Thursday, March 23, 2017

Flames of Rebellion - Jay Allen

Book & Author Details:

Flames of Rebellion
by Jay Allan
(Flames of Rebellion, #1)
Published by: HarperVoyager
Publication date: March 21st 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

A group of rebels fighting for independence sows the seeds of revolution across the galaxy in this blockbuster military sci-fi adventure from the author of the Crimson Worlds and Far Stars series.
The planet Haven slides closer to revolution against its parent nation, Federal America. Everett Wells, the fair-minded planetary governor, has tried to create a peaceful resolution, but his failure has caused the government to send Asha Stanton, a ruthless federal operative, to quell the insurgency.
Wells quickly realizes that Stanton has the true power . . . and two battalions of government security troops—specifically trained to put down unrest—under her control. Unlike Wells, Stanton is prepared to resort to extreme methods to break the back of the gathering rebellion, including unleashing Colonel Robert Semmes, the psychopathic commander of her soldiers, on the Havenites.
But the people of Haven have their own ideas. They are not the beaten-down masses of Earth, but men and women with the courage and fortitude to tame a new world.
Damian Ward is such a resident of Haven, a retired veteran and decorated war hero, who has watched events on his adopted world with growing apprehension. He sympathizes with the revolutionaries, his friends and neighbors, but he is loath to rebel against the flag he fought to defend. That is, until Stanton’s reign of terror intrudes into his life—and threatens those he knows and loves. Then he does what he must, rallying Haven’s other veterans and leading them to the aid of the revolutionaries.
Yet the battle-scarred warrior knows that even if Haven’s freedom fighters defeat the federalists, the rebellion is far from over . . . it’s only just begun.

(no author photo)
I currently live in New York City, and I've been reading science fiction and fantasy for just about as long as I've been reading. My tastes are fairly varied and eclectic, but I'd say favorites are military and dystopian science fiction and epic fantasy, usually a little bit gritty.

I write a lot of science fiction with military themes, but also other SF and some fantasy as well. I like complex characters and lots of backstory and action. Honestly, I think world-building is the heart of science fiction and fantasy, and since that is what I've always been drawn to as a reader, that is what I write.

I've been an investor and non-fiction writer for a long time, a fiction author more recently. When I'm not writing I enjoy traveling, running, hiking, reading. I love hearing from readers and always answer emails. I think you stop growing as a writer if you stop listening to readers.

Among other things, I write the bestselling Crimson Worlds series.

Join my mailing list at for updates on new releases.

