BRINK OF DISTINCTION SERIES
The final confrontation between the Alien Alliance and the Terran Empire begins in this exciting conclusion to the Brink of Distinction trilogy.
One-by-one, the brilliant suns of Alliance space are disappearing, left cold and lifeless after exposure to the Terran biological epidemic. Trapped on one of the sunless worlds, Keryn Riddell, the ruthless Wyndgaart warrior, fights against both a frozen landscape and her Terran captors.
As Keryn fights for her life, the psychic Yen Xiao leads the Alliance fleet in pursuit of the Terran Destroyers threatening the Alliance homeworlds. Yearning for leadership of the fleet, Yen begins to wonder just how far he’ll go for the power he craves.
Excerpt from Burden of Sisyphus
Private Hicks’ body screamed in protest as he tried to stand. His muscles ached and his lungs burned in the planet’s thin, dust-filled air. Under his dark armor sweat soaked through his uniform. Raising his head, he saw the looming plateau. Nuzzled within the wedge of the plateau’s façade there was the Terran’s dark, stone, defensive wall. Relief flooded through him. Being able to see the bristling antiaircraft weapon platforms mounted atop the wall meant his destination was finally within reach.
Scrambling to his feet, despite resistant muscles, he ran the rest of the way to the wall. He didn’t dare hope to make it that far without being spotted by his enemies but the reprieve gave him time to close the final twenty meters to the outpost. Legs cramping, he limped the rest of the way to the wall. Ignoring the large, arched vehicle entrance, whose heavy doors led straight to the courtyard between the wall and the building set into the plateau, he staggered to the reinforced personnel entrance to one side. Shuffling past a set of thick windows he watched Terran soldiers within the wall move toward the door.
Sliding in the red sand he stopped in front of the door and pounded it with his open hand. “Open the door!” he yelled, his voice raspy and dry.
When nothing happened he banged again, glancing over his shoulder in fear and frustration.
“Open the damn door!” he screamed, as much as his raw throat allowed, hitting the door repeatedly.
Finally, hesitantly, it opened.
A blast of cool air struck him as he was pulled into the comforting darkness. The room was cast in deep shadows and he was momentarily blinded in the dim lighting. He shivered as someone helped him to the far side of the narrow room, the cool air a stark contrast to the scorching heat outside. Sliding down against the wall, he exhaled a loud, raspy breath.
“Hicks,” the closest soldier said.
His head swam with exhaustion.
“What happened out there?”
He peered through the gloom, barely able to make out the man’s rank and name. “Alliance mercenaries. They hit us while we were on patrol.”
A third soldier pushed past the others and bent over Hicks, who saw the officer epaulettes on his shoulder. “Where’s the rest of your team, Private?”
He shook his head. “They’re all dead, Sir.”
“All of them?” the lieutenant asked in disbelief. “How did one group of Alliance mercenaries take out an entire patrol?”
A soft sound echoed through the room before Hicks could reply. The thumping reverberated softly as he clambered to his feet. Slowly, the others heard it and the room fell to hushed silence. It was a series of soft thumps as if something struck the compound’s outer wall repeatedly.
“What the hell is that noise?” Lieutenant Hill asked, looking toward the thick, outer walls.
The sound continued unabated.
“Sir, I’ve got a visual,” a private said, watching from the window.
The lieutenant rushed to the window, pulling free the binoculars on his hip. In the distance, a single massive form stood at the crest of the hill. Thick, dark fur covered its body which ended in an elongated snout. Sharp horns jutted from its temples, curving wickedly forward.
Lowering his binoculars, the lieutenant turned toward the rest of the soldiers. “It looks like the Alliance found our outpost! Let’s move, people!” As he walked back to the middle of the room the soldiers exploded into action.
“On your feet, soldiers!” Lieutenant Hill yelled over the din of muttered conversation. “Grab some ammo and find a wall to stand behind.” Turning back toward the sturdy window he glared across the red field. “If they want to bring their fight here, they won’t even know what hit them.”
“How true,” Hicks rasped, as a barbed tail erupted from under the back of his shirt. Lashing out, the tail struck the base of Lieutenant Hill’s neck and erupted from his throat, nearly decapitating the officer.
Hicks extended his left hand, the fingers elongated into razor-sharp points, which he drove into a nearby soldier’s abdomen. The soldier stared in disbelief, as the skin on Hicks’ face melted like wax, first running down toward his chin before being absorbed into his oily-black skin. The face disappeared, leaving behind a featureless black oval. Slowly, the rest of his skin melted away until all that remained was thick, black hide.
The creature that impersonated Hicks swished its spiked tail back and forth and turned toward the three remaining soldiers in the room. Eyes wide with fright, one swung his rifle toward the creature and squeezed the trigger.
The window exploded inward as the first round tore through the thick glass and struck the soldier’s temple. His scalp peeled away on the far side of his head as the high-velocity round passed through and struck the far wall, spraying the back of the room with blood.
About Jon Messenger
Jon Messenger (Born 1979 in London, England) serves as an United States Army Major in the Medical Service Corps. Since graduating from the University of Southern California in 2002, writing Science Fiction has remained his passion, a passion that has continued through two deployments to Iraq, a humanitarian relief mission to Haiti, and an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. Jon wrote the "Brink of Distinction" trilogy, of which "Burden of Sisyphus" is the first book, while serving a 16-month deployment in Baghdad, Iraq.
Jon's books include Wind Warrior which was published through Clean Teen Publishing and quickly hit the best selling lists of Amazon. Jon Messenger has won a readers choice award as well as the Clean Teen Publishing writing contest for his Novella of Wind Warrior, which is also featured in Wonderstruck. Messenger's sci-fi series, Brink of Distinction, was picked up by Clean Teen Publishing's adult imprint: Crimson Tree Publishing in the Fall of 2013.