STAR FORGE by Cameron Cooper
Imperial Hammer 2.0
Space Opera Novel
Danny is trapped in a fragile relationship with the self-aware interstellar array which calls itself Noam.
The array provides transport and communications. Without its cooperation, the Carinad Empire would collapse, stranding billions of people and causing chaos and death.
Danny Andela, a former Ranger known as the Imperial Hammer, is the only human the array trusts. Danny’s work to keep the array happy and minimize its deadly temper tantrums is draining. Worse, other humans distrust her because of her association with the array, including the crew of her one-of-a-kind ship, the Lythion.
Broke and alone, Danny faces a new peril: The array may not trust her, afterall…
Star Forge is the second book in the Imperial Hammer space opera science fiction series by award-winning SF author Cameron Cooper.
The Imperial Hammer series:
1.0: Hammer and Crucible
1.1: An Average Night on Androkles
2.0: Star Forge
3.0: Long Live the Emperor
5.0: Destroyer of Worlds
5.5: The Imperial Hammer Series Box Set
Space Opera Science Fiction Novel
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I loved that this book was full of fast-paced action and many unexpected plot twists! I enjoyed getting to know more of the same excellent characters set against a beautifully crafted space-based 'world' and it's technological constructs.
This second book in the series adds more depth to the characters and evolves the story of Danny and her crew with exciting detail and a well written story that made it impossible to put down!
It's definitely necessary to read Hammer and Crucible before Star Forge but each book deals with a different 'chapter' in Danny's life so they have very satisfying endings. It's my empathy with the characters and curiosity to know what comes next in Danny's challenging life that makes me load up the next ebook in the series immediately after finishing the book.
Our heroine Danny is “attached” to a self-aware interstellar array (Noam) which can see and hear everything through her own sight and hearing. When a series of mishaps seems to be more than coincidence, how does one work around that danger when the array knows everything she does??
Noam is an all-powerful entity, with an adolescent temper. Yikes!
Clever, intricate and entertaining. Definitely makes you think. Such a unique concept. Exceptionally executed!
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EXCERPT FROM STAR FORGE
COPYRIGHT © CAMERON COOPER 2020
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED [Advisory: Frank language included.]
“Run,” Juliyana breathed.
I turned and ran, Juliyana only a few steps ahead of me, racing along the elegant curve of the concourse around to the other side where the airlock gave pleasure craft a means of letting off their pampered passengers at the penthouse level, instead of forcing them to schlep through the public areas of the city.
Behind us, a low drum of boots sounded upon the floor. The Rangers were giving chase, just as I’d expected them to.
In my shimmering evening wear and facepaint, I would have stood out like a supernova in local space-time anywhere else, but here, Juliyana in her plain overalls and spacer boots was the one to stand out. Heads turned as we hurried past. Then they turned again to take in the bunch of Rangers on our tail.
Sauli waited fifty meters ahead, waving us on with the pad in his hand. His freckled face was screwed up with worry. Just Sauli. Dalton was still on the ship, it seemed.
“Lyth is bringing her around,” Sauli yelled at us as we drew level with him. He turned and ran with us. “Copy, Lyth?”
“Four minutes,” Lyth said shortly in my ear.
We came to a crossroad of glittering shops displaying expensive wares. Each steel glass wall displayed only a few items, set well apart from each other. I could estimate the altitude of the price tags by the amount of space between each item.
“Which way?” Juliyana yelled at Sauli, who had the pad.
He glanced at it. “This way.” He pointed to his right.
Varg whined and pranced and not in a good way.
I hesitated, watching her. She never acted up without reason. “Smell something?” I asked her, ignoring both the rumble of booted feet behind us and my jumping heartrate.
Varg stopped moving. Her hackles lifted. She hunched her shoulders. Her muzzle swung toward the righthand route.
“Sauli, I think we might have to–”
That was all I got out. Varg launched herself at me with a growl from deep in her belly. Her paws slammed against my chest and knocked me off my feet. I dropped heavily and my head smacked against the floor, which was some sort of extruded demiplastic and softer than plascrete, which saved me from more than an instant headache.
Varg’s paws stayed on my chest, keeping me down, her hot, coppery breath in my face.
A shriver bolt sizzled through the air, just over Varg’s shoulders…coming from the right-hand passage.
“Fuck!” Juliayana cried. She and pulled out her own shriver and let loose with a volley of three shots, backing away from the passage. “Danny, get up!”
“Off, Varg!” I shouted and shoved at her. Varg hopped over me, which put her between me and the passage where the bolt had come from. I flipped, pushed off with my hands and bounced to my feet. I shucked off the evening sandals at the same time and wished uselessly that I was wearing my spacer boots.
Sauli backed up, too. “Holy horse shit…” he breathed, which was as wild as his curses ever got.
Warned, I spun to look down the corridor.
Racing toward us was a Ranger unlike any other I’d seen in my forty plus years of service. He had not been slowed by Juliyana’s covering fire. He wasn’t dodging or trying to use cover. He ran at us at full tilt.
He wore all-over heavy duty body armor, the type that ground shock troopers wore—which they had to train to wear and build kilos of muscle to carry. I’d never seen armour as advanced and different as what this guy was wearing, though. I had no time to analyse it further, for he was moving at speed, the traction-enhanced feet of the suit slapping the floor with sharp claps.
He must have taken a shot at me the moment he rounded the curve and spotted me. Now, though, he was close enough to be accurate. He raised the shriver in his hand. I recognized it as a two-handed model.
“Run!” Juliyana screamed and sprinted toward the thing, laying down a suppressing fire with her shriver, trying to make the Ranger flinch or slow.
I whirled away. “Sauli. Come on!”
Sauli, though, watched Juliyana close with the enhanced asshole, his face working with concern.
I pulled on his arm, almost yanking him off his feet. He lifted a hand. “Wait.”
“We don’t have time!”
The first of the Rangers from the restaurant came into sight. Spotting us gave them a spurt of speed.
I pulled on Sauli’s arm once more and glanced down the passage to the lone warrior. He and Juliyana met with a clash which should have rocked him off his feet. She could take down a fully armed Ranger with ease because she’d gone through the same basic training we all do.
Only, she didn’t take him down at all. The tricks with weight and inertia and impetus, using the leverage of her boot upon the ground when she leapt to add power and velocity, aiming for the high chest, the easiest point to distort balance…none of it worked.
Juliyana slammed against the man like she would a plasteel wall, then
The Ranger’s face didn’t shift an inch. No surprise, no show of effort, not even a grim smile of satisfaction. He stepped over her and picked up speed.
I had no time and no capacity to express anything. I yanked on Sauli’s arm once more and turned and ran. Varg loped along beside me.
“Lyth, change of plans,” I told the ship AI. “Where the fuck is Dalton? Dig him up, now.”
“I’m here,” Dalton said, his voice slurred, like he’d just stirred from deep sleep. “I told you–”
“No time,” I shot back. “I’ve got this thing on my tail and his Ranger pals. Someone has to go pick up Juliyana. She’s out for the count and I don’t want the Rangers circling back to deal with her. Move it, Dalton.”
“Yeah, yeah,” he growled.
The slapping, clapping steps of the super-Ranger were coming closer. He was outpacing us and leaving his Ranger buddies behind.