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“Hey, Grant, let’s go, man.” Tomas Lopez spoke angrily, his face twisted into a scowl. He held a heavy bar of steel in one hand, and the other was raised above his head, curled into a defiant fist. He stared at Jamie Grant for a few seconds, as though he expected his fellow prisoner to leap up and rush to his side. But Jamie just stood next to the exposed rock wall and looked back.
“C’mon, Grant!” Lopez repeated. “It’s time. We’re shuttin’ down this whole damned mine this time. Ain’t nuthin’ gonna stop us. They won’t have no choice. They’ll have to listen to us when the ore stops flowin’!” Lopez stood about two meters away from his workmate, his grimy coveralls almost black from the ore dust that hung in the very air of the mine. There was rage in his face, and it seemed to radiate all around him.
There was activity everywhere in the massive cavern, and more angry yells. Dozens of mine workers, hundreds perhaps, were streaming away from their workplaces. They almost acted as one, grabbing tools, metal bars, anything that looked remotely like a weapon. They were shouting, a riotous cacophony of rebel slogans along with more generic cries and screams. The sound reverberated off the low ceilings of the tunnel, and Jamie could barely hear his friend’s words over the din.
“Not me, Tomas.” Jamie’s voice was grim, somber. He looked around the mine, feeling a wave of surprise at how many seemed to be joining the instigators. There had been work stoppages before, and a few outright riots, but this looked like something bigger, more dangerous. He felt the urge, just as his comrades did, to strike back against the federals, against the system that had stolen so much of his life. Against the guards who too often took sadistic delight in their work. But he couldn’t. He wouldn’t. There was something more important to him, and he struggled to stay focused on that.
“I’m staying right here,” he said finally. He wanted to go; every fiber in his body was twitching to join the riot. But he fought back against the urge. “I’ve been here twelve years, Tomas. Twelve years. I shoulda been outta here two years already. I can’t afford more trouble.”
Jamie had seen his share of disciplinary actions for sure. He’d been fifteen years old the day he was arrested for the third time. He’d gotten off twice before that with a flogging and a reduction in public assistance, but he’d only stolen food those times. The last time
he’d taken money . . . and he’d used it to buy a hit of Blast. It hadn’t been for him, but for
his mother. But that hadn’t made any difference.
Alicia Grant was a good-natured woman who’d become addicted to the drug when she’d been issued a month’s supply to deal with her grief after Jamie’s father was killed. Harold Grant had been shot when the federal police cracked down on a street rising. He’d lived for almost two hours, lying bleeding on the pavement, but by the time the authorities got around to the wounded rioters, it was too late.
Jamie’s mother was registered as an addict, and she received government-issued dosages, but South Boston was a rough neighborhood, and her last delivery had been stolen . . . or sold on the black market. She did her best to stretch out what she had left, but she ran out with more than two weeks to go until her next allotment.
Blast was a nasty drug, one notoriously difficult to quit, so much so that the government just gave addicts maintenance doses instead of even attempting rehab. Jamie watched his mother suffer horribly from the withdrawal symptoms, sobbing through the night in constant pain. What he did was done out of desperation. But the magistrate hadn’t cared. Indeed, he had hardly listened to the boy’s pleas and impassioned explanation. His voice had been cold as he sentenced the fifteen-year-old on the spot, barely keeping the boredom from his tone as he did it. He gave Jamie a simple choice: the mandatory life sentence for a third offense . . . or exile to the colonies, and a ten-year term in the mines.
There hadn’t been much to consider, and Jamie agreed on the spot, accepting exile and a decade’s service digging precious ores from the depths of some alien world. At least he had a chance of surviving ten years in one of the mines—30 to 40 percent, one of the court proctors had told him, depending on where he was sent. That was far from reassuring, but a hell of a lot better than going immediately to the scaffold.
He’d said his goodbyes to his mother right in the courtroom, forever, he knew. There was no chance Federal America was going to provide transit home for a con, even if he survived so many years in the mines. Twelve hours after his trial ended he was on a ship blasting out of Earth orbit, curled up along the wall and taking turns sobbing and vomiting from spacesickness.
Twelve years . . . my God, I’ve been here twelve years . . . He had just said it to Lopez,
but it suddenly hit him very hard.
“C’mon, Grant.” Lopez’s words pulled Jamie from his thoughts. “You gotta come. We gotta stand together. All of us.” His voice was strained, frustration coming out at Jamie’s refusals.
“No,” Jamie said, his tone stronger, more resolute. “I’ve gotten myself in enough trouble, Tomas. I can’t give them another reason to add years on to my term.”
