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Print and eBook formatting, and cover design by Steve Beaulieu. Artwork provided by J Caleb Design.

Published by Aethon Books LLC. 2021

Aethon Books is not responsible for websites (or their content) that are not owned by the publisher.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead is coincidental.

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Also In Series

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21


Also In Series


Also In Series






His hand on the back of Ratt’s chair, Jon braced himself against the turbulence and peered out through the viewport.

“Incredible, isn’t it?” Ratt asked over his shoulder, keeping his eyes forward.

“You can say that again,” Jon mumbled, leaning in closer to admire the sweeping vistas zipping beneath them as they sped through the cloudless blue sky of the southern Far Rough.

“I’ve been up before, you know,” Jon said, “in a Hopper, but somehow, this is… I dunno, different.”

“Probably helps that you aren’t being shot at,” Ratt said with a smirk.

Jon raised his eyebrows, nodding in agreement.

“See that? Up ahead?” Ratt asked, pointing to the horizon.

Squinting, Jon perceived a thin blue line stretching from one end of the horizon to the other.

“That’s the Southern Water I was telling you about. I haven’t seen it since I was a boy.”

“I’ve never seen it…” Jon muttered, his thoughts turning to the expanse of unimaginably blue water he had seen in the Wa’ak Lum, the dream world where he had learned the truth of things from Maya. Well, maybe I have.

“I had no idea it was that close to Home,” Jon remarked.

“Close? Amigo, it’s not close at all. I know it’s only been two hours, but this baby is hauling ass.” Ratt grinned again, patting his chair’s armrest and turning to gauge Jon’s reaction.

Jon hadn’t considered that, but he supposed it made sense. The new-style transport that they had commandeered was one of only three recently built by the Republic Military. Unlike the comparatively skeletal ships that carried the Heavies into the Rough, like hanging coats on a winged rack, this vessel was thick, smooth, and wingless, from the outside appearing nearly featureless: a jet-black, stunted cigar. The ship, likely inspired by tech Warbak had obtained from his Harvester masters, seemed to defy gravity, making no sound, while cruising at speeds that made Hoppers seem motionless. The outside of the vessel was armored, and the inside was spacious. All in all, quite an impressive machine.

Turning around, Jon looked at his friends, new and old, and smiled. They sat in the chairs arrayed behind the pilot’s area, a smaller, more comfortable space that was probably reserved for a crew. Together with the pilot’s chair, they were on a higher level, with the main cargo area in the transport below, significantly larger and longer than the cantilevered upstairs. The main cargo area was a cold, metallic, utilitarian space, designed to house Hopper units and infantry, perhaps even an artillery unit or two, but too small for a Heavy Mech.

Lucy was talking to Maya, but Jon could not hear what was being said over the hum of machinery. Maya, while listening politely to Lucy, locked eyes with Jon and offered a slight smile.

On the other side of the aisle sat his lifelong bud, Rene, known as Carbine. Carbine had eaten a big breakfast before they left, and was slouched over, deep in the embrace of a carb-induced food coma. Jon had spent all his life side by side with his goofball friend and knew his habits well enough to guess that Carbine was undoubtedly sawing logs right now, but as with Lucy and Maya’s conversation, the noise was all but drowned out.

Jon returned Maya’s smile and looked around at the back of the crew area, his gaze coming to rest on the steep ladder-stairs that led below. Compulsively, he began to visualize the inventory of everything they’d brought along, and soon he was re-living the last few weeks.

The fight to secure even one transport had been fierce.

No one had expected the transition of the Human Republic into its new form to go smoothly, but no one had thought it to work out quite like it had either.

Despite Maya’s and Miller’s attempts to explain the consequences of Warbak’s actions to the citizens of Home, nearly a third of the New Breed and Last Gen could not stomach living side by side with Unpure humans and Invasives, now officially referred to as “the Displaced.”

“When one has lived their whole life in the darkness, their vision becomes adjusted to it. So when someone comes along and flips on the light, thinking that they are doing them a favor, the dark dwellers

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