Barbara Custer and Tom Johnson team up to explore the possibilities of intergalactic adventure. The action and suspense in these stories will keep you turning the pages. Does intelligent life exist on other worlds? Some people believe that God didn’t create the vast universe just for humans. Are they gentle friendly beings, or are they monsters that prey on weaker species.
Custer explores heroic aliens bent on rescuing the human race, and evil aliens intending to destroy it. Humans will be in the crossfire! Brothers will also be at odds in their desire to save or destroy mankind.
Johnson gives us two views of the galactic frontier, with his Captain Danger, a superman of the future who keeps law and order among the spaceways, and a master thief, who operates as a future Robin Hood of the star systems.
Together, Custer & Johnson present their fantastic tales of SF in the first of several anthologies from NTD.
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Two Raptors flashed through space on a head on trajectory with each other, their blasters firing deadly rays as their steeds jockeyed like wild stallions in the darkness of the void. Twin craft, one silver, the other one black, both under the command of expert pilots. Like an ancient jostling tournament, where two riders set with extended lance, hoping to unseat their opponent, they charged at a mad pace. But in this modern battle, the lance was a deadly ray of destructive force that would wipe out rider and steed. Only the skill of the two pilots kept their ships safe from harm, as the fast spaceships maneuvered in and out, twisting and turning in space like poisonous scorpions, and always striking with their deadly venom, and should one fail to respond quick enough, its life would be forfeited in the tick of a heartbeat.
The onlookers marveled at the skill of both pilots, one minute the silver ship had the advantage, but the next second, it went to the black ship. Closer and closer the two spaceships flew to each other, almost crashing wing to wing at times, only falling aside at the last minute, to turn and spin, and re-engage like boxers in a ring, jabbing first, and then an uppercut, and right and left crosses.
But it couldn’t last. Only a superhuman could maintain that precision for long without tiring, or blinking suddenly, and missing a turn or dip, or swing out of danger a millisecond before disaster struck. In this case, that superhuman was Cathy Rogers. Her robotic strength would never tire, and her eyes never blinked unless she willed it. Her mind calculated in the millisecond. It was her steady hands that guided the ship in its maneuvers during the deadly dogfight in space, and human hands could not beat her!
In a fraction of a second, the black bird was in Steve’s line of fire, and his hands began pressing the triggers of his destructive blasters. A soft voice spoke over the communications radio at that exact minute:
“You’ve beat us, Steve, darling,” the familiar voice said from the black ship. And Captain Dangerâ€™s hands froze on the triggers of his blasters.
She jabbed her finger on the button to close the door, but an instant too late. The stranger wedged himself in the narrowing doorway before muscling himself into the room. In one hand, he held a plastic dish containing scrambled eggs and sausage links.
“Here’s your breakfast,” the stranger said. His voice was distant, as if coming to Cassie from another world. “I was going to pay the delivery boy, but he seemed in a hurry to get away. I wonder why.”
He advanced through the living room toward Cassie, who was cowering behind the sofa and staring with wide and vulnerable eyes.
“I’m having another nightmare,” she said out loud. “This one makes the others seem like sweet dreams.”
But this was no nightmare. Cassie had time to hope that she was in the psych ward having the mother of hallucinations. Nothing could be worse than this hostile intruder, this thing which walked on its own edge of winter.
The walls in Cassie’s apartment stood three meters high, but the crown of the stranger’s glass helmet almost touched the ceiling. His body was wrapped in an EP suit the color of wet cement. His face was parchment pale, with a dead expression that didn’t understand kindness, love, or mercy. His thin-lipped mouth was set in passionless authority, like the slotted mouth of a granite robot. His eyes were amber circles rimmed with pinkish flesh that looked ready to bleed. Worst of all, Cassie knew that face. Sheâ€™d met this stranger before.
“Kronos!” she blurted with a strangled cry.
The scars overlaid the terrain of that face as it did in her imagination: up the right cheek, across the chin and below the left eye. Except for the scars, he looked like Kronos…or did he? She couldn’t tell for sure.
The stranger grinned. “That’s right. I’m Thutiy’s son.”
But that didn’t sound right. Yarol hadn’t mentioned a brother, and besides, children didn’t try to assassinate their parents, at least in a civilized world.
Cassie Kelly, registered nurse of Artman Hospital, started to cry. The tears tasted hot and salty, but that seemed unimportant. Kronos had invaded her home, and worse, Cassie almost recognized him. She felt a triple-locked door in her subconscious straining to burst open. The thought of running never crossed her mind. Instead, she backed into the kitchen and collapsed by the table, holding her hands up blindly above her head.
“Please don’t hurt me,” she begged. “I have no issue with you, and besides, my sister is sick. She needs me alive.”
She was reduced to using Marilyn as a prop. But it didn’t matter; this stranger in the cement-colored EP suit (You baked him cranberry cake) now stood directly over her.
Cassie dropped her head. She looked at her ceramic floor and prayed that when she had the strength to look up, Kronos would be gone.
“Look at me,” he ordered in a distant, heavy voice.
“No,” Cassie screamed in a weepy voice, and then burst into fresh tears. Horrible waves of dread washed through her, clinging like poison syrup to whatever it was she dared not remember, the thing that related to cranberry cake, a dessert she hadn’t eaten since–
Something hard struck Cassie’s back, and she screamed.
