Join me in welcoming Kayelle Allen to Living After Midnight!
Trevann, thank you for inviting me over to share with your readers. I'm excited to share my new short space opera, featured in The Expanding Universe Vol 4. How about an insight into the hero? I'll tell you about what he wears, because in this military-oriented story, his uniform is as much a part of the plot as his weapons.
Let me start by introducing the hero. Tornahdo -- no other name -- is a ghost. Not the Halloween type and certainly not a spirit. He's flesh and blood. As a special ops soldier, he fought a race of immortals called the Ultras. They are nearly impossible to kill, but mankind discovered a secret. If they infused the blood of an Ultra into a human, they could bring the human back to life.
That gave them the idea of resurrecting special ops warriors who could do the most damage on the front lines. That's where Tornahdo comes in. As Lights Out opens, he's died once before and is waking on a gurney, aware he's failed again. When he's later sent on a mission to capture the Ultra's king, he knows this is it. If he fails this time, he won't be brought back, because failure means the Ultras could rule for another thousand years.
Tornahdo's uniform is mostly grey or black, or a grayish camouflage. But what sets it apart from regular army is the Ghost Corps insignia, a black funerary urn on a white field. To him, the white part forms half a ghost, but no one else seems to see it. He is proud of his uniform. After all, he had to die to get it.
The fact that he wears his uniform on and off duty reveals a lot about his character. It isn't so much that he's gung-ho military as it is there is nowhere else to go but the base. Tornahdo's family thinks he's dead. He can't be seen in public and has even given up his real name so no one can track from him to those he left behind. He has truly become a ghost.
Near the end of the story, Tornahdo recognizes the true meaning behind the Ghost Corps symbol. His actions then change the course of his entire life. I can't tell you what that is. You'll have to read Lights Out to discover that for yourself.
Tornahdo was reared by his maternal grandmother and has a strong sense of family. Even so, he's always harbored a desire to belong. The corps, a tight knit bond of soldiers who survived even death -- how great would it be to belong with them? As Tornahdo proceeds through the story, his intellect, emotions, and even his loyalties are tested. He must decide whether to accept death is final, or embrace a new ending.
Here's a snippet from the opening of the story.
Excerpt from Lights Out
The air reeked of antiseptic and starch stiffened the pillowcase. If only the mind-numbing jabbering would stop.
Tornahdo pried open his eyes. The flattened blood bag above him, stenciled equipment and gray walls screamed military hospital.
He'd died. Again.
Spanish curses slipped out. His abuelawould've taken a switch to him. He made the sign of the cross and kissed his fingertips.
After yanking the tube out of his arm, he pressed a thumb over the entry point. Thankfully, this time, he wasn't writhing on the floor in agony. Well, not yet.
A faceless android in a Ghost Corps uniform loomed over a bank of equipment displaying Tornahdo's name and vitals. First impression was right. Military hospital.
The weapons-grade yapping continued.
"Did you hear?" a youthful voice bragged. "He killed six of 'em last night."
"Yeah, but they don't stay dead. They never do."
"If Ultras didn't come back to life, their plasma wouldn't bring our own people back."
The transfusion of enemy blood healed the hole in Tornahdo's arm in seconds. He thumbed off the red smear and rolled over on the gurney.
An open door led to a sink and toilet built to let gravity do its work. Which meant this was a planet. You hadn't lived until you were in space, floating in zero gravity while your body's final twitches sent your corpse spinning.
Notices on the wall confirmed this was San Xavier in the Colonies of Man. Same place he'd bought it the first time.
This was getting old.
Lights Out by Kayelle Allen
He can save mankind. Afterhe does one important thing. Die.
Join the Ghost Corps, they said. You'll live forever, they said. You'll save mankind, they said. They didn't say that to do it, first he had to die.
When Tornahdo signs on the dotted line, he puts his life into the steady hands of the mighty Ghost Corps. Three grisly deaths and three agonizing resurrections later, he's assigned duty on the space station Enderium Six.
He's facing his most dangerous mission yet, the very reason the corps exists.
Do they expect him to win? Fat chance. Tornahdo and his team are already dead and this mission is codenamed "Lights Out." No, there's more to this than he can see.
To discover the truth, he must face an unbeatable, unkillable enemy, and this time--somehow--find a way to keep himself alive...
Lights Out is in the Science Fiction/Space Opera anthology The Expanding Universe Vol 4, edited by Craig Martelle.
Buy Link https://amzn.to/2QxKBGB
Lights Out Inside Peek
Go behind the scenes with the world and characters of Lights Out, a free downloadable illustrated book with inside information, exclusive character insights, and links to the author's research.
Kayelle Allenwrites Sci Fi and Space Opera with misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, role playing immortal gamers, and warriors who purr. She's a US Navy veteran who's been married so long she's tenured.
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