Excerpt: Aurora: Darwin by Amanda Bridgeman


AURORA: DARWIN by Amanda Bridgeman is a thrilling space opera that’s won legions of fans around the world. Today, it’s the Kindle Daily Deal for Australia, and you can grab a copy for only $0.99. Click here for more! 

Prologue

Easy money. Yeah, right! Lars had always been one for taking the easy road, but right now this didn’t seem so fuckin’ easy. Right now, his bitch of a mother’s words were ringing in his ears: “If it sounds too good to be true, Lars, then it is! There’s no such thing as an easy ride! You work long and hard, and then you die! That’s just the way it is in this stinking life!” Well, he’d taken the easy road, alright. Simple work on a cargo ship seemed honest enough. It looked good to his parole officer, and being stuck on a ship traveling around space for months on end was a good way of keeping you out of trouble. Except the gunrunning, that is.

His ship’s captain, Quint, had been up front about it and the extra cash to look the other way didn’t bother Lars at all. He wasn’t stupid. He knew that was why Quint hired him in the first place. Quint didn’t care about the long rap sheet against his name for burglary, assault, you name it. Quint, it turned out, was an ex-con too, although Lars guessed the “ex” part wasn’t quite true. But to the authorities Quint looked clean, running a simple cargo operation between the Moon, the outstations, and Mars. So yeah, Lars took the job, took the money and looked the other way. Easy money. That inescapable vice to a con like him. Like a bottle of booze to an alcoholic, or a hand job in a back alley to a sex addict. Easy fuckin’ money, alright! And it was about to get him killed.

He heard footsteps approaching and held his breath. He wasn’t sure whether he was the last one left alive. He hadn’t seen anyone since it went down, but what went down exactly, he didn’t know. One moment they were in the space station’s mess hall eating dinner with the crew, the next …? He remembered the lights in the room went out. He remembered commotion, fighting, screaming, the smell of blood … He didn’t stick around to notice anything else. Instead, instinct led him away, running back blindly toward the dock and their cargo ship. He had to get off that station and fast! Except the doors to the dock were locked; access overridden. He was trapped.

The screaming had ceased now. So quick? The lights were still out and panic shot through him like a spear. He clawed his way blindly to the cargo office, just inside the dock entrance, where he’d signed the paperwork when they’d first arrived. He scuttled underneath the desk, smacking his head as he did, hissing quietly and curling up as tightly as his body would allow. Just hide and ride it out! he told himself. Hide and ride it out! Just like you’ve done before from the cops, it’s no different … or was it? At least the cops were restrained by law. They couldn’t just kill you without justifiable cause …

Lars heard the footsteps stop at the doorway to the cargo office. He squeezed his eyes shut, hoping that somehow it would help make him more invisible. Heart racing, palms sweating, throat dry and coarse. The silence sat; he heard nothing. He slowly opened his eyes, wanting desperately to see what he could not hear. Then suddenly, he felt hot breath against his face.

He jumped a mile, smacking his head again, as the lights suddenly came on in the room, but he didn’t have long to eye his attacker. He merely saw frenzied amber eyes, flashes of ginger hair, and gridiron shoulders that yanked him out from under the desk, lifted him and threw him against the wall like a rag doll. The beast (it couldn’t possibly be human, surely?) then thrust itself upon him. His neck and throat were swiftly opened up in excruciating pain as whatever it was clawed viciously at him. He was sure he’d heard the flesh tearing. Then there was the blood, pouring down his neck, amidst the grunts and growls of some kind of wild animal. Tearing, shredding.

The pain. The blood. Pools of it. Drowning.

Easy money? Yeah, right!

 


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