Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 10

Wu Kung was apparently in trouble... -----   Chapter 10.      Wu Kung landed in a crouch-and roll, came to his feet in the precise center of the platform, saw the figures – one Dujuin rhino-like creature, two Daalasan like armored frog-men, and one spidery Milluk in the silvery Arena armor – appear from nothing around him. Adjudicators! The Arena's own peacekeepers! Then he heard Orphan's quiet despair, and rose to his feet, grinning savagely, baring his fangs to the Adjudicators as they raised their own weapons. "I gave my word to [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 9

Time to look in on DuQuesne and see how he's doing... -----   Chapter 9.      "Draw two," DuQuesne said, evaluating his cards. Nothing impressive in this hand. I need a break. The two cards passed to him turned out to be a Sky Gate and a Nexus Gateway. With the Inner Gateway and Outer Gate I have, that at least makes a decent run. "Bet 5 points," he said, not without trepidation. That's half of what I've got left. He could see Orphan, absently stroking his high head-crest in a nervous fashion, sitting near Ariane; Laila Canning [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 8

The long-awaited Challenge is about to start! ------     Chapter 8. "Boy, Tunuvun," Wu Kung said, "This is going to be fun!" He couldn't keep from bouncing up and down on his feet, staring out at what Ariane had pronounced in disbelief to be "a triathlon on full enhancers!" He and Tunuvun stood at the top of a mountain – that ended abruptly at a wall behind them! – and looked out upon a racecourse that could only be possible in a place like the Arena. Or, he noted with a momentary pang of sadness, at home. The bittersweet [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 7

If you haven't played a game before, you'd better practice it a bit prior to a species-critical Challenge... -----     Chapter 7.      "I yield the play, Dr. DuQuesne; once more you have outmatched me." Orphan tipped his remaining cards into the dump-bucket. "Anyone else still in?" he asked the others, looking around the conference-room-turned-simulated Arena. A shadowy holographic display showed several simulated runners speeding along a course, overcoming various obstacles. "Not me," Oasis said promptly. "I know Marc too [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 6

Simon had a theory to test.. -----     Chapter 6.      Simon stood on the bridge of Paksenarrion and gazed outward. I do not think I will ever grow fully accustomed, let alone jaded, to this. The great warship – one of several gifted to Humanity by the Liberated – was cruising now many thousands of kilometers away from the Sphere of Humanity, so far out that the Sphere itself was but a shadow in the gloom, its Luminaire a fuzzy circle of dimmed brightness. On every side flowed and eddied incredible banks of cloud – white and [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 5

Sharp-eyed readers will notice there's one edit that needs to be done in this chapter; missed it when I changed something during the writing process. So Simon had something to tell Ariane... ------   Chapter 5.      "All, right, Simon; you insisted we have breakfast in private today," Ariane said; per Simon's request, she'd even had Wu Kung stay outside the meeting room. "What is so important?" Simon was uncharacteristically sober; his usual smile was a shadow of its normal self. "I would have brought this up yesterday, but by the [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 4

Ariane and Wu had found themselves involved in a Challenge that wasn't even Humanity's...   -----   Chapter 4.      "That might not have been the best choice, Ariane," DuQuesne said somberly. Simon was puzzled by the gravity in his voice. Reflexively, he glanced around the meeting room, but there was no one present except the members of the "core group", as Simon thought of it – DuQuesne, Ariane, Simon himself, Laila, Carl, and the newcomers Oasis and Wu Kung. "Do you think Wu might lose? Or is there some other [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 3

The Monkey King is back!   ------     Chapter 3.      Wu bounced along in front of Ariane, watching in all directions at once. The Grand Arcade, that gigantic area of open-air markets, stalls, covered collections of shops like mini-malls, was a constant whirl of activity that never stopped – ideal for both an ambush and an escape. He turned periodically, seeing that Ariane was just behind him, that no threats loomed nearby. Then he could return for a few moments to the enjoyment of the moment. The Arcade was one of [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 2

Our friends were about to pay a visit to their oldest alien acquaintance...   -----     Chapter 2. "Captain Ariane Austin, Doctor Marc DuQuesne, it is an honor to welcome you back to my Embassy once more," Orphan said, giving the full pushup-bow which both the Blessed and the Liberated used as a sign of greatest respect. "And you as well, Sun Wu Kung. I take this to mean that the various... issues in your home system have been addressed in a satisfactory manner?" DuQuesne saw a smile instantly appear on Ariane's face, [ Continue reading... ]

Challenges of the Deeps: Chapter 1

Today we begin snippeting the third Arenaverse novel, Challenges of the Deeps, which will be released March 2nd, 2017. The eARC will be released in early December, by which point about one-half of the book will have been snippeted. Re-Enter the ARENA! -------     Chapter 1.      Ariane Austin felt the peculiar jolt that the Sandrisson jump always gave her, and found a smile on her face. "We're back," she said. "Out of the political frying pan and into the Arena's fire," DuQuesne said, chuckling. "Feels good, doesn't [ Continue reading... ]