formidable power once again. Why she wanted to replace something that was good for the country at large was a mystery to him. Still--

"New government, General?"

She nodded, and smiled. Not that there was any hint of humour in that smile, and Sladjan Smukavec suddenly felt a shiver go down his spine...

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Friday, December 19, 2014

"Reunions: An Anthology of Heartfelt Short Stories" by The Short Story and Flash Fiction Society (Short Stories)

Genre:  Psychological

Type of Short Story:  Short Story Anthology

Summary:  An anthology of heartfelt short stories about various reunions. Romantic reunions, friendly reunions, family reunions, all promise to trigger deep and intense emotions and keep you good company!


It was four years before I returned home. I travelled the whole of the country but still I thought of Lucy. I became a man in that time, or so I thought from the dirt under my nails. My parents had started on a new family, with twin boys and another baby on the way. They were happy to welcome me in and offer me some food, but that was about it. I’d already taken enough out of them, and we all knew there was nothing they could do for me now.
The main street of town still looked the same, people still said hello as you went past.

Many faces I remembered either from school or from hanging around the street at night.

Those I didn’t know, they’d get to soon enough.This time I wanted to stay, I missed that feeling of belonging.That place where you got a nickname and didn’t know who gave it to you.

Buy this anthology here.

Friday, December 12, 2014

"The Hammer Falls - A Detective Lara Hammer Story - Book 1" by A.L. Steen (Short Story)

Genre:  Women's Mystery, Supernatural

Type of Short Story:  Short Story

Summary:  The rough and rogue Detective Lara Hammer takes on the Ghoul King in Book One of this action packed short story adventure. Lara is a joke to her comrades and a secret asset to her Captain. Her methods are anything but subtle and Lara can, at times, be harsh, but she follows her own path. Most of the time, that path leads to great results when it comes to bringing down the scum of the city. This time, however, Detective Hammer may have overstepped in her enthusiasm to bring down the most powerful man around.


Lara stared with wide eyes at the spot where her partner had stood only a few seconds before. A surprisingly small pile of grayish white ash on the hard cement floor marked his passing.

The demonic lawyer's eyes were still glowing with the murderous flames. He belched loudly, expelling smoke in a wispy black cloud. Then Kelvin Ashar, the blood thirsty piece of shit, smiled at her. Lara allowed the traumatized chill that ran across her warm porcelain skin to run its course.

"Now, Detective," the monster oozed, "shall we try this again? I'm not at all certain that your partner understood the terms of our agreement."

Lara took a staggering step forward.

"You slithering slimeball. You hellacious eel," she blurted.

Ashar's eyes flickered. He brought his fist to his mouth and coughed into it. When he opened his hand a writhing ball of fire sat in the palm. He casually rolled it around.

"Tsk, tsk, Lara. Is that any way to speak to your only friend in the world right now," he asked with a greasy smile creeping across his grizzled face.

"You just incinerated my lover," she screamed.

Kelvin snuffed out the fireball and covered his mouth in mock surprise.

"Oh dear," he exclaimed, not sounding in the least sincere. "When you said, partner, I assumed you meant in law enforcement. My bad. Here, let me make it all better," he slimed.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

"Taken (Callisto Series - Book 1)" by Erica Conroy (Novella)

Genre:  Science Fiction Romance

Type of Short Story:  Novella

Summary:  Respect the enemy, fear his daughter in this fun Science Fiction Romance
Peace negotiations are easy right? Not when you're learning a language composed of hisses, growls and other guttural sounds. And that's not even the tough part for recently divorced diplomat Viktor Jacobs. No, that would be matching wits with the fiercely intelligent daughter of the opposing side. Between dodging her claws, avoiding a myriad of cultural taboos, and not accidentally getting married or killed, he has to somehow make the Lyrissians see that joining the Alliance of Worlds is the best choice for all of their futures. 


Viktor's door chimed and he scowled. He exited the bathroom, glanced at the clock on the wall and stubbed his toe on the sofa as he made his way to the door. It opened to reveal not his friend Roger—the ship's commanding officer, whom he was expecting—but S'rea.

"What is that on your face?" she immediately asked.

"Haffin hehl," Viktor tried to reply around the toothbrush still in his mouth. He removed the toothbrush while his other hand checked that his towel was still firmly wrapped around his waist. "Shaving gel," he said again. He noticed her silent guard loitering in the corridor.

"You have no ridges," S'rea said, and reached out. Her touch along his shoulder was feather light, and he had to fight off the urge to shiver.

"Sorry to disappoint," he said, and stepped away from her. "What do you want, S'rea?"

"I want many things, U-man, but none of them are why I am here."

Viktor raised an eyebrow at her cryptic answer. "Sounds like something a man should hear with pants on. Take a seat. I'll be back in a second. Tell your babysitter to come on in."
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