Jamie Grant had come to Haven full of rage and defiance. And for years he’d stood up to the guards, taken their beatings, and stared icily into the face of the warden and the governor when they’d added years to his sentence. He had survived, as much to spite those who’d sent him to the mines to die as out of any real desire to live. But then he met Damian.
Damian Ward was a veteran, a retired soldier who had accepted a land grant on Haven as his mustering-out bonus and settled there after the war. Damian was an influential citizen, an officer who’d been decorated more than once for valor in combat.
The governor had given Ward a special authorization to hire out a work crew from the prison complex to assist him in getting his farm into full production. Jamie had been assigned, solely by chance, along with a dozen others. He hadn’t complained—it was almost a respite, being sent from the dark, dusty hell of the mine to work outside for a few months. Sure, the work was just as backbreaking, but at least it meant something different. He’d provoked some of his beatings solely to feel anything, to remind himself that he was an actual being and not just a cog in the prison’s machine. So the chance to break the monotony was more than welcome.
Meeting Damian was almost a bonus at that point.
But somehow, against all odds, he and Damian had become friends. And for the first time in his life, Jamie Grant found himself with someone in his corner, a true ally. And also for the first time, he had real hope that the future could hold something better than the poverty and deprivation he’d known all his life.
As long as he kept his head down and stayed out of trouble until his sentence was over, that is.
And he’d done just that, for three years now. He was scheduled for release in two and a
half months, and he wasn’t about to do anything to interfere with that. Certainly not get involved in a doomed riot. No matter how much he hated the federals.
Tomas was angry now, and his raised voice was drawing attention from the others. “What are you, some kind of fed sympathizer? Ain’t you one of us no more?”
Jamie gave his comrade a hard shove, his anger just as real as Lopez’s now. “I’ve done more years in this pit than most of you. And I’ve had more time tacked on to my sentence, too. So don’t give me this fed-lover bull.” It was hard enough to stand aside, to bite down on his rage and try to stay out of trouble. He didn’t need an asshole like Tomas Lopez giving him grief.
Especially since there was no point to the rising anyway. No chance of victory.
Jamie knew exactly what was going to happen. Best case, the riot was easily contained, and the miners would be back at work within a matter of hours, battered and still coughing up the last of the stun gas from their lungs. Perhaps they’d be minus a couple of their number, a few of them shot down whether they resisted or as a lesson to the others. And they’d all have an extra six months added to their time on top of the other punitive measures the feds loved so much—ration reductions, extra work periods, and a few beatings for good measure.
Worst case, the uprising actually succeeded enough to scare the governor. If that happened, Jamie knew, a lot of his fellow workers wouldn’t return at all. The reward for their brief success would be a company of security forces encircling the mine and starving them out. Or, if the governor got really nervous, storming the mine and retaking it. Jamie had watched federal forces clear riots before, and it wasn’t something he wanted to see again.
Lopez stared back at Jamie for a second. Then he dropped the metal rod he was carrying and lunged forward, taking a wild swing at his fellow prisoner. It might have surprised him, but Jamie had been in the federal prison for twelve years, and he knew how to take care of himself. It was almost too easy. He stepped quickly to the side, giving Lopez a sharp punch to the gut, one that dropped him where he was standing.
“I don’t want to fight you, Tomas,” he said quietly, staring at the doubled-over figure at his feet. “Do whatever you want, asshole. Get yourself shot—or locked up in here for an
extra year or two. Or kill a guard and get yourself snuffed.
“Just stay away from me.”
Jamie turned back to the rock face and leaned down to pick up his drill, keeping an eye on Lopez as he did.
Lopez pulled himself up, still gasping for breath as he did. “Fed-lover.” He glared at Jamie, but he didn’t make another move.
Jamie felt the rage trying to bubble over inside him, but he clamped down on it. Still, he could see at least a half dozen of the other miners beginning to gather, to walk in his direction. His brief fight with Lopez had drawn attention he didn’t want.
“Grant, what’s your problem?” It was Ron Gavros, another of the prisoners, one of the few still remaining who’d been there when Jamie had arrived twelve years before. Gavros was one of the instigators of the uprising. He walked over and stopped a little over a meter from Jamie. “I know damned well you hate the stinking feds. You gonna let your friends stand on the front line while you sit here like the little bitch slave they made you?”
