An extract from Ashes of Empire: Imperial Sunset the first book in a thrilling new sci-fi series from Eric Thomson.
Imperial Sunset is the first instalment in the Ashes of Empire saga. It tells the story of a desperate attempt to stave off the darkness threatening to smother humanity’s interstellar empire and send civilisation back to the Stone Age.
“The flagship, sir — it’s gone.” Disbelief, mingled with outrage and not a little fear.
Captain Jonas Morane, commanding officer of the Imperial Starship Vanquish, turned tired, blood-shot eyes on the cruiser’s combat systems officer. His angular face bore the weary, almost resigned expression of someone who knew his life was changing forever. If they survived the next few hours or days.
“Valens’ subspace beacon vanished. She’s either been taken or destroyed.”
“I guess we’ll find out which it is when the visuals reach us. In approximately three minutes, right?”
Lieutenant Commander Annalise Creswell nodded. She was an athletic redhead whose normally bright green eyes were dulled by the stresses of fighting a losing war. Fatigue and worry lined Creswell’s pale features, giving her the appearance of someone ten years older.
“Three minutes, sir.”
Subspace radio was practically instantaneous within the confines of a star system. But it still took coherent light a second to travel three hundred thousand kilometers, and Morane’s ship was fifty-four million kilometers from the main force engaging the rebels near Toboso, the Cervantes system’s sole inhabited planet.
Vanquish, a long, wedge-shaped fast attack cruiser and its three consorts sat athwart the 197th Battle Group’s escape route, waiting for the main force to disengage from a rebel ambush so they could flee through Wormhole Cervantes Two. Hopefully toward a system still in the hands of naval units loyal to the empire, although they were getting fewer each day.
“What about the others?”
“Still transmitting.” Creswell hesitated. “Cancel that. Stilicho just went dark as well.”
“Damn.” Morane ran a hand through his short, black hair as his mind tried to deal with the rapidly deteriorating situation. Two more heavy cruisers either taken or destroyed by Admiral Loren’s rebel fleet. On top of their earlier losses.
He’d told Rear Admiral Greth, the 197th’s commanding officer, it was too risky entering the Cervantes system. The rebels surely controlled such a significant wormhole junction and were ready to attack any unwary loyalist vessels passing through. But Greth wouldn’t hear about falling back toward the imperial capital and saving his battle group’s strength until they could join others still faithful to their oaths.
For the sin of objecting to aggressive action against the rebellion, Morane and his fast attack cruiser were left out of battle. Their mission was to protect the 197th’s most vulnerable units, the replenishment ship Narwhal and two frigates damaged in their previous engagement with Loren’s forces, Nicias and Myrtale. Greth considered it a punishment for lacking the right fighting spirit.
Morane, who was increasingly doubtful about the wisdom of fighting the rebellion head-on, voiced no objections. He didn’t want to court a needless death. If that made him a coward in some eyes, so be it. The empire was finished, he could feel it in his gut, and the rebellion wouldn’t fare much better. No entity born of such violent dissolution could last.
Ashes of Empire: Imperial Sunset is available now!
A bite of... Eric Thomson
Q1: Would you rather be James Bond or Batman?
Clearly James Bond. Not only do I have a fondness for martinis and an appreciation for cars, my favorite protagonist, Zack Decker hero of my Decker’s War series, is sort of a 26th century James Bond, a science fiction military intelligence agent who’s larger than life.
Q2: Have you ever written somebody you dislike into a book, just so you could make them suffer?
I’ve done so regularly. Whether they recognize themselves or not is another question altogether. But it’s not so much to make them suffer as to make them appear like fools, which is worse than a fictional death.
Q3: Have you ever written somebody you love into a book?
My two eldest dogs, a pair of lovely Yorkshire terriers who were brother and sister from different litters, passed away in 2015. Each has a cameo in one of my books. It’s my way of immortalising them as a thanks for all the love they gave me over the years. I’ll do the same for my third yorkie once his time comes.
Eric Thomson is the pen name of a retired Canadian soldier with thirty-one years of service, both in the Regular Army and the Army Reserve. He spent his Regular Army career in the Infantry and his Reserve service in the Armoured Corps. He worked for a number of years as an Information Technology specialist before retiring to become a full-time author.
Eric has been a voracious reader of science fiction, military fiction, and history all his life. He assiduously devoured the recommended Army reading list in his younger days and still occasionally returns to the classics for inspiration. Several years ago, he put fingers to keyboard and started writing his own military sci-fi, with a definite space opera slant, using many of his own experiences as a soldier as an inspiration for his stories and characters.
When he’s not writing fiction, Eric indulges in his other passions: photography, hiking and scuba diving, all of which he’s shared with his wife, who likes to call herself his #1 fan, for more than thirty years.
You can find Eric Thomson on Twitter, Goodreads, his own website and his blog.