“Look at me!”
“Please let me go.”
Cassie looked up, shielding her streaming eyes with one gray-sleeved arm, in time to see Kronos’ arm come down again.
He was hitting Cassie with the side of his gun, pistol-whipping her the way she’d seen guards do to non-compliant prisoners in the news.
“That’s better,” Kronos said. His lips worked into a crooked grin. Looking into his eyes, those cold amber eyes, was like looking into a black hole. Cassie let out loud, anguished sobs.
“You destroyed my lab hydeons and three of my androids,” said Kronos. His voice still seemed to come from a distance. “I could have become governor, but you ruined my opportunity.”
“I don’t remember any of that,” Cassie said, crying harder. The thought of lying to this man about (cranberry cake) her amnesia or anything was not up for discussion. Kronos was her judge, jury, and executioner.
Where are the robots? Cassie wondered crazily. Where are the robots that water the roses and then go back into the sane world where things like this don’t happen?
“Shut up!” Still brandishing his gun, Kronos drew out forceps with long sharp blades. Cassie, who’d spent four years in college to get her degree, recognized them. Most pathologists used them to cut and remove tissue samples for analysis. Undoubtedly, the Dorjynite doctors used similar equipment for the same reason.
Or for experiments on humans, she thought.
“I should kill you now.” Gun pointed at Cassie, Kronos pushed a button. Freezing air struck her body, numbing it. A scream came and died in her throat.
He then leaned forward, extending the forceps in one gloved hand. The tips of the blades pierced the flesh of her throat. It was like being pricked by an icicle. Beads of scarlet trailed down her neck.
BARBARA CUSTER & TOM JOHNSON
Night to Dawn
Hardcover, Paperback, E-Book
Science Fiction, Dark Fantasy
Rating: 4 Cups
Calling Captain Danger
Captain Steve Danger is one of the elite Space Rangers of the Galactic Empire Alliance. Along with his Lieutenant, Cathy Rogers, he flies the Silver Raptor #1 to investigate the mysterious deaths in a mining colony on the outskirts of the galaxy.
An exciting introduction to the world of Captain Danger. Thrilling battles, besotted women and interesting characters all the way around.
Echoes from a Distant World
Cassie Kelly is a nurse recovering from acute memory loss that took a year of her life. Those lost memories haunt her dreams and nightmares and are now back to wreak havoc on her life again. She must face the truth of the past year in order to survive the repercussions.
I love this story. The aliens are unique and extreme with a wonderful use of helium balloons. Barbara Custer has a way with words that draws you into the story.
The Forever Man
When you are unique amongst the world, the average job just does not suit. The Robin Hood of the future is the best way to go. Getting paid to recover stolen merchandise that is thought to be unrecoverable is a job for the Forever Man.
The Forever Man has a great take on one positive outcome of human experimentation. It sounds odd but it really works. The different world and the people inhabiting it are fun to read about.
Cost Containment’s Dividend
When the cost effectiveness effects every decision, the first thing to go is health care. Kristin is a diabetic nurse hiding her condition from a boss that would fire her for being a health risk. She knows what happens to people who cannot pay for their medical bills; they start to the cemetery while kicking and screaming. Until Xaeriss helps them fight back.
It is interesting to read a story about a failing health care system, considering today’s economy. This is a short and sweet story about what could happen and the possibilities for getting even.
Terror from Beyond
Captain Danger leads us into another exhilarating adventure from the outskirts of the galaxy. This time he swoops in to save the day from some remarkably creepy, inexplicably technologically advanced aliens.
This story is even more fun than Captain Danger’s first story. Tom Johnson has created some great characters that anyone would want to have save the day.
Secret Light, Silent World
What would your child do if a strange alien approached them with the solution to their problems? Exactly what Heather did; jump in without considering the consequences. Now, she’s in the thick of a subversive alien invasion that has left her with an out of this world problem.
This is an interesting way to execute an alien invasion. It does seem a little easy to mutate and manipulate Heather, but then again she is just a teenager.
Planets in Peril
The Forever Man is back. With war about to break out over an ancient tablet, who else could manoeuver their way into this untenable situation? Teaming up with an officer of the Cosmic Security would normally seem like a strange thing for a thief to do, but sometimes extreme circumstances are required when it comes to getting paid.
Another great story from Tom Johnson. The Forever Man is a fun character that gets himself in and out of extreme situations for a large pay check all the while making the bad guys look stupid. What is not to like?
When Robert Blank, flight 66 Captain, and his crew find themselves in an extreme situation, they must do the best they can. If that means acquiring a new plane that they are not even sure they know how to fly, then so be it. They will do whatever it takes to find their way home.
The only story that takes place on an Earth-like, if not Earth itself, world is an interesting tale that reminds me a bit of Stephen King’s The Langoliers, except they were sent to the future instead of the past.
The Spice Raiders
Lieutenant Cathy Rogers and Captain Danger save the day again when Commander Scott Perry gets kidnapped. Together Silver Raptors #1, #2 and #3 must prevent a galactic incident.
Another tale of Captain Danger is a pretty good way to end this compilation of stories. The galactic incident imitated our current political climate pretty well and was fun to read about on the cosmic level.
Alien Worlds contains a great many stories that pertain to future possibilities and aliens in a very clever way. The stories are unique and for the most part interesting and fun to read.
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More