Grant sighed and turned around to face the new arrival. “Look, Ron, I don’t want any trouble, okay? I’m less than three months from getting out of here.” He knew as the words came out of his mouth it was the wrong thing to say. Gavros was a lifer, with no hope of release. No hope save for Haven to fall into the fires of revolution and somehow wrest itself free of Federal America.
“So you get out and the hell with the rest of us?” Gavros snapped back. He glanced back at the gathering crowd and then took another step toward Jamie. “Is that what you are now, Grant? A stinking turncoat? A sellout?”
Grant set the drill down on the ground next to him. He’d been sure he could handle Lopez easily enough, and most of the others, too, at least one-on-one. But Gavros was big . . . and tough. He’d been forged in this hell even longer than Jamie had, and he’d arrived bigger and nastier to begin with. A fight with him would be deadly serious business. Not to mention the crowd would all be on Gavros’s side.
“Ron, you’ve been here a long time. You know what’s going to happen as well as I do. This uprising isn’t going to accomplish a damned thing other than get a bunch of you
killed.” Grant took a breath and stared right at his fellow prisoner. He could see his words weren’t accomplishing anything, either with Gavros or with the others gathered around. “Look,” he said finally, “I’m not in your way. Do what you want. Just leave me out of it, all right? You going to waste all your time down here bitching at me while the feds rush in reinforcements? You want to fight with me or the feds?”
“You suck, Grant.” Gavros stared at Jamie for a few more seconds, his eyes glittering with rage. But there was something else there, too, a distraction. Jamie saw that his last comment had scored some points.
Gavros, turning toward the miners gathered around, said, “We’ll deal with him later. It’s time to take this to the stinking feds.” He stepped toward the middle of the crowd and raised his hand above his head. “To the surface. Now!”
The crowd roared and followed Gavros as he moved toward the elevators and the ladders. Jamie stood and watched as the cavern emptied, and silence slowly replaced the wild shouting of the crowd. The miners had already taken prisoner the three guards from this level, and Jamie knew that was trouble. There was a good chance those guards were going to die, and probably not pleasantly. And that meant a lot of prisoners would be scragged . . . a lot more than three. Jamie had seen enough federal guards to know how they reacted when their own were hurt or killed. Guilt wouldn’t matter much when that happened. Just being in the line of fire would be enough.
Now the mob was heading toward the upper sections to rally the prisoners there, and overwhelm the rest of the security forces on duty. It was a tragedy on its way to becoming a complete catastrophe.
He shook his head sadly. Despite all Lopez and Gavros had said in their anger, his sympathies were with his fellow prisoners. Some of them deserved to be here, he knew, but others had merely been victims of Federal America’s unjust courts and the poverty and corruption that had driven them to whatever crimes they had committed.
None of that mattered, though. Whatever his sympathies, Jamie didn’t have time for any of this. He hated the federals, but getting himself killed, or consigned here for another
year or two, wouldn’t accomplish a thing. And he had good reasons to keep his head down and get out, more than just Damian and the promise of a job on the farm and a
place to live.
Katia . . .
He’d met Katia Rand at Damian’s farm, when he’d been there as part of the work crew. From the moment she’d walked into his field of view, he hadn’t been able to take his eyes off her. She’d been there with her father, working on the farm’s electrical systems, and the two of them had hit it off immediately. They spent every fleeting moment together, in secret at first and then with Damian’s assistance. By the time Jamie returned to the mine with the rest of the work detail, he had a new purpose. To finish his sentence and to accept Damian’s offer of a job. And to marry Katia Rand.
So screw you, Gavros, and your pipe dream.
Because what he had told Gavros was true—their cause was hopeless. The prisoners had no chance of victory, not unless the rest of Haven rose up in rebellion. And for all the unrest sweeping the planet, Jamie knew things hadn’t reached that point. It wasn’t difficult for prisoners with no freedom and no hope to reach the desperation point. But for all Federal America’s oppression and corruption, most Havenites had homes and jobs and families. They might bristle and protest over increased taxes and burdensome regulations, but it would take more to push things to the breaking point, some outrage that would galvanize the people and thrust them into open revolution.
And the conditions of convicted criminals certainly weren’t going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
He didn’t know what might push Haven over the edge, or if he would rise up to that call when it did. What he knew was a dazzling smile and a brilliant pair of eyes . . .
He looked down at the drill, but he didn’t pick it up again. He couldn’t do anything by himself, at least nothing productive. So he let out a loud sigh and sat down on a large
rock outcropping.
All he could do was wait.
And hope.

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