The first installment in the Sisterhood of Suns series, “Sisterhood of Suns: Pallas Athena” introduces the reader to the Sisterhood universe and chronicles the adventures of a veteran naval officer, an agent of the State Intelligence service and the young thief who becomes her protégé, a young womin who joins the Sisterhood Marines to avenge her ravaged colony and the first NeoMan to serve in a combat unit in a millennia. Filled with rich detail and believable characters, “Sisterhood of Suns; Pallas Athena” is part military scif-fi, part espionage thriller and overall is a book that once started, can’t be put down.
Excerpt from Book 1--
<Aria! Start your engine and come around to the front of this building!> she thought. The Psi’s chasing her would also hear the Psiever conversation with her car’s AI, but there was no helping this. Speed was more important than stealth at the moment.
Reaching into her cloak, she found the smart grenade and flipped the arming switch. Then she let go of the tiny metal sphere.
It floated off, and took up a position a half a meter away from her. The grenade was set on ‘guard’, waiting patiently for an enemy to approach it before it detonated. Up above her, she could feel the frustration of the two womyn, but there was nothing that they could do; military grenades were shielded from psionic interference. Her hunters had only three options; stay where they were, pursue her and get blown to bits, or find themselves another way down.
Sarah laughed at them and descended into the lobby, realizing as she did so that it was the same Hostel that the young rogue Esper was staying in. As she strode towards the entrance, the clerk looked up at her, but before she could say anything, or activate any security devices, Sarah ‘pushed’ with her mind. The clerk blinked in surprise, and then flopped forwards, completely unconscious. It would be hours before she awoke, and when she did, she would remember nothing.
Sarah’s hovercar was waiting for her outside, a sleek black Falcaan 490 with a razor sharp outline and twin engines that could easily outrun most police cruisers. She sprinted to it, and the vehicle’s AI sensed her aural signature and opened its gull-wing doors.
<Drive> she thought as she threw herself into the driver’s seat. <High Speed, evasive> The vehicle obeyed, taking off like a rocket down the rain-soaked street.
“My pleasure Mistress," the AI said cheerfully. “Destination?”
“None specific. Leave this district by the most expedient route,” Sarah replied. The car accelerated obediently, pressing her into her seat.
“Mistress, we are being followed,” it informed her.
Sarah called up an image from the rear-view traffic camera. Another hovercar had swung in behind them, and was trying to catch up. It was an Aerhawk 3350; not quite on the same level as her Falcaan, but more than adequate for the pursuit.
Like her vehicle, it was built for speed. A second later it cut in its afterburners to close the distance, narrowly avoiding a collision with a row of parked vehicles in the process. Whoever the driver was, she was an amateur, Sarah thought, or her AI wasn’t as good as Aria.
"Shall I engage weapons, Mistress?”
She was just about to grant the AI permission to do so, when a Thermadonian Metro Police car joined the chase. A message appeared simultaneously on her windshield HUD: “YOU ARE IN VIOLATION OF SECTION 44523.4, 44525.5: EXCESSIVE SPEED AND RECKLESS DRIVING. LAND YOUR VEHICLE AND STOP NOW!”
“Deas dam va!” she scowled. “There weren’t supposed to be any police in this area.” The very last thing she needed was this complication.
“Should I actually obey that order?” the hovercar inquired.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Aria," Sarah responded. "Disregard and continue evasive action.”
“Thank you Mistress. I do so love a good chase!” Sarah ignored the AI’s remarks, and kept her eye on the vehicles behind her instead.
Another message appeared on the HUD: “YOU HAVE TEN SECONDS BEFORE YOUR ENGINE WILL BE DEACTIVATED! STOP NOW!” A set of numbers followed this, displaying the countdown. But Sarah was not concerned in the least. Her vehicle had much more under its skin than just a fast pair of engines.
<Initiate countermeasures> she thought.
“Countermeasures employed,” the car responded, laughing. “Engine override signal blocked successfully, and quite easily I might add.”
The fact that the Aerhawk hadn’t stopped either indicated that they had the same resources at their command. And as the police cruiser continued to chase them both, the Aerhawk revealed another secret.
Ports opened up on its nose, and bright blue flames spat out when it fired a pair of railguns at the Falcaan. But Aria had spotted this nanoseconds before her mistress had, and ascended without instruction, banking sharply to the right at the same instant. Sarah was thrown violently into her safety straps as the vehicle neatly evaded the depleted uranium rounds.
“Drop proximity mine! Key to the Aerhawk,” Sarah commanded. Now it was their turn to play a trick or two.
There was a dull ‘thump’ as the small mine was released from their tail. To their credit, her pursuers responded immediately and dropped low, scraping the pavement with their undercarriage in a shower of sparks as they flew just underneath the mines’ detonation radius.
Having a less sophisticated AI, the police cruiser didn’t react quite as quickly, and ran straight into the mine. Only the fact that it had been keyed to attack the Aerhawk was what saved it. The weapon stayed inert and the hovercar smashed it to pieces, suffering only a crack in its windshield from a stray piece of shrapnel.
Just then, another police cruiser joined the chase, coming down from above them and pulling in behind the pack. This wasn’t an ordinary patrol hovercar however; it carried a rack of air-to-air missiles under its stubby winglets.
The message that it broadcast was clear, and imperative. “THIS IS AN ARMED POLICE RESPONSE UNIT. STOP YOUR ENGINES AND PULL OVER OR WE WILL FIRE UPON YOU!” An alarm came to life on the Falcaan’s dash, indicating that the vehicle had acquired a target lock on her engines.
<Aria! Discharge flares on launch!> Sarah thought. The Police cruiser fired an instant later, but the Falcaan launched its flares simultaneously, luring the deadly missiles away.
The Aerhawk did the same thing. And as the missiles exploded harmlessly in mid-air, the group of hovercars raced together towards a busy intersection, with the Aerhawk letting loose another burst from its railguns.
Sarah knew that the traffic signals controlling the junction were shielded from normal psionic interference, but she wasn’t a normal womin with a normal Psiever. She throttled her car’s engines to maximum and concentrated on the lights. Unable to withstand her Will, they obediently changed from red to green. Robot trucks, which were the only traffic passing through at that hour, stopped on either side as the Falcaan blasted by them.
Then she ‘pushed’ a second time. As her pursuers entered the intersection, the lights changed again, and the robot trucks began to mindlessly roll through. There was no time for the Aerhawk to avoid the accident that followed. It plowed full speed into the forward section of a large truck, shearing in half and exploding into a fireball.
The two police vehicles behind it swerved wildly to avoid the blast. The armed unit just managed to accomplish this, ramming into a traffic pylon instead, and spinning off to slam into the side of a building. Its companion wasn’t so fortunate. The hovercar plowed straight into the burning wreckage of the Aerhawk, and became wreckage itself.
As flaming fuel spewed over the intersection, Sarah bit back an oath and ordered her car to climb and join the airborne traffic overhead.
“That was an exciting chase!” the AI chirped, happily immune to the carnage below and behind them. ”I especially enjoyed the opportunity that it gave me to run my engines at maximum.”
“I’m so glad that you had so much fun” Sarah replied, acerbically. It had been bad enough that things had gone awry with her contacts, she thought. Now there was this, on top of it all. But the casualties—and she was certain there were some in that wreckage--had been unavoidable.